The Dirtiest Beach In California

I just cashed in 30 pounds of beer bottles, three pounds of aluminum — mostly beer cans — and about three pounds of plastic, nearly all individual-serving water bottles. Nothing unusual about it, except the bottles were all coated in a very light, dry grade of beach sand, not the grit and dubious froth of […]

The Worst Movie Ever Made?

Will Chuck, Arnold, Bruce, Sean and Rocky save the world or make it worse? Take all the washed-up action stars available. Give them each handguns. Let them strap up. Make sure some have automatic rifles as well. Get Rocky in the cockpit, and have him break some rules… I’m sure you can see where this […]

Spare Change

Two things are remarkable about the last 35,000 years of human history: that things have remained so stable, and that so much has changed. If, as Pablo Picasso is said to have remarked, we have learned nothing, based on his assessment of the cave paintings of Lascaux, we have managed quite a lot by way […]

Squirrel Stew

The squirrels are starting to look a little better every year — not really because of anything they’re doing differently, but in light of the economic situation at least 99% of the rest of us are in. I figure it’s only a matter of time before the squirrel population in at least some parts of […]

Rattlesnake Summit

Perhaps I deserved to spend a stormy night on the side of Highway 101 in a crapped-out Ford Courier pickup, watching the lightning flash and freezing in a wet wool blanket I had found in the back, protected from the raw elements by insecure windows which provided evenly-spaced leaks during the periodic hailstorms, sleetfalls — […]

Getting Crab Out Of Noyo

From the deck of an 18-footer fully loaded for a sport crab run, the sea looked pretty nice before noon. Crossing the Noyo bridge, we noted the flat surface of the cove, with only a light wrinkle and splash on the rocks of Todd’s Point. Easy water for setting crab pots and diving. We knew […]

Two Rounds on the Roadside

It’s an unhappy day all around, at the end of it headed south on my bike out of Arcata through Bayside and just about ready to pass the post office when someone startles me by yelling out something I can’t quite catch. But it sounds rude, so I make the informal hand gesture one makes […]


Sacramento doesn’t have a noon whistle. Instead, they blow a siren for a full minute on the last Friday of the month. It’s not the same thing at all. Probably very early in the industrial age, the mill whistle became the orchestral backdrop of life in towns founded upon extraction of a resource using any […]

Driving a Red Rental Car Through Willits

The grizzled old philosopher/working man/lifelong confirmed stoner I used to get weed from when I lived in Arcata is being evicted from his sandy little shacked-up trailer in Manila which squats on a tide-soaked marsh next to the old Sierra-Pacific mill on the Mad River Slough. It seems his landlord is modernizing the prop­erty, which […]

What It’s Like to Die

I died in April, 1979, a Saturday morning that I seem, now, to remember as being sunny and animated, as most sunny spring days on the Mendocino coast are, with that naive optimism unique to unspoiled or only partially spoiled places located near natural wonders like the sea. I was walking up Main Street, Fort […]

The Soul Searchers

I was minding my own business when I heard the thump of heavy footwear on the porch. I stepped outside in time to intercept two neatly dressed young women, carrying shiny briefcases and purses. Their aroma was pervasive but ambiguous, some unassuming middle of the road brand of perfume. For an absurd instant, I pictured […]