Off the Record (Jan. 23, 2019)

MAYBE THIRTY YEARS AGO, a Fort Bragg family was murdered as some kind of biker gang payback. As I recall, the murdered four had been re-located to FB under the auspices of a witness protection program, although the events that led to the family’s execution had occurred in the Bay Area, a mere three hours south. The most horrifying part of that awful event was that the killer murdered the children first, a final piece of viciousness endured by the parents before their murders. Last week, the Mendocino County Coroner identified Michael David Wilkins, 49, of Willits, as the man who killed his estranged girlfriend and the couple’s 8-year-old son and then himself. We don’t know the order of these killings, but anybody who reads, hears, watches mainstream media can’t help but know that these mass family executions happen somewhere in the rapidly deteriorating United States every day. Even the self-pitying suicidal used to spare children, as did criminals. Not anymore. Makes a guy yearn for the eternal Old Testament Hell for the inhuman wrecks who take the innocent with them as they exit.

I WAS SURPRISED the other day to hear Larry Bensky on KPFA. Then, a week later, I got a note confirming his return, which is a very good thing for that seriously, nearly terminally dumbed down public radio station. It will take a dozen Benskys to obliterate the memory of Dr. Gary Null and the other quacks who bum rushed the Pacifica Network the instant the old rads began to fade. The inevitable "left" hustlers of the most oppressively PC type ran the place for too long, the kind of cranks who, as George Orwell pointed out, come running at the mere mention of socialism. Glad you’re back, Larry.

INSIDE COAST HOSPITAL. “My wife works in the hospital. She frequently comes home completely dejected by the petty way that she is treated - nickel and dimeing her hours and vacation time and arbitrarily assigning tasks that are beyond her position. The hospital administration has frozen her wages for six years and they want to take back paid vacation days, increase the amount that she has to pay to maintain her benefit package, reduce their contribution to her retirement plan, and eliminate daily overtime pay. During the same period the CEO’s pay has increase from $237K in 2012 to $362K and the CFOs pay has increased from $180K to $294K.” 

COAST HOSPITAL, an on-line comment: “We are told it is necessary to pay extraordinary salaries to the CEO and the CFO to get them to come here. I think that is a cover story. Their salaries are unfairly high because they were hired to nickel dime employees and reduce patient care. They are hurting many people and they know it, so they demanded to be paid well. Look behind them to see who made this deal. Their marching orders came from above.” 

POWER OUTAGE. We had a power outage here this morning and my PC, laptop, TV, DVD, iPad and my new surround sound music system were all shut down. Then I discovered that my iPhone battery was flat. To top it off, it was snowing and icy so I couldn't go for a walk, bike or run. The garage door opener needs electricity, so I couldn't go anywhere in the car. I went into the kitchen to make coffee and then remembered that this also needed power, so I sat and talked with my wife for a few hours. She seems like a nice person.

COUPLA WEEKS AGO, George Hollister, the Comptche logger/rancher, philosopher, commented: "Mendocino County is tribal. Our tribal wars are at the heart of our dysfunction. We would rather use government as a weapon in our tribal wars, than see our roads fixed. A biggest part of our tribal conflicts are a result of a culture supported by the black market that was never able to integrate into the legitimate rural economy of Mendocino County. (Into tourism, they have.) Of course there were reasons for that. The only people black marketeers associated with were those who could be trusted, which meant other black marketeers. Very few from this black market marijuana culture, particularly in the 5th District, have been able to bridge the divide. Ted’s [Williams, newly elected 5th District supervisor] overt disdain for the timber industry, can only be interpreted as a reflection of that. Where did that disdain come from? That disdain can be seen strongest in the black market culture he grew up in. I take Ted’s word that he was never a participant in the black market, that does not mean he is not associated with, and influenced by it…"

THE TRIBAL WARFARE inspired by the clandestine marijuana industry ended years ago, right about the time the so-called rednecks realized there was big money in weed, and soon there were as many 'necks growing dope as there were hippie growers. The 'necks smoked it, too, the first of them turned on by, of all people, the Manson girls, then enjoying a rural respite on Gschwend Road, Navarro, while just down Highway 128 at Anderson Valley Elementary, Jim Jones was teaching the 5th grade, to be followed by additional world class psychos who included Leonard Lake, Kenneth Parnell, Tree Frog Johnson, the Moonies. (Lake, Parnell and Frog were all enabled by clusters of naive hippies who preferred the risk of murder and child molestation to the justice system.)

THE FIFTH DISTRICT demographics have been in constant flux since the end of World War Two when the logging boom prompted a large influx of white Southerners to the Northcoast to work in the woods and mills. No sooner had these newcomers inter-married with the previously isolated old timers, so isolated they invented their own language called Boontling so they could insult outsiders with impunity, here came the hippies who have since inter-married with that first generation of north-south hybrids of old, old timers and Oakies and Arkies to produce that frightening new beast, the Hipneck. 

NO SOONER had these unions between hippie scions and the conventional families already ensconced in the Anderson Valley and the Northcoast generally, than the wine industry took over the local economy's number one spot, and with that industry came a large-scale Mexican immigration and, presently, many happy (and fertile) Gringo-Mexican unions.

WHILE THIS SPLENDID miscegenation was bubbling along, wealthy retirees were occupying the hills and the more scenic areas of the valleys, making for some tense neighborhoods every Fall when the annual home invasions commence. (A retired executive and Mrs. Retired Executive have often been startled to find that the nabes were outlaws who made their livings growing the love drug.)

WHILE IT'S TRUE the 5th District is overwhelmingly liberal in the corporate, conservative, Billary, Democratic Party sense, the old hippie-straight political split is long gone. The split now is between the significantly out-numbered Trumpers, most of them silent but muttering revenge, and libs, most of them noisy. That split is much more ominous, much more irreconcilable than any hippie-straight split ever was. 

WHICH brings us to our new Supervisor, Mr. Williams. I haven't seen or heard one partisan word out of the guy. He seems, if it's possible, a pure pragmatist, which a Supervisor is supposed to be. It's not supposed to be a partisan position. Johnny Pinches was a conservative Republican but, as a Supervisor, he almost always looked at issues from the perspective of least expensive solutions. I think Williams and, hopefully, Haschak, are going to revive a board that has been passively irresponsible for years.

I THINK the really, really big population changes occurred with the New Boonville Hotel, which I think of as a perfect metaphor for the ensuing dominance of wine, fancy restaurants and the tourism based on both. When the Rollinses arrived from San Francisco to re-do the Boonville Hotel as a high end restaurant, circa early 1980's, the dope brigades were pretty much still in Us and Them mode. Why, why, why… even a trendo-groove-o guy like me was regularly shunned by the culture-free counterculture as a "straight." Not that I was all that straight, having downed my share of mind altering substances and having gotten in plenty of trouble associating with people who wanted to overthrow the government.

NO, SIR, I was unwelcome in the hippie world of disorder and sloth, and it wasn't only the full moon boogies and solstice celebrations I was happy to be excluded from, it was the entire mumbo jumbo hippie stew that I always found, well, humorous. In small doses. I could go on. But it seems to me that it was the Rollinses, more than any single advent, who ushered in the Big Change, the end to the Us-Them. In the Anderson Valley anyway. The “village” of Mendo was fully cutesified by ’75. Snobs that they were, the Rollins bought and hired local, and almost immediately the gastro-maniacs were arriving in force in Boonville, some of them even flying in to Boonville's primitive air strip. To eat! And a lot of those monied people noticed that land around here was relatively cheap, and the Golden Horde bought in and simultaneously the wine industry took off and here we are with me publishing an English-language newspaper in a Spanish-language community!

FUNNIEST sign seen on tv clips of the Women's March in SF. "Shut up Trump and make me a sandwich."

FESS UP, my fellow lib labs. I laughed, and I bet you did too, when Trump pulled Pelosi and her fellow Demo junketeers off the plane for Afghanistan. We should recall that Pelosi, Schumer, the Clintons, Biden et al signed off on W. Bush's disastrous invasion of Iraq, that the endless wars in the Middle East was the usual bipartisan blunder —a mega-blunder given that it destabilized the entire world.

THIS IDIOT'S GUIDE to the PG&E dilemma: PG&E, despite its supposed public utility status because the entire public of California depends on it for power, is organized like a private business owned by shareholders. In any business with shareholders, shareholders come first. PG&E reported net income last year of a billion dollars. Guess who got most of that? The Public Utilities Commission, in theory acting in the public's interest, instead acts in the interests of PG&E's shareholders, although lately they’re a lot more responsible. The young woman functioning as PG&E's CEO, Geisha Williams, "the first Hispanic female" to be PG&E boss (and to kill an entire town in Butte County), was paid more than two million to leave her "job," one more gift of ratepayer funds. Coming right up? A form of bankruptcy paid for by ratepayers like the last one. The mighty ava recommends the break-up of PG&E into regional servers overseen by truly independent trustees, and the removal of those members of the PUC who think PG&E should be owned by its investors.

CRUISING NETFLIX the other night, I came across a Russian-made epic called "Trotsky." Curious about how the Putin-era Russians were handling their recent history — filmic tongs, I imagined — I tuned it in. Pretty corny with lots of distinctly un-Trotsky-like sex scenes, but politically interesting in its obvious sympathies for the old man, and well made enough to hold my fragged attentions, and fairly true to the history of the Trotsky-Stalin death struggle. Had to laugh, though, when they threw in a Trotsky-Freud dispute, with Freud claiming that sex and violence were the two primary psycho-drivers, and Freud could see them both in Trotsky's eyes! Although Stalin, Trotsky, Hitler, Freud, and lots of other heavy hitters lived in Vienna at the same time, Trotsky didn't know Freud. Or Hitler. The dialogue is enhanced by the real life statements from revolutionary circles. The acting is so-so. I wished they could have found an actor as imposing as the real man, but it is a movie after all, a kind of Russian Gone With the Wind, I guess.

I MET A MAGICAL FAIRY YESTERDAY who said she would grant me one wish.

"I wish to live forever," I said.

"Sorry," said the fairy, "That is the only wish that I'm not allowed to grant."

"Fine," I said, "then I want to die the day after Congress is filled with honest, hard-working, bipartisan men and women who act only in the people's best interests!"

"You crafty little bastard," replied the fairy…

KEEP OUT, WE LOVE YOU. If you don’t have one of those blue/orange/green yard signs advertising your love for everyone no matter where they’re from, then you’re not allowed to be a virtuous member of Ukiah’s enlightened class. The signs are a big multi-lingual showoff for people needing peer approval.

The yard sign conformity club wants you to think that, no matter where someone is from, and regardless of their criminal history or if they’re carrying communicable diseases, the welcome mat is out. Here, say the signs, our Vacancy light is always lit.

Be my neighbor. Pretty please be my neighbor!

My favorite example:

Over on Highland Avenue you can’t miss one of those signs proudly facing the street. Except it’s behind an eight-foot high chain link fence topped by triple strands of barbed wire.

How do you say “Buenas Dias y Amor Amor Amor” in Iranian? 

— Tommy Wayne Kramer, Ukiah Daily Journal

ON LINE COMMENT OF THE WEEK

Re: the futility of the Women’s March – in the mid-eighties, many of the female underlings in the “high tech” industry were roused to mewl and whisper about the obnoxious practices of their blustering or brutish male bosses, but when confronted with the fact that in that very year women spent over $7 BILLION dollars on makeup and frillery that could be put to use for political action, these women decided I was a traitor to their cause (as a rare female manager in our business, noticeably unimproved in appearance by the standards of the day). The Equal Rights [Constitutional] Amendment failed because women didn’t have the guts to strike — at home and in the office — and found it more satisfying to pay for glossy magazines featuring “feminists” endlessly vilifying masculine dictatorship of modern culture, for fame and fortune.

I don’t disagree with their disgruntlement, just the wishy-washy whining and diversion of precious resources to “her-oic” hedonism and self-proclaimed success stories (a female CEO at Hewlett-Packard, Vice-Presidential candidate — remember her? — a Supreme Court judge, like “wow”?), while blue-collar workers of both genders do the heavy lifting and generally get screwed by the “owners.”

On the other hand, I do not regret having spent the better part of 10 years “protesting” the “war” (American raids on valuably exploitable resources overseas) in Southeast Asia, as the breakdown of the then-established political royalty unfolded, ultimately defrocking Nixon, but costing us the lives of some great men and women along the way.

The fruits of successful American protest at home have not been lost, some gains have been made, some have not. My love for Cassius Clay and the Reverend Martin Luther King gives me courage every day to serve in good faith the cause of human rights.

Remember the student protest in Berkeley, which led to the so-called “free speech movement”? These followed on the heels of UC refuseniks who defied the Regents’ demand that they sign a “loyalty oath” or lose their jobs. Those were the people who put their money where their mouth is.

There are more ways to go on strike than people generally realize; usually what’s needed is a very clear mission and consistent, relentless repetition of the primary message: I’ll go with Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib’s — get that motherfucker out of there. 

Live it up, Jerry.

(Betsy Cawn)

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