- Navarro Watch
- High Surf
- Raffle Donors
- Sailing Ship
- Habeas Motion
- Chinese Xmas
- Moores Again
- Supervisor Haschak
- Yesterday's Catch
- Bad Democrats
- Golden Gate
- Price Gouging
- Library Events
- Doris Lessing
- Dot Connecting
- Helping Santa
- Secret Bureaucracy
- Transit Woes
- Found Object
IF NAVARRO SANDBAR DOESN'T BREACH - EXPECT HWY 128 CLOSURE MONDAY MORNING
According to the NOAA Navarro River prediction, the river level will "crest" at 7.9' next Monday. And while the "normal" flood stage is 23.0' - when the sandbar at the mouth is in place as it is now - the river will flood Hwy 128 just east of the bridge when it reaches 4.5' and CalTrans will "shut 'er down."
That is predicted to happen between :
Monday, 12/17 6:00 am - 4.10'
Monday, 12/17 7:00 am - 4.80'
That is, unless the sandbar breaches before it reaches that level - then all bets are off, the river will simply drain with no Hwy 128 flooding.
We all remember CalTrans shut down Hwy 128 for 10 hours November 30 - December 1st this year (Friday 7:30 pm - Saturday 5:30 am) and it was shut down a couple times last year.
The longest shutdown of Hwy 128 due to sandbar flooding was more than FIVE days back in 2016 - ironically, for precisely 128 hours.
PUDDING CREEK BLUFF, Fort Bragg (photo by Judy Valadao)
This weekend’s rain and wind — primarily on Sunday — could be accompanied by waves as high as 50 feet in some North Coast areas according to the National Weather Service. (Not to mention increasing the likelihood of power outages from downed lines.) Waves up to 20 feet or more, cresting at 25-40 feet when the hit the shore will be common. Beachgoers should exercise great caution in the vicinity of these waves as the storm behind them is expected to dump up to three inches of rain on many areas of the North Coast.
UKIAH SHELTER PETS OF THE WEEK
Granny is a 10 years young, spayed female cat who was surrendered to the shelter this past September when her family could no longer keep her. Granny would love a new home that is calm and quiet, so she can enjoy her senior years. Granny’s been a guest at the shelter four months, and she really needs to find her new digs. Granny’s adoption fees will be waived! Do you have room in your heart for this sweet senior?
Queenie came to the shelter with a significant injury to her leg, which thankfully turned out to not involve muscle or bone. Under the careful care of our clinic staff, Queenie has recovered and is ready to sashay out the door with you TODAY! Queenie is a happy dog with lots of energy. She's very athletic, loves to cuddle, roll around and wiggle, and loves the couch! She did a play dance for our tester dog when they met during Queenie's evaluation. Queenie is 3 years old, spayed and weighs in at a svelte 61 pounds. Visit Queenie's webpage for lots more info: mendoanimalshelter.com/dogblog/queenie
The Ukiah Animal Shelter is located at 298 Plant Road in Ukiah, and adoption hours are Tuesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday from 10 am to 4:30 pm and Wednesday from 10 am to 6:30 pm. To see photos and bios of the shelter's adoptable animals, please visit us online at: mendoanimalshelter.com
For more information about adoptions please call 707-467-6453.
THE AV UNITY CLUB would like to thank the following for their donations to our Holiday Bazaar Raffle: Handley Cellars, Gowan's Hard Cider, Wally Hopkins, Meyer Family Cellars, Judy Nelson, Hedgehog Books, Toulouse Winery, Lauren's Restaurant, Philo Ridge, Jack's Valley Store, Ferrington Vineyard, Brutocao Cellars, The Apple Farm, Foursight Winery, Pennyroyal Farm, Husch Vineyards, Beverly Dutra, Shear Elegance, The Puzzle People, A.V. Brewing Company, Boont Berry Farm, Farmhouse Mercantile, Buckhorn Pub, Gowan's Oak Tree, Bewildered Pig, Dolly Pacella, Gypsy Spring, Stella Wells, and Julie Winchester.
Your generosity helped make our event a success.
Bazaar Chairman, Boonville
CHRISTMAS SHIP sailing just off of the Oregon Coast at Garibaldi
CONVICTED AND SENT TO STATE PRISON WITHOUT EVIDENCE AGAINST HIM
It's been some time since I've written you. However, it's not because I don't have anything to say. On the contrary, there has been so much going on both in my case and our own country. I've been apprehensive about it showing my hand. The political climate is currently out of control. The issues with the “me too” movement, the Kavanaugh nomination, the NFL players taking a knee and the players continuing to abuse women just to name a few. All of which I have personal life experience showing another side to all of the above.
I'm presently writing for another reason. My civil lawsuit is still putting along in court, possibly nearing a positive result (against attorney Masuda, my paid attorney who walked without representing me). Emails from that case’s discovery unearthed Timothy Stoen's participation as you may remember. Anyway, I've been having someone dig into Stoen’s dirty deeds and come up with a May 11, 2016 article written by Tim Stelloh and Bruce McEwen Re: Robert Forest’s case. I am curious if you have access to campaign donation information to Lintott in 2005 2006? I believe the victim in my case, Al Simon, may have pushed my prosecution either by paying Lintott or even Stoen’s campaign for state assemblyman in 2004? I think county records would have the above? Bottom line, Stoen and Lintott were very motivated to go after me. I'm not sure why other than my position with the GOP.
Recently I met now Lake County Judge Markham on a prison tour as a guide. He was the appointed trial attorney the county paid to represent me at trial after Peterson was relieved along with the Laughlin. I would like to talk with McEwen and or Stelloh. I have new counsel who are preparing a habeas to overturn my wrongful conviction. For now I don't want to say who. Is Stoen still practicing?
I have from good sources that Mendocino County taxpayers footed a bill for over $1 million to prosecute me at Stoen’s hand. The closing of the 2016 (Robert Forest) article states, "How many others are out there who had been ruined in the same way, but without resources to fight back against the system so appallingly susceptible to the obsessions of petty tyrants like Tim Stoen?"
I believe my case is even more glaring. I admit I held offices and participated in marijuana growing for profit. I am guilty of being greedy. However, I did it within (mainly) the state and county laws at the time. However, I never paid anyone to shoot anyone. I did hire some unsavory men to work on "the project."
I submitted an application for the governor's office to commute my sentence. In it I admit to my "green thumb" activity. I will have it sent to you. It is interesting work. I still have Howard Herships working, but of late I've asked him not to tip my hand in hopes of not giving Stoen the advantage of knowing what's coming.
I believe my habeas motion will be in another county as we will ask the Mendo DA's office be called as witnesses and the judges be recused as biased. The fight goes on.
May your Christmas be wonderful and again thank you for printing the news with honesty and integrity, a rarity these days.
God bless, Your friend,
PS. Still look forward to a steak and cold brew!
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BILL MOORES AGAIN
by Mark Scaramella
When my father retired to Irish Beach in the mid-80s after a 40 year career in the dairy industry, he naively assumed he could live out the rest of his life in modest comfort with my mother in Irish Beach, a modest created community lying between Elk and Manchester on the Mendocino Coast, not far from where my father was born. My mother picked the house in Irish Beach because she liked the dramatic view of the coastline south to the Point Arena lighthouse.
It wasn’t long before my father was recruited onto the Irish Beach Water District board. Soon after that, at the age of 82, he became the oldest man in California history to obtain a Water Treatment Operator II license after six months of classes and stringent tests based on his knowledge of plumbing and public health. With that license he volunteered as a back-up plant operator for more than ten years.
My father had not bargained for the litigious Irish Beach developer Bill Moores, who sued the Water District Board numerous times during my father's tenure. Moores lost all of his lawsuits because they were petty and mostly a form of intimidation and harassment without a real basis in the law.
The wealthy Moores kept several lawyers on speed dial, the net effect of which caused the Water District tens of thousands of ratepayer dollars defending themselves.
Moores owns several hundred vacant lots in the 500-some-odd-parcel Irish Beach development and many of the partially built lots and a couple of completed homes, all of which benefited substantially from not only the installation of the water system but the provision and administration of safe drinking water, which made Moores’ parcels marketable in the first place.
My father and the other elderly water board members received many highly detailed hand-scrawled complaints from Moores during the approximate eight years my father was on the board, each one carrying the implied threat of a lawsuit if Moores didn’t get what he wanted. The complaints caused much consternation on the board and made it hard to recruit new members from an already small pool of candidates, not to mention the physical and psychological toll that the constant complaints and lawsuits took on my father and his elderly colleagues, all of whom were volunteers. At one point, my father, who took his Board role very seriously, was losing so much sleep worrying about and dealing with Moores’ constant griping, that my mother tried to convince him to resign from the Board before it killed him.
Last I heard about the Irish Beach water board in the early 2000s, Moores had succeeded in packing the board with friends and relatives; the majority of Irish Beach residents, while unhappy about Moores’ coup, at least thought that the days of petty, and often bitter, disputes were behind them.
My only personal contact with Moores since my father died was his occasional visits to the Irish Beach house to tell us that he thought a few trees ought to be trimmed, even though all the neighbors liked the trees and the only view that they (partially) obstructed was from a vacant lot a couple of houses up from my parents’ old house. I'm pleased not to have had to see him since.
According to the Mendocino County Superior Court Case Index, Moores began filing suits against the Irish Beach Water District Board as early as 1987. In 1997, Moores and his wife Tona even sued Moores’ brother Gordon who manages the development on-site. (Moores lives in Healdsburg.)
Since 1990 Moores and his wife Tona have filed well over 40 civil lawsuits, most of them against the Irish Beach Water District, andMoores himself has been the defendant in about 20 additional lawsuits, a few of those criminal cases.
In at least two instances we know of Moores has been cited by Mendo’s Coast Planning Department office for unpermitted activities, and in one case he plead guilty to cutting down trees on a neighbor's property without bothering to ask or even notify the neighbors.
Back in 2011 Moores and his wife finally hit the jackpot with a judgment against the Water District that serves their development for over $1.5 million, a big chunk of which went to Moores’ attorney in Ukiah, Duncan James.
Besides the obvious fact that a small water district like Irish Beach probably couldn’t pay anything like $1.5 million to anyone, it is particularly galling to read that the water district somehow violated Moores’ property rights, conducted an "inverse condemnation" and "trespassed" during the course of their legitimate water admin duties. (Ironically, Moores himself was convicted of trespassing in the case where he cut down the neighbor’s trees.)
Moores’ attorney at the time said that "theDistrict took the position that it had the right to do whatever it pleases and take whatever it wished from the Moores for free."
That kind of silly and untrue rhetoric is typical of Moores and pretty much sums up Moores’ attitude in one simple sentence.
This is not to say that the water district and its board was entirely in the right, and may indeed have made mistakes in billing, accounting, and/or record keeping, especially concerning water system project development or expansion. But it's hard to believe that Moores, a wealthy former Ukiah timber merchant and realtor, could be so egregiously wronged to the extent his lawyer’s gleeful press release boasted about it in 2011.
As if small water districts don't have enough problems with numerous regulations, not to mention recurring droughts, to deal with.
We sold our Irish Beach house a few years ago and got away from Moores and his lawsuits. But every few years Moores finds a new way to throw his weight around and ignore the wishes of the property owners at Irish Beach who paid him quite nicely for their individual homes and parcels.
Last month, Moores submitted a huge permit application which was so scattered, so larded with bureaucratese, and which included so many unrelated zoning and planning changes that we gave up trying to figure out what he wanted. (If you’re interested there’s plenty of material at the County’s website, but be warned, finding anything there is not easy.) According to Stephen Whittaker, an elderly Irish Beach resident who seems to be organizing the opposition to Moores’ latest proposal, just about everyone in Irish Beach who had an opinion on Moores application was against it. So was the County’s Planning staff, which recommended disapproval while observing that Moores could still log several large forestland parcels which surround the housing development for commercial gain without rezoning them to TPZ.
But, again according to Whittaker because we are unable to decode the Planning Commission’s nearly equally complicated ruling, the Planning Commission reversed at least some of the Planning staff’s denials last month (maybe all of them, we simply can’t tell what the Planning Commission decided), further annoying the rest of Irish Beach who are convinced that the logging proposed for surrounding parcels will endanger their water supply and reduce their property values.
There was a mini-outcry when the Irish Beach people heard that their appeal of the Planning Commission ruling was going to be heard by the current Board of Supervisors with a lame duck Georgeanne Croskey and the unaccountable and unaccounted for Dan Hamburg in whose district the Irish Beach development sits. The Irish Beach people also complained that Hamburg’s Planning Commissioner, Boonville resident Steve Hall, originally appointed by David Colfax, was somehow in the pocket of Moores (which we doubt) or at least wasn’t paying attention to the Planning staff or Irish Beach residents.
Anyway, this has all just recently been postponed to next year when the new Board will hear it. Irish Beach residents have been talking about renting a bus or two so that as many as possible of them can attend that hearing to complain. The Moores affair could be an interesting baptism for newly-elected Supervisors Ted Williams and John Haschak. It will also be interesting to see if Williams finds a new Planning Commissioner to replace Steve Hall, not that Hall has aroused any wider antipathy. There haven't been any recent controversies with Planning decisions appealed to the Supervisors.
* * *
PS. On Saturday Mr. Whitaker distributed this note of background information for the upcoming Supes hearing on Moores’ permit application. (We have not attached the map or “strategic fire plan” referred to because the map doesn’t mean much to non-residents of Irish Beach and the plan is nothing but a cover page.) But Whitaker’s does indicate part of the argument against Moores’ application and a hope that Supervisor Elect Williams (and Albion Little-River Fire Chief) will pay attention to the forestry/fire protection issue.
* * *
Irish Beach Community Members,
Attached is an interesting view of the Irish Beach area in which you can see ranch & farm land to the north & south and ocean to the west. In addition, there is an imaginary vertical dividing line that extends north and south and lies just above the "el" in Google. To the east of this line is timber production land (TPZ) and you can conclude (especially upon a closer view that is available on the web) that the trees have been harvested in this area. To the west of this line is a buffer zone of timber that is currently designated as forest land (FL) or range land (RL). One can surmise (especially upon closer view) that the trees have not been harvested in this area. This buffer zone has an attractive esthetic characteristic for the home owners in Irish Beach; however, it is a zone that needs thoughtful forest management. Some comments about "thoughtful forest management" are contained in the forty-page document entitled: "2018 Strategic Fire Plan for California" that is available on the web. The first page of this document is attached as a reference.
Cities and towns in California have the means for dealing with buffer zones that are necessary to defend against fire. A community such as Irish Beach can only appeal to the County of Mendocino or the State of California. If we are lucky, the Board of Supervisors or our legislators will take an interest in communities such as ours and a county-wide or state-wide plan may be developed. Please gather your thoughts on this problem and be prepared to express them at the BOS meeting in Ukiah on January 8, 2019. Our new representative, Ted Williams, will be on the Board at that meeting.
What kind of supervisor will John Haschak be? A taste of Haschak’s views was provided by Willits Weekly reporter Mike A’Dair in last Thursday’s edition.
Haschak told A’Dair that he wants “the economy to work for everybody.” He’s for emergency preparedness and more access to the Sherwood corridor. He will "pay attention to climate change and how that's affecting the environment where we live." Seeming to arrive late to the party, as Haschak wants to make the County’s pot permit rules “work for small growers.” He's also for career and technical education and broadband — things over which the county has little control or authority. He's big on what he calls “cannatourism” and "the wellness industry" — "We have a lot of healers around here, herbalists, things of that nature. They do it in Ojai. They do it in Sebastopol. They do it in Sedona. We could do that here too." Haschak said he wanted to find out what's holding up all the pot permits — if he does that he’ll have done what the other supervisors have been unable to do for months. On climate change, Haschak says, "we need to talk about how we are managing our forests, about access routes and emergency evacuation routes -- things that will help us survive if there is a devastating fire." The County of Mendocino has essentially no authority over "how we are managing our forests."
CATCH OF THE DAY, Dec. 15, 2018
MADALENA ACOSTA, Ukiah. Controlled substance, id theft, stolen property, obtaining credit with someone else’s id, conspiracy.
ROBERT CAMPBELL, Ukiah. Trespassing, parole violation, resisting.
WAYNE CAMPBELL, Redwood Valley. Parole violation.
SONO CARRIGG, Ukiah. Parole violation. (Frequent flyer.)
RYAN DUNCAN, Redding/Hopland. DUI, controlled substance.
MELANIE FREEMAN, Covelo. Burglary, grand theft, prior strike, probation revocation.
DANIEL HOLMES SR., Ukiah. Disturbing the peace, failure to appear.
ROBERT MARRUFO, Covelo. Domestic abuse.
JACKIE MONTIETH, Elk. Probation revocation.
JONAH OTWELL, Ukiah. Failure to appear, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
CARL SERR, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
MIGUEL SIMON-CRUZ, Ukiah. Controlled substance, failure to appear.
FRANK VIVERO, Glenhaven/Ukiah. Unspecified offense.
“WHEN CAPITALISM THRIVES, we are assured, we thrive. The merging of the self with the capitalist collective has robbed us of our agency, creativity, capacity for self-reflection and moral autonomy. We define our worth not by our independence or our character but by the material standards set by capitalism — personal wealth, brands, status and career advancement. We are molded into a compliant and repressed collective. This mass conformity is characteristic of totalitarian and authoritarian states. It is the Disneyfication of America, the land of eternally happy thoughts and positive attitudes. And when magical thinking does not work, we are told, and often accept, that we are the problem. We must have more faith. We must envision what we want. We must try harder. The system is never to blame. We failed it. It did not fail us.”
— Chris Hedges
We are supposed to be human beings. We have religion, laws, politics, and other things that we live by. But people like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and Jerry Brown upset the apple cart about what human beings are supposed to be. Take open borders. People flock to the border at Tijuana to get into California because they know that once they get in they have it made in Jerry Brown's sanctuary state. Free food! Free medical! Driver's license. Food stamps. And much, much more! They drive around and can't even read our street signs or speed limit signs or anything else. DUI. Robbery. Rape. Murder. All kinds of crimes! But here they are and they are safe.
People in Chicago are a bunch of wild animals and the people running it are even worse. We fight wars in other countries but we can’t clean up our own cities? The gangs sit around doing nothing, then they want to go hunting, and they get in their car and see members of another gang and boom boom boom boom, they're dead. They drive off. Then an hour later, they run into members of the other gang and boom boom boom boom, and two or three more are dead. A bunch of wild animals!
New York too. Deblasio, Coumo. Crime almost as bad as Chicago.
Remember, Chicago and New York are led by Democrats.
I know you Democrats want open borders so leave the doors open to your house and your car and your garage then go to bed. See what happens. That's open borders for you.
The billionaires won't help anybody. Millions of dollars in corruption and misplaced funds. Screwdrivers cost $10,000, thumbtacks $6000. Government.
I use foul language a lot because I can't stand liberal Democrats. I have anger and hate for people like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer doing whatever they can to stop the border wall. Too bad people like that exist. This could be a good country with a lot of good people.
Liberals have screwed up California too because there are Democrats in charge. Right before your eyes. All our serious problems are because of Democratic leadership. Okay? Get it?
God bless Donald Trump.
BRIDGE CONSTRUCTION 1934-1935
Last year, a state of emergency was declared in light of the terrible fires that ravaged our beautiful Sonoma county. That state of emergency is still in effect and will continue until May 31. While there are many reasons, including accessing continued emergency funding, the extension also has the unfortunate effect of prolonging Penal Code Section 396, the “price gouging” statute.
As a criminal defense attorney, I have represented several homeowners prosecuted by our district attorney in the past few months. All my clients were hardworking professionals. None knew anything about the price restriction or had criminal histories. Each unwittingly agreed to an “illegal” rent offered by an insurance company representative competing ferociously to secure housing for clients.
Experience tells us that California suffers natural disasters across the state every year. Surely a more effective, fairer approach would be for the Legislature to formulate emergency regulatory controls targeted specifically at the housing market in affected areas. Implementation, education and enforcement could be consistent throughout the state, and there would be no need to criminalize unwitting property owners who would have willingly complied with any restriction if they had only known about it.
UPCOMING EVENTS HAPPENING AT THE UKIAH LIBRARY. In the next week, we have a Shadow Puppet Theater performance for kids and a holiday DIY gift maker space for teens and adults.
DORIS LESSING: WHAT’S THERE TO CELEBRATE?
by Jonah Raskin
I always called her Doris, and so did almost everyone else who knew her and who read her books. I always found her approachable and never standoffish, though she once scolded me for giving an Australian feminist her phone number, and, when she was in the midst of writing a book, she rarely had time for me. She could be a scold and then in the next moment she was all kisses and roses. She once told me that she didn’t have a writing schedule, and that she wrote around all the other things she had to do, including look after her son Peter, who never, Doris explained, “cut the apron strings,” not even in adulthood. Peter lived in the flat next to Doris’s in North London.
They knocked down the redbrick wall that separate the two flats so that Peter could walk back and forth from his place to his mother’s place whenever he wanted to, often to sit and watch TV. I watched TV with him and had tea and chocolate biscuits and let the cats curl up in my lap.
After Peter died at 66, in October 2013, Doris died four weeks later at 94, soon after she won the Nobel Prize for Literature, which she never boasted about. It was no biggie.
In 2019, fans of Doris’s books are planning to celebrate, in Chicago and in Beijing, the one-hundredth anniversary of her birth in 1919 in what was then known as Persia, but that’s now called Iran. She was born Doris May Tayler, the daughter of a veteran of World War I, whose life was upended by “The Great War.” She took the name of her second husband, Gottfried Lessing, a German-born Communist she married in Africa.
I wonder if her fans know who and what they’ll be celebrating on the one-hundredth anniversary of her birth, and why. In fact, there is no Doris Lessing. There are only a series of identities that she assumed and discarded and then took on new ones, as a colonial girl, a Communist, a Sufi, a global traveler, a Cassandra and as a mother to several generations of misfits and outcasts. In the 1970s, when I visited her at her flat, she’d make dinner. She’d always ask if I was hungry and insist on feeding me in a maternal way. Her tarragon chicken with roasted carrots was killer.
Once she dressed in a burqa and rode the London underground to see what it might be like for a Muslim woman in an unfriendly environment. “We have to see ourselves as other people see us, and we have to try to experience what it’s like for people from other countries and cultures,” she told me. She did that in her books.
Doris rarely boasted about anything, though she liked it when I said that I enjoyed her books, and not just The Golden Notebook, which made her famous, but also the Canopos in Argos series which was known as “space fiction,” and that she was inspired to write in part after reading Kurt Vonnegut’s science fiction. She especially wanted me to like her 2001 novel The Sweetest Dream, which is set in London and in a fictional African nation. I didn’t and told her so. That was no biggie. I didn’t appreciate her premise. “The sweetest dream that humans have is not to be in love but to be in a utopia,” she said.
In New York in 1973, I asked her if she wanted to meet anyone in the city. “Yes, Norman Mailer,” she said. When I offered to arrange a get-together she blushed and insisted that I do nothing to connect her to Mailer. She would be too embarrassed.
A few years later, she complained about what she called my “revolutionary romanticism,” and suggested that I get in touch with and meet her ex-lover, Clancy Sigal, who was also a writer and who provided the inspiration for her fictional character, Saul Green.
Clancy was just as impatient with my “revolutionary romanticism” as Doris, though he and she were always interested in my stories about Black Panthers, the Weather Underground and the Yippies. I was not surprised when she didn’t want to be known as a feminist, but I was surprised when she came out in support of the Mujahedin who were fighting against Soviet troops in Afghanistan.
After her romance with Communism — she actually belonged to the British CP — she hated the Soviets. Her membership in the CP delayed her visit to the U.S. The Department of State would not issue her a visa until 1969, which is when I met her at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. During her visit, the students rioted. I took her to a meeting of the campus chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). Later, she talked about the “beautiful young Ches” she met and then was sorry she romanticized them. She was the original revolutionary romantic.
If Doris became fussier and crankier as she aged, she also always managed to stand with the underdog, and to be ready to defend the marginalized, the unappreciated and the forgotten. She didn’t like it when reporters who came to interview her got credit, while the photographers were treated like underlings who didn’t count.
When I knew her, which was from the late 1960s until shortly before her death, Doris was always leaving a political cause and turning her back on “the left,” only to adopt another cause, even if it was only to herald a lost writer like Anna Kavan. She had to have a cause.
Once, I went with her by taxi from her home to the London Review Bookstore, where she appeared on a panel about Kavan’s work, which dealt with themes, like madness, that were dear to her. “I’ve never gone mad,” she told me. “But I know what it’s like.” People who loved the Sixties annoyed her. “I was there,” she said. “It was a sad, mad, bad time.”
Having lived through World War II and the Cold War, she was almost always against war, and grateful to the unknown, unheralded women in all counties who protested against bombs, armies and the lies that accompany them. “Our side was often as bad as their side,” she explained. “We completely destroyed Dresden.” After 9/11 we talked on the phone. “It’s going to be bad for Muslims,” she said. “There’s going to be a big backlash.” She was right about that. “Bad things always happen,” she said. “If you predict the worst you won’t be wrong.” At the same time she wanted to be upbeat. “I try not to say ‘No’ to new things simply because they’re new,” she said.
We shared a love of drama on the BBC, watched episodes of Foyle’s War and talked about American politics and American elections, which befuddled her. “Suddenly everyone’s wild about Bill Clinton, and then he’s forgotten and everyone’s wild about someone else,” she said in the 1990s. She could also tell funny stories, like the one about the time in New York when a publisher took her to lunch at a restaurant where the waitresses were topless. “I can’t imagine what he was thinking,” she said. “After all, I’ve seen a lot of breasts.”
Driving her around northern California, she was reminded of her time in Rhodesia, where she lived from the mid-1920s to the late-1940s. She suddenly felt homesick. Meeting a circle of my literary friends who published a magazine, she remembered her early days with writers on the left.
If I wanted to write fiction there was one thing above all else I had to understand: irony. Maybe those who want to honor Doris might imagine that she would not appreciate fans gathered to commemorate the 100th anniversary of her birth. She was once invited to attend a Doris Lessing conference at the University of Leeds. She declined, though I offered to travel with her. “It would look funny if you and I arrived together,” she said.
Honor Doris? Read her books. Read The Grass Is Singing (1950), her first novel, and her two towering memoirs, Under My Skin (1995) and Walking in the Shade (2000), which she wrote when she heard that someone was writing her biography. She didn’t want anyone else to tell her story. Now, there will be an official biography. Maybe it will do her justice. She wanted Michael Holroyd, the biographer and husband of British novelist Margaret Drabble, to write her story. They bonded on a trip to China. After you read her memoirs, turn to Retreat to Innocence, her 1956 novel that she disowned and wanted the world to forget. In fact, nothing that Lessing wrote is forgettable, even when it’s didactic and hammers away at a point, which often was, “everything’s cracking up.” That’s the way that The Golden Notebook begins. “You’re the ideal reader for The Golden Notebook,” she told me once. I wasn’t the only one, though growing up in the Cold War and in a family of Communists I knew what she was writing about from the inside out. What I also remember is the time she explained that she didn’t know what she was going to write until she wrote it. “What’s the point of writing if you know ahead of time what you want to express?” she said. “You have to discover it in the process of writing.” That’s the best advice on writing I’ve ever received.
(Jonah Raskin is the author of For The Hell ofIt: The Life and Times of Abbie Hoffman and American Scream:Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’ and the Making of the Beat Generation.)
I WANT TO LIVE as long as I can, usefully. I plan to stop when it's evident I'm a ruin or soon to be one. There's no afterlife -- not in this corner of the universes, anyway. I celebrate this unlikely shot I have at life, consciousness, self-awareness and so on. It is an amazing spark, this human life, and I won't let it go out too easily. Being is way more fascinating than nothingness.
And there's another reason. I become more useful as I age. What we call wisdom might also be called "connecting the dots." Information necessary to life is spattered on our blank slates in careless ways. It's for us to organize them. We get memory storage of everything we perceive, whether we can bring it up or not. It is, to me, a thrill when something I learn also connects some of those dots. Just like a drawing, those connected dots start to form new pictures, pictures that reflect a growing understanding of things, and it's a multiplying phenomenon. The more connections and clarity happens in the brain, the more you're capable of adding. Y'all know this.
At eighty, I got lotsa dots and lotsa connections. I have memories that precede World War 2. I remember the excellent days in America when the war was over. The corporate guys were scared to death that the end to all the war production, all those wondrous assembly lines for tanks, bombers and jeeps, those shipyards in my town of Baltimore, in Phillie, New York, Richmond and Norfolk, would necessarily slow our economy to a stall or stop.
How wrong they were! War production excluded things we wanted, like cars and refrigerators, like tractors -- BUTTER, fer Pete's sake. (I remember margerine in a sturdy plastic bag. It was white, and there was a little bead with red dye that you popped and kneaded through all the white margerine to turn it yellow.) We wanted all the stuff we did without during the war, and the U.S. economy BOOMED!
I remember Hitler, Mussolini, Tojo, Mao TseTung (however we spell it now), FDR and Babe Ruth. My home's sort've skimpy bookshelves had Churchill's six fat books about the war (and books by America's favorite curmudgeon, my hometown native son H.L. Mencken).
I don't mean this as a boast. These memories are merely accidents of time. What I DO mean is I know stuff a younger person, even if s(he) is ten times smarter than me doesn't, because I have more dots and more lines between them. Every day of my life, the Big Picture is slightly better focused. I feel an obligation to make the most of it, and that's what this Facebook page is. I constantly see stuff I can make informed comment on BECAUSE I'VE SEEN IT BEFORE.
This has its limits. I've never seen anything remotely like this period in American and world affairs. It's terrifying and fascinating at the same time, and I have neither dots nor lines that explain it all.
BUT all around today's events are other things I do know about, and that's also why I write. I'm 80, and as much as I can, I wanna bring people who haven't been around since the glory days of newspapers and hot type, up to speed. That's what this page and all my pages are about -- (that and ventilating my agitation over America's supposed chief executive).
Yesterday, in conversation here, I quoted the Spanish philosopher Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana, known in English as George Santayana. This is what he said. THIS IS WHAT HE SAID:
"THOSE WHO CANNOT REMEMBER THE PAST ARE CONDEMNED TO REPEAT IT."
LISTEN TO JOHNSON
Please share with your readers. Chalmers Johnson is essential reading for anyone interested in the future of democracy in the USA. This book was written in 2004.
Attached: In my earlier book, “Blowback,” I assumed that the American government still functioned more or less as it had during the Cold War and I stressed the potential for conflict in these East Asia. But I did not focus on the extent of militarism in America or on the vast empire of military bases that had sprung up more or less undetected and that is today a geopolitical fact of life. In the wake of September 11, 2001, it no longer seems necessary to issue warnings; instead a diagnosis, even an autopsy, may be more appropriate. In my opinion the growth of militarism, official secrecy and a belief that the United States is no longer bound, as the Declaration of Independence so famously puts it, by "a decent respect for the opinions of mankind" is probably irreversible. A revolution would be required to bring the Pentagon back under democratic control or to abolish the Central Intelligence Agency or even to contemplate enforcing Article 1, Section 9, Clause 7 of the Constitution: "No Money shall be drawn from the treasury but in consequence of appropriations made by law and a regular statement and account of the receipts and expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time."
This article is the one that empowers Congress and makes the United States a democracy. It guarantees that the people's representatives will know what the state apparatus is actually doing and it authorizes full disclosure of these activities. It has not been applied to the Department of Defense or the Central Intelligence Agency since their creation. Instead there has been a permanent policy of "don't ask, don't tell." The White House has always kept the intelligence agencies’ budgets secret, and deceptions in the defense budget date back to the Manhattan Project of World War II and the secret decision to build atomic bombs and use them against the Japanese. In 1997 then Senator Robert Torricelli, Democrat of New Jersey, proposed an amendment to the 1998 Defense authorization bill requiring the Congress to disclose aggregate intelligence expenditures. He lost, but he was able to point out that the intelligence agencies spend more than the combined gross national product of North Korea, Libya, Iran and Iraq — and they do so in the name of the American people but without any advice or supervision from them.
The subject matter of this book is American militarism, its physical presence in the world, the growth of the special forces as a primary army of the president and the secrecy that allows ever more militarized and secret institutions to live and thrive. This is not an optimistic report. As the great sociologist of the modern state government Max Weber, concluded, "Every bureaucracy seeks to increase the superiority of the professionally informed by keeping their knowledge and intentions secret. Bureaucratic administration always tends to be an administration of ‘secret sessions’: is insofar as it can, it hides its knowledge and action from criticism. The concept of the ‘official secret’ is the specific invention of the bureaucracy and nothing is so fantastically defended by the bureaucracy as this attitude. In facing a parliament the bureaucracy out of a pure power instinct fights every attempt of the parliament to gain knowledge by means of its own experts or interest groups. Bureaucracy naturally welcomes a poorly informed and hence a powerless parliament — at least insofar as ignorance somehow agrees with the bureaucracy’s interest."
Weber could have been describing American government today. In the war against Afghanistan the only information available to the public and and its representatives came from the Department of Defense. The military has become expert at managing the news. Following the attacks of September 11, government at every level began to restrict information availability to the public including charges it was bringing against people it had picked up in Afghanistan and elsewhere and was holding incommunicado in a Pentagon prison in Cuba. Our newspapers began to read like official gazettes, television news simply gave up and followed the orders of its corporate owners and the two political parties competed with each other in being obsequious to the White House.
As militarism, the arrogance of power, and the euphemisms required to justify imperialism inevitably conflict with America's democratic structure of government and distort its culture and basic values, I fear that we will lose our country. If I overstate the threat I am sure to be forgiven because future generations will be glad I was wrong. The danger I foresee is that the United States is embarked on a path not unlike that of the former Soviet Union during the 1980s. The USSR collapsed for three basic reasons — internal economic contradictions driven by ideological rigidity, imperial overstretch, and an inability to reform. Because the United States is far wealthier, it may take longer for similar afflictions to do their work. But the similarities are obvious and it is nowhere written that the United States in its guise as an empire dominating the world must go on forever.
— Chalmers Johnson, "The Sorrows of Empire" prologue
SOME PEOPLE are always grumbling because roses have thorns. I am thankful that thorns have roses.
— Alphonse Karr
TRANSIT WOES IN MARIN--AND SF
“...SMART’s average rider is 46 years old, lives in a household of three, earns $97,300 a year and has the option to drive but instead chooses to take the train. The majority of participants in two online SMART surveys and an in-person sampling conducted by the Bay Area’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission, identified as white (77 percent) and English speakers (95 percent)... Just 15 percent of riders classified themselves as Hispanic, with 4 percent citing Spanish as their native tongue. As of July 2017, Sonoma County’s Latino population was estimated at 27 percent compared to 16 percent in Marin, according to the United States Census Bureau.”
“So we are using scarce transportation dollars to provide an alternative to wealthy non-minorities who already can afford to drive--this should be right at the bottom of our list of transportation priorities. There are many surveys showing that access to a car makes an immense difference to those on low incomes--enabling them to travel to get to a job, and to get there reliably and on time.”
Hall on Marin's election results:
“...74.70% of voters obediently voted yes to Measure AA which opened with this claim: "In order to relieve traffic congestion on Highway 101 and local roads..." By far the majority of the proceeds, 55%, will be spent on Marin Transit that provides local bus service within Marin County. These buses are apparently the silver bullet deserving the majority of our funding to relieve traffic. But how many voters when voting knew that this would be the claimed solution, and that Marin Transit buses according to officially reported Department of Transportation data carry an average of just 4 riders?...Marin Transit is running giant buses with a capacity of 30+ riders, but most of the time carrying just 4 riders on average according to the data...(emphasis added).”
Rob Anderson's comment:
“San Francisco's Muni system has the same problem: giant buses that are well-used during commute hours and mostly empty the rest of the day and night. What about a fleet of jitney-sized buses to plug in during off-hours? One of the glaring examples in San Francisco: Muni's #37 Corbett line, on which I've never seen more than two passengers. Why not run a much smaller jitney-sized vehicle? Hall is right that working people need cars. See the Urban Institute's 2014 study: Driving to Opportunity.
FOUND OBJECT (you provide the caption)