Off the Record (May 24, 2017)

by AVA News Service, May 24, 2017

I WONDER if it ever occurs to the young whippersnappers who comprise most of Mendocino County media these days to apply their critical faculties to press releases, especially the dependably self-congratulatory press releases issued by local government, the press releases the whip-snaps re-write, when they bother, and present as news. Any young person with sound instincts should turn up the laff track every time anyone person in elected office issues a public statement.

READING AND LISTENING to one recent morning's torrent of unchallenged bullshit from a variety of public agencies, all of it accepted as plausible by most local media, especially KZYX where a slack-jawed credulity has reigned for a quarter century, I heard and read how Assemblyman Wood's commitment to his constituents had persuaded the governor to allocate $1.5 million to clean up after the criminals growing pot on public land. The money will be divided among Humboldt, Mendo and Trinity counties. There was no mention and, of course, no one asked, if the money was sufficient to the task, and who exactly would be doing the clean-up. Upshot? The way the grant was reported assumed that Wood was a veritable dynamo of a public servant and Jerry Brown was…. well, Brown’s been getting over now for sixty years talking left, acting right.

THE MOST IRRITATING local renditions of press releases, to me anyway, have to do with homeless services, the latest chatter being about showers for Ukiah's ever larger population of free range drunks and drug addicts, people who used to be confined to mental institutions where at least some of them regained themselves. Implicit these days in the homeless conversation is the inalienable right of deranged people to live on the street. All the self-serving nonsense we get from the helping pros on the subject is passed along by local media unchallenged, as if it’s all plausible, as if the helping pros had any idea about what to do about “meeting the challenge of homelessness.”

THE ONLY PLACE where the assumption prevails that there are effective programs addressing the home is among the people paid to "serve" the homeless and their stenographers in local media. Everyone else is fully aware that nothing is being done to arrest the growth of homelessness, and even more aware that the true situation is that public subsidies are underwriting pathological behavior. To me, it's a toss-up of who's more pathological, the helping professionals who put out a steady drip-drip of self-serving blah-blah about what a swell job they're doing, or the lazy young dummies who pass it along as "news."

LAST WEEK, we heard how the usual Ukiah-based non-profits were organizing a shower installation for the unbathed homeless. The assumption was that the unwashed desired an occasional hygienic tune-up. Of course they do, and what’s the complication about providing them?

SO, according to local media a few days ago, the helping pros not only had a location for their free shower program all lined up, they were engaged in earnest discussions of protocols — coed bathing or single-sex? Washing machines for engrimed clothing while the homeless showered? Towels provided? And so on. But we soon learned that one of Ukiah's innumerable water agencies wanted more money than is available to hook up service. No showers could be erected at that location, and so it's back to day-long donut meetings to come up with alternatives, the most likely one being no showers for the homeless ever.

A FEW MONTHS AGO, the helping professionals were talking about a "tiny houses" project that would shelter the homeless. There were the usual earnest discussions of how the tiny houses, all located in one spot, perhaps on deep South State Street in the neighborhood of the Animal Shelter, would be managed. The homeless person would, of course, have to be managed, and he certainly couldn't be loaded coming and going from his teensy abode, and on and on. The upshot? Tiny houses are permanently on hold.

(EUREKA has housed a bunch of homeless people in cleverly re-tooled shipping containers. A clever re-tooler of shipping containers does business on South State Street. Maybe Ukiah’s million dollar city managers could lead the town’s helping pros on a field trip to Mr. Shipping Container’s business…..)

UKIAH pays for more government per citizen than, I daresay, any town its size in the United States. Why isn't the prodigiously compensated city manager and his enabling city council (the least capable elected officials presently operating in Mendocino County, with tiny Point Arena running a close second) trying to come up with something resembling a homeless strategy?

I'D SAY because, in the current social-political context, there isn't a solution other than stop gap strategies for a few homeless such as Eureka’s shipping container community. State and federal government aren't even talking about what to do about the growing number of homeless people, many of them permanently crippled by combinations of mental illness and substance abuse. The starting assumption ought to be, We're on our own, so now what do we do about the problem as it affects us?

FIRST, ignore the non-profit grant gobblers and public money-dependent doers of 9-5 good. They are an obstacle to effective management of dependent persons. The Supervisors and the elected councils of Fort Bragg, Ukiah and Willits should direct their lushly compensated management teams to look at the problem of the homeless from this simple perspective: We've got to get people unable or unwilling to help themselves off the streets. How best to do that without going more bankrupt than we already are?

WELL, how about you, Mr. Negative? What would you do? First off, I’d support Sheriff Allman's psych ward and establish a mandatory fenced, modular neighborhood next door to the jail for transients of the habitually impaired type. Prior to World War Two that’s what Mendocino County did, or a version thereof in Mendo’s case; Mendo maintained a county farm for the incompetent at Bush and Low Gap where the habituals were housed and where they earned their keep, growing vegetables and milking a few cows.

DA EYSTER WRITES: “Lori Ajax, chief of California’s new Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation headquartered in Sacramento, says ‘the state’ [read: local prosecutors and all law enforcement agencies] must aggressively root out black market pot in order for the legitimate industry to thrive. This message should set expectations for those who continue to be there or are venturing into the new frontier. Play by the new rules or expect old-fashion criminal litigation," said Eyster.

TRANSLATION: Pot raids will continue as usual, as will “interdictions,” settlements, cash trades in lieu of prosecutions. Permitted growers, depending on what the feds do, will be exempt from raids if, as in the tradition of protection rackets, they’re paid up with the County of Mendocino. The County of Mendocino is as income-dependent on dope as the growers themselves.

JAMES MARMON WRITES: “The Elephant in the middle of the room. Here’s the story, there is no housing shortage in Ukiah. I would venture to guess that at least half the rentals in Ukiah are occupied by illegal immigrants, and are subsidized by government funding.  It’s amazing how many original Ukiah residents I meet over here in Lake County. We all have the same story, we can’t afford to live over there anymore. If you are from Ukiah and want to know whatever happened to so and so, just drive over here to Lake County and look around. There’s a good bet you will run across them either at the Dollar Tree or Grocery Outlet. James Marmon, Clearlake Resident.”

ED REPLY: Mr. Marmon, here’s an opinion for you and your fellow Lake County exiles to mull over: The problem with America’s white working class is not illegals — it’s their own lack of class consciousness, to begin at the beginning. In most countries of the world, Europe certainly, people who sell their labor to live band with other people who sell their labor to live to defend themselves. Here? The big crybabies line up with billionaires like Dumpf and whine about illegals, or whatever else Fox News tells them to wah, wah, wah about. The very next time I hear some cranked-out, tattooed oaf blame his own sloth and general lack of discipline on Mexicans…..

MARMON fires back: "Money talks, bullshit walks, Mr. Anderson. I force myself to watch CNN one hour a day, at noon, when Shepard Smith is on FOX.”

ED REPLY: Fox News and CNN? No wonder you can’t think straight.

BAD VIBES seem on the increase. Purely anecdotal, of course, but bad traffic, bad feeling, bad manners all seem to be on the rise. A friend told me stories about being flipped off in and around Boonville for the offense of driving within the speed limit. She's an older lady, the flippers were young men who, I guess, don't have mothers or grandmothers.

THIS VERY WEDNESDAY morning, I was tooling along 101 southbound to Healdsburg Printing. It was a little before 6am. I like to fit in a couple of miles of fast-walk exercise before 9 when the paper's ready for pick-up, so I get out the door about 5. So, the garrulous old coot continues, there I am driving about 70 in the fast lane when I see a white passenger vehicle looming up at warp speed in my rear vision mirror and, as I turn into the slow lane to make way for the rocket ship, I'm startled to find this nut passing me on my right, leaving me behind in a cloud of dirt, dust and rock gravel. Why didn't he simply stay in the fast lane? Who knows? What I do know is we both came within an inch or so of disaster. I'm sure we all have comparable stories of motorists behaving badly, and we probably all agree bad public behavior generally is on the increase.

BILL BRADD READS NEW WORK. Bill Bradd Reads From "Continent of Ghosts." On Thursday May 26th from 4 to 6 PM at the Caspar Community Center Bill. There is no charge for this event.


(1) You are going to love this. Outside a sporting goods/outdoor equipment mega store, a parking space somewhat closer to the entrance, with a sign, Reserved for Expecting Mothers. Not sure what an expecting mother is, but I’m thinking any woman so heavily pregnant she has difficulty walking from the parking lot, isn’t going to find it crucial to stop by a place selling cheap fishing lures and kayaks. About time a vet got put on the Supervisor's board. And she's a double vet, too, what with her years in the Air Force. Next time my lumbago acts up I know who I'm going to see!

(2) A short remembrance: it’s really a shame that the epithet “clod” has fallen out of usage these days. In its heyday it was a one word conversation stopper, especially when coming from someone of authority. I guess it was the fact that the sound of the word and its meaning were so perfectly aligned: a one word utterance that signified its target was as dumb and unsophisticated as a clod of dirt.

(3) Far be it from me to stand in the way of “progress” but what has this key driving force of the post-industrial era actually created? In the field of information technology we have twitter, snapchat, instagram, youtube, skype, to name a few. Sometimes convenient, sometimes informative for sure, but mostly frivolity and fluffery, you know, cute cat videos from Japan, or guilty dogs, you’ve seen them, cowering German Shepherds that tore up the shower curtains or ate the steak. Bad dog, but we love you anyway. And internet porn. What innovations have they brought in the field of education? Kids that don’t know their multiplication tables, that can’t spell, that can’t do cursive, that can’t read and process and distill information from a book because their analytic abilities dried up in the face of wikipedia. And snowflake ninnies curled up in “safe-spaces” demanding recognition for their “pain” from endlessly solicitous colleges. What has this “creative class” brought in the field of finance? A multitude of mini-Madoffs at bank branches, a flood of fraud in the real estate business, a plague of economy choking derivatives. And electronics so prone to identity and cyber-theft that the oft-repeated claim that crime is at historic lows is what it seems, a blatant out-and-out lie. And this “creative class” gave us so much innovation in the economic sphere: airbnb and uberization and taskrabbiting, glorified taxi-driving and room-letting and handymanning, the last resort for people desperate for money. End of the road capitalism, as one of the other commenters called these. Not reading is not good. Not knowing your times tables is not progress. I don’t care how many mothers insist otherwise, who give testimonials about their wonderful daughters with degrees in actuarial science but who don’t know nine times eight. They say it doesn’t matter. I say it does. You don’t know nine times eight? And you know actuarial science? I’m sorry, you don’t even qualify as cashier, not in any sane society. Yeah, rote learning’s a drag, but bite the bullet and get out the flash cards because the kiddies need to know their times tables. And they need to be able to affix their signature on a document. Like an apartment rental.

(4) The election of Trump was an attempt by the goobers (red states) to deal with the oligarchy created in Washington DC. They acted out of ignorance, not understanding that both parties are corrupted beyond repair, and that the current conditions that prevail will not bring power to the people. In trying to undo the damage, they voted in a man who is not only ignorant, but mentally incapable of doing the job he was elected for. G.W. Bush was stupid (elected by the red states), almost destroyed the country, and was replaced by Obama, who was almost completely owned by wall street, and did nothing to curb the power of the Goldman Sachs type companies, and who continue to prevail. He now makes speeches for $400,000 dollars an hour. It’s payback time for Wall Street, and they appear to be delivering as promised. The Red State people are not sophisticated enough to realize that they have elected a madman. They believed his rhetoric, and thought that this was a way out of the mess that this country has become. I have no idea as to how this will play out in the future, but I doubt that it will be pleasant. Expect the worst and hope for the best.

(5) A couple of months ago I was walking through a large crowd toward the art museum when an elderly woman bumped into me and started making conversation. Since she seemed so intent on talking I asked her if she would like to pop into the cafe across the street and that I would pay ( she also looked to be a bit down on her luck as a result of a fixed income in an area of rising rents.)

Anyway, as we began to talk she told me she used to model at the Art Student’s League about ten years ago and I suddenly realized that I had painted her at one point. We began to discuss some of the instructors and student’s names and boldly enough, she brazenly told me how she would position and reveal herself to the painters she considered attractive. Based on that comment I tried to recall if she ever gave me a full frontal view but I could not recall. Since she was talking brave and bold, I came out and asked if at her age she still had a desire for sex. She told that indeed she did and furthermore confessed that it was a problem that clouded her judgement. I don’t know why but at this point, for right or wrong, that familiar siren and strange radar went off in my head: Stalker.

I supposed I have learned via hard experience that sometimes ‘you just have to let them pass on by’. What started off as sort of serendipitously sensuous turned rather cool. And yet I still felt sorry for this old woman of 74, living on a fixed income and in what I was told was a rougher section of town. And to compound my sympathy, I could very clearly tell that her memory was failing. As our our gathering was coming to a close, I realized that I had painted this woman’s portrait at some point and that I was sure I still had it. Before leaving I asked her if I could give her some money just because I felt like it. I could tell that she was crying and she accepted my offer so I gave her thirty bucks. I also asked, since she was obviously lonely and socially isolated, if she would like to visit the museum the next Sunday at the same time. She seemed very eager and kept repeating the time to herself so as not to forget–she didn’t have any hi-tech gadgets or even a pen and paper. She assured me that she would remember and I said, “good, I also have something I want to give to you.” Well, next Sunday came and after a full week of processing this strange meeting I really wasn’t that excited about going but the thought of standing up this lonely woman was just too cruel to ponder and live with and so I went. I must have waited for a good hour for her to show but she never did. I wrote it off to her memory or perhaps she just decided she would rather not. I sort of laughed and felt a bit sad all at the same time. Her portrait was going home with me, forever turned to the wall and never to be seen again.

ACCORDING TO ITSELF, the Press Democrat won 15 awards in  a state newspaper contest. The PD took firsts in the following categories:

1. Most puff pieces on wine industry

2. Most quarter-page photos of "cute" dogs

3. Most photos of "cute" children

4. Most front page photos of cute children running through sprinklers

5. Most photos of wine bottles

6. Most photos of florid-faced rich people drinking wine

7. Most columns by editors about their pets

8. Most photos of kittens

9. Most editorial statements of the obvious

10. Most delusional assumptions per "news" story (Sonoma County is rural being the primary fantasy)

11. Most pages devoted to food

12. Most celebrations of depraved-looking rich people eating food

13. Most wine stories with no mention of labor

14. Most stories about "celebrities"

15. Most press releases disguised as news

One Response to Off the Record (May 24, 2017)

  1. Eric Sunswheat Reply

    May 24, 2017 at 10:00 am

    As far as the 1.5 million dollars for cleanup in the Emerald Triangle, that is plenty to start. Keep in mind the context, it is seed money to prime the pump, of restoration and recovery. Many more millions may eventually flow, from prior years enactment of draconian fines lobbied by Koch and interlocking timber interests, to be levied on private properties and bad actors, found by a multitude of government agencies, as well as funds from a cut on the affiliated emerging plush revenue from state and county specific sales taxes, earmarked by enabling legislation and opinion balloting. So go ahead, belly ache all you want AVA, but please keep in context your ire of press releases. XXX The Ukiah homeless shower wastewater hookup fee, may be reduced to a more economical camping rate, with limited daytime hours of use. Also, as the proposed Plowshares showers laundry location is intended to be of one time temporary use for less than six month, hookup fees would be refunded upon cessation, (or other grant monies found for continued use). AVA probably has more current info, and probably could enlighten us of benefits with cleanliness for the dispossessed, as a gentle inducement towards positive lifestyle and habitual choices, while climate shift puts more of the human race on the move, as living conditions humiliate and degenerate the body politic, to where we are at today. Plan for the California earthquakes.

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