UNCONFIRMED RUMORS say Captain Rainbow and Yvonne Dunton will soon be back in the Valley. They'd been working in an ethnically tense region of Myanmar, formerly Burma, when they inadvertently became the centerpiece of an international incident. Ms. Dunton, innocently lowering a Buddhist flag, attracted the attention of Buddhist demagogues, and soon a mob was throwing rocks at the Rainbow-Dunton home and demanding Ms. Dunton. Police arrived in time to prevent the violent abduction of the two Americans and, later in the day, Rainbow and Ms. Dunton, and all other foreign aid workers were removed from the area for their own safety.
NO SCHOOL NEWS this week because school is out for a week of spring break. Terry Ryder called to say she'd be back at her old stand next week.
THE FIELDS of poppies just north of Hopland along the railroad tracks are dependably spectacular this year, as they are every year the first couple of weeks of April.
OLIVIA ALLEN of Philo, AVHS Class of 2012, and currently a Dean's List student majoring in theater arts and anthropology at U.C. Irvine, has been accepted to attend the University of Sussex, U.K., for the fall term, under the auspices of the foreign student exchange program.
WHAT ARE THE ODDS? Postmistress Collette of Boonville, and computer guy Bob Collette of Philo, met Monday when Postmistress Collette took her computer to be repaired to computer guy Collette in Philo. Computer guy Collette, incidentally, has sold his second handmade steampunk lamp, things of beauty they are, too, as Bob Collette becomes both our go-to Valley computer guy and the Picasso of light fixtures.
BOONVILLE'S CHAYA MANDLEBAUM has been confirmed as Governor Brown's appointee to the Fair Employment and Housing Council where he serves as chairman.
GOLDENEYE WINERY continues to pump out of the Navarro past the March 31st cutoff date most Valley wineries observe. David Severn writes: “I made a late walk to the river on Thursday and found Goldeneye pumping away. Whereas other non-riparian users, as indicated in the letter from Roederer’s Arnaud Weyrich, are shut off no matter what the flow on March 31, it seems that others get a pass. The river is green, not muddy, and flowing right now at about 950 cubic feet per second — but dropping fast. I suspect that the only criteria for the likes of Goldeneye is how much silt is in the water. Silt of course would challenge their drip systems. The riparian rights granted years and years ago to the Peterson ranch, and used by local owners for food agriculture, has now been passed along to each of the smaller non-resident, corporate investors that own the parcels that the ranch was broken into; they use the water to make a drug. I think our legislators need to look at the current picture and should limit non-domestic use for all water takers. The Navarro River and its tributaries comprise a public trust resource and we, the public, should demand more respect for it. Both the water taking and the noise from vineyard fans are demeaning and offensive.”
LAST TUESDAY, the Navarro, replenished by a couple of inches of rain, was running at 2000 cubic feet per second; exactly a week later the river is running at a marginal 200 per second.
RECOMMENDED EVENT. As it happens, I just read Ms. Bancroft's book, and I'm here to say it's an absolutely fascinating account of both a brilliant man and of California from the Gold Rush to the dawn of the 20th century. You can meet the author, Kim Bancroft, on Saturday, April 19, from 5 to 7 pm, at the Mendocino County Museum, which is hosting a special literary and historical book reception featuring Ms. B, a Willits resident and editor of “Literary Industries: Chasing A Vanishing West,” just published by Heyday. This version of “Literary Industries” is abridged from the 850-page autobiography written by Kim's great-great-grandfather, who amassed an enormous collection of documents on Western history and ecology that formed the basis for the renowned Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley. The event is free and will be accompanied by a slide show on H.H. Bancroft's life and legacy beginning at 5:30. Kim Bancroft will speak on the culture and history of California's first inhabitants, with help from Vicki Patterson, expert on native peoples of Mendocino County. California food and wines will be served.
THE FROST FAN PEOPLE ought to be worried because they are in direct violation of the County's Right To Farm Ordinance: “No existing or future agricultural operation or any of its appurtenances, conducted or maintained for commercial purposes, and in a manner consistent with proper and accepted customs and standards, shall become or be a nuisance, private or public, for adjacent land uses in or about the locality thereof after the same has been in operation for more than three (3) years, when such action was not a nuisance at the time it began; provided that the provisions of this subsection shall not apply whenever a nuisance results from the negligent or improper operation of any such agricultural operation or its appurtenances.”
THE GRAPE GROWERS have indeed introduced a brand new nuisance, one that destroys the sleep of roughly 3,000 people, as happened for eight consecutive days three weeks ago. The Frost Fan People can and probably will be sued unless they take immediate steps to cease and desist.
COMMENT FROM THE AVA HOTLINE: “KZYX Thursday morning public affairs host sounded like Kisslinger whose guest was a Roederer representative, I think it was Arnaud Weyrich, explaining why they need to have frost protection fans. The Roederer guy mostly made the same points he made in their letter to the AVA, but they added that they plan to do a map of the ‘affected areas’ in the Valley. The KZYX host said very little, asking only a few softball questions, then allowing the Roederer guy to go on and on about how they are setting up a hotline and they hope people will call them and they are going to make a map of the affected areas. I thought they could simply give them a map of Anderson Valley! They are trying to avoid directly addressing the issue. So they are going to prepare all these coverage maps and do an analysis. It was just disgusting. It was a classic PR move. The host sounded like some milquetoast. I just happened to turn it on. They went on at length about the acidity of their wines and the importance of growing in this area. It was all just crap! The host never expressed any skepticism. He threw a couple of softball questions saying basically, Oh, we are having an issue here with the noise. But they were just obvious softballs. And the Roederer guest only wanted to talk about how great wine is for the Valley and the industry. I know the wine industry gives a lot of money to KZYX. My wife commented about that while we were listening. Otherwise, why would they even put such PR on in the morning? It does at least show that there seems to be some pressure on the wineries. But it's insulting. They seem to think that if they explain things enough we will all just stop complaining. The Roederer guy went on about how important the cool nights are to the quality of the grapes and how it makes a better pinot wine. Why don't they plant their grapes in an area where it doesn't freeze? Why are they complaining about freezing when they plant them in an area they know will freeze? But I really love the idea that they are going to make a map of the affected population. How long is THAT going to take? Probably until the frost season is over. Why do they need to do that? Don't they know who they are bothering? All they say now is they want to analyze the problem and take as much time as it takes. They don't want to confront the problem head-on. It’s also obvious that the wine industry thinks that KZYX is a handy mouthpiece. The host was embarrassing in the softball manner he used. It was almost scary.”
BEV ELLIOT WRITES on sheep shearing: “Have an item that might interest people who are on the list for food shed e-mails since many of them have livestock as well. Matt Gilbert has sheared our small flock for at least 10 years and we think he's terrific. He's been doing this since he was a teen-ager and is now going into it full time as well as developing a wool processing business in Ukiah - good news for us who are tired of the increasing expense of sending our wool away for processing. He has a website that describes the stages and progress in developing this. Many of the foodshed people have seen his demos at the Fiber Festival part of the Apple Fair. He'll shear anything from the backyard pet/lawnmower to large flocks and is consistently kind to the animals and meticulous in his shearing - very rarely a nick and almost no second cuts. We look forward to his annual visit and really want his business to succeed. Could you add an item about him to the next food shed mailing or pass this on to whoever could do this?”
THE CURRENT ART EXHIBIT at Lauren's Restaurant features works by local artists, the same artists who'll be participating in this year's Anderson Valley Open Studios Tour. While you're enjoying Lauren's dependably delicious food, take a look at the art of Xenia King, Marvin & Colleen Schenck, Rebecca Johnson, Jan Wax & Chris Bing, Doug Johnson, Rachel Lahn, Michael Wilson & Susan Spencer, Peggy & David Dart, Nancy MacLeod & William Allen. The 12th annual Open Studios Tour will be held Memorial Day weekend, May 24 through 26.
BILL HEATH is out as varsity basketball coach at Ukiah High School after 37 years on the job. Heath retired as a teacher three years ago and has now been shunted aside as coach on pretexts so vague they remain unstated. Maybe admin is just tired of the guy, and, of course, Mendo being Mendo, the shaft always come from behind and in the dark. Where it stays deep between the vic's shoulder blades. No replacement has been named.
THE CONTROVERSIES over coaches usually involve parent and fan opinion that they should (1) play my kid more because he's great and (2) I should be coach because I know what I'm doing and you don't. Coaches are inevitably hotly debated, especially coaches who have been in place as long as Heath has.
TO ME, the few high school games I see every year, I fail to detect much coaching. Fundamentals are weak, and the games are harem-scarum. Sixth period gym, we used to call it, with everyone free lancing, which makes for boring basketball, in my opinion. I like a few basic plays, a little strategy, teams that look for the pass first and the high percentage shot, tough defense — old fashioned team play. A coached team.
BUT OUT HERE in the boons, coaches are always dealing with kids who haven't played much, The Youth of America having gone sedentary and soft, for the most part. I can't remember when I saw a kid shooting hoops on his own, or two or three kids taking a little batting practice. Or throwing a football. In Boonville you will see little kids playing soccer on their own, but even that sight has become fairly rare. City kids still play, though. Drive through Oakland and the nightlights are on and young people are playing basketball.
THE NATIONAL SOFTY WOFTY-ISM aside, Ukiah has been under-performing in all the major sports for a long time (reading and writing, too), but that's probably from a combination of an absence of a large talent pool and the fact that Ukiah competes in a very tough big school league. Ukiah is great in rasslin', though, which ought to translate to football but doesn't.
WAY, WAY BACK, when Heath was still coaching jv's, Ukiah happened to meet Boonville in the Cloverdale Tournament. Boonville was loaded that season, 1982-83, Most high school teams are lucky if they can start two kids who can shoot, really shoot. And most high schools settle for one real good shooter, if that many. But that year, Boonville could put five better-than-average shooters on the floor, and Boonville, a tiny school with about 20 kids in the senior class, beat Ukiah, a very large school, by 20. Bill Brunemeyer was the Ukiah coach who suffered that particular humiliation. When Boonville tried to schedule Ukiah for a practice game the next season, Ukiah said no, and Ukiah hasn't played a small Mendo school since.