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Mendocino County Today: Tuesday, Jan 17, 2017

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WET WEATHER RETURNS: A series of storms will bring periods of rain, gusty winds and high elevation snow Wednesday through the weekend. Light rain and breezy conditions will start Tuesday night. Heavier rain will develop Wednesday and Wednesday night as a vigorous cold front passes across the region. An inch or two of rain is expected. Snow levels will fall to around 3500 feet on Thursday as the rain changes to showers and possible thunderstorms. A second storm will follow Thursday night and Friday. Yet a third storm is expected to bring more wet and unsettled weather for the weekend. In addition, large and hazardous surf will be possible on Friday. (National Weather Service)

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by Jeffrey St. Clair & Alexander Cockburn

The most compelling argument against the existence of a vast conspiracy orchestrating the assassinations of Jack and Bobby Kennedy is that the brothers were never threats to ruling power. The Kennedys were card-carrying members of the global elites, ran in their circles, catered to their whims, administered their political and economic bidding. (Just ask Fidel Castro.)

With MLK, it could be a different matter. And with the infinitely more radical Malcolm X it certainly was. Whatever King’s actual function–and the Reverend was given a hard time as something of an Uncle Tom by radicals in the later Sixties–the ruling power construed him as a threat.

King was assassinated almost forty-six years ago, at just after 6 in evening, as he stood on a balcony of the Lorraine motel in Memphis, Tennessee. A single rifle bullet hit him in the jaw, then severed his spinal cord. James Earl Ray, a white man, was convicted of the killing and sentenced to 99 years. Ray was certainly the gunman.

But there are credible theories of a conspiracy, possibly involving US Army intelligence, whose role in the life and death of Martin Luther King was explored by Stephens Tompkins in the Memphis Commercial Appeal in 1993.

The Army’s interest in the King family stretched back to 1917 when the War Department opened a file on King’s maternal grandfather, first president of Atlanta’s branch of the NAACP. King’s father, Martin Sr., also entered Army intelligence files as a potential troublemaker, as did Martin Jr. in 1947 when he was 18. He was attending Dorothy Lilley’s Intercollegiate School in Atlanta and 111th Military Intelligence Group in Fort McPherson in Atlanta suspected Ms Lilley of having Communist ties.

King’s famous denunciation of America’s war in Vietnam came exactly a year before his murder, before a crowd of 3,000 in the Riverside Church in Manhattan. He described Vietnam’s destruction at the hands of ”deadly Western arrogance,” insisting that ”we are on the side of the wealthy, and the secure, while we create a hell for the poor. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem.”

US Army spies secretly recorded black radical Stokely Carmichael warning King, “The Man don’t care you call ghettos concentration camps, but when you tell him his war machine is nothing but hired killers you got trouble.” Carmichael was right.

After the 1967 Detroit riots 496 black men under arrest were interviewed by agents of the Army’s Psychological Operations Group, dressed as civilians. It turned out King was by far the most popular leader. That same year, watching the great antiwar march on Washington in October 1967 from the roof of the Pentagon Major General William Yarborough, assistant chief of staff for Army intelligence, concluded that “the empire was coming apart at the seams”. He thought there were too few reliable troops to fight the war in Vietnam and hold the line at home.

The Army increased surveillance on King. Green Berets and other Special Forces veterans from Vietnam began making street maps and identifying sniper sites in major American cities. The Ku Klux Klan was recruited by the 20th Special Forces Group, headquartered in Alabama, as a subsidiary intelligence network. The Army began offering 30.06 sniper rifles to police departments, including that of Memphis. King was dogged by spy units through early ’67. A Green Beret unit was operating in Memphis the day he was shot. The bullet that killed him came from a 30.06 rifle purchased in a Memphis store. Army intelligence chiefs became increasingly hysterical over the threat of King to national stability.

After his Vietnam speech the major US newspapers savaged King. Fifteen years later the New York Times was still bitter when the notion of a national holiday honoring the civil rights leader was being pressed–with ultimate success–by labor unions and black groups. “Why not a Martin Luther King Day?” an NYT editorial asked primly. “Dr King, a humble man, would have objected to giving that much importance to any individual. Nor should he be given singular tribute if that demeans other historical black figures.” Give one of them a holiday and they’ll all be wanting one.

Within hours of King’s murder rioting broke out in 80 cities across the country. Dozens of people, mostly black were killed. On April 6 the Oakland cornered the Black Panther leadership and when one of the young leaders, Bobby Hutton, emerged with his shirt off and his hands up, shot him dead. Further police executions of Panthers followed, most notoriously the killing of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, as they slept, by the Chicago police, with FBI complicity, in December, 1969.

In contrast to Hutton, the Panthers and above all Malcolm X, slain in 1965, white liberal opinion, resentments at the disloyalty of the Riverside Church speech conveniently forgotten, has hailed King as a man who chose to work within the system and who furthermore failed to make any significant dent on business as usual.

In his last years King was haunted by a sense of failure. Amid a failed organizing campaign in Chicago he was booed at a mass meting there and, as he lay sleepless that night he wrote later that he knew why: “I had urged them [his fellow blacks] to have faith in America and in white society. They were now booing because they felt were unable to deliver on our promises. They were now hostile because they were watching the dream they had so readily accepted turn into a nightmare.”

As the radical journalist Andrew Kopkind wrote shortly after King’s assassination, “That he failed to change the system that brutalizes his race is a profound relief to the white majority. As a reward they have now elevated his minor successes into major triumphs.”

Forty years on, America is still disfigured by racial injustice. Militant black leadership has all but disappeared. To black radicals Obama’s sedate homilies and respectful paeans to America’s ladders of advancement available to the industrious are to the fierce demands for justice of Malcolm X and of King in his more radical moments, as Muzak is to Charlie Parker.

Obama is caught, even as King was. The moment whites fear he is raising the political volume, he’s savaged with every bludgeon of convenience, starting with the robust sermons of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, whose sin is to have reminded whites that there are black Americans who are really angry. “Damn America,” roared the Rev Wright. King was just as rough at Riverside Church in the speech that so terrified the white elites: “I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today: my own government.”

Honesty of this sort from a black politician in America extorts due retribution.

(This article is adapted and expanded from a piece which originally appeared in the January 2009 print edition of CounterPunch. Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is Killing Trayvons: an Anthology of American Violence (with JoAnn Wypijewski and Kevin Alexander Gray). He can be reached at: Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch. Courtesy,

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, A REMINISCE: San Francisco has never been the liberal city it’s advertised as, and it certainly wasn’t liberal in the early 1960s when my brother and I affiliated with CORE, the Congress On Racial Equality. The first demonstrations in the city that I participated in as a barely comprehending member of the protesting crowd, which I recall as never more than three to four hundred fresh-faced innocents, were met with walls of hostility from the public and authorities alike. The newspapers said the sit-in at the Palace Hotel on Market and the other demos on Van Ness, then called Auto Row, were “communist inspired.” Which they were, kind of, because what was left of the Communist Party USA, was still active in the Bay Area, and communists were always, as they say, the vanguard. Most of the young white demonstrators were from SF State (me) and Cal Berkeley (smarter than me). I remember Chinese restaurants not allowing black people to eat at their establishments. And I remember the yobbo celebrations in San Francisco bars when King was murdered. By ’67, the people I’d known and met in these first oppositional stirrings had segued into opposition to the Vietnam War. For me, all the civil turmoil was part of the greater intellectual ferment of the period when everyone I knew was reading the same writers, going to the same movies, listening to the same music. Later, this cultural-political nexus became known as “The Movement” which, by the middle seventies, was moving steadily backwards and is now long dead. But there are millions of genuinely loyal and affectionate cross-racial relations that sure as hell didn’t exist prior to MLK. There have been latter day stirrings of opposition, though, as the economy shrinks for most people. Occupy, I think, was a start and at least focused on the core issue — money — rather than who gets to use which bathroom, a very big issue these days in the “progressive” Bay Area. Trump is likely to re-ignite The Movement, or at least a focused opposition, because he’s inherited an economic situation he’s certain to make worse. And he’s triple the personal provocation Nixon and LBJ were. Way back in the days when the Congress On Racial Equality agitated not so much for racial equality as equal opportunity, it wouldn’t have surprised any of us foot soldiers that we’d be Trumped, that the national impetus was always towards disaster.

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I find myself baffled by the idea that Caltrans would want to raise the speed limit through Philo based on a survey that finds most drivers travel through town faster than the posted speed of 30 mph. If they found that most traffic accident deaths were caused by drunk drivers would they repeal the DUI law? You would think that one death in Downtown Philo would be warning enough to keep the speed limit low.

It is true that the post office is no longer on the opposite side from Lemons’ Market creating a pedestrian hazard but we now have wine tasting rooms on either side of the road. Is that less troublesome? And what about cumulative impacts from impending development? Rumors say that Gary Island is planning mixed use commercial/residential at the old mill site across from Lemons’ and Jim Roberts of the Madrones is developing the redwood grove between the old mill site and Indian Creek Camp into a tourist stop called The Brambles. Shenoa, accessed by Rays Road which runs south from the gas station, is just beginning to activate with possible use permit entitlements of up to 200 people that will be slowly going in and slowly pulling out onto the highway. People routinely walk the shoulderless gauntlet along the highway from Indian Creek Camp grounds to Lemons and it would be reasonable to assume that they will from the Brambles as well.

The death we had in front of Lemons' was caused when a car stopped to allow an area resident woman and child to cross the street and then another vehicle plowed into the one stopped and shoved it into mother and child. The Hispanic community, teaching the rest of us to courteously stop for pedestrians and traffic heading towards Boonville, often stops in the middle of the road for oncoming traffic before turning into Lemons'. A few years back I was standing with a grandchild waiting for the school bus when a logging truck barreling down the highway avoided collision with a car waiting to turn into Lemons' by using, with brakes squealing, the space between us and the road where the bus would soon be parked. Imagine the results if timing had been different.

I do agree with that part of the proposal that would slow to 45mph traffic on either side of the 30mph through Philo town. On the East side there is Goldeneye, Domaine Anderson, Balo and Indian Creek Camp. On the West side there is multiple residential access plus Jack's Valley Store, the Farm Supply and Gowan's Oak tree where accidents routinely happen.

I don't know if it will be officially posted but the County is requesting community input at the BOS meeting to be held this coming Tuesday, Jan. 24 at 9:00 am. Please join me with your concerns.

David Severn


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LITTLE DOG SAYS, “Me? You won't catch me at the Ukiah Animal Shelter. Friends warned me along time ago to make a run for it. ‘You go in the front door, you come out the back door, prone, and in Doggie Heaven. And you don't even get the white tunnel!’ ”

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STEVE SPARKS WRITES: “Big news! If all goes according to plan, The Buckhorn will soon have new owners and will be re-opening in a month or two. The recently arrived Jean and Tom Condon, a US Army Reserve Master Sergeant just back from eight months in Kuwait, who recently retired from the New York City Fire Department after 30 years service and moved to the Valley with wife Jean, are deep into negotiations to purchase the liquor license and sign a lease with landlord Gary Island. Tom and Jean previously owned a bar in Manhattan for a time and now their daughter Jordana and her boyfriend Chris, who arrived together in the Valley almost a year ago, and have been working at The Buckhorn and Lauren’s Restaurant for much of that time, will also be heavily involved in the operation.

The plan is to present a similar pub-dining experience as the previous Buckhorn but perhaps to broaden the appeal and provide a taste of all aspects of AV along with seasonal menu changes. The community will no doubt welcome this re-addition to the Valley dining and social scene and we wish them every success.”

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AV HOUSING FORUM. Affordable Housing Makes a Healthy Community. Please join us for a community conversation on housing in Anderson Valley. This moderated discussion will identify ways in which community members can positively impact the availability of local housing. Thursday, February 9, 2016, 6pm at the Grange in Philo. Property owner, renters, employers, business owners, employees, volunteers, parents, teachers, realtors and everyone else are invited. We want to hear from you. (English to Spanish translation available.) For more information contact the AV Housing Association, 895-3525 or email

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SHORT of a federal housing program, or simply a revival of post-World War Two mortgage programs where employed people could get low interest housing loans coupled to a federal and/or private construction program, under-housed outback communities like ours are engaged in wishful thinking. Even a local focus on, say, County investment in housing rather than the stock market or, the goddess forbid, a local ordnance requiring the wine industry to build housing proportionate to its labor force, is never even mentioned because, well, because the wine industry owns our elected officials and our elected officials are not noted for creative economic thinking, although most of them fancy themselves “progressive,” and add that much abused term to your collection of words without meaning.

ANDERSON VALLEY RENTERS are unimaginably gouged as it is, with many people living in structures that would normally be condemned as unfit for human habitation.

THERE ARE, HOWEVER, hugely fortunate persons resident here, full and part-time, not all of them illiberal. Maybe if a presentable delegation were organized to approach their majesties with a viable housing plan that would return their excellencies a modest return on their ensuing investment in shelter for their fellow community members, we might get some place other endless well-meaning confabs.

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A RESEARCHER-PAL found the following account of an ancient Boonville scandal. We doubt any of the principals are still alive, and apologies to their descendants if any of them see this. But it happened, and happened in much more chaste and modest times than these:

Principal West, Esther Phelps

I WAS FRAMED, SOBS SCHOOL PRINCIPAL Herman West, Convicted on Charge of Girl Student, Worries About His Wife.

The Oakland Tribune June 19, 1935. — "The police framed me and ruined me." Sobbing in his jail-cell, Herman West, 46-year-old principal of the Boonville High School, made that accusation today after his conviction on misdemeanor charges of contributing to the delinquency of Esther Phelps, his 17-year-old pupil. "I did nothing wrong to the girl." he cried, "but the officers planted evidence and finished my career. Oh, it must be awful for my wife." He was found guilty last night by a jury of seven men and five women. The jury was discharged after it failed to agree on two additional felony charges alleging statutory offenses against the girl. Foreman Charles K. King said the jurors stood 7 to 5 for conviction on the felony charges.

REFERS TO NOTE. The evidence which West charged officers with planting was a penciled notation, "First kiss in Sacramento," which was presented as purportedly being in West's writing and referring to Miss Phelps. Prosecution attorneys will decide whether West will be tried again on the more serious charges. Miss Phelps accused West of making criminal advances against her when they stayed in adjoining rooms at a hotel here [San Francisco] during a visit last April. The case was given to the jury shortly before 1 p. m. yesterday after a trial of three weeks. The conviction on the delinquency charge was returned shortly after 6 o'clock last night, at the same time that the jury first reported itself deadlocked on the felony charge. It was discharged by Superior Judge I. L. Harris near midnight when the jurors remained deadlocked. As the misdemeanor verdict was read, West's young wife, who has been in court with him and their two children during the trial, threw her arms around his neck and cried: "It's all right, dear, it's all right."

SENTENCE DUE SATURDAY. Judge Harris will sentence West on the delinquency count Saturday. At that time he will hear applications for bail on other charges. It was believed generally that they would be dropped eventually by the prosecution. West was alleged to have accompanied the girl here on a school business trip and to have rented adjoining hotel rooms for himself and the pupil. According to the girl he persuaded her to spend part of one night with him in bed. Her story, whispered as she held her head in apparent, shame, told of kisses on other school trips and of advances of money the principal allegedly made her. West denied all the charges. He said that the girl was seeking "revenge" because he had forbidden her to see a young man of her acquaintance during the visit to San Francisco.

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ENSURING A FISH-FREE NAVARRO: “A workshop series will take place at the VIP room at Scharffenberger Cellars (8501 Highway 128, Philo) Tuesday, Feb. 7, Tuesday, Feb. 14 and Tuesday, Feb. 21, all from 1 to 3 p.m. Enrollment is now open for the 2017 Fish Friendly Farming Certification Program. (Including Anderson Valley and Yorkville Highlands) For more information about Fish Friendly Farming certification, contact the California Land Stewardship Institute: (707) 253-1226 extension 1 or Fish Friendly Farming.”

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PLEASE let us know the next time you see a mature salmon or steelhead in any Anderson Valley stream, all of which, prior to the chemically dependent, industrial wine industry, were lush with fish.

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Alexis & Adam Lyon, 4 kids

Looking in Anderson Valley

3 bedroom, but will work with 2 bedroom.

Needed ASAP


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DEPARTMENT OF THE MACABRE: According to a presser from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, the three pit bulls that nearly killed Pollard Hale, 57, of Covelo last week, “are being quarantined for 10 days and evaluated to determine whether they are dangerous and should be euthanized or can be returned to their owner, Miguel Angel Escareno Pinon, 24, of Covelo.”

LET’S GO WAYYYYYY out on a limb here and say the dogs should not be returned to the cretinous Pinon “who told authorities he had left the gate to his yard open and the dogs got out. When he returned home, he saw the three dogs around the victim, who was lying on the ground. Pinion’s dogs were reported to have been involved in a previous incident, but details on that one are not available.”

IN FACT, the dogs had chewed Hale’s arm almost all the way off and were gnawing at his face when Pinon reappeared. The only question here is why Pinon isn’t in jail and why the dogs were not immediately put down.

HALE, has either lost his arm entirely or it has been rendered forever crippled. He will also need “facial reconstruction.” His life has not quite been ruined, but almost.

A GOFUNDME page has been established to help Mr. Hale with his substantial medical bills. He and his wife are raising two grandchildren and Mr. Hale is now unable to work.

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DEPARTMENT OF LOW INTENSITY CRIME. The Ukiah Police Department issued a counterfeit bill warning last week. Also last week, a Philo woman was arrested for passing one. I don’t imagine we’re dealing with master forgers here. Our criminal masterminds typically cut a corner off a twenty and paste it onto a one. Then, if they’re lucky, the harried kid at the McDonald’s take-out window gives them change for a twenty. But these fakes were a little more sophisticated, it seems, which means they were probably done in the great world outside.

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THE FOLLOWING MESSAGE was posted on the County Courthouse's FaceBook page by someone calling herself Baby Boo James, a parent. Baby Boo was frustrated by the wait for the wheels of justice to grind her fine:

U got 2b kidding me!! I know it hasn’t bin that long but wen u hve an infant oh hell yah, I’ve bin up at this damn court house since 8am. There was hella ppl here now there down to almost no 1. Ugh Im getting fed up with this maaaan!! Pls hurry the fuck up already Im hella hungry n tired. Fuuuuuuuuuuck!!

THE COUNTY COURTHOUSE, all day every day, sees an unending parade of people unable to function in a modern society. Factor in poverty, whatever classroom dysfunction these cripples have passed through, dope, a popular culture that celebrates the low life, and here we are with a permanent underclass, even here in our rural paradise.

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MESMERIZED by a crime show on 48 Hours the other night — I like to keep up with the latest applications of practical scumbaggery — who should suddenly appear on-screen but Frank Hartzell of Fort Bragg. A long time reporter for inland newspapers before he arrived on the Mendocino Coast, Frank had worked on the featured story, a depressing tale of the murder of a vivacious immigrant Thai mother of two small girls. Frank, a natural for television, said the story was filmed recently. “I think because the trial was botched, they thought at first it was a case where the guy might be innocent. Both Sheriff Parker and I had rather complete files on the 20 year old case and to their credit, they [48 Hours] steered the story in another direction and I think it came out very well, showing the impact on victims… I have been on a few times, Dateline and such for weird old murders I covered back in the day. Cold murder cases are a TV obsession nowadays. They came here to FB and filmed me in my warehouse, when I told them I still had files. They took pictures of the files but I think chose not to use any of that because it did change the direction of the story….”

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CATCH OF THE DAY, January 16, 2017

Black, Douiglas, Ellingwood

JENNIFER BLACK, Ukiah. Controlled substance, smoking-injecting device, failure to appear.

ROBERT DOUGLAS, Ukiah. Under influence, county parole violation.

EMERY ELLINGWOOD, Kelseyville/Fort Bragg. Drunk in public, failure to appear, probation revocation.

Espinosa, Ivey, Magana

ASHLEY ESPINOSA, Ukiah. Court order violation.

RYAN IVEY, Fort Bragg. Burglary, receipt of stolen property, offenses while on bail.

LYDIA MAGANA, Ukiah. Court order violation, failure to appear.

Page, Parrish, Prescott

RICHARD PAGE, Ukiah. Battery, vandalization of telephone.

DONAVAN PARRISH, Ukiah. Dirk-dagger, probation revocation.

DUSTIN PRESCOTT, Albion. Possession of meth, suspended license, probation revocation.

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I took this photo Election Day 1964 in front of the President's Boyhood Home in Johnson City.

There was a side of his face of which LBJ did not like photos to be made. He preferred his "Chocolate Side" as they call it in Hollywood. I can't recall exactly but I think I got his bad side but it still turned out well. It was a lucky shot since I used a flash that smoothed out Ladybird's wrinkles but made LBJ more tan like the cowboy he liked to think himself as. This was one of two shots I got before the rest of the paparazzi's were jostling me about. One even hit me in the head with a big Speed Graphic camera like I was using, the kind you see press photogs using in 1930s/40s movies. LBJ liked to sign his autograph on his hat in this pic. I voted for him that year not knowing till much later what a shit he was. The pin in his lapel is for a Silver Star FDR gave him for being in an airplane that was attacked by Japanese planes. He was NOT part of the crew and did nothing to help out. It was purely a political favor from FDR for LBJ’s support in Texas. There has NEVER been a more arrogant or corrupt POTUS in the Oval Office.

Tom Cahill

Cluny, France

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Mendocino: Foodie adventures in charming Boonville

by Jackie Burrell, The Mercury News

There are hidden California treasures nestled in Mendocino’s Anderson Valley, where vineyards unfurl along the hillsides and the tiny town of Boonville offers a foodie paradise. Culinary inspiration is contagious in this hamlet, where everyone knows everyone, and we weekenders can dabble in all the deliciousness.

Sampling Table 128’s paella, Pennyroyal’s goat-sheep laychee and Paysanne’s lemon cookie ice cream – and the addictive Piment d’Ville chile peppers being grown on the outskirts of town — raises a critical question, one we keep coming back to all these weeks later.

Can we just stay here?

Much of this adorable town — and its social and culinary life — revolves around the Schmitt family’s Boonville Hotel. Owner Johnny Schmitt’s parents, Don and Sally, opened Yountville’s French Laundry in 1978 — reservations were hard to get then, too, even in the pre-Thomas Keller days. Today, many of the dishes served at the Boonville Hotel’s Table 128 — named for the highway that runs through this hamlet — were created in Yountville.

The family and its friends also run the Apple Farm in Philo, one town up, and their projects are everywhere, from the cidery that produces Bite Hard cider to the Farmhouse Mercantile, an airy houseware and gift shop across from the hotel. There, you can pick up olive oil, jams — including the farm’s incredibly good blackberry jam, the best thing to happen to buttered toast since we don’t know when — and small squat jars of crushed piment, which we’d call gold dust, were it not so deeply crimson.

Also in town: An antique store next door, an ice cream shop – Paysanne, where the ice cream is organic and the ceiling strewn with gold stars against a sky of dark blue – and a couple of just-right-for-lunch cafes. Down the street lies Pennyroyal, Sarah Cahn Bennett’s solar energy-powered goat farm that produces incredible cheese, thanks to a herd of 109 ridiculously cute goats, who crowd the fence, puppy style, to greet visitors.

On this particular weekend, we grab fresh-pressed juice and thick, fruity smoothies at the hotel juice bar, then head off to explore Bucket Ranch with Schmitt’s business partner, Roger Scommegna, who began growing those Basque chile peppers — Piment d’Espelette — seven years ago. The d’Ville name is a nod to the peppers’ Boonville provenance.

Scommegna calls piment “the secret sauce.” Deep red, savory and sweet, piment is the magic weapon in chefs’ kitchens around the world, adding warmth and flavor without the high heat of other peppers. At the hotel’s Table 128, “we were spending $100 per month on this pepper — and using it sparingly!” Scommegna says. “Johnny said, ‘They can grow grapes here. They can grow pot. Why can’t we grow peppers?’”

So Scommegna and his foreman, Nacho Flores, got their hands on 10 seeds — from a seed bank, no smugglers involved — and planted them at Bucket Farm.

Scommegna is a marketing guy, a Milwaukee-born salesman, who moved to California “to live my Wine Spectator dream.” Flores is his farm whisperer, a foreman with a passion for anything that grows, from grapes and olives to an obscure Basque chile pepper beloved by chefs.

“We grew 10 plants that first year,” Scommegna says. “A hundred the next and 1,000 the year after. We did 38,000 this year, which makes us 8 percent of the world market.”

If you use Blue Apron, chances are high that you’ve tasted this pepper. The Richmond-based meal kit company practically cleaned out last year’s supply of Piment D’Ville — or rather, whatever remained after chefs from New York City to Seattle and San Francisco had nabbed theirs.

“I call us your crack dealer,” Scommegna says. “You get addicted to it.”

Plump, crimson peppers hang from the greenery, ready for plucking by “the pepper ladies,” who harvest and dry them on the racks in a quonset-shaped greenhouse. It’s hot — in the low 90s — outdoors on this harvest afternoon. Inside the greenhouse, it’s hotter still. The pepper ladies often start their days at 4 a.m.

Once dried, the peppers go in a dehydrator, winding up “potato chip crisp,” Scommegna says. They’re ground and packed, with the vintage displayed on the label. Then they wind up in dishes such as the enormous paella the Table 128 crew produces on Sunday evenings in the summer and early fall and other prix-fixe family-style feasts served year-round – and, if you’re lucky, on your plate at home, too. (We’re now dusting pretty much everything — except cornflakes — with piment these days.)

Back in town, we take a farm tour at Pennyroyal and sample Pennyroyal estate wine — made at the family’s Navarro Vineyards up Highway 128 – as well as delicate Laychee, Bollie’s Mollies, Velvet Sister, Boont Corners and Boonter’s Blue cheeses in the farm’s airy new tasting room.

We stroll the shops, pop into Paysanne and, of course, stock up on piment at the Mercantile. Then head out to explore the rest of this glorious valley, where dozens of wineries and vineyards await.

If You Go

Boonville Hotel and Table 128: Juice bar and patio paella nights during the summer and early fall, prix fixe family-style dining year round; reservations required. The hotel also has a shop that stocks Piment d'Ville and Bite Hard cider. 14050 Highway 128, Boonville;

Farmhouse Mercantile: Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily at 14111 Highway 128;

Paysanne: This tiny ice cream shop is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, except Wednesdays, at 14111 Highway 128;

Pennyroyal Farm: Open for tours by appointment at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and cheese and wine tastings daily at 14930 Highway 128;

Piment d'Ville: Find piment at specialty markets, the Mercantile and Boonville Hotel, and online at

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by James Kunstler

I dunno about you, but I rather enjoy watching the praetorian Deep State go batshit crazy as the day of Trump’s apotheosis approacheth. I imagine a lot of men and women running down the halls of Langley and the Pentagon and a hundred other secret operational redoubts with their hair on fire, wondering how on earth they can neutralize the fucker in the four days remaining.

What’s left in their trick-bag? Bake a poison cheesecake for the inaugural lunch? CIA Chief John Brennan has been reduced to blowing raspberries at the incoming president. Maybe some code cowboys in the Utah NSA fortress can find a way to crash all the markets on Friday as an inauguration present. What does it take? A few strategic HFT spoofs? There will be lots of police sharpshooters on the DC rooftops that day. What might go wrong?

Civil War Two is underway, with an interesting echo of Civil War One: Trump dissed Civil Rights sacred icon Georgia congressman John Lewis, descendant of slaves, after said icon castigated Trump as “not a legitimate president.” That now prompts a congressional walk-out of the swearing-in ceremony. The New York Times is acting like a Manhattan socialite in a divorce proceeding, with fresh hysterics every day, reminding readers in a front-page story on Monday that “[Martin Luther] King’s birthday falls within days of the birthdays of two Confederate generals, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.” Jeez! Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters?

There’s not much Trump can do until Friday noon except tweet out his tweets, but one can’t help but wonder what the Deep State can do after that magic moment passes. I’ve maintained for nearly a year that, if elected, Trump would be removed by a coup d’état within sixty days of assuming office, and I still think that’s a pretty good call — though I hope it doesn’t come to that, of course. My view of this was only confirmed by Trump’s performance at last week’s press conference, which seemed, shall we say, a little light on presidential decorum.

Perhaps it befits this particular Deep State to go down in the manner of an opéra bouffe. History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce, old Karl Marx observed. What does the Union stand for this time? The rights of former SEC employees to sell their services to CitiBank? The rights of competing pharma companies to jack the price of insulin up from $20 to $250 a vial? The rights of DIA subcontractors to sell Semtex plastic explosives to the “moderate” jihadis of the Middle East?

So the theme of the moment is that Donald Trump is a bigger crook than the servants and vassals of the Deep State. He ran for president so he could sell more steaks and whiskey under the Trump brand. He’s in violation of the emoluments clause in the constitution. Well, I’m not aware that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, or Andrew Jackson put their slaves in a blind trust after they became president. Anyway, at this point in our history, nobody can beat the Deep State for financial turpitude, certainly not a single real estate and hotel magnate.

I guess the big question is whether the Deep State — and, yes, Virginia, the Deep State does exist, unlike Santa Claus — will tear the country apart in the attempt to defend all its ill-gotten perquisites and privileges. The public at large is restive, eager to get on with the job of deconstructing the matrix of racketeering that adds up to the immiserating culture we live in, a society where health insurance company presidents make $40 million a year while ordinary people lose their homes because a $5,000-deductible health insurance policy doesn’t cover the cost of treating a routine tonsillectomy.

I didn’t vote for the Cheeto-head sonofabitch, but it will be interesting to see what he does between noon and six p.m. Friday, if he survives the festivities.

(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page:

* * *



If members of the press don’t stand up for one another each time Donald Trump tries to steamroll someone whose views are not to his liking, then eventually, the only press activity that will be allowed is that which praises Trump.

That is not what this country needs and is light-years from the hard-hitting reporting and investigative journalism a Democracy requires to function and survive. To all members of the press, I say, stand by your fellow reporters. If they are not allowed to ask a question, then you must press the question until it is answered. If you don’t, you will all eventually be silenced. And then we all lose.

Katherine Bowman, Berkeley

* * *


The Red Queen vs the Mad Hatter… easy choice if you think about it.

Trump is the child that you can count on to play with matches. He is the perfect choice for the job of setting fire to the rotten structures of power that have usurped our rights and our money.

Send in the Cheetos clown with a Zippo lighter and a flame thrower! This will be fun to watch.

Also don’t forget one important fact. Any shenanigans by the deep state to harm the President is treason! All Federal government employees (civilian and military) take the oath of office to defend the US Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. Trump’s election was legitimate because he captured the most electoral votes and by the rules of the Constitution, the winner. Treason is one of the few crimes listed in the Constitution and one that should not be taken lightly. The lower rank Federal Employees have a duty to the Constitution and not their bosses. Pick your side carefully. I have already made my choice.

This nonsense about Russia hacking the election is all bullshit. At best, the Russians pulled the veil of secrecy back on the DNC and exposed their rotten operation and corruption. The deep state is not pissed about Russia hacking us, they are pissed that the Russians revealed what the American populous has suspected all along. It was the “Emperor has no clothes moment” that the voters needed to justify voting for the Mad Hatter.

The bonus to all of this was watching the election results roll in shortly after midnight on Wednesday, November 9, 2016. I was fully expecting to see a CNN or MSNBC anchor shove a snub nosed .38 in their mouth and pull the trigger on live TV. The cries of torment and anguish of the SJW lifted my spirits. I walked on cloud 9 for many weeks after that memorable night.

Fuck the racketeering and crony capitalism. I welcome the era of the elites turning on each other.

* * *



Don’t any of those water brains crying about Trump being an illegitimate president know we have already lived through shaky chief executives? I mean, Hayes and Tilden ignored the Constitution and cut their Jim Crow deal in 1876. And Congress changed the Constitution to allow Jerry Ford to be appointed to the White House to replace Nixon.

Cynicuss, Ukiah

* * *


“Call for Artists” for the 2017-2018 Sculpture Trail, a year-round outdoor exhibit of sculptures in the Northern Sonoma County communities of Cloverdale and Geyserville, is now available. The producers of the exhibit, Cloverdale Historical Society & History Museum and the Geyserville Community Foundation, are seeking sculptors for the next exhibit beginning April 27, 2017 through May 3, 2018. A $1,000 “Best of Show”, $250 “Honor Mention” and “Peoples’ Choice” gift baskets will be awarded.

The current exhibit with 14 sculptures in Cloverdale and 19 sculptures in Geyserville continues until April 27, 2017 when the 2017-2018 sculptures are installed.

The goal of this successful outdoor exhibit is to increase awareness of public art and the part sculptures play in bringing art to citizens and visitors through the placement of sculptures in publicly assessable spaces, such as the streets of Cloverdale and Geyserville.

There is no entry fee. Additional information and an entry form with guidelines are available at or call the Sculpture Trail phone number at 707-894-4929. Selection for both communities will be made from the entries received. Deadline for entries is February 27, 2016.

Pierre Riche sculpture “Metaface located on Cloverdale Blvd. and First Street, Cloverdale “Metaface” is part of the current 2016-2017 exhibit.

* * *


Candidates for KZYX BOARD needed.

District 3-Willits, Laytonville

District 4-Fort Bragg & Coast

At Large- In County or contiguous Counties

Deadline for applications Jan. 30

Important: Unless there is at least two candidates for any Board seat, there will be no membership vote requirement.

For more info: Call 707 895 2324 M-F, 9-5 or or POBx 1 Philo, CA, 95466

* * *


Spiritualizing Consciousness in Postmodern America

With the 45th American presidential inauguration upcoming, I spent the afternoon at San Francisco's Ocean Beach chanting "Om Namah Shivaya" for a couple of miles, as I walked leisurely along and enjoyed the sunset.  This bhakti yoga practice replaces the garbage thoughts, such as have been accumulated during 67 years mostly spent living in postmodern America. The worthless experience at my private high school in Milwaukee, the failure of the New Age in general to offer me anything of real depth, the insane staff position at Golden Gate University, the 23 years of unpaid service work with Catholic Worker (which the Catholic Church did not appreciate, but only tolerated), and all amidst the alienated, directionless American social experiment in freedom and democracy, reportedly now headed for the far reaches of the Twilight Zone.

I returned from the beach to my rented room downtown to check the latest news on my laptop computer, and read on NBC that president-elect Donald Trump has Tweeted that he objects to a skit on Saturday Night Live.  The skit satirizes him for, as rumor has it, hiring prostitutes to urinate all over themselves in his presence, which the skit suggests that he found pleasing.

I have for many years performed Indian based yoga practices, particularly Shaivite practices of a tantric nature which I was introduced to in India in 1994, so that I now have a spiritualized consciousness, as opposed to the thoroughly deranged postmodern alternative.  I encourage everyone worldwide to provide for themselves a spiritualized consciousness, of whatever variety you might choose, so that you "have a place to go to" and thus be able to live satisfactorily in crazy times.

Craig Louis Stehr

San Francisco


Om Gam Ganapathaye Namo Namah

Sri Siddhi Vinayaka Namo Namah

Ashta Vinayaka Namo Namah

Ganapathi Bappa Moriya



  1. LouisBedrock January 17, 2017

    Poem for February 14th:

    Locate “I
    love you” some-
    where in

    teeth and   
    eyes, bite   
    it but

    take care not   
    to hurt, you   
    want so

    much so   
    little. Words   
    say everything.

    love you”

    then what   
    is emptiness   
    for. To

    fill, fill.
    I heard words   
    and words full

    of holes   
    aching. Speech   
    is a mouth.

    (Robert Creeley)

    • Bruce McEwen January 17, 2017

      Bedrock, what’s with all this lovey posy?

      If you’re so desperate for a wifey,

      Lemme make a suggestion:

      Go out and shoplift a big heart-shaped

      box of chocolates, stuff it down your pants,

      and make a dash for the door.

      You’ll get a pretty probation officer

      to keep count of your beers,

      monitor your behavior,

      and do all the other things

      a spouse is supposed to do,

      and you will get a chance

      to say “I do” by the judge

      When asked if you accept the terms of probation.

      • LouisBedrock January 17, 2017

        Love is better in poetry than in real life.

  2. Harvey Reading January 17, 2017

    Re: Booneville Scandal

    People really did look a lot older for their age then. The principal looks to be at least in his late 60s and the girl at least in her early to mid 20s.

    I noticed the same thing looking at a photo showing the reaction of a white student, Hazel Bryan, age 15, to a black student attempting to attend classes in a formerly all-whate (initially a misspelling but, I decided, a good one) high school in Little Rock, Elizabeth Eckford, also age 15. Bryan and Eckford both look to me to be in their 30s, along with the male students behind them.

  3. Harvey Reading January 17, 2017

    Re: “There has NEVER been a more arrogant or corrupt POTUS in the Oval Office.”

    Oh, come on. Most of them were arrogant and corrupt, Bush 2 and Obama being prime examples. Fer crissakes, they’re ALL politicians, which translates to SCUM who serve only the wealthy.

  4. Harvey Reading January 17, 2017


    bulls**t and f**k seemed to have snuck by the censor …

    • sohumlily January 17, 2017

      I know, huh?

  5. james marmon January 17, 2017

    Interior nominee Zinke urges array of uses for federal lands

    WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for interior secretary says the nation’s vast federal lands should be used for a variety of purposes, from hiking, hunting, fishing and camping to harvesting timber and mining for coal and other energy sources.


    • Harvey Reading January 17, 2017

      So, what’s new? Sounds like bidness as usual, no matter which right wing of the corporate party is pretending to run the country. The welfare ranchers and extractive corporate interests will continue to call the shots, just as they have all along and will continue to do until the goodies are all gone and the habitat is totally devastated.

  6. Jim Updegraff January 17, 2017

    On Line Comment of the Day: People who use b**t f**k to make a point certainly indicates a person with limited intelligence and inability to support his/her views in a meaningful way.

    • LouisBedrock January 17, 2017

      I agree; however, at times one needs to vent–especially when confronting idiocy.

    • Harvey Reading January 17, 2017

      Has nothing to do with intelligence, or ability.

    • Harvey Reading January 17, 2017

      There’s a fairly recent book out by Nancy Isenberg. It’s title is White Trash. The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America. I recommend it, along with Hillbilly Elegy A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, by J.D. Vance.

      Some people express themselves differently than do others, though no less effectively. That doesn’t mean they aren’t as good as anyone else, hard as that is for the middle and upper classes to understand, or accept. Nevertheless, there are a lot of us, and we get damned tired of our so-called ‘betters’, ignorant as they are about so many things (like running a country), looking down their noses at us.

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