- More Inches
- 128 Open
- Breacher Legend
- Ukiah Shooting
- Little Dog
- Conservative Liberals
- Sanctuary Sunk
- Immigration Policy
- Saint Ann
- Senior Audit
- Low Gap-igrants
- Yesterday's Catch
- Election Questioning
- Lobster Logic
- Dakota Assault
- Pancake Breakfast
- Indiana Travelogue
- Weather Story
- Thorgellen Radio
A DECENT LITTLE RAINSTORM raced across Mendoland Tuesday night dropping what many hoped would be enough water to at least keep the Navarro open at the mouth for a couple more days. It’s supposed to clear up Wednesday morning and be mostly clear through Thanksgiving; then on Friday another inch or two or three is predicted through Sunday. Temps will bounce between about 40 and 60 as the cloud cover keeps things from getting too cold or warm.
HIGHWAY 128 WAS OPEN TUESDAY
MendocinoSportsPlus gets about five messages per day asking if the CA-128 is OPEN. Yes, it is, and has been since Saturday night. And we are grateful that a couple we saw on the Navarro sandbar on Tuesday weren't swept away when they took a stroll over the sandbar a couple hours before it breached Saturday afternoon sending more than 20,000 gallons of water PER SECOND into the ocean. They'd STILL be looking for them...
Here is a post we made about the Navarro River breach last Sunday:
THE WEEKEND RISE & FALL OF THE NAVARRO RIVER
Here are some “fun facts” on the CalTrans Navarro River closure:
Highway 128 CLOSED Monday, November 14 @ 11:13 am
Highway 128 OPENED Saturday, November 19 @ 8:21 pm (per CHP page)
Length of time closed - six days - 128 hours.
Last time 128 was closed by sandbar - December, 2015.
WHEN THE BREACH HAPPENED
MSP noted a radical change in the readings at the USGS river gauge Saturday @ 5:15 pm. It jumped from 4.39’ to 7.39’ an indication a breach in the sandbar happened around 5:00 pm. The river “discharge” at the gauge also jumped from 785 gallons per second to 20,570 gallons per second! The latest river gauge info Sunday (10:15 am) had the river discharging 750 cubic feet per second or 5,610 gallons per second into the ocean.
4:15 pm - 4.39’
5:15 pm - 7.39’ ***Indication of breach, 3’ rise at gauge
6:15 pm - 9.57’
7:15 pm - 10.49’
8:15 pm - 10.52’ ***Crest
9:15 pm - 10.32’
10:15 pm - 9.97’
11:15 pm - 9.59’
12:15 am - 9.15’
01:15 am - 8.86’
02:15 am - 8.55’
03:15 am - 8.28’
LATEST ON THE NAVARRO RIVER LEVEL FROM USGS
The Navarro River mouth is wide open and the river level has dropped like a stone to 4.40' at the last reading at the USGS river gauge. Flood stage is, of course, 23-feet. The river discharge is a paltry 107 cubic feet per second - that's only 800 gallons per second - a far cry from the 20,000-plus gallons per second last Saturday night when the sandbar breached.
RAN INTO A GUY today who swears a man was spotted atop the sand bar just before it gave way Saturday night, furiously shoveling to free the mighty Navarro. He was out there with a miner's helmet with headlamp working away in the dark. I like the story, but I doubt it. If a single person managed to shovel out a breach, he'd have to get out of the way pronto from the dangerous on-rush of pent-up water, and there was lots of it. If true, more power to him. If not true, I like it anyway, a lone man and his valiant fight to free a river.
UKIAH SHOOTING, MURDER SUSPECT ARRESTED
On 11-21-2016 around 11:20 hours the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Dispatch received several calls of “shooting in the area” and one call from a male who identified himself as Steven Ryan. Ryan advised that he’d just shot a person near his residence in self defense. Officers from the Ukiah Police Department and Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputies and ambulance personnel responded to the scene, located in the 220 Block of East Perkins Street in Ukiah. At that location a 20 year old male victim was located deceased in the driveway, from what appeared to be one or more gunshot wounds.
Steven Ryan was detained for questioning by responding Officers and the Sheriff’s Detective Unit was called to the scene. The location is a large rural property owned by a local vineyard with numerous rental houses and apartments on the property. During the investigation it was learned the Suspect Steven Ryan, 62, of Ukiah, lives in one of the rental houses. Ryan and the victim got into in a verbal argument over a possible trespass situation after the victim was seen rummaging through a waste disposal bin on the property. Both parties may have approached each other where numerous shots were fired by Ryan with the victim being struck by one or more rounds from a large caliber handgun. Ryan, who had initially been one of the callers to report the incident, claimed the shooting was in self defense. The investigation led Detectives to believe the shooting may not have met the criteria of a “justified or self defense” shooting. Ryan was arrested and booked into the Mendocino County Jail on an open charge of murder. His bail will be set at $500,000. An autopsy is currently being scheduled to determine the exact cause of death and/or the full extent of the victim’s injuries.
(Sheriff’s Press Release)
LITTLE DOG SAYS, "Thanksgiving? I don't get it. These things are all over my place. Why would anyone eat one? They do nothing for my appetite, I can tell you that. “
COUPLA DAYS ago, C.W. Nevius, the Chron columnist, described the liberals now dominant in San Francisco politics as "progressives" and even went so very, very far to refer the "far left" in San Francisco.
I COULDN'T RESIST writing to him: "Describing the SF supervisors as ‘progressives’ ignores the political history of the city, which includes, among others, the Hallinan family, Harry Bridges, a viable communist party, (which called itself ‘progressive,’ a socialist labor movement so widely supported they brought off a city-wide general strike in 1934. Until the middle 1970s, SF was teeming with radicals. Aaron Peskin, in any realistic political taxonomy, is simply a liberal, a good one. The rest of that dim crew presently functioning as supervisors are conservative liberals, or lifestyle liberals."
I IDENTIFIED MYSELF as a "periodic resident of San Francisco since 1941," although I wasn't a more of less conscious resident until the middle 1950s. I remember the Haight before hippies, the Castro before gay, the Fillmore when it was black, the Clement area when it was heavily Russian. Those, ladies and gentlemen, are my Frisco credentials.
NEVIUS WROTE BACK: "Yep. We often hear from people who say the moderate liberals have appropriated the progressive title. My son, who worked in DC for years, said he was amazed at what was called a progressive in SF. Thanks for the kind words about the column. On to the next thing. :) CWN"
CHUCK missed the point. I bring it up because media often describes liberals as "leftists" and "progressives" when mostly the libs referred to are barely even liberals. Canada has a political party called the Conservative Liberals. That's the box the national Democrats belong in, the same box much of MendoLib belongs in, although MendoLib routinely call themselves, "progressives," a term which, right up until about 1960 described the remnant Communist Party USA.
FORT BRAGG PROBABLY NOT A SANCTUARY CITY
(Too many protests loud and clear from the residents, apparently.)
Thank you for expressing your opinions on whether or not Fort Bragg should consider becoming a Sanctuary City. Our ad-hoc committee met today. The meeting included Mayor Turner, the Police Chief, the City Manager, the City Attorney via teleconference and myself. We concluded that our Police Department already have policies in place to help protect and assure the safety of our citizens who may be undocumented at this time. If someone is a victim of a crime or wants to turn someone in who has committed a crime, our Police will not ask them for their immigration status. They can feel safe. Our police will not aggressively seek out or attempt to discover illegal immigrants. However, if a criminal is found guilty of a felony and they are illegally here, then the police may contact ICE upon their conviction. By the way, there is no legal definition of exactly what a Sanctuary City is at this time according to our attorney. I just want to assure our Hispanic citizens that they can feel safe and secure here in Fort Bragg. As for the criminals? You get caught and convicted and you may face dire consequences. I hope this satisfies your concerns. Mayor Turner felt that we should have a second ad-hoc committee meeting to share these conclusions with the community and give the public a chance to understand our decision and weigh-in with public response if they choose to do so. The meeting will be next Monday, November 28th at 3pm in Town Hall.
SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT'S IMMIGRATION POLICY
SAINT ANN & THE BLESSING OF THE INGRAM ORDER
A READER SENDS A PHOTO AND TRIBUTE to the owner of Mendocino Books:
“Birthday gift to Ann several years ago (that's Ann Kilkenny, and Ingram is the wholesaler she uses daily for restocking and special ordered books.)
FORT BRAGG SENIOR CENTER FINANCES
The IRS audited the Fort Bragg Senior Center.
Here's a story about why, who's responsible and what's next.
Please forgive my fragmentary composition.
Scott M. Peterson
THE TRIMMIGRANTS OF LOW GAP PARK
To the Editor:
Most weekday afternoons and Saturday mornings you can find me somewhere in Low Gap Park. Over the years I have become accustomed to some of Ukiah’s less fortunate taking up refuge in the group picnic area, and why not it’s a public space in a nice setting. Lately, however, I have noticed a new crowd that has taken up residence in the park, specifically the amphitheater.
One morning while enjoying the dog park with my puppy I noticed people rising from the amphitheater. It was like a scene out of a zombie movie except instead of rotting flesh and bone these zombies where covered in unkempt dreads and a layer of human filth. I watched as they staggered to the water faucet and down to the portable toilet for their morning constitutional. Once finished it was time for the morning chat and beers with the neighbors before heading into town for the day.
So, me being curious, I took a little stroll over to the amphitheater to see what kind of impact this is having on our park. As I walked through the benches I first came across a bag of untrimmed marijuana (about ¼ of an ounce) that someone had mistakenly left behind. In the next row I found human waste, and in the one after that a meth pipe. Of course this was in addition to the numerous broken alcohol bottles that littered the area.
Speaking of litter, I was surprised at how little trash was around and figured at least they used the nearby garbage can. That was until the wind blew and I saw something slip under the stage. I took a peak to find the underneath of the stage completely filled with trash and even a rat.
Adjacent to the seating area of the amphitheater were coals from a fire. This concerned me and I decided to investigate further. Throughout the park I found evidence of at least a dozen fire sites, admittedly some of them older than others. Nevertheless this should be a major concern for residents considering Low Gap Park is in an area known as the wildland — urban interface, meaning a fire in this area could be destructive to both wilderness and homes. Additionally, Low Gap Park sits in the low gap of our western hills where daily afternoon winds rush into the valley. Fire + wind + wilderness + houses = conflagration.
As I returned back to the main part of the park I decided to have a look at the covered picnic area. I wish I could say it was a surprise that near the picnic benches I found a used needle. I doubt it was an insulin syringe only because there were a number of empty Suboxone strip packages littered about (a drug used to treat opiate addiction but in large quantity and injected produces a similar effect to heroin).
So, why share? I know it is popular to bash on Ukiah and complain about the homeless issue but that’s not my intent. I enjoy Low Gap and I have a concern for my neighbors, their children, and their animals. I know we have an issue especially with the closure of the Buddy Eller’s center, and just to be clear I am not talking about our local homeless but rather those who are living a, shall we say, transient lifestyle. Now, with the rain and the pending cannabis legislation these problems may somewhat solve themselves (for now) but legalization will still attract these, ahem, free spirits to Mendocino county. As for the fire danger, remember the Oakland Hills Fire was on Oct. 20 and there have been many destructive fires in N. California after rains as late as Thanksgiving.
What this issue is going to need is a little bit of attention from law enforcement and we have two agencies that could be doing this. Low Gap is a County park with in the Ukiah city limits. That means both UPD and MCSO have a responsibility for this location. Also I have never seen the amphitheater used for anything in the last 10 years and if is attraction for this kind of activity maybe it’s time to for it to be removed. I hope those responsible for the park hear my concerns and park users hear my warning; beware the Trimmigrants of Low Gap Park and the impacts that accompany them.
Patrick Garrett, Ukiah
CATCH OF THE DAY, November 22, 2016
PAULINE BARAJAS, Gualala. Protective order violation.
MICHELLE CARR, Ukiah. Shoplifting, petty theft, probation revocation.
KELLEN CROSGROVE, Laytonville. Domestic battery, child endangerment.
JOY DAVIDSON, Fort Bragg. Burglary, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
EMERY ELLINGWOOD, Willits. Drunk in public.
GEORGE GETZ, Gualala. DUI.
VICENTE GONZALEZ, Willits. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, failure to appear, probation revocation.
MONICA GRANDI, Ukiah. Domestic assault.
IRENE HALE, Willits. Protective order violation.
JOAQUIN MARTINEZ, Redwood Valley. Probation revocation.
DANIEL NICHOLAS, Hayward/Ukiah. Drunk in public.
CHERRI ROBERTS, Ukiah. Drunk in public.
STEVEN RYAN, Ukiah. Murder (See separate press release).
JEREMY SCHENCK, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
NICHOLAS SHAW, Gilchrest, Oregon/Ukiah. DUI.
FELIX SWEARINGER, Covelo. County parole violation.
Everyone who opposed Donald Trump, over half of America, is asking how did he win the election? Did the white woman vote desert Hillary? She was awful, but that awful? Was it an FBI coup? The collapse of the middle class?
But no one is posing the question that should be answered first: did Trump even win the election? Were the voting machines rigged?
The empirical data all showed Clinton ahead in the last few days of the campaign. Then mysteriously on election day the rural vote in traditional blue states turned against her.
Digital voting machines are the Saudi Arabia in American electoral politics. They are off-limits to everyone except the companies that own the software. No one can verify if they have been manipulated.
Although the software code for the machines is long, the vote counter itself is just a few lines. In a tight race it would be simple for a kingmaker to have the machine switch the results. Reverse 52 votes for Clinton, 48 votes for Trump, and no one is the wiser.
That this is possible is an absolute travesty. If you can't trust the election results then democracy is just a Trump casino. As Stalin said: It's not who votes that count, it's who counts the votes.
With this election we may be seeing how America does the beer hall putsch. With each new pick for his Cabinet, Trump builds up a Gestapo in the White House. Now all he needs is an "incident" and, Heil Donald, we have martial law.
ON THE BACKS OF LOBSTERS
Early 1960s in the only country in the world not using the metric system. Conversations are heard about switching over to metrics. A typical reaction: "Yeah, it's a good idea. It should go into effect" (after my death).
I thought, "Hmmm, maybe the level of intelligence is rising fast enough so that in 10 or 12 years we may see the end of the Electoral College, a six-year single term for the president and four regional presidential primaries of 12 or 13 states each and rotate."
Over 50 years later we are further away than ever in adopting these changes. The Democratic as well as the Republican Parties are reluctant to tinker with the electoral college because like gerrymanders and filibusters they may be helpful in gaming the system at some point in the future.
What has happened is that the level of intelligence has remained about the same while the population has grown rapidly. This may help understand why the liblabs, hill muffins, helping professionals and west side of Ukiah are so unhappy lately.
Perhaps I have been a little naive not too precient. I like that word "prescient," it has appeared twice in the AVA lately and I think it's going to become trendy. You may even see KC Meadows using it in the near future.
Now the presidential primaries are one of the deplorables in the basket. In my opinion the present setup is rotten and it stinks. With four regional primaries you would get better candidates, eliminate much of the influence of the selfish and closed-minded, the racists and bigots, the religious racketeers and the fascists of the Ayn Rand/Paul Ryan variety.
It seems to me that reforming the system should be as easy as pie. If you can hold still for a few minutes I will attempt to give you a hypothetical conjectural for instance possibility.
The Oakland Raiders are in the Super Bowl! Team owner Davis has given Jerry Brown, a resident of Oakland, the keys to luxury skybox "V." Governor Brown has invited to bigshot Democratic insiders from Washington state, two from Oregon and one bartender to watch the game with him. At the end of the game they are all pretty well oiled up. (None of them knew the score.) But Jerry Brown has extracted a commitment from Oregon and Washington to hold their presidential primaries on the same day as California. America's next to last newspaper (aka the New York Times) got wind of the agreement and soon Alaska and Hawaii said, "Hey, us too." Nevada and Arizona had been giving everyone the fisheye. They wanted in. That makes a total of seven states joining together. The six remaining Western states had no place else to go so that completed the Western region with thirteen members holding the presidential primaries on the same day.
In New England the Manchester Union-Leader (which for the first time in its 150 year history refused to endorse a Republican candidate for president) informed its readers that if they favor the six New England states holding presidential primaries on the same day they should write a letter to the newspaper and the Union-Leader would print the letters they like best and those who were selected would receive a certificate entitling them to a free lobster. Actually the Union-Leader liked all of the letters it received and two thirds of New England's population wanted a free lobster. New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland joined New England which made the Eastern regional primary complete.
The entire lobster community began fleeing eastward across the Atlantic. The English Channel became so choked up with lobsters that it was possible to walk across on the surface. This resulted in one million refugees from Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Eritrea and South Sudan walking across to England on the backs of lobsters. The city of Birmingham called all of its expatriates home to help build a wall to keep the brown-skinned hordes out and this is why Anderson Valley is looking for a new soccer coach and Lauren is looking for a new master of ceremonies for the trivia nights.
REPORT FROM STANDING ROCK
The whole camp today is doing its best to recover from what I understand is possibly the most brutal police assault ever. There was an action late yesterday afternoon to remove the wrecked cars the sheriff's department had chained to the bridge over the Missouri River, on the road that provides Standing Rock with the most direct access to the hospital. Weeks ago the sheriff's department had agreed to remove the wrecks, but hadn't, so yesterday an action team drove a semi-truck onto the bridge and was in the process of removing the wrecks - PEACEFULLY - when the Morton County sheriff's showed up. In 28-degree weather they used a water cannon to soak almost 150 peaceful water protectors, lobbed stun grenades at them (which can cause concussions), shot them with rubber bullets (which can break bones and injure organs), and sent clouds of teargas over them. This I saw with my own eyes: I was on the front line in answer to a call for mental health help. The camp stayed up all night bringing the wounded back to camp and sending peaceful reinforcements out to the bridge.
The love and commitment and unity here is beyond anything I've ever seen. Dozens of medics were on the scene, and a skilled crew tended to those who were gassed and pepper-sprayed. All told, some 146 people were soaked with water in the freezing weather. More than 30 people were sent by ambulance to the local hospital. Seven people suffered serious injuries, with one woman losing a hand. And at least one elder suffered a heart attack.
And still, the leaders of the camp today are calling for prayers, not retribution. My heart is broken; my heart is strong. I am in love with everyone here.
Otherwise, the camp continues to work 'round the clock to winterize as many structures as possible. The brutal cold North Dakota is famous for hasn't hit yet, but could any day. There is a concerted effort to ensure that everyone here has someplace warm to sleep.
I'm in Bismarck for a couple of hours; had to come because my glasses broke and I needed a repair kit. Seems surreal sitting here in this Starbucks only an hour from Standing Rock, when I know what's just happened there.
I've only got eight days left here before I have to return to Hamilton, and I really don't want to leave. I have to remind myself that I am not irreplaceable, and that many others can fill the same niche I've here occupied.
It is a greater honor being here than I can ever say.
— Salim Matt Gras
PANCAKE B'FAST AT WHITESBORO GRANGE SUNDAY: A traditional pancake breakfast will be served at the Whitesboro Grange on Sunday November 27th — come polish off your Thanksgiving celebration weekend with your neighbors and community. Breakfast includes orange juice, pancakes with maple and homemade berry syrups, ham, eggs your way, and coffee, tea or hot cocoa. The public and visitors are invited to join neighbors and community for a hearty meal. Adults $8, ages 6-12 half price, children under 6 eat FREE. Breakfast is served from 8 to 11:30 a.m. THANKS to your appetites, the Grange is able to support local families in need, the Albion-Little River Fire Department, Project Sanctuary, nd other community service organizations. The gift shop will be open for Xmas shopping. Whitesboro Grange is located 1.5 miles east on Navarro Ridge Road. Watch for signs just south of the Albion Bridge. Warm wishes to all of us for a happy holiday season.
— Ronnie James
by Byron Spooner
As soon as my wife Judy and I decided to go to Chicago for our vacation I started talking about going to Hammond. Judy understands all too well that some obsessions last a lifetime and had no problem with my addition to our itinerary. You could immediately tell those who were from the Midwest from those who weren’t by the way they wrinkled their noses and said “Hammond? Why the hell would you want to go to Hammond?” Despite the skepticism we took a day, after a long weekend of rubbernecking at Chicago’s skyscrapers, and headed southeast until we crossed into Indiana.
Flat and skyscraper-less Hammond, Indiana, is the childhood home of Jean Shepherd, one of the great humorists of last half of the Twentieth Century. Radio raconteur, writer, occasional TV personality, he was right up there with Benchley, Perelman, Thurber and all those guys. His particular hero was fellow Hoosier humorist George Ade, whose only book-length collection Shep, as his fans called him, edited and introduced. From the 50’s well into the 70’s and beyond, covering the Northeast from Philadelphia to Boston, out of WOR studios in Manhattan, Shepherd delivered a nightly, unscripted monolog that combined humor, satire and social commentary, improvised music — nose flute, Jew’s harp, head knuckling — army stories and childhood reminisces into a fantastical midnight stew of improvisation that would swirl in a boy’s sleep-deprived mind all the next day despite his teacher’s pleadings to pay attention.
As did many a child at that time, I used to lie in bed with my transistor turned way down listening to his broadcasts—performances more closely related to jazz than any known form of comedy — and picture Shep’s neighborhood and the characters that inhabited it as he described them every night. They were as real to me as the people in my own neighborhood and twice as lively. I pictured his drunken Polish neighbor, climbing the porch steps and getting nearly to the top before tumbling to the bottom and starting up again, his wife quietly calling encouragement from inside; a small-scale American myth of Sisyphus. This guy was a lot like my Old Man’s friend Foster who had fifths of vodka delivered to his front door, back when liquor stores still delivered, while his wife was at church ‘fingering her beads’ and praying for his salvation. He’d lie in bed and drink, smoking his Parliament 100s and setting his mattress afire every two weeks or so. When I got into my teens I’d bum the Parliaments from him to the eternal annoyance of the Old Man. I pictured Shep’s perennial pals, Flick, Schwartz and Bruner and the alley out back where they found all kinds of wondrous flotsam, including the discarded Ovaltine can that, in one of his best-loved stories, turned out to be Shep’s gateway to the Little Orphan Annie Secret Society and an important life lesson. As Shep would describe it, I’d picture his father — his ‘Old Man’ — roaring up the driveway in a ten year old Oldsmobile or a Dodge in need of a ring job, reading the sports page at the chipped enamel kitchen table, white-knuckled with rage that the White Sox had once again traded away “the only true ball player” on the team. Similarly, my Old Man would roar up our driveway in his Chevy Handyman that someone had painted with a brush and beige house paint, heaving like a Sherman tank attacking a Kraut pillbox as he hit the hump at the foot of the driveway. You could almost see Nazis scattering in all directions. Shep blended minor tragedy into the humor. He is best known for writing and narrating the movie, “A Christmas Story,” that telescoped highlights from many of his oft-repeated stories into one narrative: the time ‘4293 blueticked Bumpus hounds roared through the screen door in a great, roiling mob’ and stole the Easter ham right off that same kitchen table; the net-stockinged Nehi lamp in the shape of a woman’s leg, the ‘major prize’ immortalized in perched in the front window and later carelessly smashed when Shep’s mother, dressed in her perpetual “rump-sprung Chinese red chenille robe,” dusted a little too close to it; and the Red Ryder BB gun he received for Christmas.
* * *
“Let’s head downtown,” the Old Man said, “I have a feeling something might be up in the Village,” and I knew he had something special up his sleeve. My mother needed the Handyman so we grabbed a Red-and-Tan Bus across the George Washington Bridge and descended into the depths of the subway at the Port Authority Bus Station.
The Old Man had a way of saying ‘the Village’ that made it sound as though it was Shangri-La, Oz and Sodom all rolled into one. In those days, fifty years or more ago, the Village hung suspended in an atmosphere of quivering anticipation. Unlike the brass-band clang and bang of midtown, it exuded a soft-shoed excitement that wafted sleepily out the doors of the cafes and bars, out of the alleys and side streets, a nervy, slightly smug, feeling of being on the cutting edge; a muted trumpet, a snare caressed by brushes. The Village was a very different neighborhood from Madison Avenue where the Seagram’s Building, the skyscraper the Old Man worked in, would glower over us like an annoyed mother. Instead of scary, towering buildings forming glittering canyons, the Village was built on a scale even a kid could handle—low buildings, all no more than five or six stories high, narrow streets. Trees shaded the sidewalks and people seemed friendlier than in midtown. A few of the streets were still cobblestoned and there were vendors who still sold produce from horse-drawn wagons. There weren’t all kinds of horns blowing or people hollering at each other.
We got off the A Train at West 4th Street and came up the stairs and emerged onto a wide avenue.
“They renamed this ‘Avenue of the Americas’ a couple of years ago but real New Yorkers just call it ‘Sixth Avenue,’” the Old Man said, “probably always will.”
We wandered over to McDougal Street, taking our time, walking past cafes and bars, mostly shuttered or, if open, largely empty at midday. The Old Man told me these were the hangouts of Jean Shepherd’s people, the people who tuned in every night, his beloved Night People.
“These joints don’t really come alive until after dark,” he said, “We’ll be home by then. Wouldn’t want to be late for dinner, now would we?” And I could tell he wanted nothing more than to be late for dinner.
We strolled through Sunday-quiet Washington Square Park to hear the bongo players and the beatniks playing their guitars and spouting weird poetry. The Old Man pointed out the guys playing chess in the shade.
“The Village always reminds me of Europe,” he said. He’d ‘marched across Europe’ during the war which didn’t sound like a particularly good way to see a whole continent, but he referred to the experience constantly, figuring it was probably the only time he’d ever get there.
We found Shep right where he’d said he’d be, holding forth from the stoop of a brownstone right off the park. He would announce impromptu appearances like these on his show the night before. On this day he worked without a microphone. No props. No Jew’s harp, no kazoo, no head thumping. We listened and watched as he worked the crowd — no more than fifty mobbed around him on the sidewalk — exchanging badinage with guys who looked like they’d just come from auditioning to be in Peter, Paul and Mary; goatees, tall and skinny with ties and sports jackets.
All the while we worked ourselves slowly, subtly forward. I was in the lead; the Old Man guiding me with his fingers planted firmly in the small of my back, into narrow, nearly invisible, fissures in the crowd which I would step into and widen ever so slightly, just enough to for him to insinuate himself into and widen the space a little more. We repeated the process over and over until we’d worked our way into the front row. No one seemed to notice. Right away Shep spotted me in the front row, stepped down from his perch and picked me up by my armpits, swinging me high over the heads of the adults.
“Your biggest fan,” the Old Man said his grin never wider.
“And my youngest,” Shep said back with a big grin of his own as he planted my butt on the wide concrete railing at the top of the steps. I gazed up at him from the best seat in the house. He wore dark slacks and an open corduroy sport coat, a worn white shirt, no tie. It was like running into Jesus at the diner out on Route 46, or bumping into President Johnson down by the tracks scrounging for discarded porno magazines, bottles with a swallow left in the bottom and cigarette packs with one left.
“Listen, gang,” Shep said, resuming his monologue which was sprinkled with references to Chet Baker and Jackson Pollack, Thelonious Monk and Norman Mailer. I had only the vaguest idea who these guys were but I figured they had to be hip or Shep wouldn’t have referred to them. He called girls ‘chicks,’ and lampooned the phonies, the non-New Yorkers, who carried around copies of the Village Voice and Playboy under their arms to enhance their hip image. He waved his arms around as he talked and paced back and forth on the top step, never holding still. He talked about ‘slobs,’ the people who stood in the middle of Columbus Circle and took pictures of the statues while wearing Bermuda shorts and banlon shirts, their mouths hanging open. People who thought Mount Rushmore or The Sound of Music were great art and believed what advertising told them.
“Out there, in the darkness...across the Hackensack River…beyond the last Howard Johnson…” he said. We lived a couple of blocks from the Hackensack! We’d been to Howard Johnsons! I just looked at him with a huge grin across my face. There was no other response available to me; I didn’t know how to act cool like everyone else, to look detached and jaded. All I wanted from that moment on was to be as hip, as funny, as cool as Jean Shepherd and though I hadn’t the vaguest idea of how to go about that, this seemed like a good place to start. I wanted to live in the Village and hang out in cafes and listen to jazz and bullshit with Norman Mailer. The last thing I wanted to do was to end up being one of the guys with the Playboy under his arm; being as cool as Jean Shepherd seemed an impossible ambition.
“The darkness” was how he referred to any place that was not New York City. Manhattan, especially the Village, was, by Shep’s lights, the ne plus ultra, the only place any sane person would want to live. On the way over, the Old Man had showed me Patchin Place, the alley in the very heart of the Village where Shep lived.
Shep went on, describing what it had been like to see New York for the first time, an experience he’d had during his hitch in the Army. He felt sorry for Easterners who were inured to the city, had never been awe-struck by its epic scale and titanic beauty. He told more stories and did a five-minute satirical encounter between Mayor Wagner and Representative Lindsay that I didn’t understand though the crowd was roaring by the time he was done. He told another Army story and another short one about Flick, Schwartz and Bruner and you could tell he was winding up.
“Excelsior, you fathead!” he roared and the crowd roared it back.
“Keep your knees loose,” he said with a big wave and trotted off. I figured he had to meet Jack Kerouac for lunch or something.
* * *
Our guide book talks about the revitalization of Hammond led by the city fathers, featuring giant pieces of art by Dali and Chihuly plopped into the middle of the civic center, close against a ‘historic’ downtown street inhabited by new galleries, cafes and shoppes. I picture consultants in two-hundred-and-fifty-dollar shoes advising the local pols — probably a barber with a populist streak and junior high vice-principal who watches Fox News, maybe a city contractor looking for a fresh hustle — on just what kind of middle-brow art to spend thousands of taxpayer dollars on in order to elevate the cultural life of Hammond and maybe attract a tourist or two. The guide book makes no mention of Jean Shepherd.
Despite these resuscitative efforts, once you get a block or two away from the art works the town is heavily boarded up and what’s still open is shabby and crappy, falling apart. The industry is mostly gone. Some of the steel mills out around Gary are still operating but not at the same level they once did. Shep described them as enormous things, industrial behemoths that blackened the sky with smoke, belching (a favorite word of his) fire and heat twenty-four hours a day. Today you can spot the occasional active smokestack on the horizon but most appear dormant. The guide book says Hammond was named for a guy who moved there in the 1870’s and opened a meat-packing plant. Jean Shepherd tells it better:
Ours was not genteel neighborhood, by any stretch of the imagination. Nestled picturesquely between the looming steel mills and the verminously aromatic oil refineries and encircled by a colorful conglomerate of city dumps and fetid rivers, our Indiana town was and is the very essence of the Midwestern industrial heartland of the nation… According to legend, it bore the name of a hapless early settler who had arrived on the scene when the land was just prairie and Indian trails. Surveying the sparkling blue waters of Lake Michigan, he decided that Chicago, then a tiny trading post where land was free for the asking, had no future. Struggling through the quagmires farther south, for some demented reason now lost to history, he set up camp and invested heavily in land that was destined to become one of the ugliest pieces of real estate this side of the craters of the moon. Indeed, it bore some resemblance to the moon, in that the natives were alternately seared by stifling heat in the summer and reduced to clanking hulks when fierce gales blew off the lake. Our founding father set the pattern of futility for future generations.
Judy and I stop for lunch at “Harold’s,” a sleepy place just up the road from the Dalis and Chihulys. Shep would’ve loved it; the kind of joint where you’re not sure if the “Since 1975” stenciled in the corner of the window refers to the year they opened or last time they changed the oil in the deep fryer. Our burgers, brought to us by a high school girl and cooked by a fifty-ish-looking guy in white T-shirt, go down easy.
Before we can start looking for Shep’s ancestral home we have to wait a full ten minutes, under the eyeless gaze of the ‘THINK HAMMOND’ water tower, while an indolent freight train crosses our path, hundreds of tank cars full of God-knows-what concoctions — acids, solvents, syrups and poisons — and empty boxcars with their doors hanging open. I watch it go by with the same feeling I’d had watching the wildebeest migration in the Serengeti; we are witnessing something that has been going on long before we got here and will continue on long after we’ve gone.
We park across the street, approximately, I imagine, where a drunken Ludlow Kissel had famously, in a story Shep told just about every Fourth of July, set off ‘the dago bomb that struck back’ on a hot Independence Day back during the depths of the Depression. I am surprised and not surprised at how accurate my childhood imagination proves to have been, how close the neighborhood looks to the way I’d imagined it; and how much it resembles the one I’d grown up in. Then again, how many variations are there on the one-family working class house? Still I’m amazed at how accurately Shep got the landscape of the neighborhood and of the dark times of his youth across over the radio.
We’re struck also by the ordinariness of the area. There are no Dago bombs going off, at least not while we’re there, no drunks struggling with the porch steps, no marauding hounds; just quiet people going about their business. Shepherd loved those quiet people and their quiet struggles. He exaggerated their absurdities, foibles and follies for the sake of laughs but never lost sight of their typicality, the ordinariness that made them quintessentially American. Perhaps one becomes a humorist, at least partly, to relieve the boredom of the quotidian, to escape the ordinariness of it all.
The revitalization of Hammond would’ve amused Jean Shepherd no end. He often observed that everything reverts to the mean, which is the truth, the mathematical inevitability, at the center of all satire — the efforts of humans are vain and doomed to fail, the bigger the ambition the more inevitable the failure. In the end we all revert back to being humans. The eighty-foot-high Dali reproductions and Chihuly glass objets decorate a wind-lashed and mostly deserted civic plain that closely resembles Dealy Plaza. There are no hordes of tourists in evidence, just us.
The neighborhood has changed some since Shep’s time, but not much, and not necessarily for the better or the worse, certainly in ways he never would have imagined. There are thousands of places like this all over the country, vast swaths of cheaply developed real estate that have fed, watered, nurtured and then slowly crushed generations of working-class aspirations. Some folks keep up a good appearance, mowing and trimming, others have let their places go to pot, but all the houses looked worn, as if weary of the homeowners’ feeble efforts to prop them up. There are a few defiant lawn signs, “Pence Must Go! (Your Jobs & Rights Could Be Next)” on one, “Proud Union Home” in front of the house that, according to the Jean Shepherd web site, once belonged to the Bruners. It was two weeks before the election but you got the feeling the signs had been there a good long time and would remain after, whatever the outcome. There are some African-American faces in the windows of the houses now — Shepherd’s world had been exclusively white. The cars parked out front are Toyotas and Subarus now instead of the Hupmobiles and Dodges of the ‘Thirties but they are all still rusted at the rocker panels and still ten years old. I suspect the basic stories haven’t changed much either; The American Dream, all dreams, deferred by the struggle to stay afloat.
Judy suggests we explore the area a little more and it pays off. Down the street we locate the Warren G. Harding Elementary School where Shep had “studied the principal exports of Peru” under the watchful, kind eye of Miss Shields. The city replaced the original school somewhere along the way, tore it down and supplanted it with a sixties-modern building that probably looks more anachronistic now than the one they replaced. The equally anachronistic appellation, named for the most corrupt President between Grant and Nixon, they chose, strangely, to retain.
Shepherd is often labelled, dismissed, and even reviled, as a conservative — the Old Man, a staunch Goldwater man, certainly thought of him that way — partly because he traded in a form of humor closely related to nostalgia. The myth of the American Golden Age, the longing after a rosy past that never existed, was a key element of Reagan-ism and the whole subsequent ‘aw-shucks’ shuck that followed, but Shep never had an overt political agenda; he was too much the dyed-in-the-wool iconoclast, too reliably sacrilegious, too instinctively the satirist for that. He came from an era when liberals and conservatives were still able to hear each other out, disagree with each other and still somehow manage to maintain a civil society, sharing the same city without having to shout each other down or crowd each other out. It was an era when ‘conservative’ wasn’t necessarily synonymous with bigotry and hatred. In that way Jean Shepherd inhabited an actual American Golden Age.
His old neighborhood, in what is still one of the most conservative states in the union, now looks riper than ever for some talented young smartass, some younger version of Jean Shepherd, to come along and start anew, spinning stories about the neighborhood and the latest, persistent Depression, making a new generation laugh through the dark times. Working people are working people and funny is funny, those things never change. If they decided tomorrow to re-name Harding School for Donald Trump or The Backstreet Boys and replaced the Dalis and Chihulys with Rube Goldbergs and Thomas Kincaids, Hammond would persist, stubborn and unchanged. All the grand-scale ambitions in the world is not going to make Hammond what it never was, but it still serves a good purpose nonetheless; I’ll bet that’s where the next generation, the next Jean Shepherds, will come from.
THE STONY LONESOME: SAVED BY WEATHER
by Flynn Washburne
"Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it."
This sentence flitted across my consciousness recently, apropos of nothing at all, and got me pondering. I think it's supposed to be a joke of some kind, though to me it doesn't really fit the criteria. Taxonomically, I'd classify it among the wistful musings of those homespun Midwestern "humorists" of yesteryear whose "witticisms" appear more the runoff of a diseased and/or senescent mind than actual jokes. The sort of "humor" perpetuated by Garrison Keillor. I do listen to PHC for the music, but dang. Humor's not supposed to hurt, dawg.
To more fully illustrate the feebleness of that "joke," I will now relate an actually funny one from my own personal Top Ten. It's a little crass, so the more sensitive among you may want to decamp to a tamer section of this website or paper.
Okay, a guy walks into a bar. You know why so many jokes begin thusly? Because every day, millions of guys walk into millions of bars all over the world and something funny is bound to happen in some of them. Anyway, so a guy walks into a bar. He sits down, orders a drink, and spins around on his stool to check out the available talent. As it happens, this gent was one of those shallow types who rate women on a numerical (1-10) scale, and when an attractive young lady walked by his perch, he felt it incumbent on himself to assess her appearance and apply a numerical designation, in this case clearly verbalized in hopes of initiating further conversation and perhaps ultimately a sexual dalliance. "Baby, you're an eight," he says to her, leering appreciatively. The very attractive, and apparently quite athletically agile, woman leaps up onto the bar, hikes up her skirt, squats over the fellow and commences pissing on his head. "Okay! Okay!" he says, the golden shower cascading down his arms as he puts up his hands to divert the offending spray. "Ten! Ten!"
In case you're not absolutely convulsed with laughter right now, let me break this down for you. This joke is like one of those two-stage fireworks where just when you think it's over it erupts into a far more resplendent conclusion. There is, of course, the initial pun, "you're an eight" being a homophone of "urinate,” and then the amusing image of a pretty girl vaulting atop a bar and degrading a sexist douchebag. The really funny part, though, is that the guy is so firm in his self-imposed role as arbiter of feminine beauty that he believes her reaction stems from feeling slighted at not being given a higher rating, when actually she was exploiting the homophony to exact revenge for his rude and sexist comment, proving herself quick-witted as well as beautiful and acrobatic. Good one, right? That concludes today's Humor 101 lecture. Tune in next week when we return to the glory days of Johnny Fuckerfaster.
Anyway, weather. People are always talking about it. Hot (or cold) enough for ya? Think it'll clear up? Think it'll rain? S'posed to be nice this weekend! And so on. Is it because we're so unimaginative and dull that the only thing we can think of to initiate a conversation is whatever the hell it's doing outside? I don't think so. After all, I do it too, and people generally congregate near me to gather in bon mots as they tumble like precious carbuncles from my mouth. I think it's because it's the one thing in life at whose mercy we every single one of us are, utterly powerless as it imposes its will, be it with soothing zephyrs or battering typhoons or incendiary bolts of galvanic vengeance lancing down from a roiling sky. Weather is the great leveler, both literally and figuratively; we are all equal 'neath its might and scope, and it will straight-up level the bejesus out of anything you might care to construct.
I see our incessant casual observations about the weather as a form of prayer. What we are actually saying with our banal chitchat regarding the surfeit/lack of precipitation, or sufficiency of heat/cold/water, is,
0, weather gods, we know what you are capable of. Only bless us with mild breezes and balmy days and you may name your sacrifice. Remove the storms to distant area codes, carry off the trailer homes of strangers, flood the valleys far from here, only just make it nice for our softball game this weekend.
Weather can spoil your plans in a variety of ways, from being a mild inconvenience to bringing you to financial ruin to actually killing you, but when it's not giving you skin cancer or carrying your double-wide off to Oz or setting your barn on fire, it can also be benevolent. It nourishes our crops, provides us with wind and solar energy, and, as illustrated in the following example, sometimes it can keep you out of jail.
It began as so many adventures do, outside of the Albion store. I was shooting the shit with a few locals as I wrapped myself around the outside of 40 oz of Mickey's when an interesting-looking vehicle pulled up. It was an early 70s Cadillac Eldorado with a completely flat profile — no top, posts, or glass. Just a sleek wheeled rectangle. The highest point on that whip was the hood ornament. Definitely not street-legal, but operating in the capacity of what the locals term a ridge-runner — a vehicle capable traveling from point-to-point but unburdened with the niceties associated with legal motoring — registration, tags, insurance, doors, what have you. The rear seat had been removed, creating a sizable storage area which was filled with a tangle of wetsuits, masks, fins, snorkels, and net bags, the apparent trappings of an abalone diver. The pilot of the car had a vaguely piratical air, leading one to suspect a casual attitude toward seasonal restrictions and bag limits.
After doing his shopping, the putative poacher came out and addressed the caucus of layabouts to whom I was at that moment telling the very joke I related to you people earlier. I delivered the punchline to great effect and raucous laughter as he waited politely, and then said, "Any-a you clowns wanna make fifty bucks?"
I tipped up my 40, drained it, belched and tossed it into the receptacle. "Let's roll," I said.
"Don't you even want to know what we're doing?" he asked.
"Nope," I said, vaulting over the door and into the passenger seat.
His name was Edwin, he apprised me on the way to BFE Albion, and he was in fact an abalone snatcher, among other things. He grew a little of this and cooked a touch of that, and bought and sold a few other things. We rambled through the Albionian hinterlands for about twenty minutes until we arrived at his spread, a collection of permanent and not-so buildings at the end of a long dirt road, strewn with rusty machinery and derelict vehicles.
"What we're gonna do," Edwin said after we parked and stretched, "is move everything from this 'un here" — a 20x20 metal shed — "into that 'un there" — a larger wooden barn 40 or so yards away. The shed was filled with building materials — boxes of tile, asphalt shingles, buckets of paint and mastic and nails and oddments, framing lumber, plywood sheets, and so forth. Without further discussion, I hove to and begin filling a barrow. After several trips, Edwin said, "Pit stop," and laid some rails out on the trunk lid of the Eldo. Accompanied by a couple short tugs on a large jug of whiskey, it was the perfect accompaniment to a morning's mindless labor. On we toiled throughout the morning, lifting, wheeling, and stacking, now and then augmenting our flagging drive with a dash of the 'ol rit-dit-da-doo and smoothing out the edges with whiskey and weed. By the time we finished I was feeling fine and looking around for something else to do.
"Okay, good work," said Edwin. "Now for the second part of the job. I need you to drive me into town."
"In this thing?" I asked, indicating the abbreviated Caddy. "It's not legal, is it?"
"Not strictly, no, but I got a suspended license with 2 strikes on it, and I gotta get to town in order to pay you. You got a license?"
"Yeah, but I may not have one after today," I said, eyeing the land shark doubtfully. As usual, though, my sense of adventure — a preening, musclebound thug of titanic proportions — held sway over my sense of caution, a puny, underdeveloped weakling with poor eyesight and a whiny voice. I took a prophylactic slug of whiskey to forestall any objections the latter might pipe up with and said, "Alright then. Let's do this."
We hit the road with the whiskey on the seat between us, smoking a fat bomber and listening to "Exile on Main Street" on cassette on the car's stereo. We hadn't gotten too far towards Fort Bragg when it began to sprinkle. "Speed up, we'll outrun the shit," advised Edwin. Sound logic, but when I tromped on it, things seemed to worsen. I flipped on the windshield wipers which, having no glass on which to gain purchase, flopped uselessly back and forth on the hood and dashboard. Still, there was a measure of psychological comfort derived from the fact that they worked.
The rain steadily increased in force and density, and by the time we hit Little River we were smack in the midst of a full-on North Coast toad-strangler. We were soaked to the skin and sloshing around on the seat like a pair of prize grouper on the deck of a sportfisher. Edwin reached back into the cargo bay. "Here, put this on," he said, handing me a mask-and-snorkel combo and donning one of his own. I felt better thus outfitted, if only because it was an acknowledgment that we were now traveling underwater.
I noticed Edwin pouring whiskey into the top of his snorkel and tipped mine in his direction. He filled my tube and I siphoned that shit right down. I began to get into the spirit of the thing, singing along through my snorkel as we sluiced through the deluge. I waved cheerily at the other motorists that we passed, garnering some very curious looks and a few appreciative honks. Edwin reloaded my breathing (drinking) apparatus and just then I heard the warning whoop of a "pull over" signal. I turned around and saw the flashing lights of a CHP vehicle through the sheets of rain.
Shit! This one was going to be a bitch to explain. I pulled over to the shoulder and bit down on the end of my snorkel — I could at least extend to the officer the courtesy of not drinking in his presence. When the poncho-clad CHiP approached the car, I released my grip on the mouthpiece and aspirated a little whiskey, causing me to reflexively cough and shoot a fine spray of booze out my blowhole like a drunken cetacean. The cop stood there for a moment taking it all in — the stripped-down car, the wipers clattering on the dashboard, the two occupants peering at him through diving masks — and, without a word, reached into the car, pulled the keys out of the ignition, and with a clear and decisive motion of his extended thumb, directed us out of the vehicle.
We resignedly stepped out, expecting to be going hands-on-hood, but the officer got back into his car and took off down the highway. We stood there for a moment, watching him disappear into the storm. "Huh," Edwin said, tipping his mask back onto his forehead. "What do you know about that?"
He jimmied the trunk open with a pocketknife and retrieved the duffel full of weed he'd been intending to convert to cash in Fort Bragg. We stuck out our thumbs and before too long got a lift with a couple of hippies in an old Dodge Power Wagon. They drove us into town where Edwin concluded his business and doubled my promised Grant with a full Benjy for my trouble. We parted ways there and I went to seek further adventure in the bustling metropolis.
Way I see it is, the fastidious trooper correctly perceived us a Hazard to Navigation, knew he had to get us off the road, but didn't want a couple of half-drowned water dogs messing up his nice clean patrol vehicle. Saved by the rain! You just never know.
Sometimes what appears to be biblical retribution actually turns out to be deliverance in appreciation for being just an ornament to the universe and a joy to be around. It's all a question of perspective.
A PRE-THORGELLEN MUSICAL INTERLUDE.
You probably already know that it’s easy and fun (and free, in all senses of the word, like free hamburger or free parking or free country or freedom of speech) to get airtime on KNYO and do your own show in the store on Frankin Street in town. (Contact Bob Young via http://knyo.org and he’ll make arrangements to meet you at the storefront, show you how to use the simple equipment and put you on the schedule. It’s really that simple. That’s the way radio is supposed to be. That’s real community radio.)
But what you might not know is that, if you want to, you can do your radio show live from anywhere there’s reliable web access. Your kitchen or garage or front room or treehouse or anyplace else in the world. Most KNYO airpeople do it that way at least part of the time. You need a computer, a mixer, a microphone, an easy-to-install audio streaming program, web access, and that’s pretty much it. We’ll advise you on what to get, and so on. Once you’re set up, you gather your show material around you, wait till it’s time, then click one click and you’re on the air on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg. When your show is over, click another click and you’re off the air, and the transmitter goes back to automation that fills the time until the next live airperson begins his or her show.
Up until last night (Monday night), at least as far as I knew you also needed a separate computer or tablet or phone or CD deck to play music on your show, if you’re doing a music show (the store has CD decks and a telephone call-in interface already there for you to use, and a cable ready to accept the sound from your tablet or other player). Last night I was reading, putting this year’s Thorgellen show together (that’s always Friday the day after Thanksgiving, in America) (it’s an ancient festival of feasting and fire and pet sacrifice and hallucinogenic mushrooms to honor the Great God Thor and placate his wrath) (the real Thor, not the easygoing Marvel franchise Thor), and a way occurred to me to use my computer’s internal sound parts to play recorded music and art into the mixer that’s plugged into the same computer that also does the streaming through the web to the transmitter and records the show for posterity. I wondered if my 2007(?) Compaq desk lump at Juanita’s would do it all smoothly and just work, and I tried it out, and it worked great.
Here’s the recorded result of the test, titled A pre-Thorgellen musical interlude. I’ll leave it up for a little while to give you a chance to hear it. Music you’ll recognize: Refugee from the album Chipmunk Punk, Walk Like An Egyptian from the same Chipmunks but slowed down so you hear the actual voices, and Malvina Reynolds, and Mark Knopfler, and Terrence McKenna speaking and Alex Jones sobbing and ranting on the subject of DMT machine elves, the CIA and the Bilderburgers), and Mouth Music, and some more, not in that order, of course.
So, let’s see, a desktop or laptop computer, any microphone and stand you’re comfortable with, a cheap USB sound mixer (I recommend something in the Behringer Xenyx USB line, for its built-in volume limiting) (I use a Q802USB; you can get one new for about $80 now), and there’s your entire tiny professional broadcast booth right there. All you add is you and your commitment to real radio. And also you can use the same setup for podcasting or just recording your own instrument or your band and get pretty good results. There’s a lot of free or cheap recording software available for that. Audacity is one example. I'm still happy with a 20-year-old program called Cool Edit.
And, p.s., it's still not too late to hear last Friday night's Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show. It was titled The fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children's teeth are set on edge, and it's also in the pile here: