A California Jew in a Time of Anti-Semitism

It’s getting to be that time of the year in northern California when some of us, often called “spiritual sluts,” celebrate Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza and Tết, the Vietnamese New Year, which I enjoyed in Hanoi for the first time twenty-years ago. I have often celebrated all of those holidays, one after the other, because I’ve felt like I […]

Jack London: A Mess of Seething Contradictions

The anniversary of Jack London’s death on November 22, 1916 is near. In honor of the occasion, which I will observe, we might revisit some of his ideas and take another look at his life. For decades, literary critics and cultural historians knew where the American author, Jack London, (1876-1916), stood on the political spectrum, […]

We Are The People Of The Fire

Wildfires are old news. They’ve been old news for as long as humans have told stories about wildfires and tried to tame them, along with almost everything else that was wild. As soon as there was private property and then cities like Athens, Rome and Damascus, fire was regarded with fear. It was turned into […]

World Napafication

Fly over Napa County, California, and what you see below are vineyards and industrial buildings for the mass production of wines. Roads crisscross the valley and climb into the hills and mountains. They also carry tourists from hotels and motels to vineyards, wineries and restaurants where they’re told that they’re seeing and tasting the real […]

Raconteur Gerd Stern Remembers

“He’s wasn’t a nice guy,” Gerd Stern said on a Saturday afternoon at the Sonoma Valley Museum in Sonoma, California, where Jack London once lived, farmed and wrote fiction and non-fiction. Stern was talking about Beat poet, Allen Ginsberg, whom he first met in 1949 inside the New York State Psychiatric Institute where they were […]

Advertiser-Friendly Journalism At Sonoma Magazine

A polite term for it is “puffery.” It’s also known as “advertiser-friendly journalism.” It has often plagued the magazine industry and especially since the 1920s when President Calvin Coolidge observed that advertising was “part of the greater work of regeneration and redemption of mankind.” The editors and publishers at Sonoma magazine would agree. Advertiser-friendly journalism […]

Death & Dying on the Mendo Coast

Recently when walking in the woods above Point Arena, my pal Michael and I heard hammers banging away. We followed the sounds and came upon a clearing and a construction site. Rob, the foreman, and two Mexicans were building the visitor’s center for “Better Place Forests.” As the website for the company proclaims, “Create a […]

What’s Hippie Food?

Last April, I emailed the editor of the Anderson Valley Advertiser (AVA) and asked if he knew of a place “that makes and serves hippie food.” He replied, “The mother of all ‘hippie food’ emporiums just happens to be directly across the street from our office. Boont Berry Farm is a wonderful little store in […]

Cannabis In California: A Report from Sacramento

Nearly three years after a majority of Californians voted for Prop 64, which called for the adult use of cannabis, the California cannabis world is still in upheaval and there’s no stability in sight. In many parts of the Golden State, there’s a backlash against marijuana, though cities, towns and counties are also imposing taxes on cannabis businesses.

Confessions Of A Cannabis Professor

Academia is one of the last places on earth where one can expect innovation on the subject of marijuana. Still, this Spring, Sonoma State University (SSU) in Rohnert Park is going out on a limb and is offering a series of seminars titled “Cannabis in California.” According to the website for SSU’s School of Extended […]

It Can Happen Here

“I’m afraid that Napa is becoming the Valley of the Oligarchs. If it can happen here, where people are reasonably intelligent it can happen anywhere.” — St. Helena city councilman Geoff Ellsworth Where does one go to glimpse the future? There have always been science fiction novels such as H. G. Wells’ The War of […]