Mendocino County Today: Friday, Dec. 30, 2016
by AVA News Service, December 29, 2016
ON WEDNESDAY, December 14, Fort Bragg Police were dispatched to 301 Cypress Street, a large apartment complex called Duncan Place where they found the mummified remains of Arlene Potts, 66. Ms. Potts had been the responsibility of an in-home care person named Lori Fiorentino, 56. Fiorentino was soon arrested on an array of charges beginning with elder abuse and booked into the County Jail where she is being held on high bail.
THIS COMMENT on MSP accompanied the above press release:
Management needs to change at Duncan Place! Tenants complained of a "pee smell" down the hall for a long time and never saw the lady come or go. Then once the room was opened the management did nothing to help get rid of the smell wafting into other apartments. Most places of lodging can deal with a room that was smoked in with an ionizer and here these tenants had to deal with the smell of rotting death.... Management and maintenance are stretched between two apartments and just cannot perform the tasks needed, nor react to complaints even when it's a health concern.
Everybody's been pointing fingers at Cindy, the manager at Duncan Place. Let me say, for the record, that I'm a tenant here and Cindy is one of the most informative, caring, thoughtful managers that I've ever had. She doesn't just think of us as tenants, she really does care and does do welfare checks!! Lori [Fiorentino, in home care worker] had all of us fooled. She ran games all over this place and as far as the smell in the hallways, there was none except a strong urine smell off and on. I was running up and down the stairs on that side visiting friends for a couple months over there and I smelled nothing!! So before you start casting stones find out the full story!
AS IT HAPPENS, my disabled sister lived at Duncan Place for a number of years. Duncan Place is on Cypress in Fort Bragg virtually across the street from the police department. I know that building pretty well. The tenants are mostly elderly, mostly disabled. The structure is rather labyrinthian and tomb-like, I'd say, in that it's well-carpeted and apparently so well insulated sound does not carry, not that I ever heard so much as a squeak emanating from any of the many lonely doors. There are long halls and absolute silence, even in the mostly empty, austere recreation room where I never saw anyone recreating. My impression was that everyone in the place could have been dead for months without anyone knowing. But that unhappy circumstance would be unlikely since there's an on-site manager who, in the years I visited, were efficient and accommodating. And Fort Bragg's emergency services and medical people deserve double whatever they're paid, as I know from the superior level of care rendered my sister in her many hours of need. If it is known an elderly or disabled Fort Bragg person is imperiled, FB's emegency people will for sure be there.
READING between the lines of the sparse accounts of this poor woman's sad end, I would guess that her in-home person was primarily committed to go-fast powder, but probably intended, in her perpetually fevered state, to do the right thing but never quite got around to it. I know a lot of in-home people do a great job under difficult circumstances, but the near-minimum wage work does not require a license or, it seems, much in the way of background checks.
THE REAL STORY here is that millions of people are adrift, estranged from their families and without even a chum to look in on them regularly. We grow weak, the wolves circle, and if you don't have someone keeping the fire lit to keep them away, the wolves will surely devour you.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE? A Duncan Place neighbor writes of Fort Bragg's "mummified woman":
For the past week this community has been reacting with horror about the story of the 'mummified woman', and the arrest of her caregiver. This woman, Arlene Potts, was my neighbor.
I never knew her as I had only moved into my apartment 5 months ago. There were notes on the door not to knock or disturb her. I heard she was bedridden and had an in-home caregiver. I became concerned about her when, early on, I could smell the 'odors of neglect' wafting through the corridor between her door and mine.
Sure, I complained to the manager repeatedly, and even phoned Adult Protective Services, twice, as I was sure this poor lady must be suffering some major neglect. How many nights did I lay snug in my bed, with soft sheets and a full belly, while she lay in her own filth, hungry, thirsty, and crying out for care, and crying to God for help, and I didn't know.
It was only after the odor of death pervaded the hall, that the manager with the police checked on her. WAY TOO LATE!!!
Well, the responsible party has been arrested, who IS responsible? ALL of US from the manager to Adult Protective Services, to the neighbors, to me. How many were indifferent to her suffering? The other neighbors besides me must have known.
May God forgive me for not trying harder to get help for her. And please forgive me, Arlene, and may the Lord bless you forever."
Christine Stone, Fort Bragg
MS. STONE says she notified both the manager at Duncan Place and the County's Adult Protective Services more than once. It seems clear neither entity bothered to check on Ms. Potts.
ELEANOR COONEY ADDS:
“The sad, naked truth is that being old and poor increases one's odds of ending up like Arlene. You'll hear the occasional story of a wealthy recluse being found dead and alone, but those are aberrations, usually the result of resolute eccentricity. It's pretty common for old people just scraping by on little money to die alone in their apartments in big cities, where the anonymity factor plays a big role, and to lie there undiscovered for a long time...”
RAVES from all points on the baked goods compass for Fort Bragg's new bakery called A Sweet Affair, proprietor and genius chef, Brittney Harris. Ms. Harris offers a startlingly wide variety of perfectly prepared cakes to ginger bread men to eggnog, and every possible combination of quality baked items in between. Nothing like this place between here and Frisco. And all of it quite reasonably priced, too. A Sweet Affair is at 401 N. Main, Fort Bragg.
VICKI GENEVA (CRAWFORD) FLAHERTY
Vicki Flaherty died on Nov. 28, 2016, at Mendocino Coast District Hospital after a valiant battle with cancer.
She was born Vicki Geneva Crawford in Los Angeles to Robert Crawford and Dorothy (Flaherty) Crawford, on Aug. 26, 1946. After living for a time in Dallas and Seattle, Vicki and her mother and grandmother settled in San Francisco. Under Grandma Flaherty's tutelage, Vicki developed an abiding interest in ballet and classical music, becoming a poised and cultured young lady.
Vicki attended Galileo Academy of Science and Technology where she graduated in 1964. She attended San Francisco City College for a time and then transferred to Sonoma State College where she earned a BA in psychology.
Vicki entered the field of clinical psychology, serving the under-served, the homeless and people living with AIDS. In 1986, she earned her Ph.D. in psychology from the Wright Institute and became to her many friends and co-workers, Dr. Vicki.
She worked for a time at Marin Lodge, an inpatient facility for seriously disturbed patients. By 1988, she had been named the Executive Director of Sonoma County's Community Support Network.
A breast cancer diagnosis interrupted her professional climb, but she was successful in her personal struggle against cancer and remained cancer-free until her diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in 2016. Meanwhile, she had moved to the Mendocino Coast where she worked for Child Protective Services.
As if to cap a life of service and a quest for social justice, Vicki joined a core of dedicated volunteers in a battle to get Bernie Sanders elected president. Her fellow volunteers remember her as a tireless manager of events whose energy and enthusiasm served as an inspiration to the rest of the team.
Vicki leaves behind many, many friends who honor her acerbic wit, dedication to service to her community, and strength in battles for the good of society. She will be remembered as a classy woman.
A memorial service was held at the Senior Center Peace Garden on Dec. 20, 2016.
(Thanks to Mike Mannix for compiling and submitting Dr. Vicki's obituary.)
LOCAL HUNTER looking to take care of wild pig, coyote, crow and ground squirrel problems. I use archery as a method to hunt if you are not comfortable with firearms. Please call me at 707-813-1208. — Alex Williamson.
ED NOTE: Alex is a Fort Bragg native and a totally reliable, responsible guy. The mighty AVA is happy to vouch for him.
COMPARE AND CONTRAST (Glenda, and her ghost writer, Mike Sweeney, left several salient facts out of her story: (1) The Franklins' called in the spill (2) a licensed forester investigated and found no lasting damage whatsoever (3) the original fine of $381 thousand was nowhere near a million dollars, (4) the pot garden was abandoned and had nothing to do with the bladder. Glenda and Mike simply took the Water Board's vengeful staff version of events as truthful and didn’t even read the extensive rebuttal the Franklins provided to the Water Board.
Mendocino County Landowners Fined $37,000 In Water Bladder Spill
by Glenda Anderson, The Santa Rosa Press Democrat
A Mendocino County man and his mother have been fined $37,079 for the failure of a giant water bladder that ruptured, spilling up to 80,000 gallons and carrying sediment down a tributary to the Eel River in April 2013.
The deluge of water tore out vegetation, dislodged boulders and scoured the seasonal stream bed before flowing into the Eel River, muddying its waters, according to the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, which announced the penalty last week.
“We don’t know whether any harm happened to fish,” said Stormer Feiler, an environmental scientist with the water board. But “the habitat in the (seasonal) stream was completely destroyed.”
The case highlights the risks associated with the widespread use of the huge fabric water bladders on the North Coast, much of it associated with marijuana cultivation, according to water regulators.
The property owners, Polly Franklin, 70, who lives on a farm in England, and her son, Daniel Franklin 40, of Ukiah, were storing water in the bladder and two water tanks for fire suppression and for irrigating marijuana plants on their remote Potter Valley property, Feiler said.
The 50,000 gallon bladder had been allowed to overfill, causing it to stretch, then tear at a seam, according to his report. The water board found the damage was a result of negligence.
The spring-fed water tanks and bladder were located on a steep hillside in a remote region of Potter Valley.
Polly Franklin said she and her son have owned the 250-acre property since about 2001.
“It was my son’s dream to have a natural little piece of heaven,” she said.
She said she was unaware marijuana was being grown on the property until the water spill in 2013. Satellite images show marijuana has been grown on the property since at least 2011 and continues to be grown there, Feiler said.
Polly Franklin estimated about 100 plants are being grown on the property by a cooperative of medical marijuana patients who raise organic cannabis. She said neither she nor her son, who she said is unemployed, profit from the operation.
“There’s no economic interest out there,” she said. She said the ordeal has been expensive, forcing her to hire a lawyer and biologist to defend herself and to fly back and forth from England.
She said the proposed fine initially was about $1 million, but that the water board ultimately settled on the much lower amount. She disagreed with many of the water board staff’s conclusions, including that level of damage and amount of water spilled, contending the state figures were exaggerated.
“It’s been pretty crazy,” she said of the last few years dealing with the fallout from the bladder rupture.
The containers have a limited life, Feiler noted. The bladder on the Franklin property was military surplus, made of polymer-coated nylon and designed to hold fuel. Its life expectancy when in use is a maximum of three years, according to an instruction manual. The manual also warns that overfilling the bladder can lead to failure.
Water storage bladders are scattered throughout the North Coast, feeding thousands of gardens from Sonoma County to Del Norte, a region which Feiler said now includes an estimated 45,000 cannabis grow sites.
Across the region, improper water diversion and storage, along with careless and illegal cultivation practices have generated pesticide and sediment pollution and dewatered streams, posing serious risks to the environment, Feiler said.
* * *
THE AVA VERSION:
AS RESIDENTS of the deep Potter Valley outback, Polly Franklin and her son, like most Mendo outback residents, worry about fire. And like most outback people they prepare for that fearsome eventuality as best they can, hoping it never happens.
ON THE ADVICE of a licensed forester, based on fuel loads on their parcel and the ongoing drought, the Franklins installed a large water bladder a few years ago to get maximum wet weather water storage for dry weather fires. The Army surplus bladder was the least expensive storage device they could find.
THE FRANKLINS installed the bladder, and it filled just fine in the rainy months. But in April of 2013, the bladder ruptured for reasons that are in dispute — overfill? random puncture? age? — releasing 50,000 gallons of pure spring water into a small, ephemeral watercourse, which runs down a steep slope and on into the Eel River. The little stream was damaged, but has entirely recovered as is copiously documented by photos and experts.
RESPONSIBLE citizens that they are, the Franklins called Fish and Wildlife to report what had happened. Fish and Wildlife alerted the State Water Board who sent out a team to inspect. Three years later the Franklins, people of austere means, are drowning in fines totaling a preposterous $381,000.
THE IRONY here, as irony veers into ruin for the Franklins, is that the Franklins immediately reported the spill to get advice and assistance on what to do about repairing the damage done, which was far less severe than the occasional mid-winter flooding that occurs naturally. Not to mention the damage from other, ahem, activities, in the Eel River drainage.
BUT THE STATE FORCES of wildlife protection noted a nearby but inactive small pot garden during their inspection of the spill, and the Water Board decided to make an example of the Franklins, seeking preposterously large fines and penalties based on formulaic calculations and exaggerated estimates of damage.
THERE WAS NO marijuana growing at the site at the time of the spill, although Daniel Franklin had seven registered patients for the Franklin property.
THE AFFECTED WATERCOURSE has fully recovered, as verified by licensed forester Estelle Clifton who reported in November of this year that "the streambed was stabilized, no fresh erosion noted, water in the stream flows clear."
SPILLS like this happen all the time in one form or another. Erosion from grape growing and overgrazing are common. And you certainly don’t find vineyard owners or outlaw pot growers reporting their spills, cooperating with authorities or paying for repairs and restoration unprompted.
BUT THE BELEAGUERED Franklins fully expect the Water Board, convening in Santa Rosa this Thursday (15 December), to rubber stamp the imposition of the wildly unfair fine on the Potter Valley family.
THE HEARING before the Water Board will take place on Thursday the 15th of December. The case documents are on the agency's website: The Franklin matter is the 5th item on their list with the Franklin rebuttal to the giant pile of bureaucratic exaggerations as the last item in the list of exhibits:
WE NOTE that several of the Water Board exhibits, and probably half of the pages in their case, are all about the purported sales price of cannabis and the amount a person can harvest per plant in the years since 2013. But there’s no evidence of marijuana sales from the small cooperative pot garden, no record of law enforcement interest in the garden or the spill. The State's pot asides have nothing to do with the Franklin case, and they certainly have nothing to do with justice or fairness or even consistent fines.
NOTE: IN THE YEARS 2012-2014 the Region 1 Water Board (for the entire northcoast) fined three people a total of $120,000 but from the Franklins they want $381,949.
* * *
POTTER VALLEY RESIDENT POLLY FRANKLIN and her family appeared before the Regional Water Quality Control Board in Santa Rosa on Thursday, December 15th to appeal the exorbitant fines imposed on them in the aftermath of a water bladder accident on their Potter Valley property.
THE STORAGE BLADDER burst back in 2013, spilling about 50,000 gallons of clean spring water and some incidental riparian debris down an embankment and into a tributary of the Eel River.
MRS. FRANKLIN'S son reported the incident and the famous cliché that “no good deed goes unpunished” took over the family's lives.
THE NORTH COAST Water Quality Control Board’s “enforcement team” discovered an abandoned pot grow unrelated to the spill and, exaggerating the effects of the clean water spill, fined the Franklins $381,000. That's three hundred eighty-one thousand dollars.
THE FRANKLINS were forced to the additional expense of a defense attorney but fully expected that the Water Board would rubberstamp staff's “recommendation” to essentially bankrupt them and ruin their lives.
WHICH IS NOT EXACTLY as matters turned out: “I was actually impressed by the members of the North Coast Water Quality Control Board,” said Ms. Franklin on Wednesday. “They had serious questions for their enforcement team. I don't think they were particularly on our side, but they asked questions like, ‘Out of something like 31,000 marijuana growers out there in this region, why did you choose to prosecute this one?’ And of course the answer is because we reported the problem. One board member asked how many fish were killed when they made this big fuss about turbidity in the Creek. And the answer, of course, was none.”
(THE WINE INDUSTRY in the Russian River watershed alone kills thousands of endangered fish every year to the yawning unconcern of the Regional Water Board.)
MRS. FRANKLIN said the Board didn’t get much into the question of the apparent accidental breakage or leak in the water bladder. “But it was not overfilled. That was completely ruled out. The water board enforcement team misrepresented things and outright made things up. And we refuted them all. They claimed the tank was overfilled because of some strange calculation about how much water would have been collected in the drainage area behind the tank. That’s absurd. I think the board members understood that the enforcement team was exaggerating and misrepresenting.”
AFTER A HEARING that went on much longer than anyone expected, the Board went into chambers and came out with a ruling that the Franklins would be fined almost $38,000, 10% of the original number, but still quite a lot. “Of course we don't have that,” said Ms. Franklin. “We've spent over $15,000 on lawyers since we started this. And several more thousands for forester Estelle Clifton do a report on the watercourse and what really happened there showing there was no long term damage at all. So it's just a huge amount of money and we have no way to pay it. We have the alternative to take them to court but that would just cost more money to appeal the decision and we would have to spend thousands more on lawyers and probably lose again.
“BUT STILL, I was impressed with the board members themselves. They took their jobs very seriously. And they are seriously questioning the way their enforcement team works. That team is out of control. Punishing a person for reporting a problem? That sets a very bad precedent. One board member actually brought that up. And another Board member asked if the enforcement team really intended to take everything this family has for this accident? ‘Don't we have a provision for accidents?,’ he asked. And the answer was no there is no provision for handling accidents such as a get out of jail free card or a decreased fine.
"OVERALL THOUGH I think the water board members are actually decent, sensible people. It's the enforcement team that's the problem. We were just low hanging fruit who just happened to wander into their grasp. Every year they let thousands of pot growers go who do real damage to the watershed — and they punished us? I guess they think it might be dangerous for them to actually go out and try to catch the bad people.”
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “New Year's Eve? Herb Caen used to call it ‘amateur night.’ I stay home where it's safe and NBA basketball is on the tube. Too many drunks out there. I'll have a couple of beers, bark out a couple whoop de doos at midnight and call it a night.”
ON DECEMBER 29, 2016 just before 12:30pm Jessi Preyer, age 17, of Arcata, was driving her 2002 Ford F-250 pickup pulling a horse trailer with two horses southbound on Highway 101 north of Reeves Canyon Road (north of Redwood Valley). Ms. Preyer felt the trailer start to sway and then she lost control of the truck and trailer which then jackknifed causing the trailer to come unhitched. Ms. Preyer continued in a westerly direction down a steep embankment where the F-250 came to rest. The trailer overturned and came to rest in the fastlane of Highway 101 southbound with the horses inside. No other vehicles were involved in his “property-damage only” accident. One horse suffered a large laceration to its face as a result of the incident. (CHP press release.)
CATCH OF THE DAY, December 29, 2016
Anderson, Belden, Bolton, Brown
JUNE ANDERSON, Lucerne/Ukiah. Probation revocation.
JAMES BELDEN III, Ukiah. Probation revocation, resisting.
JOHN BOLTON IV, Willits. Probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
RODGER BROWN, Ukiuah. Meth sale.
Corson, Lawrence, Sanchez, Vega
MARC CORSON, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.
DEBORAH LAWRENCE, Ukiah. Under influence, probation revocation.
ELIAS SANCHEZ, Redwood Valley. Vandalism, criminal street gang member.
JORGE VEGA, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. DUI, no license.
BEHIND-THE-SCENES STORY OF HIS YEAR COVERING TRUMP
A reporter reveals how he investigated Trump’s claims on his donations to charity.
A CHRISTMAS GHOST STORY
by Clancy Sigal
War is the health of the state. —Randolph Bourne
Actually, two ghost stories. They’re the twin semi-invisible specters hanging over our “peace and justice” movement that’s hardly moving at all.
One spook is that many if not most of us are part of a socially deaf, educated elite miles and miles above the cries of rage and pain of America’s Trump-voting deplorables.
The second ghost is much harder to grapple with, which is that for nearly 100 years our welfare benefits have been paid for by our either selling or aggressively using war goods.
We give to ourselves with one hand and kill foreigners with the other.
It’s built into the system.
A poignant example: Uncle Bernie Sanders, who we all (well, almost all) love, is an anti-war socialist, right? He voted against Bush’s Iraq invasion even though he helped lay the philosophic groundwork in Congress with speeches urging Saddam Hussein’s overthrow (SeeBernie and the Sandernistas), but let that pass, we don’t want a politician without contradictions, do we?
Bernie is aggressively pushing to keep in his Burlington, Vermont constituency the 1.3 billion dollar Lockheed Martin F-35 “stealth” fighter, a fearsome if catastrophically failed war plane. Lobbying for the F-35 means 1400 badly needed jobs in a small state. Don’t say hypocrisy, say South Carolina which is trying to muscle Bernie out of the F35 picture.
“War is the health of…Vermont?”
It’s a rarely challenged truism that money spent on the Vietnam war scuttled Lyndon Johnson’s ambitious “Great Society” program against poverty and racial injustice.
Let’s look at it the other way round: that the money spent on pouring “social funds” into Brown&Root, Halliburton, Dow Chemical (napalm), Monsanto (agent Orange), Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and Bechtel functioned to keep American workers in their jobs at liveable wages.
The connection between how we live and who we kill is a ghost that has haunted us for a long time. Eventually we pay the cost in 9/11 and ISIS terror and, at several removes, the mass migrations from Africa and Asia.
Just because connections are hard to “prove” doesn’t mean they don’t exist and will come out of the dark closet whenever they please.
(Clancy Sigal is a screenwriter and novelist. His latest book is Black Sunset.)
TRIPWIRES FOR TRUMPSTERS
by Ralph Nader
The Trumpsters are coming to town—led by a failed gambling czar, corporate welfare king and major tax escapee—and they are hell bent on unmaking Washington DC.
With all three branches of government dominated by Republican members of Congress and Republican appointees—due to a mixture of abysmal deficiencies in the Democratic Party and the interloping luck of the atavistic Electoral College—the wrecking crew of Trump’s nominees to high cabinet and other positions brings with it a host of politically perilous baggage.
First, the Trumpsters have vowed to dismantle various government programs. They are determined to severely limit the protection of labor, replace public schools with taxpayer-funded vouchers for private schools, and drop regulatory protections in the health, safety and environmental fields, among others. Acting without the requisite legal authority is of little concern to Mr. Trump.
Having sworn in their oaths of office (to “faithfully execute the laws of the land,”), they will find themselves quickly sued, exposed in the mass media and opposed by the law-abiding civil service. It will be a whistleblower’s field day. Trump will have serious trouble binding himself to the rule of law and the Constitution.
Second, the Trumpsters will establish more secretive government, led by their very secretive boss (note his refusal to reveal his incriminating tax returns); too much secrecy always gets government officials in trouble sooner or later, from legal trouble to media trouble to citizen revulsion over the resultant corruption scandals. Heavily staffed with militarists and corporatists, the incoming Trump regime will be hostile to open democratic processes and vulnerable to governing by cover-ups.
Third, since most of the top nominees are wealthy with many financial interests, they stand accused of conflicts of interest, even as they divest assets and place them in so-called blind trusts.
How can the restauranteur and fast-food chain magnate, Andrew Puzder, the next Secretary of Labor, escape being seen as conflicted when he has opposed labor unions and has opposed increases to the stagnant $7.25 per hour federal minimum wage? Similar conflicts exist with the new Secretary of State—Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson—with that company’s far flung concessions and investments around the world. People who got rich in business and leave to serve public office tend to go back into the business world from whence they came.
Fourth, Trump’s nominees are for the most part confirmed role-players in radical corporate-statism. They can talk a good game against crony capitalism or corporate welfare, but the soaring stock market, including defense industry stocks, signal that Wall Street likes the Trump team. This is not exactly what many of Trump’s supporters expected after November 8.
Trump promised a bigger military budget, corporate tax cuts and fewer regulatory health and safety protections for consumers, workers and the environment. With a Republican-dominated Congress he may achieve these objectives, but they will be accompanied by rising deficits, more inflation, and the cost of preventable human casualties.
Fifth, the maximum peril Trump’s administration brings to the country could come from its extreme hubris with regard to its military aggressiveness overseas. Trump has picked three retired generals well-suited to advance Empire’s constantly boomeranging attacks in whichever country in Asia and Africa they choose. Certainly President Obama, presently conducting wars in numerous countries without Congressional declaration, has opened the door to these unconstitutional adventures.
The Trump military and national security team is not looking for peace treaties or strategies that avoid the spread of stateless terrorism around the world.
One major terror attack on the U.S. and Trump becomes a warring, civil-liberties destroying monster of over-reaction, forsaking and crowding out other priorities and necessities that a mature society must address.
With his megalomaniacal, easily bruisable ego, his impulsive middle-of-the-night tweets against opponents, and his unwillingness to absorb critical facts with reflection and prudence, we cannot trust his judgement to serve the best interest of the people, especially given his belligerent advisors raising dangerous risks on the horizon.
Nothing short of a robust organization of wise and experienced, retired military, national security and diplomatic officials, who served under both parties, supported by adequate resources and media access, can have a chance to slow down what can become a deadly momentum of brute force and troop expansion overseas.
Enlightened billionaires have to step up to make this happen before a likely unleashing of Trumpian rage and rant. This is not a man who can learn from the bitter lessons of history.
And citizens from all walks of life—left and right—need to defend our democracy, our civil liberties, and the health and safety protections that at their best made our country a model for so many other countries.
See my book, Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier than We Think for more information on how citizens can fight Trump administration excesses.
(Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!)
LIVE WITH IT
To the Editor:
David Paul Kuhn claims in the New York Times that bigotry didn’t elect Donald Trump, despite Mr. Trump’s vow to register Muslims, despite his use of anti-Semitic tropes, and despite the white supremacists among Mr. Trump’s advisers and supporters. Mr. Trump may not himself be a racist, and Trump voters may not believe they themselves are bigoted, but Mr. Trump used lies, racism, misogyny, xenophobia and Islamophobia to sway voters.
Every Trump voter claims to have voted for the right reasons. To those people I say, if you voted for the man who claimed that Mexican immigrants were rapists and murderers, then you are complicit when a Latino child is threatened with deportation by schoolmates.
If you voted for a man who appealed to white supremacists, who used language right out of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” then you are complicit when a racial epithet is scrawled on a schoolroom door or when a swastika is painted on a synagogue wall.
If you voted for the man who demonized Muslims, then you are complicit when a mosque is burned down.
You are responsible for and complicit in everything this narcissistic, self-serving, authoritarian, willfully ignorant demagogue does.
Yes, your motives in voting for Mr. Trump may have been beyond reproach, but, nevertheless, you are complicit. Now, you have to live with your complicity.
Joyce Denn, Woodbury, Minnesota
ROCKABILLY REDWOOD REMEMBRANCE
The annual Odyssey for equal time
by Joe Don Mooney
Rockabilly guitar legend Scottie Moore who died this year was honored during the Rockabilly Redwood Rendezvous at Scotia over the August 4-7 weekend.
The 11th annual event on Friday featured the Dakota Suds bar band from Mud Butte, South Dakota plus Dante and the Infernos from Furnace Creek, California.
Saturday's performers included Harley and the flatliners from Hollister, California and the Moonlite Rumblers, a local favorite from Cranktown California (formerly Willits).
Back by popular demand the Painted Ladies of Rio Dell joined the entire ensemble in an ancient cleansing ritual to conclude the festivities.
Rendezvous planning at my Rancho Puerco compound on Duncan Peak west of Hopland was complicated this year by my cousin Billy Clyde (Buzz) Mooney, a temporary resident tasked with neutralizing drug cartel pot plantations on the Mendocino National Forest by crop-dusting the flowering pot with male pollen.
I accompanied Buzz on numerous sorties in his powerful Stearman PT-17 crop-duster during early summer and we were apparently successful according to Forest Service spooks.
During the fall, winter and spring, Buzz helped with the livestock and supervised the production of our family elixir Mooneyshine using handcrafted old world copper pot stills fed with primo Scotia cornmeal.
Most of our annual product was transported to the rendezvous by Buddha Bud in a red 1935 Diamond Texaco Doodlebug fuel tanker with Buddy Roach graciously riding shotgun.
In mid-summer Buzz flew back to the Southwest on business which included searching for mothballed World War II AC-47 aircraft many of which were parked in military desert boneyards. The AC-47 aircraft, modified for use as a gunship in Vietnam, was called Spooky and later Puff the Magic Dragon. Always the dreamer, Buzz wants to resurrect Puff to be used against drug cartels.
Before he left for Oklahoma Buzz helped us book his two favorite California bands for rockabilly, Dante and the Infernos, plus Harley and the Flatliners.
Day-Glo autumn light spilled over frosty Duncan Peak on Friday as I prepped for the annual trek to Rockabilly Redwood Rendezvous.
My faithful 1943 Czech Tatra was stuffed with essential camping and travel gear including hooch and weapons.
Sparky, the Rancho’s gargantuan Okie razorback stomped through the compound asserting his authority anticipating my absence.
After final instructions to Sparky I boarded my rig, gunned the powerful engine, and slowly meandered down the scenic road to Highway 101 in Hopland, then drove north to Ukiah (Hookiah) for my traditional Rockabilly pitstop at Bebop's Diner on South State Street.
Bebop's was bopping and I set the rockabilly mood by tossing some nickels in the Wurlitzer: Elvis, Carl Perkins, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Wanda Jackson…
The Rockabilly staff has adopted Bebop’s as home base where rendezvous planning is a weekly event.
After pounding down the big bopper breakfast I ordered some burgers and fries to go then hopped in my roadster and headed north on "scenic" State Street.
Hookiah’s Chamber of Consciousness touts State Street as a "Grand Boulevard" when actually it is a linear junkyard splattered with architectural atrocities: Le Grande Cour de Junque.
City honchos allowed the demolition of North State Street landmark Fjord’s Smorgette to be replaced by a franchise Gastroporn joint called In-N-Out Burger implying that the burgers are so bad you'll upchuck them immediately. Fjord’s was a distinguished example of Swedish modern architecture and should have been granted historical status.
Local boosters have delusions of grandeur, marketing Hookiah as the next Napa while the biggest news in town is the extensive cockroach infestation at the high school. The Ukiah Wildcats are now called the Wildroaches. As a tourist attraction the town should feature cockroach races as sporting events.
Heading north on State Street the ramshackle slums gradually gave way to scenic oak woodlands along Highway 101 punctured by Rockabilly's sacred mountain, Eagle Peak which loomed in the distance.
Motoring up the grade to Ridgewood Summit I was visually shocked as always by the vertical strip mine at Harris Quarry.
Crossing the summit at Calfire headquarters I descended into the mighty Eel River basin, the battleground of stoners struggling to control the pot industry.
Approaching pitstop Willits (Cranktown) from the south I was confronted and confused by an asphalt/concrete pretzel interchange on the new Highway 101 bypass.
After a nifty over and under maneuver I veered north again through a genteel dogpatch of garish billboards, shotgun shacks and trailer parks, then passed a monumental Mormon Tabernacle surrounded by "Roofville," a local suburban housing tract.
To avoid Cranktown, I turned northeast on Baechtel Road, then to East Hill Road — the old AM&D plant which has been purchased by a Chinese investment group to theoretically produce medical pot. The building appears vacant, but the new owners have surrounded the property with an ominous 7-foot fence topped with razor wire.
Across from Microphor manufacturing on East Hill Road the new Howard Hospital medical center looms like the Stalingrad Hilton displaying techno-sleek, cold, soulless authoritarian architecture set in an asphalt sea peppered with drought tolerant plants.
I stopped for a look-see and was pleasantly surprised by the interior decor which included many fine paintings by local artists including Margo Wilson, Janet Raynor, John Klein, Tom Zephyrs, Donna Stroper, and Judy Chance Hope plus some stunning photographs by Steve Eberhart and others.
The hospital staff seemed cheery and efficient but some of the old-timers missed the homey intimate family atmosphere of the original Howard Hospital where medical care was an wholistic team effort rather than a high-tech assembly line. Of course, the old hospital also had a notorious reputation as an outback Peyton Place.
For kicks, local gourmands are praising the hospital’s chow hall as the best restaurant in town.
Completing my detour of Cranktown, the East Side Road and Reynolds Highway through the bucolic splendor of Little Swamp Valley, I noticed that the monstrous Highway 101 bypass was virtually invisible from most of the valley.
When the bypass is officially opened in early November though the tranquility of Little Swamp Valley will be gone forever as high-speed traffic noise rumbles through the countryside.
Heading north on 101 up Oil Well Hill the pastoral landscape abruptly changed to pharmaceutical potscrape. "Entering Asshole Country" as Ralph the Catskinner observed.
In Laytonville (Laidbackville), the local boosters are hoping for significant commercial development once Highway 101 bypasses Cranktown.
Town yahoos will be aced out though by slick megabuck outside developers paying cash for property, outbidding the locals for commercial real estate and ranchland which will be converted to pot plantations.
Past Boomer’s Saloon and the Hog Farm the trusty Tatra zipped along Ten Mile Creek across Rattlesnake Summit then down to Cummings along the South Fork Eel River passing through the Leggett/Smith/Standish Hickey Redwoods and Piercy.
At the Humboldt County line I donned my gas mask, gunned the engine and charged the through Frog’s Camp and the annual KaKa in the River Rastafest. Pot smog had reduced visibility to near zero, but I was able to briefly observe this year's fashion statement: dreadlocked pubic hair.
When safely clear of Kaka I ripped off the mask and gulped fresh pure air on the way to Bongbow for refueling.
At the fuel pump I was approached by a skinny old coot with tufts of nose hair an inch long, enormous foreboding eyebrows and a scruffy gray ponytail. He wore a honey oiled Dead Head tee shirt and drawstring pants that were hitched up under his armpits. His hindquarters had vanished — the victim of "disappearing tush syndrome," the old man’s disease.
His mouth displayed randomly spaced yellow mossy teeth centered in a silly putty face pocked with buckshot. With a breath that could strip wallpaper, he asked:
"Like dude, can you spare a C-note?"
"A Franklin, a hunnert dollar bill. I'm hitching to Kaka, and that’s the entry fee."
"Too rich for me, pal, but I'll give you a pint of my shine. Drink that and you won't need Kaka."
He thanked me and shambled toward a nearby redwood grove, his Huarache sandals leaving a broad wake in the gravel.
I fired up the engine and checked the rearview mirrors to see if Mr. No Butt had vanished. He could have easily circled my right flank and draped himself over the back of my rig.
Feeling safe, I cautiously eased the Tatra onto Highway 101 for a quick pass through Ganjaville (aka Emerald City) the pot capital of Ecodopia. I used to enjoy having chow at the Weedrose Cafe, but the town has devolved into a huggy, smuggy shithole — a AAA-rated pit stop for waves of Mad Max stoners and tweekers.
Approaching Philipsville, the bird-dog Tatra automatically veered onto the scenic Avenue of the Giant Redwoods along the South Fork Eel where I downshifted to low and enjoyed the show.
At Garden Club Grove, I stopped and climbed aboard a massive redwood picnic table and gobbled Bebop burgers and fries with a sip or two of Mooneyshine. Thanks to cretins and the vandals, wooden picnic tables are now a rarity in public parks, replaced by ugly concrete slabs suitable for hard asses only.
Appropriately refreshed and primed for the wild, woolly Rockabilly, I beelined towards Scotia after a brief stop at Shively for some local produce.
The Scotia campground was aswarm with retro revelers guzzling and grilling amidst a sea of vintage autos and camp trailers.
At the front gate I spied a cherry surf green 1957 Chevy Bel Air four-barrel hardtop, and a 1927 Cadillac 314 Roadster V-8 two-tone tan and black. Just past the entry kiosk sat an ebony black 1956 Ford Sunliner convertible with y-block Thunderbird special V-8 engine, fluted chrome side spears, massive chrome bumpers, and an artfully detailed grill with continental spare tire on the back.
The Rockabilly command post was quartered in a fully restored 1937 Hunt House Caravan, the world's first streamline camper.
This year’s best of show display at the parade ground was a candy apple red 1932 Ford Roadster Grand National Deuce convertible with whitewall tires and an Ardun engine.
As I approached the Roadster a terrestrial celestial entity emerged from the rising fog dressed in a Levi denim jacket, red long-tailed shirt and Brando biker boots with a Gene Vincent blue cap tilted over her golden palomino ponytail.
Earth Angel had returned!
We clenched, Mooney-style, then the palavered about our respective lives. She was riding solo on her vintage Indian motorcycle since Trixie Treats went AWOL this year attending a fashion show back east displaying her latest creation.
As we talked, a great roar exploded from the crowd as Buddha Bud and Buddy Roach approached the arena in the Texaco fuel tanker filled with Mooneyshine. The mob was all over them like buzzards on roadkill.
After order was restored the shine was dispensed on a ration of one gallon per person per day.
Buddy Roach looked fearsome as always togged in full black leather Brando biker array including stomper boots and brass knuckles. The amiable Buddha Bud wore his traditional buckskins with Budweiser feed cap and jungle boots.
After a Mooneyshine toast and banter, the Rockabillyers sauntered to the parade ground where Buddha Bud fired his ancient blunderbuss opening the festivities starting with the annual promenade around the miniature livestock arena’s oval track.
The 1932 Grand National Deuce led the parade pulling a vintage redwood hay wagon packed with willowy rockabilly belles from the Redwood Empire Fair togged in red Apache shorts, red and white polka dot deep-six halter tops and knee-high blue suede boots.
In second order the Timpany Drum Corps from Boomsville set cadence as an eager beaver drill team of high kicking local drum majorettes innocently stepped out of their panties as a skirt lifting Marilyn Monroe updraft exposed their rosy pink bottoms which distracted the close quarter Eureka bowling pin jugglers who were bonked by flying pins and thrown into disarray resulting in a twisting pile up of the Arcata unicycle collective.
In an evasive maneuver, the Cranktown Frontier Twirlers square dance troupe do-si-doed backward and were nearly crushed by the following 1947 Texaco KB-5 fire truck carrying Ferndale's Princess Louise of Processed Cheese who was screened from the chaos by two large pink umbrellas with red centers.
Following a hooting, hollering, stomping ballad of applause by the Rockabilly mob, awards were given and the amorphous crowd queued up for evening chow.
After dinner and cocktails the tipsy tribe meandered to the arena amphitheater at sunset for the annual hillbilly rock concert.
Dakota Suds, a weathered, sandblasted five-piece bar band from Mud Butte, South Dakota, wearing tattered Stetsons, opened the show with a staccato set of raunchy boozing tunes including "Spin The Bottle," "G-string Boogie," "Rock Me Baby," "Horizontal Bop," "Goose Bumps," "Move It On Over," "Drinkin’ Wine Spo De O Dee," and closed with the George Thorogood theme song, "One Whiskey, One Scotch, One Beer."
After a raucous cheering and applause, Buddy Roach stomped on stage and asked for a moment of silence for Michael Herr, a Vietnam War correspondent who died this year. Herr wrote "Dispatches" in 1977, a glaringly intense personal account of his 1968 tour in Vietnam that is widely viewed as one of the most visceral and persuasive depictions of the unearthly experiences of war.
Then Buddy introduced Dante and the Infernos, a gray-haired Nam vet road warrior band from Furnace Creek, California, who delivered a spine tingling medley of tunes including "Cool Water," "Hot Rocks," "Tumbling Tumbleweeds," "Race With The Devil," "Riders In The Sky," "Riders On The Storm," "Run Through The Jungle," "Fortunate Son," and "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place."
The rockabilly revelers exploded in a prolonged emotional standing ovation then rallied around the bonfire for cock and bull stories from the bad old days.
Absorbing the fires heat, we quietly passed the Mooneyshine around the horn warming our inner selves.
The discovery of fire by early humans gave them an evolutionary advantage. They huddled around the fire for warmth, light and protection and used the fire for cooking, giving them more calories than from raw foods. The community bonfire was also the place to socialize through the night giving rise to bull sessions and other cultural traditions like human sacrifice.
On the downside, smoke from the fire created significant health hazards including tuberculosis, lung cancer, emphysema, smoker’s breath and global warming, all of which can be cured today by smoking medicinal pot.
Ruminating on Michael Herr’s "Dispatches," Earth Angel broke the silence and described her 1968-1969 tour of duty as an Army nurse with the 312th Evacuation Unit at Chu Lai. Her friend and fellow nurse, second lieutenant Sharon Lane was killed in a rocket attack on the hospital on June 8, 1969 at age 26 — the first American female fatality of the Vietnam War.
This opened up a series of gripping testimonials from other vets including current victims of the Middle East quagmire. Buddy and I, lapsing into terminal numbness, have run out of war stories to tell.
Mesmerized by the lingering embers I recalled the torrential rain that pounded you into the gumbo; the whistle thump of incoming mortar fire; the smell of burning diesel fuel and shit; the chatter of an M-60; the scream of the scramble siren in the middle of the night; the whistle of a 122 mm rocket incoming; and the eerie ghosts on night patrol which were probably the phosphorescence that gathers around rotting tree trunks and sends pulsing light over the ground from one damp spot to another.
As the last coal flickered out we withdrew and stumbled in the darkness to our bivouac.
Saturday, well after dawn, in the deep sunshine I strolled to the Rockabilly command post for Buddha Bud's notorious breakfast featuring flapjacks the size of dinner plates cooked in a cast iron skillet on a Jumbo Webber barbecue grill topped with fruit and maple syrup, greased with jet black rancho coffee.
To burn off the gut load I joined the Earth Angel in a brisk walkabout through the Scotia miniature livestock arena where rockabilly artisans were engaged in various creative pursuits — jam sessions, spear chucking, mule shoe pitching, tractor tire ring toss, machete throwing, tomahawk carving, toe stomping and arm wrestling.
Earth Angel was trying to unwind a after a stressful year at Mendo Coast Hospital which is broke and reducing staff. Morale is low and patients suffer while management floats above it all.
She is also involved in reforming the County animal shelter which has too much incarceration and euthanasia and not enough animal friendly activities.
Her biggest frustration is the failure to organize a doo-wop festival in Mendopia village which bans unsophisticated music. There are local doo-wop groups forming but they have no place to perform for a crowd.
I advised her to forget Mendopia village and try Fort Drag which has two live music venues, the Head-On Cafe and the Northtown Brewery tap room and grill which is operated by Dig Mooty a musicologist and doo-wop aficionado.
After noon chow, the rockabilly mob swarmed the arena for the alternative Olympic fun and games where all contestants received fool’s gold medallions and outstanding performances were acknowledged by a panel of judges wearing blindfolds.
The Prius tractor pull was predictably a dud. The doo-wop contest featured a stunning display by Waddling Tom from Turkey, Texas. The leapfrog contest was canceled because none of the other contestants could leap over Sister Boom Boom and Big Momma Mia, the flatten-’em blonde.
The beheading contest was dominated by Gunnar Gezuntheit from Spitzenberg West Germany who blew the head off a Guinness Stout in three seconds flat. The trampoline striptease star performer was Leaping Lena, the vamp of Covina.
The grand finale jousting contest was a kiddy favorite featuring porker chivalry of the highest order. To see the many hedgehogs disguised as knights in shining armor riding guinea pigs is a treat beyond description.
The contestants were given a warm round of applause as dusk engulfed the arena while the chow bell clanged beckoning the ravenous revelers to recharge with Buddha Bud's notorious roadkill stew and all the fixings.
With full bellies and fuzzy heads, the rockabilly rabble filtered into the amphitheater for the evening’s tribute to Scottie Moore.
After a hooting, hollering hooray, Buddy Roach strolled onstage to appeal for another moment of silence for our honored musician, legendary guitarist Scottie Moore who passed away in June of 2016. He was a blue-chip rockabilly pioneer according to the New York Times music reporter William Grimes who remembered Moore in a lengthy obituary.
Scottie Moore refused to take any credit for Elvis Presley's success, claiming that Bill Black’s slap bass was more influential since Elvis sang like Bill played.
Breaking the silence by breaking wind, Buddy introduced the Moonlight Ramblers, a local band from Cranktown featuring the alluring Beatrix Snelling, a blonde Wanda Jackson on vocals and lead guitar, Hal Waggit on vocals and rhythm guitar, Dave Gowan on alto sax, John Markian on piano, Thumper Gibbs on drums and Rhythm Ron Moss on bass.
Dressed to kill in Frontier Days finery — embroidered satins and fringed suede — the Ramblers opened with Wanda Jackson's anthem, "Let's Have A Party" then followed with Scottie Moore's 1954 song "My Kind Of Carryin’ On" and the Elvis breakthrough tune "That's Alright."
After a thundering applause the Ramblers followed with a closing medley of Elvis hits from 1956: "Heartbreak Hotel," "My Baby Left Me," "So Glad You’re Mine," "Love Me," "Too Much," "Hound Dog," "I Want You I Need You," "I Got A Woman," "Good Rocking Tonight," and “Money Honey."
With the standing crowd wildly cheering, the whole ensemble gathered onstage and sang that Carl Perkins rockabilly anthem "Blue Suede Shoes."
Then the animated crowd welcomed the notorious painted ladies of Rio Dell — ten pigtailed cuties in moccasins wearing full body paint depicting Indian motifs chanting and thumping tom-toms performing the Plains Indian rain dance ritual.
As the thundering tom-tom crescendo rumbled through the arena an ominous blanket of dense fog engulfed the amphitheater reducing light to mere flickers.
Immersed in blackness, the anxious crowd began to panic until a series of eerie glowing lights appeared in the heavens gradually descending, casting bright illumination throughout the amphitheater.
The haybale stage was soon set ablaze by the descending objects causing the rockabilly fire brigade to hose the stage, drowning the fires and cleansing the painted ladies who bowed to a cheering crowd then led a bare ass snake dance around the bonfire to dry off.
A bonfire confab soon assembled and entered into a heated exchange between true believers on the evolution of rockabilly music.
Most "experts" agree that rockabilly music evolved out of postwar country boogie, hillbilly and R&B also termed "race music." During the 10 years between the mid-40s and mid-50s then disparate musical styles cross-pollinated and developed the hybrid known as rockabilly.
Many mainstream country musicians helped propagate the country boogie sound, but Hank Williams was a major contributor to the evolution of rockabilly. His no-nonsense honky-tonk hillbilly sound incorporating steel guitar and acoustic bass influences inspired a whole generation of rockabilly performers.
The slack bass sound, an integral part of rockabilly, was utilized by Fred Maddox in the 40s and Bill Haley in the early 50s when Bill Black developed his style during a three-year stint with the Starlight Wranglers where he played with guitarist Scottie Moore before they both joined Elvis on the fateful day in 1954 at Sun Records in Memphis to record "That's Alright."
The bonfire bull session lingered into the wee hours when loaded, weary revelers gradually retreated to their comfy fart sacks at the campground.
Well past daybreak on Sunday I crawled out of my bivi-bag, splashed some cold water on my puckered face and joined the lemminglike mass of sinners shuffling to the high noon sunrise service at the magnificent fellowship at the magnificent Scotia Cathedral Redwood Grove.
The inspirational service was presented by the doomer preacher from the bleak lagoon who warned of the oncoming dark age and commanded us to get our affairs in order. Like fer sure, Rev., but affairs are always messy and can’t easily be put in order.
After church the rendezvous road show began as the arena cleared and a parade of vintage vehicles crawled through the entryway and onto Highway 101 for dispersal.
The rockabilly staff toured the arena searching for abandoned drunks, then assembled for post event assessment giving thumbs up all around.
Buddha Bud was praised for his culinary skills and special effects which involved Hollywood wind and fog machines and military parachute flairs.
Earth Angel was thanked for her storytelling, animal handling, and medical skills.
Buddy Roach was profusely thanked or using uncommon restraint while keeping order.
I was honored for Mooneyshine, planning and booking.
After enjoying a traditional logger’s buffet served by the colorful painted ladies of Rio Dell, Buddy and I bid farewell to the rockabilly staff, stowed our gear and leftover chow in the Tatra then motored south along the Avenue of the Giant Redwoods to Ganjaville, the Emerald City, where we veered east on Alder Point Road for a torturous climb to Harris near Pratt Mountain Lookout, then south along Mail Ridge via Bell Springs Road, the notorious "Thunder Road" of Ecodopia.
The circuitous route was chosen to avoid the stench and traffic congestion at KaKa in the river.
Entering pot thug country, we were armed to the teeth. Buddy, riding shotgun, had changed to full camo including flak jacket and cradled a handmade 12 gauge streetsweeper loaded with 00 buckshot. I packed my .45 service pistol in the shoulder holster and had a loaded M-16 easily within reach in the rear seat with extra clips in the footwell. For kicks we also had an M-79 grenade launcher (blooper) for special occasions.
Riding ridge in asshole country is spooky since you are an easy target from four directions.
Buddy was stone silent and hyper alert scanning the terrain like a falcon. I wondered if he remembered when we were pinned down on Mutters Ridge without support for resupply or medevac.
Mail Ridge is a long divide between the Main Fork and South Fork of the Eel River traversing sparsely forested areas and open woodlands. Views in all directions are spectacular displaying rugged mountains and multiple shades of green in the distance and rampant potscraping in the foreground.
Just past the Island Mountain Road junction we were nearly sideswiped by a camo deuce and a half packed with armed guards and pot stuff making a kidney busting full throttle run down Thunder Road trailing a rooster tail of dust. Buddy wanted to shoot, but thought better of it.
After crawling up the ridge to Bell Springs (elevation 3860) we stopped for a whiz and dust off. In the near distance we spied the infamous "Rock Pit" where local stoners pow-wow and exchange grow hos.
Bell Springs is home to the notorious Swami Fullabaloney who reportedly bulldozed an ancient Indian village site and planted it with "medicinal cannabis." The Swami has prosecutorial immunity due to his political connections. Sounds like a mission impossible job for Buzz Bob Mooney and Puff the Magic Dragon.
After Bell Springs, Buddy took the wheel and maneuvered the Tatra over rugged two-track jeep trails in the Blue Rock Creek drainage to his stronghold at Two Rock Ranch where he serves as unofficial mayor of Spy Rock.
After some rockabilly chow and a Mooneyshine chaser I departed and eased the Tatra down the winding Spy Rock Road to Highway 101 then drove south over Rattlesnake Summit toward the future metropolis of Laidbackville.
Shifting into overdrive I leaned back and reviewed the wild weekend. In a presidential election year featuring two fat, ugly, rich, despicable, mendacious, sociopath candidates, there was virtually no political discussion at the rendezvous — the rigged election being a contest between equal evils.
The rockabilly nation is a state of mind within and apart from the American nation. We reject the American way of life that Dick Cheney said "is not negotiable."
It's ominous and sad that Rockabilly 2016 featured memorials to those who have recently passed away. But while most rockabilly bands are getting long in the tooth, the music will live forever.
Approaching Laidbackville, I hit full red alert and luckily passed through without getting caught in a pot thug crossfire on my way to Cranktown.
Entering north Little Swamp Valley I passed the Reynolds Highway turn off. I was shocked to see the Highway 101 bypass northern interchange emerge like a behemoth in a rendition of Frisco's Vallaincourt Fountain. An ancient Indian village site was brutally bulldozed to accommodate this atrocity.
Passing through a gauntlet of garish billboards and tacky buildings I eased into Cranktown central business district dominated by the derelict, bat infested, haunted Van Helsing Hotel — a Halloween tourist attraction.
Cranktown was once a hard drinking cowboy-logger town called Willits which was dubbed in "Skunktown" when the pot industry took over in the 1970s. Since meth has gradually become the intoxicant of choice, the benighted berg is now known as Cranktown.
At the town square on Commercial Street I stopped to whiz at the centrally located concrete block public toilet. This demoralizing filthy shithouse replaced an attractive historical bandstand which featured town concerts and other events. I presume these are now performed on top of the shithouse.
Adding insult to injury the stately trees surrounding the square have been mercilessly butchered for "public safety."
The chirpy chicks at the town’s chamber of consciousness, oblivious to the past, were pumped up by the new 101 freeway bypass and how it will generate a Cranktown Renaissance. How can you revive something that was dead on arrival?
The hideous bypass will officially open — appropriately enough — on Halloween when a farm to table harvest dinner will be served on the freeway viaduct to a hundred local foodies willing to cough up 100 bucks each for the gastronomic gala which the local Indians have dubbed "Heap Big Eat."
Opponents of the bypass — the ganja rent-a-mob — plan to create havoc at the foodfest, dropping turds in the pu9nch bowl and starting an Animal House food fight.
The big issue in Cranktown is how to "re-brand" the town after the bypass opens. Vacant buildings are a significant blight problem now and vacancies will increase as through traffic is diverted around the business district creating a domino ghost town effect. The Cranktown arch now says, "Gateway to the Redwoods." Maybe it should say, "Gateway to nowhere."
Running late I took a quick walkabout through downtown and was actually surprised by the rich cultural diversity and friendly people who were all infected with terminal pot giggles. A town of extremes, from hippy to Rotundian.
Cranktown actually has a snug and tacky charm and is inhabited by a loose coalition of mutually hostile tribes who somehow coexist in relative peace. It reminds me of the Oklahoma towns of my youth. I hope they don't tart it up into a phony theme park like Mendopia village. For a Cranktown theme how about "A real town for real people"?
My escape route followed Main Street South from Commercial Street past Highway 20 turnoff then along a depressing gauntlet called "The Miracle Mile" past junk food joints, seedy motels, tire shops, body shops, chop shops, smoke shops, beauty shops, gun shops, donut shops, barber shops, head shops, RV lots, thrift stores, auto parts stores, camping stores, hardware stores, nail salons, tanning salons, tattoo parlors, laundromats, car washes, gas stations, strip malls and an "Evergreen shopping center" all "miraculously" coalesced into a hodgepodge jumble of American vernacular architecture — another linear junkyard to rival Hookiah’s State Street.
Past Cranktown, gliding up and over Ridgewood Summit, I again saluted Eagle Peak and settled in for a smooth run through Coyote Valley, the wannabe Napa.
At Hopland’s Bluebird Cafe my annual homecoming dinner was served by the voluptuous Tweety. After polishing off an armadillo burger special and a generous glass of Milano Zinger Zin, I finished with a wedge of blueberry pie and a mug of Gold Rush black then thanked the staff and departed for the winding drive up Duncan Peak.
Rancho Puerco was still shipshape thanks to Sharpie and his crew who were anxiously awaiting their ration of Buddha Bud’s roadkill stew.
After feeding the hogs, unpacking and stowing my gear, I retired on the veranda for a Mooneyshine nightcap.
Rays from the setting sun had induced a penumbra around Duncan Peak which cast a lengthening shadow in the Sanel Valley below.
Rockabilly XI was another smashing success thanks to a dedicated staff and a loyal army of regulars from across the country.
We’ll soon invade Bebop’s again to start planning next year's event which may include an appearance by Puff the Magic Dragon.