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Off the Record (Jan 14, 2014)

THE FOLLOWING is an Instagram message sent by a Mendocino High School student to a Boonville high school kid. The names of the recipient and his disturbed assailant have been removed on the dubious assumption that the assailant is getting psychiatric attention:

…buddy, you are not worth my time to create an instagram just for me to talk shit to you. we will bust in your eyes in basketball and send you back on the bus depressed because you have to go back to the terrible town we all know as av you got wrecked brother… avtakesitdeep you are the biggest faggot and pussy I never fucking seen i watched Mendo smash your anus and I'll watch that film many times again and watch the same thing im not on the team im not this bitch [name withheld] fag, but i watched you get hit in the game and you say that is a cheap hit? Then have fun staying in av all your life, you are going to be a dried up faggot just like i knew you would. Your boy [name withheld] has some talent bro but you're a bad player and a bad attituded faggot. I hope you die in a fucking car crash have fun being a poor loser in that shit hole of a town. Please fucking die faggot. Ps how are those cumshots feeling…

AND SO ON. The author would seem to have “issues,” as they say these days in Therapy Land, and “homophobia” doesn't begin to describe the lad's fear of same-sexers. You don't have to be Freud to understand that the Mendo kid also has some serious anxiety about his own sexuality. There's that, and there's the kid's language skills, or lack thereof. Is composition taught anywhere in Mendocino County's high schools?

THE PSYCHO-GRAM was prompted by episodes occurring in the November Boonville vs. Mendocino football game. Boonville's coach, Dan Kuny, doesn't allow any trash-talking, on or off the field. Mendocino has several kids who are permitted to insult opponents. Or maybe their coaches didn't hear it, but that seems unlikely. And Mendocino had plenty to be frustrated about as Boonville trounced them not once but three times in 2014.

THE PARENTS of the Boonville kid on the receiving end of the Instagram abuse went to both the cops and the school authorities where it faded into… Well, nobody knows if there was any intervention on the Mendocino end. But the police concluded that since it seems to have been a one-off tantrum without specific threats, it was not actionable in any legal sense. We'll also assume it's not representative of the Mendocino Coast's keen teen thought processes.

FREE SPEECH, much in the news lately, has always been honored in principle in America, not nearly as often in practice. In the land of the free and the home of the brave you practice free speech at your peril.

HERE IN “liberal” Mendocino County, free speech, as a go-to-the-wall-for principle, exists at your beloved community newspaper, the Ukiah Daily Journal and, more or less, the alternative radio station KMEC based in the historically non-free speech Mendocino Environment Center.

AT PUBLIC RADIO MENDOCINO, aka KZYX, free speech does not exist in principle or practice, even among the station's radlib talk show hosts. They talk, we listen. And they deal strictly in far away matters. There is no local news, no discussion of local issues, no opportunities to call in and express a random opinion. There is never, ever any give and take at KZYX although, as commercial radio understands, give and take can make for interesting radio.

THE UKIAH DAILY JOURNAL as free speech bastion? Yeah. Editor KC Meadows keeps the letters columns open to all perspectives, which is more than most newspapers do. (cf the cringing Santa Rosa Press Democrat). In the Journal, and speaking on the general theme of Charlie Hebdo, we've often read threats in the Journal from "liberals" like Dr. Marvin Trotter (who of course has a show on KZYX) and an inland Buddhist called David Rounds, a Harvard grad and former Boonville English teacher. These two, and others who seem to imagine themselves as highly principled individuals, have called for the Journal to ban the Sunday columns of Tommy Wayne Kramer.  It's not enough for these two freedom fighters to leave it up to the reader to decide to read or not read. Trotter and Rounds want to decide for all of us because they know what's appropriate!


BTW, SORRY to see Michael Kisslinger depart KZYX's hard-hitting news team. How the heck are we going to know the weather in Lakeport without Mike?

TO HER ETERNAL CREDIT, Ms. Meadows has refused to cave in to the inland Taliban, but Trotter and Rounds are only the tip of a large County-wide lib-censor crew. Too gutless to argue, they go for the knife in the back, the casual ax. Ms. Meadows herself was fired at KZYX for (gasp!) expressing a skeptical on-air marijuana opinion during a debate she was moderating. The pot libs went nuts and demanded her head which, of course, KZYX's perpetually pusillanimous management immediately presented to them. We will also mention here, and with the usual martyred sigh, that the AVA was banned from even being mentioned on air before the station went live, making us the senior non-persons (among many since) at Free Speech Radio, Mendocino.

ALL THE GRAND talk from Americans about how brave the French are for standing up to the fanatics, and gosh we'll never give in to terrorists is, from my perspective, mostly long distance hot air. Freedom of opinion is the principle this country is founded on but, as recent events in Mendocino and Fort Bragg again prove, and it took a high school girl's basketball team to prove it, free speech dangles everywhere by a very thin thread, certainly here in "progressive" Mendo.

* * *

(Ed note: The following is an excerpt from a much longer article we wrote in April of 2008 about the debate about Mendocino’s Measure B hosted by Ms. Meadows. Measure B would have undone (and did undo, after it narrowly passed in June of 2008, the earlier pot-friendly Measure G. Ms. Meadows was the host of the debate and most of this excerpt is her account of what happened.)...

"I'm clearly surprised and angry at KZYX’s handling of what objectively was nothing more than a robust but civil discussion of a controversial local matter, a discussion that would be viewed as tame and even tedious by commercial radio standards," Meadows said as she described the gloomy events.

“THIS MORNING I talked with Belinda [Rawlins, then station manager] at KZYX after calling the station to talk to program manager Mary Aigner to congratulate her on her participation in my program last night on Measure B with Ross Liberty (Yes on B) and Keith Faulder (No on B). Mary, I was told, wasn't there but, boy, Belinda (Station Manager) wanted to talk to me.

"SHE SAID the folks at KZYX were very upset that I got involved in expressing my own opinions during the hour and that Mary (!) had been suspended for speaking out on problems with commercial pot growing. As soon as Mary (who was running the board for me and there to do pledge drive breaks) started saying her own Anderson Valley neighborhood had been overtaken by pot growers, the staff at KZYX went nuts, signaling to her over and over to shut up. She didn't.

“MARY never said, ‘Vote for Measure B.’ She simply stated that problems with commercial pot growing were real and she'd seen them first hand. Suspending her for that, it seems to me, borders on a serious First Amendment violation. I wonder, if Mary had said something like, ‘It’s been my experience that medical marijuana patients really have a problem finding supplies,’ she would be under suspension right now?)

"FOR SOME REASON there was a real crowd at the station last night, I assume because they're in the middle of pledge drive. The crowd, I am told from someone standing among them, was also going crazy trying to get me to shut up, too. One woman (later identified as Lynda McClure, an opponent of Measure B) actually put a note to that effect up to the broadcast booth window, but I didn't have my glasses on and couldn't see it. Anyway I wouldn't have shut up. I said at the beginning of the broadcast that I was a fervent Measure B supporter and that would be clear during the show. For some reason the folks at KZYX assumed I was simply hosting some kind of non-partisan debate on Measure B. I would never have agreed to that. First, I am not unbiased about it. That is why I stepped aside from my usual role as moderator for the forum the Daily Journal is hosting May 8 with the American Association of University Women and the National Women's Political Caucus. Plus, I express my opinions on my monthly show all the time. Why would last night be any different?

"BELINDA (I am sorry but I don't know her last name and the staff isn't listed on the station Web site) told me that all programmers are forbidden from expressing opinions on anything on any up-coming ballot as they are officially representatives of the station when on the air. She said that's an IRS rule and an FCC rule. I have to say I find this odd given the dedicated bias of KZYX, NPR and other public radio sources on any number of left of center issues. They defend it saying they are basically the voice of the non-mainstream and that's their mission. Belinda said she would send me a copy of the rules. She said I am suspended from KZYX, too. I said, 'Let's just consider it my last show.'” …

AIGNER AND RAWLINS were in a power struggle at the time when all this occurred. Rawlins tried to fire Aig but Rawlins left and Aig stayed. From a free speech vantage point, it was a lateral move.

KC MEADOWS might agree, although she hasn't paid any attention to KZYX since she told them to piss off forever, that an ongoing prob with Free Speech Mendocino is the inability of management to decode their native tongue, hence the literal-mindedness, the absence of any sense of irony let alone humor, the all-round pusillanimity. Only in Mediocre Mendo would these people be at the controls of a public radio station.

MEANWHILE, here in the home of the brave, the Associated Press, the world’s largest news collective, said last Wednesday its policy is to not show images of the Prophet Muhammad like the ones published on the cover of Charlie Hebdo magazine that was attacked by terrorists Wednesday. “None of the images distributed by AP showed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad,” said AP spokesman Paul Colford. A photo of Charlie Hebdo's now-dead editor holding a Muhammad cover on the AP news wire was deliberately cropped out. “It’s been our policy for years that we refrain from moving deliberately provocative images.”

"THE INDIVIDUALS who were murdered were more than Charlie Hebdo. The drawings of Cabu and Wolinski appeared in many publications, and were known to a public that never bought Charlie Hebdo. The artists and writers at that editorial meeting all had their talents and qualities which had nothing to do with the “blasphemic” cartoons. Freedom of the press is also freedom to be vulgar and stupid from time to time.

Charlie Hebdo was not in reality a model of freedom of speech. It has ended up, like so much of the “human rights left”, defending U.S.-led wars against “dictators”.

In 2002, Philippe Val, who was editor in chief at the time, denounced Noam Chomsky for anti-Americanism and excessive criticism of Israel and of mainstream media. In 2008, another of Charlie Hebdo’s famous cartoonists, Siné, wrote a short note citing a news item that President Sarkozy’s son Jean was going to convert to Judaism to marry the heiress of a prosperous appliance chain. Siné added the comment, “He’ll go far, this lad.” For that, Siné was fired by Philippe Val on grounds of “anti-Semitism”. Siné promptly founded a rival paper which stole a number of Charlie Hebdo readers, revolted by CH’s double standards. In short, Charlie Hebdo was an extreme example of what is wrong with the “politically correct” line of the current French left. The irony is that the murderous attack by the apparently Islamist killers has suddenly sanctified this fading expression of extended adolescent revolt, which was losing its popular appeal, into the eternal banner of a Free Press and Liberty of Expression. Whatever the murderers intended, this is what they have achieved. Along with taking innocent lives, they have surely deepened the sense of brutal chaos in this world, aggravated distrust between ethnic groups in France and in Europe, and no doubt accomplished other evil results as well. In this age of suspicion, conspiracy theories are certain to proliferate." — Diana Johnstone

THE RURAL IDIOT'S GUIDE to Charlie Hebdo, or how we got to Charlie Hebdo. Some people might say it started with the Crusades or, later, with the Grand Mufti's affiliation with Hitler. But the path to random slaughter in the name of the one true god really picked up steam with the Zionist creation of Israel at the expense of the people who lived there, the Palestinians. The persecution of the Palestinians has been a constant aggravation in the Arab world since 1948. Then Egypt tried to take control of itself only to be crushed by imperial interests led by the British. The CIA overthrew the liberal nationalist Mossedegh in Iran in what '57? The consequences of that blunder are still playing out. Then our CIA funded Osama bin Laden and his friends in Afghanistan to expel the godless Russians. Osama et al subsequently turned our weapons against US as he announced that America would go broke as he sucked US into a global game of rope-a-dope. The Bush-Cheney regime's invasion of Iraq on the basis of transparent lies soon destabilized the entire Middle East and much of North Africa and here we are.


AVA READERS MAY RECALL back in October when Elaine Matthews, 72, was arrested at her Little River home for an alleged assault on her boyfriend, James Meacham, 65. At the time we took one look at her booking photo, her background, her age, her lack of a record, and a long look at the record of her male cohabitant, Mr. James Meacham and his many arrests, and concluded that Ms. Matthews was undoubtedly the victim, not the perp.

NOW, here it is January of 2015 and Mr. Meacham has popped up in the booking log two more times in two days (Jan 6, Jan 7) charged with domestic assault, violation of a protective order and probation revocation — effectively confirming our prior conclusion. When the old drunk got arrested last week it was for violating a stay away order obtained by Ms. Mathews.

WE NEVER got official word on what happened to Ms. Matthew’s October arrest, but since we couldn’t find it on any subsequent court calendar, we assume it was simply dropped by the District Attorney as being unfounded.

MS. MATTHEWS has a not uncommon story, in the sense of her devotion to a bad man. Her first husband, Bert Pulitzer, is descended from the famous newspaper family and is a famous men's clothing designer in New York. Media reports say Glen Beck is one of his favorite television personalities, an indication that Ms. Mathews was too smart for that marriage. She and Pulitzer divorced many years ago with Bert leaving his wife with three children and little financial support. Their now adult daughter, Lisa Pulitzer, grew up to become a well-known crime writer; the family remains socially prominent enough to have her (Lisa’s) wedding written up in the New York Times. Ms. Matthews' second husband, Gilbert Matthews, is a San Francisco-based investment banker. They divorced sometime in the early 2000s.

MS. MATTHEWS moved to the Mendocino Coast from San Francisco and continued her work as an interior designer, receiving honorary acknowledgement from the Mendocino Historic Review Board for her “careful restoration and rehabilitation of the Denslow-Hayden House and guest cottage (circa 1875) on Ukiah Street.”


MEACHAM, seven years Matthews' junior, has a much less impressive pedigree. His arrest record goes back to 2007 (in Mendocino County) with DUI and domestic violence as the recurring themes. His arrests for domestic violence are recurring. On New Year’s Day 2011, Meacham was arrested at Matthews' home on Headlands Drive in Little River and subsequently pleaded guilty to domestic violence, receiving a 36 month probation but no jail time. The arrest was for corporal injury to a spouse, presumably Ms. Matthews, during which Meachem also physically prevented her from calling the police.

THE POLICE REPORT READ: “Deputies learned from both the victim and suspect [James Meacham] that they had been involved in a verbal argument that escalated into Meacham grabbing hold of the victim's arm to prevent her from summoning law enforcement by telephone. During the physical contact the victim sustained her injury…”

IN AUGUST 2013 Ms. Matthews obtained a restraining order against Meacham. And there was another call from the Matthews-Meacham household in January of 2014 for a domestic disturbance.

NOW, in January of 2015, Meacham has been arrested again for domestic battery. Either the restraining order is completely ineffective or Ms. Matthews has to call the cops on the creep to get him out of her house.

THE CHRON'S lead editorial was headlined: “A fighter retires, new fight begins.” You'd have thought Joan of Arc was packing it in, but the reference was to Barbara Boxer, a mainstem Democrat and unflinching supporter of everything gone terribly wrong inside and outside the country.

IN A WEIRD self-interview routed through her grandson on YouTube — the grandson didn't even bother to put his long pants on for the big event — Boxer says, “I don't believe in lame-duckism. I think Barack Obama is proving that. Bill Clinton proved it, and I'm going to prove it.” Prove what? That you can give the country to Wall Street and still pretend you're some kind of noble opposition figure?

YEARS AGO, our very own Dave Severn happened to be seated next to Boxer on a flight from San Francisco to Washington. She was not identifiable at casual glance as the Barbara Boxer. This is what ensued:

AVA, January 29, 2003 — "By far the best story of my trip to Washington DC happened on the flight home. I was lucky enough to get bumped up to a business class seat. Flying standby, I'm almost always one of the last people to get on board. I had a window seat and the woman seated next to me had to move her three bags out of my way as I slid into my place. She was a smallish lady with nondescript, well-worn, clothing and a kind of cloistered air. She had on a visored headband and sunglasses, giving her a California girl appearance except for her square toed high heel shoes that I had been noticing was a preferred choice by the young Washington DC debutantes. These shoes, like the rest of her attire appeared comfortably worn. On her left hand was probably the largest diamond wedding ring I've ever seen (though admittedly I haven't seen that many) and she had glued on fingernails — two conventional trappings that to the average person are probably attractive but to me have always made the hands look a little deformed... I was lying back with my eyes closed trying to get some sleep. At one point I opened them and noticed my neighbor had taken out from one of her bags an irregular shaped piece of cardboard and some papers that she was working on with a pencil. The printed lines on these pages were maybe 3/8 of an inch high, impossible not to see, and almost immediately my eye caught two words at the beginning of a sentence: “Mr. President.”

"Not wanting to be nosy, I immediately looked away, but my curiosity had been piqued. After a brief period trying to figure just what I would say, I simply apologized for the invasion and asked if she was writing a letter to the president, explaining that I, myself, had written to him recently. My hearing is going and the rumble in an airplane so fills my head that conversation is difficult if not impossible.

"She said something and I believe I heard the word “rhetorical” so my belief was that she had said she was not actually writing to the president. I don't know. I pulled out the AVA I had earlier been reading and showed her the full-page anti-war ad and the statement to Bush. She said something that to me was mumble, mumble and then, “…when I was talking to Ashcroft yesterday” something, something. “Ashcroft!” I exclaimed. “How in the hell did you get to him? … I knocked my head against the wall yesterday trying to see the receptionist at Health and Human Services.”

“I'm a senator,” she said, flatly.

“What's your name?” I fumbled still not getting it.

“Barbara Boxer,” she answered.

“I'll be darned,” I said. “I was in your office yesterday. I got mixed up and thought I was in Feinstein's office and I bawled-out your aide for Dianne's vote to go to war.”

"We both chuckled at my mistake and the senator went on to tell me a little about her position against the war, much, if not most of which I didn't hear. She was curious about the paper, saying she wasn't familiar with the AVA and asked if she could keep it, apparently not having received the one left with her office staff. Soon, she went back to her editing and I to dozing. We had a couple of very brief light conversations during the remaining flight and no more. Besides my hearing difficulties I didn't want to impose upon her.

"At the end of the flight Senator Boxer was met by a small entourage, I'm calling them the bodyguard, the chauffeur and the manager. She carried her own bags."

A FEMALE STAFFER from Senator Boxer's DC office soon called Boonville after this report appeared in the paper to ask for copies of that issue of the AVA for the Senator’s archive.

HERE COMES WALMART! The Fort Bragg hearing on a new shopping center at NW corner of Hwys 1 & 20 Jan 28th between Mendocino College campus and Hwy 1, is set for January 28th. Documents available at City Hall, the library, and online.

REACH A CERTAIN AGE and you spend more and more time at funerals for people you would rather remember when they were upright, or visiting friends in nursing homes, which now seem organized around stages of decay. There are homes for the ambulatory elderly, the waiting to die elderly, the permanent parking place for the elderly without families. There are of course some rehab places specializing in post-op persons of all ages who will walk out to live another day. I've visited all of them and always come away vowing, “Not for me, ever.” But you get to a certain stage of decrepitude and you're too weak to physically resist. (Note to self: Keep gun handy.) I was in one last Saturday in Petaluma. Not a bad place up in the west hills. It was clean, the staffers pleasant and on-task, the lunch looked edible. A cluster of geezers and geezettes clustered at the front door as if considering making a break for it. I imagined a sudden pile of wheelchairs careening down hill in the wan, winter light. The wheezes looked at me expectantly, pleadingly, as if to say, “This is what it all comes to?” Yeah, if you're unlucky. But if you're lucky to have a more or less functioning family, they'll keep you at home somehow, which is much easier to do in the civilized countries than here. Here, families do the heavy lifting. There, Norway say, government is committed to keeping the old people in their homes where their places are familiarly secure in a cosmology of family, friends, neighborhoods. But that's socialism so we can't have that, which everywhere else is recognized as simply humanity. As her lunch tray is placed before her, an old lady says to the Mexican girl, “How is one supposed to eat cornbread with no butter?” The girl, with perfect articulation, replies with a smile, “If one asks for butter one is likely to get it.” As I walked back out the front door, the same expectant knot of the doomed elderly still clustered. An old guy looked at me as if maybe I could liberate him.

THE UKIAH PAPER'S STORY BEGINS, "The Mendocino County Board of Education may move forward with a retroactive pay increase for former county superintendent Paul Tichinin at Monday's board meeting, now that a tentative contract agreement is in place between the bargaining unit of Mendocino County Federation of School Employees and county office personnel, according to the board's agenda…"

IN OTHER WORDS, lame duck Superintendent Tichinin was trying to weasel another (and retroactive) raise out of his usually docile, rubber stamp board. The raise would also sweeten Tich's looming retirement deal that much more. If the school board had to give the Superintendent the money out of their own pockets he wouldn't get a dime, but public boards tend to throw public money around like drunks on pay day, their own money like manhole covers. If County voters knew that the County Superintendent of Schools does absolutely nothing to benefit children and never has they might mass with pitchforks at the door to the agency's comfortable offices at Talmage.

TICHININ'S UNTRUSTWORTHY trustees had already given him a last couple of all expenses paid junkets to distant conventions (I believe District 5's trustee opposed one of the junkets) as another parting gift to a guy who heads a redundant agency that does not do one thing the individual school districts of the county could not do better and cheaper themselves. (In a nation of publicly-funded clusterfucks, the Mendocino County Office of Education is in a cluster by itself.)

BUT TICHININ didn't get the raise, meaning a minor miracle of public responsibility had occurred. He'll still go out with a salary upwards of $130,290 excluding benefits, and I wonder if he'll also get to drive his free, edu-funded car back to his home in Fort Bragg after his last day on the "job."

One Comment

  1. Nate Collins March 17, 2015

    ….this brevity is pure genius…
    THE RURAL IDIOT’S GUIDE to Charlie Hebdo, or how we got to Charlie Hebdo. Some people might say it started with the Crusades or, later, with the Grand Mufti’s affiliation with Hitler. But the path to random slaughter in the name of the one true god really picked up steam with the Zionist creation of Israel at the expense of the people who lived there, the Palestinians. The persecution of the Palestinians has been a constant aggravation in the Arab world since 1948. Then Egypt tried to take control of itself only to be crushed by imperial interests led by the British. The CIA overthrew the liberal nationalist Mossedegh in Iran in what ’57? The consequences of that blunder are still playing out. Then our CIA funded Osama bin Laden and his friends in Afghanistan to expel the godless Russians. Osama et al subsequently turned our weapons against US as he announced that America would go broke as he sucked US into a global game of rope-a-dope. The Bush-Cheney regime’s invasion of Iraq on the basis of transparent lies soon destabilized the entire Middle East and much of North Africa and here we are.

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