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Off the Record (Aug. 29, 2018)

PETALUMA'S BATHTUB ART should not get a dime of public money. The problem with this kind of thing — Frisco suffers a bunch of eyesore "art" — is it might be funny the first time, but years of it? It's like hearing the same joke over and over again. Now, Cristo's Fence, to my highly refined eye (I'd better say I'm joking) was truly beautiful, a magnificent white ribbon winding through the Sonoma County hills. But all Cristo needed was permission from landowners and local authorities to do it, not a public subsidy, which I would have been for in his case because he’s an artist, not a comedian. But Soup Can Art? Petaluma's nuts if it goes for it.

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ANOTHER SIGN that the End Times are upon us: “For the purposes of this guide we’ll refer to the vagina as the ‘front hole’ instead of solely using the medical term “vagina.” This is gender-inclusive language that’s considerate of the fact that some trans people don’t identify with the labels the medical community attaches to their genitals.” Read all about it at: LGBTQIA Safe Sex Guide

O SHUT UP. This from Jimmy Bennett, the actor who claims to have been sexually traumatized at age 17 by Asia Argento, the Italian actress and girlfriend of the late Anthony Bourdain. Little Jimmy got paid $380,000 to keep quiet about it, then had the bare-balled (sic) nerve to claim, "'Many brave women and men have spoken out about their own experiences during the #metoo movement, and I appreciate the bravery that it took for each and every one of them to take such a stand. I did not initially speak out about my story because I chose to handle it in private with the person who wronged me. My trauma resurfaced as she came out as a victim herself. I have not made a public statement in the past days and hours because I was ashamed and afraid to be part of the public narrative'." Here's a post-coital photo of the molester and molestee from the Daily Mail:

FOR AN ALLEGEDLY TRAUMATIZED sex vic, this goofball looks awfully pleased with himself. And then we have NPR and other fake news outlets referring to Trump's serial boffs with Playboy centerfolds and Stormy Daniels as "affairs." Money for sex, I believe, is called prostitution, not red roses, singing in the rain and weekends in Carmel. (Given these choices, here's to prostitution.)

OF COURSE in our sex-drenched society, the first, as the sage remarked, to go directly from barbarism to decadence with no intervening civilization, this show biz molesto stuff is all so much hypocrisy. A 17-year-old is not a 4-year-old for crissakes. Back in the days when I drove a cab at night and worked to overthrow the government during the day, I regularly drove attractive young women up to the fancy hotels whenever big conventions were in town, and that was before there was the kind of money around there is now. Jeez, is it too much to ask for some sophistication here, a little more adult-like understanding of the way the world works, especially after dark?

WANTED! 17-year-old Mendocino County males to have one-time sex with beautiful, 30-year-old Italian actress. She will pay you $380,000 up front. The line of eager victims would stretch from Gualala to Covelo.

A READER REMEMBERS…. “This talk of a hurricane approaching Hawaii reminds me of the night I rode one out on Maui. I was exploring that magical island for the first time. There were rumors that Richard Pryor lived at road's end, and Robin Williams had recently been traipsing about the area. I was driving along the Hana Highway in a rental car and had picked up snippets of warning on the radio about a coming storm. I found a state campground that afternoon with an open area perched high above the ocean. So I figured the waves couldn't reach me, no matter how high they got. The open grassy field for camping had the ocean view on one side, and was otherwise surrounded by eucalyptus forest. I was the only camper there that night, so I pitched my little dome tent in the center of the field. I made dinner, enjoyed the surroundings, and as the evening progressed, the stormy weather did too, so I put on the rain fly and staked the tent down. I cleaned up, brought all my stuff inside, and tucked myself in for the night. As the rain and wind continued picking up, the little dome tent just leaned with it, flexing with the forces. I began hearing branches breaking and falling in the forest. It was a fitful night of sleep, between the wind howling and the trees crashing, and at one point I woke up feeling like I was being lifted off the ground. I splayed out my arms and legs as far as possible and rode the levitating blanket of air. Staking the tent down had been a good idea. The next morning the forest was a mess of broken branches, and I later saw newspaper photos of harbor boats that had been tossed about. That was Hurricane Iwa in 1982." 

HUMBOLDT COUNTY takes a regular on-line beating from many of its residents. During a discussion of social class last week, a cyber-cynic noted, " Middle-upper class in Humboldt just means your mom wasn't on food stamps and your dad wasn't in jail."

THE COAST DEMOCRATS met Wednesday to interview candidates for the Fort Bragg City Council. Insulting incumbent Lindy Peters and hopefuls Mary Rose Kaczarowski and Jessica Morsell-Haye who showed up and spoke at the meeting, the Coasties nevertheless endorsed Tess Albin-Smith who didn't bother to appear. Leave it to the Libs to not only wire local elections for their versions of "appropriate" people, but annoy everyone else with their obliviously smug insider-ism.

IF YOU'RE NEW to Mendo politics, here's how it works: The County overwhelmingly votes Democratic but a relative handful of insider Demos — Rachel Binah, Val Muchowski, Joe Louis Wildman, and Meg Courtney, to name a few of the major enemies of hope and change — keep close tabs on all local elections from school boards up through county supervisor. They also work hard to install people like them — conservative liberals of the Billary type — at the top of all the County's public bureaucracies and all of its many non-profits. Needless to say they control KZYX, the audio arm of cash and carry liberalism, Mendo branch. They also usually have their political clones sitting as Superior Court judges. They've owned the 4th and 5th District supervisor's seats for many years, seats occupied by more or less functioning nut cases (except for Gjerde), and are relentless opponents of maverick Republican John Pinches in the 3rd and are presently supporting his opponent, the robotic Haschak, this election. The conservative libs who dominate County politics and institutions support are mostly happy with John McCowen in the 2nd, have never yet been able to win the Farm Bureau's 1st District seat where Wildman himself got thumped when he tried to take it. Natch, the insiders actively support whomever the state Democrats foist off on us to occupy our state assembly and senate office seats. Ditto for Congressman. Ocasio-Cortez could never happen here.

MUCH INFORMAL DISCUSSION of California history is either uninformed or inaccurate. But this on-line comment is pretty close to true: "If you are a historian you know that John Sutter was born a Swiss citizen, moved to New York, then travelled extensively. When he wanted land around Sacramento, the local proto Mexican authority wanted him to be a Mexican citizen so that his settlement could act as a frontier barrier to the Russians’ immigration and a defense against the native Indians because Mexico had no presence above what became Sacramento. Apparently his goal was to make his settlement French but the Americans invaded before he could do it. He was a Swiss citizen first, an American citizen next, a Mexican citizen next and really at heart wanted to found his own country. This is all fun and games discussing history but the point was that neither Mexico nor the predecessor Spain ever colonized in even the weakest way above Sonoma. The claim that history created the right of Mexican nationals to any part of California they want is as unreal as Spain declaring it was theirs 500 years ago. It’s nonsense and should be looked at for what it is."

BACK IN THE 60'S, there were Reconquesta stirrings among some Mexican-American radicals, but it seems to have since evaporated except, it seems, among the paranoid sectors of the rightwing who think Mexicans are poised to re-take California any time now.

SUTTER was a fascinating character, most vividly described in Blaise Cendrars’ wonderful novelistic re-creation, Gold, the only old California history I've read that gives you a real feel for what California was like just before the Gold Rush when "the world came rushing in." It would take a genius filmmaker, and we have a few, to capture that feeling in filmic scenes like Sutter's Native American army, the biggest Indians he could find, about five hundred of them, that he outfitted in Russian uniforms he bought from the Russians when they pulled out of Fort Ross. History has since been on fast-forward, but old California wasn't that long ago and, in its way, much more civilized.

INSIDE THE LAW, a reader writes: "So, I practiced law in California for 15 years until I couldn't stand doing it for another minute and went into techbiz. I was 99% civil, divorces and real estate and such, and I was never assaulted by a client, but I did experience some unusual things. One time, I was representing the husband in a divorce between extremely devout Christians. They had a daughter, 11-12 y.o., whom the wife had turned against her husband bigly. The wife instructed the daughter to follow me around the courthouse, about three feet behind me, and describe to me the torments of Hell. This went on for about two hours. Another lawyer asked me "What is up with that?" and I said, "Billable hours my man, billable hours."

FREE PASS FOR KIRK THOMSEN? A Reader Writes: “Why has there been no follow up on the investigation and now demotion of former Chief/Captain Kirk Thomsen at the Ukiah Valley Fire Department? Accusation of sexual harassment and misconduct still just get swept under the rug in the gold old boys’ fire department in Ukiah? So much for the #metoo and AboutTime movement. No progress seems to be made in the small town of Ukiah. A six-month leave, an investigation costing over $10,000, and no accountability to the citizens who foot the bill for any of it. Deeply disappointed in the lack of transparency of our local officials when it comes to protecting one of their own. Years of despicable behavior and harassment toward female board members, employees, interns, students and junior firefighters all quieted for the sake of his dignity? Disgusting. Now he will be walking into each and every one of our homes at our most vulnerable times? I am deeply concerned.”

ACCORDING to the City of Ukiah’s website, Mr. Thomsen is listed as “Interim Fire Chief” in Ukiah with Kevin Jennings, Syd Dearborn and Justin Buckingham working for him. However, the Ukiah Valley Fire District webpage shows Dan Grebil as “Fire Authority Administrator.” But the Ukiah Valley Fire Authority facebook page says Mr. Dearborn retired in June, so the Ukiah info is apparently outdated. And none of the links to the Fire Authority meeting documents on the Ukiah webpage work so we can’t look any further into whether this subject has arisen since Thomsen was first put on administrative leave in January.

FIFTY YEARS AGO THIS WEEK! It's time for these guys to meet.

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That's Lee Edmundson of Mendocino being pulled off the statue by a plainclothes cop, and it was Jeff Blankfort who took the iconic series of photographs memorializing the infamous Riot of the Chicago Police Department, 1968. Edmundson, a Coast-based actor and political activist, and Blankfort, best known locally for his Takes on the World radio program on KZYX, are undimmed by the years but remain strangers to one another.

LEE WRITES: "Alas, I'm the kid (18 years young) on the receiving end of justice. The guy in the light (police uniform) shirt, I later found out (at a pretrial hearing) was a cadet policeman at the time, also 18. Consequence? Broken arm, 10 days in Cook County Hospital, half of which leg ironed to the foot of my bed. Two and a half years on charges. I'm glad to hear Jeff's still plugging along. He and I have never met."

“A SCHEDULE OF DRUGS IN THE VALLEY OF DEATH” is a novel by Sarah Reith, better known to most of us as a reporter for KZYX News. From our on-line review: “When called on to sum up her previous employment experience in a job interview, Isobel Reinhardt, the protagonist of Sarah Reith’s powerful new novel, calls it a ‘patchwork Mendocino lifestyle.’ And what a vivid and richly detailed patchwork her life turns out to be. It is 2008. Isobel Reinhardt, is 20 something, divorced and broke. She straggles home to California after a humiliating academic adventure overseas. Where does she go to recover? Mendocino County, of course, the same place where her hippy parents retreated to after a setback many years ago….” 

WHAT’S with the buzzsaw voices on the women news readers? So many of them talk through their noses, hence the audio-gnawing sound we get out of them. I remember me dear old mum hectoring my sisters to "talk from your diaphragm, not through your nose!" Pop would almost physically recoil at high nasal whinnies from females. He never failed to comment, "Jesus! How would you like to live with that voice?" (I'll take the barrage of accusations of sexism off the air.)

GOVERNOR BROWN'S WIFE, Ann Gust, was once an executive vice president for The Gap, which of course is owned by the Fisher Family, which of course owns the Mendocino Redwood Company, which of course will benefit mightily from Governor Brown's last minute logging rule exemptions being force fed to the California legislature.

Kathy Bailey put it plainly: "According to an article in the San Jose Mercury News, ‘under Brown's proposal, private landowners would be able to cut trees up to 36 inches in diameter, up from the current 26 inches on property of 300 acres or less without getting a timber harvest permit from the state, as long as their purpose was to thin forests to reduce fire risk. They also would be able to build roads of up to 600 feet long without getting a permit, as long as they repaired and replanted them.' Although the proposed allowed tree cutting is alarming, it is the road building that is even worse. Un-reviewed road building will bring back the bad old days of random slides and crappy drainage sluicing mud into already sediment-laden streams. Goodbye remaining 4 salmon! Although there is a need for fire resilience thinning, the parameters need to be done carefully and not jammed through at the end of the legislative session. The stuff around here that desperately needs thinning does not have a single 36-inch tree on it, and is unlikely to have even a 24-inch tree either. What we really need is a non-polluting product for the thinned material. Sure hope I wake up tomorrow with a good idea on that! Please let your legislators know that this last minute effort will not provide a good result. Rather it will bring more big problems."

TWO HIGHLY RECOMMENDED series just released on Netflix are absolutely riveting. I Am A Killer not only interviews Death Row prisoners, most of whom further incriminate themselves, but delves into the details of the murders that got them the death penalty. I've never seen this grim subject explored in the detail this Brit-made film explores it. The first interview is with a lifer who killed a cellmate simply because murder was the only way he could get out of isolation and on to Death Row, which he viewed as a far more desirable prison placement! First-rate filmmaking and absolutely unforgettable.

THE MIGHTY AVA'S second must-see recommendation is Netflix's Five Came Back, the World War Two experiences of five great American movie directors – John Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra, and George Stevens — who volunteer for the combat zones of the War to make propaganda films to vividly explain the War to the home front. The three-part series draws on archival footage of their brilliant work as explained by five great contemporary directors — Steven Spielberg (Wyler), Francis Ford Coppola (Huston), Guillermo del Toro (Capra), Paul Greengrass (Ford), and Lawrence Kasdan (Stevens). The whole of it is nicely narrated by Meryl Streep. Netflix is also offering the 13 World War Two documentaries made by the great ones that are discussed in the film:[5]

A FLYING VISIT to Fort Bragg last week to visit an old friend, a fisherman during his working years, where old friend encouraged me to visit Princess Seafood down in the Noyo Harbor, an inspirational business begun and staffed by young women who not only sail out to sea to bring home a daily array of fresh fish but operate a pleasant sea food deli, on this day, a Tuesday, staffed by another versatile old friend, Amy Katz, whom I last encountered at Chapel by the Sea where she oversaw, with perfect tact and aplomb, my sister's remains. Ms. Katz is also a talented writer, and if any writer has packed a more varied experience into her uniquely various employment, well, I can't think of one.

I TOOK MY muy perfecto crab sandwich out to McKerricher to gaze at the Pacific for a peaceful lunch, hoping to watch dramatic waves batter the shore, but saw an absolutely flat sea viewed only by peering around the ocean-blocking mounds of barely mobile tattooed flesh shuffling through my viewshed. I remember when the only four hundred pounders on exhibit were in the circus, but as Phillip Roth noted when he announced he was giving up fiction writing, "I turn on the tv and don't recognize my country," or words to that effect, words most of us 70-plus people would nod in rueful agreement.

I WAS THINKING of sticking around for Congressman Huffman's jive Fort Bragg presentation later in the afternoon. It was billed as a "town hall," but The Huff's staff wanted townies to let them know who they were beforehand, a kind of soft rsvp, never ever mentioning that all questions are screened for "appropriateness" prior to reaching his majesty. I have fond memories of a real town hall thrown back in the day by Congressman Doug Bosco in the state building in downtown Santa Rosa. People lined up to tee off of on BoxCorp, as we called him for his unashamed corporate fealty and blithe sign-offs on nerve gas appropriation, and by the third or so denunciation, with the packed hall hooting at his gross evasions, Bosco got mad, and began matching insults with his audience. It was great theater, but ever since our people's tribunes, at least the federal ones, have never again risked an unscripted public event, meeting select and/or carefully vetted groups at wineries and other safe, up market venues. Huffman's a great one for holding "town halls" while most people are at work, as last week’s in Fort Bragg.

POST CRAB SANDWICH, and headed back to Fort Bragg, I spotted the mother of all deals — three crab pots. Free! But I had no way of transporting them to Boonville. I've always wanted one of those things. Not sure what I'd do with it, but… And there were three of them piled on the side of road for the taking. Those three free crab pots will haunt me!

BACK at my work station, I dialed up the global village where I saw that Paul Manafort had been convicted of what thousands of people and many corporations, including Apple, do without sanction — hide money overseas to avoid taxes, which are barely 30 percent on Big Money. And here's where no one is likely to agree with me. The Manafort prosecution is obviously aimed at Trump, as is much insider (Deep State) scheming, as is pretty much the entire media, including Boonville's beloved weekly, and even a large swathe of the Republican Party. So, I hope Trump immediately pardons Manafort, thus hastening his inevitable showdown with what amounts to the entire American establishment, especially that establishment’s "intelligence" apparatus, the same tenured brain trust whose unrelieved bungling has gotten us into an eternal and entirely avoidable war with Islam, the same “intellectuals” who said Saddam Hussein had nukes, the same clowns who failed to figure out that fanatics were learning to fly airliners without learning how to land them, the same experts who brought us the truly insane (and endless) war in Afghanistan, and on and on and on, all of it signed off on by the mainstream media. Given who Trump is up against, I'm for Trump.


Tourism turns towns into de facto amusement parks. It's the worst sort of industry because it creates a tacky atmosphere and attracts a plague of opportunists. For locals, what results is a devil's bargain, where, in return for cash, you give up your streets to a bunch of gawkers. And once your town is turned into an amusement park all the originality leaves with the original inhabitants. The progression isn’t pretty. Whole streets are turned into outdoor malls, with t-shirt racks and all the crap that goes along with it. The population of opportunists that arrive to staff the gift shops are mainly internationals- a motley lot, like modern-day gypsies or carnies. Rootless folk trailing the moneyed cattle like blowflies.

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