Mendocino County Today: Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017

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NO SHOTS FIRED — YET?

As Editor of Guns Magazine in 1984, we had to go to an indoor range in North (San Diego) County to punch paper targets with our .44 Magnums, and the noise those guns make in an enclosed area can result in acute hearing loss, as the youngsters are always trying to tell me I have, but I can’t hear what they’re saying.

But to have an outdoor range in California 35 years later, the Ukiah Gun Club enjoys an elite privilege. As a result, the membership has been growing apace with the closing of outdoor ranges in neighboring counties to the south due to encroaching neighbors and associated complaints, and the Ukiah Gun Club’s revenues have increased substantially –or, were supposed to have…

But. In recent days, there have been three arrests of former Gun Club officers, and the membership now has some expectation that at least some of the money will at last be accounted for, in a criminal court trial.

Allegations of embezzlement have been rife for months now, including suspicions that former club officers were tapping the coin-operated clay pigeon dispenser.

Ukiah Gun Club Trap Range

A hypothetical:

Let us suppose Major Scaramella and I go out to the Ukiah Gun Club to do a little trap shooting, a friendly wager, nothing more. We park and walk in, wearing our yellow-tinted safety glasses, and carrying our fowling pieces over the shoulders of our shooting jackets, the barrels hanging down our backs and the stocks on our chests, the breeches open (observing range safety rules).

Suppose me to be carrying my Kreigerhoff over-&-under from Ulm, Germany; and picture the Major with his old Browning single-shot he’s been shooting trap with since he was six. It costs the Major $950 for a membership, and another $5 to bring me as his guest, then we had to buy some tokens for traps, a box of 28 shells for $4… Watch closely as we walk up to the machine that dispenses clay pigeons, listen to the coins fall in. Listen closely (I don’t hear a thing, sounds like piddling into an abyss: falling silence).

A machine loads the pigeons into the sling.

“Pull!” I said, and shot both traps before the Major got his gun up. The Kreigerhoff 80 over-&-under is not four times better than a $3000 o/u but it will get you that extra clay when you need it. And where else can you go to play such an expensive, exclusive game?

The Major, to his credit, was not watching for the flush of quail from underfoot, so much, as considering how the fighter squadron he was assigned to in his formative years could best strafe and rout this cache of small arms weapons and training ground for sharpshooters. The Martial Mindset, ultra-libs call it.

So when I yelled. “Pull!” again he still wasn’t ready, and never mind, nothing happened, the skeet thrower was turned off and lights went down; a range warden was coming over to tell us we had to go, we were being shown the door because the Club was so broke it could no longer afford to keep the trap shoot area open.

This is our sad story. Where are these sporting-arms enthusiasts – if we may give the ‘gun-nut’ cliché a rest, please – where are they going to go? Vegas? Dallas? I’m sure plenty of locals think it would be most apropos if they would, and some should offer to buy the tickets themselves, but leaving demographics aside, lets consider how close this one came to a massacre.

— Bruce McEwen

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THE MAJOR ADDS: Mr. McEwen’s fanciful gun range account — I was never part of a fighter squadron (a pilot training squadron once though) and haven’t shot a rifle in decades, and membership at the Ukiah Gun Club is $175 per year, not $950 — is based on a real case developing outside Ukiah having to do with two former Gun Club officers charged with possessing stolen assault rifles and a third former officer charged with grand theft/embezzlement.

Audie Norbury, Jack Mathis and Penny Mathis were recently arrested — Norbury and Mr. Mathis for possession of assault rifles, Penny Mathis for Grand Theft — culminating a months-long investigation. So far the Sheriff’s office has not released a press release about the unusual arrest.

Norbury, P.Mathis, J. Mathis

Penny Mathis is described in local dailies as the “ex-wife” of Jack Mathis and “girlfriend” of Audie Norbury. Norbury was also charged in Ukiah a few months ago with contracting without a license involving some “volunteer” work Norbury did at the Gun Club.

The Ukiah Gun Club membership has increased recently to over 1200 members, a number of whom joined in the last couple of years due to closures of outdoor gun ranges in Sonoma County.

The Club’s dues are $150 per year ($175 for initial membership) so revenues from dues alone would be over $180k per year. Besides the skeet receipts, the club also makes money off their arrangements with the Sheriff’s office and Ukiah police who use the range for qualifying and re-certification of cops and other law enforcement personnel. The Club may also get revenue as the official provider of training for concealed-carry permit applicants. Back in 2011 neighbors complained that ricochets were landing on private property, but the Club seems to have attended to that problem.

As McEwen says, the case has been under investigation for months. Norbury and Mr. & Mrs. Mathis are out as President, Secretary and Treasurer in the wake of the scandal.

Previously Norbury and the Mathises have denied whatever allegations got them voted out as club officials earlier this year. So if and when this case goes to trial Ukiah might see one of its more interesting casts of local characters than the usual pot crowd and catch of the day.

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RED SKY AT NIGHT sailor's delight. Red sky in morning sailors warning. Forecast is for rain and a high wind advisory through tomorrow night. Better batten down the hatches! This is on Spy Rock. — Laurie Neuroth

(Courtesy, MendocinoSportsPlus)

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PETS OF THE WEEK

This affectionate butterball cat is Turkey, a 1 year-old, neutered male cat. Turkey loves people but may not want to live in a home with other cats. He has a curious personality and will be a wonderful feline companion. If you are looking to adopt a cat and live in a cat friendly neighborhood, Turkey would love some outdoor space to explore.

Yale is a 3 year-old neutered male Shepherd mix. Yale is friendly, responsive and engaging. He knows sit and shake, and he is bi-pawdal (he shakes with both paws.) Because Yale jumps up, we recommend that any kids in his new home be older. Jumping up is an easy fix, and Yale, like all dogs, will benefit from training--either classes or at home. This handsome canine weighs in at 67 pounds.

The Ukiah Animal Shelter is located at 298 Plant Road in Ukiah; adoption hours are Tuesday - Saturday 10 am to 4:30 pm and Wednesday till 6:30 pm. To view photos and bios of our adoptable dogs and cats, please us visit online at www.mendoanimalshelter.com or visit the  shelter. Join us the 2nd  Saturday of every month for our "Empty the Shelter" pack walk and help us get every dog out for some exercise! For more information about adoptions please call 707-467-6453.

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THE 2017 REDWOOD CLASSIC starts Wednesday, November 29 and will run through Saturday evening when the final championship game between the two successfully winning teams. This year’s tournament will begin at 4:30 Wednesday with a game between Tomales and Branson. At 6pm Valley Christian will play Cloverdale. At 7:30 Fort Bragg will play home-team Anderson Valley. On Thursday Round Valley will play Argonaut; Hoopa will play Clear Lake at 3:30. Laytonville v. Woodside Priory is at 5pm. Tulelake plays Stuart Hall at 6:30. And California School for the Deaf (CSD) will play Pinewood at 8:00. On Friday the winning teams and the consolation bracket will take up the whole day with consolation games at 9:30, 11:00, 12:30 and 2:00. Later on Friday the first round winners will play games at 3:30, 5:00, 6:30 and 8:00pm Then on Saturday, the consolation rounds will start at 9:00, then at 10:30, with the final consolation game at 6pm Saturday. The winners of the second round will play at noon, 1:30pm 3:00, 4:30, 7:30 and the final championship game will be played at 9:00pm Saturday night.

(Click to Enlarge)

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GANGSTAS PISTOL-WHIP OLD LADY

"On Monday, November 20, at about 4:39 pm, Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to a reported armed robbery that just occurred at a residence in the 700 block of Branscomb Road in Laytonville.

The Sheriff’s Office dispatch center broadcast to responding Deputies that two black male adults armed with firearms fled the scene in an olive green colored Ford Expedition.

While Deputies were responding to the scene, a Laytonville Cahto Tribal Police Officer advised they had passed a vehicle matching the suspect vehicle description traveling south on Highway 101 in the area of the Shamrock Ranch in Laytonville.

The Tribal Police Officer advised over the radio that he observed two black males and a white male adult in the vehicle. The officer subsequently lost sight of the suspect vehicle south of the Shamrock Ranch.

While Deputies were checking the area for the suspect vehicle, another Deputy responded to the robbery scene and contacted a 62-year-old female.

The Deputy noticed the female suffered injuries to the left side of her face and head. The Deputy learned the female was inside her residence when she heard a knock at the front door. Upon opening the door the suspects pointed a gun at her and forced her back into her residence, where they demanded money and drugs.

When she told them she had neither of these things, they pistol-whipped her several times. They held her against her will until a family member soon thereafter arrived causing the suspects to flee on foot to Branscomb Road where they were picked up by the Olive green-colored Ford Expedition.

The Deputy learned the female had a medical marijuana recommendation and grew a few plants for medical purposes, but the plants had been previously harvested.

During the initial scene investigation, the Sheriff’s Office dispatch center advised someone called reporting a possible DUI driver or reckless driver traveling south on Highway 101 near Oil Well Hill and described the vehicle as an olive-colored Ford Expedition.

Deputies in the area of Highway 101 and Reynolds Highway in Willits spotted the vehicle traveling southbound. With the assistance of the Willits Police Department and Cal-Fire Law Enforcement Prevention, a high-risk felony car stop was performed in the area of mile marker 49 on Highway 101 just north of the Willits city limits.

There were three subjects in the olive-colored Ford Expedition who were detained. They were subsequently identified as being:

D’wan Porter-Walker, age 20, of Oakland.

James Richardson, age 49, of Discovery Bay.

Johnny Walker III, age 40, of Oakland.

Porter-Walker, Richardson, Walker

The female identified the three subjects during an in-field viewing as being the suspects who had been at her residence.

Upon further investigation, Deputies discovered Walker was on CDC Parole and Federal Probation for bank robbery. Richardson was on PRCS (Post Release Community Supervision) out of San Joaquin County and had outstanding warrants for his arrest. Porter-Walker was on Formal Probation for possession of stolen property out of Alameda County.

All three individuals were transported and booked into the Mendocino County Jail on these charges of Kidnapping for ransom or to commit Robbery, Assault with a deadly weapon-firearm, Burglary, being Armed in the commission of a felony, Conspiracy, Aids a principal in a felony. Johnny Walker was to be held without bail, Richardson was to be held in lieu of $256,000 bail and Porter-Walker was to be held on $275,000 bail."

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LITTLE DOG SAYS, “Coyotes went off big time last night. I think this warm weather throws them off. They're just across the stream out back. Mean suckers, I can tell you. I wave 'em on through here. What am I supposed to do? Fight 'em all? I get paid to sound the alarm, not fight.”

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TIME FOR MARTIAL LAW

Editor,

What has happened to this country? Where is it going? What has happened to our Constitution? Why can't we have it the way it was? Why can't we have some respect for law enforcement? What happened to the Pledge of Allegiance? What happened to the national anthem? Why all this disrespect for the flag? Our cities and colleges have turned into bastions of anti-Americanism and political correctness. Seems like Antifa and our slums and our gangs and MS 13 which is almost as powerful as the military have taken over every city. You can't even believe it. The political correctness is out of control. Our historical monuments have been destroyed. No more free speech. The Liberals have had 30 years to get embedded in our society and make all these American things thrown out. So I think it's time for President Trump to call martial law on a couple of our bigger cities and get rid of all the slums and gangs and anti-Americanism. If he did that to two cities then the rest of them would clean up themselves. I think he should shut down half the colleges we got in this country. There are way too many colleges. It's just a crock. I hope President Trump can straighten it out. The Liberals are really pissed off because President Trump is trying to return this country to what it used to be in the right way. Why has this country spent millions and trillions of dollars helping other countries get their acts together but not doing a thing about our cities? We are not keeping an eye on the anti-Americanism in our colleges. There are over 60 all black colleges in the United States. A white person cannot go to a black college but a black person can go to any white college they want to. They call it racism on a white person's part. That is horsepucky. It's just political correctness. There are 100 other situations where white people have no rights and the black people do. I think it is way out of touch.

Thanks to Sheriff Tom Allman for doing a good job keeping the law in the right place in this county. He's got good deputies. I hope he keeps it up.

God bless Donald Trump.

Jerry Philbrick

Comptche

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WATER TROUGH OUTBUILDING BURNS. Early Friday morning an outbuilding at the Water Trough, Jefferson and South State St., was reported on fire. Ukiah Valley Fire Authority arrived on scene as the roof was collapsing. Firefighters surround the building with hoses to keep the fire from spreading. It was decided to let the building burn down due to extent of damage. Responders: UVFA, Calfire and VeriHealth

(MendocinoSportsPlus)

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(AVA, July 2, 2014) — Ukiah’s venerable Water Trough bar at the south end of State Street, bartended and babysat for the last quarter century by the affable Larry Mayfield, will close in September. We’re pretty sure it’s the oldest bar in the County under one owner, Ted Schamber, who, until a few months ago, pulled a shift or two behind the plank himself until he got too old to report for active duty. There’s a couple of old bars in Fort Bragg, maybe one legitimately old one in Willits, but the Trough pre-dates World War Two, as does Mr. Schamber, who has seen it all and then some. Patrona, the upscale eating place on the north end of the County Courthouse in Ukiah, has bought Schamber’s liquor license, not that you’re likely to see anybody at Patrona ordering up a shot and a beer. And then another one. And a third. Then just the shot. And what the hell, Larry, let’s make a night of it. My, my. If the Trough’s walls could talk we’d have the true history of Mendocino County just for the listening.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, November 25, 2017

Biasotti, Davis, Fausto

JOHN BIASOTTI, Fort Bragg. Domestic abuse, short-barreled rifle/shotgun.

PRUDENCE DAVIS, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

SEBASTIAN FAUSTO, Ukiah. Domestic abuse.

Francis, Garland, Isenhart, jennison

JOHN FRANCIS, Willits. Probation revocation.

WAYNE GARLAND, Willits. Domestic abuse, interfering with police communications, probation revocation.

JIMMIE ISENHART, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

ERIN JENNISON, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.

Kostick, Lopez, Naalaviles

JEFFREY KOSTICK, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

JOSE LOPEZ IV, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, controlled substance, resisting, probation revocation.

LEONARDO NAALAVILES, Fort Bragg. Attempted murder, aggravated murder, assault with deadly weapon with great bodily injury.

Nicks, Smith, Whelchel

DAVID NICKS, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

JENNIFER SMITH, Fort Bragg. Vandalism, paraphernalia, probation revocation.

LESLIE WHELCHEL, Colorado Springs/Ukiah. DUI causing bodily injury.

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PG&E WILL PASS IT ALONG

Editor:

PG&E’s is vigorously lobbying to make ratepayers bear the burden of any costs from the North Bay fires instead of shareholders.

On Oct. 17, the head of PG&E’s regulations department, Meredith Allen, asked the California Public Utilities Commission in a private meeting to allow PG&E to charge ratepayers instead of stockholders for damage caused by the North Bay fires. No other company would be allowed to get its shareholders off the hook for its negligence. How is PG&E supposed to change its ways when it isn’t held fiscally responsible?

Our power rates are already high, and on top of thousands of homes that need to be replaced, PG&E wants to add more costs by raising our rates. Why should stockholders get excused from losses incurred by the company they invest in?

Jordon & Carla Berkove

Guerneville

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ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY

From all appearances so far, it seems 2017 will end worse than it started. It also appears that the largest step downward as a country is in the caregories of common decency, adults acting like adults, leaders acting like leaders, and fewer and fewer role models visible anywhere in the public mainstream. After watching things disintegrate this year I have reconsidered my vision of collapse. Like many I thought collapse would involve financial implosions, food shortage riots, chaos, bedlam, and all the other images Hollywood had given us over the decades. Instead, it looks like social/cultural depravation will lead our collapse as everyone seeks to avoid any responsibility or adult behavior of any kind. Much like the movie Idiocracy in which the denizens of the time were too ignorant and distracted to notice the shithole they lived in. At this point it’s just a question of how low we can go before the herd notices how crappy things are outside…if they can look away from their phones for a few seconds.

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THE PRESIDENT & THE BOMB

In 1973, Harold Hering, a decorated Vietnam War rescue pilot, was studying at Vandenberg Air Force Base to become a missile launch officer, a member of an elite group charged with executing the order to launch a nuclear strike. The responsibility was immense, but Hering was persuaded that, at the crew level, there were enough checks and balances to guard against rash behavior on the part of any individual. Still, he wondered whether anyone was checking the president, the commander in chief of the US armed forces, who appeared to have the sole and personal power to order the strike. What, if anything, could prevent the president – at the time, it was Nixon – from making a catastrophic decision? (“That raised the hair on the back of my neck, a little bit,” Hering remembered in an interview with Radiolab earlier this year.) His instructor requested that he put his question in writing. “There’s presently a degree of doubt in my mind as to whether I might one day be called upon to launch nuclear weapons as a result of an invalid or unlawful order,” Hering wrote to his superiors. “How can I be sure I’m participating in a just act?”

It wasn’t an unreasonable question. Nixon had flirted with using nuclear weapons in conversations with Henry Kissinger during the North Vietnamese offensive of spring 1972. When Kissinger told him it “would just be too much,” Nixon was outraged: “I just want you to think big, Henry, for Christsakes.” Kissinger soon learned to think big. At the Paris peace talks in December, he reportedly issued no less than a dozen nuclear threats to North Vietnamese negotiators.

Hering never got a reply to his letter. Instead, six days before he was supposed to graduate, he was removed from training, stripped of his flight status and top secret security clearance, and ultimately forced to retire from the Air Force. He became a truck driver and counselled addicts and homeless people for the Salvation Army. He had no regrets: “I felt I had asked a very reasonable question that deserved an answer, and it was not for me alone, it was for all of us.”

Hering was questioning one of the foundations – the foundation – of US nuclear policy since Truman authorized the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki: that the president has the exclusive power and legal authority to order a nuclear strike. He or she is encouraged to consult with the Secretary of Defense, as well as regional “combatant commanders,” but the final decision to launch a strike is, at least in theory, the president’s alone.

“Bomb power,” as Garry Wills called it in a 2010 book, is inseparable from the office of the presidency. Investing the president with the exclusive power to launch a nuclear weapon was originally intended to protect the United States from military officers eager to try their toys out on the battlefield. The idea was that a civilian president would be less inclined to use such weapons without considering their full effects; and besides, the electoral system ensured that the president would be a responsible person, temperamentally reluctant to place the entire planet at risk. The Trump presidency has severely tested both these beliefs, reigniting a lingering fear of nuclear war, if not nuclear annihilation, a fear that many of us had forgotten, or at least learned to repress, after the Cold War. Once again, the newspapers are full of not-so-hallucinatory scenarios of the steps to apocalypse, while the saber-rattlers-in-chief – Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un – trade insults like schoolchildren locked in a brawl.

— Adam Shatz

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TEENAGE WASTELAND

by Eleanor Cooney

When I was a teenager, older men followed me on the street, offering me drinks in the middle of the day, occasionally muttering obscenities in my ear. Something about me, some kind of vibe I unintentionally gave off, made them think I was sexually jaded and much older than I was. When I was fifteen, they thought I was thirty. I could walk into a bar on Madison Avenue when I was fourteen and order a martini.

I wasn’t blonde and stacked or “girly” or anything like that. Hardly. I was a babe, but of a very different sort from that type. I was tall, serious-looking, with Morticia-like dark hair, sturdily built, and had absorbed by osmosis a lot of the sophisticated mannerisms of my mother and her friends. I was a good mimic. I had an adult conversational and listening style and an air of worldliness and ennui way before I had any substance at all to back it up. The men who sidled up to me in bars or on street corners had no idea that they were speaking to a large child. These were not chickenhawk types, believing they were closing in on fresh, innocent jailbait prey. They thought they were sniffing around an experienced, world-weary, Gauloises-smoking divorcée.

Sometimes I’d actually get into sophomoric quasi-philosophical discussions with these guys. For me, with my grownup voice and vocabulary, getting into conversations was just an entertaining adolescent anthropological encounter. For them, it was a signal of imminent sex. Once they thought they got a whiff of that, a switch got flipped in their brains and they were just about impossible to shake off. I got followed onto buses, down into the subway, and once, all the way up the escalators in Bloomingdale’s by a rotund little lesbian who told me I looked like someone from Atlantis. I was so young and dumb that I had no idea why a woman would follow me, and I thought the woman was saying that I looked like someone from Atlanta.

But the men became bloodhounds. I’m sure they pictured it all: A couple of drinks, then up to their furnished rooms, the afternoon sun blocked out by amber shades, whiskey bottle and ashtray on the bedside table, my legs in the air. It never happened, though. They were all thoroughly repulsive to me, and I was, after all, only a kid. Oh, I’d read Lady Chatterley’s Lover and my own mother’s scorchingly hot erotic journals, and I was definitely interested in sex, but not with strange hairy forty-year-old men on the street.

I didn’t actually talk to that many of them. The ones I did talk to were the reasonably mannerly ones, not the ones who murmured ripely lewd suggestions. And some of them were ripe and lewd, let me tell you. It was quite an experience to be walking down the street minding your own business and suddenly have some man’s hot whiskery breath in your ear telling you what he’d like to do to you with his tongue or making comments about your anatomy, both what was visible and what was not. A dwarf once followed me for six blocks, saying he’d like to fuck me “all the time.”

It would be a few years yet until certain feminist writers would define for us the weird rush of feelings that followed these nasty little moments, the mix of shame and confusion, as if you’d just pulled your dress up over your head and weren’t wearing any underpants.

Point of emphasis: we’re not talking here about mere lusty wolf-whistles, guys on construction sites grinning and waving and calling out “Hey, Baby! Can I have a date?” or “What are you doing after the show?” or “Hubba, hubba!” That’s in an entirely different category, a world apart, and a distinction needs to be made. It’s basically friendly, and it’s genuinely flattering. I disagree with women who get huffy over that sort of stuff. It’s when men on the street actually talk dirty to you, say they’d like to eat your pussy and such, block your way, leer and waggle their tongues between their fingers, that the encounter crosses over into new territory.

And it took these writers to explain to us that those remarks were not “compliments,” not friendly, but hostile and ugly, a punishment for being naked inside your clothes out in public and having that “thing” between your legs, a punishment for centuries of ignorance and repression and just a little sip from the vast deep well of misogyny Germaine Greer, Andrea Dworkin and others say is under our feet most of the time with just some rickety rotten planks between it and us. Again, I don’t believe that all men hate women. But those moments reek of misogyny, and testify to its invidious vigor.

You learn when you’re young, one way or another, that sex is everywhere and that being female in the equation is very… complicated. I pretty much knew about the sex part, but the other part came to me more slowly. When I was a kid I didn’t have much of a sense of that misogyny Greer and Dworkin talk about. I grew up in a rarified atmosphere, surrounded by mostly very smart, very cool people, and I myself was never treated as a second-class citizen. But I got glimpses now and again, all the more vivid and strange because I wasn’t in any way prepared for it.

When I was about twelve, I went to Palisades Amusement Park for the day, just across the Hudson, with a pal close to my age. Her father took us.

This guy was a family friend. He was smart and funny, a writer, journalist and newspaperman, a University of Chicago graduate, a pugnacious little freckled Irishman, sort of a two-fisted, hard-drinking Nelson Algren wannabe.

We had a terrific day at Palisades. We went to the sideshow (one of the last in the country by then), saw the Alligator Gal (a woman with a bad case of psoriasis), the Cowboy Giant (pituitary disorder), and a man whose arms ended at his elbows with little vestigial fingers but who could hold a piece of chalk between his stumps and was a ferociously good cartoonist. There was a two-headed baby floating in a jar. We rode the Gravitron, the Octopus, the Tilt-a-Whirl and the rollercoaster, ate a mess of cotton candy, ran around and generally had a hell of a good time.

We were exhilarated, exhausted and happy by the time the shadows got long and it was time to go. We went home to their apartment on the Upper East Side, and my friend’s mother asked her husband if we’d had fun.

He lit a cigarette and looked at us.

They had fun, but I didn’t, he said.

What? 

And then he ripped into us:

They were snippy, squirmy, wriggly, silly, screaming, giddy, giggly girls, he said. He enunciated the word “girls” with bitter, sneering emphasis. There was nothing fun or humorous about it. We felt the full withering force of his contempt: Girls. And he went on for a while about what tiresome little bitches we’d been.

We were stunned, taken completely by surprise, still high from the fun day we thought we’d had. And of course, we were utterly unequipped to understand the size, shape or source of that contempt, or to counter it in any way. It was like being knocked over by a fire hose with no warning. The fun day evaporated and was replaced by hot angry tears and bitter confusion. Later, when we were in bed in my friend’s room, me on the top bunk and she on the lower, he came in and they had a little conciliatory tête-à-tête in the semidarkness. I heard her tearful urgent whispers, sounding like the appeal of a desperate jilted lover, his low murmuring voice, firm and authoritative. Young though I was, I understood that he was getting some sort of nourishment from her supplications, that some kind of dynamic between the two of them was being shored up, that in fact the whole deal was, on some level, deeply satisfying to him.

When they were finished, he stood up and addressed me in the top bunk before he left the room. There was just enough light for me to see him holding his finger in my face. And you, he said, not yelling or anything but his voice flat and unfriendly. I thought you were getting better.

Getting better? Was I supposed to know what he was talking about? Ah. I’ve looked back on that evening so many times, and wished that I could confront him now, as an adult, and let him have it. You take a couple of preadolescent girls to an amusement park, to the sideshow to see babies floating in jars and giants and Alligator Gals, let them eat cotton candy all day long and ride on crazy contraptions in the hot sun, act perfectly cheerful until you get them home, and then rip into them, hard and shockingly, for being giddy and girlish? Vent some kind of ancient heavy adult male resentment on them, knowing they can’t fight back, snarl at them for being “girls”? Very fucked up, my friend, very fucked up.

I never did get the chance. I did, however, run into this fellow a few years later, when I was sixteen or so, on a train platform in Connecticut. I’d seen him plenty in the intervening years, and had pretty much forgiven him, because he was mostly a good guy and a lot of fun. So there he was, waiting for a train into the city, and he was falling-down, shitfaced drunk. I knew he was a drinker, but I’d never seen him like this. It was interesting. By this time I was taller than he by several inches, and he now obviously saw me as some sort of adult. We had a conversation not unlike the ones I occasionally had with strange men in the street—sophomoric and a little daring, and he, drunk, was ramblingly candid and maudlin, and delivered an incoherent lecture on how important it was, and I quote, that …when the cock goes in the box, it’s gotta be your love. He said this three or four times, the way drunks do when they have an urgent message to convey, enunciating elaborately, trying to focus his eyes and get his point across.

Sure, right, of course, I said, as if I knew all about it. I felt sorry for him because by now he was sitting on a cement curb on the platform, helpless, his suit all rumpled, and looked diminished in so many ways. He was alone and drunk at two in the afternoon, and obviously had a lot on his mind, judging by our conversation. I started to piece some things together, saw a glimmer of a connection between this and the amusement park day of a few years before. Nothing he said shocked me at all, because I was pretty blasé, but I was absorbing big chunks of very advanced, very adult material. This is how it happens. This is how kids learn about the vast mysterious world awaiting them.

When I was seventeen, I had another friend, Kat, who lived in New York. She was about five years older than I, and only dated rich older men. I’d sometimes go along and meet these guys. Her manner was impressive. She was straightforward with them about the nature of these arrangements, which was sexual favors and congenial, witty companionship in exchange for gifts and money, and she had a knack for maintaining the upper hand in the most pleasant way. Huntington Hartford, the artist and museum founder, was one of her occasional squeezes. I remember sitting in a restaurant with the two of them, listening to her tick off a list of clothes, shoes and bags she’d be needing soon.

These rich older guys, like the men on the street, always thought I was much older than I was, and would sometimes make tentative passes. But they were just as repulsive to me as those guys on the street. Not necessarily because they were actually repulsive. Huntington Hartford was not a bad-looking guy, and God knows he was clean and well-dressed. But I was still a big child, and grown men were just sort of…icky, hairy, odiferous, too complicated, too much. I’d had some sex, and had liked it a lot, but with kids my own age.

David Merrick, c.1966

Another one of Kat’s older rich guys was David Merrick, the legendary Broadway producer. When I met him, I was young and dumb enough to not really know who he was. I knew he was some sort of theatre guy, but I was too involved in my solipsistic teenage mental processes for it to mean much to me. I had one of my faux-adult conversations with him, and he invited me to come to his apartment the next day, saying he’d like to photograph my very long hair. Photograph my hair? Sure, I thought. Why not? Sounds interesting.

I went. He gave me a drink, and showed me an album of photos for a book he was putting together, of women in theatrical costumes, most of them see-through, posing against exotic backdrops on Cleopatra-style beds and chaises and such. I began to understand that his plan was to get me into one of those costumes. I’m sure he thought I was ten years older than I was and knew the score: when a famous Broadway producer gives you a chance to be in his book, you jump at it.

What I knew was that I wasn’t going to be undressing for this gross ancient guy (he was in his mid-fifties at the time, Methuselah to a seventeen-year-old). I wasn’t scared or shocked or afraid he’d rape me or anything like that. It was just a stupid embarrassing dilemma. I didn’t have the wherewithal to just say hey, we’ve had a misunderstanding, thank you anyway, and take my leave. So I demurred, a little sulkily. The more I demurred, the more he pressed. I think he believed I was playing a seduction game of some sort, saying no when I really meant yes, and so he brought out various costumes to tantalize me with, shiny sparkly dazzling things that had no doubt been on Broadway themselves. It was all lost on me, though, and at one point he got a little sharp and said something about how I shouldn’t flatter myself by thinking that his sex life was so deficient that he had to get into my pants. That hadn’t actually occurred to me. All I knew was that I wasn’t going to be taking my clothes off.

So there I was, as usual, in a ludicrous situation, my grownup voice and appearance inviting adult sexual projections and exaggerated assumptions about my worldly knowledge and intent, like the guys on the street, like my friend’s father on the railroad platform.

He was holding up some skimpy little black mesh item with sequins and feathers when his doorbell rang. A woman came in, a colleague with important business to discuss. They left me in the living room and stepped into his study to confer.

I sat there for a minute or two, then a few more minutes, a few more after that. Then I thought: what the fuck are you sitting here for? You’re too goddamned polite. They’re being pretty rude to you, leaving you out here waiting. Besides, here’s your chance to get away from this stupid embarrassing pointless situation.

So I crossed the floor stealthily (I was really good at that), opened the door carefully and silently, clicked it shut gently behind me, summoned the elevator, expecting David Merrick’s head to stick out of his door at any moment, but it didn’t, and I got away clean. It was fun to think of them coming out and finding me gone.

His book of photos never did get published, but a few years later I saw a batch of them in Playboy. 

Guess I missed my big opportunity.

Not more than a year later, I would learn the true meaning of the term “manhandled.” Stupidly knocked up, I’d stupidly keep it a secret, and stupidly waited almost too long to do anything about it. Alone, I’d walk grim streets in Boston, New York and Jersey City looking for a “doctor.” I found plenty of them—mostly seedy old drunks and pervs whose practices had deteriorated to the point where this was what they did for a living in their run-down, ill-equipped, unsanitary offices. None was willing to do the job, because I was too “far gone,” as the first one put it, but all of them were willing to poke, fondle and breathe humidly during the “examination,” during which it was always just the two of us, alone in a little room.

After I made tentative arrangements with unidentified men over the telephone to fly somewhere in the Caribbean to a “clinic” where they did second-trimester abortions, a vision of my corpse sewn into a weighted canvas bag being taken out to sea jolted me to my senses. I did what I should have done in the first place: told my mother.

She made arrangements with a real doc, got the cash together and paid for it (it was expensive, let me tell you). She saved my life.

Just a scant few years later, Roe v. Wade became the law of the land.

To be a teenager can certainly mean having lethally poor judgment, and there’s a long list of ways for teens to die from sheer stupidity. The new law, which would have prevented my descent into the underground and my close brush with the Reaper, or with grave injury, took this particular way of dying young off the list.

Watch out, though—there are those among us who, in the name of “life,” want very much to put it back on. And they’ll be happy and satisfied when the underground abortionist is back in business, order restored, vigilante punishment dispensed at random. Will the protesters for “life” be carrying signs outside of the quack abortionist’s place of business?

I’d bet my life that they will not.

* * *

DER YIDDISCHE THORGELLEN.

The recording of last night's (2017-11-24) KNYO Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show is ready to download for free and enjoy at any time of the day or night, via http://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com

Or, and this is a new way I'm trying out for you (let me know how well it works, and if you like it better) you can just click here and it'll open in your browser and begin to play, thanks to Hank Sims of Lost Coast Outpost:

https://tinyurl.com/MOTA-KNYO-0256

But besides that, as usual also at http://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com you'll find a fresh batch of links to other interesting and educational goods I collected for you while putting the show together, to add to the literally zillions of wonders and amusements already there, that might not necessarily work on the radio because of being mostly visual. Such as:

Flying like in a dream, but real. And the guy's name is really Chandelier.

http://www.neatorama.com/2017/11/20/Weightless-Jean-Baptiste-Chandelier/

A story about cars. A ride in an exact replica of the first (internal combustion engine) car. I like how when you’re going about ten miles an hour in this thing it clearly feels like a fast wild ride, so when the lady engineer slightly turns the tiller, the announcer guy, the passenger, cries out, Aaaah!

https://laughingsquid.com/worlds-first-car/

And the story of Jacqueline Auriol, the first woman to break the sound barrier (in 1953). Read the article and watch both videos. She's so wonderful and French.

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/11/17/1697259/-The-Other-Jackie

But, you wanta see flying, look up Svetlana Kapanina, the greatest stunt pilot ever. Dead serious, workmanlike, but pay attention just before 18 minutes on the clock, where she's throwing her little airplane around like a boxer punching a speed bag, and a bug gets on her nose, or maybe it's her headset microphone touches her lip, whatever, and she flicks it away with her fingers and for just an instant she giggles and glances at the camera, at you, and you go, Oh, right, I'm here.

https://tinyurl.com/SvetlanaKapaninaStuntFlyer

Then imagine anybody being stupid enough to piss Svetlana Kapanina off by putting his hand someplace it doesn't belong. Imagine what happens right after that.

Marco McClean

memo@mcn.org

* * *

NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY: POLE VAULTING BACK INTO PLACE

by Ralph Nader

Seeking to capitalize on the Republicans’ disarray, public cruelty and Trumpitis, the Democratic Party is gearing up for the Congressional elections of 2018. Alas, party leaders are likely to enlist the same old cast and crew.

The Democratic National Committee and their state imitators are raising money from the same old big donors and PACs that are complicit in the Party’s chronic history of losing so many Congressional, gubernatorial and state legislative races—not to mention the White House.

The large, embattled unions are preparing to spend millions on television ads and unimaginative get-out-the-vote efforts, without demanding fresh pro-worker/pro-union agendas from the Democratic politicians they regularly endorse.

The same old political consulting firms, which also consult profitably for corporations, are revving up their defeat-prone tactics and readying their practice of blaming the candidates—their clients—when their strategies and lucrative ad buys don’t work.

The Party’s scapegoating machine remains well-oiled. To explain why they cannot defeat the cruelest, most plutocratic, anti-worker, anti-consumer, anti-environment, anti-patient Republican Party in history, the woeful party leaders blame gerrymandering (in which they also engage), the Green Party, the Koch Brothers, voter suppression, “lying” Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, the “Red States,” and more.

So what’s the plan for the Democratic Party? Their new slogan, developed at some cost by political consultants, is, “A Better Deal.” Mention this to John Larson (D-Conn.), a leading Democrat in the House of Representatives, and you’ll hear scorn and ridicule.

Major Democratic operatives and leaders flocked last week to the posh La Costa Resort in Southern California to discuss the Democracy Alliance’s theme of “Beyond Resistance: Reclaiming our Progressive Future.”

Aside from their usual avoidance of taboo subjects such as the corporate crime wave’s ravaging of workers, consumers and the poor, or the need for a “universal basic income,” (something which was supported in the nineteen seventies by no less than President Richard Nixon and market fundamentalist economist Milton Friedman—for more information visit basicincome.org) what were the Democratic strategists doing in this ostentatious venue?

A super wealthy waterhole like La Costa Resort with its spas, pools and golf courses is not a place that signals solidarity with the working class. But then what can be expected of a Party that has let the Republicans seize control and power over the interpretation of the Flag, the Bible and the Pledge of Allegiance.

Trenchant and prescient criticism of the Democratic Party by its own prime loyalists goes back many years. In 1970, John Kenneth Galbraith, eminent economist, author and adviser to John F. Kennedy, wrote an article for Harper’s, warning about the decline of the Party’s representation of the people’s interest. Twenty years later, Robert Reich, Secretary of Labor under President Clinton, wrote a column in the Washington Post calling the Democratic Party “dead.”

It was in the Seventies that the Democratic Party started abandoning the South and pursuing a blue-state focus in Presidential campaigns. This geographic neglect atrophied the party all the way down to local races. Presently, the Democrats are paying the price in their inability to support the campaign for US Senate by former prosecutor, Doug Jones, against Roy Moore, an accused the child-molester, religious hypocrite and prevaricator. This is a crucial contest in a narrowly divided Senate. In their coverage of this competitive race inside a very “red” state, the New York Times reports:

“With a fairly anemic state party, there is little existing infrastructure for routine campaign activities like phone banks or canvassing drives…There are no beloved statewide officeholders or popular party elders to rally the troops.”

“He’s got to do it all by himself,” said a former chairman of the state Democratic Party, Mark Kennedy.

The other milestone event in 1979 that has turned into a disastrous millstone around the Democratic Party’s neck was the party leadership accepting California Congressman Tony Coelho’s strenuous urging that it start pushing hard for the same corporate campaign cash that the Republicans had long solicited. The full-throated devouring of cash register corporate politics was the final slide into the pit of institutional corruption for the Democrats.

If the Democrats do not compete to win in all states – blue and red, and if they do not rely on the kind of small-donor fundraising so immensely successful in Bernie Sanders’s 2016 campaign, they will continue to lose elections under the failed leadership of Nancy Pelosi. She recently unfurled her mantra for 2018: “money, message and mobilization”—in that order, of course.

As former White House Counsel, Bill Curry, has repeatedly said in his incisive columns for Salon, “policy precedes message.” Without authentic policies for the people of our country, “message” following “money“ simply becomes the same political consultants’ con game. “Mobilization” is not possible when voters feel there is no political movement prepared to work on their behalf.

(Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!)

* * *

FRIDAY WITH CRAIG

The Friday after Thanksgiving

Warmest spiritual greetings,

Thanksgiving was spent riding around on the Bay Area Rapid Transit trains, with no particular destination. Changed to a bus at one point, and got off in the university district in Berkeley.  Walked past Peoples' Park to view the annual communal feast and homeless gathering at the stage, did not see anyone whom I knew from the past, so I kept on going. Continued walking around the downtown area which was mostly deserted, since almost all of the businesses were closed. A sign on the window of the popular Jupiter restaurant stated that their sister-business the Triple Rock Brewing Co. would be open.  Therefore, a walk north on Shattuck Avenue ensued.  Entering the popular sports bar and restaurant, two friends of mine were found to be enjoying the holiday special meal, drinking beer, and watching football.  So I joined them for two pints of beer and a chat.  Later, we split up and went our separate ways. Upon returning to San Francisco, I slept soundly. The Friday after Thanksgiving was spent riding around on the Bay Area Rapid Transit trains, with no particular destination.  This led to a trip to El Cerrito Plaza for a tuna fish sandwich and coffee at The Junket German delicatessen. Dropped into the chain bookstore and perused the large number of magazines, which detailed the enormous amount of worldly confusion occurring nowadays, mostly political.  Frightening, actually.  (I here note that I am going to Honolulu on January 1st, happy to put an additional 1,000 miles between myself and Washington, D.C.)  Got back on BART and returned to San Francisco, in time for attending Catholic Mass at historic Saint Patrick's church, and received Holy Communion. It is of the utmost importance to be enjoined to something that is spiritually all encompassing!  It is my primary intention to continue being connected thusly, to feel deeply satisfied, and not just here on earth in some mechanical manner, full of fear and contradictions, which is a hallmark of the global paranoid political climate.  By the way, I do know that the paths are many and yet the Truth is one, and also that a weaving of traditions is common, and is a part of my own history; but above all, a continual spiritual connectedness remains most important. I wish everyone a bountiful holiday season, and I wish everyone success on your chosen path, the one which ensures a spiritually unified condition, for ever and ever.

Craig Louis Stehr

San Francisco

Email: CraigStehr@inbox.com

 

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