Clancy Sigal (1926-2017): Big Ballsy Anti-Fascist

I did not know Clancy Sigal well, but I read almost all of his books, including Going Away, Weekend in Dinlock, Zone of the Interior, Hemingway Lives!, plus A Woman of Uncertain Character—which is about his mother—and Zone of the Interior, a fictionalized version of his time with the British psychiatrist, R.D. Lang. I reviewed a couple of his books for the […]

The Empire Slouches On

At a New York museum last week I noticed two objects on exhibit, one of them a mirror, the other a camera that was focused on the mirror. The mirror and the camera, which we apparently can’t live without, are made for one another, like the car and the road, or the sky and the […]

Hmong Among Us

On a summer day in June it was hot and dry almost everywhere in California. Nearly eight thousand miles away, it was hot and rainy across much of Laos, the landlocked nation in Southeast Asia that Americans learned about when the U.S. Air Force bombed it in the 1960s and 1970s. A 52-year-old Hmong immigrant […]

Black Like Me: Wanna Be An African-American?

Would you darken your complexion and walk in the shoes of a black man in America today? Probably not, especially with police shootings of unarmed black men, and not if you remember John Howard Griffin’s memoir, Black Like Me, in which the white author passes for an African-American and exposes racism, segregation and discrimination in the […]

Regulating Pot

Tony Linegar has a wealth of experience in two northern California counties where cannabis has long been a major cash crop: Mendocino and Sonoma. Before taking over the reigns as the Agricultural Commissioner for Sonoma in 2012, Linegar served as the Agricultural Commissioner for Mendocino where he witnessed the rapid growth of the cannabis industry. He […]

SoCo Piles On The Pot Rules

Brian Elliott’s small, tidy Santa Rosa office is filled with mementos of his long life in public service. Perhaps most striking is the large fire chief’s helmet that he wore for decades. Indeed, no one alive in Sonoma County has put out more fires than Elliott, though these days he wears another kind of hat. […]

Homage To The Hay Makers

Some folks are already in church and at prayer in their Sunday best. Others have strapped on holsters and guns and are patrolling neighborhoods in new squad cars, looking for trouble. Then there are the sunbaked, red-necked farmers who have climbed aboard their sturdy John Deere’s and their durable New Holland’s and who are at […]

The Tyranny Of Food & The Freedom Not To Eat

In a land in which food has become a secular religion I have chosen to become a heretic and a non-believer. Once upon a time, I lived to eat. Now I eat to live. Not eating or even eating modestly feels like a subversive activity when all around me in northern California I’m almost constantly […]

Dog Soldiers: K-9s & Their Human Handlers 

“War is hell,” General William Tecumseh Sherman observed during the hellish American Civil War. It’s hellish for human soldiers and also for dog soldiers who play a valuable role in the so-called war against terrorism. Indeed, if you love dogs you might love Nancy Schiesari’s hour-long documentary, Canine Soldiers: The Militarization of Love that is showing on […]

India Flexes Its Muscle: Part II

Jaipur, India — I have watched a whole family of monkeys perched on ancient stonewalls, and I have followed elephants as they’ve galumphed down the avenues of monstrous cities—undaunted by polluting buses, trucks and scooters. From the back seat of an air-conditioned car I have observed farmers harvesting wheat on plots of land so small […]

India Flexes Its Muscles (Part I)

Agra, India — I can see the Taj Mahal from the window of my hotel in Agra, India and I can hear the near constant honking of horns on the street below that seem to say “I’m here” and “look out for me.” The fifth largest economy in the world, and a nation still emerging […]