Letters To The Editor

by AVA News Service, December 28, 2011



This week's letters section is a fine demonstration of why sex, religion and politics are traditionally taboo topics in “polite” company. An observation:

Sex, religion and politics are, aside from the weather, the only things that matter. So it follows that people tend to become crazed and irrational, even violent when practicing or even discussing them. (Right?)

The guy who went off about the come-on at the movie theater? Oh, the irony. “It shoulda been me, it shoulda been me!”

Jeff Costello




Dear Editor:

Con air called and I didn't refuse to respond to my 23rd inter-prison transfer. If I had, I'd still be here in Victorville, California, max, where, lo and behold, they had hot showers and for the first time in 8-10 years I ate an orange. Yum yum. What more could a convict want? With luxuries such as this I've decided to stick around and forgo all plots of escape.

Most prison hacks know how to properly chain you up with the black box over the handcuffs, secured with a padlock out of your reach, belly chain with leg irons. One Con air marshall wasn't satisfied with my left cuff so he undid the chains on the airfield tarmac and clamped the cuff tight, cutting off circulation, telling me, “That'll teach you to shoot those cops.” C'est la vie.

You've printed my letters concerning my time served with Charlie Manson and Muhammad Salameh (first World Trade Center bomber), and perhaps one where I mentioned that Tim McVeigh was supposed to claim that someone took the tag off his car (which caused his arrest).

I met a con here who was on death row with McVeigh for a long time and watched the cops, while taking them off the bus, manage to slam him to the ground. In the death row, they would scrape his face against the wall when taking him some place.

He wouldn't confide in one informer trying to worm information out of him. He did say that he thought he knew who took the tag off his car. Also, the Oklahoma militia was supposed to declare open war against the United States after … (After 9/11, have the big, bad militias crawled into their holes and remained silent?) He was quite suspicious that the government had been involved. He never informed, nor revealed any details of the plot!

Ronald Del Raine


PS: I may be able to get a few more books to buttress my JFK “conspiracy” theory.




Have a Willie nice day!

There is always more to say when you've had a good day.

Not every day is a good day but when it is a good day it can be a very, very good day indeed.

In order to change the public face of marijuana patients as poseurs trying to get over, we are showing with our litter pick-up project at two highway sites, that “we work for our rights.”

Five people, five miles, five hours, non-stop, is what it took to pick up 23 bulging bags of Highway 128 litter on Xmas Day. Medical Marijuana Patients Union members celebrated doing garbage detail for Adopt-A-Highway, as we bemoaned what a stupor the world is in with people treating Mother Earth like their personal garbage pit.

Seven of the 23 bags were recyclables, carefully marked in separate bags for CHP, the others full of everybody's trash from giant five-foot styrofoam packaging and cardboard slabs to tires and hubcaps, from careless cigarette butts by the thousands to minute pieces of plastic in the process of decomposing into tinier pieces.

Our team of five — Nona, Opa, Terry, Paul and myself — worked well together as we thoroughly cleaned Philo and environs. As we were finishing, a local resident pulled up in her pick-up and thanked us, saying she often picks up litter herself and offered to help in the future. We felt rewarded.

Chris Diaz' loving folks, Nona and Opa, were there in good spirits because they'd finally heard from Chris, who, inexplicably, is still in solitary confinement in the Mendocino County Jail, as he awaits extradition to Texas and a sentence of 5-99 years for 14 grams of concentrated cannabis. Mendo County Jail does not provide an adequate diet or adequate medical attention. They don't provide an asthma victim with a simple 25¢ inhaler to breathe with to stave off asthma attacks. He can't eat white bread due to allergens and peanut butter is not enough.

Terry from Texas had done time in a Texas prison for association with marijuana. He and the Diaz family have much in common.

Paul first read my letter in last week's AVA (12/21/11) about our Xmas Day litter team, then he saw more about it on Chris Diaz' facebook page and decided, “Yeah, that's what I'm going to do on Xmas.”

I gave them all a Cannabis Cards Willie Nelson poster for coming out and then I noticed the Willie Nelson t-shirt Paul was wearing, saying, “Have a Willie nice day.”

That we did!

Pebbles Trippet (pebbles@pacific)




Dear AVA,

While I am certainly grateful for this forum and for your paper in general, I must take issue with the omission of a letter in my name in my letter of the 14th headed “Awesome Wordology,” which was attributed to a “Lynn” Washburne.

I know, editor, what you're thinking. Big deal! You know you wrote it, we know you wrote it, anyone who knows you knows it's you, and for those who don't, it doesn't matter if it says Lynn, Flynn, or Zaphod. Well maybe. But consider this. Suppose one of your faithful readers has noticed my name in the letters column of late and perhaps taken a little pleasure in my small contributions.

I have a name, like Chuck or Eric or Ned. That does not telegraph “typo!” when you drop the first letter. Indeed, you get another name entirely. So maybe faithful reader gets a chuckle out of my letter, looks at the signage and thinks, “Lynn Washburne? Must be related to that Flynn guy. Probably his much clearer sister. I look forward to following her career with great interest.”

Which career naturally fails to develop, “Lynn” being nothing more than editorial oversight.

But Flynn's letters continue unabated. Faithful reader notes and while he appreciates them, all the while thinking, “That Flynn. He's okay, but he's no Lynn Washburne. Now there was a letter writer — cute, too.”

And speaking of authorship, there was a long letter recently from some fellow dragging out that dusty old “controversy” of the true authorship of Shakespeare's works. Here's what I think about that.

1. Sometime in the 16th century a number of excellent plays and poems were written.

2. The quality and style were consistent enough that most agree one person wrote them all.

3. Text and folios are signed with the name “William Shakespeare.” Hence, the world in general has accepted that designation for the author.

4. A man named “William Shakespeare” may or may not have existed around the time this literature was produced. If he did, he is almost certainly not the guy with the Monty Burns hairdo and goatee represented as being W.S.

5. “William Shakespeare” may be a pen name of any of several writers.

6. We have this wonderful body of work and “William Shakespeare” is the name that's been attached to it for 400-odd years. Does make a difference if it were Kit Marlowe or Francis Bacon or Queen Elizabeth or John Freakin' Grisham who wrote the plays? Who ever did write them is William Shakespeare, regardless of the name he or she used at the time.

Why try to solve this non-mystery anyway?

Historical accuracy? Balderdash. That's an oxymoron. We only have the vaguest notion of history back then, the broad strokes. Trying to pinpoint minutiae like that is like trying to identify individual flakes in a snowball.

Suppose some literary detective did, against all probability, “prove” authorship by someone without the given name of Shakespeare. What then? 450 years worth of royalties to the heirs? All books reprinted with the correct name? “Marlowe in the Park"? Referring to things as “Baconean"? What about the fishing gear? What about elementary school children planting a foot in a playmate's butt, saying “Shakespeare, kick in the rear"? I can't speak for today's youth, but at Quail Hollow Elementary in Ben Loman circa 1968 it was quite the done thing.

Maybe it's just me. Probably is. But if I was at a party or bar and someone introduced themselves as a “literary detective” I would take issue, likely mildly violent issue, in the form of a drink in the face or better yet, a swift “Shakespeare, kick in the rear.”

You guys are totally awesome and so am I.

Flynn Nomiddlename Washburne

San Quentin




As we reach the remaining hours of 2011, I would like to take an opportunity to reflect on the past year and the unique challenges the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office has faced as well as our goals for the upcoming new year.

The financial plight of the County in January 2011 was extremely dire and, for the first time in two decades, mandated painful layoffs of young, skilled and energetic deputies.

I hope and pray that this action will never again be necessary. Reducing employees without reducing necessary services was a very difficult task for our remaining employees to accomplish but they stepped up to the plate and have continued to provide Mendocino County with extraordinary service.

Our deputy sheriffs were among the first to take a significant pay cut in order to maintain the level of service necessary to keep our County safe and secure. The ongoing professionalism of our County law enforcement makes me extremely proud to be their sheriff.

Spring of 2011 saw us planning for the large public lands marijuana enforcement action known as Operation Full Court Press. By July and August, six counties and multiple state and federal agencies had come together to rid our public lands of illegal marijuana growers and the environmental hazards they leave behind.

Halting the damage caused by these growers who have devastated our forests and kept the public from enjoying these public lands is again something I am extremely proud of.

Operation Full Court Press removed over 57,000 pounds of garbage and over 330,000 marijuana plants from the Mendocino National Forest and was a huge step toward reclaiming these vital public lands.

While Full Court Press stressed our resources, staffing and budgets, little did we know that our hardest task was on the horizon. On August 11, 2011, a respected community member, Matthew Coleman, was killed while performing his tasks for the Mendocino Land Trust.

While our Mendocino detectives were were working hard on this case, another horrifying homicide occurred on the Coast when our friend and City Councilman Jere Melo was viciously gunned down while investigating an illegal opium garden east of Fort Bragg.

In just a few days, the entire law enforcement community of Mendocino County was joined together in an unprecedented 36 day search for a double homicide suspect. The logistics and coordination were extraordinary but are dwarfed by the memory of hundreds of brave, skilled law-enforcement who daily walked into the Noyo Basin determined to bring this event to an end and to return the Coast a sense of safety and normalcy.

Our team was assisted by dozens of law enforcement agencies from throughout the United States. No agency was more determined to help us to get this situation resolved than the United States Marshal Service. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to this group of men and women who worked as many long hours toward resolution of this horrific case as did our agency.

I will start 2012 the same way I have for the last five years as your Sheriff, thankful for the hundreds of dedicated public servants who work so tirelessly in the name of public safety.

I want to take this opportunity to publicly thank County CEO Carmel Angelo and the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors for the difficult work they do. While we have had our public displays of emotion and anger, we have also had our handshake deals a result. The public expects us to work together and I pledge to work as closely as possible with these leaders in 2012.

Happy New Year Mendocino County. May 2012 bring us an improved economy, a clear mindset and a continued commitment to work together for the good of our magnificent County.

Tom Allman, Sheriff, Mendocino County





George Hollister sure missed the boat! If he would grow marijuana he sure would have seen the influx of slave class citizens moving in from out of state to work for the medical and for-profit marijuana masters.

He could then hire hordes of trimmers, pot-hole diggers, cooks, guards and indentured servants taking care of his property like it was their own and providing a harem of young women eager to please the master and sons. All the while he could party in Costa Rica and all points south during the winter.

To quote Malcolm X: If the Master said, “We got a good house here,” the House Negro would say, “Yeah. We got a good house year.” Whenever the Master said, “We,” he said “We.” That's how you can tell a House Negro.

Old Tom

Emerald Triangle




Rudolph the Red Hosed Reindeer

Rudolph the red-hosed reindeer wore a pair of pantyhose. And if you ever saw him you would even say he blows. All of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names. They never let poor Rudolph play in any reindeer games. Then one sooty Christmas eve Santa came to say, “Rudolph with your butt so bright, won't you tail my sleigh tonight?” Then all the other reindeer razzed him as they shouted out with glee, “Rudolph the red-hosed reindeer, you'll go down in infamy.”

“Holiday Classics from the Emerald Triangle”

Don Morris





In your recent issues there have been many articles about how the Feds are raiding and hassling state and locally sanctioned medical marijuana outlets. That should come as no surprise to any who know the history of the federal prohibition of pot.

In the early colonial days of our nation alcohol was legal, but was considered a sin if abused. You didn’t get thrown in jail for being a drunk, but you were considered a moral reprobate. When, in 1937, marijuana was made illegal on the federal level, the sin got transferred over to pot.

The then head of the Bureau of Narcotics, now the DEA, was a man named Harry Anslinger. He had a deep and abiding hatred of juju weed, which is what pot was called back then, among other names for it. He lobbied Congress in 1937 to make any connection to pot-grow it, sell it, use it- a serious crime. He sold it to Congress on the basis of two ideas.

The first was to label it “devil weed,” which transferred the sin attached to alcohol over to marijuana. Thus, if you grew it or sold it or used it you were in league with Satan. The second idea was totally racist. Harry Anslinger said, “Refer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.” He also said, …the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.” He also said, “marijuana can arouse in blacks and Hispanics a state of menacing fury or homicidal attack.” He further said, “Marijuana is an addictive drug that produces in its users insanity, criminality, and death.”

Unfortunately these concepts had thirty years to incubate in the mass consciousness, and they are still there to a great extent. In 1970 Congress put marijuana on the Controlled Substance list via the Controlled Substance Act, along with heroin, cocaine, and morphine. Then, in 1968 the then President Richard Nixon, in need of a hot re-election campaign issue, declared a “War on Drugs.” It was not until the hippies started smoking pot that the ideas began to be exposed as totally false.

Research has established that even though about 10% of pot users become habituated to it, the other 90% simply enjoy it. And therein comes the rub, they enjoy it. Even though we have put, since back then, over 20 million Americans in jail for smoking pot, and spent hundreds of billions of dollars trying to stamp out pot, there is more pot use today than ever before. Why is this so , why is it still outlawed?

Part of the reason, even though pot is rather benign compared to alcohol and the hard drugs, and it is enjoyable and has no lasting side effects, it is still the “Devil Weed” in the minds of all regressive people. While the racial component of the opposition to pot has diminished, since white people now use it regularly, the religious opposition is still alive and well.

There is a deep seated idea that in the psyches of the believers that there is one, and only one, morally righteous way to get high. That is by prayer to and contemplation of God. Any and all other means of expanding one’s consciousness are, according to the believers, immoral and contrary to the will of God.

Well, first of all, that idea assumes that we know the will of God, while at the same time the

believers tell us that it is all a big mystery. Obviously then, they are projecting onto their god their own mental idea. Then, and this is the really frightening idea, they assume that they have the right and the self-assigned duty to tell the rest of us exactly what our state of consciousness should be and what it must not be. The audacity of that assumption is based on fear and ignorance. Who gave the believers the right to tell you or me what your or my state of consciousness should or should not be?

Oh, they say, God told them to tell us. Well, that is what every tyrant down through history has said. They all say that they have divine sanction to impose their idea on everybody else. If, as is the case, the idea of god or gods is what Freud called an “infantile delusion,” then it is all about power, not about God.

The religionists have always used the notion of God to impose their will on the masses. They cannot stand it if someone gets his or her psyche outside of their box. They are control freaks, be they in the church or in the government. If they can control the language they can control the thought. Call it “Devil weed” or call it “dangerous” and they then set themselves up to make it immoral and/or illegal. They are, they say, protecting you from yourself. But this presupposes that you are a wicked, immoral person, filled with desires to harm yourself.

That is why the religionists and the governors both make it illegal to commit suicide. You do not have the right to harm yourself or kill yourself, according to them. From this devolves their notion that you also do not have the right to ingest any substance that might be harmful to you. If that is the case, then alcohol would be illegal. We tried that, and it backfired, just as the prohibition of pot has backfired, creating the same crime, gangs, and corruption as did the prohibition of alcohol.

This is a political issue, obviously, but also an existential issue. I hold that nobody, whether an individual or a society, has the right to tell me or you what any individual’s approach to his or her existence should be or not be. We are not here as children of God, since there is no God. Pot is not the devil weed, since there is no Devil. Let’s get real. Hopefully, a little science and a little history can help clear this up.

Recreational use of marijuana is just that, re-creational. It helps a person re-create the state of being that relaxes a person, that offers up some fun, and that just might lead to an expanded view of things. Oh oh! We live in a highly stressed culture. Why would anyone want to prohibit that which reduces stress? As someone said, upon going to a doctor to get a prescription for marijuana, in response to the doctor asking, “Well, why do you need the pot?” His answer was, “I need the pot because I’m really stressed out and full of anxiety.” “Oh,” said the doctor, “and why are you stressed out and full of anxiety?” “Because,” said our guy, “because I’m all out of pot!”

Lee Simon

Far ‘n Away Farm in Virginia



Dear Family and Friends,

Years ago, when I was a graduate student at the Johns Hokins University, I heard the great writer, Italo Calvino, read. He read at the Humanities Center at Johns Hopkins. The year was 1974. It was late-autumn. November.

Calvino had been invited to Johns Hopkins by Charles Newman. Charlie chaired the Writing Seminars Department at Johns Hopkins at that time. Charlie was a legend in his own right.

Charlie was an important post-modern novelist, and he was also an editor who had a gift for discovering major literary talent. As the former editor of Tri-Quarterly, at the University of Michigan, Charlie discovered, and was the first to publish, several literary greats, including Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Salman Rushdie, and Anne Sexton.

Charlie wasn't the first to publish Calvino, but he did a lot to popularized him here in the United States.

I'll never forget that afternoon when Calvino read.

It was late-afternoon. The sun's rays were slanting through the long windows at Gilman Hall. Outside, leaves were falling and swirling in the November wind. Inside, the light was fading. The air was heavy with smoke from Richard Macksey's pipe. Dr. Macksey chaired the Humanities Center.

Everyone in that room on that day when Calvino was about to read knew they were lucky to be there. We were happy people.

The Humanities Center at Johns Hopkins is a venerable place. The Humanities Center was started with funding from the Ford Foundation, and organized the influential international literary theory symposium.

"The Languages of Criticism and the Sciences of Man,” which featured prominent post-structuralists Paul de Man, Jacques Derrida, Roland Barthes, Jacques Lacan, all came together to do their important work at the Humanities Cener. It's also where Derrida presented his theories in the lecture “Structure Sign, and Play in the Human Sciences."

Waiting to hear Calvino read, I had a sense of history. But I also had an expectation that something historic was about to happen.

Calvino was introduced. He was energetic, but seemed small, thin, and weak. He was pale. A pale yellow. Was he jaundiced? He spoke. His voice was raspsy. Did he have asthma? Calvino is a survivor of WWII, and his body seemed to unite all the destructive forces of that terrible war.

But when Calvino started to read, he was incadescent. He burned. He glowed in the darkening room.

Calvino read from his Invisible Cities.

Invisible Cities is a small, dense, playful. paradoxical, and whimsical book. It has inspired a lot of lingustic analysis and serious literary criticism...some quite pompous. In truth, Invisible Cities is a rather formless disquisition. The cities have themes — the cities representing memory, desire, signs and wonders, fantasies, hallucinations, fears. There are rich cities, poor cities, trading cities, hidden cities, cities of changing faces, cities of the familar, cities of the strange, cities of the dead, cities filled with war orphans, continuous cities — more than 50 of them. The book is short; its 164 chapters keep repeating themes with variations.

The narrator in Invisible Cities is probably a child, a child who is traveling by himself. A war orphan. And, by the end of the book, that child comes to a conclusion that strikes me as the truest thing I have ever read in any book: “Arriving at each new city, the traveler finds again the familiar places of his youth, finds again a past of his that he did not know he had remembered, and comes to this — the forgiveness of what you no longer are or no longer possess, lies in wait for you in foreign, unpossessed places. The child inside the man forgives the man, but it takes a new place to do it. Perhaps the place is real. Perhaps it is an invisible city.”

So then, these are our “Invisible Cities.” We each travel through them.

The map is laid out before us.

And we are each — every one of us — war orphans, in a manner of speaking.

In that spirit, I leave you with a few lines inspired by Calvino way back when he read at the Humanities Center, in Baltimore, on that early November night, in 1974.

I recently read these few lines to my daughter, Arianna Rose Carisella, who graduated, with honors, from the University of New Mexico. last week.

I thought they were good things to say as she enters the world. I want Arianna to be a traveler in life. I want her to find discover many new place and many invisible cities. I want her to travel and loose herself. I want her to love and loose herself.

And, at all times, I want her to be strong, and to be all of herself, and to see only the beginnings and never the end of things, and to celebrate herself, and to not be afraid, never afraid, and, above all else, to be a child and to believe.

This is also my Christmas wish for all of you. And for myself.

Please read the lines below out loud. They are intended to be read as a prayer for you.

I know where I am by the sounds

that play rhythms like raindrops through tin pipes,

moonlight that falls in secret messages, and

echoes of invitations to places unknown.

I am strong here. I am all of me,

the beginning and the celebration,

the promise and the reward.

I am not afraid, not now.

not anymore.

I am a child and I believe.

I am a child and all things are possible.

— Thoughts of a boy before sunrise


John Sakowicz


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