- Reynolds Trial
- Pynchon Country
- Cannabis Regulation
- Eureka Homeless
- Philbrick Letters
- Care-a-Van Grange
- Swing Dance
- Little Dog
- Vegas Raiders
- Propane Gougers
- Yesterday's Catch
- Calculated Ignorance
- Bernie Waffles
- Sally Stanford
- Thinking Class
- Black Market
- Spring Reflection
- Grange Wars
- Levine Scholarships
- Mendocino Mystery
CHARLES REYNOLDS was charged with felony assault with a special allegation of inflicting great bodily injury (not murder) for killing Kenneth Fisher, a native of Laytonville, who died after Reynolds reportedly sucker punched Fisher outside Boomer’s bar in Laytonville on August 28 of 2016. The trial had been further delayed when Reynolds switched attorneys in mid-February from Macci Baldock to Justin Petersen who said he needed time to review the case and devise a defense.
Reynolds trial finally began Monday morning, right on time, and Mr. Reynolds was present with his new lawyer, Justin Petersen, probably the best defense attorney in the county — if not all of Nor Cal — since his father, the late Richard Petersen (Mendoland’s very own Gerry Spence, with the beaded buckskins, boots, hats, bolo tie and booming forensic oratorical voice the likes of which Cicero and Tony Serra would kill for!) — arrived precisely on time with his client, ready to go forth, as they say in court.
Justin Petersen is not his father. And it most certainly does not go without saying. Their styles vary wayyy too different to assume they might be alike in the courtroom. But one thing Justin either learned or inherited (or both) from his father, was how to win a case; even a case nobody else would touch!
Mr. Reynolds, as we reported a few weeks ago, retained Petersen at the last instant — he’d started out with a newly minted lawyer, Macci Baldock. But this talented young lawyer bowed out a few weeks ago, citing her inexperience, and Mr. Petersen took over. There was a motion from the prosecutor, Deputy DA Luke Oakley, a youngster much like Ms. Baldock — and they were very evenly matched in that regard — so the objection had to do with a conflict of interest which was resolved in defense’s favor, as to — well, almost everyone involved in the case, since they reside in Laytonville, has some taint of the evil weed on their fingers, and so they’ve all mostly been shaken-down by law enforcement for zip-ties and cannabis what have you in the past.
There were some pre-trial motions, and these were dealt with Monday morning.
Mr. Petersen had just submitted his witness list, making an exception for one witness he was still seeking to subpoena — a witness he suspected was in hiding — but he had a back-up, he said, if this witness couldn’t be tracked down.
Deputy DA Oakley said he would object if defense tried to tie any of prosecution's witnesses to their criminal records. Judge John Behnke said he would decide on that issue if and when it came up. The judge did, however, look over the witness list and note that a DUI from the 1980s probably wouldn’t be allowed.
Oakley said, “That’s not what I’m worried about, judge. I’m concerned that defense will try to introduce an incident of battery on a co-habitant on the part of the descedant” (the dead man, Mr. Fisher).
Judge Behnke fitted his glasses onto his ears and opened the California Code of Evidence, and then he read aloud from it, establishing that this was entirely acceptable under law.
“Those two convictions are admissible,” he said, and it was established that the victim had not been averse to violence himself on at least two occasions.
The judge also said that he had noticed a number of people wearing T-shirts (chartruse-emergency colored with block letters reading JUSTICE FOR KENNY) and “eying the defendant — eyeballing him, if you will — and I just want to say that if I see any of that I will use the court’s authority to eject from the courtroom anyone who does so.”
The judge peered over the top of his glasses at the gallery, but none of ’em were present, only two newspaper reporters, myself and Sara Reith.
For good measure he cautioned anyone whatsoever against trying to suborn a juror or witness.
Mr. Petersen wanted the jury instructed on the elements of the charges, which was reasonable, since this, a one-punch parking lot fight, was not being charged as a homicide, even though it resulted in death. Judge Behnke said he hadn’t intended to do so, and after thinking about it a few minutes resolved to keep it that way.
Petersen also wanted the “lesser-included” charges read at the outset, and again, the judge declined to do so.
The main charge is assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury (in this case it caused death) and the lesser charge of battery the judge thought was obvious. But he agreed to read the pleadings from the lawyers before deciding.
The parties each had 10 pre-emptory juror challenges, and it took all day to select the jury, but by 4:30 the jury had been sworn in. We’ll keep the readers posted with daily updates.
To the Editor:
Nice piece in “Mendocino County Today” (March 27) in the AVA regarding Thomas Pynchon. Thank you.
Check out this site for all things Pynchon: http://thomaspynchon.com/
As a footnote, I have often thought that the bizarre, internal politics of KZYX would make a great subject for Thomas Pynchon.
Think about it.
…KZYX, also known as Mendocino County Public Broadcasting, is the final stop in the long, unhappy lives of a lot of dysfunctional, marginalized, old hippies
…self-important, self-satisfied, self-absorbed old hippies fighting among themselves over a public radio station nobody listens to because the old hippies — you guessed it — mainly just talk to themselves, and to themselves alone, while on-air at KZYX
…and they fight among themselves they do, in the most beautiful of places, with stunning coastlines and old growth redwoods forests
… a place, Mendocino County, that, weirdly, Jim Jones, Leonard Lake, Wesley Shermantine, Robert Durst, Charles Ng, and Richard Allen Davis also once called their home, not just the old hippies
…why old hippies and serial killers co-habituating side by side?
…why find them both here at home in beautiful Mendocino County?
…because Mendocino County is a great big place, and remote, and nobody asks any questions, and it’s a good place to hide
…nobody brings critical thinking or reasonable inquiry to any aspect of their lives, or anybody else’s lives, here in Mendocino County, and everybody, it seems, has spun false narratives about themselves that go unchallenged in the purple haze of drugs and amnesia, while, in the background, KZYX airs yet more “essential” Grateful Dead bootlegs.
If this isn’t Pynchon country, I don’t know what is.
$407 FOR LAB TESTING A POUND OF POT?
by Fred Gardner
California's Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act — called "mac cursor" — was passed by the legislature and signed by the governor in 2016. The Administrative State needs until January 1, 2018 to implement it. Dale Gieringer of California NORML reports:
"Regulatory costs due to MCRSA are estimated to run between $225 and $873 per pound, according to an economic analysis by the University of California Agricultural Issues Center. Over half of the costs are accounted for by testing requirements. This analysis doesn’t include taxes. The Prop 64 cultivation tax comes to $148/pound — less than the estimated cost of testing. The analysis also estimates that adult-use production will be 61.5% of the market, the medical use segment 9%, and the illegal segment 29.5%."
The >200 page analysis was prepared by UC Davis input/output economists for California's Bureau of Marijuana Control. The very name of this new government entity reflects fear, ignorance and a police-state mentality. What they need in Sacramento is Marijuana for Bureau Control.
When I was working for San Francisco District Attorney Terence Hallinan some 15 years ago, I went to the Grove St. offices of the Public Health Department to ask Josh Bamberger, MD, if his department would test the herb being sold in dispensaries for mold and toxins. This was about five years after Prop 215 passed and five years before Steve DeAngelo willed Steep Hill Lab into being. The answer was no, the Health Dept didn't have the budget... It never dawned on me to suggest that testing could be a moneymaker for them. Nor did it dawn on me to try to involve the SFPD, which had a testing lab in Hunter's Point. I had generally excellent relations with Chiefs Fred Lau and Health Fong, and also with the cops I dealt with every day, but the narcs didn't like me (it was mutual) and the lab was their turf.
When I recently told a friend about Hallinan's efforts to involve the city and county of San Francisco's Health Department in implementing Prop 215, she said, as if to her own surprise, "It never occurred to me that the government should be responsible for lab testing."
Privatization is not just something that happened in the former Soviet Union. It has been happening in the US all these years. There is a pervasive sense that the Administrative State is useless. Cannabis activists don't even think to demand useful services in return for their tax dollars.
One month after Prop 215 passed, Hallinan went to Sacramento for an "Emergency All Zones Meeting" of all the Police Chiefs, Sheriffs and DAs that had been called by Attorney General Dan Lungren to explain his "narrow interpretation" of the law. (Which boiled down to 'Keep arresting and prosecuting. If they use 215 as a defense we'll hassle the doctor.') Hallinan — the only elected official in the state who had supported Prop 215 — stood up during the Q&A session to urge his colleagues to involve their departments of public health in implementing the new law. "Kayo" had been a boxer — fought Cassius Clay in an Olympic trial, if memory serves. Smoldering glares from 350 cops didn't faze him.
Nine months from now the state will give birth to MCRSA. Medical cannabis users will pay outrageous add-on costs to the Administrative State, and get nothing in return except a "right" no one should have to pay for.
A POWERFUL ONE-WORD LEGACY
George Weinberg's obituary in the New York Times described him as "the psychotherapist who, in the mid-1960s, observed the discomfort that some of his colleagues exhibited around gay men and women and invented a word to describe it — homophobia." This is from the informative account by William Grimes:
A group of colleagues, learning that a friend he was bringing to a party was a lesbian, asked that he disinvite her. He sensed not just dislike, he said, but also fear — a fear so extreme that it suggested some of the characteristics of a phobia.
“I coined the word homophobia to mean it was a phobia about homosexuals,” Dr. Weinberg told Gregory M. Herek, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, in 1998. “It was a fear of homosexuals which seemed to be associated with a fear of contagion…
The invention of the term was “a milestone,” Dr. Herek wrote in the journal Sexuality Research & Social Policy in 2004. “It crystallized the experiences of rejection, hostility and invisibility that homosexual men and women in mid-20th-century North America had experienced throughout their lives.
“The term stood a central assumption of heterosexual society on its head,” he continued, “by locating the ‘problem’ of homosexuality not in homosexual people, but in heterosexuals who were intolerant of gay men and lesbians.”
Dr. Weinberg discussed his ideas with the gay activists Jack Nichols and Lige Clarke, who used the new term in a column they wrote for Screw magazine on May 5, 1969, discussing the fear felt by straight men that they might be gay. It was the word’s first appearance in print.
The Ukiah Police might want to see what Eureka PD has done to enable their officers to deal more effectively with the homeless problem up there. For one thing, EPD has a POP unit, following the guidelines of the Problem Oriented Policing study. This enables officers to meet transients, run criminal background checks, and find those with outstanding warrants, unregistered sex offenders etc. Using POP guidelines, officers can be effective without violating any civil rights laws, protecting the PD from litigation. Body cams help too. Background checks bolster public safety, including the safety of non-criminal homeless.
In Fort Bragg, police are reluctant to drive a homeless violator over the hills to jail in Ukiah, but a night in jail might be a deterrent to a return to this town.
Instead of armies of social workers, we could put the funds into reviving mental institutions and rehab facilities for chronic drunks and addicts. Most importantly, we can revive the system of motivation and rewards, by reining in all the freebies, including free meals, for those able-bodied transients. No work, no freebies.
With proper training in POP protocol, police can be more effective and efficent.
The Eureka police chief stated his dept had documented, presumably with back ground checks, that 87% of their transients were criminals. They have had success housing and helping the 13% who want to become productive members of society.
Alice Chouteau, Fort Bragg
EVERY TIME I print a letter from Jerry Philbrick, a couple, man and woman, take turns calling me to complain. “We really don’t need to hear from him.” Philbrick is a famous Mendo guy, born and raised. A retired logger and log trucker contractor, I’ve known him for a long time. And I admire the guy’s years of support for local sports, especially youth sports. Like a lot of people with fierce opinions, Philbrick is especially annoying to the echo chamber libs around here, to whom any deviation from the soft Democratic Party platitudes of the NPR type is heresy. Anybody who can annoy them gets my total support. If I printed only opinions I agreed with, I’d be talking to myself. I’m glad Philbrick writes in when the spirit moves him.
DEPARTMENT OF WHO CARES, this notice from Susan Ranochak, Registrar of Voters: “The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors approved a change in biennial election date for the Mendocino County Board of Education from the odd numbered years to the even numbered years to consolidate with the Statewide General Elections beginning in 2018.”
THE MENDOCINO COUNTY SUPERVISORS ought to declare the County Office of Education a relic of the 19th century and shut it down. When that office was one man and a bookkeeper who hired, paid and dispatched teachers out of a modest office in Ukiah, and off these lady teachers went on horseback to the far-flung school houses of vast Mendocino County, the County Office of Education served that crucial purpose. But that simple task has, over the years, morphed into a large bureaucracy, ensconced in lavish quarters at Talmage, where the rare visitor finds plump, perfumed, looking for love-looking women, and a few otherwise unemployable men, wandering around with their coffee cups, Moonie-like grins plastered on their uncomprehending pusses, talking about in-servicing their common cores or whatever else is totally irrelevant to teaching young people how to read, do some basic math and maybe write a coherent sentence. To repeat, the County Office of Education does not do one thing that could not be done better and cheaper by the individual school districts of the county, all of them over-staffed, too.
THE CARE-A-VAN, Mendo’s mobile spay-neuter service for dogs and cats will be at the AV Grange this Friday, March 31 from 10am to 2pm. Spay-neuter service is by appointment only. Please call 707-888-7698 for appointment. Vaccinations, heartworm testing and microchipping do not need appointments. Vaccinations are $10-$13 each. Sponsored by AV Animal Rescue.
Spring Swing With Bob Ayres’ Swingin’ Boonville Big Band! Saturday, April 1
The community is invited to support Gloriana Musical Theatre with a spring dance concert featuring Bob Ayres’ The Swingin’ Boonville Big Band, including swing dance lessons and dance contest. Please come support the reappearance, after too many years, of Big Band music and dance in Fort Bragg: 7-10pm, Eagles Hall, 210 N. Corry St at Alder St, Fort Bragg. Concessions and Bar, $15 at the door. For more info contact: 707-962-3085
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “My pal Cough was tracked down yesterday by the dog catcher lady and ‘warned and advised.’ He was laughing about it today. ‘Yeah, I had a kind of barking seizure yesterday,’ he said, ‘but I'd recovered myself by the time Sweetie Pie "warned and advised" me. She went away happy’.”
A READER REACTS to the Raiders departure for Las Vegas:
"As a long time season ticket holder, high net income individual, and big football/Raiders fan, I can make the NFL and the Raiders a promise: I'm done. I won't watch NFL on Sunday, On Monday, On Thursday, During the playoffs… Your disloyalty will be met with mine. I hope that other fans do the same, and if they don't then cest'la vie. I won't know because I don't care any more.”
FRANKLY, I feel the same way, although I can't break the Niner habit, having followed them all the way back to Kezar Stadium and Frankie Albert. I followed the Raiders during the Stabler years, but only went out to the Coliseum a few times to see them live. But being Frisco-centric, it was always the Niners for me, and I'll be tuning them in again this season mostly just to see how the new coach does.
LIKE EVERYONE ELSE, I never cared much for Al Davis. And his son? The kid's haircut looks like he just stepped out of the Three Stooges. But Al knew how to put football teams together, give him that. What exactly Bowl Cut can do remains a mystery.
BUT THE CITY OF OAKLAND has been so spectacularly incompetent in every aspect of municipal government, not just sports, that it's no surprise they will soon have no big time sports after years of great baseball, basketball and football teams.
ALL CITIES should have adopted the Green Bay ownership model — the city owns the team and the stadium. Building stadiums out of tax money for billionaires has always been nuts. (Santa Clara is belatedly re-thinking the dumb deal with the Niners.) Good riddance to Davis. He's about right for Vegas where the saps are building him a stadium. I'll miss the team, though, and they were just getting good again, too.
A COAST READER COMPLAINS:
I was billed $5.40 per gallon by Suburban on 2/28 (to be put into the tank we rent from them). A week or two later I called around and found that Kemgas was charging just under $3 per gallon for renters. After having an account with Suburban for 13 years (and paying fully upon receipt of bill every single time), they didn’t even attempt to keep a long-time customer by discounting it when I called to complain. That was the last straw. I finally pulled the trigger and cancelled our Suburban account and bought our own tank last week.
CATCH OF THE DAY, March 27, 2017
CHRISTOPHER BUNHEIRAO, San Jose/Fort Bragg. Criminal threats.
RYAN GRIMM, Potter Valley. DUI causing injury.
GABRIEL HART, Los Angeles. Suspended license.
ALEXANDRIA MINGO, Lakeport/Ukiah. Domestic assault.
SCIENCE is nearly 100% unanimous that anthropogenic (human-influenced) climate change is happening, and it is happening with a swagger; it is ugly and a threat to lifestyles and to life in multiple ways, for example, forcing hundreds of thousands of Middle Easterners to migrate to Europe. The leading indicators of impending climatic trouble are found in reams of data that threaten to turn civilization upside down.
Across the board, record-setting climate data has been identified by the World Meteorological Organization Highlights of Global Climate 2016, Geneva, published March 21, 2017: “Climate Breaks Multiple Records in 2016, With Global Impacts,” to wit: (1) Global warming new record; (2) Atmospheric CO2 new record; (3) Global sea-ice drop new record; (4) Global sea level rise new record; (5) Global sea-surface temperatures new record; (7) Arctic sea ice new record low; (5) Severe droughts displace hundreds of thousands; (8) 18,000,000 people seek drought-related emergency assistance, and more….
Everything that can go wrong with the climate is happening altogether at the same time, including an overheated overtaxed ocean, exerting maximum stress on the ecosystem, prompting the question of the century: Can our trusty life-supporting biosphere hang in there?
Even as the climate signals deepening trouble, the Trump administration is dead set against science, at war with environmental regulations, and remarkably (really mouth-dropping) oblivious to the status of the biosphere. Regrettably, this calculated ignorance is fact. Just look at Trump appointments of radical right wing nutcases, and they are truly nutcases that believe a pluralistic society doesn’t work. They are the antithesis of pluralism with a feudalistic bent but yet in charge of a multifaceted complex modern government.
— Robert Hunziker
BERNIE SELLS OUT. AGAIN.
Single Payer Bernie Sanders Morphs Into Public Option Howard Dean
Right before our eyes, we are seeing the transformation of single payer Bernie Sanders into public option Howard Dean.
During the 2016 Presidential campaign, Sanders took off like a rocket, fueled by the promise of a single payer, Medicare for All single payer system.
His single payer plan paralleled HR 676, the single payer bill in the House of Representatives that now has 72 co-sponsors.
It would deliver one public payer, no deductibles, no co-pays, lower costs, everyone in, nobody out, no more medical bankruptcies, no more deaths from lack of health insurance and free choice of doctors and hospitals.
That was the promise of Bernie Sanders during the 2016 campaign.
But since then, Bernie Sanders has endorsed Hillary Clinton for President.
Then become part of Senator Chuck Schumer’s Senate Democratic leadership.
And this weekend, Sanders has been telling people he will introduce health care reform legislation in the Senate within a couple of weeks.
But it’s not going to be a companion bill to HR 676.
Instead, Sanders is telling reporters he wants to “move toward Medicare for all.”
“Right now we need to improve the Affordable Care Act and that means a public option,” Sanders tweeted yesterday.
The public option?
That would be the plan put forth by the Democratic corporatist Howard Dean, currently a member of the public policy and regulation practice of Denton’s, the multinational corporate law firm.
Dean got into nasty confrontations with single payer activists who confronted him during the Obamacare debates with questions about his corporatist connections and his support of the public option over single payer.
Don McCanne of Physicians for a National Health Program, the premiere single payer health care group in the country, has argued persuasively that the public option — allowing Americans to opt into a public plan — would not solve our healthcare crisis.
“The tragedy is not so much that on this path we will end up with a public plan that will be only one more feeble player in the dysfunctional market of private plans, but rather that we will, once again, have walked away from single payer, perhaps for decades, because of this meme about lack of political feasibility,” McCanne wrote last year. “Instead of making private plans compete with a public option, we should get rid of them and establish our own single public plan.”
And PNHP, in a paper titled The Public Plan Option: Myths and Facts, says that
“the current Medicare experience combined with experience in many different states that have tried this type of reform shows that public plans are left with the sickest patients and fail due to rising costs while the private insurers continue to collect premiums from the healthiest patients and maintain their high profits.”
Sanders also told reporters this weekend that he would consider legislation that would drop the Medicare age from 65 to 55.
David Himmelstein, a PNHP founder, said that while the public option would be a “modest improvement” and dropping the Medicare age to 55 would be a “good step,” “neither could realize most of the vast savings on administration available under single payer, nor would they achieve universal coverage or address the problems of the tens of millions who are currently underinsured.”
“Introducing a public option will divide and confuse supporters of Medicare for all,” said Margaret Flowers, MD a pediatrician who co-directs Health Over Profit for Everyone, www.HealthOverProfit.org. Flowers is also a member of PNHP. “Senators who should co-sponsor Medicare for all will be divided. Sanders seems to be urging a public option to please the Democratic Party, but Sanders cannot serve two masters — Wall Street’s Chuck Schumer and the people. Sanders must decide whom he is working for.”
“While it might seem politically pragmatic to support a public option, it is not realistically pragmatic because a public option will not work,” Dr. Flowers said. “Senator Sanders knows that and he knows that the smallest step toward solving the healthcare crisis is National Improved Medicare for All. This would fundamentally change our health system that currently treats health as a commodity so that people only have access to what they can afford to a system that treats health as a public necessity so that people have access to what they need. Medicare for all achieves the savings needed to provide comprehensive coverage to everyone.”
“If Senator Sanders believes that it is acceptable to promote a policy that leaves some people out, then we want to know who should be left out. The US is already spending enough to cover everyone and that’s what we need to do.”
“The Affordable Care Act, built on a heavily subsidized private insurance industry, is not possible to fix. The ACA must be replaced by a national health policy that serves the needs of the people by replacing private insurance with publicly-financed Medicare.”
“Sanders wants to lower drug prices,” Dr. Flowers said. “Only a single payer system can negotiate lower drug prices. Sanders says healthcare is a human right, but human rights should not be commodities or profit centers. People do not pay for their human rights.”
“We look to Senator Sanders to act on what he promised during his presidential campaign, a National Improved Medicare for All now, not tomorrow. Tomorrow never comes. It is not up to him to decide if single payer can pass in Congress. That task is for the people to decide.”
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Ice Box and Ice man was before me but I'm old enough to remember the milk man and bread man. My Grandmother referred to Grandfather's automobile as his machine. I have a childhood memory of being on a trackless trolley and that smell from a transformer like I first smelled from a electric train around the Christmas tree. The street car above wires were left up after the rails were taken up or paved over and busses were electric powered but were limited by only being able to go only as far from the wire as the trolley poles would allow or they had poles the driver had to use to put the trolley poles wheel back on the wire. By the way the wheel was called a trolley which the name was applied to the car below for some reason.
SALLY STANFORD. Born Mabel Janice Busby in Oregon in 1903. A madam of one of San Francisco’s most notorious brothels which Herb Caen says was where the United Nations was founded because many of the delegates were Stanford’s customers. Stanford later opened the Walhalla restaurant in Sausalito where she ran for city council six times before finally winning a seat and then elected mayor of Sausalito. She died of a heart attack in Marin County in February of 1982 at the age of 78.
THE CURSE OF THE THINKING CLASS
by James Kunstler
Let’s suppose there really is such a thing as The Thinking Class in this country, if it’s not too politically incorrect to say so — since it implies that there is another class, perhaps larger, that operates only on some limbic lizard-brain level of impulse and emotion. Personally, I believe there is such a Thinking Class, or at least I have dim memories of something like it.
The farfetched phenomenon of Trumpism has sent that bunch on a journey to a strange land of the intellect, a place like the lost island of Kong, where one monster after another rises out of the swampy murk to threaten the frail human adventurers. No one back home would believe the things they’re tangling with: giant spiders, reptiles the size of front-end loaders, malevolent aborigines! Will any of the delicate humans survive or make it back home?
This is the feeling I get listening to arguments in the public arena these days, but especially from the quarters formerly identified as left-of-center, especially the faction organized around the Democratic Party, which I aligned with long ago (alas, no more). The main question seems to be: who is responsible for all the unrest in this land. Their answer since halfway back in 2016: the Russians.
I’m not comfortable with this hypothesis. Russia has a GDP smaller than Texas. If they are able to project so much influence over what happens in the USA, they must have some supernatural mojo-of-the-mind — and perhaps they do — but it raises the question of motive. What might Russia realistically get from the USA if Vladimir Putin was the master hypnotist that Democrats make him out to be?
Do we suppose Putin wants more living space for Russia’s people? Hmmmm. Russia’s population these days, around 145 million, is less than half the USA’s and it’s rattling around in the geographically largest nation in the world. Do they want our oil? Maybe, but Russia being the world’s top oil producer suggests they’ve already got their hands full with their own operations? Do they want Hollywood? The video game industry? The US porn empire? Do they covet our Chick-fil-A chains and Waffle Houses? Our tattoo artists? Would they like to induce the Kardashians to live in Moscow? Is it Nascar they’re really after?
My hypothesis is that Russia would most of all like to be left alone. Watching NATO move tanks and German troops into Lithuania in January probably makes the Russians nervous, and no doubt that is the very objective of the NATO move — but let’s not forget that most of all NATO is an arm of American foreign policy. If there are any remnants of the American Thinking Class left at the State Department, they might recall that Russia lost 20 million people in the dust-up known as the Second World War against whom…? Oh, Germany.
Altogether last January the US military deployed thousands of soldiers and heavy weaponry to Poland, the Baltic states and southeastern Europe in its biggest build-up since the Cold War (Reuters). As they used to say in old film noir Bogart movies: what’s the big idea? The State Department would say they big idea was cautioning Russia against annexing anymore neighboring states or regions, as they did in Crimea a few years back. Apparently the public is supposed to forget that the State Department sponsored and engineered the conversion of Ukraine into a failed state, prompting Russia to retain its naval bases in Crimea, its only warm-water outlet to the world’s oceans. Ask yourself: if for some reason the state of Virginia were plunged into anarchy by foreign mischief, do you think the US would batten down our naval station in Norfolk?
I think the sad truth of the American predicament these day, including the ascension of a narcissistic ninny to the White House, is that we’re responsible for our own problems due, most of all, to the destruction of boundaries in virtually all realms of American behavior from the things we put in our bodies to the ridiculous ways that we occupy our waking hours at the expense of getting our own house in order. I would like to join the party dedicated to getting our house in order. Anybody else out there feel that way?
(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page: https://www.patreon.com/JamesHowardKunstler)
LOTS OF SOIL, NOT MANY VEGETABLES
by John Hardin
We don’t garden much, but this year we thought we’d grow some purple carrots, garlic, chives and green onions in pots around our home. We stopped at Dazey’s garden supply store to look for some vegetable starts, because, as I recall, they used to have a pretty good selection in the spring. When we got there, the place was mobbed. All around us people were piling sacks and loading and unloading trucks in every available space. We asked about plant starts. They told us they don’t do plants anymore.
They’d happily sell me a trimming machine, bubble bags and all the soil and amendments I could ask for, but they had no plants at all in their “garden center.” They sent me to Sylvandale’s and Redway Feed, both of which, like Dazey’s, were hopping with customers, but unlike Dazey’s, actually had a few plants. Still, the selection seemed pretty slim at both locations.
Back in high school, I used to work in a garden center. We had more plants than all of the “garden centers” in SoHum put together. I mixed mountains of soil, filled thousands of flats with six-packs and soil and watered millions of tiny seedlings every year for people who grew flowers and vegetables in their gardens. That’s why they called it a “garden center.” I guess we don’t even pretend to grow anything but pot around here anymore.
A friend of mine who works at one of our local “garden centers” told me they had an order for 600 pallets of bagged soil (that’s well over 1,000 cubic yards of sterilized potting soil, packed into over 30,000 bags) for one customer. I have no idea how many tractor-trailer loads that comes out to, but the delivery driver is going to know that route well by the time it is all delivered. The garden center I worked at couldn’t move that that much soil in a decade, no matter how they sold it. Here, you could sell all the dirt on the planet to Humboldt County pot growers if you could just find enough trucks and drivers to deliver it.
Who’s got the time for a vegetable garden when you’ve got 30,000 bags of soil to open before you plant, and you pay almost as much for soil as you would for all the vegetables you could grow in it? If it doesn’t make sense to grow vegetables that way, why grow pot that way? If it weren’t for marijuana prohibition, no one would dream of cutting down trees or draining salmon streams or hauling 600 pallets of sterilized potting soil halfway across the state and ten miles up a muddy dirt road to a hole in the forest, to grow a common, hardy agricultural staple. None of this makes any sense, outside of the War on Drugs, but it looks like we’ll see more Drug War madness in 2017 than we ever saw before.
2017 promises to be the biggest soil delivery season in Humboldt County history, and our roads are in the worst shape I’ve ever seen them. Just add the cost of the road damage, both to county roads and to private roads and adjacent habitat, to the long litany of costs born by the community at large for the War on Drugs. I know you don’t want to think about that. You really don’t want to think about the millions of lives, lost and ruined, even though you know some of them. You don’t want to think about what it has done to you and your kids, and how it affects our community. You don’t want to think about what it says about our society, and what it is doing to the Earth. You don’t want to think about it, because you don’t want to know, and you don’t want to know because if you knew, you couldn’t do it. You wouldn’t do it. You wouldn’t tolerate it.
According to 2nd District Supervisor Estelle Fennell, so far Humboldt County has only granted 19 cannabis cultivation permits, and they’re holding meetings all over Humboldt County to decide how to spend the tax money they collect from these few growers who paid the fees, made the improvements and submitted to inspections, and still dare to compete with the black market. Meanwhile, the vast majority of Humboldt County’s growers have opted to remain in the shadows to serve the nationwide black market.
The county received more than 2,000 cannabis permit applications before the deadline last December. Most of those permit applications will never get approved. Growers knew that they could file a little paperwork and pay a fee that would keep the Sheriff out of their hair for a year or two. The black market has always had a cut and run attitude.
The fact that over 2,000 people filed applications for permits doesn’t mean that they intend to comply with state and county regulations, it just means that they intend to cut big this year. Instead of bringing the cannabis industry out of the shadows, Humboldt County’s cannabis permit program seems to have allowed a couple thousand growers to buy cover for all of them for one more big year in 2017. After that, we’ll see what’s left of Humboldt County.
GRANGE WARS, PART 2 — What’s Next For Our Granges?
by Dawn Hodson
(Part two of a two-part series taking a look at California Granges and their future. In El Dorado County and across the state, a fight is on for who will control the property of the different granges. Some granges (now guilds) have chosen to leave the State and National Grange and instead join the California Guild. Numerous lawsuits have been launched as a result. Lawyers for both sides were interviewed regarding what are the issues that will ultimately be decided in court.)
A knife fight in a dark alley
Multiple issues seem to figure into the turmoil: conflicting personalities, politics and a divergence in philosophy between some of the local chapters and the state and national organization over agricultural policy.
California, in particular, became an irritant of the National Grange after Bob McFarland was elected Master of the State Grange in 2009 and again in 2011. Master is the same as being president.
With so much property and possibly the future of the National Grange at stake, multiple lawsuits are working their way through the courts along with two appeals of previous decisions.
The attorney representing the guild’s side is Mark Ellis, a lawyer based in Sacramento. McFarland’s attorney since 2012, Ellis is also handling the lawsuit the Marshall Guild has lodged against Ed Komski, master of the reconstituted California State Grange and Linda Chernoff, who locked people out of the Marshall Guild. Ellis also represents 35 to 40 other guilds in a similar position.
“The litigation began when McFarland was told to resign or step down,” Ellis said. “But now it’s a power struggle and struggle for the hearts and minds of the grangers. That is where Marshall has been put in a pinch point. The new State Grange is claiming their property. It changed its by-laws to retroactively take people’s property. That’s the nub of the legal issue. I represent guilds all across the state plus the California Guild. It’s truly a knife fight in a dark alley because the State Grange wants to kill the guild.
“The local granges are locally owned. They bought the land and built their own facilities,” he continued. “They are all more or less independent but follow ‘grange law’ which are like bylaws. The problem breaks down when the National Grange unilaterally changes its bylaws and then says you’re bound by them in areas outside of membership. So for example, in this case at the state and local level, if the National Grange unilaterally changes its bylaws, such as if you decide to leave the organization, your property becomes our property … well they can’t make retroactive laws like that and it’s a very complicated issue. An issue that has us in the appellate court right now. The U.S. Constitution prevents the taking of property without compensation. The majority rule across the US is that a hierarchically benevolent organization cannot unilaterally change its laws and take your property by mere fiat. Mere fiat means something in case-law across the country. There has to be some legal basis for taking someone’s property such as contract. There’s some real property, trust or corporate law that permits you to do that but we don’t believe any of that is proper here and it’s certainly not proper for the state organization. But to reach down to local grassroots organizations, I don’t think there is any precedent for that at all.”
Ellis believes another issue in their favor is that local granges (now guilds) are almost always incorporated. For example, the Marshall Grange is incorporated.
“What that means is that you can revoke their charter but they are still in existence,” Ellis said. “You can change their name but can’t change the essential essence of what they are. But the newly created California State Grange is now trying to fool everybody because it has the old name and is claiming it is the true organization and the property belongs to them when legally it does not. That is the land grab aspect of this … Throughout the state the buildings are old but the property is valuable. Other than that, even if the buildings are old, in these rural areas where they are built, they play an important role in the social life of the community.”
With this happening all over California, it has resulted in seven or eight different lawsuits with Ellis involved in all of them. “This whole competition for members is going on throughout the state,” he said. “Mr. Komski, the stuff he has done, has been dirty pool. Because he now can use the California State Grange name by state order, he uses that title to confuse people and injure the California State Guild. For example, the old state grange, now the guild, had a phone number and when they changed their name they kept their old phone number. Mr. Komski went and told the phone company that he was that entity so people weren’t able to get through to the guild. He did the same with the mail service and the payroll service, so people weren’t getting their paychecks. It’s this kind of low intensity and yet pernicious interference that goes on all the time.”
Taking note of California
Ellis believes the National Grange is taking the issue seriously because it doesn’t want to see what is happening in California spread across the country. He said the courts have usually rejected claims by national organizations to the property of local chapters unless they have a contract saying as much. “That is not the case in this instance,” he said, “as it wasn’t until 2011 that the national organization unilaterally changed its bylaws to claim that local grange property was theirs.”
Ellis also believes that state law prevents the National or State Grange from taking the property of local guilds if they are incorporated.
Not so fast
In response to these arguments, Jeff Skinner who is with a Washington D.C. law firm, made the case for his clients. He represents the California State Grange and Komski as well as Linda Chernoff in the case brought by the members of the Marshall Guild. He also represents the State Grange against the California Grange Foundation which has since changed its name to the Heartland Foundation.
Skinner noted the trademark lawsuit was previously decided in favor of the National Grange although it’s on appeal. Another lawsuit in 2014, that he called Grange 1, had the National Grange suing the guild. “We won that lawsuit and the court said the guild later tried to work around that judgment. In April of last year the court clarified that judgment and awarded $144,000 in attorney fees to the national organization,” he noted. That decision is also on appeal. Another trademark lawsuit filed in what he called Grange 2 deals with other issues with the guild. Those are all federal lawsuits.
Asked if the State Grange is trying to take the land and property of the guilds, Skinner said that’s incorrect. “There is no newly constituted California State Grange. It’s the same one originally founded. The bylaws have not been changed as to how property is held. Granges, like other fraternal organizations, have acquired property over generations and generations of grangers. There have been rules in place regarding what happens to property acquired by any level of the grange. Every member promises to follow the rules of the grange. No one can join the grange without agreeing to follow the rules of the grange. This is fully consistent with California law and the point that we won on in the case in Sacramento. So far no one has taken anyone’s properties. The question is what happens to the property once a grange has its charter revoked.”
Skinner insisted the local granges, even if the original members bought the land and built the halls, don’t own them.
“A subordinate grange is a part of a larger whole,” he said. “The subordinate grange is not independent or apart from the state or national organization. Because of that, as they acquire property, they are doing it as grange members and the obligation is to stay within the grange. In a typical grange, if a grange disbands, the national will step in and try to reconstitute the grange or the property will revert to the state or national organization for the good of the order. In this case, we’ve got a dispute between grange members where some want to leave and take the grange property with them. And that’s what the litigation is about. The grange rules for 125 years do not allow that and that’s what we’re fighting in the courts.”
Asked what bylaws enable the organization to take the land. Skinner said those rules were always in place to begin with.
“Ellis doesn’t understand the grange rules very well or California law as it applies to hierarchical voluntary organizations,” he claimed. “The court said those laws do apply. Ellis is incorrect and that’s why every court decision has been against him. The Sacramento Superior Court judgement said the guild has no right to hold or retain grange property, the state grange was properly reorganized pursuant to the rules and the guild has to return all grange property to the state grange as of the revocation of the charter. That was a key ruling but it’s on appeal and the briefing is now close. We expect a hearing late this year or early next year.”
Questioned if this is simply a land grab as alleged by some former grange members, Skinner said that is categorically false. “No, it’s attempting to preserve the grange’s integrity, its rules and structure. The turmoil is being carried out by those who swore to uphold the grange rules. Komski is just trying to repair the damage done by those former officers.”
Skinner said the California State Grange currently includes more than 90 local granges. “No one’s property has been taken and as long as a grange remains in good standing, there is no problem,” he said. “The only danger is to those who want to walk away from the founding promise.
However, that’s not entirely the case as Komski was able to find a couple of members in the Marshall Guild who were willing to lock the hall to the rest of the membership and the Marshall example is not the only one in the state. The same thing happened to the Bennett Valley Guild in Santa Rosa.
Skinner agreed that most if not all of the California granges are incorporated but he said that made no difference in the Sacramento Superior Court case as the granges were all founded before they incorporated.
“The Marshall Grange was founded in 1930 and incorporated around 1950,” he said. “Members built their granges to be part of the order but being incorporated doesn’t change the nature of their relationship.”
Skinner maintained that there are not two granges in the state. “There is only one grange,” he said. “The question is who is entitled to control the grange’s property. The guild people tried to take control of the Marshall Grange but the judge denied it,” adding that the ruling is consistent with the way fraternal organizations are run and California law. “I’m confident the ruling will be in favor of the State Grange in these lawsuits,” he said.
However, members of the guilds would probably disagree with Skinner which is why they have chosen to fight this in the courts.
“I don’t think Komski can pay for all the legal work they are having done and the only way they can pay for it is if they are successful in taking over some of these halls and selling them,” said Wally DuBois, a leader of the Cool Community Association (which used to be the Pilot Hill Grange). “They have no recourse but to keep going and it’s stupid … But if you read the appeal, there is no way they will win,” he said, adding that he believes the case could eventually go to the California Supreme Court or the U.S. Supreme Court.
MENDO YOUTH PROJECT IS NOW ACCEPTING SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATIONS FOR GRADUATING SENIORS OF MENDOCINO COUNTY.
The Mendocino County Youth Project, through its private non-profit arm Mendocino Family and Youth Services, is pleased to announce the annual Jim Levine Legacy Scholarship is now open for applications. The scholarships are given in recognition of a student’s personal journey and achievement towards taking steps into adulthood.
Students interested in learning more about the Jim Levine Legacy Scholarship can obtain application packets from: 1) their high school counseling departments; 2) by calling MFYS/MCYP at 707-463-4915; or 3) by going online at mcyp.org. The application deadline is May 12, 2017.
Individuals and organizations wishing to make a contribution to the Jim Levine Legacy Scholarship Fund may send their tax-deductible check to: Mendocino Family and Youth Services (MFYS), 776 S. State Street, Suite 107, Ukiah, CA, 95842.
A MENDOCINO MYSTERY IN THREE PARTS
Wanda, the Fort Bragg Bag Lady
by Professor Donald Foster
… Wanda Tinasky amok
like the bodies popped off and
burned in the house at the
top of the hill blazing glory …
— GORDON LEON BLACK, Mendocino Commentary (1986)
Gordon Leon Black, high priest of Mendoland culture, disliked Wanda Tinasky. For one thing, Wanda had adopted the unpleasant habit of calling him “Back Page Black,” a nickname inspired by the location in which Gordon's original poems could usually be found in the Mendocino Commentary. Mr. Black never figured out who Wanda really was, but he didn't mind saying that he didn't like her Philistine attitude. In fact, he said so all the time. Once, Gordon went so far as to liken Wanda to a killer arsonist. In October 1986, three years into Wanda's epistolary crusade for better poetry, two years before the Hawkinses' domestic tragedy, a former Hell's Angel settled down in Fort Bragg for a virtuous retirement from gang life, along with his motorcycle-mama spouse and their two children. The fellow brought with him a suitcase full of Hell's Angels' money (which he had embezzled) and a trove of borrowed bike parts. In October, someone killed the man's wife and children, then him, then burned the place to the ground with the bodies inside, then vanished.
In a poem for the back page of the Mendocino Commentary, Gordon Black compared this horrific crime to Wanda Tinasky’s unfair literary criticism — “Wanda Tinasky amok.” Those four hapless (“popped off” victims were like the Albion Ridge Poets, and Wanda Tinasky (with her “anonymous attacks in the letters column was like their cold-blooded killer, still unidentified, a nattering nabob of “negative affirmation” whose mockery was not to be endured by those with truly cultural sensibilities. Writing to the AVA, Wanda Tinasky in the next week's issue loudly objected to the imputation:
Dear Mr. Anderson:
Please don't worry if you don't hear from me for an issue or two, as I am a bit distraught about having to move again. This morning a “law man” crawled under the bridge asking for “Wanda Tinasky,” & of course I was co-operative, offering to take a message, & from what he said I gather that some Albion Ridge poet known as Back Page Black published a scurrilous “poem” in the Mendocino Commentary, implying that I was involved in the multiple murders-cum-arson that put Ft. Bragg on the map for a day or two recently. “Aw,” I told him, “Wanda's too puny to do anything but eat nana pudden, & whine to go on the Donahue show,” but I don't know that he was totally convinced & think it the better part of valor to haul ass for a while until this thing blows over — maybe I'll have to sue for a million or two, to defend my goddamn honor. Do you know a cheap lawyer, Mr. Anderson? Would you like to run the Mendocino Commentary for me? I'll be in touch, when I get relocated.
Yr. Ob'd'nt Servant, &c. &c.,
The appended “P.S.” and “P.P.S.” were about other matters.
Wanda at this point in her life was innocent of arson and homicide, and Gordon Black was whistling in the dark about her true identity. But Back Page Black was evidently a shrewd judge of character, even eerily prophetic. In drawing his analogy between homicide and Wanda's literary criticism, Black seems to have known Wanda better than Wanda knew herself. Or perhaps the Hawkins murder-suicide two years later was just another instance of someone's life imitating someone else's art. Even in our secular, unartistic, postmodern age, a piece of poetry or a great novel can sometimes make a small difference, register an influence, change the world.
FISHING FOR WANDA
You hide, they seek.
— THOMAS PYNCHON, “PROVERBS FOR PARANOIDS” (1973)
The linguist's first order of business — when seeking to identify the elegist “W.S., or the novelist “Anonymous,” or the Unabomber “F.C.,” or the bag lady “W.T., or any other anonymous author — is to obtain an accurate text of the Questioned Document(s). The second step is to obtain known writing samples by possible suspects. In August l998, when I finally took up the Wanda Tinasky question, much of that labor was already done for me. Most of the authentic Wanda letters had been gathered and edited by Fred Gardner, and published by TR Factor in the 1996 Tinasky volume. A few may have been overlooked. Others were missing by legal necessity: Beth Bosk withheld permission for a reprint of the Wanda letters that were addressed to her as the host of Eve in the Afternoon and as editor of The New Settler Interview — withholding them not because she was embarrassed by the satire but to express solidarity with her ripped-off friend Fred Gardner against rival editor TR Factor. For my purposes I didn't need every letter that Wanda Tinasky ever wrote, but I did need to cull those that were not true Wanda. A few of the Wanda letters that Factor had thought to be authentic, and had been reprinted from the AVA, were transparent forgeries by Wanda wannabes.
From 1983 to 1988, if you were someone who hung out Wednesdays at the Sea Gull Bar, you could tell when a new Wanda letter had appeared in the AVA. Some Albion Ridge or Ten Mile River bard would shuffle into the Sea Gull with a rolled-up AVA tucked under his arm. With hand in pocket, fingering an imaginary Smith & Wesson, the dejected poet would ask his fellow artistes one by one, “Are you Wanda Tinasky?” (“Not I” “Don't look at me!” “Ain't me.” “Nope.”). The latest victim of Wanda's serial criticism would then take a seat beside his colleagues at the Gull — many of them fellow victims of Wanda Tinasky's ridicule — and drown his sorrow in Boont Amber Ale or Belk's Extra Special Bitter (local brews), or a horn of zeese. (The Anderson Valley, home of the AVA, has its own dialect, called “Boontling,” with a homegrown loggers' vocabulary that goes back to the days of the vertical redwoods. A “horn of zeese” is a cup of coffee. A few Mendoland bards have written whole poems in the Boontling tongue, with never a word of praise or encouragement from the likes of Wanda Tinasky.)
Wanda was tough on artistic morale in Mendocino County. In “I Remember Wanda,” Karin Faulkner recalls her colleagues at the Sea Gull plotting a futile revenge on Wanda Tinasky, and on Bruce Anderson, too, for giving column space to that bilious witch. Some wrote anonymous replies to Wanda, or even forged Wanda letters of their own for publication in the AVA, just to get her goat. (Wanda hated that!) Karin never forged one herself, though she knew she “could imitate the style. Any good writer with an imagination could. Letters to the Editor are so short. And print is such an easy place to conceal identity.”
I began my belated search for Wanda ten months after receiving that initial summons from TR Factor. Acting on Faulkner's caveat, I weeded out a few letters signed “Wanda Tinasky” though not penned in her characteristic style. Next I did a quick read through known writings by the local candidates, one of whom was Michael Koepf from the coastal village of Elk, a controversial figure variously described in the AVA as a “fisherman,” a “pot farmer,” and a “Scheiss Koepf.” Mr. Koepf was also a novelist, not widely read, but twice accused (by authentic Wanda) of having forged Wanda letters to the AVA. Koepf's Icarus, once owned by the Fort Bragg Public Library (before it burned to the ground in an arson fire), was rarely checked out. Nor did it check out (when I found a copy in Poughkeepsie) as a text attributable to Wanda Tinasky.
Mike Koepf had told Bruce Anderson and Fred Gardner, and now me, that he knew for a fact that Wanda Tinasky was really Don Shanley, one of the Ten Mile River Poets. According to Koepf, no one in Mendocino County had ever read one of his novels except Don Shanley and Wanda Tinasky, who made fun. Beth Bosk told me that Shanley was her suspect as well. From The Western Edge (Ten Mile River Press) I learned that Don Shanley wrote his first real poem (inspired by Ginsberg's Howl) in 1959. From the AVA I learned that Shanley was a friend of Bruce Anderson's by shared sympathies and good times, a seed wholesaler by profession, and “Horticultural Expert to the Stars” by tongue-in-cheek self-description. None of which got me very far. But when I discovered that Shanley favored the ampersand, & that he inserted spaces ( thus ) inside his parentheses, I asked him for a copy of his collected poems, which he kindly sent me by FedEx at his own expense. But Mike Koepf was mistaken. Shanley's a bright and witty guy, just possibly California's most literate landscape artist, but his life-defining experience as a poet was a gut-wrenching tour of service in Vietnam. There was too much human feeling in his poetry, too little glibness, for him to be true-blue Wanda Tinasky; and the prose was no match, either.
Scratch Mike Koepf and Don Shanley. Scratch Bruce Anderson, Devereaux Baker, the Berry Lady, the Bicycle Man, Beth Bosk, Bill Bradd, Lawrence Bullock, and every other local candidate from A to Zeese. I tried for an eyewitness. Wanda, in a 1985 letter, recalled being picked up while hitchhiking and having to share a cramped truck bed with the classical musician Marcia Sloane and her large cello. I called Ms. Sloane. She remembered riding in the back of a pickup with a middle-aged hitchhiker in a sweatshirt but did not recognize him. She said she would not have recognized Thomas Pynchon, either.
HERE'S WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ABOUT “ EVE ”
“ Orotund pshit ! ” — G. Legman
“ Laughed & laughed ” — L. Ferlinghetti
“… intriguing. Do you take hallucinogenics? — G. Snyder
— TIGER TIM HAWKINS, FREAK’S LITERARY TERTIARY (1964)
If you're sap enough to buy a book some whore of a paid reviewer recommends, you get what you deserve.
— WANDA TINASKY, ANDERSON VALLEY ADVERTISER (13 MARCH 1985)
September 7, 1998. It had now been more than fifteen years since Wanda's first letters to the Mendocino Commentary, a decade since Wanda vanished from the AVA, and three weeks since I began looking for her. I seemed to have reached a dead end. The locals had their private theories but no evidence concerning Wanda's identity. I would have to follow some other line of inquiry than eyewitness accounts or inside information. I could look for prior publications, but where, and under whose name? Wanda's principal literary sources were the Beats, especially Gary Snyder, Gershon Legman, Kenneth Patchen, and Kenneth Rexroth, all of whom Wanda appeared to have known and admired, and Paul Krassner, whom Wanda remembered with contempt as a pimple-faced armpit-sniffing “hero of the Kiddiekar revolution.” Wanda professed to have been “ghosting for Krassner while he was ghosting for Lennie Bruce.” That seemed as good a lead as any, but Lenny Bruce, the envelope-pushing comedian who wrote How to Talk Dirty and Influence People (1965), had died of a drug overdose in 1966; and Paul Krassner knew nothing of the Tinasky letters except what he'd been told by Fred Gardner.
While angling for Wanda in 1995, Gardner had interviewed just about every living person named in one of Ms. Tinasky's letters. His net had come up empty. (E.g., Gardner to Krassner: “Did Thomas Pynchon ever write for The Realist” Krassner: “Oh, no. Never did. I've never met him, never had any contact with him. … Nobody ever ghosted for me.”) Gardner had asked the right people the wrong questions.
Searching on-line databases for books about Paul Krassner earlier than 1980, I found five titles, one of which was called Paul Krassner, The Realist, & $crap: Plus a P.S. on it, by “Tim” Hawkins (San Francisco: Ahab Press, 1964). That sounded pretty interesting. In her postscript to a 1986 letter, Wanda Tinasky promised readers of the AVA: “P.S. I'm going to improve myself… & learn to write good and not use ampersands & put all I want to say in some coherent hole without doing a P.S. on it.” This 1964 book by Tim Hawkins--with its ampersand in the title, and a “P.S. on it,” and its apparently hostile reference to Paul Krassner's “$crap” — might shed light on Wanda's cryptic remarks twenty years later.
In a comprehensive computer search, I located only one surviving copy of Hawkins's Krasner, at Columbia University — and that was in the first edition (1963), which lacked the 1964 “P.S. on it.” No matter. Ordering a photocopy from Interlibrary Loan, I learned that Paul Krassner in 1963 had used some of Tim Hawkins's material, not in the Realist, for which the submission was intended, but in a porn magazine called Escapade, with which Krassner was then associated as an anonymous contributor. Furious at having been thus ghosted, “Tim” Hawkins wrote the “$crap” essay, denouncing Krassner for involvement with Lenny Bruce; for making crass jokes in The Realist about Nazism, racial violence, thalidomide babies, abortion, rape, and incest; for contributing to pornographic magazines; and for pleading poverty while making big bucks off the degradation of women. As puffed by Hawkins, Paul Krassner &c. came in “three decorator shades of yellow.”
I wrote Paul Krassner in Venice, California, to ask whether he recalled this episode. Mr. Krassner wrote back, “Don, I vaguely remember the tract but have no recollection of Hawkins. Sorry, P.K.”
At the time, however, the Hawkins publication must have jiggled Mr. Krassner, if only a little. On December 17, 1963, Lawrence Ferlinghetti dropped Tom Hawkins a note after hearing the editor of The Realist flame Hawkins on a Bay Area radio show: “I wonder if you heard Krassner the other night,” wrote Ferlingheni, “when he spent about two hours talking about your book? I think you kind of upset him…” (But at this point in the investigation, I was still looking for a “Tim” Hawkins, and knew nothing of the Ferlinghetti-Hawkins correspondence. That discovery was still a week away.)
Once I thought that “literature” was mainly a means of communication between isolated human beings in a world of uninhabited bodies. I no longer think that.
— TIGER TIM HAWKINS, FREAK’S LITERARY TERTIARY (1964)
Searching on-line databases of library holdings across North America, I found additional works by “T.” or “Tiger Tim” Hawkins under his own Ahab imprint: Eve, The Common Muse of Henry Miller & Lawrence Durrell (1963), Freak (1962?-1964), Freak's Literary Tertiary (1964), and On the Fairy-Fag Doublet (1964). I ordered copies from Vassar's Interlibrary Loan Office and, while waiting, rang up John Robert Meyer, now a distinguished professor of the history of economics at Harvard — but known to Wanda as an undergraduate at the University of Washington in the late '40s. When interviewed by Gardner in ’95, Meyer had suggested that Wanda could be a woman named Anne Orem, whom he knew while at Purdue. Orem didn't check out. I now asked Professor Meyer if he remembered anyone named Tim Hawkins. No, but he did know a Tom Hawkins, a prankster who grew up in the town of Port Angeles, Washington. The last time Meyer heard from Tom Hawkins he was working for the U.S. Postal Service and hanging out in Beatnik pubs in San Francisco — but that was a long time ago. Meyer hadn't heard from Tom in years.
In a 1987 “Open Letter to Gary Snyder” published in the AVA, Wanda professed to have written a poem, some “18 or 19 years ago, commemorating the birth of Gary Snyder's son (“How big is the moon? Big / As a silver dollar…”). Snyder at the time was “living in a basement apartment on the south side of Pine street in San Francisco, by the Zen center.” Wanda reminisced, as if addressing Snyder: “I disguised myself as a mailperson & took you some miniature pink roses…
I e-mailed Gary Snyder, now a professor emeritus, Department of English, at UC Davis in Sacramento. Did he remember a fellow named Thomas Hawkins? Yes, he remembered Tom quite well. Did Hawkins send him a poem on the occasion of his son's birth, a poem beginning “How big is the moon?” Yes, yes, that was Tom's work. But Professor Snyder had not heard from Tom Hawkins in years.
Taking my inspiration from milk-carton ads for missing children, I sent flyers to Fort Bragg's Tip Top Lounge, Fort Bragg bookstores, the Fort Bragg Seniors Center — asking in boldface 24-point type: “Do you remember TOM HAWKINS?” Evidently no one did. In the meantime, I located a phone number for a Thomas Hawkins of Fort Bragg and gave him a jingle. When he answered the phone, I did not ask: “Mr. Hawkins, are you Wanda Tinasky?” but rather, “Mr. Hawkins, are you the same Thomas Hawkins who was known to the Beat poets Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Gary Snyder and Kenneth Rexroth?”
This was the wrong Tom Hawkins, but the call was not wasted. This Mr. Hawkins remembered that there was another, older, Tom Hawkins, also of Fort Bragg, who passed away, oh, maybe ten years back, in 88 or thereabouts. Drove his car into the ocean and drowned.
I called the Mendocino County Coroner's office. Yes, they remembered the case. “Thomas Donald Hawkins. Killed his wife, then himself.” (That did not sound to me like anything Wanda Tinasky would have done.) “No kids. Next of kin was an uncle, same name, Thomas Hawkins, of Port Angeles, Washington…” (Port Angeles!)
While waiting for a photocopy of the coroner's report, I turned to the Internet, did a reverse-address lookup for Tom Hawkins's Beal Lane address, and called the current residents, a couple named Ed Sander and Tenaya Middleton. Tenaya, who was not a reader of the Anderson Valley Advertiser, asked if I was the same guy who had called her fellow cellist Marcia Sloane only a few days earlier to ask if she had ever traveled with her instrument in a pickup truck, along with a hitchhiker who may have been “Wanda Tinasky.” I confessed I was. So who was this calling?, Tenaya silently wondered. Some strange fellow from New York with a thing for placing unsolicited telephone calls to Mendocino County cello players? I had not known that Tenaya was a cellist. I explained that I was actually looking for a fellow named Thomas Hawkins.
Tenaya was a big help. On September 23, 1988, she happened to be in the neighborhood visiting a friend and saw the billows of smoke over Beal Lane. It was only by chance, on a tip, that she came to purchase the Hawkins property when it was auctioned off by the executors. Except for the main house, destroyed by fire, the property when purchased by Tenaya was just as Tom and Kathleen Hawkins had left it. In the shed out back where Tom did most of his writing was an old Underwood typewriter and reams of correspondence, most of which Tenaya threw away without reading. But while working through the debris — musty books, unpublished typescripts, back issues of the Anderson Valley Advertiser — she discovered and saved a bundle of cards and letters addressed to Mr. Hawkins from Gershon Legman, Kenneth and Miriam Patchen, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Gary Snyder. Graciously, trustingly, Ed and Tenaya sent me the correspondence, news clippings, and other papers that documented the life of Thomas Donald Hawkins.
On September 12, 1998, ten years after Tom Hawkins killed Kathy, his partner, lover, and Muse, with a blow to the head, and took his lonely flight over the Chadburn Gulch, I faxed a letter to Melanie Jackson with the news. Apart from a few hoax “Wanda” letters, Wanda Tinasky, the bag lady of Fort Bragg, was a fellow named Thomas Donald Hawkins, deceased. A few days later, by U.S. Post, I received a thank-you letter, typed, corrected, and signed by Thomas Pynchon. It was no joke. The author of V and Vineland and Mason & Dixon really does exist, and he writes exactly like Thomas Pynchon.
You cannot imagine, my friend, the satisfaction I feel at heaving chicken livers at Mercedes, the release. There's nothing quite like that oozing bloodred slug trailing its path across the hood of an expensive foreign car…
— C.O. JONES, “SELF-EXPRESSION,” THE LETTERS OF WANDA TINASKY (1996)
Pynchon's meat, to be sure…
— TR FACTOR, “IS THOMAS PYNCHON WANDA TINASKY?” (1997)
How to break the news? After more than a year of receiving TR Factor's heel-nipping correspondence, the woman remained, for me, a shadowy figure. TR had volunteered no information about herself, no credentials, no resume, no phone number, no return address. Before saying who Wanda really was, I wanted to learn who TR Factor really was. Searching through back issues of the AVA, I hunted for stray writings by TR — and became interested in a contributing writer who signed his or her letters “C.O. Jones.” C.O. Jones sounded like TR Factor. And in fact, C.O. Jones was TR Factor, born and christened Diane Kearney. This fierce Mendocino County polemicist had peppered her political commentary with ad hominem zingers until 1985, when a fellow contributor ridiculed her nom de plume, a pun on cojones (Spanish slang for testicles). “If C.O. Jones needs a pair that bad,” wrote her AVA critic, “she should get her name on the waiting list at Stanford Hospital where they are transplanting baboon balls. Until then, for accuracy in media, she should be called Sans C.O. Jones. [signed] E.N. Tranas / East Palo Alto.” Jones shot off a testy reply, observing that Tranas's name and city could be reshuffled anagrammatically to read: “AN APE SATAN / TOTAL LOSER.” In making this witty riposte, Ms. Kearney-Jones/Factor evidently overlooked the fact that “E.N. Tranas” was already a pseudonym on the same model as her own “C.O. Jones” (entranas: Spanish for bowels).
Feeling underappreciated, Ms. Jones collected her marbles, moved to Oregon, and changed her name legally to TR Factor, where she was found, still sulking, by Fred Gardner in July 1995, and invited by him to participate in the Wanda Tinasky Research Group. A troublesome thought now occurred to me. If I should disappoint TR by saying that the Tinasky letters were not by Thomas Pynchon, what vile anagrams might be constructed from “D. W. Foster / Poughkeepsie” in the letters column of the Anderson Valley Advertiser, or on the Internet, or in the planned second edition of The Letters of Wanda Tinasky?
I bit my tongue and said nothing. Melanie Jackson and Thomas Pynchon now had the scoop on Wanda Tinasky and Tom Hawkins. Let them do with the information as they deemed best. I was done with the residents of Mendoland.
But they were not yet done with me. In March 1999, Gordon Leon Black — Albion Ridge Poet, author of “Wanda Tinasky amok,” host of classical music on KZYX radio, and all-round high priest of Mendoland culture — wrote to the Anderson Valley Advertiser with his assessment of “Foster's literary detection,” which was not high. Having read “A Funeral Elegy” by W.S., Mr. Black invited Bruce Anderson to print an “ample sample” of the “Shakespeare” elegy and let readers of the AVA decide for themselves whether or not Shakespeare actually wrote it.
I took the occasion of Mr. Black's skepticism to contribute my one and only letter to the Anderson Valley Advertiser (March 17, 1999), observing without fanfare that the “Wanda Tinasky” of local memory, believed by many to be the novelist Thomas Pynchon, was actually Thomas Donald Hawkins (1927-1988) of Fort Bragg; and that Mr. Hawkins's five-year gig as Wanda Tinasky had inspired a few copycat letters to the AVA and Mendocino Commentary that were not really his, including one by Gordon Leon Black. Explaining these matters to a local audience that still remembered Wanda more than a decade after her disappearance, I hoped that no one would really notice, or care, that Ms. Tinasky was not Thomas Pynchon.
TR Factor noticed. TR Factor cared. TR Factor went ballistic. She wrote a blistering letter to the Anderson Valley Advertiser, using such colorful language that Bruce Anderson, whose free speech policy is to print almost all of the letters that come in, would not print it. In her own original Amazon.com book review of The Letters of Wanda Tinasky (copies of which may yet be ordered, while supplies last, from Amazon.com), Ms. Factor let me have it with both shovelfuls, spicing her remarks with opprobrious comments on “Don Foster” that she'd picked up on the Internet. Sometimes I just don't know when to bite my tongue.
P.S. ON IT
But why am I boring you like this with ghost stories of the dead and so-well-buried Beat Generation of literaries? Oh, yes: jack green…
— TIGER TIM HAWKINS, EVE, THE COMMON MUSE OF HENRY MILLER & LAWRENCE DURRELL (1963)
When he first learned from Fred Gardner (then from TR Factor, then from major news organizations) of The Letters of Wanda Tinasky, Thomas Pynchon speculated, not implausibly, that Wanda was really Bruce Anderson and that the Pynchon attribution was a hoax designed to gain attention for the AVA. He was mistaken about that. TR Factor and Bruce Anderson believed that Wanda really was Pynchon. They, too, were mistaken. Hawkins, who never intended for Wanda to be misidentified, believed that Thomas Pynchon was really William Gaddis, who was really jack green. Hawkins was only two-thirds mistaken. Gaddis is Gaddis, and Pynchon is Pynchon, but jack green was not really jack green. The publisher of newspaper was actually John Carlisle, the son of Helen Grace Carlisle, author of The Merry, Merry Maidens (1937). Carlisle adopted the “jack green” nom de plume in 1957 after he quit his job as an actuarial clerk for Metropolitan Life Insurance, grew a beard, and founded newspaper.
A few years ago, selections from jack green's newspaper were republished under the title Fire the Bastards! (1992), edited by Steven Moore. This is the same Steven Moore who wrote the definitive Reader’s Guide to William Gaddis's The Recognitions (1982), and this is the same Steven Moore who (twist upon twist) wrote the foreword to TR Factor's edition of The Letters of Wanda Tinasky. When publishing his scholarly work on jack green and William Gaddis, and when contributing to the Tinasky volume, Professor Moore (who really is Steven Moore) never knew or suspected that Wanda was a fellow admirer of jack green. For Moore's money, Wanda was Pynchon. (“Well, if it ain't Pynchon,” wrote Moore, “it's someone who has him down cold: his inimitable literary style, his deep but lightly worn erudition, his countercultural roots, his leftist/populist politics, his brand of wit and humor, his encyclopedic range of reference, his street smarts and raffish charm, his immersion in pop culture and sports, and his hatred of all agents of repression.”) The inimitable Tom Hawkins would doubtless have been pleased with the epitaph. He was not Pynchon and never pretended to be, but the Wanda Tinasky story was his best laugh ever, and as Pynchonesque as any story not by Thomas Pynchon will ever get.
* * *
POEM to the Mendocino Commentary 1984
The look I’ll have at the end
will be the smile I give to people I don’t really know.
Albert’s not come home,
he’s the sad ant on the end of my finger.
Howcome you didn’t turn your back to the far voices
Howcome you didn’t wrap yourself in the dancer’s spins and dips,
wear black, flared pants?
Howcome you didn’t remember the old grannie lady, naked by the river,
beating on herself with a stick, getting ready, hands,
talons of anger,
to beat the brown rushing flood?
She got nailed by a log right after the bell.
Howcome you didn’t listen to your grandfather’s voice
singing the songs of his grandfather?
all dogs are comedians, they just want to be laughed at.
Howcome you drove out onto the St. Clair River in a ’48 Chevvy, towards Detroit?
I watched the bubbles pop through the surface.
I thought of you under there.
I thought, howcome you know to dance,
to sing the songs of our roots
and you start driving to America across a river, through the settling yellow haze?
I shot and buried in the Alder swamp
a wounded roadkill I found today
pissed off you aren’t here to help me with the dying.
— Wanda Tinasky, Fort Bragg, 1984
* * *
ED NOTE: Given how the Tinasky saga ended, this poem is either prescient or creepy.