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Off the Record (Dec. 6, 2017)

CAPTAIN FATHOM WRITES: “Enclosed find the $20 we borrowed. Clean and sober after a month ‘rest’ at Tom Allman’s retreat.”

AMERICANS will be relieved to know that there are roughly 2000 serial killers loose in the land, doggedly going about their population control work. That's according to an interesting piece in a recent current New Yorker called, "The Serial-Killer Detector" by Alec Wilkinson, who describes the work of a scholarly cop named Thomas Hargrove, a "homicide archivist" who catalogues murder in the U.S. then, via algorithms, culls the likely work of serial killers. Hargrove says they tend to be frightened, vengeful white people, which is reassuring in a way because dumb guys are easier to catch. The female killers are, natch, cannier.

ANGELA LANSBURY told an interviewer that women must accept some of the blame for sexual harassment and assault because they “go out of their way to make themselves attractive” to men. “There are two sides to this coin. We have to own up to the fact that women, since time immemorial, have gone out of their way to make themselves attractive. And unfortunately it has backfired on us—and this is where we are today,” the 92-year-old Murder She Wrote star said. “We must sometimes take blame, women. I really do think that. Although it’s awful to say we can’t make ourselves look as attractive as possible without being knocked down and raped.” Lansbury said she never personally suffered any harassment during her career, which began in 1944 with the film Gaslight.

A LOCAL noted re the AVA’s opinions on the homeless, "Your solutions to the political problems of NOW all seem to be based on what we did in 1955.” Believe me, I have no nostalgia for the fifties, less for the decades since, but I think it's obvious if the halt and the lame, aka the "homeless," are ever again going to be humanely dealt with, there will have to be a great leap backwards to the old state hospital systems, maligned today as "snake pits." No they weren't, as Mendo old timers will attest off their experiences with the state hospital at Talmage, where everyone from the criminally insane to the county's drop-fall drunks were decently housed and humanely rehabilitated, if they could be set right again. Talmage was a boon to this county and the entire state, too. We've become so accustomed to aberrant public behavior, especially as we see it in the larger towns and all cities, San Francisco especially, that we think the problem is insoluble. So the towns and cities shovel millions of dollars at the homeless industrial apparatus yet the numbers of people on the streets unable or unwilling to care for themselves keeps on increasing. But we have two political parties committed only to the One Percent and, as we all see, the subject of homelessness seldom even comes up at the state and federal levels of government. Here in Mendo, the helping pros say, "Give us more money and we'll take care of it." And they get more money and there are, day by day, more free range drunks, nuts and drug addicts on the street than ever.

FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY officials will provide up to 70 recreational vehicles at Lake Mendocino for people displaced by October’s wildfires, officials said Thursday. The RVs will be installed in phases beginning in early December on about 75 acres at the north end of the lake in the Kyen campground, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said. The location near Highway 20 is close to many of the 545 homes destroyed in the Redwood Valley fire, which burned more than 36,500 acres and killed eight people. Lake Mendocino will remain open and operating normally while the temporary housing is in place.

TWN LIVES! KC Meadows of the paper's mothership at the Ukiah Daily Journal sets us straight:  "Please, just FYI, there is no ‘demise’ of the Willits News. We are moving the business office to share the Ukiah offices, and save on the $2,000 monthly rent for a huge space which housed three people, but Ariel [Carmona] still lives and works up there and we are hiring another Willits reporter. The Willits News is still an ongoing twice weekly newspaper.”

PRESIDENT BLUSTER was quick, late Thursday afternoon, to lead the electronic lynch mob in pursuit of the sad sack Mexican street person found not guilty of murdering Kate Steinle in San Francisco two years ago. Trump tweeted that the verdict was “a complete travesty of justice” and linked the jury verdict to what he called America's “weakly protected Obama border” — and issued a new demand that the US wall off Mexico from the United States. He also took issue with the amount of information that was raised in court. As if he had any idea what that information was. The president's sub-theme, as always, was, “If we can't get rid of all the Mexicans who are already here, let's build a wall to keep the rest of them out.”

BUT MUCH of the media were already saddled up and ready to go by the time the tweet monster swung into action. ABC Television News seemed typical. David Muir, the youthful hollow man who recounts what passes for the day's events on ABC News, framed the Steinle case this way: “Was she deliberately targeted or was it a ricochet?” The local ABC affiliate ignored the facts in favor of suburban outrage in Ms. Steinle's home town of Pleasanton, the news reader going so far as to describe the 'burb of 70,000 commuters as “close knit.”  (Boonville has a population of about a thousand people and few of us know anybody outside our daily acquaintances. The last truly “close knit” American community had disappeared by 1980.)

SO, how did the jury make the travesty described by Trump? The Steinle facts are: An armed BLM agent leaves his loaded gun in his car in downtown San Francisco. Car smash and grabs being a way of life for a number of Frisco's street skells, the federal agent's gun is stolen and apparently abandoned beneath a bench on a pedestrian pier near the Ferry Building. Garcia-Zarate finds it, picks it up, the gun fires, and Ms. Steinle is hit by the bullet's ricochet and dies. The negligent federal agent who left his unsecured weapon in his car gets a promotion.

DID THE GUN just go off by itself? No, probably not unless it was re-engineered as a hair trigger. Garcia-Zarate must have pulled the trigger, but he did not aim at anybody and, in his typically drug-altered state, was apparently startled when the gun went off. G-Z then threw the gun into the Bay and shuffled off down the Embarcadero into the arms of the police who had quickly arrived on-scene.

GARCIA-ZARATE told the police exactly what happened, confirming the accounts of eyewitnesses. But he is immediately depicted as a dangerous illegal by our country's nascent fascist movement because he's been deported several times and has done some federal time for marijuana sales in between deportations. Garcia-Zarate instantly becomes the perfect scapegoat for Trump's fantasy of a wall between Mexico and our WalMarts.

MS. STEINLE'S FAMILY is an oasis of reason and quiet dignity in the murderous national clamor to undermine the jury system led by the President: “We have never had a second of anger — not a moment,” Ms. Steinle's father, Jim Steinle said. “Frustration, maybe, and sadness for sure, but no anger and no retaliation or vindictiveness or anything like that. We’re not that kind of people. Even if this guy gets 100 years in prison, it doesn’t solve anything; it doesn’t help anything. We would just like people to know ... that’s the Steinles’ feelings.”

SAN FRANCISCO being the national symbol of everything opposed by estranged and vengeful white people, the City takes a beating from the rightwing media as a sanctuary city, meaning a city that refuses to cooperate with ICE's arbitrary removal of non-criminal immigrants. In SF criminal illegals are subject to American law. Which is, in San Francisco and the rest of California, basically, SB54, the “California Values Act,” which prohibits state and local law enforcement from asking about a person’s immigration status or participating in immigration raids with the feds. It also limits the authority of police and sheriffs to share information on inmates’ release dates, or to transfer people to immigration authorities. An exception would be for those convicted of one of roughly 800 crimes in the past 15 years.

“Number one, you better get yourself right with God, and that means Jesus Christ. And number two, if they kill Trump or remove Trump when they’ve committed all these crimes, and done everything they say he’s done, when people see the economy turboing back, with real jobs and real money and real optimism to the average person and classic Americana being promoted and détente with Christian Russia and standing up to North Korea and securing our borders and just delivering at a dizzying level—it’s biblical—if we allow the evil people that hijack this country, the globalists, to remove Trump with all this fraud and if we buy into the hype and if we’re not strong and we don’t speak out, if these crazy globalists that don’t know how or when to give up are actually able to remove Trump—I’m gonna walk through the scenarios for that coming up, because they mean business, they said he’ll be gone by the end of December, remember our intel from high-level Congressional sources? Just a few months ago—this is it!”  — Alex Jones, Info Wars

TALK ABOUT an alternate universe! I've only seen a couple of clips of this guy, and each time he made me laugh with his breathless paranoia rattled off in a raspy, passionate voice. At one level he puts on a great comic show. But he isn't funny when you realize that millions of people get their opinions from him, including a gaggle of young guys here in the Anderson Valley. They even buy the junk Jones sells on his website, which includes viagra and vitamin pills and, of course, camo outfits. (There's a negative correlation between the camo buddies and real life military service — few of them have served. Trump himself took a phony medical out to avoid Vietnam. What was it, alleged bone spurs in his heels?) So far, the camo clowns don't have the caliber of leadership they'll need to kick off an effective civil war, if Alex Jones' fantasy should come to life. And should it come to it, they'd be quickly mopped up by the professional military, which is well paid enough to do what it's told. (Jeez, I'm getting sucked into Jones-think here!)

I'VE PREDICTED, and even bet a couple of people, that Trump will be outta there by Christmas, but not because the personnel at the government action levels of our oligarchy, known among paranoids as “the deep state,” are “globalists” or refuse to get right with God and His son,  but because Trump is incompetent, and maybe clinically nuts. Myself, I think he's the logical product of the slob state we have going in this country, but I also think The Beast is up and running, and that Trump has only accelerated the inevitable crack-up.

IS TRUMP NUTS? I don't think so. I think he's merely a very limited guy who, because of the mentioned and ever more slob factors, found himself as Lead Slob. Ditto for George W. Bush, also a very limited guy but one who seems like an intellectual put alongside Trump. Nixon was much closer to certifiable than Trump appears to be, what with his heavy daily dose of prescription drugs with the nightly booze on top of his meds, the entire chemical stew making Nixon even more paranoid than he naturally was (cf “One Man Against the World: The Tragedy of Richard Nixon” by Tim Weiner). Nixon was so far out of it in the final year of his reign that his inner circle simply worked around him, ignoring his crazier edicts and schemes. Trump's incoherence is more like early onset Alzheimer’s.

I THINK they, the established order, will invoke the 25th amendment, that Trump has totally wigged out and "for the good of the country....." blah, blah, blah.

AT SOUTHSIDE MARKET, Ukiah, last week I walked past a couple of fresh-faced street guys propped up against the sunny side wall with their shoes off like they'd just come out of jungle combat. They were very young and looked alike. "Yeah, we're brothers," one confirmed. "Got any spare change?" They had backpacks and the obligatory pit bull common among the traveling community. One kid had a terrible, still bloody wound to the side of his head. "I got hit by a truck," he explained. "Twenty stitches." They said they were from Washington state, that they'd come down to California for work of a type they didn't specify but hadn't found. I asked them what they were going to do. The one with the bloody head said, "We're just now talking about that. We don't know."

A READER ASKS: "I'm still curious why you think Trump will be ousted. I know there are many Democratic and female sort of people who would like to see him tossed, but as for the real entrenched power in this country, what would be their motivation? Trump seems kind of perfect for the time, a clown to entertain the masses while the serious looting takes place."

I AGREE that the cosmically unreal Trump is a good fit for these unreal times, and I also agree that the oligarchy has no prob with him since they're stealing more money faster than they ever have, with a major acceleration of theft just passed into law with Trump's so-called tax reform. But even they would prefer a quieter enabler, one that didn't stir up class tensions because, ultimately, his policies are making life much more difficult for more and more people as he exacerbates all kinds of tensions and destabilizes international relations. The national permanent government, aka the deep state, is going to get him.

FROM THE LA TIMES: The major parties just aren't cutting it for California voters … a political world run by Democrats and Republicans comes at the same time that so-called “minor parties” have withered on the vine in California. Only four still have official recognition in the state: the Green Party, the Libertarian Party, the Peace and Freedom Party and the American Independent Party.

I'M SURPRISED the AIP is still around. It was George Wallace's old political vehicle before George did a 180 and became a liberal on race. As a founding member of the Peace and Freedom Party (I still have my name tag from the Richmond Convention), I intend to go back to the future and re-register P&F, the political party that comes closest to my views. The libertarians are basically thinking Republicans, the Green Party is bogged down in hippie rituals and a stoner lack of political focus, and I speak here as one of the two founding fathers of the Mendo Green Party, David Colfax being the other. I've been registered Democrat lately which is almost as embarrassing as being a registered sex offender.

THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA (A Book Review) Looking for a good book to read? I recommend "The Plot Against America" by Philip Roth. Written in 2004, I recently came across a used copy at the tidy little bookstore in Fort Bragg called… The Bookstore.

Incidentally, for a town of its size, Fort Bragg is rich in excellent used bookstores. In addition to the eponymous gem mentioned above, I also enjoy perusing the more labyrinthine aisles of Windsong. And both these shops are within easy walking distance of one another — which is another very cool thing about small towns.

Anyway, back to Roth's book, it is in the genre of historical fiction, where actual history provides framework for a work of otherwise fiction. The result is a story that lives somewhere between the actual and make believe. This one takes place during the early years of World War Two, and the big departure from reality is when Charles Lindbergh defeats FDR in 1940 to become president. A shocker, yes, but that twist merely serves as background and setting for this great novel, which is told from a child's point of view, one who is growing up in New Jersey and watching events unfold around him.

It's a beautiful work of art. The child's world is well rendered, with delightful reminders of what is was like to be a child, and to think and feel like one. The larger family dynamic, along with the experience of growing up in a real neighborhood, are also well drawn. And then there are the wider cultural influences that leak in, as media (radio and newspapers in this case) brings events from the wider world into focus — the way politics and social currents and the times all intermingle and press in on one's life. In doing all this Roth managed to write something that not only informs us, to a degree, about the past but also, more masterfully, alludes to how the present and future might play out, an artistic foreboding.

It was an uncanny experience to read this book in 2017 and have a number of aha moments where it seemed like the author was accurately predicting, fourteen long years ago, how things in this country have actually been turning out. Not exactly on the nose but he very much gets the rhyme of it. Current American realities like the rise of Trump, racism, nationalism, violence, and scapegoating are all prefigured in this novel, and the way these popular movements of fear and anger tend to play out. I found the book easy to read and, at the same time, dense with shade and meaning. A thoroughly enjoyable read, with plenty of meat on it. (Mike Kalantarian)


I find this all rather US-centric. What do I mean? The sentiments, reactions, or larger sense of moral outrage is about violence. Not sex. The fact that a woman instinctively reacts negatively to an inadvertent touch says more about the prevailing violence and threat in the society than sexual interplay between the genders. How do I know? I’ve lived in societies a little to the south of N. America. Although some of these places can have a greater form of some violence, the virtual sexual kind that permeates the subconscious of U.S. and Canadian females is not one of them. In the U.S. or Canada if you wolf-whistle at a women you are instantly branded as a sexist pig and probably a rapist. Down there you get a “Gracious Senor”. Men are men and women are women. They respect and revel in the difference. So I asked myself, what is the difference? Ah, in U.S./Canada women have some amped up fear of violence. Where did this come from? I can’t say exactly because, (we never had that “locker room talk” – get over the stereotype, it’s disgusting in its ignorance), we were always mindful to act like gentlemen. Sure, during high school inevitably there was a “hand gone too far”, but a firm “no” was sufficient. Puritanism seems to have the same effect for reducing sexual violence as guns do for reducing murderous violence. Think about it…


  1. George Hollister December 9, 2017

    “I’M SURPRISED the AIP is still around.”

    This might be because people intending to register as “independent”, are accidentally registered instead as American Independent. That happened to me when I registered at the Comptche Store at age 18. I eventually changed my registration to the intended non-party designation, and then to Republican, the party of freedom.

    I have never met anyone who is actually a real AIP, and have no idea what the party stands for, other than George Wallace.

    • Harvey Reading December 9, 2017

      Party of freedom. That’s a good one, George. Freedom to exploit anyone who isn’t wealthy. Freedom to exploit natural resources. Freedom to impose their will on whomever in the world they choose. “Forward to the Dark Ages and Feudalism” is their rallying cry.

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