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- Park Day
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- Little Dog
- Ed Notes
- Calla Lily
- Yesterday's Catch
- TV Shows
- Local Newspapers
- Ostrich Logic
- Public Policy
- Tim Moellering
- Liberalism & Technology
- Anthony Bourdain
- Exclusionary Language
- Leaky Zeppelin
- Angel Island
- Library Rock
VIDEO IN CALIFORNIA LAWSUIT SHOWS DEPUTIES PUNCHING INMATE
UKIAH, Calif. — A Northern California county facing a lawsuit over the death of a jail inmate released surveillance video on Friday showing deputies punching the man as he pleads with them not to hurt him.
The family of the inmate, Steven Neuroth, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the county and sheriff’s officials in 2015, accusing jail staff of ignoring his medical needs and using excessive force.
Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman said Friday that Neuroth was high on methamphetamine, and deputies used distraction blows to try to subdue him when he became combative.
County officials released the June 2014 video footage after a federal judge denied the county’s request not to disclose it publicly.
In the video, deputies take Neuroth, 55, to the ground after sheriff’s officials say he threw his body sideways when his handcuffs were released. Neuroth had been arrested in Willits on the night of June 10, 2014, on suspicion of being under the influence of a controlled substance.
“Mr. Neuroth pulled away from the deputies and started fighting them and yelling and ranting nonsense,” Allman said.
During the incident, a deputy tells Neuroth to relax and that nobody is trying to hurt him. Deputies take him into a cell, where a deputy who punches Neuroth as he appears to be on the ground accuses Neuroth of kicking him off.
Deputies “did what we call ‘distraction blows,’” which are jabs to the meaty party of the upper legs, calves and shoulders, to try to subdue him, Allman said.
“They did all they could to restrain Mr. Neuroth, who was in the throes of a meth-induced combative state,” Allman said.
After Neuroth mentioned he may hurt himself, deputies put him in a safety smock and placed him in a cell by himself, the sheriff said. When they checked on him a short time later, he was unresponsive, Allman said.
Deputies started life saving measures and called emergency services, and he was pronounced dead at a hospital, Allman said.
Michael Haddad, an attorney for Neuroth’s family, said the video was “shocking.”
“The video completely corroborates everything we’re saying in the lawsuit,” he said.
An autopsy showed Neuroth had contusions and abrasions, a rib fracture and other injuries, according to the lawsuit. (AP)
* * *
"DISTRACTION BLOWS." Sheriff Allman's unfortunate euphemism for the punches administered to Steven Neuroth as jailers struggled to subdue Neuroth prior to his death in an iso cell at the County Jail.
WE'VE watched the entire video, which a federal judge has ordered to be made public as part of a federal wrongful death suit brought by the Neuroth family.
NEUROTH'S ATTORNEY describes these events as "disgusting," which is understandable, because after a prolonged struggle with jail staff as they attempt to follow Jail protocols to get Neuroth out of handcuffs, out of his clothes and into a "safety smock," he dies in the isolation cell he's finally wrestled into after almost a half-hour of violent writhing between Neuroth and the people trying to subdue him.
TRYING HARD to be objective about what I saw on the video, I didn't see anything that could be described as gratuitous violence. Neuroth, apparently under the influence of a massive dose of methamphetamine, and in a paranoid state that had severely panicked him, struggled mightily to free himself from all restraint, while the Jail people — three or four of them at any one time — struggled just as mightily to remove Neuroth's physical restraints to get him into a cell.
THE 'DISTRACTION BLOWS' were more like rabbit punches aimed at getting a key into Neuroth's handcuffs to get him out of the handcuffs. The punches clearly weren't intended to hurt the prisoner.
IT'S AN UNHAPPY video for sure, but more depressing than disgusting because you know the outcome is death, but given that the officers were only doing what they do to everyone who comes through their doors in an altered and violently combative state, I didn't see them do anything specifically that would make them responsible for Neuroth's death. The Willits Police officer, Leef, who transported Neuroth to the County Jail was joking and giggling inappropriately like some kind of sadist, but the rest of the officers did what they were supposed to do — get the cuffs off the guy and get him into a cell where he could wait out the drug's effect and get himself back to normal.
AS I WATCHED the Neuroth video, I did wonder if there aren't more efficacious means of dealing with people in a violent paranoid state — an amphetamine-induced psychosis in this case. Neuroth is hardly the first person to arrive at the County Jail in the state he arrived in. If he'd simply been wrestled directly into a cell, shackles and all, instead of the Jail people wrestling with him for almost half an hour to get him unshackled and into the modern day straight jacket, Neuroth still might be with us.
* * *
NORTHCOAST SUPERTRAIL TAKING SHAPE
The proposed trail would run along current and abandoned railroad tracks from San Francisco Bay to Humboldt Bay, taking in the remote Eel River Canyon. Proponents are hailing it as “an amazing prospect.”
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “Graduation season. I remember mine. Valedictorian of course, buncha scholarships, but I went straight out to the world of work, and been watch-dogging ever since. I've done pretty good. Got my own igloo, lots of grandkids although the wife took off on me with some mutt Skrag introduced her to. Not a bad life toting it all up.”
A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO, the Supreme Court repealed a 1992 federal law that banned commercial sports betting in most states, opening the door to legalizing the estimated $150 billion that Americans bet on ball games every year.
BUT just because sports betting has been illegal in California, it obviously hasn't stopped people, mostly men, from "illegally" placing bets on sports.
MY LATE BROTHER got disastrously into gambling in the middle 1970s, and even arranged for his bookie to accept bets from me, which I placed by telephone maybe twice before I grasped that I was a pure fool for doing it.
THE GUY at the other end would ask for my sportin' life pseudonym, which had been pre-arranged by my brother. I chose "Boonville Bob." The minimum bet was a hundred bucks, and I writhed in mortal anguish all week that I was going to be out two-to-three hundred I could ill afford, a loss I'd never hear the end of should it become known to my much better half.
“WHADDYA WANNA DO, today, Boonville Bob?" I'd then bet my heart on the Niners and the Raiders, the two NorCal home teams I'd followed forever via the sports pages. For all the knowledge I had of pro football, I might as well have been betting on the date of the next big earthquake.
I CAME OUT only a couple hundred dollars down before I quit. Or came to my senses, I should say, because I'd immediately understood who I was dealing with when, on Sundays, I'd meet the money man in the parking lot of the Larkspur Ferry where I'd pay what I owed or he'd pay me my modest winnings. He was a very large man, the type of the bona fide tough guy you would not want to be on the wrong side of. And he was all business. He'd glance at me, look at his pay and owe sheet: "I'll take two hundred." Or, "Here's your two hundred." He carried a large amount of cash in a cardboard box in the trunk of his car, which I recall was a rental. I'm sure he was armed given the work he did.
MY BROTHER got in deep with these people, so deep he lost one of the two houses he owned in Ukiah and, on top of that loss, he'd owed a lot more, so much more Bro had to go to work weekends for this mafia at their phone house, typically a suburban look alike in the East Bay they'd rent for a few months before moving their phone ops to another nondescript suburban house, always one step ahead of the law, assuming the law was looking for them. My brother, before he lost so much he had nothing left to lose, probably came close to losing more than property when they gave him a big break by letting him work off his debt by commuting weekends to answer their phones for a year. He said there were a dozen men, all men, taking bets, and the phones never stopped ringing.
CALLA LILY! IN FORT BRAGG (found at Savings Bank in FB)
(Photo by Susie de Castro)
CATCH OF THE DAY, June 10, 2018
SHANNON ARNOLD, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
SEBASTIAN BULLINGTON, Rohnert Park/Ukiah. DUI, license suspended for DUI.
CAMERON LENHART, Willits. Driving without a license, probation revocation.
SIU LI, San Jose/Ukiah. DUI.
BARRERA MENDEZ, Ukiah. DUI.
JONAH OTWELL, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
ROGER PETERS, Clearlake/Covelo. Domestic abuse.
JAMES VOGUS, Talmage. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
RICHARD WASHBURN, Fort Bragg. Domestic abuse.
DAVID WOOTEN, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Re: your point about U.S. society as a bad TV episode: perhaps it means something that TV has actually changed quite a bit in the past 25 years or so. Amid the explosion of reality TV and similar rot, drama shows and even comedies have actually cultivated audiences with a taste for more complex characterization, anti-heroes, and plotlines that upend expectations and even take more than one episode, or even one season, to resolve. Of course there’s still plenty of trash as well. But with the sheer number cable channels, online streaming services, and what have you that we have today, all of them needing to feed the system, there has never been more sheer content. With all those monkeys banging away at all those typewriters, it would actually be surprising if some of the product wasn’t really good simply by accident.
COST OF GOVERNMENT RISES when local newspaper closes, study finds
When a local newspaper closes, the cost of government increases. That’s the conclusion of new survey from Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, which draws a direct line between loss of the watchful eyes of local newspapers and a decline in government efficiency.
ALL HUMAN RULES are more or less idiotic, I suppose. It is best so, no doubt. The way it is now, the asylums can hold the sane people, but if we tried to shut up the insane we should run out of building materials.
—Mark Twain, 1897; from "Following the Equator"
BE LIKE THE OSTRICH
by Flynn Washburne
For the last two years, I have, like most folks, immersed myself in the daily (political) news, steeping in the vile stew and concocting a bitter brew indeed. Indignation, disbelief, horror, scorn, frustration, and sorrow combined in a toxic mix that kept me in thrall to CNN and NPR. With grim, masochistic satisfaction, I absorbed the daily litany of absurdity emanating from the campaign trail and later, the White House, waiting in vain for someone somewhere to wise up and put an end to the madness, but like a snowball rolling downhill its momentum and breadth grew exponentially as, juggernaut-like, it rolled over the forces of reason, moderation and humanity. I laughed and cried, pissed and moaned, ranted and railed, and continuously marveled at the new reality, convinced every morning that it was all just a bad dream.
And then I paroled, and had other, better things to do. I went a full week Trump-free and started to notice some changes in my outlook and personality. I smiled more. Food tasted better. I was less tense and slept through the night. My digestive system unclenched and started operating smoothly and efficiently. My sex drive returned and I once again took note of the grandeur of the sun's exits and entrances. I felt as if I'd shedded a set of heavy fetters and I had no illusions about the reason for it. Excising the Orange One from my consciousness gave it free rein to bask in other, more pleasant and salubrious stimuli, and it rewarded me with a flood of endorphins. I knew he'd had a hold on me but I don't think I knew just how deeply those tendrils had penetrated into my brain. One thinks, for comparison, of parasitic science fiction aliens glomming onto the back of one's neck and thrusting probes into one's cognitive apparatus.
I still needed, from time to time, to check in with the world, for weather and celebrity updates and such, so I would catch the second half-hour of the news, safely after the Trump reportage. I did so yesterday and caught the following notice on the crawl creeping across the screen: Kim Kardashian Visits White House to Discuss Prison Reform With President Trump.
Go ahead, let that sink in for a moment.
That is IT!, I thought. No more. Ever. That is the proverbial straw that rendered the proverbial camel broken and braying, unable any longer to ply the sun-scorched dunes. I put a bullet through his head, shouldered his burden, and trudged off into the sand in search of reason and sanity.
History, I thought. that's where I'll redirect my focus. History is full of Trumps and Trumpian foolishness, but the beauty of it is, they're all dead and the issues are, one way or the other, resolved. As will be this one, one day, but I'm not going to watch anymore. They say that if you're not outraged, you're not paying attention, and that may be so, but why court rage if I can't do anything about it? I can't vote, and actively agitating in the streets could get my parole violated, so I'll leave all that to you fire-bellied strivers and take refuge in the safety of the bygone.
In that spirit, the following are some interesting historical vignettes about Mendocino and environs that you probably have not heard about. I know there are a lot of you out there who consider yourselves pretty fair shade-tree historians of a local bent and figure whatever's worth knowing about the region, you've got memorized and catalogued, but I'm here to tell you that there are sources and then there are sources.
For instance, you may not know that technically, Mendocino County is not actually a part of California, and by extension the United States, at all. Governor J. Neely Johnson put up the county as stakes in a poker game with the Chinese envoy back in 1856, drew to an inside straight and wound up ceding the whole shootin' match to the Middle Kingdom, but not before securing a 200-year lease on the property. It runs out in 2056, so my advice to anyone under 30 is to brush up on your Mandarin and clear your search history. You might want to keep this information out of the hands of a certain Comptche-based firebrand, it'd kill him. I'm pretty sure he doesn't read me, so mum's the word.
Going further back, the first white settler to the region was not Van Johnson, as most believe, but a Scotsman named Angus MacFergus Dunwoodie who washed ashore in 1420 on Point Arena after becoming caught in the Scapa Flow on a day trip to the Orkneys in a makeshift carrack. The prevailing indigenes welcomed him warmly and his influence can be felt to this day in the Scots-inflected habits and speech of the Pomo, their propensity for tartan plaids, their love of bagpipes, and their mastery of golf. They even developed a sort of marine version of haggis by cramming the inflation bladders of orcas with maize, fermented fish guts, and carrageen. A tight-fisted, whiskey loving bunch are they, and they owe it all to the waywardly intrepid voyage of Mr. Angus MacFergus Dunwoodie.
Most people consider Calpella nothing more than a place to get ice on the way to the lake or drugs on the way to the casino, but at one time that sorry little hamlet was home to the biggest brillo mine in the entire country, employing thousands as the country embraced cleanliness for the first time. Calpella brillo was widely and correctly perceived as the finest available due to a preponderance of borax veins permeating the raw material, and thousands of fortunes were made by miners, producers, and speculators alike. The region exploded in size and population and hosted many important cotillions, horse races, bearbaitings, and shivarees, and was considered a crucial stop on the Western tours of Continental dignitaries and crowned heads. Eventually, though, advancements in the Eastern steel industry and the production of synthetic brillo made the difficult and time-consuming process of extracting the raw pads no longer cost-effective. The boom years gave way to a period of slow decline, culminating in the great flood of '89 which washed away all the opera houses, mansions, auditoriums, and spas. Those who didn't drown fled for dryer pastures and the few remaining hardy souls who stuck it out stayed and rebuilt Calpella into essentially the same humble village you see today.
There now, you see? Not only have you learned some interesting and well-researched historical factoids with which to wow your friends and make you the toast of any gathering, but you stopped thinking about Trump for a little while. Criticizing the noble ostrich for his alleged habit of burying his head in the sand to avoid unpleasantness is just another example of human speciesism running rampant. We can learn a lot from the ostrich, namely, “If I don't hear it or see it, it's not there.” Flawless logic and crucial to one's sanity in these parlous, nonsensical times.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY #2
I actually have no issue with unions in private industry. It helps keep capitalism in check, and the middle class with decent wages. The problem is unionized public employees, paid by tax dollars. I'm all for either paying a market wage, without the cadillac pensions. Or paying a below market wage, with sufficient employee money set aside to fund a decent pension. But what we are seeing is above market wages AND cadillac pensions. That doesn't work.
"The founders of the labor movement viewed unions as a vehicle to get workers more of the profits they help create. Government workers, however, don’t generate profits. They merely negotiate for more tax money. When government unions strike, they strike against taxpayers. F.D.R. considered this “unthinkable and intolerable.”
Government collective bargaining means voters do not have the final say on public policy. Instead their elected representatives must negotiate spending and policy decisions with unions. That is not exactly democratic – a fact that unions once recognized."
TIM MOELLERING & THE MOVIE QUEST
by Malcolm Macdonald
Tim Moellering, history teacher and baseball coach at Berkeley High School, died on a Tuesday in 2011, after a lengthy struggle against cancer. Moellering's Berkeley High career followed nineteen years cross town teaching and coaching at Willard Middle School.
According to a friend, Moellering, who was born in 1957, played centerfield on a youth baseball team in the 1970s. On that same team were Gary Pettis, playing right field, Rickey Henderson, in left, and Shooty Babbitt at shortstop. Moellering's line about that experience recounted that there were scouts at every game, but he would have had to play standing up to ever have been noticed amid all the future major league talent surrounding him.
The future history teacher was a peace negotiator at an early age. An eye witness swore that Tim Moellering, at age thirteen, turned a potential gang fight at Live Oak Park, with teens four to five years older involved, into a football game that got no more violent than hard tackles. Decades later, the same attitude at Berkeley High allowed him to talk students bringing guns to school into handing over their weapons before full scale incidents might ensue.
Moellering loved music, beer, and sports. He was a lifelong San Francisco Giants and Cal fan. He attended nearly forty consecutive years of UC home football games. His favorite pro baseball team finally rewarded him with a World Series title in early November, 2010. A little over two months later he died of pancreatic cancer, with his Giants cap on his head.
Like most good history teachers Moellering could wisecrack. In the year before he died, he appeared on the Judge Mathis television series in a show about a dispute between Stanford students. Moellering said, “You know, common sense is something I am afflicted with because I didn’t go to Stanford, I went to Cal.”
His Willard teaching colleague Richard Hourula said of Moellering, “Among his greatest talents was the ability to listen and to relate to people of all types.” While many in Berkeley celebrate its diversity, Hourula said, “[Tim] lived it."
At both schools at which he taught, Moellering often was able to find a commonality with students no one else could reach. He was fond of saying, “There are no bad kids, only bad situations.”
It is safe to say that in nearly three decades of teaching and coaching he connected with hundreds, if not thousands, of students with his kindness and integrity. Perhaps no one student was more influenced by Tim Moellering than Santiago Rizzo. In the mid-1990s, Rizzo was living in troubled circumstances at home and acting out at school. “I was on the road to expulsion,” Rizzo remembered. “I had been arrested several times, had been in juvenile hall for a night, and was about to get put on probation.”
Santiago Rizzo gravitated toward Moellering because he wanted to play sports. The story of what happened between Santiago Rizzo and Tim Moellering is lightly fictionalized in the new film, Quest. Due to time constraints Quest was the only movie I attended at this year's Mendocino Film Festival, and only then because of my own connection to Berkeley and the fact that a friend's brother had known Moellering.
I can't give Quest a ten out of ten in film making, but I'd give it an eleven for heart, realism, and the themes it imbues. If you are offended by the type of language that kids use everyday or the harshness of real life home lives prevalent in the 1990s and today this is still a film you should gird your Pollyanna tresses and loins and view anyway. Humor and the positive spirit that should be at the core of every human find a way to glimmer at the edges of the bleakness. There are several inspired performances in Quest, in particular Lou Diamond Phillips as the stepfather of a mildly fictionalized version of Rizzo.
Tim Moellering would want you to know that there is a sad ending to this tale. Santiago Rizzo graduated from Stanford. However, hope abounds. Rizzo gave up a stock market job in order to create this film about his relationship with Tim Moellering. Right now Quest only appears to be making the rounds of film festivals. I don't even see it listed with Netflix, but however and whenever you have an opportunity to see it, please do.
And stay all the way through the credits to catch Tim Moellering's Ten Rules to Live By, which go something like this:
- Have empathy for everyone.
If you remember or read, “To Kill a Mockingbird” you’ll learn from Atticus Finch. “Crawl in someone else’s skin and walk around in it.”
- Tell the truth.
When you tell the truth you have less to remember. You know you never lied and eventually everyone will trust you.
- Be reliable.
Do what you say you are going to do, even if it means showing up on time. People will trust you.
- Assume positive intent.
Assume everything everyone does is with good intentions. If they are incompetent, so be it, but it doesn’t hurt you to assume they are doing their best. You will be able to understand their actions when you don’t judge.
- Be physically active.
It’s better than any drug. It’s fun; it can be a big boon in your social life. If you are running an errand, walk or ride a bike because you will feel better. It may not be obvious at first, but it adds up.
- Just do it.
If the choice is between sitting around and doing nothing or doing something, do something every single time.
- Don’t blame anyone.
This is key. No one is to blame for anything. Only you can change what you do. If you blame someone else then you can’t solve the problem… instead, you are telling someone else to solve the problem. If you don’t blame other people then you will be able to take control.
- Your possessions can be replaced.
People are obsessed with their possessions. It’s a terrible way of living by letting your possessions control you. When you let go of your possessions, you become free. There’s little relationship between wealth and happiness.
- Carpe Diem. “Seize the day.”
Accomplish something everyday, otherwise you are wasting time. There’s always something wonderful to experience, go do it.
- Solve your problems.
Some people like to have problems so that they have something to complain about. Don’t waste time. It also gives you something to do, something to strive for.
Parents back in the 40s and 50s and early 60s took better care of their children. Those children were not exposed to what happened in the late 60s and early 70s when all the liberalism took over — free love, take your bra off, drugs, defy law enforcement, stuff like that. The liberalism gained 500% in the early to mid 70s and on up. Children used to be taught a little respect, and how to be good citizens and respect the Constitution, the Pledge of Allegiance, the National Anthem, respect for their elders. Children had a lot better go in life than they do now. All parents want to do now is let them have video games, iPhones, all technology. Nothing manual. It’s sickening. And the liberal parents are the worst. They’re the ones who let the kids have all this technology. If you go through any town these and watch the sidewalks, 90% of the people will be watching iPhones. They won’t even pay attention to where they’re going. It’s no wonder the country has turned into what it is. I predict that if Gavin Newsom or some other liberal Democrat gets to be president, god forbid, this county is going to absolutely sink out of sight. Because technology and liberalism is going to wipe out this country. If Gavin Newsom gets to be Governor, this state can’t take four more years of that. I don’t know for sure. But it’s going to be a weird next few years.
God Bless Donald Trump
ANTHONY BOURDAIN: THE ONLY MENSCH ON GAZA
by Juan Cole
Anthony Bourdain was the only major American celebrity who succeeded in depicting publicly the Palestinians as rational, caring human beings rather than as irrationally angry inciters to violence. He was the anti-Bernard Lewis. Lewis smeared the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims with the charge of “Islamic rage” (as though large swathes of humankind are angry for no reason).
Bourdain said, “The world has visited many terrible things on the Palestinians, none more shameful than robbing them of their basic humanity.”
The Israel propaganda machine has even attempted to smear Razan al-Najjar, the 21-year-old nurse in Gaza who was shot dead by an Israeli-American sniper as she tended, unarmed and clearly wearing medic’s clothing, to injured Palestinians being shot with live ammunition by Israeli troops on the Gaza side of the border. Shooting Razan was a war crime. Razan was engaged in an act of unselfish bravery. We should all be so “complex.” That attempt to dehumanize one Palestinian is typical of the American and Israeli media in general. I can’t tell you how many “panels” on Palestine I’ve seen on CNN that included no Palestinian; often it was three middle-aged males, and sometimes they lacked even religious diversity among them.
In the face of this dehumanization, Bourdain stood as an all too rare exception. Half the people in Gaza are children, and Bourdain loved them:
Here is Anthony Bourdain with a group of children in Gaza. Thank you for shining your light on the dark places.
— Erin Cunningham (@erinmcunningham) 4:50 AM - Jun 8, 2018
When the Israeli army, notorious for its use of indiscriminate fire, hit Palestinian children on a beach in Gaza, Bourdain wrote:
Maybe it’s the fact that I walked on that beach—and have a small child that makes this photo so devastating. #Gaza
— Anthony Bourdain (@Bourdain) 12:35 PM - Jul 16, 2014
And this is how he responded to being honored by a Muslim-American organization for his segment on cooking in Gaza, in which he was forthright about how the world has mistreated the Palestinians (70 percent of the families in Gaza are refugees, created by a campaign of deliberate ethnic cleansing on the part of Jewish immigrants into British Mandate Palestine, in which the Palestinians were chased from their homes in what was turned into southern Israel and then imprisoned in the Gaza Strip to this day):
And this is the segment on Gaza for which Bourdain was honored:
Bourdain got away with his humane sentiments toward Palestinians and his calling of bullshit on Israeli propaganda presumably because he had a cooking show rather than doing hard news. Or perhaps he stood where he stood because of the sheer force of his personality and his refusal to compromise with principle.
He will be sorely missed.
Language used to communicate ideas? How novel! Over time, most professions have developed exclusionary language, designed purposely to keep most people out. Witness the medical profession. The political arena. Public safety. The trades. Lawyers. Now there’s a group, where the language even has a name: Legalese.
Why did this happen, so that language is used as a smokescreen, rather than as a way to communicate ideas in easily understood terms? Enter language’s place in the food chain, as a protective survival mechanism for group members. Only a closed membership can know what is being talked about, whereby ensuring continued employment for all members of any given group.
The rest of us get the residue, the fall out, the smokescreen, the babble.
WHO THE HELL IS GROSSBART?
by Philip Roth
One morning a week later, while I was working at my desk, Captain Barrett shouted for me to come into his office. When I entered, he had his helmet liner squashed down so far on his head that I couldn't even see his eyes. He was on the phone, and when he spoke to me, he cupped one hand over the mouthpiece.
"Who the hell is Grossbart?"
"Third platoon, Captain," I said. "A trainee."
"What's all this stink about food? His mother called a goddam congressman about the food." He uncovered the mouthpiece and slid his helmet up until I could see his bottom eyelashes. "Yes, sir," he said into the phone. "Yes, sir. I'm still here, sir. I'm asking Marx, here, right now—"
He covered the mouthpiece again and turned his head back toward me. "Lightfoot Harry's on the phone," he said, between his teeth. "This congressman calls General Lyman, who calls Colonel Sousa, who calls the Major, who calls me. They're just dying to stick this thing on me. Whatsa matter?" He shook the phone at me. "I don't feed the troops? What is this?"
"Sir, Grossbart is strange—" Barrett greeted that with a mockingly indulgent smile. I altered my approach. "Captain, he's a very orthodox Jew, and so he's only allowed to eat certain foods."
"He throws up, the congressman said. Every time he eats something, his mother says, he throws up!"
"He's accustomed to observing the dietary laws, Captain."
"So why's his old lady have to call the White House?"
"Jewish parents, sir — they're apt to be more protective than you expect. I mean, Jews have a very close family life. A boy goes away from home, sometimes the mother is liable to get very upset. Probably the boy mentioned something in a letter, and his mother misinterpreted."
"I'd like to punch him one right in the mouth," the Captain said. "There's a war on, and he wants a silver platter!"
"I don't think the boy's to blame, sir. I'm sure we can straighten it out by just asking him. Jewish parents worry—"
"All parents worry, for Christ's sake. But they don't get on their high horse and start pulling strings—"
I interrupted, my voice higher, tighter than before. "The home life, Captain, is very important — but you're right, it may sometimes get out of hand. It's a very wonderful thing, Captain, but because it's so close, this kind of thing."
He didn't listen any longer to my attempt to present both myself and Lightfoot Harry with an explanation for the letter. He turned back to the phone. "Sir?" he said. "Sir — Marx, here, tells me Jews have a tendency to be pushy. He says he thinks we can settle it right here in the company… Yes, sir: I will call back, sir, soon as I can." He hung up. "Where are the men, Sergeant?"
"On the range."
With a whack on the top of his helmet, he crushed it down over his eyes again, and charged out of his chair. "We're going for a ride, Sergeant," he said.
(From 'Defender of the Faith,' by Philip Roth)
JUNE 12, 1943: Angel Island — German prisoners of war profess an unshaken belief that Germany will emerge victorious, officials at the Angel Island internment camp say, but prisoners from the conquered countries share no such conviction. The Angel Island camp in San Francisco Bay through which Japanese, Italians and Germans have passed is labeled a collecting station because it does not retain prisoners after the wounded have recovered and a sufficient number have come through to make up a special train inland. As a group of newspapermen entered their separate rooms some prisoners stood stiffly at attention, then at an order marched from their quarters. Others, including Austrians, Poles and Czechoslovakians, smiled at their visitors. Most of the prisoners were in their early twenties, dressed in dungarees and army issue shirts. Some played cards while others were sunning themselves on the hillside, inside the one-acre barbed-wire enclosure. A few were playing volleyball or pitching horseshoes. The men receive $1 allowance for candy, cigarettes and toilet articles every 10 days. They clean their own quarters but there is no work program. They write letters, limited to two a week, and receive mail from the Red Cross. They are given a diet similar to men in the US Army and thrive on it. Several did not appear unhappy in their confinement but looked longingly at the skyline of the cities across San Francisco Bay.
SUMMER READING PROGRAM KICKOFF AT ALEX THOMAS PLAZA
On Saturday, June 16th from 1-3pm, Mendocino County Library, Ukiah Branch is hosting its annual Summer Reading Program Kickoff at Alex Thomas Plaza.
Are you ready to ROCK? Join us for two hours of music and fun in the sun. Food and crafts will be available for all ages, with special music performances from rock bands Weird Year and Lightning Amen! Sign up for summer reading and grab a reading/log to earn prizes throughout the summer.
PLEASE NOTE: The Ukiah Library will close at 12pm for the day to host this off-site event. The after-hours dropbox will be open for item returns.
This event is free, family-friendly, and sponsored by the Ukiah Library, Ukiah Valley Friends of the Library, and Mendocino College Recording Arts & Technology Department.