- Weather Coming
- Boot Camp
- Field Limo
- Autistic Brother
- Diane's Memorial
- Cops Crazysitting
- Catch of the Day
- Fermentation Fest
- Boonville Weekend
- Bipartisan Charade
- Radiation Detected
- Caldicott Radio
- Rohrer Book
HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK : National Weather Service, Eureka, CA , 4:10am PST, Wed, Nov 12, 2014…
Long period waves along the Northwest California coast early today are bringing an enhanced sneaker wave risk. Beachgoers are encouraged to never turn their backs on the ocean and to avoid rocks and jetties. These same long period waves will increase the shoaling and large surf risk today.
A storm will move into NW California tonight into Thursday. This will bring widespread rain with storm totals up to 2 inches possible over prone areas. Winds may also become gusty along coastal ridges just ahead of frontal passage.
VETERAN'S DAY. Two veterans do much of this fine publication's heavy lifting — Major Mark Scaramella, USAF (ret) and Bruce Anderson, Private, USMC. The Major went into the Air Force out of college, I went into the Marines out of high school, one minute, it seemed, your basic keen teen, the next getting yelled at and slapped around at the San Diego Airport, wondering, "What the hell have I done?" Marine Corps boot camp, in those days, and we're talking 1957 when John Wayne represented the ideal American male, was 15 weeks of humiliation and random beatings, and I mean beatings. I got my share, and these included a couple of choke outs where the DI (drill instructor) twisted my collar around my windpipe while I stood at attention until passing out from lack of oxygen. Another time, I was repeatedly whomped with a metal folding chair. That one cracked my ribs. And lots of guys got it a lot more regularly than I did. I remember wondering, "If these fuckers are on my side, how bad can the Russians be?" Worse, apparently, judging from accounts of their boot training. I'd been a high school jock so the physical part of the training was not all that hard. I could run a long way and do the required number of push-ups and pull-ups and so on. The guys who weren't athletically inclined suffered mightily, and got held back in their training, meaning they'd do 20 or more weeks in boot camp just getting strong enough to pass the minimal physical requirements. The real terror occurred at night when the DI's would make the tough guys, and there were certainly lots of them, fight each other bare knucks. And so on. Post-boot camp, and on into infantry training the physical abuse ceased. It was interesting learning to fire various weapons and otherwise preparing to kill people. I almost stayed in to make it a career since I didn't have any interest in college and no plans beyond the next day. But I was always getting into disciplinary trouble, and every time I made PFC very soon I was back down to private. I knew I'd always be a private because I couldn't handle being ordered around by dumb guys. I managed an honorable discharge, though, just in time to avoid the war on Vietnam. A lot of people I knew died there.
COMMENT OF THE DAY:
Instead of Big Brother, government in our time turns out to be Autistic Brother. It makes weird noises and flaps its appendages, but can barely tie its own shoelaces.
THANKS FROM THE PAGET-SEEKINSES
Dear Community of Anderson Valley,
We can't thank you enough for all of the support we received after our mother passed away. Diane spent 40 years building community in the Anderson Valley and we felt it all flowing back to us. We appreciate everyone who dropped by the house with food, flowers, and memories. And everyone who made the memorial such a beautiful celebration of Diane's life. Whether you helped set up, brought crafts and food, shared stories, or cleaned up, your contribution reflected exactly the kind of event that Diane would have organized herself.
The memorial was just the first step in our lives without Diane. But we feel grateful to be undertaking it with the support of a community like the Anderson Valley. We know that she will be missed and that we all will have to do a bit more to carry her work and spirit forward.
Laurel, Jade, and Charlie Paget-Seekins
DOC IN THE BOX?
Last May (2013) the Mendocino County Grand Jury wrote a report of mental health services at the County Jail entitled: "Cut Backs In Mental Health Services Impacting Law Enforcement.”
The Grand Jury summary said, “The Grand Jury (GJ) conducted mandated jail visits (California Penal Code Section 919(b)) as well as visited local law enforcement agencies. The GJ found all facilities to be safe and well functioning within budgetary restrictions. All visited agencies expressed the need for additional staff. There was one issue that came up repeatedly, the impact of 5150 arrests on departmental resources and public safety. A 5150 is an individual displaying high risk behavior posing an imminent safety risk to themselves or others. Every 5150 arrest takes an officer away from patrol duty for hours at a time as they wait for a crisis worker to arrive or until preliminary procedures are complete. The severe cuts to the County's Mental Health (MH) budget have resulted in less staff and resources. As a result, there is one crisis worker on duty for the entire county after hours and on weekends. Crisis workers have the authority to release patients over the objections of police, hospital staff, and psychiatrists. The lack of MH workers is costly to law enforcement and local hospitals as well as to the safety of all citizens. Additionally, there are conflicting opinions on how this County’s Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) treats dual diagnoses. The GJ is recommending MH administration continue and expand the search for a county psychiatrist for the jail, provide additional crisis workers after hours, and re-examine the 5150 hospitalization and release procedures. MH needs to make funds available to implement a discharge plan to aid the mentally ill released from jail. The medical provider at the jail is currently using a doc-in-a-box (telepsychiatry) in the absence of a psychiatrist. There is a psychiatric nurse on site. The GJ observed and determined the position of the camera was inadequate. Jail administration needs to move the camera closer to achieve personal contact. Telepsychiatry provides prescription service only, no counseling.”
Discussion: People exhibiting behavior that is a danger to themselves or others are brought to the hospital under California Code Section 5150. When these individuals are brought in by law enforcement, it takes officers away from other assigned duties. When an individual is under arrest or violent, the officer is required to wait for the County crisis worker. After 6:00 p.m. and on weekends, there is only one crisis worker on duty for the entire County. Officers can be detained for extended periods of time. In small communities, where only one officer may be on duty, this can leave the streets unprotected for several hours. UVMC reports one to two 5150 cases in the emergency room daily. Lab work and evaluation is required at the hospital with no guarantee of payment. This can represent an average loss of $4,000 per 5150. Law enforcement officers are required to complete burdensome paperwork. Of the 5150s, less than one third are placed in a mental facility. A crisis worker can release the patient over the recommendation of a psychiatrist, medical physician, or law enforcement officer. However, in order to recommend hospitalization the crisis worker must obtain supervisory approval. Often hospitalization has been recommended by a crisis worker only to be overridden by MH administration. This County does not have a facility to house the mentally ill. MH does not recognize dual diagnoses of substance abuse and mental illness as a mental health emergency. HIPAA regulations preclude direct communication between hospital staff and the arresting officer. Hospital staff may only communicate information directly to the medical staff at the jail. During a visit to the County jail, it was reported close to 20% of all inmates have MH issues. Due to the lack of MH services and facilities in this County, people arrested for behavioral issues end up in jail. There are people in jail who are not accepted by MH facilities, not deemed competent to stand trial, or are waiting for conservatorship status. Reduced resources within the MH department have resulted in reduction of staff and less funds for hospitalization of the mentally ill. At the time of the GJ visit, it was reported there were 254 inmates, of which 46 had mental health issues. One third of these are women. Twelve inmates are acutely mentally ill (half men, half women) and should be hospitalized. This includes one inmate with a misdemeanor waiting months for a MH bed. The GJ heard testimony at the jail that their biggest issue is mental illness. Since there is no psychiatrist available for the jail, management at the jail insisted that a MH nurse be available to administer drugs and provide some counseling. The medical provider offers telepsychiatry two hours a week. Services consist of diagnoses and prescriptions for medication, no counseling. Telepsychiatry (doc-in-the-box) is an impersonal replacement for a psychiatrist. During a visit to the jail, the GJ participated in an interview with the telepsychiatrist. The placement of the camera focused on the doctor all the way across the room. Repositioning the camera to focus on the doctor’s face would make the experience more personal. This limited service would not work without a psychiatric nurse on staff to provide patient evaluations. Telepsychiatry costs the same as an on-site psychiatrist but does not provide the same level of service. There is no other facility in the County for mentally ill who are acting out. The only place to confine them is jail. Patient inmates are often placed in solitary confinement for their own safety, as well as the safety of others. Jail staff quoted, “solitary confinement in jail is the worst thing we can do to someone...safety cells are a horrible, horrible necessity. There is no other way.” A senior jail official stated, “We provide more mental health services than the Mental Health Department. We are the end recipient for the people the Mental Health Department no longer serves.” County jail personnel and MH staff are working on the development of a follow-up program for released patients deemed mentally ill. Law enforcement officers stated they no longer have confidence in statements made by MH. The Willits Police Department refused to sign a MOU with MH due to lack of trust. In an effort to control costs, County administration has decided to contract out MH services in 2013. It is unclear, at this time, what the final contract will include. Since the county has put the MH service contract out for bid, the department is having difficulty replacing staff.
A READER ALERTED US to this letter/response June 8, 2013, which escaped our attention when it first appeared, wondering if CMFG really does provide what they say they provide at the County Jail, i.e., “medication monitoring and intervention, crisis intervention, counseling, and discharge planning.”
To the Editor (of the Ukiah Daily Journal):
California Forensic Medical Group (CFMG) contracts with the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office and the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors to provide correctional health care to those who are incarcerated in the Mendocino County Jail. A part of CFMG's responsibility is the provision of mental health services as outlined in our contract with your county. Our contract is a public record, and was approved by the board of supervisors.
As the President and Medical Director of California Forensic Medical Group, I fully agree that the county jail should not be the primary treatment center for those with mental disorders, disease or defects. The jail, however, is the institution of last resort for those who often cannot receive services in their own community. There is a significant funding problem for mental health services throughout California. That funding shortage, from my perspective, is certainly true in Mendocino County.
Your county mental health department and the county jail had the good fortune of having one of the finest psychiatrists I have ever known, Dr. Doug Rosoff. In my opinion Dr. Rosoff was mental health services for Mendocino County, and certainly for those individuals who were incarcerated at the Mendocino County Jail. There was no one and there will be no one who will be able to take Dr. Rosoff's place. As we all are aware, Dr. Rosoff had a tragic accident and died.
CFMG was asked to provide mental health services for the jail inmates when there was no viable alternative.
CFMG, the Sheriff of Mendocino County and his administration are committed to providing as much mental health services to those who are incarcerated as possible. CFMG has a strong partnership with custody, and is acutely aware of our legal and ethical responsibilities to serve the mental health needs of the incarcerated population.
Telepsychiatry is not "a doc in the box." Telepsychiatry is a standard of care throughout our country and throughout the state of California. Major universities, including the University of California at Davis, utilize telepsychiatry to provide mental health services. The telepsychiatrist at the Mendocino County Jail is board certified in psychiatry and has years of experience in working with mental health patients who find themselves in custody. Mental health services provided in your county jail include medication monitoring and intervention, crisis intervention, counseling, and discharge planning. The services provided are exactly those contracted and approved by the sheriffs office and your board of supervisors.
Correctional health care and particularly the delivery of mental health services in a jail environment is challenging. Those services are open to review, oversight and constructive criticism. The sheriffs office and CFMG work closely with your local hospital, behavioral health department, public health department, the public defender's office and the courts to address as much as possible the mental health needs of those in your county jail. Is there room for improvement and expansion? Of course, there is no question about that. What unfortunately dictates the level of services provided is money. Resources are limited across the board, not just in the jail but also in our communities across California. I don't believe your grand jury wants anything more than what your board of supervisors, county administration, sheriff's department and CFMG want for the inmate population. Again, it is a question of limited resources. It is not a question of intent or desire to help those with mental disorders, disease or defects.
If there are ever any concerns about the delivery of medical and mental health care to those in your jail, please feel free to contact me at 831-649-8994.
Taylor Fithian, MD,
President and Medical Director
California Forensic Medical Group
CATCH OF THE DAY, November 11, 2014
EDGAR ALMARAZ-JUAREZ, Sacramento/Laytonville. Pot cultivation, processing, possession for sale.
ASHLEY AZEVEDO, Ukiah/Willits. Driving without valid license, under influence of controlled substance, probation revocation.
JOHN BOLTON IV, Willits. Drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)
ELIDIO CHUN-JUAREZ, Sacramento/Laytonville. Pot cultivation, processing, possession for sale.
JAMES JENKINS, Ukiah. Drunk in public.
BERNARDO JUAREZ, Sacramento/Laytonville. Pot cultivation, processing, possession for sale.
VICTOR MONROY-LOPEZ, Sacramento/Laytonville. Pot cultivation, processing, possession for sale.
JOSHUA MOORE, Willits. Bribing an “executive officer,” felony.
(CA Penal Code Section 67: “Every person who gives or offers any bribe to any executive officer in this state, with intent to influence him in respect to any act, decision, vote, opinion, or other proceeding as such officer, is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three or four years, and is disqualified from holding any office in this state. 67.5. (a) Every person who gives or offers as a bribe to any ministerial officer, employee, or appointee of the State of California, county or city therein, or political subdivision thereof, any thing the theft of which would be petty theft is guilty of a misdemeanor. (b) If the theft of the thing given or offered would be grand theft the offense is a felony punishable by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170.”)
EDGAR PELEN, Sacramento/Laytonville. Pot cultivation, processing, possession for sale.
PEDRO REYNAGA, Ukiah. Drunk in public.
EMANUEL SALAS, Fairfield/Ukiah. Probation revocation.
FRANK THOMAS, Piercy. Possession of meth; pot cultivation, processing, possession for sale; armed with firearm.
PATRICIA THOMAS, Piercy. Possession of meth; pot cultivation, processing, possession for sale; armed with firearm.
GRACE TURNER, Ukiah. Possession of controlled substance, under influence of controlled substance, possession of more than an ounce of pot, resisting arrest, probation revocation.
THE SECOND ANNUAL Fermentation Fest at the AV Solar Grange in Philo. This Sunday, November 16, at 3 pm we will gather to share information about a variety of fermentation processes. Included will be sauerkraut, kimchee, fermented chunked root crops, kefirs (both water and milk), kombucha and, hopefully, sourdough bread making.
If you would like to take home some ferment, please bring jars. There will also be water kefir "grains" and kombucha "mothers" available. If anyone has any extra milk kefir grains to share, please bring them.
Around 6 pm, after we have cleaned up and become sufficiently hungry, we will share another delicious AV Foodshed potluck meal. Please BYO your eating dishes, utensils, cups and napkins as well as a serving utensil for your potluck dish.
THE LA TIMES ANNUAL DISCOVERY OF BOONVILLE
Weekend Escape: Boonville, California; a wine town with rustic charm
ONLINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
I think impeachment has become just another part of the bipartisan melodrama the two parties put on to distract us from what they are doing – together.
IF there is an attempt to impeach Obama, then watch what legislation goes through during the same time.
I’m not saying there’s a definite correlation, but we’ve gotten a LOT of Republican legislation from the last two Democratic Presidents. Maybe the impeachments and investigations are just part of that charade the parties put on so we won’t notice they stay far away from anything of substance. Instead they bicker over social issues.
And all the time we get legislation like NAFTA and the repeal of Glass-Steagal, and a Republican health care bill. Instead of attending to the drama, we should make the Democrats answer for those things. As for the Republicans – they don’t even deserve our attention.
TRACE AMOUNTS OF FUKUSHIMA RADIATION FOUND
JANIE REZNER'S GUEST ON WOMEN'S VOICES, KZYX, Nov. 17, 7 pm PT, will be Dr. Helen Caldicott, author and international anti-nuclear advocate
Janie Rezner's guest on Women's Voices, www.kzyx.org November 17, 7 pm will be physician, author, and dedicated international anti-nuclear advocate, Dr. Helen Caldicott. Her newest book is "Crisis Without End" which represents an unprecedented look into the profound aftereffects of Fukushima. Helen writes, "Until the climate movement embraces a nuclear free future it will be impossible to win the race against time we are currently engaged in. Something large climate action groups should take notice of after decades of working toward abolition, the US President signs a 3 trillion dollar deal for new nuclear weapons under the guise of "refurbishment." The future can be saved by a decisive lockdown on toxic energy generation of all kinds and by cutting the purse strings to the funding of endless war. If we truly abolished nuclear weapons the world's governing bodies would not turn a blind eye to the everlasting dangers and cost of using nuclear power and the insolvable problem of forever deadly nuclear waste. The lives of our children and grandchildren and all future generations hang in the balance along with the planet. Don't waste them." The show can be heard on KZYX&Z 90.7FM Philo, 88.1FM Fort Bragg, and 91.5FM Willits, as well as streaming live on the web at www.kzyx.org This show will be archived at www.radio4all.net under my name or Google Janie Rezner "We are so much the victims of abstraction that with the Earth in flames we can barely rouse ourselves to wander across the room and look at the thermostat." -Terence McKenna. Janie Rezner, MA Programmer Spiritual Feminist Warrior www.janierezner.com
RECOMMENDED READING: "A Banquet of Consequences — True Life Adventures of Sex (not too much), Drugs (plenty), Rock and Roll (of course), and the Feds (who invited them?) by Jake Rohrer, manager of the famous Creedence Clearwater band. Easily the best 60's memoir I've read, Rohrer is a lively and very funny writer who perfectly captures that unusual time at its most frenetic. Much of the book first appeared installment-style in the ava, but I'm not log-rolling here simply out of associative loyalty. This is a wonderful book, and if you don't agree I'll personally give you your money back. Order through your independent bookstore or, if you must, Amazon.
WHEN THE BAD MOON ROSE
A Memoir of the Rise and Fall of Creedence Clearwater Revival by Their Manager
by Jake Rohrer
“The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There is also a negative side.” — Hunter Thompson
On Christmas eve, 1967, John Fogerty announced to the others, “Creedence Clearwater Revival.” It was to be their new name after coming through high school as the Blue Velvets, then christened the “Golliwogs” by their record company a couple of years earlier. Three short years after John’s announcement, Billboard Magazine, the bible of the record business, would place them at the head of the class, 1970’s number one album selling group in the world, ahead of the Beatles, the Stones and whoever else happened to be around at the time. At summer’s end in 1969, my old friends from high school would invite me to come work for them, even though I knew less than jack shit about the music business.
It was a magic time for them and everyone around them. Their new name opened new doors as they threw off the tired schtick of trying to promote the Golliwogs, playing to tough bar room crowds up and down California’s central valley. They set their sites on San Francisco where a new era in music was beginning to emerge. John Fogerty was the bright, energetic and superbly talented leader, and he made it a habit to study the music business from every angle. He knew first that the music had to be worthy and then to look for opportunities to present it to people who could make a difference, often a result of luck and circumstance. He knew, too, that when opportunity knocked, you answered the door, and when it opened, you got your foot in there. The circumstance was a smoky little club in San Francisco where they had begun playing regularly for very little money. Luck included the opportunity to play their music in support of striking disc jockeys, just down the street at radio station KMPX.
* * *
Progressive free-form radio (“underground radio”) was brand new and largely credited to former AM pop-station disc jockey “Big Daddy” Tom Donahue, who set up shop at KMPX in San Francisco. I knew this station first as a listener and then as an advertiser when I was in the auto business. The station’s sales representative, Milan Melvin, walked into my office one day, looking like a well appointed hippie. He had shoulder length air, a droopy mustache, bell-bottom pants, a leather vest and was wearing enough hand-wrought silver and jade jewelry to open his own stall at a flea market. I admired this hip and confident salesman who in the impassioned and socially divided era of the Vietnam war, made cold sales calls in a conservative business environment, leaving little doubt as to which side of the divide he favored. I bought some advertising from him, and he would later repay the favor, sending Joan Baez with her then husband, David Harris, to buy a new Peugeot from me.
I was invited to sit in on a couple of shows with Donahue and Milan. I invited my good friend Sheldon to come along. Donahue got things rolling by rolling, then passing, a cigar-sized marijuana joint around the broadcast booth, knocking me flat on my ass. I watched transfixed as Donahue ran the show with his extraordinarily cool persona, addressing the audience with his deep, radio-perfect voice. I never once heard him once lapse into the role of the forgetful, clumsy stoner. I think the joint for him was like it is for Willie Nelson; it just makes them feel normal. He never lost his place, telling interesting stories, mostly about music and the people who made it. He played the great music of the day, Beatles and Stones, and everything else from blues to Jack Elliott to Lightning Hopkins to Van Morrison and the emerging San Francisco bands, generally playing album tracks and staying away from the AM radio hit singles. This was unheard of radio at the time, a format that would soon take the country by storm.
I later ran into Milan at the San Francisco International Auto Show with a then-unknown Janis Joplin on his arm. I had heard her music from a charming and informal tape they played on KMPX, with Janice singing a blues number accompanied by Jorma Kaukonen on guitar and someone in the background on a typewriter, pecking away in time to the song. I next encountered Janice late in the summer of 1970, backstage at a gala music event held at Shea Stadium in New York where Creedence, at the pinnacle of their power and popularity, would close the show. They had to close; no one else on the program would follow them. Janice presented a much sadder picture than the vibrant, smiling lady I met with Milan. Obviously troubled, she would be dead a month later.
On a later tour, a fragile Jim Morrison spent an evening with the band and a few of us at our hotel in Miami. The band members had this ostentatious three-bedroom penthouse suite named for Frank Sinatra, complete with a spiral staircase, pool table and grand piano. Jim played me a sloppy version of his new song, “She Wore Yellow Be-bops in Her Hair.” With each verse the color of the be-bops would change. Even in an inebriated state, he was personable and likable, but he, too, would be dead a month later. These were times of a delicate mortality in the rock & roll business.
March of 1968 found KMPX under a cloud of dissent and opposing cultural views between the station owner and the station workers and disc jockeys. Donahue had begun programing a station in Los Angeles as well, sometimes missing his San Francisco show. The station owner had had enough of this easy-going hippie “chaos” at his station and ordered a dress code for everyone working there. Donahue resigned. Most of the remaining disc jockeys and other workers went on strike, supporting Donahue. Someone got word of what was going on to Creedence, who were playing nearby at a little club called Deno & Carlo’s. They were soon set up and playing for the strikers in front of the station. CCR and other San Francisco bands would play support benefits for the strikers in the weeks to come, the strike finally coming to an end in May when Donahue and other KMPX stalwarts moved themselves and their progressive free-form format to another San Francisco FM station, KSAN, where it would bloom and flourish for years to come, the flagship for underground radio.
Whether or not the band knew it at the time, the KMPX strike followed by the new KSAN amounted to their first significant and fortuitous break. In the same week that KSAN began broadcasting in their new format, the band finished their first album, self-titled “Creedence Clearwater Revival,” and they took a copy to the KSAN disc jockeys they had met during the strike. KSAN played the entire album for weeks, even before release, elevating CCR in the hierarchy of the San Francisco bands. The album’s first single, “Suzy Q,” would soon catch fire across the country, and the proverbial door opened wide for them. Fantasy, the label that owned them, hosted a celebration dinner when sales of “Susie Q” reached half a million copies, presenting the band with a half-gold record, everyone’s anticipations reaching celestial heights. Against the band’s wishes, Fantasy released a second single from that album, “I Put a Spell on You,” which didn’t fare nearly as well as the first. The band lived by the credo, “…you’re only as good as your last record,” in this case meaning your last single, and that meant to them they had already peaked, in danger of becoming a one-hit wonder.
Any chance of that was put to rest at the start of the new year with the release of “Proud Mary.” CCR would become champions of the hit single, sending one brilliant hit after another to the top of the charts for the next two years, all of them written by John. In addition to being crowned the world’s number one album selling group of 1970, they would also be feted as Artists of the Year by the jukebox industry, among other kudos lavished on them by various music, journalistic and broadcast entities. Their music would find extraordinary acceptance and place throughout the US and the entire world, their walls covered with gold and platinum records. The first year I worked for them was for me one of the most glorious ever, and I think it was for the band, too. John was a cornucopia of great music; everything the band did was done well, every step seemed in the right direction, each plateau was scaled perfectly, and the rewards poured down like silver. The exciting times and sense of accomplishment felt like a dream come true.
* * *
Then the shit would start to happen. As fast as they had ascended to the ultimate heights of the music world, they would plummet from their lofty peak into eventual bitterness, blame and hateful relationships among themselves. I had very little influence when it came to personal matters within the band. I was the “front man,” representing them to the press and public. Mostly, though, I was a pal, someone with youthful business experience who was a reliable confidant and could be trusted to do what was asked of me. A lot of my job consisted of promotion, press and touring duties. Later, when they could finally own their own songs, I was introduced to publishing administration as well. The band themselves, with John at the helm up to this point, made it to the very top of the mountain without managers and lawyers telling them what to do, an unheard of ascent. Suddenly, though, I could see that steps were being taken to fix something that didn’t seem at all broken. As much as I found that distressing, I was also there, on board, ready to support them in any direction they wanted to go.
Beatles envy may have played a hidden role in the destruction of CCR. The world knew and embraced each Beatle individually, in addition to acknowledging the immense talent of Lennon and McCartney. We were in London in April of 1970 when the Beatles announced their disbandment. Tom excitedly exclaimed to the others at the time, “…they just handed it to us!”, “it” being the top group in the world, as though a trophy that was somehow passed around. In terms of record sales, CCR probably was the top group on the planet, at least for a while. But Creedence, too, wanted individual recognition, and it was part of my job to consciously attempt to represent them in that light. Personality and talent, however, are not concepts engineered in the media. They come to the surface all on their own or not at all, somewhat like Ken Kesey’s “…cream rises, shit floats” doctrine. In spite of his enormous talent, John Fogerty’s personality did not fit the mold of media hero. Creedence, together, would rise to the top of their own accord, but they would not become a cultural phenomenon, as did the Beatles, in spite of their huge audience. Woe be it to any group trying to replace the Beatles; if you are going to pick a group to be envious of, you would do well to choose otherwise. Perhaps not apparent at the time, their mantle has never been passed, and probably never will be in this lifetime, Zeppelin, Stones, et al. notwithstanding.
The culture Creedence represented existed before they did and could be found, for example, in John’s trademark plaid flannel shirts and the broad demographics of their audience, from grade school to grandparents. Also in the imaginative, barefoot-boy lyrics in many of John’s songs. Even though their first album purposely contained some audio psychedelia, their image and music was unlike the other San Francisco bands. Lyrically, John’s songs seemed closer to Stephen Foster or Cole Porter than Lennon and McCartney, and there was a curious lack of love songs. Nonetheless, they were embraced by an enormous audience, both in America and around the world. A truly fine songwriter and an acute observer, John had his finger on the pulse of America. Even though some of his songs were politically motivated, one or two even scathing, he was and is as American as apple pie, Walter Cronkite or baseball. It came as no surprise to me when John later wrote and performed a new anthem that would be adopted by Major League Baseball, the song even getting into the Hall of Fame. But other than great songs and music, Creedence didn’t really bring anything new to the table. What they excelled at was reminding Americans from whence they had come, especially in the face of the revolutionary and psychedelic-tinged music of the era. Their public behavior wasn’t nearly shocking enough for the press to pay any attention to. I always thought being who and what they were was good enough, a far cry better than most. Still, there was this push to become something else. Push too hard and you might break it.
As we approached the end of their most successful year, the band tried on a bit of Hollywood, retaining the powerhouse public relations firm, Rogers & Cowan, to make them into something other than what they were. It was among several questionable moves the band adopted at the time to help establish CCR at the top of the heap, somehow ignoring the fact that they had already arrived there on their own. Then there was a crappy book, “Inside Creedence” written by John Hallowell. He may have been a fine writer for articles in Life magazine and the Los Angeles Times, but the book was transparent, forced and just plain silly. This was followed by what we came to refer to as “Night of the Generals,” a gala press junket conceived by Rogers & Cowan, where we flew in all the prestigious rock journalists from all over the country. We put them up at Berkeley’s Claremont Hotel, wined and dined them at the “Factory,” CCR headquarters in Berkeley. We would show them a hell of a good time along with a mini-concert-performance and the new CCR release, “Pendulum.” Though containing several fine songs, it was never my favorite Creedence record, lacking the rootsy feel of earlier releases, and the cover portrayed four individuals looking intense and sullen, neither happy nor inviting.
A few members of the elite press corps, most notably New York critic and blue-ribbon asshole, Al Aronowitz, took full advantage of all the free perks, only to write whiny, self-centered articles that largely ignored the music and bitched about the slightly less than royal treatment received at the hands of these West Coast upstarts. Fuck you, Al.
* * *
“The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool.” —Lester Bangs, quoted in the film “Almost Famous.”
Tom Donahue was on hand for the festive celebration and sometime during the evening I asked him if he would like to try some cocaine. This wasn’t my usual habit or practice, but I happened to have some and figured Donahue to be a fancier. Cocaine was a relatively new drug on the scene, at least as I knew it, and people sometimes just gave it to me as a symbol their hipness and cool. For some odd and uncool reason, I felt I should explain to Donahue that we would snort the cocaine into our sinuous cavities rather than use a syringe, as though this might be his introduction to the drug. He smiled his huge, Cheshire cat smile and said, “…my man, you are talking to the original Hoover,” whereupon he produced from his pocket a miniature upright vacuum cleaner cast in metal and used it to snort up several lines of the offered blow. I sometimes wore my uncool like a badge, while Donahue’s cool seemed a visible aura, emanating all around him.
At some point leading up to the “new” Creedence, there had been a meeting among band members where John’s control of the music and direction was challenged by the others. I believe Tom felt a need to establish himself outside of the spotlight occupied by his younger brother and was probably leading the charge. I assume Stu and Doug went along with the idea. In light of the effort to establish individual recognition, Tom, Stu and Doug certainly had a point: how were they to establish themselves as something other than John’s backup band unless they, too, were included, at least now and then, as a focal point in the band’s music? But it was not an easy road to introduce other compositions in the face of the stellar track record John had established. He apparently said, okay, we’ll be a democracy, but I don’t believe his heart was ever into it. I think John was — might still be — bitter about this challenge to his leadership that had resulted in such remarkable success, the fruits of which were shared with all of them.
In my view therein lies the start, and eventually the heart, of the tragedy that befell Creedence Clearwater Revival, setting brother against brother, friend against friend. I was not a part of these discussions between band members and comment on what I saw happening and the result. It had been “one for all” up to that point, but the “all for one” seemed to be missing. There didn’t appear to be any give and take, no attempt at genuine compromise. John’s idea of democracy was each member contributing a like amount, regardless of resource or ability. It was to be this brick wall or that brick wall, like a standoff. When it came time for CCR to record again, he stubbornly held Stu and Doug to that doctrine, as though to remind them, “…this is the way you wanted it.” John wasn’t greedy when it came to money, only when it came to sharing his talent. They didn’t have a George Martin or Brian Epstein to guide them. John wore both of those hats during their rise to the top, but credit seemed lacking even though the result was unarguable. The venom between them would grow and get worse, much worse, in the years to come.
After getting his wishes, or at least some autonomy, and succeeding in his push for new direction, Tom announced he was leaving the band. His thinking in these regards will always be a mystery to me. Something seemed to be happening with him, an inwardly drawn unhappiness and moodiness that sometimes came to the surface and exploded in a quivering rage. It was once directed at me over something so trivial and out of the blue, I can’t even remember what it was. It was hard for me to believe that this stream of anger was coming from someone with whom I had been so closely aligned. I was dumbfounded. I knew it didn’t have anything to do with my loyalty or personal efforts on behalf of the band. Possibly, though, it had something to do with my unwavering support of John, who I regarded as musically brilliant and, up to then, an adept visionary when it came to making the right decisions for the band.
When Tom left, everyone had sugar coated comments and statements for the press, we’re all still friends and other such bullshit, but there was a lot left unsaid that would fester in them and come to the surface in later years. I thought at the time the band might invite Duck Dunn of Booker T. & the MGs fame, to be Tom’s replacement, someone we all knew and liked, and one of the best bassists in the business. It would be an easy transition for Stu, a fine musician and multi-instrumentalist, to move to rhythm guitar. To my surprise they elected to go on as a trio, again becoming the Blue Velvets from their high school years, now disguised as CCR. As good as they were as a trio, tight and together as any band, I felt their live performance suffered from the loss of the rhythm guitar and Tom’s vocal support, becoming just a little thinner than it had been.
The band members themselves have opposing views on what happened around “Mardi Gras,” the democratically produced album by CCR as a trio. I do not believe either Stu or Doug welcomed their roles in this project. John, though, claims that when he would have objections about a track, democracy would be turned against him, two to one. The finger pointing goes on decades later. There were cracks in the facade before Mardi Gras, but after touring as a trio I thought they had mostly mended, and for a while I again recognized the close, personal camaraderie the three of them had shared in earlier years. I was again dumbfounded when John’s democracy agenda seemed to be enforced on Stu and Doug, who would claim later that John was intentionally seeking an end to the band.
Mardi Gras would become the seminal event resulting in the once proud brotherhood who became the mighty Creedence Clearwater Revival to go down in bitter flames. Critics crucified them. “You’re only as good as your last record,” would haunt their memory. The bitterness would get worse as the years rolled by, fueled by business disputes and lawsuits. John would spend nearly two decades literally at war with Saul Zaentz and Fantasy, the others often siding against him when it came to band matters. Tom passed away, tragically, before his 50th birthday. John’s refusal to perform with Stu and Doug at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction poured kerosene on the flames and spread their legacy with a sullied film of blame and discontent. The unofficial CCR biographer, Hank Bordowitz, was moved to title his well researched history of the band after one of John’s more ominous songs, “Bad Moon Rising.”
It is the great and unnecessary sadness of the aftermath that stays with me. Victim-hood is an ugly mistress. It should have been otherwise. Whatever the truths may have been, they could have walked a dignified road without leaving broken bodies lying in anyone’s wake. Jon Carroll (S.F. Chronicle) once wrote, “holding on to resentment is like letting someone live rent-free in your head.” Residential head rent, I believe, should be collected in embraceable memories, anything else evicted. I think back to the bright, fun-loving and talented young guys who came into my world when I was a senior in high school, bringing with them an innocence and a genuine musical ability. They were bursting at the seams with the energy and spirit of the music that made me want to stand up and shout out loud, or as John once said, “…music that made me want to beat a dent into the dashboard of mom’s car when it came on the radio.” In their quest to capture the great spirit of rock & roll they became masters of the discipline, only to fall from the sky when they ventured too close to the sun.
No matter how skilled the musicians John would later come to surround himself with, they would never capture the true feeling of what had been when he played with his best friends from junior high school. Stu and Doug founded “Creedence Clearwater Revisited,” a truly fine group of musicians playing and emulating with superb finesse the songs of their former band, and likewise, never completely capture the magic that was created when they played with their old pal, John Fogerty. As John would say years later, “Creedence had style.” Lawyers would grow fat feasting on the leftovers.
Prior to the bitter end, having emerged from the stress and trauma of Tom’s departure and all the events leading up to it, it became party time! It had been the band’s practice in prior years to go out and play on weekends. They’d schedule concerts in, say, Boston and New York for Friday and Saturday, and fly home Sunday. Then they’d do Chicago and Detroit the same way. Los Angeles and San Diego. Seattle and Vancouver. And so forth, the 1970 European tour excepted. Sometimes band members would bring their wives along. Then we started putting together tours that played 20 cities in less than a month and no wives came along. They leased their own Lear Jet so there would be no concerns with airline schedules, meaning we could party harder and sleep later. It was time to kick out the jams and taste it all, a headlong rush to the waiting abyss.
Jake Rohrer was the manager of Creedence Clearwater Revival. He now lives on the island of Maui in Hawai’i where he and his wife Lurie promote and preserve native Hawaiian music. One of the groups the Rohrers invited to record on their Ululoa label is thewww.theava.com/special-projects) where it first appeared. Previous chapters can also be found there.