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Mendocino County Today: Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018

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CHANCE OF RAIN in NorCal for Thanksgiving, the weather people say. Meanwhile, cold, dry, smokey conditions persist until the promised precipitation arrives.

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THE CHP has confirmed that the driver killed in a Hopland crash is 17-year-old Brian Mendoza of Boonville who died on impact when he crashed his car Friday at 6:45 p.m. into two oak trees off Old River Road. The CHP still is investigating how fast Mendoza was driving and whether alcohol or drugs were a contributing factor to the crash. Old River Road is a two-lane rural route running parallel to Highway 101 from south of Hopland north to Ukiah.

photo courtesy of Hopland Battalion Chief Ron Roysum

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CAMP FIRE STATUS: Now up to 130,000 acres at 35% containment. With 7,600 residences (way up from yesterday) and 260 commercial structures destroyed. 48 civilian fatalities. 5600 firefighters on scene. Cause: “under investigation.”

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THE HIGHEST API (Air Pollution Index) value ever recorded was 2523 in Paradise, CA on 10 November 2018 during the Camp Fire. Last Friday in Ukiah the API was 367.

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I'M SURE investigations of Camp Fire will reveal that residents of the late town of Paradise received nothing in the way of warnings that an uncontrolled fire was heading their way, hence the ensuing, and often fatal, frantic dash for safety when the firenado arrived.

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A FRIEND WRITES: "The fire started on Camp Fire Road up Hwy 70 at 6:30 am. It marched almost straight westward to Paradise. My son and daughter were driving away from town by 9:30ish and that is about the time they closed all inbound traffic to town and changed all the roadways to be outbound only. By 10:30 it was an inferno in East Paradise and it spread over town so quickly. Nobody received any governmental warnings of any kind. My kid works for PG&E and was released from the yard in Paradise around 8:45ish. Luckily his house was only a few blocks from the yard. Thankfully I was able to reach them both by phone and hurry them along and they were able to tell me when they got out of town safely to Chico. I know a lot of people up there and have heard too many harrowing stories of near-fatal drives out of town when the fire overtook their vehicles as they were trying to drive away. I have seen timelines that show how the fire progressed across town and up the ridge. But no official timeline yet.”

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SUPES GOUGE FIRE VICTIMS and they don’t care.

Wendy Escobar, the woman whose home was destroyed in the October 2017 Redwood Valley/Potter Valley Fire along with the homes of many other County residents, came before the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to simply request that the Board consider waiving or reducing building permit fees for uninsured fire victims.

Escobar: “I'm back again to talk about the outrageous cost of the building permits. Nothing is being done to decrease the amounts that we are having to pay, like $6000 or more than that for the building permits. I did not bring a lot of people here today on the advice of Supervisor [Carre] Brown. But I do have petitions. We have over 300 signatures for you, the Board of Supervisors, to waive the building fees. I'm not suggesting that we waive the building phase for people who have adequate insurance or don't object to it. But I have 300 here and I have about three more petitions out that have another 200 or so signatures on them that I have not picked up, in Potter Valley and a couple more in Ukiah. This fire has been a real cash cow for this county because without us having to pay all these building permits you would not have that income. Besides that, look at all the money we are paying in sales tax. We are having to buy ovens, refrigerators, lumber — all sorts of things that we wouldn't have had to pay before. At least you could charge us like a remodel fee or something where it's not — we've already built the house once. We've already paid the building fees. Plus, the contractors are charging outrageous prices now. Lumber has gone up, everything is increasing. We are having to pay that. So all of our insurance money is going to permits and upgrades and a lot of people are just leaving. Without us you won't have any taxes. You know, to give yourselves raises, or whatever you want to do with the money. We need to have something done or put on the agenda to address this issue. I can bring a lot of people here. I've got tons of people who are willing to show up here. But on the advice of Ms. Brown I didn't do that. People are hurting. They are paying rents now where they didn't have to pay rent before. One of my neighbors is paying $1100 a month rent where previously they owned their house, they had no mortgage. Now they are living paycheck to paycheck. I respectfully request that you people do something for us and not just look the other way. Here's an article in the newspaper and there will be a follow-up saying ‘Mendocino County gouges fire victims’ and that's true, and there will be another follow-up in a week or so. So I respectfully request again that this be put on an agenda and let people come and talk and then we can take it from there. If you would like these petitions I can leave them here.”


“Do you want them?”

Acting Chair Georgeanne Croskey: “You can leave them with the Clerk of the Board. Thank you, Wendy. Those are all the speaker cards I have. Do we have any further public expression?”


Croskey: “At this point the Board will convene as the Air Quality Management District.”

The last time Ms. Escobar appeared before the Board to complain about the fees back on September 11, Supervisor John McCowen at least replied, “The question of how much are they — that's up for discussion…”

Now there’s not even that.

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November 13, 2018 11:30 AM: Smoke and haze primarily from the Camp Fire in Butte County continue degrading the air quality and reducing visibility in inland areas of Mendocino County. Currently air monitors show particulate matter concentrations in the “Unhealthy” range in Ukiah and Willits. Other areas of inland Mendocino County are expected to have periods of “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” to “Unhealthy” conditions depending on wind. The Mendocino Coast is currently experiencing “Moderate” to “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups”. These conditions are expected to impact the County intermittently until the fires are out. Based on the meteorological forecast, current conditions will persist for the next three days. Light and variable wind may provide periods of relief. Shorter periods of smoke impacts are forecast for the Mendocino Coast. Please see the accompanying Public Health Advisory for recommendations of personal protection for sensitive groups, as well as, everyone during “Unhealthy”, or more severe, air quality conditions. Mendocino County Air Quality Management District continuously monitors the air quality, reporting particulate matter and ozone concentrations hourly to our website: In the sidebar on the right of our webpage (scroll down if using a mobile device), under “Air Quality for Mendocino”. For additional information, click on an air quality index range, or the colored tabs below the map.

For more air quality information visit:

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HOW THEY JUSTIFY IGNORING THE MARBUT REPORT so they can get more money for them. (From a chart entitled “Homelessness Needs Assessment and Action Steps, March 2108 [sic, they of course mean March of 2018, but…]: “The Marbut Consulting Report is focused on the ‘street level’ homeless community while the Continuum of Care focuses on all aspects of homeless prevention and intervention.”

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WELL, ISN’T THAT CONVENIENT? We’ll have more later, but a passing reference by Supervisor McCowen on Tuesday to a “response to a special request” indicating that the “vacancy rate” is running at 12% seems to have satisfied Supervisor McCowen and his colleagues that the County budget is magically balanced. Never mind that there’s no budgetary dollar amount assigned to the 12%, that no one is tracking the vacancy rate, that the quarterly budget report makes no mention of the vacancy rate, that no one seems to care if work is getting done because of a higher than projected vacancy rate, that major overruns in a number of departments are being incurred without concern, and that somehow it’ll all work out in the end. PS. Again, nobody mentioned that $500k deficit generated by the recent huge salary increases top officials gave themselves.

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CEO Report 11-13-18 Edition

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by Dave Smith

K.C. Meadows has been the Editor of the Ukiah Daily Journal since 1997. She talks about growing up in New York, how she landed with her husband in Mendocino County, opines about Donald Trump and the survival of newspapers, and describes her enjoyment of living in our corner of the world. 

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I grew up in Manhattan in NYC, on the Upper West Side which in the 50s and 60s was considered the wrong side of the tracks. Today of course it's a different story. And, even though it was the wrong side of town we still lived in a nice two bedroom apartment half a block from Central Park with a doorman/elevator man all on my single mom's secretary's salary.

How was that possible?

My parents were divorced when I was about a year old and my dad lived on the East Side. He was Catholic and wanted my sister and I (she's two years older) to be raised Catholic. My atheist mom said, fine, if you want Catholics be here every Sunday morning to take them to church and Sunday school. And he did. Most Sundays my sister, my Dad and I would troop over the Holy Name Church on 96th and Amsterdam Avenue for services and then take a taxi to one of my dad's favorite watering holes for “lunch.” PJ Clark's was a favorite. My sister and I would have hamburgers and my Dad would have scotch. We later learned that one of my Dad's good friends at the time loved to join us because as two cute little girls we were the perfect way to meet women. His friend would ask the prettiest woman at the bar to take us to the bathroom as a way to try to pick her up. Those Sundays were lots of fun for us since we got to eat out (something our mom could hardly afford) and we got to ride home alone in a taxi, always considered an adventure.

My parents were both show business people. My mom started out as a big band singer named Francey Lane who traveled with bands in the 40s and in the early 50s, the age of live TV.

She had a couple of local live entertainment shows on NBC where she met my dad, Kevin Jonson, who worked at NBC and eventually became a TV director — directing things like the Milton Berle Show and the Kate Smith hour. She quit the business when they got divorced and he went on eventually to start his own company directing "industrials" such as videos and training films for private companies.

My dad started out as a ballet dancer. He was a member of the Balanchine ballet troupe when WWII broke out. The Army had no idea what to do with a ballet dancer so they assigned him to Irving Berlin's ‘This is the Army’ production and he spent the war traveling in the show. I have his photograph book from those years and there are some wonderful photos of the company — one I especially love is a group of men using the railings of a carrier ship as a ballet barre.

We went to NYC neighborhood public schools throughout our education. The West Side was a very diverse area, lots of Hispanic — mostly Puerto Rican — and black kids, but the schools kept us fairly well separated, putting white kids in "accelerated" classrooms (for no reason, of course, other than that we were white).

We got what I figure was a pretty good education. Once high school time came around, it was time to try to get into one of New York City's specialized high schools. Otherwise it was Brandeis High School on 84th and Columbus, which everyone knew was a complete drug and crime center from which you would never emerge alive. Both my sister and I had been taking music lessons from a young age and we both had good singing voices (thank you, mom) so we were able to get ourselves into Music and Art High School, a specialized school in an old convent on 135th Street. Your academic grades didn't matter but you had to audition to get in for the music side. The art students had to submit portfolios. It was a wonderful curriculum. Four hours of music lessons (I got in auditioning on piano but was a voice student) every day plus regular school. We were there 8-4 every day.

At graduation I applied to and got into State University of New York at Purchase in Westchester. It was a brand new college in the SUNY group and we were the first freshman class. The dorms weren't finished yet so our first half year we were put up in empty dorms at the New York Maritime Academy in the Bronx (a bunch of 1972 college kids invade a military school, what could go wrong?) and we were bused to Purchase every day. The campus itself wasn't finished either so we had classes in the Museum building (THAT was done) and the administration building. Everything was new and experimental. We didn't have subjects. We had pods. Each of us had to choose ahead of time one of the three "pods" we would take: Truth, Beauty, or Power. Each pod was taught by a variety of professors from the different academic areas: history, literature, science etc.all aimed at the overarching theme. Frankly it was chaos. We were assigned Karl Marx reading but half of us really hadn't a clue about the Russian Revolution. One professor had us reading The Story of O. I'll say no more. After a year of this I couldn't wait to get out. I quit school and never looked back. Living in the city again, I took some classes at the New School for Social Research in Greenwich Village, mostly writing classes and that was it.

I was living and working in Washington DC during the 80s for the US House of Representatives. I met my future husband, Bob Meadows, in a local bar and we got on so well we decided to be roommates on Capitol Hill. He worked in a bar near the White House. We had a gorgeous two bedroom apartment which we shared for two years. At about the same time we both got tired of our work and wanted something new. Bob suggested a move out west so we put all of our possessions in storage and took his ginormous Ford station wagon, loaded it up with camping equipment and started driving west.

Bob had driven across country several times before, but though I had done a lot of traveling over the world and to coastal areas of the US, I had never been to Yellowstone or seen Mount Rushmore so we took a month and just camped our way across America. We had a small amount of savings, no credit cards and also no debt so we figured we'd just find someplace out west to live and get jobs and start our lives over. Our goal was somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. We almost stayed in Bend, Oregon. We loved it there but we wanted to see Eureka which a DC friend had told us was a great place. This was September 1989. We arrived in Eureka on a drizzly day. As we drove around town I kept seeing "No Checks" signs in the windows of stores and thought, Hm… this place is on a downward spiral. I had no idea we were in the middle of a dying logging town. We parked the car with the intention of going into the Chamber of Commerce and a little old lady, seeing our east coast license plates came up to us to tell us her son lived back East. We asked her how she liked living in Eureka and she said she hated it, that it was a terrible place to live. So we just got right back in our car and kept heading south on 101.

When we got to Ukiah and passed the Welcome to Ukiah sign, I looked in the rearview mirror and saw it spelled haiku backwards. I mentioned it to Bob who had studied haiku as an English major at Maryland U and we both declared that it was a sign we should stop. We had $500 to our names. We figured that would be plenty to get set up. We went to the Green Barn restaurant off Talmage and sat at the bar with the Ukiah Daily Journal in hand looking at apartments. With first and last, etc. everything was way out of our reach. But there was a little ad in there for a trailer on East Side Road for $100 a month. We asked the bartender for directions and he said to take Talmage Road east until we got to the City of 10,000 Boozers (at least that's what we thought he said, wondering what the hell kind of town we were in) and then take a right. We ended up with our tiny trailer with a deck right on the Russian River for $100. We had $400 left so we went right back to the Green Barn and had the full prime rib dinner, the best meal we'd had in a month.

Two years later Bob and I were living in Hopland and I was working for The Cheesecake Lady and I saw an ad in the Ukiah Daily Journal for a news assistant. I didn't know what that was but I had worked in news in the 1970s as news director at WUPY Radio in Ishpeming, Michigan and the start of my congressional experience was as a press officer. So I applied and got the job right away. It was kind of an assistant to the editor but I was quickly put to work writing feature stories and then soon after a reporter position opened up and I got it, covering the City of Ukiah and the Mendocino County Office of Education. I was hired in 1991 and named editor in 1997.

People ask me if I think the Ukiah Daily Journal will survive. Boy, I wish I had a crystal ball, but I think yes it will. Despite all the prognostications that newspapers are dying, newspapers are still the number one place people go for information. A lot of that, of course, is online now and the big problem for newspapers has been that online content was for years free. Newspapers didn't see the online revolution coming. We allowed aggregating sites like Huffington Post to build huge brands using our stuff. We allowed Craig's List to completely take the classified ad market right out from under us.

It's all about the advertising. If advertising stops, newspapers stop, unless we find a different way to make money. The circulation and online subscriptions don't pay the bills. If you see an ad in your local paper, thank that local business for keeping your newspaper going. I can see a day when we don't print a newspaper any more, maybe not while I'm still here but some day. The newsprint and delivery costs are enormous. But will we be there to report the news? Yes. Will we be able to do lots of investigative work and lengthy series on complex subjects? Not as much. Thinking about the fires of 2017 and 2018, our staff worked around the clock to get that news out and that's what we're here for... to make sure people get the news and watchdog government and tell stories of local people, and let you know about entertainment and the arts in our town. What we do locally is document the history of our town one day at a time. I always hope that 100 years from now, someone can read old copies of the Ukiah Daily Journal and really get a feel for what it was like to live in Ukiah these days.

I, like the majority of Americans, was completely blindsided by Trump's win in 2016. I think he is the worst president this country has ever seen. He is unfit for the job. I am convinced he did not expect to win and really never wanted the job in the first place and it shows. Living in Northern California it's easy to find yourself in a bubble and forget that there are millions of people out there who have completely different points of view. The dark money in politics has also shaped the world we now live in and it is one of the ways a minority of powerful people end up in charge. The scariest thing for me is the emergence of Fox News and other prominent media outlets that no longer agree on basic facts, that are willing to tell and promote outright lies from people in power and help them shape an alternate world that millions of people see as real and truthful. That will still be the case I fear when Trump is gone. I hope that at least Trump has shown the majority of Americans that real journalism is important and needs to be supported because you never know when and where the despots and tyrants will show up.

As for my reading habits, I read the New York Times and Washington Post online and I have a subscription to the New Yorker. I also like Politico and Talking Points Memo.

I love authors Robertson Davies and Jonathan Irving. For years my favorite book was The Magus by John Fowles, but recently The Goldfinch blew me away. I am a one book at a time reader and I cannot put a book aside even if I am not really enjoying it. I figure I owe the author at least to finish it. I just finished The Winter Soldier by Daniel Mason which was an amazing story and Rushdie's Midnight's Children, which somehow I missed years ago when everyone else was reading it. When I am in the mood for easy reading I am hooked on British detective stories although I have found a new strain of Italian and Indian versions I also love.

As a Hopland resident I love that Hopland has been in something of a revival. I love and recommend The Golden Pig (which we Hoplanders simply call The Pig) for great cocktails and food. Tyler the bartender is a gem and will fix you something you've never heard of but which will be your new favorite cocktail. Also the newly opened Hopland Tap for sheer great vibes and beer (which I don't drink so they have wonderful apple cider from Gowan's in Boonville).

My favorite winery will always be Graziano Family of Wines. Yes, my husband retired from there but in my opinion Greg Graziano is one of California's truly exceptional winemakers and he keeps his prices out of the stratosphere.

I hardly go to movies any more but I could watch The Thin Man another 1,000 times and still love it. Gigi because it is charming and I loved it as a girl and I am also a complete sucker for You've Got Mail.

I am so glad Bob and I ended up here. We have had a happy life (we were married on my lunch hour from The Cheesecake Lady under the Chinese redwoods on the northwest corner of the courthouse by the county clerk) and made good friends and have had wonderful jobs that we truly love – and how many people can say that?

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SHORT TAKES: According to the RV Industry Association about a million Americans are permanently on the road, living full time in their RV's.

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HAVING JUST PAID my property taxes, and after watching our Supervisors today, I feel like selling my manufactured Boonville home and hitting the road myself. The Supes meet every two weeks. Supervisor Hamburg was absent again today without explanation to us, the great unwashed. A cryptic statement by the CEO a couple of weeks ago says his absence was by "pre-arrangement." I wonder if I should have pro-rated my property tax to subtract Hamburg's services, not that he's provided any to any of his 5th District constituents since his election. If property taxes were calibrated to performance none of the present Supervisors would be paid, and certainly not paid as lavishly as now — $85 thou a year plus a fringe package and retirement most Americans can only dream of. Would any of these people make this kind of pay package in the wilds of non-government free enterprise? Doubt it.

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PEOPLE COMPLAIN about the enormous sums paid professional ballplayers but, unlike our Supervisors and the other upper echelons of government at all levels, the pro athlete performs for all the world, right there on film for all to see. He or she either does it or is jobless. Put the Supes, especially Hamburg, on work-hour video and few of us would be willing to pay him (or any of them) $85 grand a year. And they're rude as hell into the bargain, as Mrs. Escobar discovered during her appearance today to rightly complain that she and other Mendo fire victims are getting gouged by our Planning and Building Department. The government stare back seems to be catching on. Here in Boonville, our Health Center Board reacts to complaints by going full zombo — a blank, cryonic-like stare back. The Supervisors do it all day long every time they meet.

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WAYWARD YOUTH? That quaint, Victorian descriptive was invoked by a guy who appeared before the Supes to claim our Juvenile Hall is a model of its kind of prison for future adult criminals, er, wayward youth. Of course he works at the Hall, or has some other self-interested function "serving" wayward youth.

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KEEP IT CLASSY, PRESS DEMOCRAT. The PD charged a local person $1,100 for an obituary, which is cashing in on grieving families, I'd say.

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SOMEHOW I'M ON the mailing list of a sanguinary "Christian" outfit called the Liberty Counsel. A recent blast from them reads, "Anti-Semites Elected to Congress. Democrat Rashida Tlaib wrapped herself in the Palestinian flag at a victory party. Tlaib is an anti-Semite and supports the destruction of the Jewish state of Israel and its replacement of a unitary Palestinian state. Tlaib said, ’A lot of my strength comes from being Palestinian.’ After she won her primary race in August, she published several anti-Israel tweets and re-tweeted a fan who declared that Tlaib's ‘first fight was for Palestine, always Palestine’."

CONFLATING the Israeli government's ongoing persecution of Palestinians with anti-Semitism is almost as common among "liberals" as among the crypto-fascist Israeli government, but criticism of Israeli policy is not anti-Semitism. An anti-Semite wants to see the wholesale destruction of the Jewish people as a people. Most critics of Israel simply want a decent accommodation with Palestinians, as does roughly half the Israeli population, including at least five retired heads of the Mossad.

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LAST NIGHT, the Channel 7 Chuckle Buddies cited a government report that recommended two and a half hours of exercise a week as being the minimum to beat back early death from one or another of the diseases plaguing fatso-watsos. (I prefer “burly” to male fatso-watsos and “voluptuous” for plus-size women.) Two and a half hours a week is delusional. Not nearly enough. Speaking as a burly, I require an hour a day of vigorous exercise to keep my weight at a svelte 225 pounds spread over a crumbling 6'4" infrastructure. I'd weigh somewhere north of 240 without an hour's brisk walk every morning (I used to run every day until my knees gave out) and if I didn't do upwards of three hundred push-ups at night (in sets of fifty). I wouldn't bother with the push-ups but I like to maintain significant upper body strength to repel the occasional frontal attack. It always sounds trite, but if the mentally ill worked out every day they would probably only be half-cracked. And the morbidly obese, as the whoppers are called, walked for an hour every day they would still be fat, given their gluttonous calorie intake, but they'd not only feel better they'd be free of a lot of the ailments suffered by the fat and the sedentary.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, November 13, 2018

Beck, Corona, Garcia

DYLAN BECK, Ukiah. Probation revocation. (Frequent Flyer)

TIMOTHY CHANDLER (booked November 10, still no city, no charges, no booking photo, no recent priors).


JUAN GARCIA, Ukiah. Domestic battery.

Hoffman, Laflin, Miller

ERIC HOFFMAN, Lakeport/Willits. DUI.

ADAM LAFLIN, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

ANGEL MILLER, Ukiah. Parole violation.

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by Jonah Ruskin

It’s getting to be that time of the year in northern California when some of us, often called “spiritual sluts,” celebrate Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza and Tết, the Vietnamese New Year, which I enjoyed in Hanoi for the first time twenty-years ago. I have often celebrated all of those holidays, one after the other, because I’ve felt like I belong to the world and to all its religions, though I know that religion has brought violence and calamity, and though I was born into a secular Jewish family and grew up when Jews were excluded from country clubs and fraternities.

When I was eleven-years-old, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, two American-born Jews, were sent to the electric chair after they were found guilty of stealing the secret of the atomic bomb and then handing it to the Soviets. That event seared my childhood more than any other; my parents were also Jewish and had belonged to the American Communist Party from 1938 to 1948.

The American Nazi Party was alive and well when I was a boy. Members of the organization wore swastikas and paraded in largely Jewish neighborhoods. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that they had a right to do so under the First Amendment to the Constitution. “Jew Boy” was a term of derision and so was “New York Jew,” which might be taken to mean a Wall Street banker or a Communist agitator. Now, New York Jew it might mean the former mayor of the city, Michael Bloomberg, the eleventh richest person in the world, or the orthodox Jews who are anti-Zionist.

To paraphrase Henry James, “It’s a complex fate to be an American Jew.” Now, more than ever before the American Jewish community, which is as divided as ever before since the height of McCarthyism and the Cold War, faces crucial political and social issues that will not be resolved anytime soon.

I probably will never lose my identity as a Jew, though I don’t believe in the Messiah, don’t care if I never see Jerusalem and have never thought that Jews are the “Chosen People” who have suffered more than any other people because of discrimination and prejudice.

I’m a Jew who believes that the State of Israel has often behaved like a Nazi regime when it comes to Palestinians. I don't think of myself as a “white person,” if only because so-called “white people” have reminded me for much of my life that I was Jewish and didn’t belong in their fraternities, clubs and cliques, though sometimes I have been a token Jew, as when I played rugby in New York in the early 1960s and rubbed shoulders with Irish from Ireland, white South Africans and white Australians.

After all these years, I remember now a dinner party in Antwerp, Belgium in 1988 when the host, who was also a colleague of mine at the university, began to talk about a Belgian woman he described as “a Jewess,” a word I had never heard spoken before. I associated “Jewess” with Rebecca, the dark, exotic Jew, and the daughter of a moneylender in Sir Walter Scott’s 1819 novel Ivanhoe, which is set in the twelfth-century, about the same time that some astute observers of human nature first explained that non-Jews projected their own “dark side” onto Jews, rather than owning it themselves.

The word “Jewess”—when coupled with my landlady’s comment that “the Jews were taking over Antwerp”—raised my hackles, made me aware of Belgian anti-Semitism and brought out my own self-identification as Jewish, which is magnified whenever I hear negative comments about Jews.

Jean-Paul Sartre’s Anti-Semite and Jew, published in 1945—just as the world was becoming aware of German concentration camps—has been my Bible when it comes to anti-Semitism.

Soon after that 1988 Belgian dinner party, Eric Schellermans, my landlady’s youngest son, took me to a World War II “detention center” for Jews who were subsequently shipped to places like Auschwitz and Dachau. “It wasn’t a concentration camp,” Eric insisted, though I felt differently, probably because there was a plaque on a wall with the names of several Jews who had died in a failed attempt to escape. Some of them had the last name “Rasquin,” the French spelling of Raskin. Not surprisingly, I had an immediate sense of kinship.

The visit to the “detention center” reminded me of the long history of European anti-Semitism, the fate of Dreyfus and Zola, and the Holocaust, too, which my father told me about when I was five. He didn’t call it the “Holocaust,” probably because I wouldn’t have understood the word, though he explained that Nazis put Jews into ovens and gassed them. It was a lovely bedtime story and gave me nightmares.

In Morocco the year before I lived and worked in Belgium, my friend, Mohammed, invited me for lunch at his home, where his mother made couscous and where he told me that, “Jews ran the U.S. and controlled the media.” And also that “Rockefeller was a Jew.”

Wherever I have lived, whether in New York, northern California, North Carolina, Manchester, England and Mexico City, I have experienced anti-Semitism. I experience it now more than ever before and especially since Trump’s election, which has ratcheted up attacks on Jews in the U.S. I’ve been aware all my life that Jews have been a target of hatred.

My own journey started in Huntington, Long Island in 1942, when Jews all over the world were very endangered, indeed. Even in Huntington, where my grandfather owned and operated a store and helped to create the town synagogue, there was anti-Semitism. The boys in the neighborhood called Jews “Christ-killers.” The girls in the neighborhood wouldn’t date Jewish boy because they had been circumcised but not baptized.

I drove Benjamin Raskin to the synagogue on Saturday mornings, though I never joined him, and he never invited me inside. His only son, my father, Samuel, had been bar mitzvahed at 13. Then, he turned around and told his father that he was an atheist and would never set foot in a synagogue again. As far as I know, he never did.

I was never bar mitzvahed, and have rarely gone to a synagogue anywhere in the world, though out of curiosity I visited a reform temple in Antwerp where men in suits conferred with one another in Hebrew all through the service. An odd way to practice their beliefs, I thought. In fact, they were conducting business and ought to have been chased from the temple.

My initial reaction to Trump’s election was a kind of instinctive sense that the U.S. was hurtling toward fascism and that anti-Semitism would escalate. After all, Trump had made anti-Semitic remarks. The mid-term elections have reinforced my apprehensions. The right wing controls the White House, the Senate and the Supreme Court, though the resistance succeeded in electing a majority of Democrats to the House of Representatives and to state houses across the nation and to governorships, too. Two cheers for Democracy.

When I settled in northern California forty-two years ago, I naively thought I would escape anti-Semitism. Indeed, I met working class Jews, Jewish gangsters and racketeers and learned about Murder Incorporated. I also learned that in the 1940s some Jewish refugees from European fascism moved into the houses vacated by Japanese families when they were sent to detention camps simply because they were Japanese.

In Sonoma County, an hour North of San Francisco I heard the kinds of comments about Jews that I had not heard since the 1950s, namely, that Jews had horns and tails and that Jews were the killers of Jesus Christ. As a faculty member at Sonoma State University, I heard anti-Semitic comments from faculty members and from students, though I also heard black students referred to as “niggers” on campus and off campus.

In the men’s locker room one afternoon, I heard one student say to another, “it smells like a Jew in here.” Walking across campus a professor in the history department approached me and asked, “what are you doing here,” followed by “Why don’t you go back to New York?” I took that to be coded anti-Semitism.

In another era, I had been told to “go back to Russia” and “love it or leave it.” One evening while having dinner with friends at a Sonoma County restaurant that happened to be owned and operated by a New Yorker who is also Jewish, a man at the table complained that, “The Jews are taking over Los Angeles.” When I repeated his comment to my own friends, they said, “He’s from the Valley,” as though that excused his comment.

In Sonoma County, where Jews are a small minority and where they were tarred and feathered in the 1930s, just because they were Jews and communists, too, I heard Jewish students in my classes tell me it “was impossible to have peace with Palestinians,” and, when I attended a Santa Rosa synagogue for the bar mitzvah of a son of a student, the first thing the rabbi said to me was that I should give money to the State of Israel and that if I was a “good Jew” I would also be a Zionist.

For my whole life, I have rejected the idea that to be a Jew also meant to be a Zionist and to pledge allegiance to the State of Israel. The Santa Rosa rabbi was in part merely expressing a widely held sentiment that holds that the fate of the Jews in the U.S. and the fate of Jews in Israel are inextricably linked.

Indeed, ever since 1948, the existence of Israel has altered what it means to be a Jew in the United States. Any Jew who doesn’t bow down to the Israeli government runs the risk of being demonized, ostracized and marginalized.

These days, Jews don’t lead labor unions and strikes, as they once did, though many of them do humanitarian work. But so do citizens of all ethnic groups. The idea that there are “Jews without money” is now largely a thing of the past, though in 1930, Mike Gold wrote an autobiographical novel about penniless Jews.

In Sonoma County, there are a great many Jews, including myself, who can’t and don’t have civil conversations with other Jews on the subject of Israel without shouting at one another and refusing to agree to disagree. I also have Jewish friends my age and generation who don’t know any Yiddish—what a shame!—don’t know Jewish history and traditions and who have been more assimilated into white Anglo Saxon Protestant America than any Jews I have ever known. I feel much the same way about them that James Baldwin felt about African Americans who were in denial about their own blackness and who identified as white.

I have not accused those Jews of being “self-hating,” though that phrase has been hurled at me because I don’t belong to a congregation or attend a synagogue except on rare occasions, for funerals, for example. There may be some Jews who have internalized anti-Semitism.

I know that Jews collaborated with the Nazis, much as Jews also resisted the Nazis, but I refuse to accept the idea that Jews who aren’t Zionists or who criticize the State of Israel are “self hating,” much as critics of the U.S. aren’t necessarily anti-American. When I taught in Belgium I heard anti-American statements, along with anti-Semitic remarks. In the 1980s, with Reagan in the White House, it was relatively easy for Belgians to hold and express anti-American sentiments.

I know what Anti-Americanism looks like and sounds like. It’s an instinctive hatred of all things American, by which people usually mean the U.S.A. In Belgium, I did everything I could to combat anti-Americanism in the classroom by introducing students to the diversity of American culture and literature, written by women and people of color, playing jazz and the blues and lecturing on the history of American radicalism that was fueled by Jews, Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists, atheists, agnostics and more.

Under Trump, and in the wake of the recent killing of Jews in Pittsburg, I feel more Jewish than ever before, and more American, too. Jewish in the ways that Marx, Einstein, Freud, Bella Abzug and Philip Roth were Jews, and American in the ways that Abbie Hoffman, Allen Ginsberg, Ben Shahn and Emma Goldman were Americans and Jews, too, and of Lithuanian and Russian ancestry, like me.

When I say I’m Jewish I don’t mean to end the conversation, but to start one, much as students who would tell me, “I am Irish,” started a conversation, though they often thought they were stating a fact and ending a conversation.

In a long rambling article entitled “Do American Jews Still Believe they’re White?” that recently appeared in Tablet, the African American writer, Ishmael Reed mostly talked about himself and the media, though he ended his piece by saying, “The United States has never been a white nation and it never will be.” What Reed fails to appreciate is that “whiteness” is a social construct and that it was constructed in the U.S., where European immigrants, whether they were Protestant, Catholic or Jewish, Italians, Polish or Irish, largely bought into the myth that they were “white” not “black”—not African-American

To say that the U.S, has never been, nor or will it ever be a “white nation” is to focus on skin color and to ignore the myth of “whiteness,” which the earliest settlers and their descendants created as a way to distinguish themselves from Indians, whom they called ‘redskins”—whom they aimed to subdue and exterminate, if necessary, while they were the “pale faces” who would conquer the continent.

Reed also insists that we’re now “hearing the death rattle of white nationalism.” In support of his argument, he urges readers to eat at a Burger King and spend a night at a Holiday Inn and see the “variety of languages and colors.” Sorry, comrade Reed, but that’s wishful thinking. White nationalism is no more experiencing a death rattle than anti-Semitism. Just look at the corpses. For some U.S. citizens, the more there’s linguistic and ethnic diversity at Burger King and elsewhere, the more reason there is for white nationalism.

Reed might remember that Jack London, who was a member of the Socialist Party of the United States, was also a white supremacist and an anti-Semite, though he also had friends who were Jewish, and who thought that Jews were weaklings and that in the struggle for survival they would die off, while whites would thrive. The picture is far more complicated than Reed allows.

Now, as much as at any time in history, what it means to be Jewish and an American is up for grabs, and ought not to be in the hands of Trump’s daughter and son-in-law, or with Trump himself, the protégé of one of lowest, slimiest American Jews ever: Mr. Roy Cohn, Joseph McCarthy’s sidekick.

In the thick of the 1969-1970 Chicago Conspiracy trial, Abbie Hoffman, who was one of the defendants, accused Judge Hoffman of being a “shanda fur die goyim”—a henchman for the master class—who betrayed his own people. Saying it in Yiddish made more sense and conveyed more punch than saying it in English.

In Miami in 1972, Abbie Hoffman reached out to retired Jews, reminded them that Nixon hated Jews, and invited them to support the Yippies who were as Jewish as the members of any organization in the Sixties, and who never forgot the Holocaust, even as they never surrendered their patriotic sentiments, especially when they showed up at the House Committee on American Activities in shirts made from the American flag and in uniforms that mimicked those of the patriots of 1776.

There’s a dark, dark tradition of Jewish writing in the books of Isaac Bashevis Singer and others, and there’s also a tradition of Jewish humor that once became American humor, much as the blues became American music and might once again, especially now in the age of Donald Trump, a “great dictator,” in Charlie Chaplin’s sense of the word, if ever there was one.

I’m not so Jewish that I can’t laugh at fascism and Trump, and not so stoical that I can’t and don’t cry when I see and hear about the murder of human beings on the basis of their gender, ethnicity, social class and political beliefs. I sometimes wish my parents hadn’t named me Jonah. But they did. It’s too late to change it now. I’m of the Old Testament. I can’t escape it, or deny my sense of affiliation with the prophet Jonah who fled his home, was swallowed by a whale and then went to Nineveh, the capital of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, to call upon its citizens to repent their sinful ways. My goals are more modest, or maybe not. What I’d like is a world without Anti-Semitism. And that’s just a start.

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A new website has been launched that gives you detailed information about the northern lights, their current status, and the forecast for them over the coming days.

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MAKING PEPPERNUT BALLS At the Grace Hudson Museum

Sunday, November 18 at 10:00 AM and at 2:00 PM

Did you ever wonder what local California Indian people did without coffee and chocolate? They ate peppernut balls! Learn how to prepare and enjoy these Native treats, from harvesting the fruit of the bay laurel tree to the finished truffle-like product. Along the way you'll learn why Peppernut Girl is so sad and what Woodrat taught the humans. Museum Curator Sherrie Smith-Ferri will lead both the workshops, which last about 90 minutes.

Class fees: $15 Museum members & volunteers; $20 non-Museum members. All materials included. Call the Museum at (707) 467-2836 to make your reservation.

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The Festival of Lights annual benefit GALA is this Saturday, November 17. Join us for a preview of the lighted gardens complete with live music, bubbly, food, wine, beer, and more! As crisp fall air gives way to long winter nights, we gather in the spirit of the season offering an exclusive viewing of the Gardens aglow. Be the first to stroll the scintillant paths of brilliant color. The cozy tent will be transformed into a dazzling fantasia of sparkling ice and snow complete with music, drink, and sumptuous bites. Sway to lively jazz performed by the Dorian May Trio with guest vocalist Sharon Garner. This year’s Gala will include a bountiful hors d'oeuvre menu assembled by the Noyo Harbor Inn & Restaurant and KBistro. Here is a sneak peek at the menu (more delicious bites to be added): Begin with bubbly provided by Fathers & Daughters Cellars, North Coast Brewing Company craft brews, and some of the best wines Mendocino County has to offer. Savor an elaborate cheese fondue station with non-dairy vegan dip, Dungeness crab bisque, local mushroom risotto, a variety of passed appetizers, oyster bar provided by Caito Fisheries, cheese and charcuterie platters provided by Roundman’s Smokehouse, and a decadent array of desserts provided by Harvest Market!

TICKETS are $100 per person and include live music, food, wine, beer, bubbly, a special preview of the lighted gardens, live auction, and the chance to win raffle prizes! All proceeds from this fundraiser event help to support Festival of Lights and the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. Tickets are limited and selling fast! Purchased yours today at The Garden Store or by calling 707-964-4352 ext 10.

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I was there, too!!!! Bruce Patterson was, too?! Does he have anything, to say?

An Oral History of Laurel Canyon, the Sixties and Seventies Music Mecca

"When I first came out to L.A. [in 1968], my friend [photographer] Joel Bernstein found an old book in a flea market that said: Ask anyone in America where the craziest people live and they’ll tell you California. Ask anyone in California where the craziest people live and they’ll say Los Angeles. Ask anyone in Los Angeles where the craziest people live and they’ll tell you Hollywood. Ask anyone in Hollywood where the craziest people live and they’ll say Laurel Canyon. And ask anyone in Laurel Canyon where the craziest people live and they’ll say Lookout Mountain. So I bought a house on Lookout Mountain. —Joni Mitchell”

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“Say what you will about 2018, I haven’t been kept awake at night by the same fear twice.”

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An Arizona Republican candidate for the state’s top education post lost it on Twitter after his Democrat opponent declared victory.

The Phoenix New Times reported that GOP candidate Frank Riggs “seemed to fly off the handle” when local political consultant David Leibowitz made fun of the Republican for his “perennial campaigning.”

Leibowitz took the jab at Riggs after Democrat Kathy Hoffman declared victory in the race in spite of it not being officially called.

The consultant jokingly said that he was “looking forward” to the GOP candidate running for the state’s Corporation Commission — without knowing, the New Times noted, that Riggs did consider running for the commission in 2016.

In response, the candidate “exploded.”

“Thanks for the tweet on #VeteransDay, you gutless punk,” Riggs wrote in a since-deleted response to Liebowitz on Sunday. “Let me know if you ever wear the uniform, run for office, or serve in any capacity. All I did was protect the likes of you.”

During the exchange, Riggs “roped in” attorney Thomas Galvin and Barrett Marson, two Twitter users “with whom he apparently has beef.”

“Punk & coward. Couldn’t last one week in boot camp or police academy. Sorry Softie,” the candidate said. “@ThomasGalvin @barrettmarson Does this shoe fit you too?”

“Dude. I don’t know you,” Galvin replied. “Leave me out of this. Your behavior is reprehensible.”

After Liebowitz suggested the men could settle their dispute “by Indian leg wrestling or a steel cage match” if the candidate weren’t 68 years old, Riggs again took the bait.

“Anytime. Punk. You will be embarrassed, big time. Just message me. You & your pasty ilk are welcome to join me @ 5 am for one of my daily workouts,” he wrote. “Can you do a pull-up yet?”

When the New Times reached out to Riggs for comment, the candidate deleted the tweets and then briefly deactivated his account before responding.

“Please do not contact me,” he told the newspaper. “You are not authorized to use or share my mobile number. Please acknowledge receipt of this request.”


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Cathy Riggs (his wife) posted on Facebook:

Though the results were not what we hoped, I am very proud of my husband Frank Riggs in his campaign for Superintendent of Public Instruction. The judicial cannons prevented me from being actively involved in his campaign. In fact I had joked with a couple of fellow judges that I couldn't even "like" my husband on FB.

He pretty much had to push the boulder up the hill this past 20 months and 45 thousand miles by himself. Funds didn't provide for staff, so he had to wear the hats of candidate, scheduler and manager. He ran to partner with our governor Doug Ducey to improve education in Arizona not only for our grand children, but all children in the state.

I, as I am sure many of you are saddened by the tenor of the "anti" social media of twitter and other venues towards candidates and their families. Even more disappointing is to see the media take the role of judge, jury and gatekeeper in the process.

Frank and I have walked this road before and there has always been a silver lining. To use a favorite Winston Churchill quote; Defeat is never fatal, Victory is never final. It's courage that counts. Those of you who know my husband will agree with me, he has a truckload of courage!

At the end of the day, this is just politics, and there are many more important things occurring right now. I hope that we are all saying prayers for the first responders in CA fighting these horrible fires, and for the families who have lost everything. We recently learned that two longtime friends in Sonoma County have passed, way before their time. So we intend on going forward and making each day count.

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Mrs. Hortense B. Hordingall

Surfs the internet shopping mall

Most every hour of the day

Buying trinkets and baubles

And fauxfoods to gobble

To chase her bored demons away.

She clicks targeted ads

In bright patterns and plaids

Of bargains galore, super cheap!

They exploit her fixation

To indulge each temptation

For every last thing she might keep.

Though her house is entombed

By the things she's consumed

Driven by her blind need to devour,

Daily challenges she faced

Could be all but erased

By Hortense's purchasing power.

So she shops and pops pills

And ignores the landfills,

Rather than make a connection

Between hubris and waste

And on values misplaced

That bring the whole world to abjection.

Such a bother! to stay curious

about conduct that's injurious

While the culture insists, “Spend! Spend! Spend!”

But instant gratification

Is damn poor consolation

For the cost it entails in the end.

The whole exquisite earth

Knows what courage is worth,

Should Hortense explore the big picture.

Ignorance is not bliss -

For life, otherwise missed,

Makes existence a million times richer.

— Via Keller

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BUDDHIST ECONOMICS SCHOLAR Dr. Clair Brown to Speak at City of 10,000 Buddhas in Talmage

Dr. Brown

UKIAH, CA—Dr. Clair Brown, economics professor and director of the Center for Work, Technology and Society at the University of California Berkeley, and author of Buddhist Economics, will speak in the Buddha hall at the City of 10,000 Buddhas in Talmage on Sat., Dec. 8, at 7:30 p.m.

A second opportunity to meet Dr. Brown, Conversations with Clair Brown and Richard Katz, will be held at Dharma Realm University from Sunday, Dec. 9, 9:30-11 a.m. Both talks are free and open to the public.

“The message that I want to get out and have everybody talking about is how do we create an economy that supports a meaningful life for all people and where people can care for each other and the planet,” said Brown, who has studied and published about the issue extensively and teaches it in an undergraduate economics seminar.

“We can do that. Economists know the policies to share prosperity or reduce inequality. Climate scientists know the roadmaps for going to a low-carbon or clean energy economy, and the United Nations has taught us how to reduce suffering around the world. When you bring all of those policies together, you create what I call a Buddhist economy,” Brown explained.

In an author interview earlier this year, Dr. Brown told a story from her childhood that shaped her future as academic and author. She was 10 when she accompanied the beloved family maid, Nazarene, to catch the bus. On the way, she recommended the maid see the new movie, Alice in Wonderland. Nazarene said blacks couldn’t go into the theatre. Also, Nazarene pointed out, she had to sit at the back of the bus.

Brown began noticing other inequities that were unquestioningly accepted in her world. “I saw how the world set up rules that were grossly unfair…people pretended as if this were the natural order of things, when in fact policies and culture were at work,” she said.

Brown attended Wellesley College as an undergrad math major, but grew disenchanted by mathematics’ isolation from social and political issues. She then pursued graduate work in economics and earned her Ph.D. from the University of Maryland. She was awarded a post-doctoral fellowship at the Brookings Institution before being hired in 1974 as the first female member of the economics department faculty at UC Berkeley.

Her book, Buddhist Economics: An enlightened approach to the dismal science (Bloomsbury Press, 2017), covers the assumptions and inequities in the current economic system as well as tools and policies that will support meaningful lives based on people caring for each other and the environment rather than overconsuming.

“You don’t need to be a Buddhist—or an economist. But you do need to care about the human spirit and care about healing the earth,” said Brown, explaining, “Humans have dominated the earth and, as we know now from the United Nations and the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change], we are actually killing the earth. So we end up with a planet that is dying for humans and many, many species and we also end up with people who are angry, aggressive and greedy. That’s not the way most people want to live. Most people I talk to want to live a meaningful life and they recognize that their well-being is interconnected with the well-being of others and the well-being of the earth.”

Brown pointed to a study that concluded that inequality continues to increase in the U.S., with the top one percent grabbing 95% of income growth and the bottom 90% experiencing declining incomes even as the economy recovered from the most recent recession (2009 to 2012).

America’s one-percenters emit 15 times more greenhouse gas emissions per person than the average American and 50 times more than the average person worldwide, according to the World Resources Institute. Yet in America, even the bottom 50% in terms of wealth have an average carbon footprint that is four times the Paris Climate Accord goal of 2.1 tCO2e per person per year by 2050.

“For me, being a Buddhist, the recognition of interdependence with all the other people and with the earth has been really powerful for me as an economist,” said Brown.

The last chapter of Buddhist Economics considers remedies: four approaches for government to undertake; two steps for companies; and two approaches for individuals. Brown will discuss these at the lecture.

For individuals, she said, people need to do two things: One is to take care of the people in our families and our communities and take on the personal task of having a very low carbon footprint.

The other approach for individuals is to join a group—a local food group or sangha or garden club—that shares values about caring for the earth.

“We need to go and work on something—pushing local government, pushing state government—working in some way that we think is important to help deal with climate change,” said Brown. “What’s so great about this is you feel more hopeful. Each one of us doesn’t need to save the whole world. We just need to help in some way to make a difference,” she said.

To attend Dr. Clair Brown’s Saturday lecture at the Buddha hall and/or the conversation with her on Sunday at the DRBU university, use this map of the City of 10,000 Buddhas:

Dr. Brown’s book, Buddhist Economics, will be available at Mendocino Book Company in Ukiah.

For more information about the subject Dr. Brown will discuss, see this video:

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BEES ART AND ECOLOGY with Lavender Grace Ciinnamon

Wednesday, November 14th, 6 to 7:30

Honeybees: An exploration into how the Divine sacred appears through Drum, Song and Story – discover how bees are truly the artist! At The Gathering Place, located in The Co. Store , corner of Main and Redwood. $10 suggested donation.



  1. George Hollister November 14, 2018


    by Jonah Ruskin

    Growing up mostly in Mendocino County anti-Semitism, and it’s opposite Jewish Nationalism are both foreign and enigmatic. I am constantly left asking, what’s the fuss? I hear anti-semitic comments, and wonder, what is the basis for that? And then I hear, I am a Jew and we are persecuted, and I am left wondering, really? This issue might be in this time, but not in this place. At least not that I am aware of.

    • George Hollister November 14, 2018

      For those interested and confounded, “The Jewish Century”, by Yuri Siezkine is an enlightening book. Jonah Ruskin might know Siezkine. Thomas Sewell had a section of his book “White Liberals and Black Rednecks” devoted to the same subject.

    • Harvey Reading November 14, 2018

      George, you peddle your manufactured BS, on any subject, with a sanctimonious air that is second to none. I pity you and those like you.

      • George Hollister November 14, 2018

        Wait a minute Harv, you want me to present my views and not quote others, but want me to provide references for everything. So I did both, and you still complain. What’s a guy to do? BTW, “The Jewish Century” is a good book. Check it out. “We’re all Jews now.”

        • Harvey Reading November 14, 2018

          LOL, George, LOL.

  2. George Dorner November 14, 2018

    Willits election results, courtesy of The Willits Weekly:
    Greta Kanne: 551 votes
    Larry Stranske: 428 votes
    Jeremy Hershman: 283 votes

  3. james marmon November 14, 2018

    I wish Ms.BB Grace would come back, the comment section could use another voice of reason in these troubled times.

    James Marmon

  4. George Hollister November 14, 2018

    Hey, good job on the KC Meadows piece. A native born New York City musician comes to rural USA and makes the town newspaper a must read for locals. Not bad. KC creates a conflict with my entrenched prejudices of urbanites.

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