Off the Record (Dec 24, 2013)
by AVA News Service, December 24, 2013
LOCAL CORRUPTION? Not to put too fine a point on this one, but draw your own conclusions from this set of facts: DA David Eyster worked in Duncan James' law office before being elected DA. Daniel Camara, 25, was originally charged with assault resulting in a coma due to brain injury of a child younger than 8 years old. The baby boy was 6 months old when his father almost killed him. Camara then hired James to represent him, the child “recovered,” the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office downgraded (more like plummeted) charges against Camara, who had been looking at life in prison. Camara is now looking at five years probation. Probation for a nearly fatal assault on an infant? A medically confirmed assault on an infant?
“THE MEDICAL RECORDS were voluminous. We thought this case was much more serious at the outset. The child has clearly recovered,” said Assistant District Attorney Paul Sequeira, who prosecuted the case, as he explained this miraculous series of legal and medical events to Judge Ann Moorman who, just as miraculously, suspended her powers of disbelief to listen to them.
CAMARA DULY pleaded guilty Wednesday to the new charge of It Didn't Really Happen. “Even if I had pushed for prison time, he has no prior record, and he probably would have gotten a two-year term,” Sequeira explained. Because of the way credits are awarded for time spent in jail, Sequeira said, Camara would only need to spend a year in jail to get credit for a two-year sentence. He has already spent eight months in jail, and would be released without supervision after serving the rest of that time.
SEQUEIRA proposed instead that Camara be placed on supervised probation for five years, with a term requiring him to spend a year in jail. His accumulated credits would allow him to be released because he's already served more than half of that. The probation terms would also require Camara to attend a yearlong child abuse treatment program. “That's better for the safety of the community, and it's better than putting the family through that and then having him get out of jail with no supervision,” Sequeira said in a neat non sequitur that excludes mention of the battered child as it simultaneously awards the child's family victim status.
CAMARA'S 6-month-old son was admitted at Ukiah Valley Medical Center with a high fever on the night of April 5, then flown to the University of California at San Francisco Medical Center for advanced treatment when the baby's condition continued to deteriorate. Camara's attorney, Duncan James, subsequently explained that the baby hadn't arrived at the hospital in a coma, but was given an injection to induce a comatose state at the hospital, presumably for transport to UCSF.
CONFIRMING UVMC medical personnel's suspicions, specialists at UCSF Medical Center stated that the baby had injuries apparently caused by physical abuse, and found several older injuries that consistent with physical abuse.
JUDGE MOORMAN, disbelief still on hold, said that if Camara violates the terms of his probation, he could go to prison for up to six years. On his part, defense attorney James said that the child abuse charge to which Camara pleaded guilty is a “wobbler,” which can be charged as a felony or as a misdemeanor. If Camara completes his five-year probation, he can apply to have it reduced to a misdemeanor on his record, James said. Camara is due back in court Jan. 28 for sentencing.
THE MARIJUANA BUSINESS is often a violent business. The HumCo coroner has identified the human remains located in a gravesite off Jewitt Ranch Road in the Harris area of Humboldt County as those of Garret Rodriguez, 29, of San Diego. Rodriguez was reported missing by his father in April. His father said his son told him he was going to Humboldt County to work on a ranch growing medical marijuana in an area known as “Murder Mountain.” Where the young man was duly murdered. There are lots of Murder Mountains on the Northcoast, and more all the time, as young people head north from the cities to make quick fortunes mining the love drug.
THE UKIAH CITY COUNCIL recently announced it will forego an election and accept the sole candidate for the vacancy made possible when Mari Rodin resigned to take a job with unsuspecting Monterey County. Steve Scalmanini, a retired engineer who is already causing great chagrin in all the right Ukiah circles, is the Council's new guy. A liberal and self-described fiscal conservative, Scalmanini is to the left of the conservative Westside libs, and way too liberal for the reactionary clowns clustered at the Private Industry Council. In other words, an excellent appointment.
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT'S narcoleptic Mendo reporter, Glenda ‘500 Words A Month’ Anderson had the Scalmanini story in Wednesday's edition two weeks after the AVA reported that Scalmanini was the likely replacement for Rodin. Glenda 's story quoted an alarmed Dick Seltzer, a Ukiah real estate hustler, that Scalmanini is more liberal than the libs presently steering Ukiah onto the fiscal rocks. Given that Scalmanini is an engineer means he at least can be assumed to possess basic math skills, and one would think Ukiah's biz people would welcome a capable fiscal conservative onto the Council, whatever his views on the larger issues of the day.
GLENDA'S Scalmanini piece also has Council member Little Benj (Thomas) sniveling about the rigors of holding elected office, “Who needs the abuse?” The ref is to the occasional criticism of the sillier statements and flagrantly incompetent moves made by Little Benj, Phil Baldwin, Rodin, and Mary Anne Landis of the present Council. These people, overpaid at $490 a month, should be grateful they don't function in a larger media market, not the big vat of intellectual warm piss that passes for political debate in wacky Mendoland.
BY THE WAY, credit Scalmanini with the wittiest comment maybe ever by a Ukiah public official. He said of his unopposed appointment, “I would chock it up to my luck and the city's good fortune.” (Chock? Should be chalk, but heck, the PD only has about 50 editors.)
MARK SCARAMELLA’S TOP TEN (or so) in no particular order:
1. Red Mutiny, Neal Bascomb
2. I Married A Communist, Philip Roth
3. A Civil Action, Jonathan Harr
4. Lush Life, Richard Price
5a,b,c. Shah of Shahs (Kapuscinski), All The Shah’s Men (Kinzer), Out of Control, Andrew & Leslie Cockburn
6. For Whom The Bell Tolls, Hemingway
7. The Captured, Scott Zesch
8. Legacy of Ashes, Tim Weiner
9. Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
10. Benito Cerino, Herman Melville
11. In The Heart of the Sea, Nathaniel Philbrick
12. American Tempest, Harlow Unger
13. Tom Paine: A Political Life, John Keane
14. The Closing Circle, Barry Commoner
15. Blue Blood, Edward Conlon
MUCH TALK RECENTLY in the Frisco media about the proliferation of coyotes in the City. I've seen two myself in the Presidio, both of them totally at ease in the presence of human-type people. In many years of Mendo life, I've only seen exactly two of the intriguing little beasts, one jogging across mid-day Flynn Creek Road; the other engaged me in a long stare down, me at one end of a large drain pipe, him at the other. The standoff made me understand why the Indians regarded the coyote as a highly sentient creature, and a creature with a sense of humor. I could have sworn the drainpipe coyote was laughing at me.
THERE'S A LOT of hysteria and coyote misinformation circulating in the city, such as one young mommy worrying that an unattended infant or small child could be carried off by a coyote. An unattended child under the age of 14 anywhere in NorCal is about as rare as a coyote sighting, what with the large numbers of free range pervs and unpredictable mental cases roaming the country. Mummsies and poppsies long ago gave up shoving the kid out the door after breakfast. “Be back by dark, punk.” Well, not quite, but there was a time when parents weren't as terrified of life outside their front doors as they rightly are now.
BUT MOST of the coyote hysteria, in SF anyway where there are far more dogs than there are children, has to do with those dogs. It may be urban legend, but quite a few people are claiming they know of coyotes dashing out of park bushes to carry off Little Fluffems. Not to be too hard hearted about it, but given the choice between a coyote and a poodle, right-thinking people will certainly go with coyote.
THE FRISCO PEOPLE who track the city's wildlife claim the coyote population has doubled in a year, up from about 50 to a hundred or so. That figure seems improbable, but I find it positively exhilarating.
AN ON-LINE COMMENTER offered this sensible assessment of “God's dog,” as Ed Abbey called the coyote: “Coyotes definitely do eat small dogs and cats. Large dogs usually overcome any coyote attack and are able to kill the coyote. They should be considered a danger to small children but are not a match for, and very rarely attempt to attack adult people. Coyotes can only be domesticated for the first year of their life when they mature and become wild and unmanageable. Coyote packs tend to be smaller than wolfpacks (5 or 6 is about normal). Like wolfpacks coyote packs can be joined by human participants who are researching their behavior, and after a while the humans will be accepted into the pack. Coyotes in a pack, like wolves, are monogamous, unlike dogs, as long as the alpha mates remain alive. When the alphas die, even an omega can become the new alpha and chooses his alpha mate. Only alphas mate and reproduce. No wolf or coyote has EVER killed a pack member. Coyotes are even more ‘intelligent’ than wolves. They tend to respond more to human language whereas wolves tend to respond more to facial and body expressions. This could be one reason why coyotes are such good colonizers of urban areas.”
JEFF COSTELLO WRITES FROM COLORADO: Speaking of legal cannabis and the, um, “evolution” of marijuana culture, there's a picture of trimmers at work on the front page of the Denver Post today (Dec.18). And they don't resemble the trimmers one sees in Mendo/Humco at all. These people are far from hippies or hitchhiking transients in army jackets, with dogs on clothesline leashes. They are in fact old farts, aged redneck men and their poodle-haired grandma wives, the type one imagines on a farm, which they are. And this would be a normal harvest activity if not for the rubber gloves and surgical facemasks. I'm trying to understand the process by which they came around to this from a previous mentality which regarded pot as a criminal affair perpetuated by degenerate drug fiends. The almighty dollar would be a factor, of course.
ANDERSON VALLEY BON VIVANT PATTY LIDDY sends along the “Top Ten Books that have stayed with me would have to be, beginning with age 10”:
Little House on the Prairie
Stars in My Crown
Of Human Bondage
All Things Austen
Catcher in the Rye
All things Dickens
Tenth of December
WE ENCOURAGE ALL OUR READERS to submit their most memorable reads.
PEBBLES TRIPPET WRITES: The 2013 Emerald Cup Cannabis Competition has come and gone and will long be remembered as the grand event that ushered in the era of the “marijuana majority” and the sea-change toward ending marijuana prohibition. Area 101 and Skunk Magazine joined hands as primary sponsors for two full days, packed with inventive vendors, panelists, patients, activists, musicians, country farmers, environmentalists, lawyers, politicians, law enforcement reformers and whole families with small children — all packed in together with nary a noticeable problem. I was there overseeing the Skunk Booth, being a part of a Women's Perspectives panel, the Brave Mykayla support team and the Dennis Peron Lifetime Achievement Award and marriage to John Entwhistle. Before the marriage was officiated by Tony Serra I was walking through the crowd holding high over my head a photo of 7-year old leukemia patient Mykayla, when Samantha, the primary organizer came running up, breathlessly, saying “Where is Tony? We have to find him!” I took her to Tony and the marriage program gathered all the essentials and began to tell the story of Dennis Peron. O'Shaughnessy's editor Fred Gardner gave a rousing intro to Peron's colorful political life, recounting how Dennis served in Vietnam, returned to the US with a quantity of Thai to open up his efforts through the Island Restaurant, joined hands in 1978 with Harvey Milk to win Prop W(eed) by 58% (three weeks before Harvey's assassination), multiple arrests, getting shot in the thigh, the 90s AIDS epidemic sparking the Medical Cannabis Buyers' Club and Prop 215 campaign. 80% of the American people in all polls support medical purposes. Dennis started the journey that led us to this overwhelming shift in public opinion.”
PROBABLY TEN YEARS AGO, I was an occasional correspondent with a guy doing a long stretch in an iso unit at Pelican Bay State Prison. He was confined to the “Security Housing Unit” on an allegation that he was a gang guy, a member of the Aryan Brotherhood. He'd gotten a copy of the AVA from another prisoner. The paper is passed around prisons and jails like Russian samzidats were circulated in the Soviet Union's prison camps. The Pelican Bay guy wrote a good letter and was soon on our comp list. And he wrote a lot more letters that contained lots of interesting stuff about prison life, emphasizing that race-based prison affiliations are necessary for survival where he was, not mentioning that was a race partisan in and out of jail.
IN ONE LETTER the Aryan Brotherhood guy mentioned that he and his comrades were great admirers of Nathan B. Forrest, the infamous Confederate general who founded the Ku Klux Klan during the Reconstruction era. As it happened, I'd just read a Forrest biography where I learned that at the end of his life Forrest renounced his race views, declaring not only that he'd been wrong but that he was sorry he'd been wrong for so long. To say that Forrest was a tough guy doesn't begin to describe how tough he was; he wasn't a leader who stayed in the rear with the gear, having personally killed at least 50 enemy soldiers himself in up close and personal combat. (His son joined Pop's elite guerrilla force at age 15). He was a fierce, uncompromising man, but he was also a very intelligent man. He didn't do things half-way, so his dramatic and seemingly unlikely reversal of his views on race was all the more significant. Of all the Civil War generals I've read about, Forrest's life is the most interesting.
SO I WROTE to my AB correspondent with the news about Forrest as, in living fact, a model of ethnic reconciliation. The guy didn't believe me so I sent him the bio via Amazon. (Prisons won't accept books unless they come directly from the publisher; people outside try to smuggle drugs and other contraband in books.) The AB guy wrote back to say versions of “Well, I'll be darned.” I wrote back to say the problem with being a racist is that you're going to be wrong all the time, and if you cling to being wrong all the time you're just a nut, not some kind of noble race warrior. I don't know how that observation went over with him because he was moved and I moved, and I lost track of him.
NATHAN B. FORREST has been much in the news this week as the focus of a Florida school board controversy. A school in Jacksonville is called Nathan B. Forrest High School. Black and white students want a name change, and the school board, citing a Civil War event called “The Pillow Massacre” as the primary reason, the second being Forrest's founding of the Klan, has agreed to a name change next school year. The Massacre and the founding of the Klan are complicated events, of course, and people would have to read the histories of them to make intelligent deductions about them and Forrest's role in them. But nowhere in all the accounts of the school name controversy was there any mention that this remarkable man had changed his mind about race.
THE FORT BRAGG PLANNING COMMISSION, Derek Hoyle dissenting, has denied a use permit to convert the Affinito Family's building on South Franklin Street to a Dollar Tree store. Neighbors of the property were vehemently opposed. Robert Affinito told the Fort Bragg Advocate, “It's turned my property useless. If they don't want retail here, they should rezone it.” The issue really is that a large-scale retail store blocks from the rest of Fort Bragg retail, would wreck an otherwise coherent residential neighborhood.
THERE WAS FUEL AND DEBRIS but no cash spilled last week when a Brinks truck turned over one of the many big turns in Highway 20 not far east of Fort Bragg. The driver and the armed guard were not injured beyond minor cuts and bruises.
JEFF COSTELLO'S TOP TEN BOOKS
Anybody Can Do Anything — Betty MacDonald
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas — Hunter S. Thompson
Rosy Crucifixion trilogy — Henry Miller
Lame Deer Seeker of Visions — John (Fire) Lame Deer
The Book (on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are) — Alan Watts
The Plague and I — Betty MacDonald
To Kill a Mockingbird — Harper Lee
Libra — Don DeLillo
COUPLA ADDITIONS to his Best Books from The Editor:
• Homage To Catalonia by George Orwell, a first hand account of Orwell's experience during the Spanish Civil War.
• Politics and the English Language by Orwell. How to keep your bullshit detector up and running while reading political prose. This essay should be required reading.
• Trampling Out the Vintage by Frank Bardacke, a history of the United Farm Workers plus moving stories of the people who feed America. This is a truly great book, the definitive book on farm labor.
THE SONOMA COUNTY WATER AGENCY is requesting that the State Water Resources Control Board reduce flows from Lake Mendocino to less than 75 cubic feet per second, the normal minimum flow for a dry year. But we're beyond mere “dry year” status; we're in the driest of three consecutive winters whose cumulative impact is still playing out. For years, the state has used Eel River flow rates to determine whether a year is “normal,” “dry” or “critical” in the upper reaches of the Russian River, but that means of measurement has reliability probs of its own as a guide to downstream water policy.
READING BETWEEN THE LINES of long, complicated reports on Russian River water above Healdsburg, it is clear that simply draining Lake Mendocino in dry years is no longer sufficient to maintain the health of the upstream, mostly Mendo stretches of river. Sonoma County is clearly going to have to dip into its own Lake Sonoma to supply its ever more numerous domestic customers, now dependent on the Eel River Diversion and storage at the presently empty Lake Mendocino. The whole show is headed for rationing and careful monitoring along the Mendo stretch of the Russian.
MONDAY NIGHT'S NINER'S game vs. Atlanta is it for Candlestick Park. I know this will be a minority opinion, but I always liked the place. Sure, it was a tough venue for baseball, especially after 3pm when the wind and the fog howled in, and night games were cold, as night games are at the new ballpark. But the Stick is fine for football, and count me among the many thousands who think it's disgraceful that the Niners weren't kept in The City — like there isn't enough money in Frisco to keep the Niners in town? I can't remember the last time I travelled any farther south than SF International, not that I could possibly afford a ticket at the corporate box in Santa Clara, wherever that is. If I weren't a long-time Niners person I'd write them off and start following the Raiders.
LOTS OF NOSTALIGIC stories about Candlestick among the week's deluge of catastrophes, large and small. I was at the Stick for the Giants against the Mets the day Ukiah's Kelvin Chapman started at second base for the Mets. There were a lot of Mendo people there that day because Chapman was, and is, a legendary local sports figure known personally to many of us who played men's league basketball against him in the 1970s. Boonville's Gene ‘Yewgene’ Waggoner one-on-one against Chapman was something to see. Both of them could have stepped into the NBA without embarrassing themselves.
ANOTHER TIME at Candlestick, and we're going way back here, I saw Orlando Cepeda hit a batting practice pitch so hard it knuckle-balled on a line all the way out to the left field fence. I'd never seen that before or since, although I'm told it happens. I also remember the first time I saw people throwing stuff at Krazy Krab, and I thought to myself, “I really love this city. Where else would people attack a minor irritant like a cartoon figure?”
WHERE AND HOW SF got the false rep as a kind of effete, wimped out town I don't know. Among ballplayers, the city has the reputation as the worst fans in sports, the most violent, the most foulmouthed, the craziest. But anybody who went out to the Stick for either a baseball or a football game knew out front to expect fights and various other forms of low rent behavior, male and female. It was part of the experience. The Giants have since made acceptable fan behavior a top priority out of fear of a return to Candlestick-ism. You can't shout out obscenities that turned the air blue at Candlestick and wrecked the ball game experience for young families, and you certainly can't fight. That's over. At the 'Stick the left field bleachers was fight city, meaning everyone out there who wanted to watch the game wound up dodging the yobs instead. It was so far out of control you wondered, for the umpty numty time, why, how, where am I?
I HAD LOCKED the gates and taken the phone off the hook, just settling in with a six pack of tall Buds to watch the World Series — the memorable Bay Series between the Giants and the A's in 1989 — when there was a sonic boom, a fairly big boom by Boonville standards. That's what I thought it was. The screen went dark for just a fraction of a second as the announcers interrupted their pre-game patter to say things like, “This isn't good. It must be an earthquake. The light standards are weaving.” Then the ballplayers and their families were standing on the infield, and the rest of the night we all watched as fires broke out in the Marina, cars fell off the collapsed stretch of the Bay Bridge into the bay and, we learned later, Joe DiMaggio hustled out of his damaged house in The Marina toting $600,000 in cash in a black garbage bag.
CANDLESTICK survived intact while the Bay Bridge partially collapsed and the freeway came down in West Oakland. The Stick was built to last, and it lasted. I'm sorry to see it go.
“ALL TOLD, Obama has been bad for the economy, bad for civil liberties, bad for minorities, bad for foreign wars, and bad for health care. He has, however, been a very effective lackey-sock puppet for Wall Street, Big Pharma, the oil magnates, and the other 1% -vermin Kleptocrats who run the country and who will undoubtedly attend his $100,000-per-plate speaking engagements when he finally retires in comfort to some gated community where he’ll work on his memoirs and cash in on his 8 years of faithful service to the racketeer class. But, let’s face it; no one really gives a rip about “drone attacks in Waziristan” or “hunger strikes in Gitmo”. What they care about is keeping their jobs, paying off their student loans, putting the food on the table or avoiding the fate of next-door-neighbor, Andy, who got his pink slip two months ago and now finds himself living in a cardboard box by the river. That’s what the average working stiff worries about; just scraping by enough to stay out of the homeless shelter. But it’s getting harder all the time, mainly because everything’s gotten worse under Obama. It’s crazy. It’s like the whole middle class is being dismantled in a 10-year period. Wages are flat, jobs are scarce, incomes are dropping like a stone, and everyone’s broke. (Everyone I know, at least.) Did you know that 76% of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck. Check it out: “Roughly three-quarters of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck, with little to no emergency savings, according to a survey released by Bankrate.com Monday. Fewer than one in four Americans have enough money in their savings account to cover at least six months of expenses, enough to help cushion the blow of a job loss, medical emergency or some other unexpected event, according to the survey of 1,000 adults. Meanwhile, 50% of those surveyed have less than a three-month cushion and 27% had no savings at all…”
THE BOYFRIEND AND CAREGIVER of a Ukiah woman who died at the hospital after authorities found her lying in her own feces and urine was sentenced last month to spend six years in prison, according to the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office. The victim, Jennifer Boyd, 32, weighed 67 pounds when she was admitted to Ukiah Valley Medical Center, according to the DA's Office. She was also severely dehydrated and had several pressure sores, including a large sore on her back that was six inches in diameter and exposed her tailbone, according to the DA's Office. The state's In-Home Supportive Services program paid her caregiver and boyfriend, Thomas J. Winkle, 53, who lived with her, up to $1,500 per month to care for her. Boyd died 11 days after she was admitted to the hospital. Ukiah Police Department detective Rick Pintane described her living conditions as “the worst I've seen” after he and other detectives served a search warrant at the couple's South State Street apartment. Winkle claimed he didn't know how severe Boyd's condition was, but Pintane contended it wasn't possible he was unaware of her condition. Winkle was arrested on suspicion of severe neglect and abuse of a dependent adult. Winkle pleaded guilty Aug. 13 to inflicting pain and/or mental suffering on a dependent adult, and to a special allegation that he inflicted great bodily injury. On Nov. 15, Judge John Behnke sentenced Winkle to the mid-term of six years in prison, and ordered $5,000 restitution. (District Attorney’s Office Press Release.)
THE TRUE STATE OF THE NATION “Camden is just across the Delaware River from the brick and polished cobblestone streets of downtown Philadelphia, where oblivious tourists pour in every year, gobbling cheese steaks and gazing at the Liberty Bell, having no idea they're a short walk over the Ben Franklin Bridge from a full-blown sovereignty crisis — an un-Fantasy Island of extreme poverty and violence where the police just a few years ago essentially surrendered a city of 77,000. All over America, communities are failing. Once-mighty Rust Belt capitals that made steel or cars are now wastelands. Elsewhere, struggling white rural America is stocking up on canned goods and embracing the politics of chaos, sending pols to Washington ready to hit the default button and start the whole national experiment all over again. But in Camden, chaos is already here. In September, its last supermarket closed, and the city has been declared a “food desert” by the USDA.
THE PLACE is literally dying, its population having plummeted from above 120,000 in the Fifties to less than 80,000 today. … It's a major metropolitan area run by armed teenagers with no access to jobs or healthy food, and not long ago, while the rest of America was ranting about debt ceilings and Obamacares, Camden quietly got pushed off the map. That was three years ago, when new governor and presumptive future presidential candidate Chris Christie abruptly cut back on the state subsidies that kept Camden on life support. The move left the city almost completely ungoverned — a graphic preview of what might lie ahead for communities that don't generate enough of their own tax revenue to keep their lights on. Over three years, fires raged, violent crime spiked and the murder rate soared so high that on a per-capita basis it “put us somewhere between Honduras and Somalia,” says Police Chief J. Scott Thomson. “They let us run amok,” says a tat-covered ex-con and addict named Gigi. “It was like fires, and rain, and babies crying, and dogs barking. It was like Armageddon.” (— Matt Taibbi)
FISHING THE NIGHT DEPOSIT BOX. An arrest has been made in a series of thefts involving bank deposits being fished out of banks, the Fort Bragg Police Department said Friday. According to the FBPD, a caller at the Savings Bank of Mendocino County on South Franklin Street reported at 4:35 pm Monday that checks had been stolen from the bank's night deposit box. A customer complained that checks deposited on November 28 had not been credited to the proper account, and when surveillance video was checked a man was seen fishing the deposits out of the box using glue trap strips. Similar thefts by the same suspects were reported in Redding, Ukiah and Crescent City. On December 18, the Federal Bureau of Investigation told the FBPD that one suspect had been arrested in Oregon on suspicion of committing the same type of crime, though no suspect information was given. The FBI has taken over the investigation and prosecution of the case, and is looking for a second person assumed to be involved.
MK WRITES: I've enjoyed seeing other people's booklists. The mention of Orwell's Homage to Catalonia reminded me Arundhati Roy's Walking with the Comrades (2011). Roy joins with revolutionaries in the Indian forest and reports back on their movements and struggle. Reading it you realize the Great Revolution has already begun, we just don't know it yet. A short but important book, with photos. Two other recent literary discoveries, for me, were Herman Melville's first two novels: Typee and Omoo — ripping yarns of the South Pacific in the 1840s. Both novels are in the form of autobiographical narrative, so you get a strong sense of what a first-class adventurer Herman was in his youth. After reading them, it becomes easier to understand how he could end up writing Moby Dick.
JOHN COATE’S TOP TEN Hi, Guys: John Coate here. I know you don't think much of my managerial abilities as boss at Public Radio Mendocino County, but it is the season of bonhomie and all that conciliatory bullshit, so I'd like to contribute to the favorite books thing you've been running in your so-called newspaper. Anyhoo, here's my all-timers:
1. My Life As A Dog by Lassie. I read it a couple of times a year, especially the parts about how Lass (as I call her) learns how to get along with cats. This invaluable lesson has helped me a whole bunch managing things in Philo.
2. Travels With Charlie (Acker) by Joel Waldman. Elk's dual polymaths chat as they stroll the ocean bluffs. I was grabbed from the opening sentence: “No, no, Joel,” Charlie exclaimed. “The Mexicans have it all wrong. This is how you build a taco!” Fascinating read by two fascinating guys.
3. Goodnight Moon, by Stella Cadente. At last an accessible book on astronomy.
4. Effective Passive Aggression by Michael Kisslinger. Say what you will about Kiss, he's either at your feet or at your throat.
5. International Douchebag-ism by Scott Simon. The greatest personal growth movement since TM! The famous NPR host (and of course a personal friend of mine) sets the douche bar pretty high, but for comprehensive false feeling, hysterical laughter at un-amusing comments, and general bum nuzzling, the only difference between me and Scott is I'm in Philo and he's wherever... puckering up.
6. These Fat Ladies Will Never Sing! I wrote this one myself. It's about my board of directors, the greatest female human beings ever to roll a doob in Mendocino County! They'll never fire me because, well, they aren't the sharpest babes you'll meet, but don't you dare say that around me.
7. My Story by Mary Aigner. A touching memoir by a single mom who fights her way though twenty miles of hippies to achieve a top management position at Mendocino County Public Radio.
8. Home Circumcision by Dr. Marvin Trotter. It kinda hurts, but I did myself and Dr. Richard Miller right here at the station, on the air, and it was great radio except for Sister Yasmin calling in to screech, “Deeper! Cut deeper!”
9. Resume Building by Mike Sweeney. This Maoist cult maniac blew up stuff all over NorCal, including a hangar in Santa Rosa and his ex-wife, but he moves to Mendo and totally re-invents himself as a highly paid garbage expert. I owe him and his how-to manual everything. As you guys are always saying, “History starts all over every day in Mendocino County, and you are whatever you say you are.” Damn straight.
10. Good Night Moon. Oh, I already listed that one. Thanks for listening, as we say in radio and…Happy New Year! John Coate, General Manager, KZYX.
LIKE, WHATEVER, DUDE. When it comes to phrases that annoy, it looks like it's “whatever” — forever.
Pollsters at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, found that Americans considered “whatever” to be the most annoying word or phrase in conversation for a fifth straight year. “Whatever” was judged most annoying in conversation by 38% of adults, followed by “like” at 22% and “you know” at 18%. Bringing up the rear were “just sayin', and “obviously.”
“WITH LITTLE NOTICE or fanfare, the digital world is fundamentally changing. What was once an anonymous medium where anyone could be anyone — where, in the words of the famous New Yorker cartoon, nobody knows you're a dog — is now a tool for soliciting and analyzing our personal data. According to one Wall Street Journal study, the top 50 Internet sites from CNN to Yahoo to MSN, install an average of 64 data-laden cookies and personal tracking beacons each. Search for a word like “depression” on Dictionary.com, and the site automatically collects and stores information about your computer or mobile device and your activities so that other websites can target you with antidepressants. Share an article about cooking on ABC News, and you may be chased around the Web by ads for Teflon-coated pots. Open — even for an instant — a page listing signs that your spouse may be cheating, and prepare to be haunted with DNA paternity test ads. The new Internet doesn't just know you're a dog, it knows your breed and wants to sell you a bowl of premium kibble.”
— Eli Pariser, 2011; from ‘The Filter Bubble’