Mendocino County Today: Tuesday, Sep. 5, 2017
by AVA News Service, September 5, 2017
PICTURES of two guys in the act of committing a burglary are floating around on Facebook. The so far unidentified pair is believed to be responsible for several break-ins in the Upper Greenwood area. If you recognize the pair from this grainy game-cam pic, call the Sheriff’s tip line at 234-2100, or leave a message at the Boonville Substation at 895-2257.
Or email: email@example.com.
NORCAL TEMPERATURES set records everywhere, including Boonville last Friday when the mercury climbed to an unheard of 112 by 3pm. And the next day, Saturday, it was 112 again, the whole of it turning the sun, then the moon, blood red.
CLIMATE CHANGE? According to the San Jose Mercury News: “Not exactly, say scientists. Heat waves, droughts and hurricanes like Harvey, which brought historic floods to Texas in recent days, have always been part of the weather in the United States. But climate change — the steady warming of the Earth from the burning of fossil fuels, which traps heat in the atmosphere — is making them worse. And brutally hot weather like this weekend’s heat wave is almost certain to become more commonplace in the coming decades.”
YORKVILLE'S TRIPLE-DIGIT TEMPS over the past nine days, began on Saturday, August 26th with 105 at 3pm, and 100-plus days continued through Sunday, September 3rd with a high of 106. Saturday, September 2nd, at 4pm, it was 111 in Yorkville. But just in time for the big annual Yorkville Ice Cream Social on Labor Day, September 3rd, it was suddenly a positively chilly 96 in High Roller country.
THE 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.
CODE ENFORCEMENT, MENDO STYLE: Property Owner: Pathways in Education (aka Blackbird Farm, 18601 Van Zandt Resort Road, Philo)
Parcel Numbers: 026-392-21, -22, -23, -24, -25, -30, -31
Zoned: TP (#24 zoned FL)
Date: August 15, 2016. Case #BI_2016-0075
“You are hereby officially notified as the owner of record for the above referenced property that the following structures and/or uses have been found to be in violation of Mendocino County Building and/or Zoning Codes……
AN ENUMERATION of violations follow, so many that it’s obvious that Blackbird is a major scofflaw operation, so obvious, so flagrant, so contemptuous of the county’s Planning and Building Department, that that department’s refusal to crack down is simply inexplicable.
PLANNING AND BUILDING’S toothless woof-woofs to “stop all unpermitted work” and fix everything else “immediately” or within 30 days of September 12th last year seems to have inspired Blackbird to commit more violations.
BLACKBIRD’S NEIGHBORS report that all the buildings and structures mentioned as being in violation continue to be used without modification, including the use of the unsafe zipline by student campers and the rental of the unsafe Yurts via airbnb.
AND YOU WONDER why some pot growers are expanding their operations and facilities without permits, thus generating numerous neighbor complaints that go un-acted upon?
THE WAY WE LIVE NOW. Fred Gardner writes: “Justin B., 19, has always been a bicycle person. He works at a bike store in Salem, Oregon and takes long road trips with friends whenever he can. Friday, September 1, was the sixth day of a nine-day trip. That night, at McKerricker State Park, his bike and gear got ripped off. Justin was told that it probably wound up in Fort Bragg, where some people are said to make a living stealing bikes. He was very grateful to David Moore for coming to get him and to Rosenna Miklose at Down Home Foods for her consoling perspective. Justin assumes that the components have been stripped from his frame and sold off. He most regrets the loss of a journal in which he made notes on more than a hundred previous bike trips. Just a few days earlier a friend delivering (truly) medicinal cannabis oil to East Bay dispensaries got ripped off. He said, “It’s an epidemic. It’s not like you can see you’re being followed and shake the tail. They slap a GPS on your car when you’re making a delivery to, say, Harborside. They smashed the window of our truck outside our motel in Emeryville in broad daylight at four in the afternoon.”
MARIJUANA & THE MEDIA: A Panel Discussion With: Heather Irwin, editor EmeraldReport.com and writer for The Press Democrat; Tom Gogola, news editor at The Bohemian; Stett Holbrook, editor of The Bohemian; Alicia Rose, Founder of HerbaBuena. Moderated by Jonah Raskin, contributor, Anderson Valley Advertiser. Free and Open to the Public! Thursday, September 28, 2017, 7 p.m. Arlene Francis Center, 99 Sixth St. Santa Rosa, CA. 95401. For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
NOT ON HOLD, unfortunately, is site prep for the new County Courthouse that nobody wants except the black-robed cabal presiding over the Superior Court, that daily legal processing of citizens with annual incomes under forty thou a year. This project will further deteriorate what’s left of old Ukiah’s civic center and is being built solely to house judges and their courtrooms. For the money being spent, more than $240 million, the present County Courthouse could be re-modeled and then some, perhaps even restoring it to a semblance of its early 20th century architectural glory. The new County Courthouse will be your basic concrete bunker, but such a large one whatever residual hope we had for a County seat that would do Mendo proud is forever doomed. We’ll get another huge, ugly structure set in Ukiah’s sea of fast food franchises and pavement, the town’s leftover trees looking like they’re struggling to breathe, which they are.
‘ASTRONOMICAL’ INCREASE IN SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASE INFECTION RATES IN SOCO:
Public health officials exporing causes.
UKIAH: STILL NON COMPLIANT
To: All Ukiah Elected Officials:
Subject: illegal policy and practice
City of Ukiah
Mayor Brown & Council Members
300 Seminary Avenue
Ukiah Ca. 95482
On 8-30-2017 I made a verbal request to see public records at the City of Ukiah main office, I was given a form " Public Records Information Request.”
I informed the staff person that the request was not allowed or legal under the Calif Public Records Act. She stated that I must complete the form, to be able to see the Records that she had. (She was polite but firm.) I completed the form under protest and viewed the file, paid for the copies I needed and went on my way. The City of Ukiah has an illegal policy and practice in place, requiring written request for Public records. The Act plainly does not require a written request. This should be made very clear at the front desk. I would hope the City Council would discontinue this illegal practice forthwith, by taking action at the next Council meeting.
Lee Howard, Ukiah
* * *
On 9/1/2017 8:51 AM, Kristine Lawler wrote:
Dear Mr. Howard,
Thank you for bringing to our attention the need to update the front staff of how Public Record Act (PRA) requests are handled. Normally the City Clerk's office handles PRA requests, and in this case your request would have been handled differently had we known.
I will take this opportunity to let the front staff know to direct all PRAs to the City Clerk's office. The PRA form is meant to assist the Clerk's office in successfully acquiring the requested documents for the public, by clarifying the request and having a tangible document to track the progress of compiling the requested information. However, in your case you were able to get the documents right away, and therefore, the form was not necessary.
Please accept my apology for your inconvenience.
Kristine Lawler, City Clerk
300 Seminary Ave., Ukiah, CA 95482
P:(707) 463-6217 F:(707) 463-6204
* * *
To: Kristine Lawler <email@example.com
Subject: Re: illegal policy and practice
Ms. Lawler: I would like to request the City of Ukiah Policy Procedure for PRR's as approved by the City Council.
* * *
On 9/1/2017 2:41 PM, Kristine Lawler wrote:
The City follows the California Public Record Act policies and procedures, and attached is the Council approved resolution for fees and charges.
* * *
The City follows the California Public Records Act? How does the City Form "Public Record Information Request," follow the Act?
Government Code Section 6253 states in part ("shall make the records promptly available to any person upon payment of fees covering direct cost of duplication.") (promptly available = with little or no delay, immediately.)
The front staff complied fully with the Code in properly filling the request to view the records, your suggestion that a form needed to be completed and sent up the bureaucratic chain, would not enhance, in any way my Public Records Request.
The completion or even asking for a written request can only be voluntary per California Code 6253.(a).
It appears to me that staff at the front desk need a gold star for a job well done on how Public Record Act should be handled, short of requiring the City of Ukiah form (Public Records Information Request) be completed before I could have the records.
I would hope that the City of Ukiah would view this as a learning experience, have the front staff give some training classes so the public will be served in the most expeditious way.
It also appears to me that the City Council is derelict in its duties, in who has responsible for PRAs, is it the City Manager or the City Clerk? If the City Council had a policy! There would be fewer questions and less plausible deniability. It's the people's business.
Lee Howard, Ukiah
SMART BAY AREA TRAIN, DUMB BAY AREA TRANSIT
by Joe Matthews
The northern terminus of SMART, the new passenger-rail system in the North Bay, is the Sonoma County Airport Station in Santa Rosa. But after my 8-year-old son and I flew in, we learned the airport is more than a mile from the train.
There is as yet no dedicated shuttle from plane to train. My son wasn’t up for walking. A public bus that would get us nearer to the train wouldn’t show up for hours. Uber wasn’t picking up and my Lyft app kept crashing. The four cabbies outside the airport refused to take us on such a short, cheap trip.
The Bay Area is our richest large metropolitan region because it skillfully connects the world. But if you need to make transit connections in the Bay Area, good luck.
Lured by this summer’s preview rides on SMART, I recently spent three days navigating the Bay Area by train, ferry and bus. I left bewildered by the failure of a place famous for integrating culture and technology to integrate its own infrastructure across its nine counties and 101 municipalities.
Stuck at the airport, we called our own cab to take us to the train. The first 43-mile segment of the 70-mile SMART line runs from Santa Rosa to San Rafael, and has bathrooms and a café selling wine. The ride took 90 minutes and offered a grittier view of Sonoma and Marin Counties—mobile home parks, old industrial sites—as well as glimpses of Mt. Tamalpais.
The SMART train is eventually supposed to reach the Larkspur Ferry Terminal, a 35-minute boat ride from San Francisco. But the first segment ends two miles short. A bike path and a bus can get you to the ferry, but we were in a hurry and took an Uber.
We shouldn’t have rushed: The ferry left 10 minutes late. On a clear day, we enjoyed views of the Golden Gate Bridge. After meetings in San Francisco, we went to BART’s Embarcadero Station, heading for Oakland Airport and a flight home. But the first six trains were too full to board. BART is a system built for 60,000 riders that moves more than 400,000 daily.
When the seventh train arrived, we pushed our way in. “That’s rude,” said one rider.
“We’re from L.A.,” I replied.
We made the flight, but the day produced sticker shock. The four-station ride from San Francisco to Oakland’s Coliseum Station, from which a tram takes you into the airport, cost $10.20 each. Add that to my $11.50 ferry ticket (my son’s was $5.75), the $9 Uber ride to the ferry, the $11.50 one-way fare on SMART, and $10 for the airport cab ride, our journey was pushing $70. In L.A., a Metro ride is just $1.75, with free transfers.
A few days later back in San Francisco, I was at a BART station, needing to get to San Jose on a Caltrain. BART and Caltrain share a station in Millbrae, but the schedules aren’t synchronized there, so I walked 25 minutes from BART’s Powell Station to the Caltrain at 4th and King.
In San Jose, I disembarked at Diridon Station, which may have a bright future as the northern terminus of California’s high-speed rail. But for now, it is just another setting for concoliseumnection frustration; I waited a half-hour for a train on Santa Clara County’s VTA system.
The next day, to get to San Jose Airport, I took Caltrain to the Santa Clara Station, which offers a VTA bus shuttle. But even in the rain, the bus driver refused to open the bus door for 15 minutes , and then took a meandering route by a soccer stadium.
For all its transit offers, the Bay Area has forgotten what’s most important: connections that serve riders. Right now, using transit there makes you feel powerless. That should be unacceptable in California’s most powerful region.
(Joe Matthews writes the Connecting California column for Zócalo Public Square. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
KURT 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."
A MAJOR contributing factor to the prevalent credulity has got to be the steady diet of lies we’ve all been force fed by government and its “experts” for nearly a hundred years now.
“EXCITING FALSEHOODS tend to do well in the perpetual referenda, and become self-validating. A search for almost any “alternative” theory or belief seems to generate more links to true believers’ pages and sites than to legitimate or skeptical ones, and those tend to dominate the first few pages of results. For instance, beginning in the ’90s, conspiracists decided that contrails, the skinny clouds of water vapor that form around jet-engine exhaust, were composed of exotic chemicals, part of a secret government scheme to test weapons or poison citizens or mitigate climate change—and renamed them chemtrails. When I Googled chemtrails proof, the first seven results offered so-called evidence of the nonexistent conspiracy. When I searched for government extraterrestrial cover-up, only one result in the first three pages didn’t link to an article endorsing a conspiracy theory.” — Kurt Andersen
BRIAN WOOD of Boonville points out, “Google tries to provide the shortest path to satisfy your query. Blame someone’s poor critical thinking skills when they can only bring up confirming information from their search. The right way to decide if something might be true is to see if you can disprove it. An intelligent search for the truth about chemtrails would not be “chemtrails proof”, but rather something like “chemtrails bogus”.
LEADERSHIP MENDOCINO seems your basic oxymoron given the civic functioning of our beloved home place. The only leadership I’m aware of, at least in the initiative-seizing sense, has come from Sheriff Allman. Whatever other virtues they may have, if you can think of a single initiative arising from fifty years of Northcoast supervisors, congressmen, assemblymen and state senators, please share it with the rest of us.
On September 3, 2017 at approximately 03:45 p.m., Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies received a call for service regarding a vandalism at Schlafer's Chevron located at 44901 Main Street in Mendocino. Deputies contacted the owner of the business and learned the credit card readers attached to the fuel pumps were intentionally damaged during the evening hours of 09-02-17. The amount of damage was estimated to exceed $10,000.00. Deputies investigated a similar vandalism at the same location on 08-01-2017 where credit cards readers were also damaged and the amount of damage also exceeded $10,000. Deputies investigating the incidents identified Robert Hollister, 53, of Little River, as the person responsible for that vandalism.
On 09-04-17 at approximately 11:30 a.m., Deputies contacted Hollister at his place of residence located in the 39000 block of Little River-Airport Road in Little River. During that contact deputies found evidence and instrumentalities in Hollister's possession that were used during the aforementioned vandalisms. Hollister was arrested on two counts of felony vandalism and transported to the Mendocino County Jail where he was booked on $25,000 bail. (Sheriff’s Press Release.)
(photo by Kathy Shearn)
MENDOCINO COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT REPORTS JURY ATTENDANCE NOT GREAT, THOUGH HIGHER THAN NATIONAL AVERAGE
THE UPCOMING NEW BUREAU OF CANNABIS CONTROL rules should be interesting. In the meantime, it seems strange that the Legislature could not even agree with one another that marijuana should not be brought onto or used on school grounds, at day care centers, or at youth centers even if the enrolled and attending children are not present at that particular moment in time ... period. What is the problem with making these places drug-free zones 24/7?
(Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office.)
CATCH OF THE DAY, September 4, 2017
Geyer, Hollister, Lane
STEVEN GEYER JR., Liverpool, New York/Redwood Valley. DUI-drugs.
ROBERT HOLLISTER JR., Little River. Vandalism.
SHAWN LANE, Fort Bragg. Parole violation.
Miller, Rathbloot, Sanchez
CORT MILLER, Covelo. Domestic abuse, false imprisonment, probation revocation.
AARON RATHBLOOT, Mendocino. Protective order violation, evidence tampering.
SAMUEL SANCHEZ, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol. (Frequent flyer.)
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE WEEK
My one visit to Houston, where I admit I ate well and bought some cool boots, was tinged by the realization that “this screwed up place is doomed.” They just paved over everything and the water had nowhere to go. Most US metro areas are like that, but nothing rivals what I saw in Houston. The Enron building was still there, then, too, another great symbol of US short-sightedness. Meanwhile, Irma? We are overdue for another hit in the Mid-Atlantic States. The last one featured me loading every firearm and sitting near an oil lamp while on a major thoroughfare nearby, bikers raced at 100mph and fired guns. We heard a few full-auto bursts that second night, before the cops resumed control. Just wait until the year in the not-too-distant future, when a warming Atlantic spawns five direct hits on the Gulf or East Coasts. New Orleans should have been the canary in the coal mine. Instead, we just keep killing the poor birds.
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “I asked that psycho cat, Skrag, what he thought about North Korea. He yawned and said, ‘I could care less, Little Dog. So long as there's someone left to open the cat food, I'm cool with whatever happens outside Boonville’."
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Yes, what is going on is a cosmic re-balancing, but not of the type you seem to believe. You see, life on this plane of existence is supposed to be difficult. In ripping the fossil fuels out of the ground, we incarnate-sentients have been engaging in an ultimately futile attempt to make life in the realm of physicality easier than it was meant to be (for the lucky few who got to enjoy those benefits). But in so doing we have tampered with the balances that keep the natural world hospitable for human life and activity, including and especially the climate.
And so we are “reaping the whirlwind” in ways both literal and figurative. I take no joy in the human suffering that will result from the natural balances reasserting themselves. It will all just continue making us crazier and crazier both individually and collectively until we understand how the universe really works. I’m not holding my breath about that just now.
CANDLESTICK, AUGUST 1985
CRACKER V CRACKER
by John Hardin
It really amazes me that we draw such strong class distinctions here in SoHum, where so few people have any class at all. On one side, we have cracker drug dealers posing as middle-class suburbanites, who wouldn’t know class if it bit them in the ass, but if you can buy a symbol of it, they have four. On the other side we have poor white trash for whom class is what we dropped-out of school to avoid. Is there really any difference between us? I sure don’t see it.
We all drink too much, take too many drugs and make big messes in the woods. We’re mostly ugly and unpleasant to be around, and very few of us can hold up our end of a conversation for long without dropping an F-bomb. We dress like shlubs and barely speak in complete sentences, but instead of recognizing our similarities, we search for petty distinctions that allow us to look down on each other, demonize each other and blame each other, rather than work together to find a solution. That’s the cracker way.
That’s why white people make such great fascists. Without the strict discipline of a strong leader, we all just turn on each other, like overcrowded hamsters, but if a leader can frighten us of a foreign enemy, we instantly become the most vicious killing machine that has ever stalked the planet. We don’t know how to look for common ground or a win/win situation. For us, the only way we know we’ve won, is when we see you lose. It’s a cultural thing, and it goes way back.
Usually, this kind of white cultural ugliness takes the form of racism, but we just don’t have enough non-white people here in SoHum to blame all of our problems on. Because of our lack of diversity, we’ve had to learn to hate each other based purely on perceived economic status. This has lead to a lot of “cracker on cracker” crime, as tensions flare between two groups of practically identical people who attack each other over differences they would pity each other for, if they weren’t so pitiful themselves. That’s how it is with white people. If they don’t have their foot on your neck, you have to pity them.
Here in SoHum, we have a housing shortage, so we make a distinction between those who manage to find a place to live, and those who get left outside at night. It’s a cruel distinction, and one that could be eliminated with a little compassion, cooperation and imagination, but that’s not the cracker way. Instead, we prefer a military solution. Like fools, we beg for more cops, stricter laws and harsher punishments. If we can’t solve the problem with violence, we won’t solve it at all.
When I hear our dope yuppies complain about the poor and homeless, they complain, very vociferously, about very minor offenses. They don’t like people standing on the sidewalks smoking cigarettes with their dogs and backpacks. They complain about people sitting on park benches for too long, and in too large of groups. They complain about people’s appearances, or about the appearances of their vehicles. They complain about open containers and smoking marijuana in public. They basically complain about people trying to live their lives as best they can.
On the other hand, when I hear homeless people complaining about the people who harass them, they complain about serious crimes and abusive behavior. They complain about having their tents slashed and their belongings stolen. They complain about being shot with paintball guns, threatened with firearms, and being physically assaulted and beaten up. They complain about having the Sheriff called on them because they were standing on the sidewalk talking to their friends, or about being photographed and videotaped by people who treat them as though they have no right to exist. They complain about being run off of the road when they are walking, or about trucks that slow down as they pass, and then hit the gas to spew a big cloud of diesel exhaust in their face. They complain about being profiled and blamed for things that they did not do, and they complain about collective punishment, violence and open hostility.
I understand class war, and I think class war is worth fighting, but if it weren’t for the weed industry, we’d all be poor, and on the same side. I like poor people. I don’t like to see people suffer, but I do enjoy the company of people who know how to make themselves happy, and enjoy their time on Earth without feeling the need to blow a ton of cash along the way.
The rules of class war are simple. If you aren’t on the side of the people who have less than you, you’re on the wrong side. Here’s why: The people who have less than you, need you, and they will remember you when you need them, but to the people who have more than you, you will always be expendable. Crackers never figure this out no matter how many times they get fired, laid-off, snitched-out, or otherwise hung out to dry. Crackers always fall for shiny material objects, fancy pageants and big crowds, and will buy into any kind of idiocy that makes them feel like part of it.
Now that the dope yuppies have money, and have gotten chummy with the trust-fund kids, this little drug ghetto they’ve created here has become an embarrassment, so they’re doing everything they can to ditch their poor neighbors and gussy-up the place to impress their new rich friends. It’s exactly what any stupid cracker would do. It’s in our blood. Crackers have sucked up to rich, phony friends for a hundred generations or more, and those rich, phony friends have never given us anything except poorer people to look down on. These days, I guess that’s all that most crackers expect from life.
Since we’re all white, none of us have any idea what respect is all about, and none of us knows how to solve anything except with violence. We’re pathetic. Unless we pitiful, stupid, white crackers can find some compassion in our hearts, the vision to see our commonalities over our differences, and the imagination to find a new way to live together, it’s a hopeless situation. I always thought that marijuana would help us rise above the pitfalls of our cracker heritage, but here in SoHum, I have to admit, it has only made things worse. We’ve seen it a million times, from the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s to the Jerry Springer Show, and now on the streets of Garberville. Cracker versus cracker just leaves a lot of crumbs.
(John Hardin writes at Like You’ve Got Something Better to Do. Courtesy, LostCoastOutpost.com)
PACKED TIGHT & PULLED SHORT
Confessions of a (Former) Coffee Jock
by Robert Mailer Anderson
Johnny Lunchbox was a workhorse with a lick-the-boot mentality. Clocking time. Waiting for his day to come, until out of boredom or necessity, he tied himself off with the brown junk. Just a taste; take it or leave it. But the euphoric sense of speed was overwhelming. He started each sip wanting another. Caffeine mainline. Liquidity. He made the six o'clock stroll to the cafe every morning, staying up later each night unable to sleep or dream or blink. You don't know a town until you've seen it sleep. Same as a woman. Then you can't wake up to the same face anymore; your own. Five generations of ghosts haunting every step, buried with Cala lilies, the grinding of an accordion, wheezing bagpipes, a roller piano; “Kiss me once, kiss me twice, kiss me once again, it's been a long, long time.” He knew the history etched in every epitaph. City hall burned. Creamery stood over there. Family had two houses the size of a city block with a big backyard, leveled for a gas station. Dogs hit by cars, running into streets as if they had swallowed magnetized bones. Sadie, Pal, Hank. He was going down too. Anxiety headaches. TMJ. Quality time ticking. Cold-turkey. Binge. Schizophrenic with everything but the pour; doppio, doppio, doppio. Clouds of foam billowing...
* * *
Bankrupt. I own 24% of an espresso bar inside a bookstore that has gone bankrupt. Dead animal. Lights off; mountain of mail on their counter, misshelved books, dust collecting, register removed from sight, no employees. Confused customers. I serve coffee inside this carcass, like Jonah bailing water from inside the whale, learning fast the language of lawyers, landowners, lessors, brokers, businessmen, potential investors, and the multitude of freaks who just want to talk. 80¢ buys my attention. I'm always on. Stringing people out on chit-chat, eye contact, spontaneous performance art, and caffeine. My life is a Mamet play; “Coffee's for closers.”
“Thanks a latte.”
I'll kill the next Kentfield housewife ordering a double half-caf vanilla soy mocha, flat with no chocolate, in a medium cup to stay. Who changes her mind? “Sorry, is it too late to just get a small decaf to go?” Not if you want to Fed-Ex this vegan speedball to some starving child in China or East Oakland who's willing to drink it cold, and pay for the pleasure. “But I don't want it.” Then why did you order it? “I don't know?” What am I supposed to do? “Give it to the next customer.” He wants a large coffee with room for cream, no lid. “How do you know?” Because he's ordered a large coffee with room for cream, no lid, every day for two years, and if he ordered something else I wouldn't give it to him. “What about the woman behind him?” Non-fat latte, extra chocolate. “Then we'll have to wait.” My life is a Beckett play.
The best theater takes place at the front of the line where there are plenty of games to play, including “customer's always right,” “stump the barrista,” “the great menu discovery,” “spill liquid spill,” and my favorite, “suddenly I'm a moron who doesn't now how to complete a simple cash transaction in a coffee shop when seconds earlier I was a successful businessman driving a $50,000 BMW.” Of course there are games barristas play: “Any milk will do,” “Certainly that's decaf,” “Coming right up,” and “No change for a $20.” There is also the improv that comes with overcaffeination: singing, dancing, swearing. Speaking in tongues. Bad jokes.
- Q: What's the difference between Neal Armstrong and Michael Jackson? A: Neal Armstrong walked on the moon, and Michael Jackson's a pedophile.
- Q: What's the difference between a crucifixion and a circumcision? A: In a crucifixion you throw out the whole Jew...
- A homeless guy opens the door and screams he's suing me because I'm responsible for the death of his brother, the S&L scam, Moses having only ten commandments, and JFK getting whacked in Texas. A woman wearing day-glo make-up, squeezed into a prom dress two sizes too small, screeches at the top of her lungs the song of all tortured souls. Someone takes a bath in the bathroom. No tub. The toilets are clogged with shit, stir sticks and a Victoria's Secret catalog. I don't want to know. Another indigent goes for the double-cup small-in-a-large scam (after receiving a small coffee in two large coffee cups, doubled because “it's too hot to carry,” the bum splits the coffee into the two large cups, filling them to the rim with half and half, creating two large au laits for the price of one small coffee. Cafe owners note: Milk, especially half-and-half, is significantly more expensive than coffee). Reagan's plan of “trickle down neurotics,” opening institutions and setting loose the loonies, is working. The insane are everywhere.
I remember a time in this town when if a man laid on the sidewalk, something was wrong. Now it's commonplace. Everyone is on the ground and it's just a question of which toes you're going to step on. Who's going to get the three count? The politically correct, the police, business owners, the environment, drugs, alcohol, indifference, apathy. Human kindness. People protesting soup kitchens. Christians, cannibals? I look at the mission, pink stucco surrounded by palm trees, backdrop of hills and cloudless sky. St. Raphael. I remember mass in Latin, hail marys, rosary beads. Site of my parents and grandparents marriage. Crosses to bear. If God gave his approval to that kind of sufferathon, he can give the nod to anything. I want to know, right along with Daniel Woodrell, what would have happened if they didn't crucify Christ? Would the world be different if they had only implemented a little Boonville justice? Took him out back and beat the holy shit out of him?
“Do you have a soy substitute?”
Telephone rings. It's my mother. She calls at a quarter to nine when the caffeine jones is coming down chaotic on our customers like a million monkeys descending the trees for a single banana. And they're about to be late for work. Dawn of the Dead. Man with the Golden Arm. “No Mom I can't talk now,” I say, scalding myself with the steamer wand, another tribal scar. Mark of the multitasker. Foam spurting in pornographic fashion. Money shot. “I love you too, Mom.” Rattle of coins in tip jar. I end every phone conversation — bakery add-ons, bill collectors, wrong numbers — with, “I love you too, Mom.” Watch the quarters tumble, singles stuffed into the coffee can. You have to work the tip jar — “Nice hair, great dress, fabulous shoes.” “How's Grandma in Des Moines?” “Go Niners!”
“I like my women the way I like my cake, white and moist. Unfortunately, she's like day-old coffee, cold and bitter.”
A dock worker at sea amidst the flotsam of middle aged Marin housewives wants his third double espresso. They want decal nonfat lattes, “Why Bothers.” I want to drink my green health shake, spirulina, mushroom extract, algae. Hedging my bets. Wheat grass and cocaine. Carrot juice and single malt. Cigars and a jog up Mt. Tam. He asks why I would drink such a toxic looking mess. I tell him, “It tastes alright and it's supposed to be good for you.” He says, “That's what they said about pussy!” Housewives freeze like hood ornaments. No rebuttal; Keely Smith is singing “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered.” I slide the guy his drink free; an award for the most offensive statement of the month. Sometimes you don't have to wait for all the entries.
Starbucks. Corporate America eroding the fabric of our lives. Advertising dollars at work. Elaborate lies about the quality of coffee sold by the millions. Billions served. McCoffee. The same people who brought you the Gulf War, a hole in the ozone, the five-second attention span. They've mallified America, destroyed your downtown, killed Mom and Pop's corner store, now their back to build in the graveyard. Pick on the bones of your hometown. One flavorless flavor über alles. “But they give to the community.” Like GM gave to Flint, Michigan. Exxon gives to the environment. Next time you're in Starbucks, ask to talk to the owner. Not the manager or a 1-800 number, the owner. See if he's around making foam, stacking milk crates, counting out change. Starbucks customers always ask what happened to the bookstore or the nice people that ran the quaint shop that used to be down the street. I tell them, “You killed them.”
Pop Quiz: I should a) choose quality coffee and a local business, b) support Seattle and a faceless corporation, c) walk up and down the street looking confused.
Caffeine and Cole Porter coursing through my veins, I fall into a rhythm, the camaraderie of the morning crowd; men and women on their way to work. I enjoy the interaction, strangers becoming acquaintances, friends… A community. Playfully joking, recounting boxscores, birthday dinners, movie reviews. Headlines. Daily life. The anonymous anxiety that permeates each and every one of us living with the foregone conclusion of apocalypse. Still making the gesture. Getting up early to battle windmills. Pay the rent. Mow the lawn. Dignity. Hope. I feel partially responsible for this atmosphere, this unnamed enthusiasm, for creating this space. But by the end of my shift, I can't make another latte. All foamed out. I lean back against the refrigerator, sliding to the ground, floor mats sticking to my jeans like honeycomb, contemplating Caffe Valeska from a new angle. Cash register looming like a God. I know the real problem, the true source of my neurosis: I'm not a morning person.
THE WORST ILLITERATE is the political illiterate. He hears nothing, sees nothing, takes no part in political life. He doesn't seem to know that the cost of living, the price of beans, of flour, of rent, of medicines all depend on political decisions. He even prides himself on his political ignorance, sticks out his chest and says he hates politics. He doesn't know, the imbecile, that from his political non-participation comes the prostitute, the abandoned child, the robber and, worst of all, corrupt officials, the lackeys of exploitative multinational corporations.
— Bertolt Brecht
by James Kunstler
Happy Labor Day everybody. Forward from here, things get jiggy. The nation faces a pile-up of events as we turn the corner on summer and head into the spook-house of autumn.
This will be the week when the reeking after-effects of Harvey’s journey through Houston become super-vivid. It’s going to be hot-hot-hot there all week, perfect conditions for mold to creep through untold square-footage of soggy sheetrock and plenty of nutriment in the toxic gumbo of lingering standing water for mosquitoes and bacteria to breed like crazy. Bigger surprises will be waiting for some:
HOUSTON (CNN) — A Texas homeowner returned to his flood-marred home Friday in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey to a shocking surprise: a 10-foot gator in his living room. Brian Foster made the discovery while assessing how badly the water had damaged his house near Lake Houston, north of Houston….
The news media are already calling Harvey the costliest storm in US history, with estimates running to $180 billion. But damage assessments are incomplete for highways, surface roads, bridges, railroad tracks, water and sewer systems, public buildings, dams (Addicks and Barker), natural gas terminals, and port facilities, not to mention homes and business structures. Texas is the nation’s number one cotton producer and the storm blew away many temporary cotton bale storage modules following a bumper harvest. Corn, soybeans, and cattle were also affected.
The Colonial Pipeline’s hookups to the refineries west of Lake Charles, Louisiana, won’t reopen fully until Tuesday at the earliest. The pipeline conveys 40 percent of the gasoline consumed from Atlanta to Washington, D.C. and extends up to the New York metro area. By next weekend Hurricane Irma looks like she’ll be slamming into the US Atlantic coast somewhere between Jacksonville and the Carolina Outer Banks as a category 3 or 4 event. There’s even talk today of possible cat 5. Will there be enough gasoline on hand for the folks at risk to evacuate? Stand by on that.
Much of western North America is burning up. British Columbia closed off its rivers to fisherman because 680 wildfires had broken out across the Canadian province this summer and 73 were still listed as “out-of-control” on Sunday. San Francisco set a record high temperature of 106 this past weekend. Down in Los Angeles, the county endured the largest wildfire in its history. The La Tuna Canyon blaze scorched 7,000 acres on the edge of Burbank. This morning it was at 30 percent containment after some Sunday rain showers.
Okay, that’s just the weather. You surely couldn’t fail to miss the weekend’s big news story out of North Korea: an underground hydrogen bomb test that set off a 6.3 magnitude earthquake felt across the border in China. Kim Jung-un was photographed with an alleged missile-ready weapon capable of inflicting an electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) attack on the USA (though in the photo the device looked sort of like a 1938 washing machine barely capable of laundering a load of dishtowels). In theory, such an EMP could fry every electrical device over a large US region, from George Foreman grills to your car’s ignition system to the whole electric grid. After that, nothing works and would take years to fix and there’s a fair chance that nothing would ever work again. Disturbing, huh?
The Sunday Cable News chat-fests were full of politicians and assorted experts saying there was “no good option” available to deal with the North Korean threat. I’m not so sure about that because why would our military reveal a workable option if they had one? Mr. Trump, our (ahem) president made the point explicitly a dozen times during the election campaign that it would be foolish to reveal our military plans in advance of any action. Perhaps he meant it. You’d also have to suppose that computer jocks in the US military / intel sub-basements of northern Virginia are working around the clock to find some way to turn Kim into a platter of smoldering bulgogi by wireless command — and we won’t hear about it until after he’s eaten by his former flunkies and lackeys.
Finally, there are the accumulating hazards kludging up the sputtering engine of the US economy. Houston’s travails will take the GDP down a notch to Q1 2018 and Irma might take it negative. The oft-referenced debt-ceiling problem remains unresolved, and now it appears to have entailed the sticky problem of Hurricane damage relief — and who knows if Houston will ever recover no matter how much money is thrown at it. Dragging out the debt ceiling issue would lead to a chain of government defaults on its obligations, problems for US Treasury paper in the bond markets, and pressure on the dollar.
There are few shelters from the financial storm. In an emergency, the Federal Reserve might take a U-turn back to QE mode. That “liquidity” (money created out of thin air) would rush in to further inflate the over-stuffed stock markets. But without a QE pump, the markets may have already suckered in the last remaining liquidity pools on the buy-side, leaving the sell-side an empty echo-chamber if and when the market mood changes. Gold and silver have already launched into a zoom cycle, finally defeating the years-long efforts by interested parties, shall we say, to squash them in the paper markets. Bitcoin has been zooming all summer. I’m not a fan of the crypto-currencies. They are figments of the server farms, and they’re reproducing wildly like digital yeasts, and in the end they are at the mercy of those computer servers and an electrical grid that is less reliable than even economists might imagine.
There’s always excitement in the quickeningly chill air of fall, back to school, back to work, and back to what passes for reality these in these late days of empire. Finally, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Special Counsel Robert Mueller stepped up with a surprisingly sudden bill of particulars in the quest to pry Mr. Trump out of the just-redecorated oval office. The Deep State longs for that fatal lever, but it would come at a time when so many other perturbations are shaking things loose, the satisfaction might not last long.
(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page: https://www.patreon.com/JamesHowardKunstler)
TO UNDERSTAND RISING INEQUALITY, Consider the Janitors at Two Top Companies, Then and Now
by Neil Irwin
DAVID SWANSON was a guest on the show, Heroes and Patriots, KMEC Radio, last Monday. Please see information included.
Contact: Leah Bolger, chair of World Beyond War coordinating committee email@example.com, 541-207-7761; David Swanson director of World Beyond War firstname.lastname@example.org
Conference to Bring Together Environmental and Peace Movements