Off The Record
by AVA News Service, December 18, 2013
THE CITY OF WILLITS is talking about water rationing. The failure of winter rains to appear is beginning to worry everyone from firefighters to water bureaucrats. A big fire is burning in Big Sur. It's taken out 15 homes in heavily forested areas that Big Sur people say are drier than they've ever seen them. As are the forests of Mendocino County.
ACCORDING TO LINDA WILLIAMS of The Willits News, “the Willits City Council, “is considering going to a Phase 3 Water Emergency at its next meeting. A Phase 3 emergency requires each residence to limit water usage to no more than 250 gallons per day or 10 units per month. Commercial businesses would be required to reduce usage by 15 percent compared with the prior year. It also prohibits all nonessential water use....” while “Brooktrails Township has called for voluntary water reductions for township residents.”
THE FRIGID NIGHTS CONTINUE. Leggett closed its schools last week because the campus pipes froze, taking the plumbing down with the icicles. Quite a few Brooktrails people haven't been able to get up and down their precipitous driveways in their hilly redoubt northwest of Willits. And lots of us are going through unprecedented amounts of heating oil and cords of wood so we don't die in our sleep of hypothermia.
MENDO'S freezing temperatures of the past week were supposed to be over last week, we were assured by the National Weather Service. An inch to two inches of snow fell at the higher elevations last Friday after a solid week of frigid nights that continues. Although we're still in this year's rain-free rainy season, we seem to be in the third consecutive low rainfall year, causing much concern that a drought is indeed upon us.
By Gary Soto
The clouds shouldered a path up the mountains
East of Ocampo, and then descended,
Scraping their bellies gray on the cracked shingles of slate.
They entered the valley, and passed the roads that went
Trackless, the houses blown open, their cellars creaking
And lined with the bottles that held their breath for years.
They passed the fields where the trees dried thin as hat racks
And the plow’s tooth bit the earth for what endured.
But what continued were the wind that plucked the birds spineless
And the young who left with a few seeds in each pocket,
Their belts tightened on the fifth notch of hunger—
Under the sky that deafened from listening for rain.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: (Board of Supervisors meeting, Tuesday, December 10, 2013. Subject: Appointment of MRC real estate consultant Roger Krueger to the County Planning Commission to replace retiring timber representative Karen Calvert.)
Supervisor Dan Hamburg: “My interest is to preserve timberland. And to reconstitute the timber industry into something along the lines of what it was when I came here in the 1970s. I know that will be a long way off and it probably won’t happen in my lifetime. But still…”
Krueger: “Maybe not that far back.”
Supervisor John Pinches: “Is that why you built a wood house? So you can sit in it and drink wine?”
Hamburg: [Laughs.] “Well, I don’t know about that.”
Supervisor Carre Brown: “He’s disregarding you, Supervisor Pinches.”
JANE KIM is a San Francisco supervisor who, with her colleagues, is discussing neo-rent control strategies. SF rents are ridiculous, rising ever upward as more and more people with more and more money move into the city. Rents are also extortionate in much of Mendocino County, as are commercial rents in both locales.
HERE IN MENDO, what with the County's “progressive” herd bull himself representing the 5th District, and Mendocino County a “liberal” County (in its own mythology, anyway), housing should at least be discussed at the leadership level with a view to doing something about it. How about a County ballot initiative aimed at compelling the County's ag interests to provide housing proportionate to its labor force? And another one aimed at requiring these noble sons of the soil to gage their draws on the overdrawn waters of the Russian River?
NORM DeVALL, as 5th District supervisor often cast a critical eye on the timber industry, and those boys played rough. Why does the wine gang get the free passes they get? Environmentally considered, vineyards are much more destructive, long-term, than anything corporate timber did as they looted our forests and stripped our county of jobs.
AND HAMBURG isn't the only lib on the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors. Dan Gjerde, a Democratic Party stalwart, is another, and John McCowen, a fiscal conservative and certainly a thoughtful person, also seems to harbor kindly social attitudes consistent with mainstream Mendolib. I doubt if the Board's two conservatives, Pinches and Brown, would go for any interference with the great captains of outback capitalism, but it's the libs who ought to at least propose this stuff.
BACK TO FRISCO. Ms. Kim wants to expand the city's existing ban on that lethal job app question, Have You Ever Been Convicted of a Crime? She would expand San Francisco's current ordinance to include “most private employers, publicly funded housing providers and city contractors.” Ten states and more than 50 cities have adopted some version of “ban the box,” and a growing number of private employers are on board. Target has announced it would strip the question from its job applications.
KIM POINTS OUT that in a nation where an estimated 65 million people have a criminal history — 7 million in California alone — her Fair Chance ordinance, makes sense both for the stigmatized individuals, but it's good for all of us because it reduces, or would reduce if given a chance, repeat criminality.
NATURALLY the Meanie Faces are screaming that Kim's Fair Chance ordinance is the same as a demand that employers be forced to hire ex-cons, which it clearly wouldn't do. (Rush Limbaugh, the “dirigible of drivel,” as Alexander Cockburn memorably dubbed him, just announced that the new Pope is “preaching straight out of the Communist playbook.” I've never seen the fascisti so wrought up about so many different imaginary issues.) Fair Chance would give all qualified people equal shots at the few jobs out there.
THE FLEDGLING WILLITS WEEKLY continues to do well mano y mano against the long entrenched The Willits News. It has been years since Mendocino County has seen competitive papers in one community (or in one city for that matter), although several feeble attempts against the AVA have been mounted, which we beat back when our adversaries (libs, of course) realized that producing a newspaper every week is much harder than it may look.
JENNIFER POOLE'S Willits Weekly has hugely expanded its ad base and has a stable of experienced writers, including the old girl herself and the talented Mike A'Dair, both of whom have been around long enough to know the players and the multitude of civic dysfunctionings. There are also enough people in the Willits area hostile to chain enterprises of any kind to support an alternative, and The Willits News is a chain paper owned by the same outside chain that owns the Ukiah Daily Journal and the interchangeable Mendocino Beacon and Fort Bragg Advocate. The real question for all print papers is how long any of us can last against the internet, what with so many of our gizmo-addicted citizens under the age of 50 not inclined to read anything longer or more complicated than a tweet. The minority of Americans who still prefer to read in print form shrinks every day.
ABOUT 6AM the morning of September 4th, 2012, the Ukiah Fire Department was dispatched to the 300 block of N. Main St on a report that a man was down and not breathing. Duane Johnson, age 45, was lying on the sidewalk, a passerby administering CPR as emergency services wheeled up. UPD detectives soon determined that Johnson had been murdered. Although they are certain they know who killed Johnson, they have not said how they think he met his end. Manuel Rodriguez, 23, 5'9", 220, black hair and brown eyes, is being sought as the one and only suspect in Johnson's demise. Rodriguez, a gangbanger out of Santa Rosa, was last known to be traveling with his girlfriend and her two-year old son.
FERAL PIGS have plagued the Northcoast for years, all the way back to the early twentieth century when the tasty beasts were raised in great numbers in the Mendo outback, then herded fairly long distances for rail shipment out of Ukiah south to Bay Area slaughter houses. The herdmasters rode horseback leaving it to their dogs to keep the pigs from straying. Inevitably, lots did stray and they have metastasized ever since in the Mendo-Sonoma outback, particularly in the open country west of Highway 101. Wild hogs can be found everywhere in the County where there's room enough for them to roam, and our county is larger than more than a few states at 35,010 square miles strewn with a mere 87,500 pot growers, er, citizens. Here in the Anderson Valley, pigs are thick in the hills lying between the Mendocino Coast and Highway 101. According to a recent story in the somnolent Press Democrat, farmers and landowners, in 2012, called SoCo's two animal control officers almost 900 times demanding that marauding coyotes and pigs be killed. Coyotes accounted for 736 of the calls, pigs 80, the 80 calls representing more than twice the number of calls for all other animals combined, including mountain lions, bears, raccoons, and skunks. When they aren't eating and sleeping, pigs are producing two to three large litters per year, guaranteeing their ubiquity. They'll eat nearly anything they can get their mouths on, from grubs, weeds, and acorns to small mammals and birds and frogs, leaving behind ravaged terrain that looks like it's been roto-tilled by a drunk. A sow with little ones won't hesitate to attack humans, as will a wounded boar. There are plenty of hunters around who enjoy picking them off, but unless you get a responsible guy to do it… well, if no one's looking he just might thin out your entire animal population.
RECOMMENDED VIEWING, the Anders Zorn exhibit, showing now at the Legion of Honor, San Francisco. Great stuff by the man rightly called Sweden's Master Painter, including an hilariously fascinating painting he did in, I think, Algiers, as a tribute gift to a reigning sultan. One doesn't expect a lot of yuks from a circa 1900 Swedish painter, and certainly not this guy whose solemn self-portraits resemble a last century banker. The odd painting depicts two women in total tent but faces revealed. One woman is sprawled male-like, legs askew, virtually a pornographic invitation by Muslim standards then and now, while her companion is conventionally and chastely arrayed. Rowing across a lake towards the women is a young man. He's painted with a licentious grin and a suspicious lump in his trousers. Zorn is such a genius painter that the rower's grin and his erection are done just ambiguously enough that Zorn could argue the grin as retardation and the erection as an innocent trouser fold. The tented woman posed with her legs open was, however, too much for the Sultan who refused to exhibit the painting. He knew Zorn was funnin' him.
I'M NOT A BIG HOCKNEY guy, but an exhibit of his work is playing at the deYoung, also in SF. It's attracting large crowds, meaning, I'll assume, cattle-like viewing groups that keep everyone moving along. I still resent not being allowed to linger in front of Van Gogh's amazing Starry Night, which was hard to see anyway through the mob, but the deYoung always resorts to crowd-herding for big shows because so many people turn out for the best known artists. The Zorn exhibit was crowded but not unpleasantly crowded, so you have plenty of time to take good, long looks at his paintings which, like the one described, tend to reward the patient observer in unexpected ways.
HOLY TOLEDO! The great Bill King has again been denied his rightful place in the sportscaster's hall of fame. Anyone who heard King call a Warrior's, A's or Raider's game back in the day knows King was unsurpassed, especially at basketball. He should have been in long ago, but… The Giants are lobbying the Hall for Giants broadcaster Duane Kuiper, who has his virtues but is ho-hum alongside King, and even ho-hum alongside broadcast mate, Jon Miller, who is already, and deservedly, a hall of famer and a delight to listen to because he isn't the homer Kuip and Krup are. King, though, was not only unsurpassed at play-by-play, he was often very funny and even erudite, often throwing in witty asides and even comments on cultural matters along with the play-by-play. Holy Toledo! That guy was good!
O SHUT UP. “San Francisco mourns, as we have lost a friend and truly inspirational leader who never stopped fighting for equality. His values are San Francisco values.” Mayor Ed Lee.
POOR MANDELA. His memorial turned into a freak show, with all these preposterous celebs descending on it, maybe the sorriest, most repulsive collection of vulgarians ever assembled, few of whom, if any, defended Mandela when he was in prison and needed defending. There they were elbowing each other for the primo photo op positions, and there was our president snapping a selfie with a couple of other self-alleged world leaders as if Mandela's funeral was a kid's birthday party, the whole appalling show topped off with a crazy guy impersonating a signer.
THE NINERS-SEAHAWKS rivalry has gone corporate. According to Shutdown Corner, Seattle fans are announcing on twitter that they plan to boycott Dr. Dre’s headphones, Beats by Dre, because of a commercial featuring 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick slowly walking through a crowd of what appears to be irate Seahawks fans. Kaepernick was asked when he shot the commercial if it was meant to be a Seahawks crowd. “I really wasn’t worried about that. I was worried about doing my part,” the highly diplomatic Kaepernick said. “It was supposed to be a hostile environment.” A USA Today poster says the headphones are overpriced and of marginal quality, as is Doc Dre come to think about it.
URUGUAY has become the first country to legalize the growing, sale and smoking of marijuana, a pioneering social experiment that will be closely watched by other nations debating drug liberalization. Uruguay. Think about it, a country which in most respects is as historically regressive as any place in the world.
MEANWHILE, here in North America, as individual states creep ever closer to legalization, the federal government, under its third consecutive stoner president, still claims that pot, in all its manifestations, is illegal, a felony if the feds push it.
SO, did the marijuana industry's co-dependent DEA rent booth space at the 10th annual Emerald Cup last weekend at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds?
THOSE OF US now in our golden years remember when a couple of hard-charging Mendo cops (Stuart? Was that the guy's name?) roamed the County either by himself or with one other Mendo cop tearing up outback pot farms. Through the 1970s and 80s, growers up and down the Northcoast lived in fear of this guy, but his Lone Ranger-ism soon became annual raids by ever larger pot raid teams. And the raids themselves became institutionalized. The raiders would take off one largish garden in the morning, another in the afternoon, both not far from the pavement to spare the cops long, hot hikes with confiscated plants. Only the occasional doofus caught standing in his plants between the hours 9-5 got arrested. Then the Mexicans took outdoor grows to new levels of physical difficulty, growing large annual crops in remote areas accessed only after Sherpa-like treks up and down steep hillsides. The cops would occasionally hit them from the air by helicopter. Everyone, except a steady minority of defendants, seemed pleased with the combination of raids and illegality because the raids kept prices up and lots of cops employed and, as of 2013, the number of grows long ago outstripped any ability the DEA and the local narcs might have to scare anyone at all out of the marijuana business. Anymore, the cops cherry-pick raid targets. The pot business is, excuse the creaky cliché, the Emerald Triangle's largest export crop, by far outstripping that other intoxicant, the legal one, wine. Of course when Mendo tried to bring a measure of local order to the pot business, here come the feds to close it down.
THE EMERALD CUP had been a small-ish affair held annually just off Highway 101 at the foot of Spy Rock north of Laytonville. This year, Tim Blake's championships drew upwards of 5,000 people and featured 170 vendors, panel discussions and the marriage of legendary pot pioneer Dennis Peron to John Entwhistle. (Groom and groom wore corsages of marijuana buds as Tony Serra performed the ceremony.) So, class, what conclusion can be drawn from all this? Here in Liberty Land? Dope remains one of our few remaining growth industries, what with many millions of Americans needing to be stoned to get through their days while a literal army of narcs is employed to police them. Given the money and jobs involved, we've achieved perfect entropy; it'll be kinda illegal, kinda legal forever.
PATRICK HIGGINS of the Eel River Recovery Project brings the good news that he and his crew have “successfully completed six lower Eel River dives with a peak count of nearly 6000 Chinook salmon on November 9, but we were also able to document a late run that is moving up to spawn now despite low rainfall. Volunteers continue to track migrations and spawning throughout the watershed and we are capturing photos and video to document our findings.”
TESTA VINEYARDS of Calpella will lose its liquor license for a month for a drunken debauch in September that saw an assault on Sheriff's deputy and an escape from custody. Testa can't sell or serve alcoholic beverages for 30 days from Dec. 12.
TIFFANY REVELLE of the UDJ picks it up from here: “According to the ABC, the suspension stems from the early morning hours of Sept. 8, when the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office responded to the winery after it was reported that people were riding golf carts in the road between Testa Vineyards on North State Street and the downtown Calpella area,” roaming from the winery to the Club Calpella.
CLYDE MARTINSON, 48, of Redwood Valley, a co-owner of the winery, described as “belligerent, intoxicated,” confronted a responding deputy and demanded that he leave. As the deputy fended off a mob of wine drunks, another golf cart driver ran into “an object in the parking lot.”
AS THE DEPUTY approached the cart to see if anyone was hurt, Martinson allegedly threw a beer can at him, shoved him and demanded again that the deputy leave. The deputy called for backup due to the “hostile crowd surrounding him.”
MARTINSON was arrested on suspicion of battery of a peace officer and James Thompson, 49, also of Redwood Valley, was arrested on suspicion of being drunk in public and placed in the back seat of a patrol car.
WHILE MARTINSON was being arrested, an unknown person freed Thompson from the patrol car, and Thompson scampered off, still in handcuffs. He later surrendered at the Sheriff's Office on Low Gap Road with visible injuries to his wrists where he'd cut the cuffs off. Testa admitted that things had gotten out of hand.
THE ABC also put the business on probation for two years. If during the two-year period additional cause for discipline arises, the license could be revoked permanently.
WE HAVE E-MAILED the DA for the legal ramifications of Testa's big night, which, objectively considered, involved potential felonies. Given the class biases of Mendocino County, we will assume, until we hear otherwise, that the DA and our wine-friendly superior court have already let Martinson and Thompson off with a couple of strokes of a legal turkey feather. Sure enough, DA spokesman Mike Geniella, said Monday, that the matter of The People vs. Martinson and Thompson “is still being considered.”
THERE'S nothing physically wrong with me, and I'll head off sarcastic rejoinders right now by adding there's nothing wrong with me mentally, either, say what you will. But I spent Friday hustling up and down Post Street to medical testing appointments. There was a claustrophobic hour in the MRI tube. “Don't move, Mr. Anderson, and I'll see you in an hour,” the brisk attendant said as the machinery slid me noiselessly into the thing. I wouldn't have been surprised if it spit me out two blocks away. The thing whirred and clanked and I fell asleep, but not before satisfying my mildly claustrophobic self that I could pull myself out of it if I had to. I pegged the attendant's birthplace somewhere within a five thousand mile radius of Bethlehem, Iran maybe. She was pleasant enough but all business. “Are you from the Middle East?” I asked. “Don't move,” she repeated, and out the door she went.
SAN FRANCISCO'S Muni kiosks, some of them anyway, feature electronic clocks that tell you when the next bus will arrive. In my experience, they're fairly accurate depending, of course, on traffic. After the tube, I needed to get myself a couple of miles west on Post for “blood work.” The Muni's clock told me the next bus was 50 minutes away, so I footed it to that cement sprawl of cancer-causing visuals at Post and Divisidero called Mount Zion.
I THOUGHT BACK to the hospitals of my youth when even Mission Emergency, the old part, had been built by people who cared about what big buildings looked like. If San Francisco has erected a single beautiful building in 50 years, I haven't noticed it. And if the Army, of all people, hadn't designed the Presidio, much of the city would be concrete high rises and one-way fascist windows like the ones concealing the Mendocino County DA from prying eyes in the middle of Ukiah.
LABCORP wasn't much bigger than a Muni bus stop. There was one woman at the desk of basically one room with a partition separating the waiting room from the two chairs allotted the phlebotomist, which was also her. I forgot to bring something to read, and we'll pause here for a quick treatise on medical-dental reading material. Waiting room lit ranges from People to, at LabCorp, a Marin County magazine pegged to real estate. The doctors who own LabCorp would certainly lust after a home on Belvedere Island, or in the hills above Mill Valley, but low income people wanting to know if they've got the clap? And no art on the walls is better than LabCorp's ocean vistas and cartoon proclamations of “We're Here To Serve.” The medical assumption in this country seems to be that the entire experience should be a bummer, from the waiting room to the operating table to the morgue when they finally finish you off, and boyo boy do they pile on the tests if you're on Medicare with some kind of “gap” coverage like I've got.
THERE WERE SEVEN people ahead of me, one of whom, a tall, gaunt man in motorcycle leathers, his helmet under his arm, was one of the unhealthiest-looking individuals I've seen outside a funeral home's viewing room. The poor guy could barely walk, but after his blood was drawn, he shuffled out the door and, presumably, rode a motorcycle home to his deathbed. I couldn't help but notice that I, a person in his seventh decade, was easily the most robust person in the room.
ONE BADLY EXPLOITED woman had to do it all at LabCorp, which, I assume, is owned by a syndicate of healing professionals pulling many millions out of their chain operation, with these bareboned little cubicles strewn around the Bay Area, much of the funding coming from the federal government while they, the healing professionals, vote religiously for purely theoretical hope and change so long as there's no fiscal change for them.
THIS ONE LADY had to do all the paperwork for the steady stream of people needing to have blood samples drawn, and she had to answer the constantly ringing phone, and she had to draw the blood! The doctors probably pulled a couple of hundred grand a year out of her alone in an operation that clearly needed three people on the job.
WITH THE INTERNET, you never know who's looking in, so I won't further identify the woman who took my blood, but from our conversation you can be sure she knows she's being ripped off. She did say the office had a steady turnover of phlebotomists.
THAI WAY on the highway. Thai Way is what the truly excellent little Thai restaurant is called, hidden away and barely visible behind the Starbucks just off 101 at the south end of Cloverdale. I've stopped in twice now and have marveled at the quality of the food in relation to its surprisingly low price. Good as anything in Frisco. Among Thai Way's regular customers count the great American blues man, Charlie Musslewhite. He often drives up from his home in Geyserville to enjoy the place.
THOSE OF YOU in the city to see the wonderful Zorn exhibit at the Legion of Honor, will enjoy TengLong on Clement between 3rd and 4th Avenue. Very good Chinese food, and only three miles due east of the Legion.
THE CHILDREN'S ROOM at the Ukiah library on North Main Street is shut down until further notice because of the mold found in a window, a wall and the ceiling.
THE COUNTY LIBRARY also seems to have closed down your beloved community newspaper. They've asked us to bill them three or four times now. Which we've done with no money coming back over the hill. Lots of indigents read the paper at the library. Thirty-five years without interruption of service until the advent of the current librarian who, off my one experience with her, seems, ah, well, unhappy. On her case, indigents!
HANK SIMS, editor of our favorite website, LostCoastOutpost.com, recently posted his “Top Ten Books Off The Top Of My Head” list:
1. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
2. Glue, Irvine Welsh
(“Glue tells the stories of four Scottish boys over four decades, through the use of different perspectives and different voices. It addresses sex, drugs, violence, and other social issues in Scotland, mapping ‘the furious energies of working-class masculinity in the late 20th century, using a compulsive mixture of Lothians dialect, libertarian socialist theory, and an irresistible black humor.’ The title refers not to solvent abuse, but the metaphorical glue holding the four friends together through changing times.”)
3. War With the Newts, Karl Capek
(“A 1936 satirical science fiction novel by Czech author Karel Čapek. It concerns the discovery in the Pacific of a sea-dwelling race, an intelligent breed of newts, who are initially enslaved and exploited. They acquire human knowledge and rebel, leading to a global war for supremacy.”)
4. Newspaper Days, HL Mencken (Mencken’s Autobiography of the years from 1899-1906.)
5. The 20-Volume Patrick O'Brien Serial Novel
(“Beginning in 1969, O'Brian began writing what turned into the 20-volume Aubrey-Maturin series of novels. The books are set in the early 19th century and describe the life and careers of Captain Jack Aubrey and his friend, naval physician Dr. Stephen Maturin. The books are distinguished by O'Brian's deliberate use and adaptation of actual historical events, either integrating his protagonists in the action without changing the outcome, or using adapted historical events as templates. In addition to this trait and to O'Brian's distinctive literary style, his sense of humor is prominent. Technical sailing terminology is employed throughout the series. The books are considered by critics to be a roman fleuve, which can be read as one long story; the books follow Aubrey and Maturin's professional and domestic lives continuously.”
6. Tinker Tailor Solider Spy/The Honorable Schoolboy/Smiley's People, John Le Carre
7. Already Dead, Denis Johnson
(“A contemporary noir, Already Dead is the tangled story of Nelson Fairchild Jr., disenfranchised scion to a northern California land fortune. A relentless failure, Nelson has botched nearly every scheme he’s attempted to pull off. Now his future lies in a potentially profitable marijuana patch hidden in the lush old-growth redwoods on the family land. Nelson has some serious problems. His marriage has fallen apart, and he may lose his land, cash and crop in the divorce. What’s more, in need of some quick cash, he had foolishly agreed to smuggle $90,000 worth of cocaine through customs for Harry Lally, a major player in a drug syndicate. Chickening out just before bringing the drugs through, he flushed the powder. Now Lally wants him dead, and two goons are hot on his trail. Desperate, terrified and alone, for Nelson, there may be only one way out.”)
8. Unacknowledged Legislation, Christopher Hitchens
“Described as 'A celebration of Percy Shelley's assertion that ‘poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world,’ the book contains 38 essays on writers such as Oscar Wilde, P.G. Wodehouse, George Orwell, Rudyard Kipling, Philip Larkin, H.L. Mencken, Anthony Powell, T.S. Eliot and Salman Rushdie, in which Hitchens attempts to ‘dispel the myth of politics as a stone tied to the neck of literature’.”
9. Wolf Hall/Bring Up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel
Bring Up the Bodies is a historical novel by Hilary Mantel and sequel to her award-winning Wolf Hall. It is the second part of a planned trilogy charting the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell, the powerful minister in the court of King Henry VIII. Bring Up the Bodies won the 2012 Man Booker Prize and the 2012 Costa Book of the Year. Preceded by Wolf Hall, it is to be followed by The Mirror and the Light.)
10. Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy
“The majority of the narrative follows a teenager referred to only as ‘the kid,’ with the bulk of the text devoted to his experiences with the Glanton gang, a historical group of scalp hunters who massacred Native Americans and others in the United States—Mexico borderlands from 1849 to 1850 for bounty, pleasure, and eventually out of sheer compulsion. The role of antagonist is gradually filled by Judge Holden, a large, intelligent man depicted as entirely devoid of body hair and philosophically emblematic of the eternal and all-encompassing nature of war.”
THE EDITOR can't resist throwing his top ten out there: Moby Dick; The Brothers Karamazov; David Copperfield; USA Trilogy; Miss Lonely Hearts and Day of the Locust; Sentimental Education; Madam Bovary; Farewell To Arms; Desperate Characters, and number 11, Updike's Rabbit trilogy. There's probably a generation gap in effect here. Sims is a lot younger. The young 'uns heads seem wired differently. The only really good contemporary fiction I've read lately has been by Roth, Edward P. Jones, Junot Diaz, Sherman Alexie, Gillian Flynn, and not just log rollin' here, but I also liked a couple of short stories from Carolyn Cooke's latest book, Amor and Psycho. With Cockburn gone, there's no first-rate political writing that manages the wit and erudition he did. I haven't read a single book on Sims' list, but a couple do sound intriguing.
WILSON LEE TUBBS III, 39, Fort Bragg, has been sentenced 25 years-to-life in state prison for the beating death of his five-month-old foster daughter. The Mendocino County social worker who placed the child with Tubbs has not been indicted, and probably won't be.
ALL THE INTERVIEWS in Beth Bosk’s latest New Settler Interview, Winter 2013/Spring 2014 edition, are nicely done. The longest are with Sara Grusky, one of the primary organizers of the Willits Bypass protest, and another one with our reporter Will Parrish. Ms. Grusky was arrested in May for trespassing and obstructing a police officer. She was held at the Mendocino County Jail overnight:
“THE JAIL is not full of criminals. The people there, basically, they are poor. And they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or they have addiction problems. They are caught up in this treadmill of the probation system. It's ridiculous. One young woman who was brought into the holding cell was on a trip with her husband and kids from Eureka. She was passing through Ukiah. Her kids were getting fussy so they pulled over into the park to take a break from driving. The kids were running around and her husband was spinning her and she was screeching. She was excited and a little bit scared. He was spinning her around and the kids were screaming. Somebody thought it was a case of abuse and called the police. It turns out she has an outstanding warrant for something that has to do with not fixing her car. So they took her to jail. She was a Mexican-American woman in the wrong place at the wrong time. She had an outstanding warrant. The next woman who came in was a woman who had been in an abusive marriage for decades. Finally, she decided to leave her husband. She went home to her family. Her husband, who was an ex-law enforcement person, got a restraining order against her and then invited her over. So she came into the cell barefoot with dirt on her feet, in shorts and a T-shirt. She had been out gardening. She had no idea the restraining order had been filed with the police but never delivered to her. She had no idea there was a restraining order on her. So she was sobbing, very upset. The third woman who came in was a single mom who works at the Motel 8 in Fort Bragg. She had grounded her oldest teenage daughter and then her daughter had run out the door. She didn't know what to do so she called the police. When the police came she and her daughter were having an argument and she struck her daughter. She was arrested for slapping her daughter. The fourth and fifth women who came into the holding cell that day were there as a result of a pot arrests. They were doing a small pot grow in addition to farming. Like many farmers in this area, they have a huge orchard and lots of fig trees. The woman is actually a local chef, an amazing cook. So she and her friend were sobbing. Her friend, who was arrested with her for growing weed, is also a single mom who moved from Rhode Island to try to make a little money. During the whole time we were in the holding cell she was saying: “The worst decision in my life! I have bills to pay. I was just trying to make ends meet for my son. Everyone told me it was safe. I didn't know what I was getting involved in, but there are no jobs in Rhode Island.” She was from a small fishing town in Rhode Island. Now we were all way into the nighttime. And the next woman who was brought in was at the Sierra Nevada Music Festival and, as you probably know, DUI arrests are another racket in our county. She was arrested for DUI. She had come from Texas to visit a friend at this festival in Boonville and she had drunk a little too much and was walking back to her car and was arrested for drinking too much. She wasn't driving. She was walking towards her car as she was arrested for public intoxication. The next woman arrested was also arrested for— she actually wasn't sure what she was arrested for. She had driven home and parked her car and got out of her car and was walking to her mother's house and on the way to her mother's house she was detained. I guess her alcohol level was too high and she had been driving a car. But she wasn't sure if they arrested her for DUI because she wasn't in the car when she was arrested. Anyway, you get the drift. Everybody in the holding cell was basically there for non-real criminal activity. And that's everyone in the holding cell. On the women's side of the jail I did not meet anyone who was a criminal either. I met a lot of women who have addiction problems. Oh, I forgot. Another woman who was arrested. And this to me is a classic. Because as I got into the general population and talked to more women there I realized that most of the women inside (because many who go through that holding cell are bailed out by friends and family), but people who are actually in the jail population are mostly people who have probation violations. So the last woman in the holding cell was an example of this. She was a meth addict. And she was also a single mom. She has to make appointments with her probation officer regularly. And if she misses them then she gets pulled back into the prison system. She had missed a probation appointment so she got a babysitter for her kids and just turned herself in. She sat on the back steps of the jail — she knows everybody in the jail and they know her — she sat on the back steps reading a book. She never has time to read with her kids and all. She had brought a book to read and she was sitting on the back steps of the jail until they had time to intake her. And they put her back into the prison system for having missed a probation appointment. She went to her arraignment hearing with me. She thought they would just make her serve a couple of days to compensate for missing her probation date. But it turned out they held her for a couple of weeks. And so again! She was in a situation where she didn't know who was going to take care of her kids. The babysitter thought it was just for a couple of days. As I spoke with more and more women in the jail I realized that many of them were there for probation violations. Because if you are single and have been jailed before it is hard to get a job. Plus you have probation appointments to meet. And you probably don't have a car and public transportation is terrible and you have to get to your probation appointments. And you have to get babysitting for your kids and you are trying to hold down a job so you can feed your family. So you miss appointments. How do you hold down a job, feed your kids, get babysitting, meet your probation appointments? So in the end you just always end up back in jail again. Even if you're not using. But often times because your life is so miserable you continue using and there are no decent rehabilitation programs, no support in this community.”