Bird’s Eye View

by Turkey Vulture, June 29, 2011

Greetings one and all. If you are sitting comfortably then I shall begin. I would like to start by pointing out that there was no need to go to London, England if you wanted to attend a ‘royal’ wedding this summer. The Valley had its own version last Saturday afternoon and evening, held high in the hills on the Johnson Ranch on the southern outskirts of Boonville. I have no doubt that the happy couple — Derek Wyant and Nichole Johnson, and their parents — Dianna Charles, Bryan and Elizabeth Wyant, Wanda and Gary Johnson, would never consider themselves as ‘royalty’ but for many Valley folks in attendance, given each family’s long-standing presence in the Valley and their many and continuing contributions here, it could certainly be regarded as the Valley’s ‘Wedding of the Year.’ With well over three hundred guests in attendance, many of whom were graduates of the AV High School at various points in time, it was certainly a ‘real’ Valley event and the setting could not have been any more picturesque. The whole event was a splendid affair with a delicious feast and open bar, accompanied by an eclectic mix of music. A particularly poignant moment occurred when Nichole and Derek took the time to memorialize significant and influential members of their family and friends who are no longer with us and are greatly missed... I’m sure I can speak for many when I thank the newlyweds and their families for what I’d say was a ‘proper’ wedding and a wonderful celebration of the union of two very fine young people of the Valley.

An event that featured virtually the opposite crowd of people in terms of upbringing and origins took place here in Boonville the previous weekend. That would be the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival and I just wanted to add my final words on that topic. There are many Valley people who attend and enjoy the Festival, myself included in past years, and I am aware that the stores selling ice, cheap bottled water, quality coffee, etc, can be busy, as was Mosswood Market before the music started each day, and even Lemons’ Market, several miles away in Philo. Furthermore, I am told there were very few negative incidents amongst the 6,000+ revelers and that the clean-up went well.

However, Boonville’s eateries and places of libation would describe it as a myth that they benefit anywhere near as much financially from this event as the Festival owners would have them/us believe. I remember vividly (because I was there) when the Festival owners, Warren and Gretchen Smith, two very pleasant people, first came here seeking local support and met with local small business owners, assuring them that the event would be of great financial benefit. As it turns out, some are now of the opinion that the three-day music extravaganza may actually even have adverse affects on them. This is due not only to the Festival being virtually self-contained in terms of food and drink vendors, but also as a result of other out-of-towners, not here for the Festival, being unable to find parking outside the local dining establishments and therefore passing on through without a stop. I also know that it isn’t only some small business owners who are not happy among Valley folks. Father’s Day was on the Sunday, so business was pretty brisk for a few hours downtown, however, many locals wished to avoid the crowds and they stayed away, foregoing their usual weekend meal in town. Complaints about public urination and blatant use of drugs, campers setting-up wherever they liked, washing in restaurant bathrooms, etc, did not offset the gesture of free tickets being given to some local people, and there would seem to be a need for further discussions between the organizers and local groups before next year’s event. I certainly believe the event has a place here but let’s not pretend that everyone in the Valley has only positive feelings about it. I would also humbly suggest that the Festival organizers perhaps think twice before rejoicing publicly that there were ‘even more vendors here this year’ as if this was a particularly positive thing for everyone, and perhaps a little more sensitivity might be shown by them rather than simply basking in a false notion that the ‘good vibe’ is felt by one and all.

Public Service Announcements. Calendars and pens at the ready. #176: The vets from the Mendocino Animal Hospital will be in the Valley for one more visit this month — tomorrow, June 30th at The Farm Supply, north of Philo on Highway 128, from 2pm-3:30pm. It’s a very convenient service so let’s support it and make plans to attend if your four-legged friend needs come medical care or is due some shots anytime soon. #177: Here we go again. It’s The Olde Time 4th of July Celebration! Taking place at The Fairgrounds in Boonville on Monday 4th, it’s an afternoon (noon-4pm) of fun, games, competitions — ‘rooster crowing,’ ‘hen clucking,’ and tug ‘o war, plus lots of food and drink. I can’t imagine I won’t see you there.

One person who will not be in attendance is Jack Kevorkian, who passed away a couple of weeks ago. The American pathologist and most famously the right-to-die activist, is best known for publicly championing a terminal patient's right to die via physician-assisted suicide; he said that he assisted at least 130 patients to that end. He famously said, “Dying is not a crime.” Anyway, several regulars at the 3-Dot, myself included, raised our glasses to the man who said, “My aim in helping the patient was not to cause death. My aim was to end suffering. It's got to be decriminalized.” Having recently seen first hand the awful quality of life of for many terminally ill patients, I agree wholeheartedly.

And with that in mind, what more appropriate Quote of the Week could you ask for than these words from German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, “One should die proudly when it is no longer possible to live proudly.” And a little lighter take on this topic from Woody Allen. “It’s not that I’m afraid to die; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”

I’m outtahere. With the hot weather almost with us, please remember to keep your windows cracked if you have pets in your vehicle; children too, I suppose. Otherwise, ‘Keep the Faith’; be careful out there; stay out of the ditches; think good thoughts; and may your god go with you. Humbly yours, Turkey Vulture. PS. Contact me with words of support/abuse either through the Letters Page or by turkeyvulture1@earthlink.net.

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