Be Prepared & Don’t Panic

By the time I picked the miners lettuce in the meadow it had already flowered and was tougher than it would have been if I had picked it a week earlier, before the sun and warm weather. No, I’ve not become a gatherer and certainly not a hunter. Except for squirrels and wild turkeys there’s […]

My Life in the Plague

I spend most of my days and nights in a relatively small room, about 20 feet by 20 feet with about 8 feet headroom. I refer to it as my “cell” and like to say I have entered “the monastic phase” of my life. I sleep in my cell and write and read in my […]

The Call of the Mild

The problem with Jack London has always been that while he was a compelling storyteller with a vivid imagination, he was also a racist, or at least a writer who embraced racial ideas about the superiority of Anglo Saxons and the inferiority of African Americans, Asians and Latinos. Most of the racism that’s embedded in […]

The Destruction Of California?

They don’t come to northern California for the bubbly, the marijuana or the luxury hotels and they don’t enjoy picnic lunches along the Russian River. There are more than 150,000 of them in the whole state, most of them sleeping in the streets of L.A., San Francisco, Ukiah, you name it. If they come for […]

My Outsider and Insider Experience

When I arrived by bus, with just one suitcase, in Sonoma County at the end of 1975, I felt like an outsider, though my parents had settled there in 1970 and were homesteading near the town of Occidental. I liked being an outsider. I had been one when I lived in Manchester, England in the […]

Jewish & Non Jewish Dicks & Criminals

Cops are one thing. PIs or “dicks” are another. I’ve rarely met a cop I really liked, but I know a bunch of PIs or private investigators I admire. We’re in the same line of work: investigating. A few years ago, at a party in Hollywood I attended when I was working for Warner Brothers, […]

Pipe Dream or American Dream?

The Emerald Cup roared into Santa Rosa and crawled out with a hangover on the next-to-the last weekend in December. Two days of partying takes a toll on a body, especially if the body isn’t as limber as it once was. It takes 365 days of the year to stage the Cup, with lots of […]

Street Fighting Man

I know your eyes are glued to the circus in D.C. and the slaughter that’s taking place in Afghanistan and half-a-dozen other places in a world that’s on fire. I’m paying close attention, too. I’m also paying attention to my strangely electrifying memories of the night I was arrested and beaten by a dozen or […]

Powerless: Ain’t Got No ‘Lectricity

When I heard that PG&E was going to turn off power in my part of the world my first response was denial. I thought that if I told myself that, it was no biggie. After all, I’d gone without power when I lived in rural Sonoma County and when powerful storms would knock down wires […]

A Lost Poet’s Voice Revived

If he’s still alive, Lew Welch would have celebrated his 93rd birthday Aug. 16, 2019. A Reed College graduate and one of the half dozen or so poets, including Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder and Michael McClure, who emerged from the San Francisco Renaissance of the 1950s, Welch was a misfit even among the Beats. For […]

Mendo Marijuana Grower

“I’ve been lucky,” the tall, thin, energetic pot farmer tells me on a hot day in September. “I grew my first crop at 17 and now 30 years later I’m still growing it. At 22, the DEA raided my garden in San Francisco. I was part of the underground movement that provided cannabis to HIV […]

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