Valley People

by AVA News Service, July 8, 2010

GUESS WHO'S coming to Navarro? Walter Trout, a blues guitar man impresario Dave Evans describes as “Guitar Shorty times ten. This guy will rock the redwoods, I promise you that. We've been trying to get him to come here for three years now and, at last, here he comes, this Saturday night, 7pm, Navarro Store.” Expect Pablo on the grill and the usual friendly crowd of Mendo folks confident of a nice night under the stars with top-flight entertainment.

WE'D HOPED to have a photo of Mr. Trout but, just before noon Tuesday, our internet server conked out. A frantic call to Scott Pratt, our only known link to cyber-space, soon had Scott explaining that he'd just learned that a road crew laboring somewhere “between Ukiah and Manchester,” had accidentally severed the fiber-optic cable. It's almost 2pm, this week's edition is has one foot in bed and sayonara outside world until next week.

THE HIGHLY REGARDED documentary film, The Most Dangerous Man In America – Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers – will be shown at the Anderson Valley Grange, Philo, Sunday, July 18th, at 6:30 pm. Ellsberg, who lives in Mill Valley, has been invited to attend. Filmmakers Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith will be here for a bankable fact.

HOTTER than Hades here on the 4th, too hot for this old dog to sit out in the sun at the Fairgrounds celebration which always takes me back to the 4th of July's of my youth. Those were pretty raucous events, and fascinating to kids. They featured a parade followed by fire hose water fights between volunteer fire departments and a community barbecue replete with serious drinking and lots of highly amusing adult hijinks. These days with the population living in constant fear of lawyers and liability questions the 4th of July is soft drinks, organic hot dogs, a tug-of-war, games for little kids, and everyone outtathere by nightfall. I miss the old 4ths, frankly.

AN IRATE CALLER said he was being gouged by local filling stations where regular sold at Navarro was going for $3.59 a gallon; $3.39 at Philo; and $3.62 at Boonville. I was soon informed, however, that most of the station's in the County have just been notified that their taxes were again being raised by the state, hence the high prices at the pump. As the people who follow these things keep telling us the oil we depend on comes from places ever more difficult to extract it from, The Gulf, for disastrous instance.

THE GOODELLS of Boonville write: “Charlie Hochberg (of Philo) started developing his own film and printing photos in eighth grade in a friend's dad's darkroom. He says that his photographs are inspired by the pictorialist movement of the early 20th century, and consist primarily of painterly landscapes and panoramas.' He has just hung an incredible display of his photographs of Anderson Valley and Mendocino County's natural landscapes at the new AV Land Trust office in the Missouri House (Boonville) for the Art Walk on July 10th. You will definitely want to see them! In addition to the Art Walk you can come by during our office hours from 9-1 on Mondays and Thursdays or call the office at 895-3150 to arrange a viewing time.”

I ADMIRE CHARLIE'S work, too, admire it to where I shelled out a couple of times at Rookie-To for Charlie's panoramas, one as a gift, one for myself because of their almost eerie resemblance to a rare aesthetic experience I once shared with my late dog, Rosco. Rosco and I were prowling the high ridges east of Boonville on a full moon night. The fog had moved in below us, extending a last fingery wisp deep into a canyon between us, Karen Ottoboni's place and Hopland. The moon came up quickly as full moons do, and there we were, seemingly marooned atop a silent, illuminated inland sea. Rosco seemed unmoved, but I thought about going back to church.

OLD TIMERS and first timers alike will be pleased to learn that the Gualala Hotel, erected more than a century ago, has been resurrected by Bob Sundstrom of that fine community. Beautiful old place complete with beautiful old bar, architecturally almost identical to our Boonville Hotel.

FITCH RATINGS has downgraded Mendocino County's credit worthiness from A plus to A, meaning several consecutive years of deficit spending has made Mendo a riskier overall proposition than it was when the economy was flush.

MR. JOHN Q. OLSON, pilot and walking billboard appeared in the office the other day with a headwrap featuring a large purple stone to the front of it. He reminded me of Korla Pandit. He was still purple from the early morning motorcycle ride over the hill from Point Arena. Mr. Olson is on the road selling four books, one of them with no words “for people who don't like to read.” His other three books are about his hang gliding adventures in many parts of the world. Mr. Olson told me he'd just been cited by the federal park police for selling his books in the Presidio of San Francisco. “Illegal book sales!” he thundered. “A $275 fine! Soliciting business without authorization!” He rumbled on about the injustice of not being allowed to sell books “of all things” on public property “in the land of free enterprise.” I said I sympathized and advised him to contest the fine. “But I can't afford a lawyer,” he said. Better yet, I replied. You might win. At glances one through a hundred Mr. Olson came off as a nut, but when he finally trundled off, his sandwich boards clattering off the hallway and stair rails, I started reading one of the books. He's not a bad writer. A lot of his anecdotes were funny, and written well enough to capture my fleeting attentions. Mr. Olson's books now reside at Laughing Dog, Boonville. On a scale of ten I'd give them a solid five.

IT WAS HOTTER than hot here but the high seas off the Mendocino Coast here were rough and cold, so rough they capsized a 32-foot Alameda-bound catamaran sailing south from Crescent City. The two men and one woman aboard were pitched into the Pacific where they remained for almost a fatally hypothermic hour before the Coast Guard helicopter arrived to save them. The three had not thought to equip themselves with survival suits and had been briefly pinned beneath the overturned craft. The wind was blowing at 52 knots, whipping up 20-foot waves. The rescued trio was flown to the Ukiah Valley Medical Center where they were hospitalized overnight then released, physically none the worse for their ordeal but mentally shaken by it.

LAUGHING DOG BOOKS, the fine new and used Boonville book store just opened by Dan and Loretta Hauck at Tom Town, represents a supreme act of faith in books by the Haucks in this, the age of The Hand Held Gizmo. We all keep hearing that non-electronic print is dead, but I've visited Laughing Dog four times already and on three of those visits the store was crowded, a very good omen not just for the Haucks but the culture generally.

A MAJOR book guy, Jonah Raskin, stopped in at the paper on Monday where he quizzed us on the marijuana business. Professor Raskin teaches at Sonoma State University, but he's best known as a writer who manages a good, clear style mercifully free of academic sludge. His book on Jack London is one of the two best books on the old boy, the other being the just released “Wolf, the Lives of Jack London” by James Haley. London, at least twice, stayed at the Boonville Hotel with his wife Charmian as he, America's very first international celebrity, toured the Mendocino Coast on expeditions mounted from his home at Glen Ellen. The Londons, accompanied by the second of the two Japanese valets London employed during his drink-abbreviated life, traveled by horse-drawn cart. There's lately a lot of indignant, retroactive huffing and puffing of the politically correct type about London's “racism,” especially at his infamous phrase “Yellow Peril” and his alleged description of Jim Jeffries as “The Great White Hope” in the run-up to the 4th of July fight between Jack Johnson and Jeffries. London came away from that fight with great respect for Johnson both as a fighter and as a very smart and gracious man. Asked by a reporter why white women seemed so attracted to him, Johnson famously replied, “Because we eat live, cold eels and we think distant thoughts,” which I've always considered the wittiest remark ever uttered by an athlete. I'd be pleased to lecture you individually on the etiology of “Yellow Peril” because it's too long for this space. Better yet, read Raskin's book.

PROFESSOR RASKIN asked me if I could find him a hipneck to interview. Hipneck? What's a hipneck? A hipneck is the issue of a hippie and a redneck. Hipnecks began to appear when the children of the first wave hippies hooked up with children of the long-time locals, the latter almost always considered rednecks by the hippies although these so-called rednecks tended to be much more tolerant than the hippies who tended then, and tend now, heavily to self-righteousness. These hippie-redneck unions made for some tense wedding ceremonies, but everything seems to have worked out as both sets of mutually uncomprehending grandparents doted on the resulting little hipneck. Geneticists might help us know why these cross-breedings invariably resulted in hipnecks rather than new batches of fortified hippies, but it seems kind of like the known fact that Native Americans never abandoned their lives as Indians to become white people, but thousands of white people abandoned Caucasian-ville to become Indians. Anyway, if you're a Hipneck, Professor Raskin would like to interview you for his next book.

HUGE POT BUST by the CAMP (Campaign Against Marijuana Production) aka Marijuana Price Support Unit, last week west of Flynn Creek Road, Comptche – 21211 plants pulled up. As the raid team rolled back over the hill on Orr Springs Road someone took a shot at one of their vehicles, knocking out a window. Pot-Symps say the window was shattered by gravel flung up by the vehicle itself, as if the cops don't know the difference between a gunshot and a pebble.

JB REYNOLDS WRITES: “A few years ago I happened to blunder into the Palm House, the big showy glass greenhouse in London's Kew Gardens (actually the first greenhouse ever purpose-built) the summer they had their Glorious Accident. For a century they'd employed stewards to open and close the building's all-important vents controlling the temperature — — strangely, for being in a city with a pretty indifferent climate, the Palm House can get plenty hot inside. In the 1980s they installed an automated monitor system which electronically opened and closed the windows according to a thermostat, and of course eventually it broke down one afternoon, so in the main room it suddenly started to get up into the 110s and higher with frightful humidity. I think the administrators were more worried about the visitors than the residents (plants don't sue you, after all, for fainting from heat prostration, and anything over 74 degrees fells Londoners by the drove) so they scurried to secure the funds to fix the system, until it was discovered that some rare old cactus-like plant which had been there since Queen Victoria's day was, for the first time, suddenly starting to flower! All this while it had been waiting for the stupendo climate extremes it had enjoyed back home — South America, Afghanistan, South Africa ... who knows where. My 4 year old son and I clambered around in the dang place until we could hardly stand it any longer (we even took our shirts off, it was so roaring hot & humid in there, and I believe partial disrobing is still a serious crime in England) but I'm dashed if I couldn't find the zowee plant in question; or maybe I did, and hadn't recognized it — after ten minutes in that swelter I was probably envisioning a thing the size and shape of a Triffid, if not bigger and weirder, and it was likely just an ordinary looking exhibit. If you ever (god forbid) find yourself in Los Angeles, a very pleasing afternoon can still be spent in the Huntingdon Mansion's grounds off in hoity toity San Marino. I particularly recommend the two acre cactus garden. No cactus on earth could possibly enjoy a more riley-like existence than those guys have, and they've grown into utterly spectacular formations. Second behind them is the cactus patch at “Lotusland” in Montecito (near Santa Barbara). Both spots are weird but idyllic pools of calm within too-hectic surroundings. Rather like the Royal Gardens at Kew, in fact.”

A COUNTY EMPLOYEE provided us with a copy of this week’s “Memo of the Week II” concerning cigarette butt disposal. Nobody is against some kind of public outreach on the evils of tobacco but why, when the County is broke to the point of laying off deputies is there even such a thing as a County “Stormwater Team”? Isn’t there a single non-profit group out there who can handle this subject more effectively than the County Water Agency at no cost to the taxpayers? PS. To the extent that cigarette butts end up in storm drains (the estimate here of 50% seems high), isn’t that an unintended consequence of forcing the smokers outside?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *