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Letters (Dec 23, 2015)

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Dear Editor/Powers-that-Be

I find that I cannot ignore the groundless remarks by David Severn in his letter to the AVA last week. His featherbrained comments criticized me for what he described as my "degrading and trivializing" of the recent Community Dinner at The Grange in Philo. This is such a misrepresentation of what I wrote that I must address it. I did no such thing. I merely agreed with and shared the sentiments of a number of Valley folks who have remarked that in their opinion the organization’s decision to not serve alcohol at this community “family event” was misguided and that, in our opinion, alcohol being served would not have any negative affect on anyone; in fact getting a license to sell beer and wine would undoubtedly make some extra money for The Grange.

I have attended the Dinner in the distant past and continue to regard it as an important Valley social get-together, albeit one that I have not been present at in recent times. As many readers will know, I often applaud, and do indeed attend, lots of other Valley gatherings and enjoy “good cheer, good conversation, and a good sense of community” as much as anyone around here. Furthermore, I certainly have never, as Severn stated, “belittled” those who attend this annual event, many of whom are friends of mine. It would never occur to me to refer to such folks in that way. Given that he wrote without an ounce of irony or wit, then I believe his comment was ill-considered to say the least.

As for his predictable and tedious mini-rant about the “evils of drink” it only served to emphasize what he himself described as his own ignorance of certain types of humor and satire. He is entitled to his opinions of course, but his interpretation of what was written by me was utter nonsense.

In conclusion, I would suggest that David Severn step down from his soap box or rise up from his dark cave and read the column, something he admits he does not do. He would then realize that my weekly articles offer many positive reinforcements of Valley events and life here in general, and these far outweigh the occasional Vulturesque comments that call some people to task for their “anti-social” behavior. That is his right of course, but as a result of his erroneous remarks he has now left me with no recourse other than to drink the bottle of Glenmorangie 1971 single malt scotch that I had bought him for Christmas.

Meanwhile, despite my antipathy, I hope he stays out of the ditches and may his god go with him…

Humbly yours,

Turkey Vulture


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With our employment completed, (Bill Desloge had been the cameraman the American pavilion of Hemisfair.), Bill Desloge, Bob Levis, Chinese scholar Orville Schell (In the People’s Republic…..) and I decided to shoot a short comedy in Golden Gate Park, The World’s Tallest Lady. I played the top of the W.T.L., wearing a ground length skirt, while sitting on Orville’s shoulders. This silly, quite funny movie depicted me jumping out of a tree, legs tucked underneath, so that I looked like a torso. Laboratory reversal of the film showed me being sucked into the tree by a park employee stationed in the tree, vacuuming up fallen leaves… In the final scene, the World’s Tallest Lady is crossing the football field while opposing teams huddled at either ends of the field. The referee’s whistle blows. A player throws the ball which the W.T.L. intercepts and procedes to run for a touchdown with the whole team in pursuit. As she drops the ball into safety, she grabs the goalpost, swinging back and forth, legs tucked underneath her. Unfortunately, the lower half of the lady had detached. The film ends with the bottom of the Lady trying to reunite with the top of his Lady.

Have you ever swung from a white washed ruff cut goal post full of splinters? Yow!

At the end of this exhilarating and exhausting shoot, we returned to our yellow house on Steiner Street for a legal back yard barbecue, for which Orville Schelle had researched the law. Bill had started the charcoal with solvent though the fire was slow to catch. As he squirted additional fire starter on the charcoal, the fire shot up for a moment. Unfortunately for us, this careless act was witnessed by the landlord’s boyfriend sitting on their deck two houses down the hill. Without notifying us, he called the fire department. A few minutes later, a lead fireman and two assistants walked thru the living room, unannounced, and down the stairs with all their gear, Both rude and aggressive, the lead fireman announced that our dinner now cooking on the charcoal set on the concrete back yard was illegal.. Orville explained that a backyard barbecue was legal in San Francisco, citing statue and verse of the law. As the argument heated up, the firemen pushed past us with their chemicals and fire hoses. I stepped forward with our garden hose, asking them please don’t spray chemicals on our dinner and newly planted garden. As I stood there pleading, the lead fireman shouted, “Grab her.” Two firemen, one on each side of me twisted my arms behind my back in excruciating pain, a pain hold I was later told. To stop them from hurting me, I bit the one fireman to the bone. They both let me go. They had won. Felonious assault on an officer. Mandatory sentence from 1 to l0 years. The assistant firemen sprayed their chemicals all over our dinner.

Meanwhile, Orville’s girlfriend, Sheila Grinnell, who worked as the assistant to the director of the Exploratorium, had arrived. Someone had heard the aggrieved head fireman call the police, shouting, after everything had subsided, “We’ve got trouble with a bunch of hippies in a hippie house.” Little did we know that the call had been received by the San Fransisco Tactical Squad. They were on their way to the yellow house on Steiner Street. While Bill, Bob and Orville ran upstairs to hide the marijuana stashes, Sheila and I ushered my two young children, ages 3 and 5 into my garden apartment to stay calm and build a castle of wooden blocks. A few minutes later we heard heavy footsteps on the back wooden stairs. Sheila and I both knew it was police. This was 1968, the year of excessive police violence. Only a few city blocks to the south, police routinely bashed heads with their clubs up and down Haight Street. From two blocks to the east on Fillmore Street, we would hear gunshots almost every weekend, sometimes more often. This was a black panther neighborhood of drugs, crime and Black Panther community organizing featuring their free breakfast program which we were invited to attend.

To Be Continued & Continued.


Dorotheya M Dorman

Redwood Valley

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To whom it may concern,

My name is Robert Curtis James Jr. I am a 20-year-old young man who was accidentally sent to San Quentin State Prison.

I was prepared to do my sentence at the local Mendocino County Jail, a minimum-security barracks. Surprise. At three o'clock in the morning on November 5, I was told to roll up my stuff and head out on a transport van to maximum security, San Quentin State Prison.

The first sign hanging there was a notice: "No warning shots fired." Fear struck me and I felt my thoughts tighten at the thought of being shot at when I wasn't supposed to be at this place. I was crammed into a holding cell for booking with 13 other guys. Everyone was standing because there was no room to sit. Booking took 12 hours. The only time I wasn't crammed into that cell was when I went to property only for them to tell me that since I have zero dollars on my books all of my property (which, mind you, I would have been unable to keep that the jail, and received it upon my regular release, $422 worth of personal items) was being "donated."

I wasn't prepared for the mental anguish bestowed upon my young mind to say the least. Being in a confined area of 4.5' x 10' with a hardened criminal doing his sixth term in prison, I was forced to program or fight. Do what I'm told or fight. I was constantly on my toes and worried if I made a wrong move or forgot something and I would get killed. Since I'm young, have big cheekbones, big eyes, and no education about the prison system, I received catcalls and threats. I vividly recall one correctional officer remark directed to me my and my obviously larger cellmate and I: "I already know who the bitch is." If I wasn't quiet at night it was taken as a form of disrespect and was I was threatened to be stabbed by one of the numerous shanks I heard being sharpened all day long.

I am still disturbed by the stabbing I saw on the reception yard during a riot when I was told to put my face on the ground or the correctional officers would put my face on the ground.

Through all of this I have a grandmother, a mother and a pregnant girlfriend who all care very much for me. I can only imagine the stress and depression when I wasn't even able to tell them I was leaving. I was able to call and received visits weekly. During those phone calls and visits I was able to talk to my already stressed girlfriend concerning our unborn child and the doctor visits that she was attending monthly to learn about the development of our child.

I would like to take this opportunity to shout out to attorneys. I don't have any money to retain an attorney. Legal advice would be appreciated. If interested, I am at 951 Low Gap Road in Ukiah CA 95482, Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.

Thank you.

Robert James Jr. 38369,

Mendocino County Jail

951 Low Gap Road, Ukiah, CA 95482

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To the Editor & Tom Quinn,

Hello Tom, you seem to specialize in tangents; I never said a word about one having to get face to face with Kunstler to be able to criticize him in print. Clearly a ridiculous idea. Within the context of our discussion my mention of a face to face was obviously in reference to JHK offering to discuss his supposed sins in public with the offended cowards who as of my writing had refused to even respond. It's a good idea to keep all the letters in front of you to keep it all straight. You speak of me having to "muster courage" to take you to task for daring to criticize JHK. My oh my, what a warrior I am, or a fool. Don't flatter yourself. Courage has nothing to do with informed opinion or reliance on one’s own grasp of reality. You completely missed the point of my "side track" about Zappa and Chomsky. The Middle East was not the point at all. They were brought up as examples of sanctimonious attempts at censorship by the frightened mainstream. Would a reactionary racist really spend a good part of his life trying to improve urban life, which after all is highly populated by not white people? Would a blatant bigot want to defend his views publicly in a hostile forum? One of us is way off base in our assessment of JHK. I hope it's not me, but will stand corrected if I learn otherwise. I hope you're willing to do the same. If I had to guess I'd say that you are prejudiced against JHK for some of his long standing and very vocal critiques of our sick society. And especially his not forgivable stance on the gasoline powered madness called personal mobility that has clearly made an ugly disaster out of our cities, towns, and landscapes.


Marvin Blake


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From a letter to two friends who are filmmakers.

Do not go to see Youth.

It is the most appalling drivel I’ve seen since Lulu On The Bridge or The Inner Life of Martin Frost. Paul Auster should be hanged. Now I know that because you are filmmakers — and my friends, I shouldn’t say things like “Paul Auster should be hanged.” But he should be. In the movie Lulu On The Bridge, he humiliated Harvey Keitel. In The Inner Life of Martin Frost, he humiliated an actress that I love — Irene Jacob. Paulo Sorrentino should not be hanged: he made my favorite movie, The Great Beauty. But he should be severely punished, for he humiliates not only Harvey Keitel, but also Michael Caine, Rachel Weisz, and a lot of other artists I like, including Jane Fonda. Youth is awful in the way only those works of art that self consciously strive to be transcendently profound can be. Every other line attempts to be Nietzschean in its resounding insightfulness. And if you don’t get it at first, there’s cloying violin music to help you digest it. One example —there are so, so many - will suffice. Harvey Keitel tells a young actress to look at a distant mountain through a telescope. She does and says that the mountain seems so close. The Keitel character then tells her to look at the mountain through the opposite end of the telescope. Now it looks so far away — she exclaims. Looking at it from the right end — Keitel explains — is how you see the future when you’re young. Looking at it from the other end is how you see the past when you’re old. In case this doesn’t register, a wave of syrupy violin music is dumped on you to help you appreciate this epiphany. The Great Beauty is a great movie. Youth is youthless. Forgive me for the terrible pun.

Louis S. Bedrock

Roselle, New Jersey

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To the Editor:

A lot of people who drive automobiles don’t have any idea what it’s like to be a pedestrian and have their car motors, especially loud ones, start up as the pedestrian is walking behind their vehicle in a parking lot, especially the bigger pick ups. Sometimes to make matters worse, they start backing up before the pedestrian is out of their way. As I walk a lot of times people seem to have to turn their cars in front of me when I am crossing from one curb corner to the next. Today that happened twice. If I had been walking faster I would have been hit by them. Also today I heard a “crunch.” I looked behind me to see what the noise was and I saw that a bigger hatchback car just ran over a plastic facsimile of a child. There were two of them. They were there so car drivers would be cautious that children were around. It was in front of a driveway at a school. It makes me so angry. I think a good punishment is in order and the people that drive like I mentioned should walk and have the same experiences I have. The way some people speed in Ukiah makes me want to throw in the towel of my going out of my home or my neighborhood. It’s frightening to go to the grocery store by foot. It gets me angry and also makes me want to cry. It’s not good for the driver or the pedestrian. It’s not good for anyone. It also causes me to have panic attacks. I also think the DMV should use more scrutiny when they are giving out licenses. My pharmacist told me he knows of a family who’s 2-year-old daughter was killed at a birthday party when a truck backed over her. I saw when I was 5 years old a toddler killed in traffic. I think that horses were a better form of transportation, except for the dirt. Nowadays...I believe bicycles are much safer or rickshaws.

Leslie Jo Feldman


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Dear Editor:

The climate change agreement such as it is - Some pluses and some minuses fails to address the real problem - runaway population growth. The United Nations reported as of June 2013 world population was 7.2 billion and in the next 12 years  (2025) would increase by one billion. It was a further forecast that by 2050 world population would reach 9.6 billion or about a 30% increase over 2013. Further, the population of developed countries will remain relatively unchanged at around 1.3 billion from now until 2050. The growth is primarily in the least developed countries with high fertility rates.  At our current population level we already have insufficient food sources to adequately feed the world population. Does anyone seriously believe that we can increase food crops to a level that would feed a 30% increase in world population? What we will have is mass starvation and mass migration to the developed countries. It will happen because we live in an era of denial about what is going to happen as the earth continues to heat up.

In peace and love,

Jim Updegraff



  1. Tom Quinn December 23, 2015

    I wish Marvin Blake had addressed Kunstler’s views on African Americans which I had quoted from verbatim at length and which speak for themselves, reflecting a Patrick Moynihan like liberal racist attitude. That he might be a nice guy otherwise I have no way of knowing as I had never heard of him previously.

  2. LouisBedrock December 23, 2015

    I couldn’t agree more strongly with Jim Updegraff.

    There are credible scientists like Guy McPherson who believe that mass extinction of life on earth may be a mere two years away.

    It is obvious to everyone except the Catholic Church that the world is already overpopulated. If Professor McPherson is correct, it may be too late to do anything about it.

    If we do have any hope on preserving our species and other species, the first step must be the a significant reduction in the number of human beings living on this planet. Hopefully humans ourselves can achieve this. If not, nature will.

  3. gfg December 28, 2015

    people PAY for this???

  4. Jim Updegraff December 29, 2015

    Is gfg a name?

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