- NBA Clips Owner
- Emergency Noise Meeting
- Point Arena Audit
- MTA Ticket Increase
- Police Calls
- Letter to Supervisor Carrillo
- Coming Serfdom
- War on Kitsch
- Warm, Fuzzy, and Dishonest
THE NBA HAS SUSPENDED Donald Sterling for life and fined the Clippers’ owner $2.5 million — the maximum amount possible — for a series of racist comments he made during an April 9th phone conversation taped and subsequently released (or sold) by his much younger girlfriend. The NBA has also urged the owners of the league's other teams to force Sterling to sell the Clippers. The Warriors and the Clippers play in LA tonight. Clipper fans say they'll wear mourning black if they don't boycott the game altogether.
JUST IN! Emergency Noise Meeting, Wednesday at the Philo Grange, 7:30. Everyone welcome, including the Noise People. You want these things stopped, be there! Inland neighbors of the Big Propellers are also encouraged to attend. (If the only propeller you're aware of is the one on your beanie, Anderson Valley residents are very, very unhappy that they've lost ten days of sleep in March and April because vineyard owners have installed huge blowers to prevent crop loss to frost. They used to deploy water sprays to frost-protect, but water in the County having become a scarce resource due to the combined drought and the ever-larger draw on the finite streams of Mendocino (and Humboldt) County, here we are with these wind machines whose racket is measured at well over all known legal decibel standards.
50 DECIBELS is the baseline noise figure for residential neighborhoods. The vineyard fans run, by our crude calculations made a hundred yards distant from our Boonville house, at a decibel level roughly that of a Boeing 737 a mile away. That Boeing airplane is 97 decibels. A mouse urinating on a carpet a hundred feet away is one decibel, and noise doubles every 10 decibels after than. (How did we measure the mouse's urination? We asked our cat.)
LIVE ROCK MUSIC is 110 decibels. At 110 noise starts to hurt. Beyond a relative silent 50, the neighborhood standard, lie citations, misdemeanors, lawsuits, boycotts, yelps, vigilante vandalism, and the many other negative consequences wrought by heedlessly noisy neighbors.
MENDOCINO COUNTY'S highest allowable decibel level is not more than 75 decibels for more than 30 minutes of an hour in heavy industrial zones. We, the sleep-martyred residents of the rural, non-industrial Anderson Valley, have endured, from an hour or so after midnight 4-7 consecutive hours of an 80-90 decibel din on ten early mornings of March and April, eight of those mornings falling on consecutive days.
A STORY BY MARGIE BINKER in last week's ICO (Gualala), describes an audit of the City of Point Arena's functioning as "…nine categories" of "material weakness" or a "significant deficiency." Well, gee, I wouldn't put it that harshly, but there is an ongoing question about Point Arena's ability to govern itself.
MTA TICKET PRICES are going up, and there's no truth to the rumor that the perennially mismanaged County bus service's former general manager, Bruce Richards, has changed his name to Dan Baxter and has snuck back into his old job. Baxter appears to be a different person, same skill set. At the agency's recent meeting, which are always held during the day when working people dependent on MTA buses can't attend but the usual suspects who sit as trustees — all employees of one public agency or another — can attend, one person opposed another fare increase. She was, of course, ignored.
THE MENDOCINO TRANSIT AUTHORITY is about more than 80% subsidized out of public money. Natch, though, it pays the boss the usual exorbitant, fringe-saturated salary and is "overseen" by the usual crew of rubberstamp drones drawn from other public bureaucracies and Ukiah's seemingly infinite non-profit fiefdoms. While steadily raising ticket prices, MTA has built itself a lavish new headquarters (aka bus barn) in South Ukiah.
POLICE CALLS AS OF WEDNESDAY MORNING
The following were compiled from reports prepared by the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office:
DUI WITH PRIORS -- Michael L. Miller, 36, of Willits, was arrested at 11:57 p.m. Wednesday on suspicion of driving under the influence with prior convictions and failing to appear in court, and booked at the county jail under $15,000 bail. The MCSO arrested him.
DUI -- Mark L. Wiget, 61, of Ukiah, was arrested at 7:51 a.m. Thursday on suspicion of driving under the influence and driving with a blood-alcohol level greater than the legal limit, and booked at the county jail under $30,000 bail. The Ukiah Police Department arrested him.
DUI -- Patrick B. Gilbert, 40, of Laytonville, was arrested at 12:10 p.m. Friday on suspicion of driving under the influence, possessing methamphetamine and driving without a license, and booked at the county jail. The California Highway Patrol arrested him.
WITNESS INTIMIDATION -- Tera K. Hancock, 46, of Roseville, was arrested at 2:04 a.m. Friday on suspicion of witness intimidation and domestic battery, and booked at the county jail under $25,000 bail. The MCSO arrested her.
MARIJUANA SALES, TRANSPORT -- Hope L. Motta, 35, of Livermore, was arrested at 5 a.m. Friday on suspicion of possessing marijuana for sale and transporting marijuana for sale, and booked at the county jail under $25,000 bail. The Willits Police Department arrested her.
METH SALES -- Erik C. Torres, 32, of Redwood Valley, was arrested at 3:15 p.m. Friday on suspicion of selling methamphetamine and driving with a suspended license, and booked at the county jail. The MCSO arrested him.
RECKLESS EVADING -- Alfredo S. Padilla-Sanchez, 40, of Boonville, was arrested at 4:45 p.m. Friday on suspicion of driving recklessly while evading a peace officer and booked at the county jail under $35,000 bail. The MCSO arrested him.
DUI -- Sherm Hale, 43, of Sacramento, was arrested at 1 a.m. Saturday on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs and driving with a suspended license, and booked at the county jail under $5,000 bail. The WPD arrested him.
DUI -- Cody W. Hammond, 21, of Ukiah, was arrested at 1:03 a.m. Saturday on suspicion of driving under the influence and driving with a blood-alcohol level greater than the legal limit, and booked at the county jail. The California Highway Patrol arrested him.
RECKLESS EVADING -- Timothy J. Miller, 52, of Redwood Valley, was arrested at 2:17 a.m. Saturday on suspicion of driving recklessly while evading a peace officer and booked at the county jail under $35,000 bail. The MCSO arrested him.
METH SALES -- James D. Carte, 47, of Albion, was arrested at 11:27 a.m. Saturday on suspicion of selling methamphetamine, driving with a suspended license and petty theft, and booked at the county jail under $120,000 bail. The Ukiah Police Department arrested him.
MARIJUANA TRANSPORT -- Richard J. Sutton, 53, of Lower Lake, was arrested at 4:45 p.m. Saturday on suspicion of transporting marijuana for sale and cultivating marijuana, and booked at the county jail under $15,000 bail. The CHP arrested him.
MARIJUANA TRANSPORT -- Kenneth L. Heck, 44, of Kelseyville, was arrested at 10:26 p.m. Saturday on suspicion of transporting marijuana for sale and cultivating marijuana, and booked at the county jail under $15,000 bail. The CHP arrested him.
DUI -- Donna J. Kline, 57, of Mendocino, was arrested at 12:19 a.m. Sunday on suspicion of driving under the influence, driving with a blood-alcohol level greater than the legal limit and evading a peace officer, and booked at the county jail under $40,000 bail. The Fort Bragg Police Department arrested her.
DUI -- Richard N. Hayes, 76, of Willits, was arrested at 2:10 a.m. Sunday on suspicion of driving under the influence and driving with a blood-alcohol level greater than the legal limit, and booked at the county jail under $10,000 bail. The WPD arrested him.
DUI -- Rachel M. Scopinich, 31, of Point Arena, was arrested at 7:28 p.m. Sunday on suspicion of driving under the influence and driving with a blood-alcohol level greater than the legal limit, and booked at the county jail. The CHP arrested her.
GRAND THEFT -- Joshua T. Hughes, 43, of Fort Bragg, was arrested at 7:55 p.m. Monday on suspicion of grand theft or felony vehicle theft, and booked at the county jail. The FBPD arrested him.
DUI -- Dean Stevens, 47, of Ukiah, was arrested at 1:22 a.m. Tuesday on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs and booked at the county jail. The CHP arrested him.
AN OPEN LETTER to Supervisor Efren Carrillo,
Our relationship is one I would classify as more than acquaintances but less than friends (a very meaningful term to me); there’s no need to go in-depth. I preface this letter with that because I want it to be transparent. I’m sure we can both agree that in Sonoma County there is a great need for more Latino elected officials to reflect the changing demographics of our community. That’s why I must admit I was excited when you first were running for Supervisor back in 2008. Having seen you maneuver through the political landscape from working with Rep. Joe Nation and then with Redwood Credit Union I knew you had potential. However, as you may recall, I never publicly endorsed you because you refused to take a public position on the immigration issues being worked on at the time by what was then known as the Committee for Immigrant Rights of Sonoma County, issues that were important to me. I couldn’t endorse you simply for being Latino; but I did not publicly oppose you either. I am not in your district, so I never had to decide whether to vote for you. Yet, as Supervisor, you have let myself and those I work closely with down on more than one occasion on various issues, never quite becoming a politician I could champion. This is not to say you have not done good things. There are many out there in the community whom you have helped and truly appreciate what you have done for them; personally I appreciated your recent vote on PLA’s; for me to not acknowledge all that would be disingenuous. It was late Monday that I learned of your acquittal. I went on to watch an interview of yourself after the verdict where you stated: “I should be held accountable for my conduct and my behavior.” My immediate thoughts were, “What does he mean? Held accountable to who? How?” In that interview you also discussed learning about the human condition, which reminded me of the ancient Latin proverb “Errare humanum est;” to err is human. I’m sure we can agree that no one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes. You have admittedly made a mistake, in your words “a terrible mistake.” Now, I ask that you consider not making another mistake by choosing to remain in office. Use your own moral guidance, follow your own advice and hold yourself accountable for your actions; resign. The jury in your trial was hung at 11-1, which means you won the legal battle on criminal charges, but what do those numbers say to you? Don’t be the “egotistical” and “self-centered” Efren Carrillo of July 2013 that you described during your testimony. I believe it was Mahatma Gandhi who said: “It is wrong and immoral to seek to escape the consequences of one's acts.” Think about the consequences of remaining in office. During Monday’s interview you also said: “Nothing lessens the sorrow I feel today for the pain I caused the woman who was my neighbor, the pain I caused my family, the pain I caused my friends and the people who elected me to office.” All this pain you mentioned was in the past tense, remaining in office will keep it ever present, a consequence of remaining in office. Think about the pain Jane Doe will continue to feel every day knowing that you continue to serve in office without consequence for what even you admit was wrong. Think about the pain your family will continue to feel everyday as the opposition to you being in office grows and they deal with the media circus that will likely follow. Think about the pain your friends will feel as they undergo the inner struggle grappling with your friendship and lack of consequence for your actions. Think of the pain you will cause Sonoma County. If you remain in office the real issues that Sonoma County needs to deal with will not be the focus; your remaining in office will be. Think about the dynamics of the Board of Supervisors especially after today’s public allegation by Shirlee Zane of having witnessed you treat women like objects while sober and having confronted you about it. But most importantly, think about yourself. Do you really want to put yourself through this? If you are dealing with an alcohol abuse problem, do you really think dealing with all this is conducive to your healing? I, like many others, have now called for your resignation. You may have had a lapse in judgment, but you’re not a dumb guy. You know what’s right. You know what you must do. So with that said, I leave you with the words of a great woman, Eleanor Roosevelt: “Do what you feel in your heart to be right — for you’ll be criticized anyway.” Sincerely, Omar A. Medina, Santa Rosa
* * *
JUST SAYIN', but when Shirlee Zane or any other person publicly says Carrillo or any other man "treats women like objects while sober," shouldn't the accuser spell it out so we can all judge if this or that guy behaves badly? Does she mean the Supervisor treats women as sex objects or furniture? Is he one of these "Hey, baby" droolers? Worse? Or is Zane simply racking up points with her "feminist" constituents piling on the guy? Call me old school, but men and women are either mannerly in all contexts or they aren't. These days, though, we have so many unsocialized, totally insensitive people running around that bad manners are prevalent, good manners increasingly rare.
ON-LINE STATEMENT OF THE DAY: I concur that the Earth’s current population of 7 billion makes a return to either a medieval or paleolithic society, shall we say, “messy.” Without industrial — i.e., fossil fuel-driven — agriculture, I simply don’t think we can feed that many people. The world is full of specialized jobs that have evolved during the petroleum-based years of plenty: finance, insurance, law, consulting, computer programming, etc. Many of those jobs will disappear as our global economy groans toward a new normal. When 20-25% (or more) of the population is unemployed, then what? At some point unemployment will reach a critical mass, and the social welfare system we’ve got in place will no longer be able to provide a basic sustaining level of income for everyone who needs help in buying food and paying the rent. What happens then? One possibility is some new/old form of serfdom. Energy needs can be met by retrofitting machines and tools to run on human-scale energy. Think of all those spin cycles at your local gym, for instance, hooked up to a generator of sorts, so that constant human cycling can create a modest amount of energy to charge batteries or run some necessary appliances (e.g. lighting, refrigeration). It may take a vast number of cyclers to accomplish anything, but imagine you’re an urbanite who’s lost his job in finance, etc. You rent a small apartment (for which you’ve shelled out a princely sum), and have very little savings — if any (you graduated college with six figures of debt). You can’t start farming to sustain yourself – you own no land — and yet you can’t find a job…
Some enterprising capitalist tells you he’ll feed you, provide a roof over your head, etc. if you spend 10 hours a day cycling or engaged in other “menial” labor. That’s where I fear we’re headed; towards an “economy” that is significantly scaled back as far as its ability to accomplish great things — including the great accumulation of wealth — and back to simple subsistence. And given our population of 310 million in the USA, we will not be able to create a Jeffersonian, agrarian, small-town republic of self-sufficient farmers (certainly not overnight). In the interim, as we perhaps transition “backwards,” I envision that some type of warlords or capitalists or patroons (like we had in the Hudson Valley under the Dutch) will use their ownership of important resources (maybe land, maybe clean water, maybe access to energy sources or basic tools and machines) to create a class of serfs who, facing great pressures and an inability to take care of themselves, yield to autocratic, perhaps vicious and cruel, authority. Human history is full of those sorts of economic arrangements — slavery, serfdom, etc. — and my fear is that this may be where we’re headed again.
THE WAR ON KITSCH
Bluster, Banality & the National Liturgy
by David Yearsley
This year’s Boston marathon was preceded the week before by the commemoration of the first anniversary of last year’s bombing. The somber, patriotic ceremony began like a church service with the singing of a hymn — Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America.” The Russian-born Berlin wrote the song in 1918 in the only key he claimed to be able to play in: F-sharp. Noel Coward mistakenly thought that Berlin did everything in the typical beginner key of C major. Actually, Berlin found it easier to find his way on the black notes, conveniently raised up like big braille buttons above the sameness of the ivories below.
A copy of the song is among the sheet music left in my grandmother’s piano bench. She also had a “war edition” from 1917 of a sentimental love-song entitled “K-K-K-Katy” composed by Army Song Leader Geoffrey O’Hara. On the back page of the single-fold half-folio—a small format adopted says the publisher “to co-operate with the Government and to conserve paper during the War” since “Save! Save! Save is the watchword today” — is an advertisement for some other wartime offerings. Among my favorite titles are the catchy “Just like Washington Crossed the Delaware General Pershing Will Cross the Rhine”; the forthright “We Stopped them at the Marne”; and my own favorite, “It’s a Long Way to Berlin, But We’ll Get There,” which turned out to be something of a hit when recorded by Arthur Fields that same year.
To judge from these songs, 1917 was an optimistic year in the United States, far from the realities of Europe: no lyrics about No-Man’s Land, mustard gas, trench warfare. And no, they didn’t get to Berlin.
My grandmother also had a copy of the Second World War’s popular anthem, at least as far as the US was concerned, was “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition and We’ll All be Free” — words and music by Frank Loesser; the text was based on the supposed utterance of a chaplain named Howell Forgy aboard the USS New Orleans at Pearl Harbor. This song may be more hard-hitting than its World War One predecessors but it, too, seems hopelessly quaint now.
One is tempted to think of those as simpler times, to smile condescendingly at my grandparents and imagine that if they were alive today they would expect similarly buoyant songs like “Baghdad and Back by Christmas” or “Daddy’s a Delta Force Hero” or “Dronesome Dove.”
It’s a fun game to play, updating the words and melodies of 1917: “Rollover Mullah Omar, and Uncle Sam’e got some News/Obama’s got a Daisy Cutter that’s Gonna Give Taliban the Blues.”
A mixture of naïve optimism, patriotism, and bad taste is the fail-safe recipe for propagandistic war music: the grisly business ahead heralded by light, pattering melodies, imminently danceable rhythms, comfortable harmonies.
This is what we expect from the music that accompanies us to wars. Tin Pan Alley would hardly have welcomed a lyric such as Wilfred Owens’s “What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?” set so unsettlingly by Benjamin Britten in his War Requiem of 1962. Indeed, the military has long recognized the destabilizing power of song: the Army of the Potomac banned the singing of the popular “When This Cruel War is Over” midway through the American Civil War.
Although there have been only occasional eruptions of the worldwide War on Terror on American soil, the surge in patriotism has meant that Berlin’s “God Bless America” has metastasized into every corner of national civic musical life since September, 2001. Already in that year the song was heard in 7th inning stretch of Game 7 of the World Series; Madonna did it on her Drowned World Tour; and aged British rock stars got into the act as they staggered around Madison Square Garden.
Berlin first concocted “God Bless America” in 1918 as a chorus to one of his musicals, then exhumed it for Kate Smith in 1938 in advance of the second big war of the last century. It is a song whose harmonic and melodic profile — particularly the goose-stepping bass-line of the chorus — has always reminded me of the marginally more dreadful “Onward Christian Soldiers,” a hymn extruded from Arthur Sullivan on a day off from the Savoy Theatre.
It has to be admitted that “God Bless America” is more singable than the ungainly “Star-spangled Banner,” that reeling English drinking song. Many prefer Berlin’s nationalist hymn to the similarly derivative “America,” which takes its melody from the British national anthem “God Save the King.” Nonetheless, as the Boston ceremony showed, Berlin is topping the propaganda charts.
In the aftermath of September 11th the US Army bands were already busy with Berlin’s anthem and it has become a patriotic, anti-terror warhorse. On October 4th and 5th of 2001 the Army’s marquee band traveled to New York where the group received a rapturous reception at their Lincoln Center concert. The Army Chorus with soloist Tenor Staff Sgt. Steve Cramer sang “A Hero for Today” on the Today Show, with the audience in Rockefeller Center plaza breaking into a chant of “USA, USA,” before the last of these rousing strains had faded. Later that day, Sergeant 1st Class Bob McDonald sang “God Bless America” at Ground Zero, describing how “the whole place had a sacred feel to it. It’s a burial ground with an element of otherworldliness. There was also an element of humanity that was so strong.”
The early phases of war are often filled with musical bluster and banality. A lone tenor emitting the strains of “God Bless America” over the hallowed hole in Lower Manhattan was the ultimate proof of the centrality of kitsch in propaganda. Tiny Pan Alley could never have dreamt that one of its penny sheets would be taken up into the national liturgy.
In the battle against Berlin’s hymn and the ranks of propagandistic song that surround it, truthful music will be a vital forum for dissent in the grim years ahead, in the endless, borderless War on Kitsch.
A TEACHER LOOKS BACK: SELF ESTEEM
by Richard Carlson
After a long stint at a large school in an affluent suburb, where one principal's goal one year was to have no student suicides, I applied for a job teaching at the continuation school, where we had small classes, lots of money, and few of the trappings of a comprehensive school — like yearbooks, athletics, and other competitive pressures. We had a strong staff, with waiting lists both for faculty and for students, as word got out quickly that our school was a good alternative, its simplicity appealing to many kids who just didn't fit in at the big schools.
The biggest problem the students had was that they wanted to show their parents what failures they had been, which typically manifested itself in truancy, so we had designed a no-pressure system in which they could work at their own pace, and it worked well, although its level of rigor was only about eighth or ninth grade at best. In a history class, for example, 12 students would all be doing different individual packets of work, depending on what point in any given course they were in. When they finished a class, they simply moved to another without regard to any calendar. Most students stayed about six months, and we had no violence or even graffiti.
We got a new principal right away, a nice man and a friend, but who didn't have a clue about what we were doing; and who started, naturally, the very things that turned the kids off in the first place: a yearbook and athletics.
A continuation school yearbook might seem a bit silly because 1) by the time the book is issued in June, nearly all of the people in it are gone, having had their pictures taken in the fall; and 2) our kids weren't the yearbook sorts. However, we had failed to grasp the real reason behind paying — one teacher hour — for a book that made no sense: it was PR for the principal, who made sure that every board member and other administrators received copies. Subsequent principals retained the practice, despite faculty objections.
A few years later, another principal decided that we needed to raise students' self esteem and installed an award system. We had toyed with “student-of-the-month” recognition but had found that once awarded with whatever it was we gave out, the student's performance always declined, which was perhaps due to the retiring nature of many of them. We had researched the question, and found that what little was known about reward systems seemed to indicate that, if anything, they could become counterproductive. Those facts didn't stop us: we began giving prizes to people who showed up three weeks in a row or who achieved our minimum monthly work output.
Predictably, damn near everybody got recognized, but the crime in this whole program was that the kids were getting recognition for what anyone else did normally and quietly. We had monthly assemblies to give out vouchers for deli sandwiches or t-shirts to reward kids who were performing well below what their peers at other schools were doing — including elementary. Everything was warm and fuzzy and fundamentally dishonest. And in the long run the prizes didn't make a bit of difference in performance or attendance.
We also dished out scholarships. The local community college offered them to qualified minority students, qualification meaning having a GED or better, demonstrated need, and a letter of recommendation. The day that the letters were due, the kids would come around asking us to write one of them, a task which we took seriously and spent considerable time on. I wrote only one and wasn't asked again, because our guidance counselor had felt that I wasn't playing ball, since I had noted that despite one girl's attitude and work ethic, our curriculum simply didn't measure up to a college prep school's and that she'd have to work awfully hard.
At any rate, kids who had the equivalent of an eighth grade education were being encouraged to go to college not only without knowing how ill-prepared they were but given the impression that they did qualify as “scholars.” The list of recipients looked great though at the public graduation ceremony. Almost none of our kids ever made it beyond one year of junior college. In the name of self-esteem, we put youngsters in a situation almost certain to be humiliating and painful.