Letters (Feb 26, 2014)
by AVA News Service, February 25, 2014
KZYX: LET’S MAKE IT BETTER
To the Editor:
As a former KZYX&Z board president and a current candidate for the radio station’s 3rd District seat on its board, I want to respond to several inaccuracies in Patricia Kovner’s recent letter to your newspaper.
Kovner, who is also running for KZYX’s 3rd District seat, clearly cares deeply about the station. But she doesn’t have all of her facts straight.
She claims the station is in “big trouble” because of three recent letters of complaint to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
First off, KZYX is not in trouble with the FCC nor in any danger of losing its FCC license. The complaints from listeners to which Kovner refers address several of the station’s programming decisions and urge the FCC to suspend the station’s license. The FCC has no jurisdiction over programming. The commission monitors the nuts and bolts of broadcasting — things like band width and frequency. KZYX&Z is in compliance with all FCC regulations.
Patricia criticizes the station because its nightly “news hour” has been cut to about 10 minutes and some of its best news staff “replaced.” For the record, KZYX only aired a 60-minute news program for two of its twenty-four years of operation. Contrary to Kovner’s assertion, KMUD in Humboldt County has never had a one-hour news slot.
When General Manager John Coate was hired by the board on which I served in 2008, the station was dead broke and $200,000 in the hole. To cut overhead, Coate scaled back the news hour to its original 30 minutes and laid off news assistant Christina Aanastad. Eventually, he was forced to let go of news director David Brooksher and reduce the 30-minute news show to 10 minutes. Did Coate want to? Absolutely not. But a station teetering on the financial precipice cannot afford a full-time news director. Coate has always promised that he’ll produce the best news that the station’s listeners want to fund.
Annie Esposito, the station’s legendary news director, joyfully retired before Coate arrived and was not sent packing, as Kovner implies.
Kovner complains that the KZYX board of directors has “no power.” The board has the same power it has always had: holding the license to the station; hiring and firing the general manager, and ensuring the station is run professionally, in a fiscally responsible manner and in compliance with the station’s mission. When I joined the board of KZYX in 2005, the station had no had a general manager, and the board became way too involved in the station’s day-to-day operation, a situation that was onerous for the staff and the board. Now that KZYX has a strong, fiscally responsible and caring station manager in Coate, the board can and does maintain a “hands off” approach to daily operations, as good boards should.
Coate and his hard-working staff have performed miracles: They’ve put the station in the black— no small feat— and made many technological improvements: installing a state-of the-art antenna for the station’s 90.7 signal; changing the way the satellite studios connect to Philo, rewiring the Philo Studio for greater reliability, and much more. Coate personally rebuilt the station’s Web site, making it more user friendly.
KZYX&Z is not a “closed shop,” as Kovner claims. Yes, the “Open Lines” program is currently off the air, and I hope it returns. Until then, listeners can write and call KZYX to express concerns about the station’s performance. There are also 11 hours of community programming per week that offer call-in periods in which listeners can voice opinions.
Kovner wants the “old KZYX back,” a return to the days when Judi Bari had a show every two weeks (not, every week, as Kovner states.) You bet it would be great to have Judi back, and I’ll wager that every staff member at the station would do a happy dance if she could return to the air. But Bari is dead; there’s no going back.
KZYX&Z is not perfect and never has been. Community broadcasting is a messy business. Pleasing listeners, programmers, volunteers, regulators, funders, underwriters, donors, board, staff and community members, all with strong opinions, is no picnic. I would hope that all of us who care about the station can pull together, bridge our differences and make our small but mighty community radio station even stronger.
WONDERFUL WINE PEOPLE
Thank You Local Wineries
Recently, there was a small group of generous hearted people who decided to create a fundraiser for a program serving seniors who experience some emotional, mental or physical incapacity. As a part of the fundraiser, there was an auction offering wines, beers and champagnes. These beverages were also served on the house to those who purchased tickets to participate in the fundraiser.
Several members of the fundraising committee journeyed to Anderson Valley to ask the wineries if they would be willing to donate to the fundraiser. The response was astounding. Enough was provided for high quality, delicious beverages to be served copiously throughout the day creating a celebrative atmosphere as well as a highly successful auction. The wineries and other businesses’ generosity created such a successful event that over $10,000 was raised. Due to continued State budget cuts this senior program is struggling to survive. This kind of community support is what is needed to allow this vital program to continue.
The wineries in Anderson Valley create superb beverages; hence, these businesses are often called upon to donate to fundraising events. Please know that your continued generosity is vastly appreciated. Your donations enhance so many lives in a positive and essential manner. Our communities are enriched by your presence — and we thank you.
SORRY, MR. CRUMBLE
Dear Mr. Panderson,
I think you mispelled my name?
AND IN THIS RADIO CORNER…
As a writer and armchair philosopher, I have long wondered about the following cultural phenomenon: Our rich and fortunate American society has taken the bludgeoning of itself with clubs of Left and Right to be normal. We now consistently huddle in positions where We are purely blessed and They are hopelessly wrong. My sessions of contemplation often hint at some axiom that reads like this: Having not had, for some time, a true conflict with an outside military power to impoverish us, to rid the air of arrogance and to clarify how fragile and precious life is, we in America choose the next best surrogate, which is to chew each other raw. In my lifetime, it seems so much of our energy has been drawn into this pseudo-contest that we have tended to lose access to our innate optimism and to the wisdom that others are much like ourselves, with similar intentions and valuable gifts.
With this realization comes another — these cretin battles are playing out in microcosm in regions, states, valleys, cities, school boards, and even around Mendocino County’s public radio station, KZYX and KZYZ.
What we do currently have — and might consider ourselves fortunate to have — is a public radio station, one that at least functions after some very rough times, and is now in, or is close to being in, the financial black. Like anything made by women and men, it is miraculous and imperfect. And it is vulnerable to change and to the equally frightful state of not daring to change. Hallelujah! Humanity at work! Looking closer though, we have two partisan sides (see above); one group of supporters who sees the glass as overflowing with wine and another that feels the glass carries poison and is cracked.
What compels me to run for the At-Large seat on the radio station’s board is seeing that instead of nurturing each other’s right to communicate, and listening to and learning from the other, these sides have become tired and have begun a war of personality destruction. I know personally that little hampers a body’s passion and creativity to succeed more than being hated on sight and without fail. This surrogate battle raging in our county, then, may bring about what neither side wants, just as the viciousness in Washington is yielding a country that I barely recognize—that being, the collapse of the station.
It seems to me that what is missing is a sense of humor — really — which comes from understanding that in reality nothing is ever perfect. Therefore the glowing reports of perfection are as insulting as the reviews of toxicity are overblown. If these squabbles were an old fight for me, I might settle for merely including them in a novel. But being a relative newcomer to the Anderson Valley, without stake in one side or the other, and appreciating the rare grace of public radio in a culture progressively for sale to a few corporate tyrants, I have decided to see if civility and honesty can help the board stop cowering from its responsibilities and become a force of oversight and inclusion. It is my hope that if the board opens up to criticism and adopts a public and On-Air face along with a tenor of self-deprecation, it will bring needed change to the station and draw in those who are now motivated by fury over past and present policy, so that they can contribute their best for the well-being of the station.
As for employees (as well as board members and revolutionaries) who have been reduced to personalities, it’s good to remember that members of a team are always subject to change. Personnel that ignore this about themselves are unrealistic. History shows we all have an arc of contribution and that, in time, our baby (our job, our station, our cause) is better served by… what? being put up for adoption. I don’t know if this is the right time for specific personnel changes, but I submit we members, board members, and staff should move toward inevitable change from a position of strength, insight and harmony rather than through revolution. And to that end, I offer my listening apparatus (ears and heart) and my voice to serve on the board in the At-Large seat. I look forward to meeting you, and to serving, if what I say here carries enough fresh air to garner your support.
Tom Melcher, Philo
SHAME ON THE SUPE
Dear Superintendent Cross,
I was really taken back when I read in the Independent Coast Observer you and the Point Arena Unified School District board are considering closing classes and letting teachers go at the Point Arena High school because of dropping enrollment and deficit spending.
Let's start with dropping enrollment. Did you happen to include the Pacific Charter School students who are taking classes at the high school? Sorry, this is a rhetorical question because I know you did not! The ten students you stated you will “be down next year…” Does this include the Pacific Charter School or the South Coast students?
It seems strange that this year the district is deficit spending when last year the board granted you an outrageous raise because you threatened to go over the hill to Willits if they did not. Hmm, they seem to find money for that!
Also, mysteriously last year, the board discovered there was an excess of TWO MILLION DOLLARS in the budget! When Board Member Bates was questioned about this, she stated it was due to “frugal spending on the part of the board.” Somewhere between last year and this year the board stopped its frugal spending because the $2 million is gone and you are now deficit spending to the point that it will be affecting our students!
Shame on you!
ROSELLE, NOT ROCHELLE, MAJOR
There's a Roselle, New Jersey, a Roselle Park, New Jersey, and a Rochelle Park, New Jersey. But there ain't no Rochelle, New Jersey. Yo, Louis Bedrock! Are you listening? (AVA Letters, vol. 62 no. 6)
Raised in Roselle, NJ, now ensconced in Santa Cruz, where weather is much more compatible to the human condition.
Ed note: That was the Major’s mistake, not Mr. Bedrock’s. Mr. Bedrock surely knows the name of his New Jersey hometown. (The Major’s been counseled, but he’s been counseled before, and he’s old…)
ALL ABOUT THE KZYX MONEY
To the Editor:
KZYX is currently conducting a Pledge Drive. In a previous post on the KZYXtalk listserv — email@example.com — when I suggested that staff were “singing for their supper,” they got bent out of shape. Seriously bent out of shape. One wrote saying he was insulted, deeply offended.
But why? He got his raise!
My two questions during Pledge Drive are the following. If the station was as nearly bankrupt five years ago, as General Manager, and self-appointed Executive Director and Vizier-i-Azam (Grand Vizier) John Coate, claimed at that time, then: 1. Why were all staff given a raise to double the California minimum wage in order to have them reclassified as exempt employees, and 2. Why did Coate push the Board to give him a 10% raise?
Coate's raise makes him much better paid then many in public radio, say, for instance, KMUD's Station Manager, Jeanette Todd. I know what Coate gets paid, but the KZYX Board's secrecy rules prohibit me from disclosing it. No such secrecy about salaries exists at KMUD.
Now let's consider the case where KZYX staff got paid twice the California minimum wage, which is currently $9 an hour, in order to have them reclassified as exempt employees. Twice the minimum wage is $18 dollars an hour, but staff also gets an additional two weeks of paid vacation.
Let's do the math. If you get paid for two extra weeks of vacation (at your regular hourly rate), or you actually work for those two extra weeks, then your total year now consists of 52 weeks. Assuming 40 hours a week, that equals 2,080 hours in a year. Your hourly wage of $18 would end up being about $37,440 per year in salary.
That's $37, 440 as a base salary for all staff, except for Coate who gets paid more — a lot more. Again, I can't say how much. The Board imposed a gag order on salaries.
It's all pretty rich at a station that contended it was nearly going bankrupt. And now, they come hat in hand again.
I have a plan for where the money should go:
How about a Ukiah studio? KZYX is too Anderson Valley-centric. How about a collaboration between KZYX and Ukiah-based KMEC? KMEC is not the enemy.
How about restoring free speech to KZYX by returning the now-canceled “Open Lines,” and its indefinitely suspended, popular host Doug McKenty to the air? Maybe public comment in an open forum isn't such a bad idea for truly a “public,” public radio station.
How about restoring “Community News” to 60 minutes, instead of the skimpy 10 minutes we now get? And even those 10 minutes are two talking heads, who call themselves reporters, reading parts of press releases and newspaper articles. Pathetic.
How about training community journalism volunteers — stringers — who can supplement KZYX's very part-time News Department? How about a program like KMUD's Community Journalism Project? This will enable more coverage of local arts, entertainment, politics, public affairs, and environmental issues.
How about working with Mendocino College and College of the Redwoods to create campus radio stations? Low-power licenses, like at KMEC, with a maximum broadcast of 100 watts, are entirely feasible.
How about an outreach program to recruit and train Pomo Native American Indian programmers to have their own shows? Here in Mendocino County, we have one of the largest per-capita populations of Native Americans in the US, yet we have no shows for our Pomo neighbors. Twenty-five years ago, KZYX's original license application to the FCC and KZYX's appropriations justification to the CPB made a big deal out of Mendocino County's Native American population, but once we got the licenses and the money, we forgot about them. This is KZYX's biggest fraud, in my opinion. Our biggest source of embarrassment.
How about more edgy programs? A Green Party show? A Libertarian Party show? A conspiracy theory show? A medical marijuana show? Why does William Courtney, MD — the country's leading researcher on the power of juicing raw cannabis — have to take his show all the way to KMUD in Redway? Dr. Courtney lives in Willits. Why is all programming so “safe” and “mainstream” at KZYX? Why does one person — the Program Director — have total control over programming? And why isn't a Program Advisory Committee in place to ensure listeners get what listeners want?
This is only a start to the possible new ideas of where your Pledge Drive dollars should really go at KZYX — again, not salaries.
By all means, please support KZYX. Support “KZYX Members for Change” (see Facebook page). And support Board candidates Doug McKenty and Patricia Kovner.
The election of Edward Snowden as the Rector of the University of Glasgow by its students was clearly a statement of approval of his actions. It was also certaining a rejection of the NSA and President Obama as well as GCHQ, the British intelligence agency, and Prime Minister Cameron. The post had its beginning in 1452 and only four rectors during that time were not Scots or English. Mr. Snowden is the first American so honored The Rector serves for three years and represents the students, works closely with the Student's Representative Council and is the Chairman (ex-officio) of the University Court which administers the resources of the University. The Rector is not paid a salary. His participation is voluntary and obviously Mr. Snowden will not be able to come to Scotland.
James G. Updegraff
CLAIMS & COUNTERCLAIMS
In your rant against KZYX (2/12/2014), you have uncritically repeated false statements made by others, and added some rather odd conclusions of your own. Such as the claim that the station is dominated by “Anderson Valley people,” despite the following facts: none of the Board of Directors live in the Valley ; neither do the General Manager or the Underwriting Manager; the Operations Manager lives part-time in the Valley but can hardly be called a “Valley person” by anyone who knows him; most of the Programmers and Membership live outside the Valley.
Next, you claim the current management is “incompetent” and “unfit,” apparently on the basis of remarks made by John Sakowicz and some of his current allies. There are two problems here:
One, there is evidence that the current management is in fact the best the station has ever had. If he had done nothing else, John Coate should be lauded for not only keeping the station from going bankrupt, but actually paying off the debts it accrued during the 2008 financial crisis. Of course he has done much else, and some of his decisions have been unpopular with a vocal fraction of listeners. Popularity, however, is no measure of competence.
Two, John Sakowicz is an unreliable source. Have you read Yale professor Harry G. Frankfurt's delightful little book, "On Bullshit?" (If not, you should. It is really great.) In it, Prof. Frankfurt distinguishes between the liar, who recognizes truth and rejects its authority; versus the bullshitter, who simply does not care about truth. John Sakowicz quite clearly belongs to this latter category. He is not really a liar, even though he says many things that are not true; it is just that he does not care much whether they are true or not, only that they give the appearance of supporting his positions.
Take, for example, his claim that the GM refuses to share financial information. Anyone with Web access can go to the KZYX.org Website and find every General Manager's Report dating back to Fall 2008 (i.e., every one that John Coate has prepared for the Board of Directors), and find therein detailed summaries of the budgets and balance sheet - specifically including the Line of Credit balance. Those reports also contain candid discussions of the station's technical and financial situations, forecasts for the immediate future, and plans for managing through the crisis.
I won't bother to go through the rest of Sakowicz's calumnies; that is an exercise you might undertake, in your capacity as a journalist. If you find something true in there, be sure to let us know.
As for M. Kathryn Massey's bizarre letter to the FCC, it is salacious enough that I can see how you could hardly resist printing bits of it. I did notice you elided all the nasty personal attacks on Diane Hering, a Valley person if ever there was one, and can only speculate why you chose to leave those out while printing the smears on Rich Culbertson. Other parts of her letter read as if they were dictated by Mr. Sakowicz; I wonder, for example, how Ms. Massey ( who arrived here in 2011) would be so familiar with the financial situation six years ago.
By joining McKenty's petty campaign to revoke the station's FCC license, Sacowicz has betrayed his fiduciary duty to MCPB and should be removed from its Board. He has since threatened to sue KZYX if he loses his Board seat — which tells me all I need to know about his priorities.
Ed Reply: This may come as a surprise to you, Mr. Bray, but I've arrived at my opinions of the Coate-Aigner team on my lonesome. Those opinions happen to coincide, even pre-date those of Mr. Sakowicz. As for Anderson Valley people, and it's always difficult explaining these basics to literalists, so I'll try to be as clear as I can: I've argued many times over the years that the dominance of station affairs by Anderson Valley people has had a baleful effect on KZYX. That's another opinion, by the way. The station was founded by a Boonville hustler, the station's directors have often been Boonville people, lots of Boonters play music on the station, Aig is from Boonville-Philo. That dominance has occurred because the station is located in the Anderson Valley. Comprende? PS. Have all these Moonie-like paens to Coate's mastery arisen out of some kind of stoner's letter-writing party?
Recent readings in an old (?) book yield a puff-piece on the wineries of Anderson valley circa 2003 and a wealth of Rich Tourist hits on the local scene (Far-Flung & Well Fed; the Food Writing of R.W. Apple Jr. St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010) and a few Boontling quotes — is there a Boont dictionary? Some of the stuff sounds Scot, maybe steampunk Edinburg pastiche even. I'd like a lead (self-addressed stamped envelope included) if possible.
The heavily (sic) financed dat drone writing the article had a dandy gossip starter tied in to school demographics. His contention was that before 1970 there were few (if any) Mexicans about, but with the influx of the wine explosion since the schools approach 50% Spanish-speaking clientele. His explanation: skilled labor following the industry.
There is something that saddens when a tourist sets the tone for a beloved (sic) area. While most of California has its tone set by tourists, I hoped that Boonville might procure a more singular essence. Something more in line with the nightmares of Jim Jones, perhaps. But so it goes.
How's the equestrian statue of Supervisor Smith coming along?
Up North in Bellingham, Washington
Doug McK was given a directive to action while live on air, in response to an FCC violation, so he should have done it. His organizational meeting for Members for Change was held that same day, so he can't have been hopelessly confused.
KMUD has no Open Lines program, but if station criticism is left on a message phone, it may or not be played. Sounds OK to me. As you put it, Bruce, KMUD sets the standard.
PS: I'll support Doug for editor of the AVA, filling the vacancy.
Ed Reply: Or is it the neuro-cognitive malfunction characteristic of Alzheimer's with its constant repetition of same-same, the only new twist being McKenty as villain. PS. Yes, for the fourth time: KMUD sets the community radio standard. Always has.
TEMPEST IN A KZYX TEAPOT
The current KZYX (KZIP!) dustup is neatly portrayed in the cult classic film, "Prospero's Books," an adaptation of Shakespeare's "The Tempest" by director Peter Greenaway in 1991 (Miramax).
The film stars Sir John Gielgud as the Duke of Milan who, through treachery, is exiled along with his daughter, Miranda, to Isola di Gorgona, part of the Tuscan archipelago in the Ligurian Sea where he plots his revenge.
The Duke's authoritarian rule on the island is challenged by dissident reformers led by the evil Caliban.
It parallels the KZIP situation where the Duke (Coate) is exiled by Frisco big media to the cultural island of Philo where he ruthlessly takes control and represses or eliminates all opposition in his revenge quest to destroy the public radio station and replace it with a public-private partnership.
His plans are thwarted by a dissident reform group led by Caliban (Sakowicz).
The wacky, lavish film plays like a KZIP fundraiser with upper management lording it over the uniquely de-costumed station programmers and members.
It's also reminiscent of an Albion Harvest Festival.
"Prospero's Books" should be required viewing for all KZIP supporters and detractors because it presents the situation in vivid detail.
The entire film is primarily a rambling monologue by Prospero in Shakespearean English, so I didn't understand any of it. To me, pidgin English subtitles would have been very useful.
The best way to view "Prospero's Books" is with the sound off while playing Frank Zappa CDs.
I bought my copy (VHS) in a Skunktown used bookstore, intrigued by the film's promo: "Prospero's Books" marries the art of film, literature, music and dancing to a sumptuous, erotic, visual and intellectual feast that won't soon be duplicated -- or forgotten."
Enclosed please find a money order for another year's subscription to the AVA. Keep up the good work! Also, here is a list of books that made a big impression on me over the years. Some of them even show how to live a good life.
- Clarissa by Samuel Richardson
- Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens
- The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
- Howard's End by E.M. Forster
- My Antonia by Willa Cather
- Orwell In Spain (Penguin Modern Classics) by George Orwell
- The Hamlet by William Faulkner
- Cannery Row by John Steinbeck
- The Complete Stories by Flannery O'Connor
- A Far Cry from Kensington by Muriel Spark
A MENDONIAN PRAYER
Just got done reading the latest AVA. My heart goes out to the people in your very dry and thirsty land. First I'd like to do what I do these days and pray for all you Mendonians. Father Yehovah, you know my heart and who I am this day. I owe this to your blessed only begotten son, my Lord and Christ Yeshuah. I'm asking in faith (assurance) that you give these people from Mendocino their needed rain. I also ask that you strengthen those who are in 951 Low Gap Road. The weak and feeble ones who are so under attack and that you shatter the jailers' adamant stones called their hearts. I ask this in your precious name Lord and Christ Yeshuah.
I know from reading your paper that there are a lot of people who just don't believe in God and they scoff at this idea. Well, I've got a question for you scoffers: What proof do you have that there isn't a God? Well, while they're figuring that out, check this out.
The Bible consists of 66 separate books written by about 40 different authors living on three different continents. They use three different languages over a time span of at least 1500 years. It contains history, poetry, prophecy, science, geography and philosophy. Yet it contains no errors or internal discrepancies. From beginning to end there is one overarching and unfolding story: God's redemption of man. There is nothing remotely comparable among all of the millions of books written by men. The Bible outlives its pallbearers.
Yeshuah (God) left us with many evidences to show that His word is true, but prophecy is one of the strongest. More than 25% of the Bible is prophecy. God set a stringent standard on prophecy: it must be 100% accurate or the prophecy is not of God. This is a unique characteristic of the Bible not found in the Veda (Hindu writings), the Koran (Islam's holy book), or any of the other writings of mankind. The so-called prophecies of Nostradamus, Jean Dixon, Sylvia Brown and others are of a completely different class than the Bible. Not only are those prophecies vague (leaving possibility of being interpreted to fit numerous events), but more often than not their predictions of the future proved to be wrong. Biblical prophecies however are both specific and accurate. When we hold the Bible we are holding a collection of 66 books written over a period of about 1500 years by more than 40 authors. Yet this book reveals a single correlated message. The Bible repeatedly authenticates its uniqueness by describing history in exact detail before it happens.
You may say to yourselves, "How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?"
If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is the message the Lord has not spoken. — Deuteronomy 18:21-22.
I only read the King James authorized version which came out in the year 1611. Math problem, the year 1611: 16 x 11 equals 176. Right. Look at Psalm 119. It has the exact verses as the year of the King James version 1611, 16 x 11 equals 176 versus. Well, I'll let you and your readers go for now. I'll be writing more later.
William Bongo Bill Newport
EVERYTHING WE WANT!
Okay, here you go: two lists, a subscription renewal check and a joke. What more could a newspaper publisher want?
Knowing the problems you have been having with the post office in recent months, I decided last spring to keep an informal log of when my AVA arrived in the mail. From April through October the post office did a fairly good job with most issues arriving within a week of their publication date. However, someone somewhere in the delivery chain must have had themselves one helluva Halloween party, because they really fell off the beam starting in November:
Issue date / delivery date
November 6 / November 21
November 13 / December 9
November 20 / December 2
November 27 / December section
December 4 / January 9
December 11 / December 21
December 18 / January 6
December 25 / January 10
January 1 / January 11
January 8 / Still waiting for that one!
They apparently sobered up sometime in mid-January however as the last few issues arrived more or less on schedule. Make of that what you will.
I greatly enjoyed reading everyone's Top Ten book lists. If it's not too late I'll throw mine out there as well. Aside from indicating some of my literary tastes, I'm sure this list reflects the many horrifying gaps in my lifelong reading curriculum. I've yet to read any Herman Melville, Philip Roth or Kurt Vonnegut and I'm way light on Mark Twain and H.L. Mencken to name a few of the more glaring shortfalls. I suppose with the overwhelming number of authors and books out there we tend to home in on our favorites once we find them, often to the exclusion of other worthy writers. (I could easily have wound up with a Top Ten list that is half John Steinbeck and half Edward Abbey if I didn't force myself to look farther afield.) At any rate, with the understanding that the list will have changed by the time I seal envelope, here are some of my favorites:
- Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
- Corruptions of Empire by Alexander Cockburn
- Southern Fried Plus 6 by William Price Fox
- Shot in the Dark by Mikal Gilmore
- Movie As Politics by Jonathan Rosenbaum
- Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
- America and Americans and Selected Nonfiction by John Steinbeck
- The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck
- Pop. 1280 by Jim Thompson
- Bob Dylan: Performing Artist, Volumes 1-3 by Paul Williams
Sorry for all the dead white guys. I have certainly enjoyed works by women (e.g. Sarah Orne Jewett) and non-white folks (James Baldwin, Richard Wright, a bit of Sherman Alexie), too. They just didn't crack the ever-shifting Top Ten at the time I was writing this. Deal with it.
Payment enclosed for another year plus a little extra for the petty cash drawer.
Downers Grove, Illinois
PS. A husband was having lunch with his wife of 30 years in a high-class Manhattan restaurant when a beautiful 25-year-old woman approached the table, bent down, gave the husband a long, passionate kiss on the lips and walked away.
"Who the hell was that?!" asked the wife incredulously.
"That was my mistress," replied the husband.
"Your mistress?!" exclaimed the wife, throwing her napkin down angrily. "You bastard! I want a divorce!"
"Wait a minute, honey. Just think for a second. If we get a divorce we're going to spend over $100,000 in attorneys fees. We'll have to sell our big house on Long Island and we'll probably end up living in small condos. We'll never get to go on any exotic vacations again. You won't be able to shop at Saks anymore and you'll only be able to go to the spa once a month instead of twice a week. Also —"
"Hold on a second. Who's that with George?" she asked, spotting a neighbor walking in the restaurant with an attractive woman on his arm.
"Oh, that's his mistress," said the husband.
"Hmmm," said the wife. "Ours is prettier."
Seeking justice. When a judge declares evidence inflammatory and highly prejudicial and therefore says it is inadmissible but she by incognito shows the jury members the photos anyway, bad criminal prosecutor. But it's even worse when the trial attorney neglected his duty to object, for the purpose to show or expose a criminal misconduct of the prosecutor.
I ask you to print this so others will be aware of the dirty tactics of prosecutors and attorneys in general. The legal system as well as Moonbeam Brown. I am seeking advocating activist for justice. Write me: Ed Knight, V02613. CHCF-C1B. 118-C. PO Box 32200, Stockton, CA 95213. I would hope this will spark an outcry for the sake of justice and generate support or sponsor for this cause. Thank you very much. Please help if you can.
PS. This is a cry out, shootout for an effort to create a legal defense fund for this cause. Get to know me and you will see my cause is a worthy cause. Talk to me? Any attorneys want to respond?
SCALE IT BACK, CALTRANS
Dear Editor and Readers,
I used to think that when social, economic and environmental conditions came to a crisis point that is when people would finally wake up and work for change but, there is a water crisis going on in the heart of Mendocino County and it doesn't seem like many of us are paying attention. With respect to what Caltrans has in mind for the Willits Bypass I think the general mind set is....the horse is out of the barn, it's happening, there's nothing much we can do about it now.
But, there is something we must all be made aware of. There is a sensible alternative design for the northern interchange of the bypass being suggested. (visit www.savelittlelakevalley.org ) Rather than installing over 5,000 wick drains in 50 acres of wetlands Caltrans could scale back to a plan that would still accommodate traffic and help conserve, rather than permanently dry up the wetlands. The bypass appears to be inevitable but, as we approach an era of indeterminable drought, Caltrans does not need to also undermine the already scant water resources available to the Willits community. Caltrans can choose to save 40 acres of wetlands just by agreeing to scale back on the northern interchange.
How is it that a road construction company has the power over life and death? Have we, as a community on the county and state level not evolved enough so that our legal system can allow common sense to come to the table? Must we continue to chastise and criminalize demonstrators and insist that they subjugate to those in authority? All over the world, non-violent resistors are just saying.....let's talk about it.
Caltrans is due to resume work in April. There is not much time left but, it is not too late for all of us to spread the word and do what we can. There are meetings at the Willits Grange every Friday at 5pm where the stalwart citizens of Willits continue to strategize ways to bring the voice of reason to this issue. It is imperative that we phone and write to the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board in Santa Rosa asking them to put the Willits Bypass issue on their agenda as an action item for their March board meeting. (NCRWQCB, 5550 Skylane Blvd, Ste. A, SR, CA 95403, Mathias St John, Executive Dir. 707-570-3762707-570-3762
It is imperative that we write and phone the office of Gov. Brown to ask that he deliver on his promise to protect wetlands and that he exercise his power to insist that Caltrans scale back their plans for the northern interchange. (Gov. Jerry Brown, State Capitol, Ste.1173, Sacramento, CA 95814 (916) 445-2841
It is imperative that we communicate with the offices of Caltrans to give them the opportunity to set a precedent and act as an authority that listens and responds to the people in the communities that are negatively impacted by their ecology altering practices. (Caltrans District 1, PO Box 3700, Eureka, CA 95502, Phil Frisbie, Jr, 707-441-4678
When you communicate with the water board and the Governor be sure to add that the short term, low quality results of fracking does not justify wasting California's dwindling water supply. As a matter of fact, there will be a rally at the Capitol building lawn in Sacramento on March 15 to let the Governor know that the people of California don't want our water wasted and polluted by fracking. See you there.
Citizen of Mendocino County