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Off the Record (July 29, 2015)

BOWE BERGDAHL, the once-missing US soldier in Afghanistan released in a prisoner exchange with the Taliban and later accused of desertion, turned up in Mendocino County last week. He was visiting old friends in Redwood Valley when Mendo's Drug Task Force arrived on a marijuana raid and scooped Bergdahl up with several other persons on the remote property on deep Tomki Road the soldier was visiting. Bergdahl remains on active Army duty as he awaits military court martial. He was carrying an Army pass allowing him to be in Mendocino County. He had no connection to the dope grow, which seems to have been the work of a friend of his. Military authorities "all the way up to the Pentagon," as Sheriff Tom Allman put it, were soon aware that Bergdahl was in the custody of Mendocino County and, in a few hours, our Sheriff's Department was driving the famous warrior to Oakland where an Army major was waiting to fly him back to the East Coast.

A BILL banning the naming of schools and roads after notable Confederates had been proposed by a posturing State Senator named Steve Glazer of the all-white Bay Area town of Orinda. Glazer, a Democrat (of course), immediately caved (of course) to the ensuing deluge of criticism his silly proposal earned him and changed the bill’s wording so that it would not require cities or institutions to remove names associated with Confederate figures such as Braxton Bragg, Fort Bragg’s namesake.

FORT BRAGG subsequently got the front page of Thursday's San Francisco Chronicle, complete with a nonsensical color photo showing a couple of laughing young guys, an oblivious old guy, and a rear view of a man identified as Tommy Ancona, capo di tutti of Noyo Harbor. The pic could be from anywhere, but the Chron, although it has a whole lotta editors, including one who allegedly oversees the visuals, managed to find one that was not particularly Fort Bragg-specific.


ANCONA, assuming the retreating form in the photo is him, has apparently just told the Chron reporter, Peter Fimrite, that last week's media frenzy over the nutty demand by a handful of black state legislators to change Fort Bragg's name, was, as Ancona accurately assessed it, "bullshit." The young guys are probably laughing because young guys always get a kick out of candid old guys, and probably because young guys these days, especially in the pseudo-liberal ambience of the Mendocino Coast, are slow-basted from kindergarten through high school in the most oppressive, pious, phoniest, forms of political correctness.

ANCONA'S full quote: “It's just all bullshit. If you dig hard enough, there probably isn't a town in this country that doesn't have some connection to bad dealings. You could find excuses all day long to change historical names because someone doesn't think someone in the past was right. This political correctness needs to stop.” Ancona goes on to say he's never seen anyone in Fort Bragg flying the Confederate flag.

MAYBE HE HASN'T, but I have, and wrote about it some years ago. Every year, on Martin Luther King's birthday, a former shop teacher at Fort Bragg High School flew the Confederate flag in his front yard. He was not representative of Fort Bragg's public opinion, although the town, like all American towns, has its retro element.

THE CHRON STORY is called “On the Wrong Side of History — Black lawmakers say Fort Bragg glorifies its slave-owning namesake.” Later in the story we learn that the docent at the Fort Bragg Museum, Mike Stenberg, had to rummage around the attic to even find the one portrait of Braxton Bragg that's on the premises. Bragg, if you came in real late, was a Confederate general, and Fort Bragg's namesake. I'll bet before this manufactured controversy blew up, few Fort Braggers had any idea who the town was named after.

A BLACK KID named Caleb Cunha, who grew up in Fort Bragg and now works for the City of Fort Bragg, is also quoted in the Chron piece: “A lot of my friends growing up, some who I considered best friends, are mad that the Confederate flag is being taken down. They say it's just being politically correct… It's weird for me because growing up, I had a lot of people supporting me and I didn't see that. I kinda thought racism was over. So it's definitely difficult to kind of see the ugly side.”

CUNHA needs to explain to his friends why the Confederate flag is offensive. If they don't get it, kiss them off and find smarter friends.

WRITER FIMRITE characterizes Fort Bragg as a “financially struggling former lumber town…”

YOU WOULDN'T know it from the way the town's government throws money around, but, yes, outside Fort Bragg City Hall, lots of people are struggling.

CONTINUING our fascinating deconstruction of the Chron's story on Fort Bragg's tainted namesake, Confederate General and slaveholder Braxton Bragg, the next day the bold hed on the Chron's letters page was "Tell the Truth about Fort Bragg."

Wow. Like a demand. Fort Bragg's gonna get it now, but all it amounted to was a ponderously PC message from some guy in Chico.

THE TRUTH about Fort Bragg is that it's easily the most beguiling seaside town anywhere on the coasts of California, Oregon and Washington, a place where ordinary people can still enjoy miles of unspoiled ocean vistas, unpopulated beaches, nearby redwood forests, a ramshackle harbor reminiscent of Steinbeck's Cannery Row, some really good little restaurants, two excellent bookstores, and by golly, an old logging train that draws children of all ages from everywhere. If Fort Bragg was called Hitlerville you couldn't keep me away.

ANYWAY, despite the dramatic hed promising the truth about Fort Bragg, only the lead letter, by the highly evolved man from the perfectly harmonious town of Chico, is about Fort Bragg. Second sentence in we read, "The truth is our country has a long history of racism and sexism." Blonk, clonk, glunk, clunk. This constant refrain seems to please a lot of really, really needy libs, but enough already.

WHICH is where most of us stopped reading anyway. Credentials please, Chico Man? Who are you to deliver moral lectures? The point about American history, which at least ought to be mentioned once in a while, is this: Yes, great crimes have been committed here. Although things are currently falling apart every which way, it is also true that everywhere one looks there are genuinely loyal and affectionate cross-ethnic relationships that did not, could not, exist 50 years ago. Generally speaking, young Americans are free of racism, and most older Americans (outside the Republican Party) have also freed themselves from that particular insanity. This far into our bloody history it's also fair and true to say that it's miraculous that we've done as well as we have, that most of us have it a hundred times easier than our grandparents had it. Every critical thing you can possibly say about America is true, which continues to make it the greatest show on earth. Most hopeful show, too. If I read one more letter like the redundant one from that patronizing fool in Chico, I'm driving straight to WalMart and buying myself some more goldfish.

JOURNALISM SCHOOLS seem to traumatize their dimmer students, many of whom go on to become editors where they force the hacks junior to them, especially the ones who show signs of independent life, into great sillinesses like “objectivity” and “alleged” as applied to murderers who are standing over dead bodies with knives or guns in their hands when the police arrive. For a week now, Talen Barton, who wiped out Laytonville's Palmieri family in about three minutes with a butcher knife, has since been referred to as the “alleged” killer or the “accused” killer. Barton did it. There's no alleged or accused about it, and constantly referring to a killer observed in the act makes a lot of reporting read even sillier and duller than it is.

BARTON will plead guilty by reason of insanity and be packed off for the rest of his life. Check that. His public defender is Linda Thompson, meaning we assume she'll plead him out as crazy, and maybe he is. But as the late DA Vroman put it, “Just because a guy is crazy are his victims less dead?”

ON THE SUBJECT of journalo-fantasies like objectivity, most reporters are forced to pretend. Case in point: The recent pr stunt by Assemblyman Wood and Supervisor Hamburg. Hamburg took The Dentist for a plane ride to look at the Mendocino Redwood Company's highly flammable hacked and squirted trees. MRC has been hacking and squirting for several years. People all over the County have been complaining about hack and squirt since it began. The Dentist lives in Healdsburg. He didn't know about it until he got elected and it became time to fake concern. Anyway, a story like this is humanly impossible to write up without slow-drip contempt, prose division. But if you're writing for an objective newspaper like, say, the Press Democrat, a serious paper with horoscopes and the latest on the Kardashians — that's the serious standard in modern journalism — you've got to write The Dentist's aerial jaunt as if it wasn't a clown show.

I DON'T KNOW about you but my first thought when I saw the AP story about the collapse of the interstate bridge linking LA and Phoenix was the Willits Bypass, erected in Little Lake Valley, which remains a lake as we re-discover every non-drought year when it rains a lot. Caltrans says its anchors will keep the elevated lengths of the highway up in the air no matter what the catastrophe.

ISABEL GUTIERREZ-VILLARREAL, 41, of Fort Bragg remains in custody after being arrested last week for the hit-and-run crash that killed Jacob Aaron Howard, 36, also of Fort Bragg. Howard had been on a biking along Highway One the afternoon of Sunday, July 12th when he was struck from behind by a red pickup truck whose driver, Mr. G-V apparently, just kept on driving.

I RENEWED my driver's license last week at the DMV office in Fort Bragg, “the friendliest DMV office in the state,” a sign in the office says. It wasn't always thus in my experience, but my last visit was 20 years ago. That time, I'd walked in just after the office had opened, unaware of the take-a-number system which, as I recall, was new, or at least new to Fort Bragg. (In Ukiah, I understand, you take a number to take a number, and lines are often out the door, which is why I prefer the much smaller Fort Bragg DMV. The waits are never long.)

ANYWAY, continued the garrulous old coot about long ago events, as everyone within range edges out the door, that time in Fort Bragg, I happened to be the only person in the office, apart from the angry woman behind the counter, who seemed to go straight into disapproval mode at the very sight of me, common enough in my experience in Mendocino County wherever I'm recognized, but still is it asking too much for some basic professional dispassion? Can we put aside our personal antipathies and just do our job?

“TAKE A NUMBER!” she snapped. I thought she was kidding, so I laughed. “Take a number, mister!” She fairly yelled the follow-up command. “But, but, but…” I stammered, “I'm the only one here.”

“TAKE A NUMBER AND SIT DOWN, MISTER!” She was now red-faced edging into apoplectic purple. Christ, I thought, I could get hurt in here. Only then did I notice the ticket dispenser. “Oh,” I said, stifling a, “I'm sorry, mommy. I really will try harder. I pwomise.” Defeated, I pulled my ticket and took a seat near the door, still the only person in the room.

NO SOONER had I deposited my bulk in state government plastic, Ms. Psycho-Rama shouted, from maybe five feet away, “Number one!” Which was me. I shuffled slowly forward, scoping her out for weapons, but darned if she hadn't magically calmed all the way down, and was all smiles the rest of the way.

TODAY (last Tuesday), I arrived at the FB DMV office about 11:45. The pleasant lady at the counter asked me if I would mind coming back after the lunch hour, because they close from noon to one. No problemo, I said. I had to take the test and the eye test, sign a buncha forms, give over a thumb print, and fork over $35, all of which would undoubtedly take longer than 15 minutes. Looking around, and right here I'm going to make a very broad sociological generalization that probably doesn't apply strictly to Fort Bragg, but before noon the people doing business seemed, well, mainstream, respectable, together, all relevant docs in hand. When I returned after lunch, there were two guys in wife beaters and neck tats, one woman who was obviously tweaked, and a heavily made up young woman whose shorts showed way too much butt cheek. My theory? More or less together citizens try to get their government business done first thing. The After Hours community doesn't even get rolling until noon, maybe later, and their business takes a lot longer to conduct. "Uh, like I lost my registration, and them my friend took my car, and, uh, um, no that isn't my car. I borrowed to come down here for my driver's test because, like, the cops took my license." But the three ladies behind the counter sorted it all out and managed to keep things rolling along.

ANOTHER THING, either the test is getting easier or I'm getting smarter, but I know for a measurable fact I peaked, intelligence-wise, 50 years ago, and I wasn't any whiz kid then. But it's clear the test is a lot easier. I used to flunk it. This time I aced that baby — only two wrong! And now you have the option of skipping three questions. (I skipped three toughies.) It's just about impossible for a native English speaker to flunk the test, and I confess I drove to Fort Bragg with the pre-test jitters until it occurred to me that if the DMV flunked all the people who have no business operating any machine, let alone a big powerful one like an automobile, the car economy would crumble even faster.

WHAT I HAVE OBSERVED in 25 years of working with children is that psychiatrists usually prescribe medications to children based on information that some adult observed. They almost never observe the behavior themselves. Foster parents and foster family agencies often exhibit levels of Munchausen syndrome. The sicker a child is, the more money they receive. Having a kid placed in care who is prescribed psychotropic meds is a big money maker, they then qualify for specialized care rates. I’m here to tell you, it’s a big, big racket.

I ONCE had a 14 year old girl assigned to me that had been taking an unbelievable amount of psychotropic medications for years. She was a walking zombie. After reviewing her history and medical records I concluded that no one had ever reported that they observed any behaviors except for the foster parent. I moved her to another foster home and convinced our psychiatrist to place the child on what is commonly known as a “medication holiday,” so we could see what was really going on underneath with this child and what we were really working with.

WE FOUND a very delightful, bright young lady full of enthusiasm. She was truly amazing, there were no signs of any of the behaviors reported by the foster mother. After a lengthy investigation the foster mother lost her license, we all should be thankful of that. I don’t know what ever became of the young lady but I hope she’s doing well.

THIS IS WHY we need to monitor what’s going on with our children’s mental health program, Redwood Quality Management (RQM). That company is also a foster care provider who almost always requests specialized foster care rates from Family and Children’s Services. The fastest way to get those rates is to have a kid on meds. I know that for a fact.

In my personal and professional opinion, the Ortner mess is mild compared to what’s going on in our children’s system of care, where there is a lot of money being passed around. I’d like to know how many of Mendocino County foster children are currently on psychotropic medications and how we compare to the state average. I would also like to know how many foster homes and foster care agencies are receiving specialized care rates and how we compare with that on a state average as well. FCS has those numbers and they should share them with the public.

ALL FOSTER CHILDREN prescribed psychotropic medications have to have court approval. That approval is sought by Family and Children’s Services base on a psychiatrist’s request. Again, psychiatrists rarely observe the behavior themselves, they rely on what the foster care provider reports to them.

THE ABOVE observations by social worker James Marmon are not only true, they're humane, especially coming from a guy in the business. 'Humane' used to be assumed in social work, but no more. The only thing left out of Marmon's critique is that the victims of childhood drugging are, guess who? The children of people who are in no position to fight back, people who generally concede drugging decisions to the experts, the professionals, the schools, the courts, all of whom, in Mendocino County, are one big interchangeable, me-first, crypto-fascist blob. Strike that. In certain contexts the blob would certainly go for uniforms and jack boots, and will when the Man on the White Horse arrives, but in the mean time, and it's a very mean time out there for dependent children, I certainly would not trust the Mendocino County apparatus to guard the best interests of my child, and you shouldn't either. In a decent society, a guy like Marmon would be in charge of children's protective services, but, Mendo being Mendo, he was driven from his job with Social Services for conscientiously going to bat for dependent children, and conscientiousness, in the Mendo helping pros context, is translated as "difficult to work with" and gets you fired.

NewsrackANOTHER SIGN that newspapers in print form are going glub, glub, glub: “Sho-Rack Closure April 30, 2015 — We regret to inform our friends and valued customers that after nearly 60 years of serving the newspaper industry, Kaspar Sho-Rack will cease operations. Sho-Rack stopped accepting orders on April 30, 2015 and will complete all shipments by August 30, 2015.”

SHO-RACK is the bigger of the top two newspaper cash box companies. They're based in Texas and come up first in Google searches, and sell nationwide. It’s where all the Mendo papers buy parts from, but I don’t think anyone is buying new newspaper boxes now, which is no doubt why they are closing.

THE REDUNDANT and still proposed Coast trash transfer station did not get its anticipated rubber stamp from a joint meeting of the Supervisors and Fort Bragg City Council. The meeting was postponed until August 18th in Ukiah because, according to the predictably misleading press release circulated by County trash czar Mike Sweeney, Fish and Wildlife is threatening a lawsuit if the $5 million project proceeds. There is an existing transfer station at Pudding Creek owned and operated by Waste Management which could easily accommodate the relatively small added burden of trash now processed at Caspar. The Mendo Coast does not need a new trash transfer station. (See the letter on the subject from Rixanne Wehren et al in this week's letters)

THAT'S THE GOOD NEWS this week from Fort Bragg. The bad news is the proposed ballot measure to rezone downtown Fort Bragg to exclude homeless shelters, failed to qualify by a single signature. And you already know that the recall effort dissolved in a haze of infighting and recriminations. Mayor Turner probably thinks these failures vindicate his sterling leadership, but considered as a whole, it's simply more evidence that the Nice People, as everywhere in the County, have no problem excluding a good half of Fort Bragg's population from any say in how the town is managed.

EXCELLENT REPORT by Jennifer Poole of the Willits Weekly on the ongoing problems with the Willits Bypass, which says in part, "A state investigation has determined the falsework that collapsed on the Willits bypass on January 22 'was not properly designed, was not erected as per the design plans, was missing components, [and] deficiencies were not identified when inspected and signed off by the project engineer for the company erecting it... The project had more than 150 feet of falsework collapse during a concrete pour,” the investigation summary states. The falsework failed at less than 50 percent of its design capacity and fell more than 25 feet with multiple [employees] working on the top of the structure and one [employee] … an environmental engineer working under the structure..."

THE SAN RAFAEL PACIFICS, an unclassified pro baseball team based in Marin, has announced that they're going to try out a computerized video system to call balls and strikes, meaning one more looming change to a game that's fine as it is, and a game that has already undergone too many “improvements.” I'm surprised that some ballplayers are for it, but I agree with former major league umpire, Eddie Montague: “Who are they going to kick dirt on? Who are the fans going to yell at? The machine? You might as well stay home and play a video game.”

REEL SHORT MOVIE REVIEW: The Chron's unreliable movie reviewer, Mick LaSalle, is, in a reverse way and despite himself, a reliable guide to new movies. If LaSalle says the film is great, it might or might not be watchable. If he's offended by the politics of a movie — i.e., the film is outside the lib-lab consensus that is the SF Chronicle — you can be certain it's worth the price of admission.

APPLYING THE LaSALLE standard to “Southpaw” — Mick says in last Thursday's paper, “We're far enough into the year to be able to say that Southpaw is one of the great films of 2015” I took a chance. Heck, I reasoned, by 2015 standards it probably is great, but name another big budget job this year that's any good at all.

“SOUTHPAW,” in fact, is totally implausible and thoroughly mawk-drenched. Watchable? Just barely. It's silly. Totally implausible, a kind of updated Rocky but not anywhere near as good. That said, Jake Gyllenhaal is very good as the boxer, as is Forest Whitaker as the white boy's inspiration. The rest of the acting is marginal. The more romantic but less reality-based libs, i.e., the San Francisco Chronicle will love the Gyllenhaal-Whitaker relationship.

THERE'S A FEMALE CHILD central to this thing, too, which should be a major mawk alert all by itself. (If I'd known a kid was in it, I'd have stayed away, although for an American child actor, this kid wasn't too offensive.) The boxing, though, is realistic, the only stuff that is.

JAYMA SHIELDS SPENCE, Coordinator of the Laytonville Healthy Start Family Resource Center, will be Jane Futcher’s guest on KZYX radio’s The Cannabis Hour on Thursday, July 30, at 9am. Shields will share her thoughts on the impacts of cannabis cultivation and culture on the children and families her agency serves. KZYX broadcasts on 90.7 FM, Philo; 91.5 FM, Willits and Ukiah, and 88.1 FM, Fort Bragg. Together, they make up Mendocino County Public Broadcasting.

HUGO MORALES was profiled by Anderson Valley resident Jerry Cox in these pages back in December of 2013

And now he is featured in a recent PBS documentary called “Migrant Heroes” posted on the PBS website at

Migrant Heroes depicts Hugo Morales, a Mixtec Indian from Oaxaca, Mexico, who as a child immigrated with his family to the US. A California farmworker at first, he eventually graduated from Harvard Law before creating Radio Bilingüe — a trilingual radio station that caters to the needs of indigenous immigrants. The film, by popular Mexican documentarian Yolanda Cruz, explores Morales' life and work through animation and documentary elements.


WE’RE NOT SURE WHAT TO MAKE of Assemblyman Jim Wood’s remarks, as quoted in a recent Ukiah Daily Journal. The former Cloverdale dentist flew over areas of Mendocino Redwood Company’s hack and squirted timberlands. Hack and squirt is the chemical poisoning of non-commercial trees. They die upright and become a major fire hazard of the toxic type.

AFTER FIRST TELLING UDJ reporter Adam Randall that he “has been paying attention to what has been going on with the controversial issue,” Wood was then quoted in Thursday’s paper as saying, “There’s no pattern to it. It’s not like every tree in the area has been hack-and-squirted, so there must be a method.”

“NOT EVERY TREE”? Of course not every tree! They’re not all tanoaks! The “method” is to hack-and-squirt tanoaks, making them into giant torches before, after a few years, they crumble into piles of sawdust. One wonders what Wood was “paying attention to” before he went up in the air with MRC.

MAYBE WE SHOULDN’T BE SURPRISED. Wood, as mayor of Healdsburg before moving on to the glories of Sacramento as our assemblyman, justified his political ambitions with this odd leap of logic: “With so much change facing the dental profession and health care in general, my understanding of the challenges of running a private practice along with the access to care issues facing our communities will make me a positive addition to the Assembly.”

ALMOST AS CHAUNCY-LIKE as Wood's post-flight remarks, was this observation attributed to Supervisor Dan Hamburg. Hamburg had apparently arranged for Assemblyman Wood’s aerial survey: “Mendocino County Supervisor Dan Hamburg, right (shown with state Assemblyman Jim Wood) said the purpose of the fly-over was ‘to introduce the assemblyman to the issue that county members have become increasingly concerned about’.”

“COUNTY MEMBERS”? Mendocino County is a membership organization?

THE WHOLE THING was obviously a crude political photo-op to cover the fact that neither of these Democrats is going to do anydamnthing about Hack&Squirt.

MULTI-MILLIONAIRE WANTS TEN BUCKS. Hillary Clinton writes: "Friend. Thank you for joining this team. I'm so glad to have you in this campaign. As I travel from state to state, I am having honest conversations with people about their hopes for the future of our country. From Iowa to Nevada to New Hampshire and more, Americans want the same things: the opportunity for their families to succeed. I'm running for president so that I can fight for those families. Because when families are strong, and when children have the opportunity to live up to their God-given potential, that's when America is strong. It means so much to know that you're committed to this campaign. Now will you chip in $10 or more to support this team? This campaign isn't about me. It's about the future we all want to see for our country. Thank you for being a part of it. Hillary."

DEAR HIL, I'm supporting Bernie, and when you and the Democrats screw him, as is inevitable, I'll vote for Dr. Stein of the Green Party. Nothing personal, but if the choice gets down to you and Jeb, half the people in the country will commit suicide and the other half will get drunk and stay that way.

A STAMPEDE for survival gear has been set off by the recent New Yorker article that says the next really big one will wipe out everything west of I-5, from Eureka to Vancouver. A reader puts it this way: More people will perish subsequent to a major earthquake rather than during one. Most urban residents fail to realize that in a real major earthquake, which nobody in the Bay Area has ever experienced, there will be power outages lasting for days or even weeks, the possibility of water systems being wiped out, complete disruption to travel for months at a minimum, and no ability to conduct commerce whatsoever. The national guard actually has a plan in place to isolate the Bay Area in the event of a significant seismic event by closing I-80 and U.S. 101 to all but necessary traffic for aid. Imagine if a magnitude 7.5 quake strikes the Hayward fault in Oakland. The Bay Bridge is gone, Oakland and San Francisco airports are damaged beyond repair, the San Mateo bridge is significantly damaged, electricity and gas are all but wiped out along with water and sewer. Your cell phone doesn't work. How will you survive?

A THUG ACQUAINTANCE of mine, asked if he was prepared for a major disaster, replied, "I've always got plenty of ammo," going on to explain he'd simply take what he needed from his neighbors when the Big One hit. These people always welcome chaos, but the criminal factor is never overtly mentioned in emergency prep material.

HIPPIE! THE BEAST THAT WON'T DIE! A piece in the Sunday UDJ announces a counterculture exhibit at Mendocino's Kelley House and begins, "When their VW buses brought the first flower children to the Mendocino Coast in the late 1960s, the locals — who had lived in a sort of time warp for the previous 30 years — did not know what to make of them. Mostly, they took a dim view of their abundant hair, their communal lifestyles and their use of mind-altering substances…" The show is called "Hippies Use The Back Door."

AS A HIP-SYMP, or hippie sympathizer, and having arrived in 1970 with the first wave of the back to the landers, I remember the tensions between the long hairs and conventional people were largely inspired by the hippies who, generally speaking, made it clear they were contemptuous of so-called “straights,” meaning everyone who had neither the time nor the means to play naked grab ass in the woods prior to reclaiming their privileged positions in straight society. The above ref to locals living in "a time warp" was typical hippie contempt for conventional people. The hippies were always snickering about “rednecks” and sneering at people outside their dope and naked piles, hence the initial local hostility for the pioneer longhairs. Relations changed for the better when hippies and the time capsule people, all put their kids in the same schools, in our case Boonville Unified. The inevitable romances occurred between the hippie kids and the redneck kids and a whole new monster was created, the HipNeck, especially prevalent in Humboldt County. Almost 50 years down the line, the HipNecks and the Mexicans are marrying, and we've now got a lot of little HipMexNecks running around the Anderson Valley. Mendo hippies are starting to retiring and dying off, but the Mendo hippies of yesteryear moved quickly into the local public power positions, from the justice system on down through the "helping professions" and the innumerable non-profits, many of the latter beginning as hippie scams. The notion that hippies were hostile to capitalism simply isn't true. Few hippies were political radicals. On the whole, although lots of good things emerged from the Hippie Monster — good bread, for instance — here in Mendocino County the hippie influence was mostly lamentable.

DAVID LILKER WRITES: As a regular reader of the Willits Weekly, I will second the opinion that Jennifer Poole is a fine reporter. As for the Editor’s wholly unnecessary comment about the need for excellence in Willits, what community in Mendocino County has consistently achieved excellence?

ED REPLY: Yorkville, Boonville, Philo, Navarro, Fort Bragg, and even thrice in Ukiah. Yorkville has the Yorkville Market, as fine an all-round wine, olive oil and cafe as you'll find anywhere. Boonville, of course, boasts the nationally circulated and, so long as you ask in the right circles, excellent Anderson Valley Advertiser. Philo? Libby's Restaurant for outtasight Mex food. Navarro? Dave Evans at the Navarro Store brings major musical talent to Navarro every summer. Nothing like Dave since Peter Lit at the old Caspar Inn, and the Navarro Store is muy groovy all by itself. Fort Bragg is so all-round cool its amenities don't require enumeration. Ukiah? The Sun House Museum, the Held-Poage Library, Penny Marchand and the Mendocino Book Company. Willits? There's Jennifer, natch, and another excellent reporter in Linda Williams. And Highway 20 to get outta there, plus the Skunk Depot, launching pad for another exit option — rail to Fort Bragg. I also like Covelo a whole lot but it's kind of an acquired taste. Point Arena has its virtues but not enough of them. Gualala? Bones Road House and Lisa Walters. Random recommendations: Sign of the Whale bar in Point Arena; Bobby Beacon's Beacon Light in Elk.

One Comment

  1. Rick Weddle July 29, 2015

    re: the ‘hippie’ deal…

    It may clear a lot of confusion (no apologies to all those who’ve gotten so much mileage out of railing against those rotten ‘hippies’), to recall that there were only three (3) hippies, total, ever. And those poor unfortunates got run over by a tour bus in the Haight early on. All the subsequent posing, noise and bother was just so much granfalloons, to use Vonnegut’s lovely term.

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