Ballsy Intellectuals Run Amuck

Nothing – not drones, bombs, apps, or awards – stops the white male North American intellectual in his quest to nail the nature of the times in which we live. Super-intellectual soars again and again, often fueled by his own sense of self-importance. Indeed, it takes a certain sort of mental chutzpah — a certain […]

Paris Is In The Heart

Every since the abominable attacks on Paris I’ve been emailing my closest French friends, Jean-Francois and Virginie, for first-hand news of the tragedy that unfolded there. From what I understand, they’ve been carrying on as best they can, as though nothing dire has happened, all the while knowing that something very terrible has happened. There’s […]

The Cause That Shook an Empire

Remember the War in Vietnam? Indeed, how could anyone forget napalm, tiger cages and the Ho Chi Minh Trail, or the rag-tail army of pacifists, GIs, hippies, self-styled revolutionaries, Catholics, Buddhists, rock bands, and just plain crazies who took on the Pentagon, the White House and the “War Machine”? When the war ended veterans of […]

Mendo Forester Greg Giusti Fights Fire With Fire

Forester Greg Giusti doesn’t fight fires with water, hoses and aerial assaults. He didn’t fight the Valley Fire or any of the other conflagrations — at Elk and Jerusalem — that swept across Lake County this past summer and caused immense damage to nature and human beings. “I just stayed out of way,” Giusti says […]

The Imperial Gore Vidal

Perfect or near-perfect matches between author and subject are rare, indeed, in the world of publishing. Jay Parini’s Empire of Self, a new biography of Gore Vidal, is one of them. A long-time biographer as well as a novelist who has written fictional accounts of the lives of Tolstoy, Herman Melville and the left-wing German […]

Drought On The Coast

“Droughts come and go,” Stroeh tells me on a hot dusty August afternoon. “They’re part of the way we live, though now we also have global climate change, along with extremes such as floods and droughts.” Michael McCarthy, the author of the Man Who Made it Rain, and Stroeh’s biggest fan, argues that there are two obvious truths about hydrology today: “water is the new oil”; and “when water becomes a commodity, wars start.” Wars haven’t broken out yet in Marin but skirmishes have. This summer deputies from the Marin County Sheriff’s office raided commercial pot farms in Nicasio where growers purloined water from adjacent farms and diverted it from streams and springs to irrigate their crops. Then, too, several years ago, residents of Marshall nearly came to blows when Hog Island wanted to dig a new well on the uplands across from highway one.

Water & Power In The Valley Of The Moon

In Roman Polansky’s Chinatown — arguably the coolest movie ever made about the murky political world of H2O — private eye Jake Gittes never nails the man who murders Hollis Mulwray, the chief engineer for the L.A. Department of Water and Power. The case unravels Gittes. What’s more, the police kill his client, Mulwray’s wife, […]

The Tyranny of the Local

The waiters and waitress at my favorite pizza place in Santa Rosa wear T-shirts that say, “Support Local Produce.” The menu repeats that slogan; it also appears in big letters on a wall for one and all to read. Pizza lovers go there in part because they want to support the local. Indeed, there is […]

Emily! Live!

Dreamers, schemers, dealers and profiteers go to Humboldt County to grow, sell and transport marijuana. They’ve gone there to smoke it, steal it, write and make movies about it. They’ve been going there for nearly fifty years and they haven’t stopped going yet, though creeks are dry, land is increasingly in short supply and law […]

Rave On

The Weather Underground wasn’t as crazy as it seemed, though at the time it seemed anything but sane. On March 6, 1970, three members of a Weatherman cell or collective accidentally blew themselves up in a multi-million dollar apartment building in Manhattan where they were manufacturing nasty bombs: bombs meant to take lives as well […]

Peddling Weed To Those In Need

Do New Yorkers smoke weed? Yes, indeed, and apparently lots of it, though most of the New Yorkers on the new web series “High Maintenance” don’t seem to know where it comes from or how it might have arrived in the city. But that’s all right. The series derives much of its appeal because it […]