Letters To The Editor

by AVA News Service, January 10, 2013



I enjoyed Todd Walton's latest piece about Kerouac.

Here is my story:

Back in the late 70's I walked out of the screening of The Towering Inferno (because it was too boring) in Mexico City just after Faye Dunaway said to Paul Newman, “Oh Paul, I'd live with you anywhere, even on the cliffs of Mendocino.” At that point I was living on the cliffs of Mendocino. As I walked back to the Hotel Estadio I wondered if I was anywhere near Jack Kerauac's old rooftop apartment at 212 Orizaba Street? I looked up at the street sign and it was Orizaba! I looked again and saw I was right on the 200 block, in the biggest city (then) in the world! I walked up to the top floor and told the young woman resident that a famous writer had lived there, could I come in and see if there was any writing on the wall? She let me in to look around.

(Recently I came across a book on Kerauac that said he lived at 210 Orizaba, not 212! Well, it still is my best story, my best coincidence — I have six more but can only remember five.)

Paul Modic




Dear Editor:

The other shoe has fallen. In the August 8 issue of the AVA you published a letter of mine entitled “Theft is still theft some places.” In the letter I wrote about the Assistant to the City of Sacramento Mayor who is a member of a prominent local political family. An audit disclosed she charged about $9,000 for personal trips and various items including groceries on her city credit card. As a result the City Police and the County District Attorney started an investigation. She made full restitution but her checks bounced. I compared her situation with a former Mendo County supervisor who confused her personal expenses with county expenses and when caught with her hand in the cookie jar paid back only part of what she owed the county. Your district attorney didn't prosecute and didn't collect the unpaid balance.

The Sacramento City Police finished their investigation and on December 18 the Sacramento County District Attorney charged her with misappropriation of public funds, grand theft of public funds, forgery and making or drawing worthless checks. A warrant was issued and she was arrested and booked into the county jail. Our DA has no friends and regardless of who you are if you do the deed you do the time. It certainly appears your DA has different values.

In peace,

James G. Updegraff





Marshal Newman’s recent AVA article is a well written article on the history of grapes in Anderson Valley. I will offer some additional information from my memory having been in the industry all of my life. The National Distillers acreage was north of the Elementary School and the Museum. A couple purchased that property many years ago and continued to farm the grapes. They may have been French Colombard but probably Palomino (Golden Chasselas). In the 1990s they sold the grapes to Peju Winery in Rutherford. Our trucks hauled the grapes for many years from the vineyard to the winery. Peju made a moderately priced wine named Carnival. Somewhere around year 2000 we lost contact with the owners and possibly they removed or replaced the vines with more profitable and suitable varieties

I originally started to develop new vineyards on the Rickard ranch for a company from New York headed by Don Johnston. Johnston had planted a small vineyard just north of Cakebread the remains of which can still be scene .The Rickard property did have 10 acres of older vines that were divided between French Colombard or Palomino and Carrignane. The New York Company I worked for quickly ran out of money and I had no further involvement in the property after 1974

I am looking forward to part two of Newman’s Article.

Bob Dempel, Dempel Grapevine Nursery




Dear Anderson Valley Advertiser,

It is hard to express how much it meant to me that AV students and staff recently raised an astounding $1600 so slum kids in Kisumu, Kenya could have access to performing arts and soccer programs they would never see otherwise. Thank You!!! A super special shout out goes to the 9th Grade class and their incredible teacher Liz Gonzales, who pumped up the enthusiasm. Kathy Borst and Jim Snyder were key teacher leaders who got the effort going and teachers Amber Mesa and Nat Corey-Moran helped a lot too. In the office, Veronica Barragan kept track of donations large and small. For a big finish, Principal Jim Tomlin and several teachers provided pizzas for the participating classes at the Jr-Sr High. And my folks brought in cupcakes for the 9th grade class, which won top donation honors.

When I first came three years ago to Kisumu, which is on the Equator next to Lake Victoria, in Western Kenya, I never guessed how involved I would get here. I have learned so much in the process. For sure, the community in Kisumu could benefit a lot from the kind of trust and caring people show to one another in Anderson Valley and at our schools in particular.

The school donation to my charity Equip Manyatta put us over the top of the Global Giving Challenge we were participating in, which allows us to stay on their website and continue to raise money there for projects that will benefit the girls and boys of the Kisumu slums. I promise this money will be put to good use. Thanks So Much!


Keevan Labowitz




Dear Bill Kristol

I just sent this to Bill Kristol, the editor of the Weekly Standard magazine and one of the most influential advocates of our invasion of Iraq. He posted something this weekend about my post where I found an old quote from Chuck Hagel about how the Iraq War is all about the oil. I'll let you know when Bill gets back to me

Dear Bill,

Thanks for your post mentioning me! I didn't realize you visited my website so early on Saturday mornings. Man, I wish we had cleaned up after the party last night.

Anyway, I see you're mad that back in 2007 former Sen. Chuck Hagel said that we were obviously “fighting for oil” in Iraq. You explain this was “vulgar and disgusting” and “could be the straw that breaks the back of Hagel's chances” to be Obama's next Defense Secretary.

Since you feel so strongly about this, I wanted to make sure you heard about four other prominent people who've said the same thing. (I should have mentioned them yesterday with the Chuck Hagel stuff, I apologize.)

“I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.” — Alan Greenspan, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, in his 2007 memoir. (Greenspan then lamely tried to walk this back, when he found out just how politically inconvenient it was—while admitting a Bush White House official told him “unfortunately, we can't talk about oil.”)

“Of course we should go to war for oil. It's like saying, you're going to war just for oxygen, just for food. We need oil. That's a good reason to go to war.” — Ann Coulter, author, April 11, 2011.

“Of course it's about oil, it's very much about oil, and we can't really deny that. From the standpoint of a solider who's now fought in the middle east for six years — my son-in-law's fought there for four years, my daughter's been over there, my son has served the nation — my family has been fighting for a long time.” — Gen. John Abizaid, former commander of CENTCOM, October 13, 2007. (Watch Abizaid say this here.)

“We're not in the middle east to bring sweetness and light to the whole world. That's nonsense. We're in the middle east because we and our European friends and our European non-friends depend on something that comes from the middle east, namely oil.” — Midge Decter, author, May 21, 2004.

I like to think the best about people. I know all you're looking for is an open, honest debate about Chuck Hagel's qualifications — with absolutely no smears or bullying. And because you feel that way, I'm sure you'll want to update what you wrote about Hagel with these quotes, and explain that Alan Greenspan and Ann Coulter and John Abizaid and Midge Decter are vulgar and disgusting and far-left too.

Obviously you don't need any incentive to do the right thing. But let me know the second you add them all to that post, and I'll send $1000 to any charity of your choice.

Say hi to Fred “I Read the Iliad“ Barnes for me.

Michael Moore

Flint, Michigan/New York

PS. You probably meet a lot of people, so maybe you don't remember Midge Decter. You can look her up when she spoke at an event honoring your dad, signing the founding “Statement of Principles” of your organization Project for the New American Century, where you talked about how “so many of us” have followed “in Midge's footsteps”). Oh, by the way, you were on the 2004 radio program with her when she said the above quote. (Courtesy, Reader Supported News.)




I would like to say THANK YOU for all the moral support that was given to me by our friends and patrons. A big THANK YOU to the AVA for their article showing our liquor license is NOT expired and rallying to our defense. If there were more communities like this valley, the world would be a nicer place.

Happy New Year!

Marcia Martinez




Dear Editor,

My regards to you and the hometown. I would like to know if it wouldn’t be much to ask for some news from home?

I would also like to just say that some untrue things were said about me a couple weeks back by both Mr. Cuadra and Mr. Crow. Mr. Crow has been grieving a deceased woman for quite some time. I feel sorry for the loss of someone in his life. But Mr. Crow also uses this to gain sympathies.

These gentlemen saw me writing the newspaper and decided to spread their misery in public. Both these guys spend Social Security checks to support their habits. I will be honest. The slander they wrote about me in the AVA is a mirror image of themselves. Not only am I not a PC inmate, I don’t speak to either of them because of the way they treat others. They are meth addicts. Mr. Crow is in Victory Outreach in Santa Rosa and Mr. Cuadra just cut a deal with the DA and put his drugs off on one Ms. Tina Patty, now doing four year and eight months in jail because he threw his drugs down in her truck and told the cops it was hers.

Mr. James Lawson is not telling the truth in your paper either, Mr. Anderson. No honor among thieves, I tell ya!

I only want to get the paper, if it’s no problem. I don’t have time to sit and use precious time writing and responding to such nonsense. For real!

I am glad to be out of that County jail’s isolation unit and the clutches of what they call a justice system there. I have a criminal law and procedures book and I’ve already located enough proof to get my case overturned in Supreme Courts. I have to say, What a mockery of a true America. We are not a free country which pays any attention to a Constitution. It is a Bill of Crap that has snowballed out of anyone’s control. I am no politician, but the best of luck with that one!

Mr. Anderson. I will leave you and I will right this wrong. Sip one of the valley’s finest and watch.


James Kester AN 1004

San Quentin State Prison

San Quentin, CA 94974




In regard to the “Queen Victoria” Cannabis Card printed in the January 3rd, 2013 AVA.

It would be remarkable if Queen Elizabeth, who died childless in 1603, were truly the great-great-grandmother of Queen Victoria, who was not born until 1819.

Fun facts about “the old girl,” as Bruce would call her: Queen Elizabeth I was known as “the Virgin Queen.” (It was in her honor the colony of Virginia was named). Her strategy of delaying marriage allowed her to play suitors (and the nations they represented) against one another and pursue a cautious, complex and multi-layered foreign policy. But since she refused to name a successor, Elizabeth's maidenly tactics also built what must have been an unbearable political anxiety in England (and Europe) about what would happen upon Elizabeth's death. The English nation was still fragile from religious strife and the trauma of having Henry VIII as king (Elizabeth was his daughter), and the island has never really felt (or been) safe from invasion and foreign domination, even under the most stable governments. In particular Spain tried to invade England at least once during Elizabeth's reign.

Elizabeth was fluent in at least five languages and also played the lute.

In the end, a surprisingly graceful denouement was achieved, and by silent agreement between E. and her various advisors, James VI was invited to ascend to the throne when E. died. James VI was the grandson of one of E's first cousins. While he may have celebrated the usefulness of hemp and/or cannabis, I don't think he was Queen Victoria's great-great-grandmother, either.


Wolfgang Rougle




To Eric Bergeson,

I suppose your point was well-taken, in that musicals, by their very nature, require the viewer/listener to suspend disbelief every time one of the cast members spontaneously breaks out in song (backed by an invisible full orchestra), which does not often, if ever, happen in real life (the rare exception being, I imagine, musically-inclined people with Tourette's syndrome). Although I consider myself to be a substantially well-educated, well-read college graduate, the only two pieces of classical literature I have ever read in their original form (not counting Homer and Virgil, which were required reading in junior high school) are The Scarlet Letter and The Scarlet Pimpernel (which, incidentally, was also made into a musical). I have not even read Dickens' A Christmas Carol in its entirety, although I have probably seen every stage and screen version, musical and non-musical alike, and have even portrayed Mrs. Cratchit in one community theatre production.

Although I only speak for myself, I daresay there are many other theatre-goers who agree with me (evidenced by the fact that Les Miserables is still #4 at the box office, grossing $16 million since its Christmas Day release) that if your major complaint about the film is the fact that the French citizens of that era continue to sing even in the midst of their misery, then you are missing the entire point. Only a minute fraction of theatre-goers contributing to that $16 million are ever going to read the 1,400 pages of Victor Hugo's novel; the point of film versions, musical or non-musical, is to take a good story with universal themes and bring it to the masses in such a way that it will allow them to apply it to their own life situations, whatever they may be. She's the Man and 10 Things I Hate About You introduced young people to Shakespeare (Twelfth Night and Taming of the Shrew, respectively) and Clueless to Jane Austen (Emma) in a way that might not have happened otherwise.

Having just been released from the Mendocino County jail for a DUI sentence of several days, I am in much more of a unique position now to appreciate the intricacies of the relationship between Jean Valjean and Javert than I was the first two times I saw Les Miserables on the stage in the 90s. And, yes, my nose and eyes were thoroughly moist all three times — the story is a powerful statement on the human condition in any time and place. Anyone like myself who was in their twenties during the 70s, can clearly see the parallel between the battle scene and the shooting and killing of the four Kent State students by the National Guard for protesting the Vietnam War — kids killing kids, just like in the film.

The point is that history does repeat itself, because we don't listen the first time, and if a musical version is the only way to bring such a beautiful classic to the masses in a way that it will touch their collective consciousness and remind them of their collective humanity, then I say it is well worth suspending disbelief for three hours.

In the fall of 1995, sandwiched in between two different positions I held teaching severely handicapped students for the Sacramento County Office of Education, I taught juvenile offenders in a Community School program for seven weeks--and Les Miserables was one of the foundations of the curriculum, in terms of the relative right and wrong of the actions of both Jean Valjean and Javert (a topic on which I could easily write an entire dissertation). These students would never get through the entire novel, but they could evaluate the central themes and apply them to their own lives.

In any case, the entire point of the story is the line that Jean Valjean delivers toward the end of both the film and stage versions (also in song) with his last dying breath: “To love another person is to see the face of God.” That's what it's really all about.

Jean Swearingen (#15611)

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