Mendocino County Today: Sunday, Sep. 3, 2017
by AVA News Service, September 3, 2017
HERE WE GO....
"They only understand one thing": Trump comes out fighting and agrees to "military response" after North Korea celebrates its most powerful nuclear test ever and sparks 6.3 magnitude quake.
112 DEGREES AGAIN in Boonville on Saturday. Hot temps dominated the area Saturday, similar to Friday. Temps are supposed to drop a bit for a still hot Sunday, then return to something like “normal” of the next few days.
THERE WAS A REPORT OF A ‘HEAT INJURY,’ suffered by a 38 year old male in Anderson Valley Saturday afternoon. Helicopter was called to export the fellow for help. There was an unspecified Medical Aid on Mountain View Road. Friday night (after a very hot day, even in Navarro), an 87 year old woman in Navarro was found “down” in her home who had been there for an estimated two days. We don’t have many details, but the scanner said she was airlifted to the Ukiah Hospital. So she must have been alive enough for the air-ambulance transport.
EQUIPMENT BREAKDOWNS have also made emergency responder work harder than it already was due to the heat. An AV firefighter strike team engine on assignment to a fire in Six Rivers National Forest up near Trinity broke down and is still broken down as of Saturday night because making arrangements to obtain a replacement for the broken specialized component is very time consuming. (Apparently, somebody has to drive to Redding, the nearest parts supply house, to get the part then drive it up to Trinity where a mechanic will have to be found to install it and test the repaired fire engine.) Meanwhile the Strike Team crew is out of service while semi-stranded up north.
ALSO, the local AV Ambulance has broken down several times lately taking the years-old vehicle out of service for days at a time. As of Saturday night the AV Ambulance is in Ukiah undergoing repairs and out of service. Anderson Valley ambulance crews have been operating with a loaner from Medstar Ambulance in Ukiah while their home-unit is under repair. (Money to replacement the AV Ambulance has been set aside and accumulated over the last few years and the Fire Department is currently planning to procure a replacment within the next year or so.)
* * *
MILLER FIRE IN HUMBOLDT COUNTY, about ten miles northeast of Leggett Update: Reported to be 100% contained by Saturday afternoon at under 35 acres.
PETS OF THE WEEK!
EDDIE is on the prowl for his new family. This little character is a 3 month old, male kitten with a big personality. He loves to be held and wants to explore everything! With his outgoing personality and love of attention he is sure to a big hit in his new home.
Simba is a 2 year old, neutered male dog weighing in at 70 pounds. He is an energetic boy looking for a home where he gets regular exercise and lots of attention. As a puppy, Simba did not get to socialize enough with other dogs--something every canine needs. When we took him out in our mulit-dog play group, we observed that Simba is a dog who really wants to play with other dogs, but just doesn't know how. We're not saying he can't be in a home with other dogs--in fact, a forgiving dog might help him adjust--but a meet and greet is required before adoption. To see more photos are read more about Simba, go to his bio page on the shelter's website: http://www.mendoanimalshelter.com/dogblog/simba-O7jdJ
The Ukiah Animal Shelter is located at 298 Plant Road in Ukiah; adoption hours are Tuesday - Saturday 10 am to 4:30 pm and Wednesday till 6:30 pm. To view photos and bios of our adoptable dogs and cats, please us visit online at www.mendoanimalshelter.com or visit the shelter. Join us the 2nd Saturday of every month for our "Empty the Shelter" pack walk and help us get every dog out for some exercise! For more information about adoptions please call 707-467-6453
Esso is the name under which Exxon/Mobil trades in many parts of the world outside North America. As part of their "Don't buy Esso, Don't buy Exxon/Mobil" campaign launched in 2001, Greenpeace developed a parody of Esso's logo with a double dollar sign: E$$O. Esso took Greenpeace to court for copyright infringement, claiming their Stop Esso website would "confuse customers" into thinking they were at a real Esso site. Esso also attempted to claim that the logo made them look like Nazis, claiming a visual similarity between two dollar signs and the stylized Nazi SS symbol. In 2004, the court ruled that the parody of the Esso logo was within acceptable limits of freedom of expression, rejecting Esso's claims of trademark infringement.
AS RECORD BREAKING FLOODS are causing countless deaths and billions of dollars of destruction from India to Texas, many government officials continue to deny that fossil fuels accelerate global warming which is causing the extreme weather, and the corporate press still will not say the words "climate change" on air.
BUT WITH EVERY YEAR that elapses since the war the pace grows sharper, the music more strident, the manners more gauche. We are being screwed up to a pitch where with every slightest turn we create a rasping noise. The machines are well oiled, but not ourselves.
— Henry Miller
MOVIE AT THE AV GRANGE
Anderson Valley Film Club will host Jesse Wakeman for the screening of his latest film, “Donald Cried,” 7:30 PM, Friday, September 22, at the Anderson Valley Grange in Philo. Wakeman has a lead acting role in the film and, along with Kyle Espeleta, were part of the creative team that made the film. Both young men grew up in Anderson Valley. “Donald Cried” was selected as a “Critic’s Pick” by the New York Times and Washington Post. Admission is free. There will be an opportunity to meet Wakeman and ask questions after the film. The film is rated for mature audiences.
"HOW WIDESPREAD is this promiscuous devotion to the untrue? How many Americans now inhabit alternate realities? Any given survey of beliefs is only a sketch of what people in general really think. But reams of survey research from the past 20 years reveal a rough, useful census of American credulity and delusion. By my reckoning, the solidly reality-based are a minority, maybe a third of us but almost certainly fewer than half…”
KURT ANDERSEN makes a strong case in the current Atlantic that about two-thirds of our fellow citizens are, to varying degrees, batshit. Applied to Mendo, Andersen's theory would reveal, in my direct experience, that maybe 20% of the population could be described as reality-based, as we note the strong correlation between ava readers and people capable of taking the bull by the tail and looking reality square in the puss.
ANDERSEN CONTINUES: "Only a third of us, for instance, don't believe that the tale of creation of Genesis is the word of God. Only a third strongly disbelieve in telepathy and ghosts. Two-thirds of Americans believe that angels and demons are active in the world. More than half say they're absolutely certain heaven exists, and just as many are sure of the existence of a personal God — not a vague force or universal spirit or higher power, but some guy…"
THE AUTHOR provides a kind of credulity checklist, and in no particular order:
- Global warming is a hoax.
- Our ancestors were just like us, not the more talented monkeys.
- The government is hiding evidence of natural cancer cures.
- Visitors from outer space.
- Vaccines cause autism (Very big in Mendo).
- Trump won the popular vote.
- Obama was not a citizen and the anti-Christ besides.
- The government is engaged in mind-control experiments.
- There are witches. (Also big in Mendo.)
- The government was complicit in the 9/11 attack.
- KZYX is free speech, listener-supported public radio.
- These are The Last Days (Article of faith at the ava.)
ANDERSEN concludes: "Why are we like this? The short answer is because we're Americans — because being American means we can believe anything we want; that our beliefs are equal or superior to anyone else's, experts be damned. Once people commit to that approach, the world turns inside out, and no cause-and-effect connection is fixed. The credible becomes incredible and the incredible credible."
“I have never voted in my life... I have always known and understood that the idiots are in a majority so it's certain they will win.”
― Louis-Ferdinand Céline
ENCOUNTERS OF A TRUMP KIND
I had a lecture gig in a city called Vero Beach in Florida: big audience, older people, quite affluent, very well educated, and almost all Trump voters. Not at all the cliche of the ignorant blue-collar Trump voter. These were people with college degrees who’d had highly paid jobs, many retired, readers. When I mentioned climate change this gentleman — they were all very courteous — disagreed with me and he said: ‘When you say that all the scientists agree on this, that’s not true.’ And I said: ‘Yeah, it is true actually.’ And he said: ‘No it’s not.’ And I said: ‘Sir, we can’t go on like this, it’s silly. But let me put it to you this way: if you say the world is flat, it doesn’t make the world flat. The world doesn’t need you to agree that it’s round in order to be round, because there’s this thing called evidence.' Do I think these positions were held partly as a way to punish condescending liberals? Well, I do think there’s some of that; this idea that the elite is now the educated class, rather than the wealthy class, so you’ve got a government with more billionaires in it than ever in history, but we’re the elite — journalists and college professors and novelists, not the ones with private planes and beach front properties in the Bahamas. It’s a weird time.
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “I got invited into the so-called 'cooling station' today. It was cool but I had to listen to these people. After about an hour of it, I bailed. I'd rather be hot and sweaty than listen to these lunatics argue about everything.”
I WAS ENJOYING A WALK SATURDAY along the Golden Gate trail that eventually gets to Baker Beach, an open air sex bazaar on hot days and dependably weird even in cold weather. It was 9am but already warm, warmer than I've known it on the ocean trail west of the Bridge, record-breaking warm. I overtook a young woman gazing upward at a sea cypress. "Excuse me, sir, are you from here?" At my age, young women no longer fear The Man. I get smiled at, said good morning to, lots of merry hellos. Not always in Mendo, of course, where my reputation is, let's say, mixed. But that question — “Are you from here?” — is a kind of geriatric trigger, at least to this wheeze. I've got to beat back the impulse to launch into full, garrulous coot mode. "Am I from here? Well, let me tell you my young pumpkin, I arrived in Frisco on a troop ship from Honolulu in '42, sailed under that iconic span you see behind you. We lived in an old mansion on Hayes between Fillmore and Diviz. It had been divided into apartments. My mother said she didn't want me playing with the 'Oakies,' the very first of many injunctions I ignored. There was still an old carriage house out back. The place went back to the years just after the Gold Rush. That was the old, old Fillmore District. The neighborhood was predominately Jewish, the bakeries Russian. I think Yehudi Menuhin had grown up nearby. I can remember the church bells ringing when World War Two ended.” In real life today, when everything is changed, I forbore the bore, settling for, “Yes, I've lived here off and on for a very long time.” The young woman said she'd walked across from Sausalito. I sweated at the thought. “How do I get to Golden Gate Park from here?” she asked. Up the stairs to Washington and walk south until you're there. “Thank you, sir,” she said, and resumed looking upwards at the old tree.
Fort Bragg Sunset (Photo by Susie de Castro)
COSTCO: GOOD FOR UKIAH
To the Editor:
I am a homeowner in Ukiah and hold a master’s degree in Public Health. Mendocino County has a high rate of poverty. This negatively affects the overall health of our community. The proposed Costco store will provide dozens of jobs paying good salaries, along with health and retirement benefits. The revenue generated by the store will be a much needed boost to our local economy and the overall health of our community.
I am an advocate of alternative energy sources, but unless there is an ordinance in place, (and not just a policy), that requires all new commercial construction to include alternative energy sources, Mr. Scalmanini’s objection to the proposed development is misplaced. His concerns should be directed at PG&E and other municipal power generators, not individual businesses.
Julie Beardsley, Ukiah
THE SATURDAY 'HIGH NOON' MENDO COAST (& INLAND) CONDITIONS (from MendocinoSportsPlus)
(Click to enlarge)
WINE COUNTRY'S HARVEST HEATS UP
by Dayla Hepting
On August 9, 1994, Patricia Ruth Bernard Grim jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. Doesn't that bother you? What a strange word that is: bother. But still I can't think of another word to describe the feeling. It doesn't annoy me. It doesn't freak me out. It disturbs me slightly. It kind of comes and goes through the back of my mind on certain days. I gnaw it. I push it back and forward.
Pat Grim, former Post Mistress of Navarro jumped off the fucking Golden Gate Bridge! How does that happen? I don't get surprises very often. I can clock people. I'd have been dead a long time ago if I couldn't clock people. But Pat gave me a start. Never saw that part of her, not the will to suicide I mean, the way of acting it out.
The fact that she committed suicide is no surprise. Emerson must have had someone quite like her in mind when he wrote “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Certainly I saw that in Pat. Suicide had crossed my mind as something she might do one day unless it seemed too untidy for her. The thought of her perfect children coming into her perfectly tidy little cabin to find mother's brains splattered all over the walls for them to clean up, and the stench of rotting meat permeating all the linen... No, Pat would not have made that mess. So in a sense it makes sense.
The bridge is quite tidy. No unsightly mess. A lady's way perhaps. What jarred me about her death was that it was so public, so dramatic. Pat was afraid of making a spectacle of herself. You remember that don't you? Your mother's face peering down at you imperiously, “Do you have to make a spectacle of yourself in a public place? Go sit in the car until you can act like a lady!” Pat had a mother like that. She was a mother like that. I could see it in every line of her dissatisfied face.
But the fact is she did it. She would not have made the short-list of people I think might jump off the bridge someday if I had been asked to draw up such a list. But she is the actually the only one I know personally who took that big jump.
I suppose she wanted some attention. I suppose she imagined stories would be written about her life. How she needed love and never got it. How she wanted to love but didn't know how. That sort of thing.
She got zip. Quite a few people knew she did it. Some said that this one or that one should write something for the paper. The people who find my writing rather raw did not suggest that I write anything. I suppose they wanted something tasteful written. Something that put a good face on it. That's what these people wanted. So I waited. After all, they are her sort of friends. I don't even know if I liked Pat Grim. I sort of did but then I didn't.
Nothing was written.
The thing is, jumping off the Bridge, scary and desperate as it may be, made me like Pat more. She was in a conundrum. She could not escape. She could not keep living her life. She could not change her life. She did what she could. She shattered her body in the air and put a stop to it.
No matter how you felt about Pat Grim (so aptly named), still you have to give her credit. It takes balls to jump off that bridge.
I am honored to have known a woman with that kind of balls, because no matter how you natter on about suicide being the coward's way out — it takes some nerve to drive out on the bridge, stop your car with the yuppies honking, jabbing wildly with their middle fingers like they were Uzis pointed at your head, grinding their newly capped teeth and smashing faces twisted with hate up against the windows of their air-conditioned Lexi bound for Marin.
She must have come on from the San Francisco side. It would have been all wrong going into the City, because you would have to get there one more time, to walk down Grant one more time, to sit in a the Cafe Trieste and have one last Cappuccino, one last playing of Figaro on the jukebox before the end. I would think so.
What is in Marin? Nothing. Wall to wall yuppies. Just a bunch of upscale Walmartians. No, she drove on the Bridge from San Francisco. Then she pushed through the startled Japanese tourists, dodging a nasty, spandexed, sweat soaked cyclist hoping he doesn't break the code of their cult of total Zen self involvement and suddenly extend a white stinking arm to snap her away from the edge.
But no one stopped her. Of course not. These people are on schedules. “Is she going to jump? 20 minutes of self improvement time left.” “She just wants a better view,” A tourist from Kansas wanting another perfect Kodak moment. “Aren't my hamstrings getting enormous?”
And then she is scrambling, pulling herself up. The process of death is at last purely physical. Getting it done, she is climbing the metal support. It is cold, surprisingly cold to the touch. But then again it makes sense. The Bay's got a grip on it at the bottom, the dead cold Bay down there. And she pushes herself hard, away from the bridge to avoid getting mangled on the way down.
What did you think about on the way down Pat? “Hey now, that will show them!” or did you picture when the authorities opening up your door in Lucerne and someone noting how clean it was for a suicide.
Certainly her house was in order. Pat would not have left anything unfinished. Not even a dirty orange juice glass or a jam smeared plate in her sink. Not even in the dish drain. No, she put everything in its place before she left her cabin that day.
Obviously her life did not flash before her eyes. Her life had been flashing before her eyes for some time. Her life must have played, replayed and played in reverse, at high speed, at low speed, and at dead stop in the middle of every night.
Pat had a big hairy brown German Shepherd. He died of cancer six months before the jump. She did not get a new puppy. So that meant she knew. She knew even then that her commitments should abbreviated. Cut short. Not begun anew. Or did she know even before that? Did his death open the door to her death. Because, of course, she could not commit suicide while he lived. It would be an unnecessarily hurtful act. Pure selfishness on her part. Because all that dog had was her. He loved her as only dogs can, unmistakably and without qualification. You can beat a dog into the ground, next minute it will lick your hand and say he's sorry. Beat a horse like that and he'll never forget, he'll lay in wait 'til the day he can get you and he will one day. Beat a cat and that cat will be gone forever. But dogs take it all upon themselves. They think if only they were a better dog then the boss would like them better. Because the boss is perfect and the object of complete devotion. A price is paid for such devotion. You must then live your life for the dog. Taking care of it, loving it because it loves you. And you can't commit suicide because if you do what will happen to him? Who wants an old ugly German Shepherd that belonged to a dead woman?
Puppies are cute. That's not cute. Just a burden. Either someone has to take him in, your children, perhaps (but they won't have the space), or they will have to take him off to the Humane Society where he will be humanely thrown in with Tuesday's batch of unwanted in a sanitized windowless cubicle while the air is sucked humanely and inexpensively from the room. First he will take short panting breaths and wonder when you will come for him because he is scared, then he will take huge tearing breaths of non-air and finally the whole pack of lost and unnecessary dogs will collapse into death, piled at the door where they scrambled to get free. Hopeless of course. There is no exit from this room.
The shelter assured the family that every effort would be made to find a home. Every effort. Of course that is true. Every effort is made. But they reminded the family that older dogs are hard to place. “Surely,” The family thinks, “a dog like this, a purebred with papers can find a home?” They would not call to inquire of course, not wanting to know the rest of it.
So Pat must have deferred her death until finally cancer took him. What if he had lived longer? Would she have found something, something to live for? Something she had looked for all her life and had almost given up on finding?
Somehow I think not.
I read mysteries, fiction or fact. Currently I look for Rendell/Vine or Joyce Carol Oates writing murder as Rosamund Smith. I read true crime. Ann Rule, Jack Olsen or according to the type of crime. I recently read the story of Sacramento's Dracula Killer and the story of Jeffrey Dahmer. But all that aside I remember reading in one of these books that the key to solving a mystery often lies in the life and character of the victim. So if you read that life like a book you may find the key to the murder.
And what about suicides? You can say and it would be true that murder sometimes just happens to people. They walk into a Jack in the Box at 4 PM exactly at the same moment another disgruntled, disoriented Vietnam vet reaches critical mass in the parking lot. Whammo you're gone. By chance. Another victim of the war. But suicide? Does that just happen to people? Are they pre-ordained? Is it a gene as the Chronicle recently postulated? Is it inherited? If someone in the previous generation, your father, mother did it you are far more likely to do it. Did Pat have suicide in her family? I don't know. I know little about her past. She was not unduly interested in talking about her history. Not the way some people are, the ones who recite it, rehearse and regurgitate it all. As if it mattered. Just a fiction. That's what memory is. A sort of fiction. Not even good fiction in most cases. But Pat wasn't that kind. She was above it.
The key to death was in her face. I could see it. It was in her attitude. The way she looked with such displeasure on to life. The way she held her body. But then lots of people like that just go on being bitter, being unhappy until they die an unhappy bitter death in a nursing home at 90. So what made her jump? How was she different?
She had three children. I know that from the invitation to her wake... I mean memorial service, where you sit around and tell warm fuzzy stories instead of the old style wake where you stared in horror at a heavily made up corpse and then worked yourself into a frenzy to hurl yourself at the body crying and shrieking in pain until someone hauled you away to the bathroom to wash your face with wet paper towels. I suppose they had to stop that because of the paper towels. No paper towels. It wouldn't be right to just shove someone's head under the hot air machine. No, her children had a proper modern memorial service. No big hurry either. Six months after her death and in Marin. I did not attend. I did send a note of condolence.
She had an ex-husband I heard her mention once or twice. She was an ex-teacher from Berkeley. When I met her she was running the Navarro Post office. She seemed to be overwhelmed by all that responsibility. She fretted over the Postal system's endless volumes of rules and regulations. She was trying hopelessly to follow them. To do the job right. I suppose the ever growing club of mass murderers who were recently terminated from the Post Office had been like that. Trying to do it the Post Office way. The trick is to ignore those Postal Procedure books. Throw them promptly into the trash. Don't even read one page. If you can't figure it out call Richard in Philo and ask him. Pat seemed to think of the customers as the enemy. She looked trapped back there in that tiny cell behind the half door. When I had the same job I couldn't stand it in there. I got out every chance I had. Pat didn't come out. A request for stamps was a trauma for her, like you were asking just too much or at the wrong time. Saturdays she worked happily with the top half of the door closed. Once my box was broken so I called through the door, “Pat, my box won't open. Could you hand me my mail?”
“We can't do any window service on Saturdays. That's the rules.”
Finally she was persuaded much against her will to break the rules. She admonished me to make sure I got window business done on the proper day in the future. She would not bend the rules again. I apologized energetically and thanked her profusely.
Not long after that she quit the job. Melvin “Woody” Wood took it. Woody had an entirely different view of it. He laughed a quiet chuckle as he tossed a new book of Postal rules into the trash and went off to have a beer with the boys under the drunk tree, actually drinking alcohol while representing the United States Post Office. Even I could not have done that. It was startling. And in sharp contrast to Pat's reign.
Suddenly she moved to the top of Clow Ridge road, one hour up a dirt road. She even moved her mail pick up to Philo. I rarely saw her and when I did I barely recognized her. She got thin. Out of the pudge a whole new face emerged. I learned that despite her rigid conformation to inexplicable Postal edicts she was in fact capable of sudden and radical changes.
A year later our paths crossed again. I was house hunting, a difficult process in Anderson Valley. Bruce pointed me in her direction. She wanted off the mountain. The commute was too much for her, she said. The road was hell. I wondered how she could live like that. All alone except for a dog in a tiny, perfectly kept cabin. But I suppose she could not live like that. Once again Pat wanted a change. The last year she wanted away from the Post Office rabble. The noise of downtown Boonville. She wanted isolation, peace, quiet and a view from the mountain. She got all that plus mud and wind and downed trees, earth shifting under the only road out, lightning, complete isolation in a poorly insulated cabin in the shade of the redwoods. A price to be paid for everything. She left the mountain, unwilling or unable to pay the price of the view from the top of a coastal mountain just a few short miles from the retching and sucking of the great western sea.
So I learned that Pat was a rather whimsical person who really could not settle on what she wanted and ride out the hard parts. She moved to Lucerne. We moved to Clow Mountain. I got a couple of friendly letters.
She left me a great chunk of shiny obsidian. Obsidian from Clear Lake or Konocti mountain. I sat it up on the rail of the deck. Great black glimmering rock. Hardly like a rock at all. It sat there keeping itself clean and in perfect order for several years. Then it disappeared. One day I noticed it was gone. I could not remember when it stopped being there. But it had. That is the way with rocks I've found. They come into my life. As if they had meaning. A rock comes to you. You take it home, wash it up, place it on a window sill, or a shelf or in a velvet lined box with other stones, and bones, beads, teeth and cat claws, or you put it on the rail of the deck. These must be transported with all your things from one house to another. They can not be thrown out with the trash. They will disappear one day. They often do. I no longer have a rock from my thirties and where did they go? I have no idea. Maybe at night they leave quietly through the back door or the window, taking nothing with them. Until they go, however, it is my job to carry them with me. After-all each rock has some special meaning, doesn't it? But what is the meaning?
This is not a proper obituary. I have not listed what clubs she belonged to, where she graduated from college, where she worked, who she spawned, who is left crying in the night for her.
Pat Grim jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. And she didn't get a story in the AVA. That ain't right. So I'm setting things right for her.
So long Pat. Good to know ya!
CATCH OF THE DAY, September 2, 2017
Alcantra, Belden, Elkin, King
CORREY ALCANTRA, Santa Rosa/Redwood Valley. Trespassing.
JAMES BELDEN III, Probation revocation.
BILLY ELKIN, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
NICHOLE KING, Ukiah. Harboring a wanted felon, parole violation.
Koroma, Leard, Mather, Parker
MICHAEL KOROMA JR., Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
STEVEN LEARD JR., Ukiah. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, probation revocation.
SCOTT MATHER, Ukiah. Harboring a wanted felon, probation revocation.
MICHAEL PARKER, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.
Pratt, Reed, Soto
MINDY PRATT, Ukiah. Under influence, probation revocation.
REYNA REED, Willits. Resisting.
ROMAN SOTO, Manchester. DUI, controlled substance, parole violation.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
I get to enjoy a lot of white privileges. Which makes me no different from most of my white friends, except that I recognize & admit how much easier white privilege has made my life, which isn’t always the case among my peers. To get to where I am today, I wouldn’t have traded places with a black man in America for any amount of money. I doubt I would have gotten all the breaks I got.
But frankly, as a white dude, I don’t feel I’m the best one to give you the answer. Why don’t you ask someone who is active in BLM, not me? To me it seems quite obvious BLM has a lot of embedded racism to wake white America up to, but I’m not the best one to make their case. They are. Because they are living it.
THE TUNA HUNT begins in March with men on the narrow waterfront of Bonagia repairing and arranging nets as they sing traditional songs, part in Sicilian and part in Arabic. Instead of exhausting the fish on the end of a line, in the Sicilian tonnara the bluefin is worn out by being led through a series of nets over a number of days. A net wall 150 feet high, four and a half miles long, is anchored to the ocean floor running east to west. In May and June, the tuna enter the Mediterranean. Approaching the coast of Sicily, they turn south to pass through the straits between Sicily and Tunisia, but instead hit the net wall and run along it into what is called the "the island," which is a series of net rooms. In ancient times, the large fish were guided through the rooms by men with long sticks. Today, this is done by a scuba diver known as 'the big bastard.' The big bastard of Bonagia, Maurici Guiseppe, said that as he swims with the ill-fated fish, he passes amphorae and other ancient artifacts of shipwrecks from the Phoenicians, the Greeks, and the Romans.
The big bastard's job is to coax the tuna from one room to another -- each of the rooms has a name -- until, after about two weeks, the fish are exhausted, awaiting their fate in the "camera di matanza," the slaughter room. The net is hauled up, and fifty-five fishermen in a long boat spear and gaff the fish. It is an ancient way of fishing tuna. Twenty-five hundred years ago, in "The Persians," Aeschylus, describing the Greek destruction of the Persian Navy, said it was like slaughtering tuna. The large bluefin, even though tired out from weeks of manipulation, thrash and struggle. The Mediterranean turns black with their blood, and the foam of the water turns scarlet as they are stabbed, gaffed, landed -- and shipped to Japan.
— Mark Kurlansky, 2002; from "Salt, A World History"
by Doug Holland, 1999
Here’s the strangest response yet to my “I’ll do anything legal for five dollars an hour” posterettes. A guy called my voice mail this morning, and read my entire ad into the machine, noticeably lingering at the part where I say I’ll do “yucky stuff.” When I wrote the ad, I figured “yucky stuff” would be emptying bedpans or something, but nobody’s asked me to do anything more disgusting than babysitting — until now.
I called back to see what he wanted, and he hemmed and hawed embarrassedly for a few seconds till he got up the nerve to get to the point. “I’m a really hairy guy,” he said, “and I’ve got a really hairy butt.” Then there was a long silence, and I think he expected to hear me hang up. “It’s very difficult,” he continued, “to wipe myself cleanly because the shit gets stuck in the hair. And sometimes the hair gets caught in my underwear...”
“You need someone to shave your ass?”
I thought this over a few dozen heartbeats. “Well,” I said, “I’ll tell you what. I’ve been sick. I’m still sick, and this sounds like work that might make me sicker. Give me another week or so to get my strength back, and I’ll shave your ass, okay?”
“Great,” he said.
I ain’t looking forward to it, but I do need the money.
* * *
A week later I called the guy with the hairy ass — let’s call him Harry — to clarify things. “First off,” I said, “my rate is five dollars an hour, but this sounds like it won’t take ten minutes. There’s a four-hour minimum, so it’ll cost twenty bucks. Okay?”
“That’s reasonable,” he said, “No problem.”
“I’ll be in the city tomorrow evening. Is that good for you?” He said it was, gave me his address, and told me to be there at 6:00.
“Now, either you provide the shaving necessities, and rubber gloves, or I’ll buy ‘em and bill you.”
“I’ve got shaving stuff,” he said, “but I don’t have any rubber gloves.”
“I’ll bring the gloves, then. Four bucks extra.”
“Okay,” he said complacently. That’s four bucks more profit, because there are rubber gloves everywhere where I work. I’ll just ask Bill, and take a pair.
“I’d also appreciate it if you’d shower before I get there.”
“I’m planning to,” he said.
“All right then,” I said. “See ya tomorrow.” Yeah, I’ll see more of you than I really want to see, tomorrow.
The next day, after my work shift, I arrived at Harry’s house right on time. We shook hands, he invited me in, and I was discretely looking the situation over, but everything appeared on the level. He seemed embarrassed, and I told him not to be.
On the living room carpet, he had already spread out some newspapers. “I figured I’d be on the floor, on all fours,” he said, “and you can sit on this chair.” I nodded, and put on the gloves while he went into the bathroom. He came back with a Bic disposable razor, a can of shaving cream, and a towel.
“Ready when you are,” I said. He took his shoes and socks off, then his pants and underwear, and assumed the position, naked from the waist down. His asshole gaped open at me, but what really startled me was the hair — man, his butt was almost as hairy as my face, and I’ve got a short beard. It was hairy like Esau. Hairy like an angora sweater. There was hair everywhere. With a comb, I could’ve parted it.
As promised, he’d obviously showered; everything was clean. So I sat behind his behind, lathered him up, and gently sheared him. This being San Francisco, I half-expected to see him getting off on it, but apparently it wasn’t a turn-on. And boy, he needed the service I was providing. I felt I was truly making his life better. It must be frustrating to always have yesterday’s shit stuck to the hair in your crack.
At one point, everything was looking sorta tightened up for a few seconds, contracted just a bit. I didn’t ask, but I think the guy was holding in a fart, and I really appreciated the effort.
Didn’t want to shave all of both cheeks, because I figured that would leave his whole bottom itchy and scratchy for a few weeks whenever he sat down. Instead I left a bald circle extending several inches around his sphincter; beyond this the almost ape-like hairiness remained untrimmed. Then I gently toweled him dry. “I’ll let you tell me whether it’s a close enough shave,” I said.
Still on his hands and knees, he tentatively fingered the inches around his anus, nodded his head yes, and quietly stood up and got dressed. “Smooth as a baby’s butt” is the cliché I was waiting to hear. Thought of asking if he has some aftershave to slap on, but he seemed completely ill at ease, so I didn’t make any jokes, just discarded the gloves and washed my hands in the bathroom.
At the front door, he thanked me, gave me three tens and said to keep the change. Thirty bucks for about 15 minutes work made me a happy man, so I decided to make him a happy customer. “Hope you’re not embarrassed,” I said. “I’ve done this before, you know.”
“You have?” His face brightened.
Of course I haven’t. “Sure,” I said. “It’s not that unusual.” That’s what every weirdo wants to hear, I suppose — that he’s not so weird after all.
“I just...” he stammered, “I just really appreciate this.”
“Happy to be a help, “I said. “Call me if the stubble starts to itch.”
(Annotated by Louis Bedrock)
By Joyce Kilmer
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
(This one isn’t as lovely as coat tree)
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
(Breasts don’t flow.
How can a being’s mouth be at its bottom?)
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
(Where are the damned thing’s eyes if its mouth is sucking off the earth?
How can the mouth be on the ground while her arms are lifted in prayer?)
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
(Hair? In the tree’s underarms?)
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
(And where might that bosom be?
Won’t God be angry if she lives intimately with rain but is not married?)
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
(Well, only god or another tree.)
TRAISH LARUE AND THE LOW-DOWN, DIRTY, ROTTEN, CORNSWOGGLIN’, VERY BAD DAY.
"He remembered how nice the kids at Camp Half-Blood had been to him after the war with Kronos. Great job, Nico! Thanks for bringing the armies of the Underworld to save us! Everybody smiled. They all invited him to sit at their table. After about a week his welcome wore thin. Campers would jump when he walked up behind them. He would emerge from the shadows at the campfire, startle somebody and see the discomfort in their eyes: Are you still here? Why are you here? It didn't help that immediately after the war Annabeth and Percy had started dating..." -Rick Riordan
The recording of last night's (2017-09-01) KNYO Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show is ready to download for free and enjoy at any time of the day or night, via http://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com
Besides that, as usual also there you'll find a fresh batch of links to other interesting things I collected for you while putting the show together, that might not necessarily work on the radio because of being mostly visual. Such as:
Phil Tippett's Mad God project.
Barnaby Dixon's latest puppet.
Pink and out of control. Crank it up so you can hear the spit in the squeals.
Remember in /Harry and Tonto/ where Harry said he traveled in Maine coon cats? Here are some Maine coon cats. Beautiful creatures. Juanita's mother used to have cats just like the top two in the stack. They were Shander and Sis. She had other cats. Spaz, I recall. Alas, they all died long ago.
And it's flooding up to the second floor elsewhere in the world, not just America's ceiling-fan states. These lucky people have a rhinoceros swimming in the street of their drowned city. We just get old coffins, and chemical plant explosions, and fatbergs out of backed-up sewers, and boring stuff like that. Ropes of fire ants. The new teevees don't even float like the old CRT ones did. The future blows.
WHAT'S NEW ON CLIMATE?
As I have commented previously it seems every few days there are new research reports on climate change and it is not possible to discuss all of them. One issue that has come up is what role, if any, does climate change have an affect on Hurricane Harvey. One of your readers, Bill Pilgrim, cites two articles in the Guardian regarding this question. One by Michael Mann "It's a fact: climate change made Hurricane Harvey more deadly" and one by George Monbiot "Why are the crucial questions about Hurricane Harvey not being asked?". Both articles make a strong case that climate change did affect the severity of Hurricane Harvey. No doubt President Trump and his supporters will continue to keep their heads stuck in the sand and continue to deny the reality of climate change. I would comment that the Guardian is by far the most informative news agency about climate change. NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York scientists reported July 2017 was statistically tied with July 2016 as the warmest July in the 137 years of modern record keeping. Last month was 0.83 degrees Celsius warmer than the mean July temperature of the 1951-1980 period. Only July 2016 showed a similarly High temperature. All previous months of July were more than a tenth of a degree cooler. The monthly analysis by GISS is assembled from data acquired by 6,300 meteorological stations around the world. The National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) has released its Global Climate Report for July 2017 which uses gridded maps to reflect temperature anomalies and percentiles which represents a merger of land and oceans. The average global land and ocean surface temperatures for July 2017 was the second highest at 0.83C (1.49 F) above the 20th century average of 15.8C (60.4 F). The most notable warmer than average included but was not limited to the western contiguous U.S., southern South America, Middle East Mongolia, China and Australia. Also discussed were the warmest oceans and sea. Then there was a very detailed discussion of various affected areas, which would require a full page to discuss. My next climate change letter will center on what is happening in the Antarctic ice shelf and why these events should be of serious concern.
In peace and love, Jim Updegraff, Sacramento
Digital Print, 2012
Berkeley, California, 43461
THE S-WORD': HOW YOUNG AMERICANS FELL IN LOVE WITH SOCIALISM
by Chris McGreal
At 18, Olivia Katbi was answering the phones and emails in a Republican state senator’s office in Ohio. Then the legislator threw his weight behind a particularly contentious anti-abortion law. “I realized that the party I’m working for is evil. After that I identified as a Democrat but I wasn’t really happy with their policies either,” said Katbi, now 25.
Back then, she couldn’t articulate her reservations about President Barack Obama. There were the drone strikes, and the limitations of his healthcare reforms. But mostly it was a frustrating sense he wasn’t serving her interests so much as those of a monied elite. So in the 2012 presidential election, Katbi voted for Jill Stein, the Green party candidate. But that didn’t change the world.
It was only last year, when Bernie Sanders made his run under the banner of democratic socialism, that it all started to fall into place.
“My politics were to the left of the Democratic party but I didn’t realize there was an entire ideology, an entire movement that was there. It had never occurred to me,” said Katbi. “Bernie was my introduction to the concept of democratic socialism. It’s not like I associated it with the cold war. It was a new concept to me completely. That was the case for a lot of millennials, which is why the movement has grown so much.”
Katbi, who works at an organization helping to settle immigrants and refugees in Portland, Oregon, became “socialist curious.” She joined the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), a rapidly growing big-tent movement that has drawn in former communists and fired up millennials. The DSA is now the largest socialist organization in the US as surging membership, which has quadrupled since the election to around 25,000, has breathed new life into a once dormant group. New branches have sprung up, from Montana to Texas and New York. Earlier this month, hundreds of delegates gathered in Chicago for the only DSA convention in years to attract attention.
Part of its membership veers toward Scandinavian-style social democracy of universal healthcare and welfare nets. Others embrace more traditional socialism of large-scale public ownership. But the label has been taken up by other millennials who do not identify with any particular political institution. They come at it through protest movements such as Occupy and Black Lives Matter, fueled by frustration at the Democratic party’s failure to take seriously the deepening disillusionment with capitalism, income inequality and the corporate capture of the US government.
With that has come debate not only about pay, housing and proposals for universal basic income, but a reappraisal of the role of the government in people’s lives in favor of greater state intervention.
According to recent polling, a majority of Americans adults under the age of 30 now reject capitalism, although that does not translate into automatic support for socialism. For Katbi, though, the path is clear. Six months after the election, she is leaving Sanders behind. “I really don’t like saying that Bernie was my gateway to socialism, just because I feel like I’m more left than him now, and I also think there’s a very bizarre cult of personality around Bernie,” she said.
Ask what socialism is, and Katbi looks to the campaign by the Labour party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, in this year’s British election.
“I really liked Labour’s succinct tagline: for the many, not the few. That’s a great summary of what socialism is. It’s democratic control of the society we live in. That includes universal healthcare. Universal education. Public housing. Public control of energy resources. State ownership of banks. That’s what I understand socialism to be when I heard Bernie Sanders introduce it,” she said.
Labour’s manifesto caught the attention of young leftwing activists in the US because, in contrast to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign platform, it laid out a clear set of ideas they could identify with. Some in the DSA are also finding common cause with Momentum, the leftwing British grassroots organization formed in 2015 to back Corbyn which in turn has drawn inspiration from Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain.
“The people I’m friends with who don’t identify as socialist are definitely supportive of certain socialist policies, like single-payer healthcare,” said Katbi. “Everyone has student loan debt and everyone’s rents are exorbitant and everyone’s paying like $300-a-month premiums for Obamacare. It’s common sense for people my age.”
The alarm created at the prospect of millions of people losing their coverage while millions more see their health insurance premiums surge has pushed the new breed of democratic socialists to embrace universal healthcare as the gateway issue to bring large numbers of Americans, including a lot of Trump voters, around to the idea that government regulation can work for them.
Americans who came of age during the cold war saw socialism being characterized as the close cousin of Soviet communism, and state-run healthcare as a first step to the gulags. There are still those attempting to keep the old scare stories alive.
It was the old cold war warriors who helped detoxify socialism for younger Americans when the Tea Party and Fox News painted Obama – a president who recapitalized the banks without saving the homes of families in foreclosure – as a socialist for his relatively modest changes to the healthcare system.
Then came Sanders.
“With the Bernie phenomenon, suddenly you’re able to utter the S-word in public,” said Nick Caleb, 35, a long time leftwing activist who joined the DSA shortly after the election, as membership of its Portland branch surged.
Caleb said that even before Sanders ran, the Occupy Wall Street movement had prompted a scrutiny of capitalism. “Occupy Wall Street happened and there was a broader debate about what capitalism was, and we started to highlight the pieces of it that were most awful. So there was an articulation of what capitalism was, and then it meant someone had to define what socialism means, and we sort of left that space open,” he said.
At the heart of the ideas flooding into that space is a debate about the role of the state after decades of conservatives painting government as oppressive and a burden keeping good Americans down.
The campaign over healthcare, the anger sparked by the rapaciousness of big banks bailed out by the taxpayer, and a belief that only the state has the strength to reverse deepening inequality is breathing new life into the old idea that the government is there to control capitalism, rather than capitalism controlling the government.
If that takes hold among a wider group of millennials, it will represent a seismic shift in the way many Americans think about the pre-eminent role of the state and capitalism in their lives.
To an older generation of leftwing activists, that sounds a lot like the New Deal – President Franklin Roosevelt’s bold attempt to remake the American economic system and rein in the forces of capitalism in response to the Great Depression of the 1930s. The Works Progress Administration, which provided jobs to millions made unemployed by economic collapse, was at one time the single largest employer in the country. A raft of legislation addressed pay, working conditions and housing. Roosevelt also introduced banking regulation that stayed in place until the 1990s. Roosevelt saw the reforms as laying the foundations for the kind of social democratic society the US helped build in western Europe after the second world war.
“Young people who say that they’re socialists, or look favorably on socialism, they’re thinking about a kind of New Deal government or democracy against markets,” said Frances Fox Piven, coauthor of a widely debated radical plan in the 1960s to alleviate poverty and create a basic income, and more recently the target of a vilification campaign by Fox News.
“What the New Deal represented was government efforts to regulate an unbridled capitalism and to supplement the distribution of income under markets with government programs.”
Piven, a City University of New York professor, sees a shift in thinking among some younger Americans reflecting a time before politicians conflated democracy with the free market and government with private business.
“The New Deal is the clearest and boldest period in the wake of real collapse in capitalist markets. You could just call it economic democracy,” she said. “What they got right was the imperative of regulating the economy. That development was cut short by the second world war and the urgency with which the government turned to big business to cooperate in the war effort and gave a lot of license to big business. It stopped the New Deal in its tracks.”
After that came the red scare, McCarthyism and the rise of global corporations. Still, President Lyndon B Johnson built on the New Deal’s legacy in the 1960s with his “war on poverty” and “great society” programs expanding welfare, greatly reducing the number of people living in poverty, and establishing Medicaid and Medicare – America’s system of public health insurance for the very poor and the elderly.
Then came Reagan revolution and the Democrats’ embrace of neoliberalism.
The New Deal still lingers in the American consciousness. Not so the once buoyant Socialist Party of America, long faded from popular memory. A century ago, socialists were routinely elected to public office in the US and the party’s presidential candidate drew close to a million votes in the 1912 and 1920 elections.
There are few socialists elected to public office in the US today. The most prominent is Kshama Sawant of the Socialist Alternative party, who won a seat on Seattle’s city council in 2013 and drove through an increase in the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. She was re-elected two years ago promising a tax on the rich in a state with no income tax. In July, the city council unanimously passed a 2.25% city tax on people earning more than $250,000 a year, although there will be no windfall from the Amazon and Microsoft billionaires who live outside its boundaries.
Sawant has few illusions about why the measure passed. She describes the Democratic party majority on the council as beholden to corporate interests whose hand was forced by the popular mood. Sawant also suspects that other council members are counting on the courts to strike down the new tax. But that the vote happened at all is evidence of the political shift under way.
Sawant is a Marxist who wants to see industry taken into public ownership or worker cooperatives. But she recognizes that there’s a long way to go before Americans are ready for that. Still, she sees opportunity in what she calls an “amazing change in the consciousness of America”.
“We are in a fundamentally new period. The Occupy movement really took people by surprise. They realized there was something different going on here. The younger generation of America was not going to be another docile generation waiting for their little piece of the American dream, partly because that little piece of the American dream wasn’t going to come to them because of the crisis capitalism is in,” she said.
“I, for one, am elated, actually elated, at the starting point where people are angry at corporate politics, angry at neo-liberalism, angry at austerity. This is a massive cauldron and this is historic.”
One challenge for the new breed of social democrats and socialists is to find the vehicle to electoral success. In the UK, the Labour party is the official opposition, with socialist antecedents Corbyn is attempting to revive. Today’s American socialists are split on whether to revive a New Deal-style Democratic party or forge a new organization. The DSA has for now decided against becoming a political party.
A recently elected member of Chicago city council, Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, argued that the Democratic party offered a path to single-payer healthcare and $15-an-hour minimum wage because so many people vote for it as a default. But Caleb is skeptical. He thought for a short while that the Democrats might learn the lessons of Sanders’ campaign and Clinton’s defeat to back away from neoliberalism.
“I was somewhat hopeful after the election that the Democrats would get the memo but it’s obvious the party’s not going to change. They’ll make minor concessions but they’re tied to Silicon Valley. They had a chance to make an abrupt change and they haven’t done it,” he said. “They can’t think of anything but a market solution with tax credits and things like that. The Democratic party couldn’t even reconstitute a platform like the New Deal.”
Piven, meanwhile, said the two party system smothered real debate about the issues most people care about. She said protest movements such as Occupy and Black Lives Matter – as well as the Women’s March after Trump’s inauguration and the mass protests over the Muslim ban – forced issues on to the political agenda.
One of the bigger obstacles to broadening support for real socialism in America may not be so much specific policies – although there will be a lot of people doubtful about the DSA’s proposals to abolish police forces and prisons – so much as perceptions of who is now a socialist.
“I want to dispel the reputation of socialism that it’s a bunch of white men talking about theory,” said Katbi. “People are hesitant to join because they’re like, is it a bunch of Bernie bros? The implication is it’s a bunch of white men yelling about Marx. It’s not.”
The “brocialist” label has given added impetus to a drive for more diversity. “In DSA we’ve been very intentional about building a movement that is diverse,” said Katbi. “Amplifying the voices of women and people of color and people who have previously been oppressed. Everything we do, we do it with that in mind.”
That has created its own tensions amid debate about how much focus should be put on class. “Every day you see debates around what should be emphasized,” said Caleb. “Is it a class discussion? Is it an identity discussion?”
Attempts to paint millennials as beholden to identity politics is more than unfair given the Clinton campaign’s assumption that young women like Katbi would automatically vote for a female presidential candidate who claimed she was going to blast through the glass ceiling. Instead, Katbi’s support went to an old white man on the basis of his ideas.
Still, Piven sees lessons in the legacy of the civil rights movement. “There’s a certain amount of discrediting of the identity politics developments that have seemed to dominate the left over the last few decades, but maybe these developments were in a way necessary,” she said. “How could there have been a black civil rights movement without identity politics? Blacks were so disparaged, so dehumanized by American political culture that you had to first have a ‘black is beautiful’ cultural and intellectual and political current. I think the same thing is true of the women’s movement. But if we stay just with identity politics then we can’t grapple with the class forces that are producing the system of stratification and oppression in the United States.”
That means winning over the large numbers of low-income working people who voted for Trump, a task complicated by the sense that the left is dominated by identity politics.
“We won’t be able to build a mass movement for any of the social democratic reforms, let alone for a fundamental shift toward socialism, if we don’t create an opening for those many people who voted for Trump,” said Sawant. “It is extremely important for the left in America to build movements that accomplish a dual task. One is never compromise on the question of oppression – but at the same time reaching the vast majority of working people on a class basis.”
Sawant is not alone in thinking that the entry point is healthcare. She points to packed town hall meetings Sanders has had in West Virginia since the election.
“Who are these people? White people who have been beaten down with entrenched intergenerational poverty and who are desperately looking for a solution. Sanders reached out to them by talking about healthcare, living wages, the need to tax Wall Street and billionaires who have wrought such havoc on their lives. I didn’t see any resistance from those people. I didn’t see anybody saying it was black people or gay people who are responsible for their misery,” she said.
“It would be a fatal mistake not to recognize that there is a whole mass of white working-class people in America who can be won over.”
Katbi recognizes that’s a task made even more challenging by Americans’ famed individualism. “There’s a lot of polarization. I know of people my age who are ardent Trump supporters who are very about individualism, about libertarianism, to an extent. But I think when you really start to think about these things, it’s clear that’s just selfishness and socialism is about the collective good versus hoarding it all for yourself,” she said.
(The Guardian of London.)