- SuperBowl Comeback
- River Forecast
- Carl Shapiro
- PG&E Bills
- Earthquake Books
- Eminently Impeachable
- Sako Suggests
- Abandoned Mines
- Free Dope
- Boonville Encounters
- Yesterday's Catch
- Obvious Solutions
- Hillary's Platform
- Wrong Track
- Ezra Pound
- Caring Mutuality
THE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS produced the biggest comeback in SuperBowl history to win the 2017 Superbowl 34-28 in “sudden death” overtime Sunday night. It looked like the Atlanta Falcons had the game in the bag building up a lead of 28-3 at one point — until the fourth quarter when Tom Brady brought the Pats back with some of his patented football magic to tie the game and force the overtime. And with the momentum having clearly shifted, they won the toss and quickly scored the game winning TD. Several Mendo locals we know had taken the slight underdog Falcons and three points. But when the final score reflected a six point margin they were not only disappointed by who won but doubly so by the six-point margin.
YOUR DAILY RIVER/RAIN FORECAST ALL IN ONE:
CARL SHAPIRO, Marin’s ‘liberal lion in winter,’ dies at 100
by Paul Liberatore
Carl Shapiro, a distinguished if colorfully unorthodox progressive lawyer once described as “Marin’s liberal lion in winter,” died Jan. 29 at his home in Fairfax. He had celebrated his 100th birthday last summer.
A former ironworker-turned-carpenter-turned-lawyer, Mr. Shapiro championed social justice causes and human rights cases throughout his long career. He practiced law for 65 years, finishing his last case in 2016.
With his aquiline nose and mane of long white hair, he cut a strikingly eccentric figure in the courtroom in his Pendleton shirts, bow ties and thrift shop jackets. In a 1983 Independent Journal profile, reporter Erik Ingram wrote that “his favored apparel can only be described as perma-wrinkle.” He was particularly partial to plaid.
“I loved his different plaids,” said Mari-Ann Rivers, a lawyer in the Marin County Counsel’s Office. “He had a plaid bow tie, a plaid shirt, a plaid jacket, plaid pants — none of them matching.”
She said he had filed so many civil rights cases against the county that lawyers in the county counsel’s office would joke about having a button on their computers that they would push for automatic Carl Shapiro settlement agreements.
As a criminal lawyer, he was known for representing low-income clients or no-income clients, including more than 20 death-row inmates.
“He was available to everyone and anyone, even people who didn’t have money,” Rivers said. “He was always accessible to people who had no other recourse. He took whatever came and did his best to help folks.”
He often took cases pro bono. Other times, instead of money, he was paid in kind, things like a second-hand stereo, a shoe-repair job, even a brood of chickens. He always drove old, junky cars, and for a time could be seen driving to work in a beat-up pickup a client traded him for legal services.
“I know how to bill clients, I just don’t know how to collect,” he said in the 1983 Independent Journal profile, adding in a later story: “If I collected all the fees owed me I’d be rich. But money is only money. I don’t want to be wealthy. I just need enough to live on.”
Considered the unofficial dean of Marin’s criminal defense attorneys, he was known for his razor sharp mind as much as his common-man approach to the law and was often sought out by younger attorneys for advice and ideas.
Fellow attorney Edmund McGill described him as “the archetype opposite of what the public perceives a lawyer to be. If he sees an opportunity to be generous, he’ll take it.”
He was especially generous to San Anselmo lawyer Ford Greene. Mr. Shapiro gave him an apprenticeship in his office when Greene was in law school and later, after Greene had passed the bar, handed him a case against the Unification Church’s Moonie cult that Greene argued successfully in front of the California Supreme Court.
“He not only gave me a job, he gave me a case against the Moonies that made my career for a long time,” Greene said. “He was such a great trial lawyer. He could really gauge people.”
And he knew all the courtroom tricks. Greene recalled that if an opposing attorney was presenting particularly damaging evidence against his client, “Carl would whip out his dirty comb and start combing his long hair. The jury would get fixated on him and it would distract them from the harmful information that was coming in.”
A native of Cleveland, Mr. Shapiro was the son of a lawyer who expected him to follow in his footsteps. He would, but politically, father and son were polar opposites.
“My father was a Herbert Hoover Republican,” Mr. Shapiro said once. “By the time I got to college I was a violent radical.”
As an undergraduate at Harvard, he was tutored by the socialist Max Lerner and found his first cause raising money for the Spanish Republican Army’s battle against the fascist general Francisco Franco.
Rather than enroll in Harvard Law School, he disappointed his father by moving to the West Coast to study law and public administration at the University of California at Berkeley. At the same time, he worked briefly in the personnel office of the Mare Island Naval Shipyard, but was fired, he said, “for my radical beliefs.”
In 1942, he married his wife, Helen, who would later become his law partner. The young couple bought a house in Fairfax and started raising a family. Mr. Shapiro went to work as an ironworker and boilermaker at a Richmond shipyard and built fishing boats in Sausalito before being drafted into the Army during World War II.
Although he ran a free anti-draft clinic during the Vietnam War, he was proud of his own wartime service.
“The times and situations differed,” he explained. “A Jew in Germany could object to the draft, but how could a Jew in this country (during the Second World War)?”
After his discharge, he worked during the day as a carpenter, serving on the boards of the carpenters local and the central labor council. At night, he studied law at the University of San Francisco, graduating in 1949. He passed the bar exam the following year and opened his first law office in Fairfax, his hometown. By then, he and Helen had three children — Joseph, Sylvia and Toby.
He said he decided to have his office in Fairfax “because I felt that if I was going to starve, I might as well be close to home.”
In 1961, he closed the Fairfax practice and joined the San Francisco law firm of leftist lawyer Vincent Hallinan, a one-time Independent Progressive Party candidate for president. “I was making a lot of money, but it wasn’t my trip,” he said. “I wasn’t working with clients.”
In 1967, he hung his shingle in San Anselmo, opening an office that has been described variously as “funky” and “comfortably cluttered.” He worked there with his wife, who died in 2005, and his daughter, Sylvia, a former Marin court commissioner.
In 1988, he survived a bout with colon cancer that was treated with surgery and a year of chemotherapy. In an IJ interview when he was 95, he attributed his longevity to “good luck.”
In that same interview, he was asked what kept him working for so long.
“Are you familiar with the Winchester Mystery House?” he replied, noting that the heiress who lived there believed that as long as carpenters kept working on her mansion, she wouldn’t die. “So they’d build a stairway that wouldn’t go anywhere and installed doors that went nowhere. I feel the same way about my cases. As long as I have them…”
Mr. Shapiro is survived by his daughter, Sylvia; his son, Joseph, of Hopland, and several grandchildren. His son, Toby, died in 2016. A celebration of Mr. Shapiro’s life will be at 1pm, Feb. 19 at the American Legion Log Cabin, 120 Veterans Place, San Anselmo.
(Marin Independent Journal)
A READER WRITES: "I was wondering if you could investigate the high PG&E Bills that have been happening in Anderson Valley over the past two months? I'm talking 40 to 50% when nothing has changed within the household. The list is long."
WE'RE PUTTING it to our readers. But yes, we've noted a severe uptick but attributed it to winter heaters, especially our office heater, a big industrial job that blasts us and our bill outtahere if we leave it on too long.
ANONYMITY GUARANTEED, readers, if you want to share your PG&E woes with the media world.
THERE ARE LOTS of books about earthquakes, but the two best, I think, are Marc Reisner's "A Dangerous Place: California's Unsettling Fate" and "The San Francisco Calamity by Earthquake and Fire” by Charles Morris, which was printed the very year of The Big One, 1906, and long unavailable.
THE TWO BOOKS are wholly unalike. Reisner's is part scientific treatise, part graphic but informed speculation about what is likely to happen in the Bay Area with The Next Big One. (You don't want to be there.)
MORRIS'S book was published in 1906, apparently a hurry-up job by a guy otherwise known for his dime novels. If you can find a copy in good shape, it will cost you upwards of $140, one in bad shape maybe $15. Morris was apparently on-site when it happened and, like a good reporter, he simply walked around taking notes on what he saw, interviewing survivors as he went.
MY SISTER found my copy at a Friends of the Library sale. It's battered but readable, although someone, perhaps a child, has ripped out a page. The old photos alone are worth whatever price you might pay.
AS US EARTHQUAKE SCHOLARS know, and as Morris reminds us, "There was a violent shock in 1856, when the city was only a mining town of small frame buildings. Several shanties were overthrown and a few persons killed by falling walls and chimneys. There was a severe shock also in 1865, in which many buildings were shattered. Next in violence was the shock of 1872, which cracked the walls of some of the public buildings and caused a panic. There was no great loss of life. In April, 1898, just before midnight, there was a lively shakeup which caused the tall buildings to shake like the snapping of a whip and drove the tourists out of the hotels into the streets in their nightclothes. Three or four old houses fell, and the Benicia Navy Yard, which is on made ground across the Bay, was damaged to the extent of about $100,000. The last severe shock was in January, 1900, when the St. Nicholas Hotel was badly damaged."
THEN '06, and then there was Loma Prieta in 1989, the first and last sizable Bay Area quake since '06 which was terrible enough in its own right but much weaker than The Next Big One is likely to be.
MORRIS: "One onlooker says: 'Were it not for the fact that the soldiers in charge of the city do not hesitate in shooting down the ghouls, the lawless element would predominate. Not alone do the soldiers execute the law. On Wednesday afternoon, in front of the Palace Hotel, a crowd of workers in the mines discovered a miscreant in the act of robbing a corpse of its jewels. Without delay he was seized, a rope obtained, and he was strung up to a beam that was left standing in the ruined entrance of the hotel. No sooner had he been hoisted up and a hitch taken in the rope than one of his fellow-criminals was captured. Stopping only to obtain a few yards of hemp, a knot was quickly tied, and the wretch was soon adorning the hotel entrance by the side of the other dastard."
MY FAVE from Morris, which is unflinching throughout: "One man made the trooper believe that one of the dead bodies lying on a pile of rocks was his mother, and he was permitted to go up to the body. Apparently overcome by grief, he threw himself across the corpse. In another instant the soldiers discovered that he was chewing the diamond earrings from the ears of the dead woman. 'Here is where you get what is coming to you,' said one of the soldiers, and with that he put a bullet through the ghoul. The diamonds were found in the dead man's mouth afterwards."
AND THE HEART-RENDING: "When the fire caught the Windsor Hotel at Fifth and Market Streets there were three men on the roof, and it was impossible to get them down. Rather than see the crazed men fall in with the roof and be roasted alive the military officer directed his men to shoot them, which they did in the presence of 3,000 people."
AS TOLD TO the Pacific Sun of this week, Congressman Huffman said, "This president is like a walking target for impeachment, so stay tuned. I think there is reason to believe there will be the most credible case for impeachment you'll ever see, in the short term."
JOHN SAKOWICZ, newly appointed to the Ukiah Valley Sanitation District board of directors, spoke before the Ukiah City Council recently.
He offered a solution to the lengthy and costly legal fight between the two agencies. Sako proposed the city and the district split the cost of the legal fees and make the city's billing practices completely transparent. This might be the most sensible solution we have heard yet. The alternative is to spend millions more on legal fees bringing the case to trial followed by millions more while it drags through the appeals process. Whatever the merits of the Sanitation District case, the cost of legal fees is probably already far beyond any benefit the district can hope to recover at trial.
SAKO SAYS AS AN ALTERNATIVE the city can tear up the Participation Agreement with the district and transfer the district ratepayers "to an independent district" that can do their own billing and maintenance. But Sako follows up a promising proposal with an impossible one. The city can't tear up the participation agreement with the district. Any changes to the agreement that governs how the two entities are supposed to work would have to be negotiated. And the Sanitation District is already an independent district. It contracts back to the city for billing and maintenance because the city can do those things more cheaply than if the district had to do it themselves or hire an outside contractor.
SAKO BLAMES THE LAWSUIT on former Ukiah City Manager Jane Chambers who he says refused to respond to the district. (That history is murky, but if true it's been a very expensive unreturned call.) The result was a $27 million lawsuit which is one hell of a wake up call. Several years later, the city and district are deeply enmeshed in an increasingly expensive lawsuit with no end in site. And no clear victor except for the lawyers. Worse yet, every dollar of legal fees is paid for by the ratepayers and taxpayers. The City of Willits and Brooktrails were in a similar lawsuit several years ago. After spending a couple of million in legal fees they finally agreed to a settlement where they agreed to forget the past and agreed on how to work together going forward. Will the City of Ukiah and the Ukiah Valley Sanitation District be able to do the same? Or will they keep flushing millions of taxpayer dollars down the sanitary sewer drain?
ABANDONED MERCURY MINES DOT LAKE, SONOMA, NAPA COUNTIES
by Clark Mason
The Sulphur Bank mine was part of the “quicksilver,” or mercury mining boom that took hold in the 1870s in Lake County, as well as Sonoma and Napa counties.
Hundreds of mines dotted the coast mountain ranges during the rush to extract mercury from the area’s reddish deposits of cinnabar ore. Mercury was used to refine gold and silver, but also was employed as an ingredient for wood processing, early photography and medical uses.
The mining claims in the Mayacmas Mountains had fanciful names like Fandango, Mohawk, Socrates, Rattlesnake and Silverado, the hideaway for Robert Louis Stevenson on the flanks of Mount St. Helena.
The workers at Sulphur Bank were mostly Chinese, but there were also immigrants from Sweden, Norway, Ireland and Mexico, according to 1880 census records.
Partially an open pit and partially a tunneling operation, the mine yielded the cinnabar ore, or mercury sulfide, which was treated in furnaces and retorts, turning it into gas and recondensed as elemental mercury.
Flasks of the silvery fluid were hauled by horse wagon on a long hilly ride, to be shipped out by train in Calistoga.
There were incidents of mercury miners being poisoned by toxic gas with their eyes swelling shut for a week or more. Mercury exposure also caused a condition known as “salivation,” where workers lost their teeth from receding gums.
Today, abandoned mercury mines in Sonoma County and their potential for contamination occasionally get renewed scrutiny from officials.
Claudia Villacorte, a supervising engineer with the North Coast Regional Water Quality Board, said her agency needs more staff members to assess abandoned mines in the region and determine which need attention.
But, she said, “the majority of them are pretty stable, from what I grasp, in terms of active leeching into waterways.”
An exception appears to be the area surrounding Jackson Mercury Mine, 4 miles north of Guerneville, that was tested in 2015 for mercury in the soil. The mine operated from 1946 to 1971.
Water-quality regulators said the dilapidated mine buildings off Sweetwater Springs Road drew attention because of their high visibility. Heavy winter rains raised questions about the possibility of contaminants from the large mining waste piles making their way into nearby Wilson Creek, which flows to the Russian River.
Mining wastes were evident in the creek bed, and sampling of creek bank soils indicated mercury concentrations above hazardous thresholds.
A staff report concluded further investigation may be warranted along with creek clean-up and erosion control, to keep more waste from going into the creek.
(Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
NEW POT LAWS WILL FIX EVERYTHING
by Tommy Wayne Kramer
Isn’t it obvious that every single time someone erupts with a bold new idea to improve the local marijuana industry it never does any good at all? No matter the cure — zip ties, grow limits, medical marijuana, decriminalization, dispensaries, and whatever else has come along — it’s always worse.
Always more derelicts coming to town, always more strain on local services, more pit bulls at the dog shelter, more crime, more arrests, more jail overcrowding, and never any relief in sight. By the year and by the decade, Ukiah keeps getting grungier and grosser. Nothing improves.
Certainly, and in the face of numerous promises to the contrary, there is never any tax income to the county. The pot industry grows and grows, the burden on locals grows and grows, and nothing except more hot promises of great new results when the next change is implemented, which your county supervisors are promising is just around the corner.
“Cannabis business rules OK’d” was the banner headline a few days ago, along with a thorough story by the UDJ’s terrific new reporter, Erick O’Donnell.
Oh goodie. New rules. This will solve everything. Again.
Among the breakthroughs we can look forward to include allowing THC-starved customers to enter weed outlets and sample doses of marijuana. Also, marijuana stores can congregate in close proximity to one another without fear of violating zoning laws. Soon coming to a neighborhood near us: stoned consumers zombieing around pot shop ghettoes.
Hands-off zoning and in-store samples are good, but why stop there? Several reasons, actually, but forward-thinkers on the board were hearing none of them. Instead, during the period of public comment, someone in the crowd said he knew of a man whose marijuana cured him of cancer. Well of course. Who dares doubt it?
There will always be astounding stories of the sick and the lame casting aside their crutches and running four-minute miles with the help of some miracle cure or another. The rest of us have the sense and experience to hold back and ask for a teeny bit of verification before taking a leap into the great unknown. Not Carrie Brown.
Our credulous elected representative, who ought to know better than to swallow whole such improbable medical news, quickly decided pot shops should provide free dope — err, “medicine” — to anyone who says he’s too poor to buy some. No, seriously. She actually said that. Pot stores would be obligated to hand out free marijuana to anyone who says (a) she’s sick and (b) she’s broke. It’s difficult to reconcile Brown’s experiences living among the weed in Mendocino County with my own. Pot samples in downtown shops? So every unemployed loser loadie who can find Ukiah on a map will come to town and improve everything a real lot?
These new cannabis regulations should inspire city officials to come up with yet another slogan to lure tourists to town: “Visit Drugs Free Ukiah!”
Does Carrie Brown ever wonder why her county and its towns are infested by filth, crime and violence? Does Brown ever wonder why nearby cities like Healdsburg, Sonoma and Sebastopol look nothing like Ukiah, Willits and Laytonville?
Why are Mendocino County residents forced to live in the ugly and dangerous environment that our criminal class, aided by our political class, has brought to local communities?
(Tom Hine invented the TWK byline 30 or 40 years ago and has been hiding behind it ever since. He or they live in Ukiah. Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)
SEED & SCION EXCHANGE
by Spec MacQuayde
Saturday morning I managed to bring the box containing my wardrobe along to Pic'n'Pay in Boonville before the crowds rushed in, but thought, Hey the place is empty when I parked under the row of eucalyptus trees. Thought maybe stop in the Mosswood for a cup of Joe before embarking on the laundry endeavor. Across 128, hybrids, all-wheel drive wagons, and a bunch of Toyota trucks were lining up along the curb in front of the Boonville Fairgrounds for the 2017 Seed and Scion Exchange.
I was chilling with a bro, Brandon Reno from back in Kentuckiana, we decided to call our home state, who had been in Santa Cruz playing music with friends before heading up north. I'd invited him to represent. He didn't drink coffee, and waited in his sedan while I sat at one of the small tables that almost force you to mingle. One thing I like about the Mosswood is people have no choice but to acknowledge one another inside, if it's raining.
On the bench across from me sat a woman in her early 20s who wore this giant fur-like cap, with sandy hair flowing in curls beneath. She was reading from a copy of Narrative of the Life of an American Slave, by Frederick Douglass that is recently trending. She must have been growing warm, due to the heat from the kitchen, and started to remove her jacket. The whole procedure seemed to be causing her some difficulty, and I nearly volunteered assistance, as the confines of the booth might have been inhibiting her progress. It took an agonizing eternity for her arms to slip out of the sleeves. Under the jacket she donned a top with two straps, and clearly no bra.
Fortunately my smart phone rang. It was Jacque Dawn, who is watching the farm back in Kentuckiana, more or less in charge of it now. She drawls with a thick Louisiana accent that might have been exaggerated over the years. Jacque worked for two decades as a professional pole dancer. Now she prunes apple, peach, and pear trees this time of year, besides taking care of our livestock along with her one-eyed chauffeur, Beez. I always put her on speaker phone.
"Hope you don't mind, I scrubbed the walls in your kitchen. There was about two gallons of cat shit in the lazy susans! Whatever women you were paying to clean weren't paying no attention. I got pictures. B-- took videos…"
I ventured outside with the loud Louisiana twang going on and on, and set the phone on a picnic table, under an awning. Rain was mildly pelting the other tables on the sidewalk. Jacque went on about her plans for cleaning out the greenhouse, keeping "Driftwood OrganiX" going in my absence.
The hippie chick with the Frederick Douglass paperback ventured outside under the awning, and started stretching or doing yoga.
"I gotta go see Reno," I told Jacque, walking across 128. "This is too much."
He was texting a girl in Florida who wanted him to join her. "What's up?"
"Hey, I gotta get on that laundry thing. You shouldda brought your guitar, bro. I mean, there's this girl out front the Mosswood--I mean, pretty sure I can read body language. She's pretending to be absorbed in the pages of Narrative of the Life of an American Slave. That book changed my life, twenty years ago. I realized the whole city of Indianapolis was a fucking plantation! I was delivering pizza for the mafia. Long story short. But she's not really reading it, man. She keeps getting up and stretching, and I've already seen a lot of her in full. Well, not totally, but I wasn't even trying to peek. Anyway, I gotta go do the laundry."
By the time I returned to Pic-n-Pay, all the washers were full except one of the smalls. A long-time local, Robert, and I arrived at the machine simultaneously. Neither one of us really gave a damn who went first.
"It's only a matter of 28 minutes," we agreed.
No sooner had I loaded the dirty socks, T-shirts, and jeans into the last washer on the end, than I got a text from Reno.
Headed to Redwoods to do yoga. Drink beer. Smoke weed.
Instead of doing yoga in the redwoods with an SUV-driving goddess from the land of milk and honey, I drank a Poleeko Gold outside with Robert, bullshitting about life while the laundry got worked over. Some of those machines pounded with innuendo.
"Might need to be leveled out," he said.
Another buddy showed up, hoping to do laundry.
"They're full already!"
"Damn. Should have stopped at Jack's." He went inside to grab a beer, while I finally hiked across 128 to the fairgrounds, to the Seed and Scion Exchange. Inside the Apple Hall were tables lined up and covered with ziplock baggies full of cuttings from every graftable fruit limb possible to grow in this county.
"What the hell? You visiting?"
"You been out where--?"
"Kentuckiana. You know the woman watching my house actually works on an orchard? Apple Acres, it's called. They prune their trees short enough that nobody needs ladders to pick them. Pretty cool folks."
"They make some decent moonshine out there, right?"
"I got a friend who is totally particular. Only uses silver queen sweet corn, an open-pollenated heirloom. Grows it, lets it dry like field corn, and then sprouts it for malt the next season. He's passionate about it."
"We're perfecting our cider. Adding some crabs."
"Yeah! Just a percentage. It's getting better every year. I don't see the market taking off, but what the hell?"
Other folks showed up, and I thanked Tim for his time at such a busy event. This functions as the annual rendezvous for so many Mendo homesteaders.
Later that night, Reno texted me again. “Batshit alert. This one is cuckoo! I can't get away! At least she's flying to Florida tomorrow. Lol”
CATCH OF THE DAY, February 5, 2017
AUSTIN ANDERSON, Kelseyville. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, vandalism.
EVAN CASTER, Fort Bragg. Domestic assault.
FOX HOAGLIN, Ukiah. Ex-felon with firearm, possession of ammo by prohibited person, driver with concealed weapon, smuggling drugs or booze into jail, and “color of lamps and reflectors.”
JEREMIA LUNA, Ukiah. Drunk in public, battery on peace officer. (Frequent flyer.)
TYLER MALONE, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public, resisting.
LANCE MCCLOUD, Nice/Ukiah. Suspended license, unlawful display of vehicle registration.
MASON MCGEE, Ukiah. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
KYLE MITTS, Ukiah. Domestic assault.
CODY RYDEN, Fort Bragg. DUI.
CHARLES SAMS III, Willits. Suspended license.
STEVEN WILLIAMSON, Potter Valley. DUI, probation revocation.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
I googled “US billionaires.”
It appears there are 540 of them with a net worth of $2.4 trillion. Many are worth more than $20 billion.
I believe it’s about 60 billionaires that have more wealth than half the world’s population combined.
Super bowl Sunday is almost here, and the game will temporarily cover many fans with a thin blanket of vague satisfaction. But Monday’s sun will rise, and millions upon millions will drag their asses to unfulfilling jobs, wishing their wages could somehow rise to the $800/week stratosphere.
In contrast, Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, will take in approximately $800,000/week.
We’re all familiar with the exorbitant salaries of celebrities and sports figures.
Life is unfair and the “marketplace” is the Great Determinator and also the Great Terminator.
Brows were sweating and people were scratching their heads trying to figure out how can we pay for the wall, how can we rebuild the infrastructure? What about the debt, etc.?
“The vast conspiracy of rackets” is somehow able to turn our focus away from the extreme disparities and obvious solutions.
WHY TRUMP WON, WHY CLINTON LOST
Rebecca Solnit’s vivid portrait of Donald Trump as ‘patriarchy unbuttoned’ is horrifyingly accurate (in the January 19 London Review of Books). Her suggestion that Clinton’s policies and positions ‘were often close to Sanders’ is rather less persuasive: the truth is that they were often — perhaps just as often — not close at all. Clinton’s platform should have mattered more to the media than her political career, Solnit believes, but doesn’t spell out the particulars of that platform in her piece. I write this as someone who was a volunteer and canvasser for Sanders in Philadelphia during the Pennsylvania primary, and who canvassed for Clinton during the last week of the general election. I was familiar with the policies of both candidates, and the differences between the two were notable.
Clinton did not support immediately raising the federal minimum wage to $15; Sanders did. Clinton did not support eliminating tuition fees for higher education at public universities; Sanders did. Clinton did not support breaking up ‘too-big-to-fail’ financial institutions; Sanders did. Clinton did not support a single-payer healthcare plan; Sanders did. Both Clinton and Sanders supported 12 weeks of paid family leave, but only Sanders outlined a plan — indeed, co-authored a bill — to pay for it; Clinton was against Sanders’s bill. Clinton supported a ‘no-fly’ zone over Syria, which might have brought the US into a war with Russia; Sanders did not. Clinton supported the expansion of NATO; Sanders did not. Clinton considered Henry Kissinger a friend and adviser; Sanders pointedly did not. Clinton waffled on her position regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership; Sanders did not. Beyond the platforms, the difference in the two candidates’ manner of fundraising was profound. Sanders did not rely on Super PACs and wealthy donors; Clinton did.
Solnit thinks the ‘Manichean hatred of Clinton as the anti-Bernie’ is mysterious, but — internet vitriol aside — it ought not to be. Hillary Clinton was both progenitor of the Democratic Party’s shift to the right in the 1990s and 2000s, and heir to it: her political record as first lady, senator and Secretary Of State as well as her 2016 platform and messaging all confirm this. Sanders ran as a self-described ‘democratic socialist’ and heir to the New Deal and the 1960s anti-war movement. It was against this form of politics that Hillary Clinton built her political career in the last twenty years. In other words, Sanders in some sense was the anti-Clinton, and Clinton was the anti-Bernie. That most Sanders voters appear to have managed to get over this fact and vote for Clinton — and even campaign for her — suggests that, in pragmatic terms, the opposition was not nearly as Manichean as Solnit makes out.
THE ANTI-HILLARY, ANTI-TRUMP WOMEN
My vagina-y credentials are just as solid as Rebecca Solnit’s, I believe. I didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton (or for Donald Trump). Not that my non-swing-state vote matters. But I don’t appreciate being taken to task on more-vagina-y-than-thou grounds. Impossible to deny that misogyny played some part in Hillary Clinton’s downfall. But isn’t it possible that another vagina-y candidate would have done better than she did? One who might have merited more trust from the voters? Elizabeth Warren, perhaps?
Solnit ostensibly lets women who didn’t vote for Clinton off the hook — but she doesn’t, really. She attacks men for not voting for Clinton when many of their reasons were the same reasons women didn’t, so how come those criticisms don’t apply to women too? The Clinton campaign ‘ratfucked’ the Sanders campaign, as Nixon would have put it, berated and patronized voters, called us misogynists or victims of false consciousness, and consigned women who didn’t vote for Clinton to hell. Solnit writes in the same scolding, overbearing way.
Blessed with a vagina or not, a candidate has to give people enough reason to get out and vote for her, or him, as the case may be. The only reason I see in this article was that Clinton isn’t Trump. That’s a big reason, and had my vote mattered, I would have held my nose and voted for her. But may I suggest that voting for a third-party candidate, or not voting at all, should be seen as a message to the Democratic Party that it’s on the wrong track?
Annette Bonnell, Paris
EZRA POUND: LAY SAINT & MAD POET
by Manuel Vicent (translated by Louis S. Bedrock)
The mixture of a lay saint and a mad poet produces a prophet.
There was once such a fellow named Ezra Pound.
He was born on October 30th of 1885 in the small town of Hailey, Idaho in the far west of North America, where his father had gone to inspect a gold mine on his property. However, when he was six months old, he was sent back to New York where he spent his adolescence like a city dog without a collar or glory.
He obtained a degree in romance languages from the University of Pennsylvania. He was a school teacher for a while but was dismissed because people found him odd. His first girlfriend, named Mary Moore, once asked him where he lived and he answered that his only home was his backpack and he carried it around with him.
When his mother Isabel Wetson, who had been abandoned by her husband, was committed to a mental institution, the twenty-year old poet packed up his belongings and went to England in search of the writers and colleagues he admired--Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, Eliot, Yeats, with whom he shared admiration and emulation. He was nourished only by potatoes.
From the beginning, he demonstrated that his literary audacity knew no limits. Yeats gave him some poems to send to the Chicago magazine Poetry and his young disciple had the temerity to revise some verses with his own hand before mailing them. After a fit of rage, Yeats admitted that the corrections had improved the originals and added,
— Ezra is surly and stubborn and is always hurting people’s feelings but I believe he’s a genius.
It appears that this misfit entered the world, like the fierce catechists, with the sole purpose of changing the opinion of everyone that surrounded him anywhere, at any time; or convincing them of something that was useless — an effort that almost resulted in his facing a firing squad. He was one of those characters who struggled intrepidly throughout his life to assure his own failure and never stopped fighting until he achieved it.
Ezra Pound began his literary career in London, continued it in Paris in the period between the two world wars, then in Rapallo, later in the penitentiary mental hospital of St. Isabel in Washington to which he was condemned for twelve years for treason. He finally surrendered his tormented soul in Venice on November 1, 1972.
His first rule was to be noticed whether for his noble intention of doing anything possible for his colleagues, or through any bizarre act that would make him visible at any given moment whether before aristocrats or bohemians. During a banquet in London in homage to D.H. Lawrence, he felt Yeats was monopolizing all the attention. To counter this minor triumph, when desserts were served, Ezra Pound ate a red tulip from the bouquet of tulips that adorned the table. Upon seeing that one was not enough, he ate another and didn’t stop eating flowers until he was the center of attention. All for naught, but by the end of the banquet he walked away with a decent reward. She was named Dorothy and was the woman who would become his wife; she was the daughter of the aristocrat Olivia Shakespeare — Yeats’ lover.
He considered himself a man reduced to fragments and imagined the universe as a broken poem. To restore it, he reduced everything to poetry: his own life, stories from newspapers, data about the economy, Bible episodes, weather reports, the philosophy of Lao Tse, the garbage truck, the glory of the Greeks, and all the rubbish of history. He metabolized foreign texts, breathed in the detritus that human livestock left in its wake, and converted the smallest particles of excrement into the tips of diamonds, as if he had picked up everything omitted from The Divine Comedy and imbued it with an internal rhythm and free form.
In the middle of this spiritual whirlpool, he suffered a Fall. One day he tired of being poor and returned to New York because of the temptation of easy money. With a deranged associate, he launched a scheme to sell anti-syphilis medication to filthy rich clients in Africa. The ensuing financial ruin carried him back to poetry and poetry carried him back to the Latin Quarter of Paris where he became a member of The Lost Generation that gathered around mother hen Gertrude Stein and the celestial book vender Sylvia Beach, along with Dos Passos, Scott Fitzgerald, and a horde of painters from Montparnasse.
Although Hemingway had said that Pound had the eyes of a failed rapist, he would later write in 1925:
— Pound, the great poet, dedicates a quarter of his time to his poetry and uses the rest trying to improve the luck of his friends. He defends them when they are attacked, gets magazines to publish their works, and bails them out of jail. He lends them money. He sells their paintings. He organizes concerts. He writes articles about them. He introduces them to wealthy women. He gets editors to accept their books. He stays with them all night when they assure him they are dying and signs their wills as a witness. He advances them money for the costs of the hospital and discourages them from committing suicide. And in the end, some of them control themselves and don’t plunge a knife into themselves the first chance they get.
In fact, Pound came up with the money that enabled Joyce to finish Ulysses, although he later he couldn’t deal with the fame the book attained. Earlier, he had helped publish A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man in installments in the American magazine The Egoist.
Between his legendary egocentricity and his unlimited generosity, Ezra’s soul always had two slopes: one led to sainthood, the other to do anything, no matter how vile. Just as he was unable to find a barrier between prose and poetry, nor did he distinguish between the Judaism of a usurer and the fascist aesthetic for the redemption of the human race. One day he became interested in economics and politics and he set forth with them on that fascist path as an individualistic philosopher, a desperate aesthete, and an aristocratic and anti-capitalist socialist.
He had attended Mussolini’s march on Rome. He began to rail against those who had gotten rich through the work of others, got carried away by his own overexcitement, and attacked the capital gain and usurious loans that the Jews practiced. He found himself in front of a microphone in Italy broadcasting fascist allegations against his own country through Radio Rome, at first using his own name, later resorting to anonymous diatribes.
When the North American army invaded Italy, he was imprisoned and for several weeks he was exhibited in Pisa in a cage like a monkey. Then he was taken to Washington D.C. to be tried as a traitor to his country. He friends supported him. They swore that he was already mentally ill in London and in Paris. The judge took these testimonies into consideration and spared him the firing squad in exchange for a twelve-year incarceration at a mental hospital.
Near the end of this sentence, a judge named Bolitha J. Laws again declared him insane in 1958, but added that he was harmless, and set him free with a beard that was already turning gray. Pound promptly announced,
— Any man that can bear to live in the United States is crazy.
He left for Italy. He died in Venice at the age of 87 in the arms of his daughter. Shortly before his death, he could be heard singing his sublime broken, disjointed Cantos in the garden--as if he were still being exhibited in public like a monkey in its cage. Actually, he was merely an arsonist attempting to burn up the world with his verse.
by Gregory K. Sims
Descartes. Some people who have carefully examined the particular phrase for which he is commonly remembered “I think therefore I am”, believe we have come, or are coming to the end of the Cartesian Era. If you believe that, it might be worth contemplating the possible reevaluation or loss of what Ernst Cassirer (one of Kurt Lewin’s formative teachers) has proposed to be our basic cognitive motivator, meaning.
Cassirer was greatly impressed by Helen Keller’s transformation from a sightless, deaf child to a brilliant thinker and force for good as prima facie evidence (evident truth) that she found meaning through the emergence of co-relating factors. Upon discovering and experiencing a unity within the flow of water in one hand and the word w-a-t-e-r being spelled into the other hand by Anne Sullivan she underwent a transformation. In his view her transformation from a blind and deaf speechless wild child to a valued world renowned source of good-will for the remainder of her life began through the emergence of meaningful awareness in realizing the relationship between water flowing into one hand and the symbols w-a-t-e-r emerging into the other.
The fact that this event occasioned a pervasive and lifelong transformation is beyond question. But ascribing “meaning” as its primary causative variable neglects an essential additional part of the story. Neither Descartes presumption “cogito”-thinking is the complete foundation of being nor is Cassirer’s belief that “meaning” is the fundamental nature of Helen’s (and others) transformation. Each results in thought identification and language acquisition. Now add caring.
In reading Keller’s Midstream, My Later Life (1923), I believe Helen identified the mutuality of caring as a fundamental basis for the joy/peace of her instantly expanding awareness. She identified the fundamental capacity to care with and for others as the truth of reality. Though people without language and self-aware thought also care deeply, it is through symbolic self-other awareness that the potential for caring mutuality was more fully opened to her as it is to us.
Today amongst our leadership there appears to be a drift away from a common mutuality of thinking through issues, finding meaningful solutions to problems and in particular, an appreciation of our unusual capacity for cognitively based understanding and caring. Like Helen Keller, this capacity only became part of my life after years of being regarded as a “low functioning” student. What I remember from those days is that I did, and still do-care for life as my foundation. And somehow, the discoveries of Claude Steiner (upon whose writings Waldorf Education is based) - that written language acquisition best occurs on a firm foundation of sensate, aesthetic awareness; is what happened to me. So when Arden Bovey, a classmate in Mr. Limb’s home room said to me: “Gregory, what happened to you, you used to be such a dumb shit?” I became aware that what was happening within me was manifesting outwardly: combinatorial awareness.
So why am I writing this linguistic explication and attaching some personal reflections to it? They have been occasioned by Friday’s (January 27th) meeting with our Congressional Representative Jared Huffman and Assemblyman Jim Wood. 250 people on a late Friday afternoon packed Ukiah’s convention center for a Town Hall Meeting.
I came away from the gathering somewhat inspired by the group size and earnestness of the people coming together. But I had an unfulfilling sense that we are somewhat adrift - which is not a good thing. I also had the distinct feeling, perhaps belief that if we are to right our national ship of state, we will need to undergo a national change of head and heart which may only be possible if “We the people…” come to know what “a change of head and heart” means and how to bring it about. So: back to Descartes and the fading Cartesian World.
If we are to continue to channel our lives through the use of language and thought, we would benefit greatly from a modification of Cassirer’s and Descartes’s observations. “I think therefore I am” becomes: “Caring mutuality within one’s own person begets thoughtfulness.” Then as I take time to reflect inwardly upon the harmonies necessary to maintain a healthy body I am more likely to promote a rationale that society, like the body, is most healthy when the people’s - and leader’s lives reflect the constancy of our internal guidance systems.