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Letters (Nov. 23, 2016)

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To the Editor:

I am not aware if there are any local newspapers in the town of Oświęcim in Poland, site of the Auschwitz concentration camp created by the Nazis to house and exterminate Jews, Roma and others, including dissident Poles, but I would doubt very much, if there is one, that it would publish a satirical column, making fun of Hitler’s victims. That would be the equivalent to what “Tommy Wayne Kramer” AKA Tom Hine did this past Sunday (Nov. 13) in his weekly column, headlined “Imaginary Indians at Grace Hudson Museum, and in Cleveland. In it he referred, deprecatingly, to a “romanticized memory of local Native Americans,” which he accuses the Grace Hudson Museum under what the direction of Sherri Smith-Ferri of Pomo ancestry who he characterizes as “a professional Native American, paid to murmur soft pieties in harmony with the fashions of the moment.” This, we gather from a succeeding paragraph is to transform the museum into “a stern, politically correct propaganda exercise promoting a Disneyesque fairytale version of the Pomo” which he illustrates with a made-up quote to fit his twisted description of what the museum is planning. After smearing Smith-Ferrie and the Grace Hudson, he then transferred his attention to the Cleveland Indians, whose team name has long been objected to by Native Americans, as has that of Washington’s Redskins and Atlanta’s Braves, and he proceeds to make fun of their complaints as well. In an afterword, he thinks he is being clever by expressing a desire to “set up a concession stand” inside the refurbished museum “where he’ll sell Chief Wahoo T-Shirts, coffee mugs, and key chains.”

Now there are those who will say that Hine through his alter ego, TWK, is writing satire and I should read it as a put-on and not what Hine is really thinking. Not so, according to Hine himself. Back in Sept. 2014, Hine was interviewed in the Anderson Valley Advertiser in which he said, “I started out reviewing bars, bar hopping. The reviews I was writing under the name Tommy Wayne Kramer (TWK), which I came up with to illustrate a character… southern, pretentious, and an idiot who fancied himself as very erudite and worldly. Tommy Wayne Kramer is a brand name, but it is just me… exaggerated somewhat, hopefully humorous sometimes, but it’s me. I’m pretty much a middle of the road conservative now. And I completely acknowledge I’ve migrated some from the left to the right over the past three or four decades, but you also have to take into consideration that just by standing still, you wind up further on the right.” In other words, he has become indistinguishable from the “southern, pretentious idiot,” that he created. I hope that transformation has not become so ingrained that Hine is unable to acknowledge that like every other non-indigenous resident of this county, he is the beneficiary of the massacres and the ethnic cleansing of the Indian people that took place here in the second half of the 19th century. These have been described in their ugly details in at least two recent books, “Murder State: California’s Native American Genocide,” by Brendan Lindsay (2014) and most recently, “American Genocide: The US and the American Indian Catastrophe, by Benjamin Madley earlier this year. I recommend them both to Hine and to this paper’s readers as well as paying a visit to the Grace Hudson Museum.

Jeff Blankfort


ED REPLY: I agree with Tommy Wayne Kramer that the Grace Hudson Museum reeks of false piety, as did, in my opinion, Grace Hudson herself, a medium talented painter whose happy papoose oeuvre depicts life in Mendocino County that never existed, especially for Native Americans, and especially at the turn of the century when Native Americans were still being systematically dispossessed and persecuted.   I read Kramer's column as a blast at falsity, and I think the Grace Hudson has it coming. I also agree with him about the destruction of the adjacent park. I think the re-do is simply an effort to shut out the free range drunks and dope heads who congregated there. Despite the undesirables, it was a nice little park, and attractive even with the bums for those of us with a high tolerance for the aberrant behavior Mendocino County is famous for.  Bashing Kramer  with the Holocaust, as Jeff Blankfort does, seems like overkill (sic) to me. I think the Grace Hudson, in its treacly sentimentality, actually resembles the Nazi propaganda that emphasized death camp orchestras as the monsters simultaneously carried out industrialized mass murder. There's little or no mention in the Museum of the systematic extermination of Mendocino County's native population. Which isn't to say it isn't an interesting place, and which also isn’t to say we must yowl perpetual lamentations for the sins of our forefathers.   But the Grace Hudson presents a terribly distorted version of what actually happened here. The history we get at Grace Hudson?  "Once upon a time many happy and clever brown people lived here who were real good at making baskets. And then, well, uh, like, they weren't here."   I've read everything I can find on local history, including the two books mentioned by my friend Jeff, both of which I own along with that truest Mendocino County history of all, Genocide and Vendetta. How many people know that it was Judge Hastings, after whom Hastings School of Law is named, who instituted the state bounty system that paid cash for every Indian killed in the Eel River Basin? That policy, adopted as law at the state level, began with an incident right here in Mendocino County at Eden Valley, then the site of Hastings' horse ranch. How about an exhibit on him? And the Jarboe Rangers And Texan Boy Hall, and the rest of Mendocino County’s ethnic cleansers? These boys should at least get a mention at the Grace Hudson.  Kudos to TWK for igniting this discussion. It helps clear the historical air of the falsehood and child-like sentimentality characteristic of all Mendocino County’s museums and histories.

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OUR SHRINE to a romanticized memory of local Native Americans continues its long march to completion over at the Grace Hudson Museum. It’s taking many years to finish because landscapers are installing sand in the gardens one grain at a time.

The only thing actually accomplished so far has been the clumsy but brutally efficient strategy of fencing out undesirables (poor people). The tall chain link fences went up around the perimeter and nothing else has happened in five or ten years.

The museum just got written up, again, in an unintentionally hilarious article about its soon-to-be-unveiled landscaping project. When completed the Grace Hudson grounds will be transformed into a garden that looks like one of those vacant lots down near the airport.

The museum’s boss, a professional Native American paid to murmur soft pieties in harmony with the fashions of the moment, is Sherrie Smith-Ferri. She promises a grim “garden” of sand, rocks and native plants and she envisions the day when local school kids wearing safety helmets are herded through its bleak pathways to thrill at the sight of marsh grass, needle grass, and a permeable gravel parking lot. Exciting? Why, they’ll never play video games again!

The article carefully avoids asking what this dreary project will cost taxpayers, but local funding requests are already in the works. Hide your checkbook.

What the Grace Hudson home (and later, museum) had always been was a lush, lawned, shaded oasis for locals and travelers. Now, thanks to the wizardry of experts like Smith-Ferri, it is being transformed into a stern, politically correct propaganda exercise promoting a Disneyesque fairytale version of the Pomo:

“See the noble Native American floating gently above a pristine landscape, leaving nary a moccasin print on the river banks and sacred paths of the deer. Watch the evening ritual of the fire circle as buddha-like Indians hold paws with dolphins and panda bears while singing ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ and nibbling gluten-free acorns from hand-woven baskets.” 

This is just a mess of trendy mush meant to milk funding from credulous board members sitting on distant foundations who have no intention to ever visit the forlorn moonscape being built over there on Main Street.

What a joke. My guess is the whole worthless project gets bulldozed in a few years, once the public repeatedly fails to visit Grace Hudson Museum in bigger and bigger numbers every tourist season.

At that point maybe they’ll do it over it as a fun theme park with water slides.

(— Tommy Wayne Kramer)

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There was once a time, up until about 2 years ago, that I dived into the AVA with gusto, writing articles and letters on a regular basis for years & distributing a small bundle weekly to help educate people.

A series of articles, "Killing in Self Defense is not Murder", was my ongoing coverage of a murder trial in which I defended the defendant.

At one point I even collaborated with you on a critique of KZYX. Another time we debated sexuality. You told me you thought I had won, which was obvious, since you defended the golden era when women wore corsets & other restrictive clothing & showed yourself to be a bit of a prude.

There were other positives, like being able to contribute something of value to a great rag in my own community. This went on for years before during and after your Oregon foray.

It is true that AVA has an abrasive anti-pot stance which has gotten worse beating the drums against the "stoner" community as legalization gets nearer, with ridicule, hostility and bias as your main weapons. You're against even thinking about it, including local propositions. While other publications see cannabis as a positive and prohibition as a negative, you & Mark see pot as a negative and prohibition in some form as a positive. But I digress.

I ignored your anti-pot bias because that's your business. I have one too, in the other direction. I believe in freedom of speech, freedom to disagree, ability to get along while disagreeing...all that. No prob.

But when it turned sour for me was when your brand of hostile humor went too far, not just once, but twice. You throw acid and think it's funny.

I realized you don't value good relations, or you'd be more respectful, since they're hard to find.

The first incident involved that woman you don't like and you tried to enlist me against her when I wrote a limerick that you totally misunderstood, so you printed it to cause friction. I was livid. You later said you shouldn't have done it.

The next year, you ridiculed our Medical Marijuana Patients Union litter pick-up, so you'd have a satisfying chuckle at our expense. You could just say nothing rather than trash people's good deeds.

So I decided to stop writing for AVA or playing any role at all with my beloved local paper. My time is taken up as editor and columnist at Skunk Mag and the new freebie called 'Highway' (#1 just out). So AVA has receded into semi-oblivion, although I still read it. That's how I caught your comment about me being "miffed" in last week's Valley People. Miffed doesn't cover it.

My standard is: I won't work with people who are blatantly disrespectful; the world needs the opposite.

Pebbles Trippet, Elk

ED NOTE: I have no idea what you're talking about, Pebs, but I don't think the marijuana community is beyond criticism. The other stuff lacks specificity, as they say, so I'm unable to respond to it. I think on the respectful scale I'm somewhere in the middle, like most people.

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Hi Robert [Mailer Anderson],

Re: RMA: Yes, Kay Starr was one of my favorites, corny material and all…

I just now found this email from you. Lordy! How many do I miss while traveling? Anyhow, Kay Starr had had the same art teacher that I did in MEMPHIS not Mississippi. She and I attended Memphis Technical High School know and łTech˛ or łMemphis Tech. Her artwork was still on the wall in Mr. Piaggioą’s classroom. She signed her work with her real name: Kay Stark.

Bye for now,

Charlie Musslewhite

Sonoma County

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I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear…

— p. 98, Thoreau, Henry David. (1854/2004). Where I lived and what I Lived For; in Walden. Barnes and Noble, NY. Afterword, Sam Gilpin

I too came to the woods because I wish to live deliberately in peace and manifest it outwardly. I wish to front only the essential facts of life which are to live the caring nature of presence within and beyond who I am. I wish to learn of the given nature of life offered in the woods and that my acquired abilities are tempered by these inner truths. Living is so dear I do not wish to live what is not life. When death is upon me I wish to realize the peaceful harmonies of living and not the distracting reactions and illusions which are not life. Perhaps through learning to live only these essential facts of life, those reactions and illusions will dissolve with peacefulness manifesting outwardly and arising long before my life’s ending.

I am encouraged by finding that distracting reactions and illusions abate through the thoughtful affirmation they are no longer required of me. There were times when I lived as if paralysis was the only means of maintaining stabilization for the preservation of sanity. The freezing of my energies was less frightening than the flood of non-living non-caring attachments habitually guided by meaningless whims while being swept into a sea of perpetual sensation.

A pathway to living the peaceful unfolding of integrative harmonies and caringly passing them on to other individuals and groups, to other life forms and the environment has no beginning. We simply find ourselves living in this manner as beyond habitual ways of living. Moving caringly and fluently within and in behalf of others is a first step in my peaceful growth process which may be a common discovery among others wishing to engage life in this manner. Perhaps one seeking to stop the confusions of the world comes into stasis for a time. In stillness, movement towards variability is refreshing and peaceful personhood begins to emerge. I have found stillness opens me to variability which invites mutuality with the flora and fauna of living. The earth feels friendly beneath my feet and the depth of the forest becomes visible as a canopy of life embracing me which I see as an offering for anyone so disposed.

These understandings are derived from the earth, the rocks and life around; the sky, clouds, rain, sunshine, the stars and moon above. They come from within each of us. Perhaps living the inner tension for so long was bourne of my unmet need for thoughts and feelings to live in my body. A kinder path is bourne of trust. A trust my body offers harmonious sensations and perceptions of its own; not of the childhood search for groundedness which all the while was here for me to draw upon as whole bodied awareness commingling with all we acquire.

One wonders; how may growing in peace touch the hearts of others peacefully so the offering is a sharing and well received? Perhaps together we may apply our learning as a practice. In so doing we become open to realizing that what we acquire in life rests upon the foundation of what has been given through our birth and continues to grow within each of us as the wholeness of unfolding: not the explosion of a big bang, simply our unfolding within unfolding universes. In this manner, what is more deeply rooted within us will accommodate the harmonies of caring we learn to share. Indeed as I walk about in the woods, the artificial “training wheels” of my thinking fall away but gradually return when I re-enter and assume acculturated living. The unlearned foundation of my life easily becomes less visible when I live within the umbrella of societal expectations. Over time my faith in life grows stronger that as students of peace many of us will come to live our peaceful presence in being along with those who already do so.

Gregory Sims


ED NOTE: Pure bourgie solipsism, Gregory, of the false type common among the well-heeled. Thoreau's mom, incidentally, lived less than two miles from Thoreau's experiment in isolation, when he was what, 28? He popped in and out of her house for a home cooked meal whenever his "natural" diet got tiresome, which means he was probably at mom's house more often than he was in his iso-cell.

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Dear Editor:

These next four years are going to provide a good test for the position of some, including our esteemed editor, that it does not matter which party you vote for since both parties are essentially the same. Pay close attention to the next four years at every level of government, every agency in every issue that you care about. See if both parties are the same.

Cedric Dewrite


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On Thursday night, November 10, 2016, at about 7:30 PM, I had been walking home on Crawford Road in Covelo. The moon was shining that night. Also, I had my headlight on. So it had been pretty obvious that someone was walking on the side of the road. Every car that I encountered had pulled away from me and my headlight to be on the safe side — all except this one car. It was more like an older black four-door Blazer. They didn't even bother to veer away from me or my light! I was on the white line when their passenger side mirror struck me in the right shoulder. I'm pretty sure that if it had been my collarbone or my neck I would be laying there until someone found me dead. The black Blazer which in my opinion struck me intentionally took a right on Henderson Lane. The car that was behind it kept going straight down Crawford Road towards town. Within the next minute or two tribal cop Vincent Cordova pulled up and asked if I was okay. I said, "I think so." He said that he would go check it out. I then walked home.

Eric Lincoln


PS. Anyone who thought that they had hit someone or something would automatically stop and see what happened! But not this car. It just drove on without a care in the world.

PSS. There are many loose lips in a small town like Covelo. So the person(s) in the Blazer are accountable because bodily injury caused by a hit-and-run vehicle especially to a pedestrian is a serious crime.

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I have voted in every election since 1956, often for the lesser evil. I voted for Hillary Clinton, and I am very angry with her. The election was hers to lose, and by golly, that’s exactly what she did. When she relegated half the population of this country to a basket of deplorables I was shocked, and it has been eating at me since then. These are our fellow countrymen and women. They are suffering and struggling.

This country is not working for them. And instead of coming up with programs that a Democratic administration could create to help solve some of the problems, she dismissed them with a term that is insulting, dismissive and elitist. Meanwhile, if those who voted for Donald Trump think that his administration together with a Republican Congress will bring back the good union jobs that kept our country prosperous through the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, they are sadly mistaken. Unfortunately, the Democratic Party has deserted the working class and continues to align itself with business and the moneyed class. We would have done much better with Sen. Bernie Sanders. He is honest and passionate about people’s struggles.

Carol Gottfried


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I wake up this morning to discover that one week after the election, my vote has yet to be counted in Mendocino County. What? Perhaps by Christmas? This is inexcusable, and it prompts voters, whose only choice is to mail in their ballots, to not vote at all. It’s worse than a poll tax. It’s a "you don’t count tax” and when your vote is finally counted you’re irrelevant. It discourages voting. This county must return to the old precinct voting system of years ago. The results were in by the following morning and often earlier than that. Only the certifiably infirm should be allowed to vote by mail, and they shouldn’t have to pay for the stamp (another poll tax).

Excluded voter Mike

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To the Editor,

Trump's unpopular victory is a necessary evil to temporarily neutralize the anal liberal Clinton Democrats.

Now the Sandernistas can fill the void.

Another upside of the Trump administration is the super-hot First Lady who talks like Zsa Zsa Gabor.


Don Morris


PS. Like turds in the punch bowl, the Clintons shall rise again.

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In December 2015, my wife and I were visiting family in the South. Driving through Gulfport, Miss., we stopped for a snack. A cafe waitress told us Donald Trump had just been there. He had filled the local arena with 5,000 people and a thousand more had waited outside. "And it wasn't even in the news," the waitress said. "No one covered it."

I remember thinking how peculiar it was for a fledgling presidential candidate to be visiting such a remote location, and before the primaries where he'd receive little or no news coverage.

I realized later that before the first primary election, Trump had appeared before tens of thousands of people in some of the country's deeply rural locations, far from the glare of big-city news cameras. These were people who had rarely seen a candidate, much less a celebrity. They must have been thrilled by his attention, and were certainly the kind of people who would believe anything he told them, most of which were lies. Who would ever come through later to argue the truth? Trump was the only Medicine Show in town.

Well, the Medicine Show is over, and Trump has taken the rubes for every vote they had, just as he's taken every other ingenuous collaborator in his illustrious life as a con artist. We're the latest suckers. Four years? If he does everything he has promised to do, we'll be in a deep depression and at war in the streets before the midterms. We're in for a memorably bumpy ride.

Bill Haigwood

Rohnert Park

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Donald Trump is great for Democrats. The liberals need to stop fighting Trump. He won, fair or unfair. Look for the positives and trust your intelligence. Let Trump lower taxes. Did that work in Kansas or Louisiana? Let Trump try and build a wall and get Mexico to pay for it; see how that works out.

Give Trump the chance to bring back well-paying jobs for the uneducated white male — good luck. Those jobs have been outsourced or given to robots, and even the “great” Trump is not going to persuade a CEO to bring back high-paying jobs (no CEO is going to risk their $20 million-a-year job by lowering profits to help Trump). Trump and his Republican Party will fail. It will hurt a lot, but this little experiment from the not-so elite and the shifting brown tide in America’s population should put the last couple of nails in the Republican coffin. Let Trump prove to all of us just how amazing he can be.

Roger Lema


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