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Off the Record (Aug 17, 2016)

SHEILA DAWN’S excellent report on the last KZYX board meeting can be found in its entirety on our website at

INCUMBENTS Hammerstrom and Deitz apparently are not running for re-election to the Fort Bragg City Council. Gressert, Johnson and Menzies are running. Heidi Kraut is expected to sign up by the Wednesday sign-up deadline. Mr. Johnson was the finance person for the City before he retired. He knows where the fiscal bodies are buried, and for that reason along will get the support of clear-thinking Fort Bragg people, as will the fiery Mr. Gressett.

JIM UPDEGRAFF WRITES: "Sheriff Allman is to be commended for his efforts in trying to bring a secure psychiatric facility to Mendocino County. These poor souls do not belong in jail. Unfortunately, under our current county system of governance this effort is very difficult to accomplish in small counties where you cannot achieve economies of scale. Rather it should be a joint effort of Lake, Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte Counties to have a single security psychiatric facility. As for why we got into this situation with the mentality ill, leave that for the historians — there is a serious problem NOW that needs to be resolved."

GIVEN THE GIVENS of where we are in this country — no leadership and adrift in a Ponzi economy — basic services are going to be up to us, as in we ourselves. Sheriff Allman has seized the homeless initiative, at least one segment of the growing thanatoid population, and implicit in the Sheriff's initiative is the assumption that government is no longer capable of providing relief for and from the free range mentally ill.

USED TO BE, back when Americans were more or less on the same page, almost all the "homeless" were housed in state hospital programs. The doomed souls one now sees every morning in the booking log and shuffling along the streets of Ukiah, Willits and Fort Bragg, contain a large number of drop-fall drunks, incompetents ("public nuisances" back in the day), drug addicts, straight-up crazy people, and people driven crazy by drugs, especially methamphetamine.

THANKS TO DRUGS like meth, we have a much larger population of thanatoids these days, people who will never function normally, especially in a social context where there isn't even basic consensus on what constitutes normal. (But we know it when we see it! Well, don't we?)

THE SHERIFF has done a commendable thing here in lieu of state and federal relief. I hope his modest asylum is expanded to include drunks and drug addicts and the frequent flying public nuisances, the people who were protected at County farms and state hospitals in the days before America lost its way.

I DON'T RECALL the "homeless" even being mentioned during either convention, do you? Trump is said to be personally charitable, but Hillary? Whatever other virtue she might have, I doubt charity is among them.

KNOWING how the Democrats operate, and we're obviously going to get Hillary by default, she and they may shovel more federal money to "non-profits" like Plowshares, Hospitality House and kindred programs because the well-paid people who staff these institutions are all Democrats. Or, if they're closet Republicans, they vote Democrat because they know Democrats will share the liberal illusion that these programs are somehow helping when, objectively, they are crucial to keeping troubled people on the streets, thus destroying public space for the rest of us. (cf Alex Thomas Plaza, Ukiah; Bainbridge Park, Fort Bragg.)

OR ASK SUPERVISOR McCOWEN. McCowen, a rare public servant indeed, spends much of his free time cleaning up after the homeless camping on the Russian River and its tributaries in the Ukiah Valley. By himself, with the occasional assistance of a friend, McCowen has removed literal tons of trash and even much more vile detritus from the vicinity of the once pristine Russian River. And he’s frequently threatened with violence by the wretches who think nothing of fouling once pristine rivers and streams.

CASUALLY inaccurate paragraph from a recent Portland newspaper: "Homeless campers say anywhere they land, residents and businesses want them gone. Campers acknowledge that some among them suffer from drug addiction and mental illness, but they say they're also populated with law-abiding people whose economic realities have left them with few options."

"SOME AMONG THEM“? Try 99%. We don't see the homeless who are still trying, who aren't totally screwed up. The invisible homeless, and there are many of them right here in formerly bucolic Mendocino County, are bad luck, priced-out-of-their-homes lost-their-jobs live in their cars homeless. They find places to exist as far from homeless camps as they can get.

A FEW YEARS AGO, the Oregonian newspaper ran a story about a man who'd carved out a secret but safe place for himself and his daughter in a Portland park. (I'm working from memory here but I think I've got the basics straight.) His work didn't provide enough money for both of them eat and get out of the rain other than the cave he’d dug out in the park for himself and his child. The daughter, as I recall, was about 12. When they were discovered, the assumption was that dad was nuts, retarded, a perv, and so on down through the negative possibilities. Turned out he was simply economically challenged. He was saving money for an apartment. The girl was well cared for and desperate not to be separated from her father. She went off to school every day where she was a better-than-average student. No one at school had any idea how she really lived. When it was all sorted out, a zillion charities and charitable individuals rushed in to help. The bottom line, though, is homeless camps contain very few functioning citizens. This guy and his daughter would not have been safe in one, which is why they lived in hiding.

CALFIRE says the Valley Fire that did such huge damage to Lake County last year was caused by a fellow named John Pinch who’d screwed up the wiring on his Cobb Mountain hot tub heater. Pinch denies culpability. He’d wired the tub without a permit a year before the fire broke out. CalFire says a year later the wiring had overheated and set nearby dry grass and leaves on fire. Calfire considers Pinch’s alleged faulty wiring job to be a crime and has referred the case to the Lake County DA, although Calfire and Lake County DA Donald Anderson said Wednesday that “it is far from clear” that charges will be filed. The Valley fire burned more than 76,000 acres and was estimated to have caused the deaths of four people and did over $1.5 billion in estimated damages.

WE’D LIKE TO SEE the forensics on this one. A year later and CalFire’s ace sleuths say it all happened because of a bad hot tub wire? And here we are a year later with another disastrous Lake County fire, this one the Clayton Fire that has already consumed Lower Lake and rages this week as we go to press. It’s shaping up as worse than both last year’s Lake County fires.

SCOTT MENZIES will run for the Fort Bragg City Council. Menzies is paid by the Hospitality House apparatus to teach the homeless Tai Chi, a paid task that stretches the boundaries of the absurd even by Mendo standards. Menzies started the "I love Fort Bragg" to support Mayor Turner during the narrowly defeated attempt to recall Turner in the wake of the disastrous Turner-led decision to allow Hospitality House to acquire the Old Coast Hotel in the center of Fort Bragg's business and tourist district. Menzies, a smarmy fellow complete with the Mendo-mandatory Groovy Guy ponytail, also began the "Go Fort Bragg" booster club to stop Measure U, which would have limited homeless operations in the city center.

Menzies (right)
Menzies (right)

RECOMMENDED VIEWING: "Red Road." I can't remember seeing a movie anything like this one in its adult assumptions, a movie that doesn't spell out everything for you, a movie you figure out as you go. And it's really, really good. One reviewer said it "felt like a descent into hell." I thought it was more like slice of life, urban Scottish division. The life it slices is that of a young-ish police woman whose job it is to monitor the public surveillance cameras in the city of Glasgow, neighborhoods of which are as grim as any we have in this country with rough people to match. I try not to be an oinker, really I do, but until I saw the credits at the end of Red Road (the movie has nothing to do with commies, I better say), I assumed it was the work of a man. Why? Because it was so, so, so… hard. Tough. Unflinching. Characteristics I still associate with the male half of the species. The whole works is startling as hell and absolutely knock down brilliant. Andrea Arnold wrote and directed it. I've watched a bunch of movies produced by Scots in Scotland lately (My People! My People!) and they've all been good. Thank the goddess for subtitles, though. You won't understand a word without them.

RECOMMENDED READING: “The Immortal Irishman” by Timothy Egan, the truly amazing story of Thomas Francis Meagher (pronounced “Mar”), Irish patriot exiled to the middle 18th century penal colony of Australia, escaped to America where he led Irish immigrant brigades as a Civil War general, probably murdered by anti-Catholic bigots who hated his appointment as the first governor of Montana. Unlike a lot of biographies these days — bogs of turgid academic prose — this one is wholly readable.

MORE RECOMMENDED READING, especially for the more violently estranged of you nostalgics: "American Heiress — The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst" by Jeffrey Toobin. And, if you'll keep on reading I promise a wild personal coincidence of zero interest to you but somehow significant to me. And I have witnesses — witnesses, I tell you!

MANY OF US have vivid memories of the lunatic Symbionese Liberation Army, one of your smaller armies at about a dozen people. They described themselves as revolutionaries with occasional references to the writings of much more grounded leftwing intellectuals whose ideas they either misunderstood or were too stupid to understand in the first place. They said that their violence would inspire "the masses" to rise up. Instead, the masses enjoyed the SLA's bloody antics on the 5 o'clock news, especially the night that the LAPD immolated the group’s main branch. The only bona fide proletariat in the group, a dupe named Joe Remiro, is still held at Pelican Bay for the SLA's murder of a popular black Oakland school superintendent named Marcus Foster. Remiro was not involved in that wholly insane act, which alienated everyone black and white.

THEN THE SLA KIDNAPPED Ms. Bubblehead, your basic mental blank slate. She took a couple of weeks before deciding the SLA was right on and joined up. Of course she was only twenty, but still. Next thing you know, Patty is holding up a bank in the Sunset District of San Francisco. There has been no public theater of this quality like it since.

CONTEMPORANEOUSLY, you had grouplets like Mike Sweeney's Stanford-based, pseudo-Marxist gang calling themselves Venceremos and planting bombs all around the Bay Area, one of many bomb cults active from the late sixties to the middle seventies. In between Patty Hearst chapters, the Evening News featured communiqués from the Zodiac killer as Frisco's white people stayed indoors at night lest they be picked off by the black racists called the Zebra killers. And there were all kinds of free range but unaffiliated psychos roaming Nor Cal as Bay Area hippies headed north with the Back to the Land Movement. But the kidnapping of Patty Hearst outdid everything in media attention. (Sweeney, Mendocino County’s most interesting person and its most thoroughly re-invented, functions as the County’s lead garbage bureaucrat.)

TOOBIN'S book is a careful reconstruction of the entire Patty Hearst saga, from her kidnapping to her conversion to urban guerrilla to, I guess you could say, her almost instant reversion to ruling class heiress when she was arrested. It took her about a week to claim she never really was a convert although she failed to walk away when she had every opportunity to do so. She's pictured in this book as a matronly 60 with an effete little dog named “Rocket.” A couple of presidential pardons, a little jail time and Patty moved on.

THE IMPROBABLE PERSONAL ANECDOTE? I'm reading along and up pops 1847 Golden Gate, the address I lived at briefly about a decade prior to Patty's abduction. I'm sure it's the same address where she was held right down to the grungy Murphy bed. Maybe not the same apartment but certainly another one in that same grunge-o building. As I recall, there were eight units and identical structures on either side, and very close to Divisidero. I lived at 1847 with my brother and my father, circa '62. The building, like all SF apartment buildings of the time, especially the ones we lived in, teemed with weirdoes and mysterious comings and goings at all hours. If the SLA had been next door to us at the time, we'd have been none the wiser. Like everyone else in SF's demimonde, we minded our own business.

LOTS OF PUBLIC BUSINESS gets done on the consent calendars of local public bodies. Some of that business is snuck by snoozing city councils and boards of supervisors by unelected but highhanded managers. David Gurney has rightly complained about the placement and apparent abuse of Fort Bragg's consent calendar:

GURNEY WRITES: “Dear Ms. Ruffing: At the "City Dialog" meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016, you stated that a special meeting is going to be held, regarding the City of Fort Bragg's improper scheduling of its Consent Calendar by putting this item at the end of City Council meetings. After the Dialog meeting you personally indicated that you would email me when such a meeting is going to take place. So far, I haven't heard from you. Can you please give me some idea when this meeting is going to occur?

Also, you might also note that such a meeting is unnecessary, if you should simply choose to do the right thing on your own, and allow the mayor to properly schedule the Consent Calendar, and public comments pertaining to it, at the beginning of City Council meetings. Thank-you for your consideration.”

RUFFING REPLIES with an informal collegiality she can’t possible feel: “Hello David: The matter will be on the Finance & Administration Committee’s September 7th agenda. The Committee meets at 3 PM at Town Hall.”

SAN FRANCISCO'S Museum of Modern Art has doubled its floor space via a nicely done expansion. Unfortunately, they've also doubled the amount of bad art in the place. Check that — non-art, phony art, anti-art, art so bad there should double arrests of the alleged artist and the fools who bought it. You know the art is bad when you look forward to the sprightly-painted elevator doors which are more interesting than the art.

I STARTED on the 7th floor and worked my way down. There was exactly one piece of art, a painting of an elderly Asian man, on the entire 7th floor. The rest of the stuff looked like it had been hauled in from the used lumber yard in Ukiah, stacks of big blocks of wood, "flowers" by mega-fraud, Jeff Koons and other stuff not worth mentioning unless if fell on top of you.

6TH FLOOR. Nothing whatsoever of interest, let alone that might make the heart sing or "make the world whole and comprehensible," as Robert Hughes described what art should do. It was either on the 6th or 7th floor that high school-quality videos looped round and round, driving me faster to the elevators for the 5th floor.

5TH FLOOR. Lots of Warhol and other pop art from the Fisher collection. Some hideous "sculpture" by British "artists," a ten foot portrait of himself by Chuck Close. (Last time I said I disliked Close, several real artists jumped my bones. I still don't like him and one Warhol serves me for all his stuff.

“Dead Load” by Richard Serra
“Dead Load” by Richard Serra

4TH FLOOR, the most depressing of all. Piles of scrap metal by ultra-fraud Richard Serra, photos by Diane Arbus which, locked in a room with them overnight, will have you cutting your wrists by sun-up. The red-doored elevators were the only signs of life on the floor.

“Tribute 2” by Diane Arbus
“Tribute 2” by Diane Arbus

3RD FLOOR. "Hey!" I exclaimed to myself, "that looks interesting." But when I got closer it was a coffee shop full of bubbly young people. I looked around for the Hopper that has often redeemed a MOMA visit for me, but not finding it or anything else I wanted to look at, I walked on down the street to the Historical Society, always an interesting place.

I THINK I AT LAST UNDERSTAND San Francisco art exhibits. The interesting art is out at the Legion of Honor. That's where you always get the good stuff, the paintings that make you Wow!, that make you stand in place to look at them for a long time. The blockbuster art like Van Gogh and the other really, really famous (and deservedly great) artists is displayed at the deYoung, which is large enough to handle mobs. The trendo-groove-o non-art likely to draw the pseuds in large numbers is reserved for the MOMA, where I paid $22 at the so-called bargain senior rate to be completely bummed out on a cool, sunny August early afternoon in San Francisco.

THE CALIFORNIA HISTORICAL SOCIETY is a stone's throw from SF MOMA, and always worth a visit. It's presently featuring photos and documents of the Klamath, Modoc and Pit River Paiute tribes, with a focus on the famous Modoc Wars, 1872-73.159 Modocs, including women and children, retreated to the lava beds where they held off a thousand U.S. Army troops for a year. The Indians of the Klamath Basin were described by John C. Fremont and Kit Carson as the fiercest and best fighters of any they faced in early California, as the two of them cut a bloody swathe through pre-Gold Rush Ca. PS. The Modoc Wars are best memorialized in a fascinating book from a few years ago by historian Arthur Quinn called "Hell With the Fire Out.”

GOOD NEWS for Mendo pot pharmas, and sure to keep prices at pretty good levels. Despite 25 U.S. states and the District of Columbia having allowed the medical use of marijuana, the federal government on Thursday will reaffirm its prohibition on the drug and its standing as a Schedule I narcotic that has “no currently accepted medical use.” The refusal to reschedule the drug will maintain its illegality, at the federal level, for doctors to prescribe to patients, effectively continuing the chill on medical research for the popular drug. According to multiple outlets, however, the government’s announcement will also expand the number of research facilities allowed to grow marijuana for medical-research purposes, effectively ending the monopoly on such research held by the University of Mississippi in contract with the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

RANDOM THOUGHTS of a failing mind: One of the many irritations imposed on us by Gizmo dependence is the frustration of losing stuff on one's computer. A single palsied mis-stroke of the liver-spotted paw and there goes a whole day's work. Or, just last week, a letter I really wanted to respond to from a guy writing a book about our Wanda Tinasky adventure some years ago. The poor man had taken the time to introduce himself and explain in detail what he was looking for and who he was. And I wanted to help and encourage him with his project but lost his name and address to cyber-space. Dude! If you happen to see this, please write again.

THE TINASKY interlude still fascinates me and a few other people. We assembled a book about it but left it to the crude editorial leadership of a cosmically unpleasant woman named Diane Kearney, a perennially aggrieved old battle-axe who called herself TR Factor. (Fort Bragg old timers might remember Factor as the bane of then-city manager Gary Milliman's life. She was excellent at hassling Milliman, but I still regret letting her bull her way into the Tinasky job. The book should have been a lot better and would have been if… well, another lost opportunity.

IF YOU CAME in late, a Fort Bragg man named Tom Hawkins was an erudite old beatnik well known in Frisco lit circles in the days when there were still lit circles, back before the illiterate descendants of the beatniks, those pathetic beasts known as hippies. Hawkins wrote a series of brilliantly comic letters to us in the guise of a bag lady called Wanda Tinasky who lived under the Pudding Creek Bridge. Tinasky's assessments of Mendo life, especially its poets, were consistently hilarious.

BUT TINASKY-HAWKINS had also assumed the identity of the reclusive novelist, Thomas Pynchon, right down to what appeared, even to expert eyes, the typeface on Pynchon's typewriter and Pynchon's handwriting. Hawkins' project, as you can imagine, was not an easy thing to pull off. I thought Hawkins was as good a writer as Pynchon and even funnier than the master. All this caused quite a stir in national even international lit-crit circles.

AS LATER REVEALED by the famous scholar and ace literary attributionist, Don Foster, Tinasky turned out to be Mr. Hawkins of Beal Lane, Fort Bragg. Hawkins had written to us as Wanda to say he was headed to "a cold, cold place" (as I recall the letter) and we wouldn't be hearing from him again. I'll say. How a guy can be so funny and engaged and then....

HAWKINS had bludgeoned his sculptor wife to death, set his Beal Lane house on fire and driven himself off the Ten Mile bluffs and into the sea. I understand that all that was left of what would have been an invaluable archive at the Hawkins home on Beal Lane had been consumed by fire.

INCIDENTALLY, Foster also identified Mike Sweeney, Mendocino County's trash czar, as the author of the Lord's Avenger Letter written by the person who placed the car bomb in the late Judi Bari's car, one more Sweeney indicator the FBI managed to ignore as it put aside the entire matter on the grounds — get this — “because no one would talk to us.” Which leads to only one possible conclusion — the feds found it in their interests NOT to find out Who Bombed Judi Bari, a "mystery" that can still be easily solved by matching the known DNA from the Avenger Letter to Sweeney's DNA, assuming of course that the crafty little psycho has not undergone a complete bodily fluids transplant.

ONE DOESN'T associate Mendocino County with literary anything, let alone literary mysteries, but there's two really good ones right there. Hold it! Back up. There are a few old school book-reading literary people around here, Eleanor Cooney of Mendocino, for one.

SHE neatly sums up the County’s housing crisis: “Maybe you've noticed a plethora lately of people on this list looking for places to live, some of them long-time residents getting kicked out of their rentals after years and years of responsible tenancy. Like Janie Rezner, for instance, who's 81 (she doesn't mind people knowing her age, which is why I take the liberty of posting it) and must soon leave her little house where she's lived for 15 years, made improvements and paid her rent faithfully. She, too, is kind and comes with excellent references, is known by everyone here, and has been searching in vain for at least eight months now. It should be glaringly obvious that there's an acute affordable-housing shortage hereabouts. You need not dig too deep to discover the causes of this phenomenon. Those of us posting snappy banter from our comfortable perches are pretty much not the ones in control of nice reasonably-priced rental properties for nice kind people. Our wit and wisdom is maybe a little threadbare, but it's all we have to offer, alas.”

ABOUT FACE. SUPERVISORS McCOWEN & GJERDE, the Supes who earlier seemed to think that Sheriff Allman’s psycho ward funded via a five year sales tax would be too expensive to staff (based on a cynically exaggerated County estimate of what the facility staffing would look like) are expected to assign themselves the task of preparing a ballot statement supporting the Sheriff’s popular and absolutely necessary mental health facility proposal.

CHAIN STORE MORATORIUM TO BE EXTENDED: The moratorium on chain stores in the County (Mendo’s towns have separate rules) is expected to be extended, ordinance draft still not available. Too late for the Dollar General Store in Redwood Valley, which kicked off the original moratorium and ordinance preparation. But Dollar General is still being stoutly opposed and could be beaten back despite the County’s resort to legalisms. BTW, if you’re traveling in the area of Redwood Valley, the Redwood Valley Market is a marvelous store, the very definition of a country store.

A UKIAH READER hopes her fellow citizens will permanently retire Steve Scalmanini, a default appointment to the Ukiah City Council and an ongoing disaster as councilman and, of all things, mayor. As Ukiah adds two more fast food franchises, some Ukiahans remember that it was Scalmo and a handful of his allies led by his girlfriend, Annie Esposito, who continue to block the franchise everyone wants — CostCo:

"When the City Council first certified the CostCo EIR, Scalmanini waited until everyone else was done asking questions and the issues had all been discussed. With everyone else ready for a motion, Scalmanini finally started asking questions. After the first hair-brained series of questions was over, and it was obvious Scalmo had nothing to add to the conversation, the Mayor suggested it was time for a motion. Scalmo bristled that he was "just getting started" and wasted another couple of hours of everyone's time with a series of increasingly irrelevant questions. Only Scalmo, Esposito and three other old hippies think CostCo coming to a half-built out shopping center next to the freeway is somehow a threat to the natural environment and the aesthetic beauty of Ukiah. The looks of Ukiah would be improved if every commercial building was demolished with only the derelict Palace Hotel left standing as a witness to the decay of a once functional town. Scalmo is up for election this year. When Mari Rodin resigned a couple of years ago, Scalmo was the only one to file for her seat and was elected by default. Ukiah is doomed if he gets back in."

CAN THE OLYMPIC'S coverage be any worse, any more focused on marginal sports like volleyball, diving, the women's hammer throw? Track and field, goddamit, get me the track and field! Er, the hammer throw is track and field. Well, yes, but I want the running events. I wanted to see Galen Rupp run the 10,000. I wanted to see the 400 and the 800. I wanted to see Usain Bolt beat the dopers. I wanted to see the USA boxers. I don't want to see Spain playing Lithuania in men's basketball, I wouldn't watch diving if it was in my back yard, and volleyball is, for me, one of the most boring games ever invented. Women’s sailing? It takes less than ten seconds for the hundred-yard dash. NBC couldn't interrupt men's volleyball to show us the heats, cut back and forth to the distance events, stop everything for the 400 and the 800? Whoa! In the nick of time, a young person shows up to live-stream the running events! Saved from NBC!

JOHN MILLER, an NBC big shot, is in himself an explanation of why NBC’s coverage is so awful. And he’s a mega-sexist into the non-bargain. (I hope you understand that this newspaper only resorts to the grossly overused terms ‘sexist’ and ‘racist’ only when those dire offenses are so obvious no other terms will do.) Here’s Miller on why NBC’s coverage is what it is: “The people who watch the Olympics are not particularly sports fans. More women watch the Games than the men, and for women, they’re less interested in the result than the journey. It’s sort of like the ultimate reality show and miniseries wrapped into one.”

UNTIL SHE had the terrible misfortune to meet me 53 years ago, my wife had never seen a ball game of any kind, including soccer, the dominant sport in her native land. She is now a fervent and knowledgeable fan of the Niners, the Warriors and the Giants. Every female in our family is a sports fan. They do not head for the door with a Barbara Cartland novel when the ball game comes on. Kinda shocking that NBC is so far removed from American sports reality.

MR. BRING DOWN goes to Fairfax for a cup of coffee, almost certain to be an irritating half hour. I am beginning to suspect that annoying people are lying in wait at Good Earth. "Here comes Anderson. Get ready to piss him off." Sure enough… The guy in front of me in the coffee line was quizzing the clerk about the allegedly varying herbicide practices of Central American coffee plantations. The clerk seemed just as interested in the question. I eventually got a cardboard container of Guatamalan, although I could have sworn it was Costa Rican.

IN FRONT OF GOOD EARTH, two young women were signing people up to give money to the Southern Poverty Law Center. They said the Center was working against bullying in schools. Mr. Bring Down just had to say, "A friend of mine wrote an article years ago that said the Center sat on big piles of money and didn't do much good at all other than build a great big building for itself and pay the people who run it a lot of money for following a few Klan rednecks around outback Alabama. You can probably google the story about what a scam the Center is.”

THE YOUNG WOMEN just stood there looking at me. "You'd never heard that?" I followed up. "Is bullying that bad at your high school here in Marin?" One of the girls said, "We just graduated from college." The other girl said, "We've never heard that about the Center." They looked totally deflated. I regretted saying anything, but if they were college grads they were too old to be naive. I piled on. I said when I was a kid I got smacked around practically on a daily basis but when I complained the advice I got from school and home was, "You probably asked for it. Hit them back."

WHEN I CAME BACK out of the store the girls were gone. I'd not only curbed their enthusiasm, I'd destroyed it. But hells bells, a multi-million dollar "non-profit" gulls kids into sidewalk solicitations for them?

Southern Povery Law Center Headquarters
Southern Povery Law Center Headquarters

HOT RUMOR from Fort Bragg says Mayor Turner and family were accosted at their campsite east of town by "several" intruders. They called for help but deputies were occupied elsewhere and an hour away. We've got a request into Turner for the specifics, if any.

REMEMBER RIGHT TO FARM? The State law that exempts ag practices from challenge? The one the County and the wine growers cited when most of Anderson Valley was kept awake for days at a time by wine industry’s newly introduced giant vineyard blowers? Mendocino Redwood Company is now citing Right To Farm in defense of its herbicide eradication of non-commercial tree species. MRC says it is exempt from any kind of nuisance declaration as declared by Measure V because Right To Farm is a state law which trumps anything local officials or voters may try to do. Somehow the self-described “well reasoners” who drafted Measure V overlooked this angle. Combined with the previously discussed muddle associated with whether the County has to put the measure into official County code, it’s looking more and more like Measure V will have no effect on anything.

BTW, the Beth Bosk Strike Force travels to San Francisco Thursday (the 18th) to beard the Fisher Family in their golden dens. The Fishers own the Mendocino Redwood Company, and lots of Mendo people are very unhappy with MRC’s practice of poisoning non-commercial tree species. Frisco media is likely to be out in force. Frisco media are likely to be out in force for what is almost certain to be a great comic event.

CURIOUS ABOUT the Graton Casino, we swerved off 101 at Rohnert Park, drove over the Don Clausen Overpass, proceeding west of the Press Democrat's mammoth print shop, and on into a vast, paved expanse heralding the entrance to a cavernous palace of bad odds, so bad you can't win.

AT 10:30 ON A SATURDAY MORNING there were a surprising number of people feeding slot machines, people who didn't look like they had money they could afford to donate to the Vegas corporation that shoves a few bucks to the Indians. The only crowds were Chinese at the Pai Gow tables, complete with Asian dealers and a movie-quality pit boss down to his six inch good luck pinky nail.

THE GRATON CASINO is an architecturally interesting place with people to match. A huge circular bar is surrounded by slot machines and blackjack tables, with restaurants ranging from inexpensive to expensive lining the perimeter. Attached to the south end of Slot Heaven there's a large hotel under construction. The total vibe is low energy apocalyptic, at least that's the one I sensed, but I'm not an optimist.


THE WHOLE SHOW is not a wise use of what was once prime ag land, but you could say that about all of Rohnert Park, most of Santa Rosa, all of Windsor, much of Cloverdale, and probably half the United States.

EVEN DON CLAUSEN, a moderate Republican from Crescent City when there were still moderate Republicans, might have looked askance at contemporary SoCo land use policy. Congressman Clausen was the very picture of the old style pol — tall, portly, florid. He always looked like he was ready for a drink or five. Clausen represented the Northcoast for many years until he was unseated by Doug Bosco, who the libs thought was one of them. Turned out he was, too, a Clintonian slightly before of the Clintons. Bosco was the first in a long line of teetotalers, closet crazy people and Hillary Democrats of the bland type we now have running errands for the Northcoast’s wine industry.

One Comment

  1. David Lilker August 17, 2016

    In addition to his latest work, readers would also do well to get a copy of Timothy Egan’s 2006 book, The Worst Hard Time. Excellent depiction of the Dust Bowl period. I particularly recommend it if your knowledge of the Dust Bowl is limited to having read The Grapes of Wrath as a student. The visceral hatred and prejudice the refugees faced from their fellow Americans seems all too similar to aspects of our current political climate.

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