- Rain Cometh
- AV Sirens
- Adios Juan
- Salmon Season
- My Bust
- Navarro Mouth
- Lake Pillsbury
- Justine Fiction
- Mill Valley
- Ed Notes
- Yesterday's Catch
- Bach Doodle
- Lard Joy
- Climate Talks
- Economic Structure
- Card-Carrying Socialists
- Our Republic
- Nelson Algren
- Pancake Breakfast
- Dem Rot
- Secret Docket
- Old Age
- Succulent Trend
- Marco Radio
- I Bow
DRY CONDITIONS and increasing cloud cover today will give way to another round of rain and gusty southerly winds late tonight into Monday as the next system approaches the coast. (National Weather Service)
SIRENS IN ANDERSON VALLEY?
by Mark Scaramella
No, our gals don't dress up much.
Oh, those sirens.
Mendocino County’s Emergency Services Coordinator Rick Eller appeared at last Wednesday's Community Services District board meeting to answer questions about a grant-funded project to install emergency warning sirens in Anderson Valley.
Eller said that Mendo’s "notice of intent" for the siren grant had been accepted, which means that federal and state emergency officials will consider a grant application from Mendocino County, and Mendo is currently writing one. Eller said that the "hazard sirens” (they're not just for fire) could cost up to $25,000 each, including installation.
Presumably, the County’s grant application will provide additional details on the project for each participating fire district. The specific model, design and location of the sirens are to be determined.
Eller said that they expect the sirens to be battery powered either via solar or the grid. He said he would work with Chief Avila to determine the best locations.
This reporter observed that the Valley’s negative experience with local nuisances like vineyard fans and boom boxes shows that low-frequency sound travels farther and wakes more people much more effectively than higher frequencies. Eller agreed, adding that modern sirens are designed to produce lower frequency warning blasts than older style sirens.
The Community Services District had to decide by April 1 if they wanted to commit to picking up 25% of the cost of the sirens for Anderson Valley.
Fire Chief Avila said that he had spoken to the Yorkville Community Benefit Association and the Rancho Navarro Road Association and they had indicated they would cover the 25% match for sirens in their respective areas.
After some discussion about the cost, schedule, pros and cons and protocols, the CSD board voted 4-1 to provide a letter of participation to Eller committing to pay the 25% local share of the cost — upwards of $15k — for two sirens, one in Philo and one in Boonville out of the district’s “emergency reserve.”
Board member Paul Soderman voted against the motion based on his concern that the sirens wouldn't really help much considering the cost and the chance of panic and traffic congestion.
Mr. Eller pointed out that the sirens are part of a larger warning system including reverse 911 and some pending grant-funded fire-lookout cameras in addition to law enforcement vehicle loudspeakers. Eller also said that siren protocols would include the local fire chief having the authority to decide when, where and under what conditions the sirens would be activated. Chief Avila added that practice drills and how to handle possible mistaken or pre-mature soundings will also need to be incorporated.
Eller said that the countywide plan was to add the sirens to the on-line fire cameras to be installed on the County’s microwave towers as well as, perhaps, the old Point Arena radar station, the Sanel Mountain peak (outside of Hopland) and at Cold Spring Lookout overlooking Anderson Valley.
If approved, the siren grant is expected to take three years for planning, design, installation and implementation.
In the meantime, Anderson Valley, clear brush around your house, prepare a Go! bag, and pray that the fire gods spare us in the interim.
WE'RE GONNA MISS THIS GUY
After nearly 24 years, today is Juan’s last day on the counter.
(You might catch him at Safeway or Harvest Market making his last supply run tomorrow.). We will miss him a LOT, but I’m sure we’ll see him on the other side of the counter!
NORTH COAST SALMON SEASON Expected To Be Most Prosperous Since 2014
There’s some good news this spring for the Northern California fishing fleet, which is looking forward to more available salmon this season compared with recent years.
JOE MUNSON: MY BIG BUST
As told to Jonah Raskin
This is the way the bust went down. I was standing in my house with a bag of cat food in my arms, and I was yelling at my kids, “Who fed the cat?” The next thing I know, someone shouts, “Hit the deck.” It had to be either the cops or thieves. I said, “Fuck you I’m not hitting the deck. I have a broken back and bad knees.” “Come on out,” the voice said.
While I went out of my house, the cops went inside and pointed automatic weapons at my 7 and my 11-year old and at my wife, Atsuko, too. They led them outside and made them stand there. Atsuko asked the cops to turn off their vehicles so the exhaust wouldn’t fill the air. “No,” one cop says. “We’ve been nice so far. No more.”
After an hour, they took the kids into the house and then brought them to school. Me and six other people were herded into a sea crate and detained there for hours. The cops harvested all the plants I had at two different locations. They’d done aerial surveillance, located the properties on a map, and searched PG & E records for names. Then they raided. There were 20 cop cars and an armored personnel carrier—an APC, military surplus. Rednecks would die for the tires on that thing.
I was growing for medical marijuana patients. It felt good to give away a few hundred pounds of weed to people with AIDS/ HIV and glaucoma. Sure, I wanted to make a million bucks, but it wasn‘t only about the money. I had all the patients’ recommendations sitting on a table next to the front door, just waiting for the cops.
During the bust, I was angry more than anything else. As I saw it, I was committing civil disobedience. Also, under Prop 215 I was allowed to grow 35 plants per patient. I had 60 fucking patients. In fact, I was under the limit by 400 plants. If I hadn’t run out of room, I would have grown more than the 1200 plants I had in the backyard. One of the cops tells me, “Every year your garden gets bigger and bigger.” Well, yeah, I had more and more patients.
The cops had been watching me for years and had waited to strike. One of the cops on the raid says to me, “This is the nicest garden I’ve ever seen.” The cops weren’t really gung-ho to bust. They liked using their toys, but once they saw that we had no guns, no cash, no drugs, and no dangerous dogs, they lost interest. It was all anti-climactic for them, though not for my family and me.
Of course the cops on the ground had not chosen to raid me. The orders came down from the upper echelons. They took me to the Sonoma County jail and held me in the waiting room until my landlord, Gordon Evans, put up cash and bailed me out. Code enforcement also put pressure on Gordon, hoping he’d put pressure on me. He did no such thing. I had no money, but Gordon let me live on the property rent-free. You know, he’s a local legend in West County. I’d be dead if it wasn’t for Gordon. He’s a real neighbor and a real libertarian in the best sense of the word.
While I was in the jail waiting room I made a phone call to Keith Faulder, of course. Keith told me I was over the limit. He also told me not to push their buttons because if I kept doing that, they’d kick my case upstairs to the feds. Keith has represented me five times. I own him $100,000, but he told me, “Forget about it, Joe.”
The upshot of my big bust was that they dropped the charges against me. I agreed that I wouldn’t grow again unless I had a permit. You know me. I grew without a permit and I was busted again. They only brought one small van the second time and no APC. I was insulted. After all, I’m supposed to Public Enemy #1.
Jail isn’t so bad in Sonoma County thought the strip search is no fun, nor is it fun when they look up your butt. The second year that I was raided and then put on trial, seven guys from the city showed up in court, all of them with AIDs and HIV, all of them ready to testify on my behalf. That was the deal I had with them. If I was nailed they agreed to explain that I gave them free pot. The DA took one look at the sick guys, disappeared for a while, then came back and said she wasn’t going to proceed with the case. We went home and cleaned up the mess the cops had made when they harvested the crop. It was sad. But when I heard that I wasn’t going to be prosecuted, I felt like a huge burden had been lifted. I didn’t have to worry about incarceration.
Looking back at these busts, and what followed, I’d say that they weren’t really about pot, but about control. I was caught up in the culture war. For me, it’s a civil liberties issue. No one has the right or the authority to tell me what I can put into my body and no one has the right to tell me I can’t grow an herb that humans have cultivated and enjoyed for thousands of years.
(Jonah Raskin is the author of Marijuanaland: Dispatches from an American War.)
WHAT ABOUT PILLSBURY?
Sunday’s Press Democrat article on Scott Dam was riddled with high-end cost quotes and exaggerated statistics. While I cannot argue with the need for fish passage, there is a lot more at stake than meets the eye.
Lake Pillsbury provides 77,000 acre-feet of water to 600,000 downstream users. Recent flow models have demonstrated that with dam removal the Eel River would go dry approximately 60% of the time. It’s anticipated that the cannabis industry will further reduce flows. Costs to raise Coyote Dam 36 feet to increase Lake Mendocino’s capacity were estimated at $320 million, significantly more than the estimate to retrofit Scott Dam for fish passage.
Not all stakeholders are represented on Rep. Jared Huffman’s committee, which is weighted toward dam removal. The Lake Pillsbury Alliance — a stakeholders group comprised of homeowners, ranchers, campers and recreational users — was denied a seat at the table. Collateral damage?
In a time of climate change, Lake Pillsbury is a valuable resource for water, flood control and fire suppression. It’s a place for families to unplug and enjoy nature. Let’s find a reasonable solution to meet the needs of the people rather than taking the path of least resistance and falling prey the powerful anti-dam groups and the politicians who support them.
Carolyn Davis Cinquini
UKIAH SHELTER PET OF THE WEEK
This friendly, people-oriented dog is an atheltic girl ready to rock and roll. See that big smile? Elsa is happy, knows SIT, loves treats, and she's curious and very aware of her surroundings. She's also a great size, and her coat is like velvet. Elsa would benefit from having a job--which could be learning tricks, leash training, etc. Elsa is a smarty pants, and we think she will be a quick study. Elsa is looking for a CAT FREE home.
For lots more about Elsa, visit her webpage: http://www.mendoanimalshelter.com/dogblog/elsa
The Ukiah Animal Shelter is located at 298 Plant Road in Ukiah; 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, and the shelter's programs, services and events, visit us online at http://www.mendoanimalshelter.com/ For more information about adoptions please call 707-467-6453.
PROMISING FICTION FROM JUSTINE FREDERICKSON
Suzie was always telling Oliver what to do. So when he asked her how many berries they needed to pick and she didn’t answer him, he knew something was wrong.
MILL VALLEY SATURDAY MORNING
TRANSLATION, PLEASE: "Workshops at the Mendocino Coast Writers' Conference are filling up fast, but spots remain in Poetry, Speculative Fiction, Nonfiction, MG/YA, and Emerging Writers, and one coveted seat just opened up in Shobha Rao’s Short Fiction workshop."
I'D GOOGLE "speculative fiction" and MG/YA if I wasn't afraid of what I'd find.
HOMELESS PEOPLE living in RVs have become a crisis across California, from the suburban streets of Los Angeles to Ukiah. The reasons run the gamut from families who can no longer afford their neighborhood but want to keep their children in local schools to working professionals who simply find rents too high. The scale of the situation is so vast that organizations and non-profits such as SafeParkingLA have sprung up to identify and organize safe, guarded lots where homeless people can park their RVs, camper vans and other vehicles while they sleep. The number of homeless living in RVs is disputed, however, because they are often missed in counts, do not access separate homeless services or do not consider themselves homeless.
IN UKIAH, along the industrial frontage road that dead ends in the pleasing old California architecture of the combined brewery and indoor pot op, and lying between the big and little box stores and the Ukiah airport, there's a half-mile of trailers, motorhomes, and failed shelters of blankets and tarps, a kind of linear, roadside homeless camp. Piles of trash wash away into Doolan Creek, a feeder stream to the perennially fouled Russian River, also beleaguered by the homeless made homeless by their own fecklessness and a huge shortfall in housing. In any weather the area is beyond bleak, but in Friday's rain and wind doubly so. A mile and a half to the west Ukiah government is warm, dry and highly paid in a re-done, pre-War school house, complete with assigned parking for the town's most important public servants whose work is so important they couldn't possibly find parking on their own. Ukiah probably spends more on the landscaping out in front of their h.q. than they do on practical strategies for reducing the numbers of free range drunks, drunk heads and crazy people wandering the town. Local government, up through the county satraps out on Low Gap Road, have garnered literal fortunes in state and federal grants aimed at getting the walking wounded off the streets and permanently settled, managing only to increase that population over the past decade. Enough money has been squandered on reports, consultants, endless donut meetings, and publicly subsidized homeless "programs" to house the entire county's homeless population and all their cousins. How many homeless people in the county? According to the ignored Marbut Report commissioned by the Supervisors, about 400 — 250 in the Ukiah area; 100 in Fort Bragg; 20 in Willits. The problem, you see, is beyond solution.
I'VE NEVER earned enough to pay a federal income tax and, in my opinion, I don't earn enough to pay my Boonville property tax of five annual grand, money I scrape together via what other people might consider a life of personal austerity. (The ava pays its bills with little left over. I live on those life-saving socialist programs, medicare and social security.) But tra la la, a walk on the Haul Road on a sunny day is my idea of paradise. And it's free, at least until government figures out how to charge admission. I'd rather go to jail for a month than board a cruise ship. Ditto for excursions to the destroyed land of my birth, Hawaii, or "vacations" anywhere, vehicles more expensive than the Honda Civic, wine costing more than Two Buck Chuck, expensive restaurant meals and so on. My wife mostly agrees, fortunately for me, but more prosperous relatives, aware the poor thing is tethered to a misanthrope, fund separate excursions for her. So I just coughed up five g's for my property tax, two-thirds of it chiseled out of credit cards. Every couple of weeks I watch our supervisors and mutter to myself, "I'm helping fund this?" As one of the literal handful of Mendo citizens who pay attention to the county leadership I can say that the recent addition of Ted Williams to the 5th District seat has already brought focus, clarity, to important issues. Whether or not he and his colleagues, after years of dummies, crooks and straight up crazy people sitting as supervisors, can move that great blob of entrenched bureaucrats to do the public's work remains to be seen.
DEPARTMENT OF COGNITIVE CALAMITY:
PRESIDENT TRUMP said Friday as he left to play golf in Florida that Democrats skipping a policy conference on Israel are "anti-Israel" and their conduct is disgraceful. "The Democrats have very much proven to be anti-Israel. There's no question about that… they are anti-Jewish. I don't know what happened to them."
“I AM CONFIDENT the Lord is at work here,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “It’s possible that President Trump is on a mission from God to save Israel from Iran.”
CATCH OF THE DAY, March 23, 2019
DAVID AMUNDSON, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
CESAR CASTILLO-LUNA, Cloverdale. DUI.
DREW ERSLAND, Ukiah. Disobeying court order.
JESSICA ESCOBEDO-FERNANDEZ, Ukiah. Controlled substance.
JOHN GRAHAM, Willits. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
JOHN HOGSETT, Lakeport/Ukiah. Parole violation.
CHRISTOPHER KOSKINEN, Willits. Probation revocation.
STEVE KUNTZ, Ukiah. Assault with deadly weapon with great bodily injury, failure to appear.
HARRY MILA, Fort Bragg. Parole violation.
ERNESTO PETERS-PICKETT, Covelo. Disorderly conduct-loitering on private property, driving without a license, failure to appear.
MARIA PETERS-PICKETT, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
ERIC SPARKMAN, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
CHRISTOPHER THOMAS, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
MICHAEL TINAJERO, Ukiah. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, probation revocation.
by David Yearsley
This morning, J. S. Bach’s birthday, I woke not to the tolling of church bells as he might have done on any March 21st between 1685 and 1750.
The tinny reveille I heard came not from a Gothic belfry but from a space-grey MacBook Pro a few feet from my right ear. My wife was on the internet and had launched an unlikely wake-up call.
However feebly delivered, the melody I heard would have been familiar to old Johann, so deeply engraved on his hard drive was this venerable Lutheran chorale. Emanating from the laptop were the hymn’s first two short phrases, rising resolutely step-wise up the minor scale.
The tune was delivered in electric piano tones, first as a single line, then repeated along with a droning alto, and finally in four parts that were the work of the birthday boy himself. The message conveyed, even without the text being sung, was not exactly one to launch me out of bed to greet the spring day, attack the problems of the world, and be at one with myself and the planet: Ach wie flüchtig, ach wie nichtig.
One common English translation of the chorale runs: “Ah, how futile, how insignificant.” Nichtig is the toughest bit to translate. Nichtis the German negative — “not.” The adjectival form nichtig might more poetically be rendered as “vain” or its connotations more closely approached with the clinical “nugatory”—even more ungainly than “insignificant.” Nichtigpoints toward nothingness: the desires of earthly life worthless, human striving a black hole of meaninglessness. Nichtigis a bleak word. When the Germans begin talking about the futility of earthly striving, translation is itself vain.
Still, one begins to understand why birthdays weren’t celebrated in Bach’s day.
My ears awake and soul duly chastened, I opened the eyes. “Look!” is the final word of the chorale’s first verse. Look at what? Your own vanity and that of the world.
My wife had reopened the Bach Doodle that today greets all the world’s Googlers, pushing Bach’s popularity way beyond its previous high point when the famous Toccata in D Minor (even if that piece is held by some not to be by Bach at all) approved credit card transactions at all Trader Joe’s last Halloween.
Bach has never been more visible, more audible, more popular than he is today. Sometimes praised by Lutheran devotees as the Fifth Apostle, he has now been sanctified by the world’s search engine: this March 21st is Saint Johann’s Day.
On the Google Doodle marking this watershed moment, a plasticky play figure in white wig, red cheeks, and black cantor’s robe sits at a little organ that looks more like a Hammond B-3 than one of the colossal instruments Bach piloted during his lifetime. The greatest master of music-making feet, this Bach’s legs are idle, almost invisible: the Google Doodle will be powered by brain not pedal power.
The Doodle is interactive. You click on the arrow in the middle of a cog that, we’ll soon learn, signifies mechanistic invention. A message asks the viewer to wait a moment as the machine springs into action. We zoom past the organist into his private chamber. There are sheaves of manuscript paper presumably filled with Bachian masterpieces. We then see a toy box with a bar code on one side: you’re always buying or selling on Google, most often something as precious as your attention. The unheard chorale text wants you to think it is your soul that’s on sale.
The box has two words stamped on it in red: “Machine Learning.” Inside the box is a toy piano with analog switches and other bewigged dolls: the look is seventies synthesizer retro.
A message appears:
“Hi, I’m 18th century composer Johann Sebastian Bach! I’m known for my enchanting harmonies. What is harmony? Well, let’s start with a simple melody. It’s pretty, but not very exciting.” Bach never said “Hi”. And he didn’t use exclamation points to introduce himself. He deployed them when setting words about death and the end the world—like the one based on this very melody. “Ah how futile, Ah how nugatory, is the life of man!”
The five ascending notes we hear on the piano and see on the staff could, I suppose, be construed as “pretty”—but the text makes them otherwise. They are about the nullification of prettiness. Another run through those notes is made with the alto, now appearing on the staff below just the main melody. We are told this, too, is pleasing to the ear: “harmony”. The tenor and bass join in for the four-part harmony composed by Bach and heard at the close of his cantata (BWV 26) Ach wie flüchtig, ach wei nichtig composed in 1724.
At last we are invited to collaborate with this Silicon Valley Bach: “Want to make music together? Add notes to the lines below and our machine will use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to harmonize your melodies in my signature style.”
Soon after his death Bach was held up as the greatest master of four-part chorale harmonizations. It was a practice at which, said one admirer, “he excelled all other composers in the world.” If Google has indeed captured this “signature style” through “machine learning” that assimilates the data from Bach’s own work then it has accomplished a goal long sought.
The creation of composing machines had been contemplated—and worried about—in Bach’s time, too. A Lutheran theologian writing in 1754 dismissed the accomplishments of a flute-playing automaton fabricated in France then making the rounds through Germany: “No one has yet invented an image that thinks, or wills, or composes or even does anything at all similar,” asserted J. M. Schmidt. As proof that no machine could write or perform expressive music, he adduced Bach’s Art of Fugue, a sprawling demonstration of combinatorial invention far more complex than the four-part harmonizations whose secrets Google claims to have cracked: “Everything the champions of materialism put forward must fall to the ground in view of this single example,” wrote Schmidt.
Must belief in Bach’s inimitable genius crumble against the clarion sound of Google’s Birthday Doodle?
On the interactive staff I entered the next line of the same chorale. The machine quickly created something grammatical enough: better than the results of many human undergraduate theory students, worse than many others. The plunky piano sound that Google uses for its Bach-based results is a preemptory move meant to make clear that the Machine Learners are not going for expression but rather for mechanistic reproduction of notes on a screen: this is music as math not emotion.
The Google Bach Machine knew nothing of the words, the message, the feel, the beautiful terror of the melody, its myriad possibilities. The machine did know what Bach himself had created for the flowing accompaniment of the lower parts so as to evoke the fleetingness of human life (Leben) that, the text goes on to sing, forms like fog (Nebel) and dissipates the next moment. LEBEN and NEBEL are capitalized in eighteenth-century German hymnals to make it clear that the words are mirror images of one another: life is a fog even on the page.
The chorale’s simplicity appears to have led to its choice for the birthday demonstration—Google’s effort to make their Bach the composer, literally, of today.
Google is hardly embracing this same Lutheran view of life’s ephemerality even as they pursue the goal of analyzing, emulating, and ultimately surpassing Bach at some Deep Blue moment of the future? The unwitting adoption of this Doodle Chorale for March 21st, 2019 admits what Google never will: Ach wie flüchtig, ach wie nichtig.
(David Yearsley is a long-time contributor to CounterPunch and the Anderson Valley Advertiser. His recording of J. S. Bach’s organ trio sonatas is available from Musica Omnia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
The word “fascism,” like everything else in our inverted totalitarianism society today, has flipped its traditional meaning since the last go round 75 years ago. The radical right doesn’t own it anymore, although I will allow for the fact that the right continues to harbor latent, always nearly tangible, fascist tendencies of its own.
In the sense that fascism represents a total coagulation of public (corporate) and private entities into one homogenous malignant political and economic mass, then the current western left and right march in jack-booted lockstep. Hardly surprising. Relying on 20th century definitions for 21st century concepts is bound to lead you astray.
Words – especially THIS one – have meanings, and we shouldn’t throw them around recklessly.
CLIMATE CHANGE TALK on Tuesday 4pm at Redwood Coast Senior Center
Dear Citizens of Mendocino,
Tuesday, March 19 saw a day of climate action at the Mendocino County Board of Supervisor. Thanks to 5th District Supervisor Ted Williams for running interference and for all the Supervisors for moving to re-align us with the Paris Climate Accords. This week I will present to the Redwood Coast Senior Center at 4pm on Tuesday, March 26. Please notice this is an afternoon presentation and will last a bit over an hour. Here below the upcoming schedule that I have at this time.
Hope you can come at some point.
All the best,
- Tuesday, March 26, Redwood Coast Senior Center, 490 N. Harold St., Fort Bragg, 4pm (60+ presentation)
- Wednesday, March 27, Mendocino Middle School, 10:30am (45 minute presentation)
- Saturday, April 13, Fort Bragg, Inglenook/Grange, 26500 N. Highway 1, Fort Bragg/Inglenook (45 minute presentation)
- Wednesday, April 17, Ukiah City Council (possible 30 minutes)
- Tuesday, May 21 Contra Costa Democrats (possible 60 minutes)
- Thursday, May 30, Mendocino HS SONAR class, Mendocino High School, Mendocino (60+ minute school presentation)
- Saturday, June 15, Point Reyes Dance Palace, 503 B St., Point Reyes, CA, 7pm (60 minute+ presentation)
WHAT CAPITALISM DOES NOT PAY FOR
Letter to the Editor,
I find it both interesting and ironic that many of us who most loudly and frequently express our outrage at the various statements and actions coming out of the Trump White House also happen to be comfortable beneficiaries of the economic system that created his Presidency.
Economies that operate under the model of capitalism tend to run in cycles. Sometimes under such a system the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, while at other times the rich get richer and the poor stay the same. See the different cycles there? It’s not surprising that those dwelling at the bottom of such a system, desperate, without hope, and perpetually squeezed are apt to want to lash out. They can’t lash out at the rich, of course, because the rich are too well-shielded by an effective judicial system designed and maintained for just that purpose.
Racism, however, can provide a convenient outlet for the uncontainable frustration and rage of the powerless. Poor people will always be permitted, and in times of political usefulness encouraged, to lash out at other poor people. The unregulated capitalism we enjoy in this nation is a rigged economic system that thrives on and maintains itself through the inequities it succeeds in creating. Trump rose to power by tapping into that misdirected rage at the bottom and then by exploiting the system’s inequities for every racist angle he can milk out of them.
So next time you feel like bashing Trump and telling the whole world how much you hate him, try to remember that he’s just the end product of an already entrenched system, and then take a good look at your own position within that system. Maybe it’s been good enough to you that you continue to embrace it and want to cling to it despite the disgust you may feel for its end product.
After all, it’s capitalism that pays for our wine and cheese tastings. It pays for our spring getaways to Cancun. It certainly pays for our beloved NPR broadcasts and TedTalks. Capitalism, unfortunately, even paid for the managerial type Democrats we elected with the hope of unseating the President, or at least blocking some of his more nefarious policy scams and appointments. Good luck with that, since most of them are party hacks with too many of their own ties and obligations to the system that grew Trump to ever prove an effective force against him.
It’s what capitalism doesn’t pay for that’s at the root of the the hatred, the violence, and the turmoil you associate with Trump that is disturbing you. To rid the nation of the man while preserving the system that produced him is pointless. He left a blueprint and the next one to use it is likely to be smart enough not to leave himself in a position to be as easily removed. So, if you don’t desire a future of authoritarian rule driven and supported by fear and rage, you’d better get serious about abandoning the economic structures that demand one.
Coal Creek Canyon, CO
ADAM HAD GOD on the one hand and the Snake on the other. Adam made a bad choice and – poof! -- there went my immortality and yours.
Plato had his Socrates, Aristotle had his Plato, Alexander the Great had his Aristotle and so it goes. We have our mentors and role models.
My father, so the story went, was a high-school football quarterback who, after a rough play, spat out his two front teeth and called the next play. I was long unborn, but I saw my father’s bridge as long as I knew him. He was my first role model. When World War2 came along, he had a wife and three small kids, so he couldn’t join up. Instead he built a factory to make stuff for the war, and he did that until the fighting was over. Then he made oil racks for gas stations and metal toys, like wagons, for kids. He made industrial things I couldn’t identify.
Trump had his models. Maybe slumlord, realtor and über-capitalist Fred Trump was Donald’s first role model, but the one he later acknowledged was that unique figure in American tradition, Roy Cohn, a man unencumbered by scruple, decency, compassion, authenticity, restraint or any other hindrance in his pursuit of power for himself and misery for his enemies. Think Gollum, with no lapses into decency. An acquaintance said of him what became the universal judgment: “You knew you were in the presence of pure evil.” In his first days as president, Trump, complaining about his then-attorney general, Jeff Sessions, lamented the absence of his once-mentor, lawyer and fixer. “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” he whined.
My current and longtime role model is Noam Chomsky. Him I would vote for, campaign for and take a bullet for—no one else I can think of except Ellie and a very few others. That's not to slight the current slate of candidates. They look good, talk good and fire my enthusiasm, but it's too early to say more than that.
As a nation and a society, we are picking our way in darkness through a minefield, seeking a spot where we can stand, take a stand, straighten our rumpled clothes, salve our violated parts and strike back. Whether we have the memory of decency and patriotism to undertake this is hard to say. This ascendancy of evil in the form of Trump is the achievement of centuries of work. The founders of this country put wide-eyed idealism and profound, cynical worldliness into our founding statements. They were slavers and slave-owners who knew “the Peculiar Institution” of slavery was indefensible, but it made capitalism and its owners so damn rich they couldn’t give it up.
The “Father” of our country, thus titled while he still lived, ordered his hundreds of slaves freed but not until after his death. The father of our country, appropriately, was a realtor on a massive scale, a stern slaveholder on a massive scale, one of the biggest liquor distillers in the New World, and a man who entered and mastered politics for the benefits of himself, his class and his family.
The towering respect we are conditioned from birth to hold for George Washington is safely cloaked in tales of cherry trees and honesty. It is a respect Washington received and exploited throughout his life, but it was not then about childish idealism; it was about his success as a politician, a statesman and leading member of the One Percent. But there is no doubting that he was a patriot who sacrificed a life of ease to serve his nascent country. He is our principal role model and hero, and we are still trying to untangle the almost hopelessly muddled elements of our creation as a people.
The stirrings of a moral revival are apparent, now, in public conversation. The newly seated members of congress show eagerness for it. The talking heads of the media are touching on matters like Good and Evil, truth or consequences, national priorities, attention to “the humanities” in our education, the “meaning” of America and the array of things that were soiled and discarded by the likes of Trump and his troops of toadies. America is confronting, in the person of its president, the specter of Roy Cohn and his dark allegiance to the rewards of evil, the fundamental, never-ending conflict between light and darkness.
The growing energy in this endeavor is necessary. Whether it can last longer than the partial revolution of the Sixties and Seventies depends on whether our addled and distracted minds can settle, focus, endure unlimited failures and disappointments and keep at it, keep at the work of pressing forward, stripping comfortable coverings off the naked truths of life and returning, with fortitude and determination, to the task our founders, smart as they were, only half started. We are a concept that isn’t yet clear. We are--yes, still—the hope of the world.
America is not in decline, not necessarily. We are not a ledger showing that we have more or less money than Europe or China. We are not the sum of our collective wealth. We are a thing as wispy as a dream, a hope and attempt at a good and just existence. We are a notion as delicate as gauze, requiring a collective force stronger than Cohns and war machines, than avarice and mendacity.
Benjamin Franklin, by then old and infirm, needing assistance, was one of the most recognizable figures emerging from the concluded meeting in Philadelphia. He had already commented on the Convention’s handiwork: "I confess that there are several parts of this Constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them. I doubt too whether any other Convention we can obtain, may be able to make a better Constitution. It therefore astonishes me to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does; and I think it will astonish our enemies."
So, upon Franklin’s regaining the street and open air after the intense, sequestered work of the convention, a lady popped the burning question—whether they had made a government of the people or one run by a king: “Well Doctor what have we got a republic or a monarchy?” “A republic,” replied the old man, “if you can keep it.”
We have not done well. Gradually we have let the seduction of great private Wealth overtake our desire for a free and prosperous society. If this moment in our time is one of re-dedication to the highest principles of our race, it will take a grim and stoic patience of those of us who put our collective wellbeing ahead of their own, new words for the faded, brown-edged ones like “morality,” “goodness,” “virtue.” We need a vigorous, robust new language, a language of hope and ferocity.
REDISCOVERING NELSON ALGREN
The literary giant’s unique resonance in our anti-capitalist moment.
by Dan Simon
Literary rediscoveries come in waves, and always mean something. In the postwar period, Lionel Trilling from his perch in the Columbia University English department brought back E.M. Forster, Matthew Arnold—and Sigmund Freud!—and made them foundational again. He was responding to what he saw as a crisis of morality in the wake of two world wars and the untold destruction of life and culture that they had wrought.
Today it’s another historical moment of leveling and rediscovery, for complex reasons. Online, old books can be as visible as new ones. The cultural present tense isn’t limited to what’s new, and this particular present is fraught—the book-publishing community frightened, the community of writers sorely challenged and inadequately supported, the latest blockbuster often disappointing, and our best new voices often the ones you’re not hearing about—published, almost invisibly, at the independent publishing houses that carry disproportionately the responsibility for translation and discovery of what’s new around the world in terms of literature. So we rediscover voices from the past that satisfy us more than the latest blockbuster. Lucia Berlin, Eve Babitz, George Orwell. We can include Kurt Vonnegut, and even though a good decade or so younger, Margaret Atwood, two towering figures that have never gone out of style, and that young people are rediscovering now in droves.
Into this maelstrom comes the first three-pound excavation of Algren, Colin Asher’s Never a Lovely So Real: The Life and Work of Nelson Algren, which Norton is bringing out, with some fanfare, in April. Besides being larger in size and scope than any previous biography of this last celebrant of what once was called Proletarian Literature, Asher’s book is devotional and beautifully written, seven years in the making, its sentences capturing the very same mix of lyricism and street, hard truths and sentimentality that made Algren himself so special. It delves into Algren’s lifelong struggle to stay true to his credo, his soulful cry that the purpose of any writer is to stand up to power, to take the judge down from the bench, to give voice to the voiceless. And it delivers a wrenching portrait of a man who struggled to maintain his sanity and his spirit in a society that was well prepared to see its writers give up or sell out, but struggled to comprehend writers who persevered and paid the price as Algren did.
In 1950, the year he won the first National Book Award for Fiction for The Man with the Golden Arm, Algren stood out as the best of American character: virile, direct, taciturn and also very funny, identified not with the American worker but with the man in the street who was denied the dignity of work yet had dignity nonetheless—a subversive notion if ever there were one. Algren’s characters were the men and women who were left behind by the striving, upwardly mobile American middle class.
It was as if Algren’s folk belonged, not to the past, but to a different America. And part of the phenomenon of Algren’s celebrity was that through him American readers were making their first acquaintance with his rogues gallery of smart, self-aware, down-and-out hustlers, prostitutes, and petty thieves only to discover that they were familiar to us, speaking a different language but one we could understand perfectly because it was in us already, and we knew we had to reckon with it if were to know ourselves at all.
Algren’s fall came soon after, orchestrated by J. Edgar Hoover himself, and it was arguably as swift a fall from grace as has ever occurred to someone who had climbed to the pinnacle of the American literary pantheon. Hoover considered Algren to be perhaps the leading Communist sympathizer among American writers. And because Algren in 1950 was our most famous writer, Hoover saw Algren, perhaps rightly, as the single greatest threat to the body politic of Hoover’s idea of what America stood for. By 1953 Hoover saw to it that Algren’s next book, a long essay on the morality of the writer that Algren was then calling The State of Literature, was canceled by Doubleday. Algren’s passport application was denied by the State Department, and he received a letter requesting that he testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). And that June, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed. Algren had been honorary co-chair of the Save Julius and Ethel Rosenberg Committee, which may have been how he got on Hoover’s radar to begin with. The forces for and against were lined up like armies on the plain. And yet, and this was by design, no one informed Algren that he was at war. Instead, he simply came to the conclusion that his work was no longer wanted.
It wasn’t the end of Algren. He suffered mentally as anyone does who cannot compromise his vision. But he kept writing novels, and when he couldn’t sustain that wrote shorter pieces of fiction and nonfiction, including reportage and travel books. In 1951 Doubleday had published his book-length prose poem, Chicago: City on the Make, but obscurely and without enthusiasm, and it went virtually unnoticed. His next novel after The Man with the Golden Arm, A Walk on the Wild Side, a rewrite of his first novel, Somebody in Boots, came in 1956, and received hostile, though not dismissive, review attention. After that, although book after book came out, his work was largely ignored. And yet he continued doing what he did, hardly wavering in his core beliefs about the societal role writing must play and the moral demands on writers. His last novel, The Devil’s Stocking (1983), though he would not see it published in his lifetime, represented a return to form. The novel fictionalizes the Hurricane Carter case, which saw a former middleweight contender wrongfully convicted of murder; Algren finally left Chicago and moved to Paterson, New Jersey, to write it. Capturing the world of boxing had always been one of the things Algren did best, and in Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, he found the perfect embodiment of his ethos, an honorable man, an underdog, punished for a murder he could not have committed.
By the time Algren died in May, 1981, his productive career had lasted a full half-century and included more than a dozen books and at least five that were not simply first-rate but enduring masterpieces. Few among America’s other greatest writers’ lives have delivered as much. He had stood alone and withstood having the literary establishment turn its back on him, and the country at large to move past him and his concerns, scorning the truths and traditions that mattered most to him. Where his friend Richard Wright, like James Baldwin, had solved their American problem by emigrating, Algren hadn’t even emigrated from Chicago, not until the very end, and then only as far as New Jersey, before finally setting up house in Sag Harbor, Long Island, where he spent his last days.
There’s heartbreaking poignancy in the fact that the art of storytelling in the 20th century was perfected by so many whose lives ended miserably in tragedy, including many who died from alcohol poisoning and suicide. Algren wasn’t one of them. He wasn’t an alcoholic, and his two known suicide attempts were indecisive. The only temple he prayed at was the work itself, and he never stopped working. In terms of his reputation, he really had made only one misstep in terms of American morality, and that was throwing in his lot in the first place with the losing side, with the addicts, the busted-open fighters, and the drag queens of his era. The various establishments of state and literature decided he didn’t matter because the people he based his characters on don’t matter, fighting for the losing side when we are a nation of winners. His defeat then was also his triumph, and remains so today.
Algren was 13 years older than Vonnegut, and already a young University of Illinois grad in journalism trying to survive on his own by his pen when the Great Depression hit. Vonnegut by contrast was still a child during the Depression, watching helplessly as the devastation wrecked his parents’ lives. Algren and Vonnegut became friends later, when both of them were teaching at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop from 1965 to ’67, by which time Algren was already post-famous, and Vonnegut’s star hadn’t yet risen, though it was about to (Slaughterhouse Five, the book he was working on, published in 1969, would become the anthem of the anti-war generation).
In the 1960s and early ’70s, The Atlantic published Algren’s tales of boxers and the racetrack. Nobody else could write so lyrically and at the same time so brutally about the inhabitants of those demimondes. At around the same time, Algren was also publishing in PlayboyChicago-childhood reminiscences and reportage from his voyages to East Asia, including to brothels in every city where he disembarked, often traveling by merchant ship rather than more comfortably by air. The Chicago Tribuneand Chicago Sun-Times published him repeatedly in those years as well, as did The Saturday Evening Post.
Algren must have had a system, acting as his own secretary, sending to one magazine editor, and if they didn’t go for it, taking the same carbon copy of the same story and posting it to the next one on his list. And these weren’t ever easy pieces to publish or to read, his writing still imbued with the wise-cracking street talk of lost souls. You felt smart reading them because you got it. But they must have been pretty different from anything else you’d read in those very mainstream publications. They published them because he was Algren, the living legend, still writing great stuff, and maybe also a little out of pity, since it was clear that these weren’t just the little things he was doing in between working on his next big novel. These little things were all he was doing now.
But, like one of his fighters, Algren kept coming at you. Who knew, but it turned out there was another big novel in him after all. Once he heard the story of what had happened to Rubin Carter, nothing could have stopped him from selling all his worldly possessions and shipping what he couldn’t sell to the blighted neighborhood in Paterson where Carter’s story unfolded. And even if he didn’t see The Devil’s Stocking published in his lifetime, he must have known it was good.
Does Algren matter? His legacy across the decades has been kept alive by other writers (Don DeLillo, Barry Gifford, Kay Boyle, Ernest Hemingway, Simone de Beauvoir, Russell Banks, his good friend Studs Terkel, among many others); a handful of academics (Malcolm Cowley, Brooke Horvath, William Savage, Carlo Rotella, Hazel Rowley); and a belief in him that’s a powerful mixture of loving the work and loving the man. He was lovable and beloved, not simply because the things he stood for still hold true and remain important, even if we believe they do, but because he embodied them and couldn’t help himself. Algren wasn’t against selling out; he just couldn’t do it, even when he tried. How can you not love someone who is incapable of profiting, whose anti-capitalism runs that deep?
Algren, for those of us who carry the torch for him, is a person who helps us live, whose work and person encourage us to do more than we might otherwise do, and now that we have come this far, we need him now more than ever, because there’s no going back.
Never a Lovely So Real is a terrific biography, not an easy one. With it, we welcome Asher into the circle. It is in some important way the first biography of Algren to be written, because, although it’s technically the fourth or fifth, it’s the first really long one, and it’s the first to let you walk in Algren’s shoes instead of looking at him through a microscope like a specimen in a petri dish. Walking in Algren’s shoes is hard work.
In the end, Nelson Algren is rediscoverable for the very same reasons that he was forgotten in the first place: for his great political and literary instincts, his jabs against the status quo of his time, his integrity—which cost him greatly and makes him beautiful in our eyes even, or especially, across the great distance of the last three-quarters of a century. He’s important to us because he’s inside us like perhaps no other writer, always whispering to the part of us that’s smart and funny but also lost and broken.
We think we know all about the Red Scare and the HUAC, and Joe McCarthy and Roy Cohn and the blacklist. But we really need to think about it a little differently than how we do. Not simply to ask whether it is or isn’t just and reasonable to blame those who named names, or ask who was really at fault, but instead to forget the blame game and ask altogether different sorts of questions. What poems and plays and novels might have been written and published that weren’t written and published, which careers would have risen and helped defined what an American writer is, or even an American actor or filmmaker, instead of going nowhere because of the blacklist?
In 1950, the movie star John Garfield was going to play Frankie Machine in the film version of The Man with the Golden Arm. Garfield was a Jew, and a huge star, but before the end of the year he and everyone else who had signed on to the film, including the screenwriter Paul Trivers, the producer Bob Roberts, were all blacklisted. So was Algren’s friend, the black novelist Richard Wright, along with Algren himself, though he didn’t know it. Garfield went into hiding, and died suddenly of a heart attack after only a few months of that life.
Had things been allowed to follow their natural course, Algren’s star would have continued to rise. After The Man with the Golden Arm and Chicago: City on the Make would have come the strong work of nonfiction, his credo—The State of Literature* as he was calling it—and then probably the Garfield film version of Man. Algren would have been on top of the world. And with him the kind of writing he stood for, the literature of conviction, of commitment, and conscience, perhaps inspiring a whole generation of uncompromising writers who, in their turn, would have helped to turn our whole society into one that is more humane and broadly tolerant and self-aware. The difference between that and the HUAC-defined decade boggles the mind.
To its credit, The Nation published no fewer than three excerpts from Algren’s banned essay during the height of the Red Scare: “American Christmas, 1952” (December 27, 1952); “Hollywood Djinn with a Dash of Bitters” (July 25, 1953); and “Eggheads Are Rolling: The Rush to Conform” (October 17, 1953). So we should not say we lost the war, but nor can we say we eventually won it. As with all wars, the cost we paid was just too great. And so there is a tinge of sadness and regret swirling around literary rediscoveries always, along with the other things. What if Lucia Berlin had been celebrated, as she should have been, while she lived and wrote? How different might our world be then?
(*The only existing copy, a carbon, was lost, and then rediscovered in an archive at Ohio State University, and finally published as Nonconformity: Writing on Writing in 1996, long after Algren’s death.)
WHITESBORO GRANGE PANCAKE SUNDAY
A traditional pancake breakfast will be served at the Whitesboro Grange on Sunday, March 24th. Breakfast includes orange juice, pancakes with maple and homemade berry syrups, ham, eggs your way, and coffee, tea or hot cocoa. The public and visitors are invited to join neighbors and community for a hearty pancake breakfast. Adults $8, ages 6-12 half price, children under 6 eat FREE. Breakfast is served from 8 to 11:30 a.m. Whitesboro Grange is located 1.5 miles east on Navarro Ridge Road. Watch for signs south of the Albion Bridge.
MORE EVIDENCE THERE'S NO DIFF BETWEEN THE TWO PARTIES
FIRST AMENDMENT COALITION forces disclosure of more documents from California Supreme Court ‘secret docket’
THE MOST IMPORTANT REFORM of the family is, I believe, a change in the way we think of old age. With new patterns of employment and unemployment, it should not be assumed that any one member of the family will be free at any particular time. The mother or grandmother is as likely to be working as the husband or grandfather. As far as is compatible with mobility, all members of a family should be prepared to support each other in needed ways. Work outside and inside the home may become more closely related, roles more interchangeable. This includes the role of the old. Feminists never seem to grow old, or at least not to foresee the day when they do so. I do not believe that many of them will, by then, still be living in their alternative households. I hope for their sakes that they will be back in the bosom of their families. I believe that optimism about this possibility does not commit us all to Thatcherism. There are values other than Victorian which keep the family in being.’
— Mary Warnock, writing in 1983
HAS THE SUCCULENT DECOR TREND GONE TOO FAR?
Piracy is playing out on Northern California's coastline
by Michelle Robertson
Dudleya farinosa: The name sounds like a Harry Potter spell and, indeed, the native California succulent is nothing short of enchanting, with a lotus shape and waxy mint-colored leaves trimmed in red.
A handful of Asian countries — predominantly China and Korea — appear to be enthralled by the spindly plant, so much so that authorities have identified what looks to be an international conspiracy of Dudleya poaching along the craggy coastline of California.
Most Californians -- if they know the plant at all -- recognize Dudleya by a different name: bluff lettuce. The plant, native to coastal Northern California and Oregon, grows predominantly along ocean-facing cliffs, below the shrubbery and above the wave line.
Though altogether unremarkable as far as flora goes, Dudleya farinosa has captured the hearts of Chinese, Korean and Japanese collectors, some of whom are willing to pay upwards of $50 for a single plant, officials said.
Authorities have already prosecuted at least four separate criminal cases related to Dudleya poaching in California; the bulk of convicted individuals traveled from abroad. At least two additional Dudleya poaching cases are still in the courts.
(The San Francisco Chronicle)
LATER ON, I sat on a bench in the square outside the station for about half an hour, and had an espresso and a mineral water. It was good to sit in the shade, at peace in the middle of the day. But for a few taxi drivers dozing in their cabs and listening to their radios, there was no one in sight until a Carabinieri drove up, left his vehicle in the No Parking zone immediately in front of the entrance, and disappeared into the station. When he emerged again, all the drivers got out of their taxis, as if at a signal, surrounded the somewhat undersized and slightly built policeman, whom they had perhaps known at school, and upbraided him on account of the illegal way he had parked. Barely had one said his piece when the next one began. The Carabinieri could not get a word in, and whenever he tried he was promptly talked down. Helplessly, and even with a certain panic in his eyes, he stared at the accusing forefingers pointed at his chest. But since the entire performance merely served the taxi drivers as a timely diversion to dispel the midday boredom, their victim, for whom these accusations plainly went against the grain, could make no serious objection, not even when they set about faulting his posture and putting his uniform to rights, solicitously brushing the dust off his collar, straightening his necktie and cap, and even adjusting his waistband. At length one of the drivers opened the police car door, and the guardian of the law, his dignity somewhat impaired, had no option but to climb in and drive away, tyres squealing, around the circle and down the Via Cavour. The taxi drivers waved him off and stood round long after he was out of sight, reliving this or that part of the comedy, quite beside themselves with merriment.
—W.G. Sebald, 1990; from "Vertigo"
FRIDAY’S MEMO OF THE AIR
"Whenever you feel powerless, remember: a single one of your turds can shut down an entire water park."
The recording of last night's (2019-03-22) KNYO Fort Bragg and KMEC Ukiah arguably world-class Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show is available by one or two clicks, depending on whether you want to listen to it now or download it and keep it for later and, speaking of which, it's right here:
Besides that, also at http://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com you can find a fresh batch of dozens of links to not necessarily radio-useful but nonetheless worthwhile educational items I set aside for you while gathering the show together. Such as:
A short sad story with a quiet gut-punch of a sad punchline. Except maybe not. Think it through again.
Ultima Thule, what a weirdo. Weird name, weird place. https://tinyurl.com/UltimaThuleWeird I loved this ride, the Rocket to the Moon ride in Disneyland. I don't know whether it was inspired by the Ray Bradbury story or the other way around. (The one where the rocket-junkyard man took a real but broken rocket and, with projectors and hydraulics and ingenuity, made a fake but realistic ride to Mars to take his kids on, and he'd leave motors shaking it with the kids asleep inside, to walk across the junkyard at night to the house and sit with his wife for a little bit, and then go sneak back in.)
Here's the sound of the actual ride! In 1955 it was Rocket to the Moon. In 1963 they changed it to Flight to the Moon. In 1975 they called it Mission to Mars, mostly unchanged, and then in 1993 they completely ruined it, turned it into a weird space comedy horror show with Michael Jackson right at the beginning of his pedophile period, I'm told. But this audio is very like I remember from a couple of times in the early 1960s and then again in 1988, including the immense roar of the rocket engines and the hiss of the compressed-air G-force-simulating seat mechanisms. It was perfect. (The part before you got in, when you're walking through the tube on the way to the rocket, they showed you a NASA-like space ground control room with animatronic men and operations. The UFO over the runway that causes a klaxon to sound turns out to be a seagull. That’s why the robot people chuckle at that point in the recording. Maybe because it's life, and they're machines.)
—Marco McClean, email@example.com, https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com
SOME WOMEN, I BOW
I have been thinking that I might try to get this down in a way that honors them, that thanks them and honors them for the good times we shared. I mean not the slightest invasion of privacy, not the tiniest selfish exploitation of these happy memories. I will try not using names. I just want to say thank you. And bow. I have inhaled.
I had the longest relation with the mother of my kids. We went -- I went -- to my first major league game with the family. The A's and the Tigers. Ken Holtzman pitched one of the shortest games ever played. 1-0 in an hour and forty five minutes. I'd won. Middle daughter would leave to wander the mostly full Oakland Coloseum. She was gone, by herself, for most of the game. Nobody worried. A different time. A different security situation. The early seventies.
Next up is Paris, on an unprecedented two week Easter break from teaching. For both of us. She taught business and typing two classrooms down the hall. We explored the old city. Saw and heard Vivaldi at Saint Chapelle. Followed the Metro lines throughout Paris. Doing it this way we missed a good deal, but we saw places seldom seen by tourists. Montmartre. Sacre Coeur. The charnel house. The street food. The joy of being in Paris, where it looks so much like what it is that you laugh, sometimes with tears of joy.
The briefest time was in my second, and last, marriage. Her daughter banging on the wall between bedrooms and yelling for us to calm down and stop being so noisy. She was trying to sleep. Stepkids. Wonderful, lovely kids. Wild River. Laytonville High School when we were on the edge of being nationally famous. All that. The joy. The deep joy of doing good work. Being a leader, a worthy example for the next generation.
Likely to be the final one has lasted the second longest. We were having breakfast at a truck stop in Austin. An outside stage. I ordered a glass of milk with my eggs. The waitress looked like she had been around the block. She told me when she returned with the milk that real cowboys didn't drink milk. I told her that was no problem as I wasn't a real cowboy. Getting back in the truck, I met fire ants for the first time.
To all of you, I bow. I have inhaled. Thank you.