Off the Record

by AVA News Service, November 25, 2010

WILL PARRISH'S truly excellent series on the wine industry can be found in its entirety at theava.com. It's the first comprehensive investigation of the Northcoast's dominant enterprise (apart from marijuana, of course) from a critical perspective to appear anywhere.

ALEXANDER COCKBURN, best known lately on the Northcoast as an uncle of actress Olivia Wilde, but everywhere else as the best writer on political affairs in the English language, will speak Friday, December 3, at the Caspar Community Center on “Obama’s Wars: Iraq, Afghanistan and Those to Come." The meeting is spon­sored by Mendocino Parents for Peace. For more infor­mation please contact Mendocino Parents for Peace at 962-9213.

A YOUNG LADY asked me recently, "Isn't that Cock­burn guy who writes for your paper related to Olivia Wilde?" I said, "Who's Olivia Wilde?" The young lady said, "She's a famous actress." Then it all came back to me. Cockburn had mentioned that one of his nieces had become a movie star, and I remembered that I'd once hiked up to Headwaters Forest with Cockburn and Miss Wilde, who was then 15 or 16. She and another of Cock­burn's nieces had been staying with him in Petrolia. We'd made the trek that day to scope out exactly what our government had bought in the way of forest. Cockburn had packed the girls a lunch, and I remember one of them extracting an item from a paper bag and theatrically exclaiming, "Why, it's a raw onion. How thoughtful of you, Uncle Alex!" That was probably the actress, Miss Wilde.

REGISTRAR of Voters Sue Ranochak released the final-final vote count early Tuesday morning. Nothing changed. The preliminary results released the day after the November 2nd was confirmed.

STATE SENATOR-ELECT NOREEN EVANS, a "pro­gressive" as certified by the Northcoast's closely held unprogressive Democratic Party, has wasted no time clambering aboard the corporate-funded junket wagon. Evans and 21 colleagues from the State legislature recently enjoyed a free week at the Fairmont Kea Lani Hotel on Maui where Evans was so busy discussing the state prison system with prison guards, pollution with major polluters, utility regulation with utility companies opposed to regulation, and green energy with fossil fuel people that she barely had time to do anything in her $450-a-day room but sleep, and not with the lobbyists who paid for her trip either, wise guy. On the safe assumption that the people who voted for her are morons, Evans defended her lush jaunt by telling the Press Democrat, “The way I try to approach my job is to look at things from all sides, even sides I don’t agree with. If someone wants to say I was unduly influenced, I guess they could,” she said. “But my voting record speaks for itself." It does, too. Evans' wine-friendly vot­ing record as an Assembly-cipher was at least as pro­gressive as Wes Chesbro's, and it certainly isn't Noreen's fault the state is looking at a deficit of $25 billion. Hell, she went all the way to Maui to try to straighten things out.

BILL HURD of Reidsville, North Carolina, writes: "In Derrick Jensen's book, Endgame, he reports a quote from B. Traven which appeared in the August 18, 2004 edition of the AVA, perhaps on page 8. Would it be possible to obtain from you the exact reference to B. Traven's work from which the quote was taken? I first became aware of Traven when I shipped as a deckhand on a small, Danish freighter out of Vera Cruz, Mexico, more than 40 years ago. One of the few books in English in the ship's library was a tattered copy of The Death Ship. Later I read and came to love The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. This quote might have been from The Death Ship but I don't remember it: 'Whether it takes me four weeks or 14 hours to get to Hamburg from Munich is less important to my happiness and to my humanity than the question: How many men who yearn for sunlight just as I do must be imprisoned in factories, their healthy limbs and lungs sacrificed in order to build a locomotive? For me the only important thing is: The more swiftly our thriving economy is brought to ruin, the more pitilessly the last remnant of industry is wiped out, the sooner people will have enough to eat and have a small measure of that happiness to which every man has a right'." The AVA's erudite readership will surely be able to tell Mr. Hurd which of Traven's books this quote came from. We grouped on it here at the office, preliminarily concluding, as The Major put it, "on a best guess basis," that the quote comes from Traven's "The White Rose," in which, we vaguely recalled, there's a reference to a trip to Munich.

A READER WRITES: "The MAC Mendo Art Center is self-destructing in rather spectacular fashion under the wacky 'leadership' of their egocentric director and his interfering girl friend. It's hilarious to listen to the 'We-are-the-real-artists-of-Mendocino' freak the hell out about those two. It's sort of a shame that the rich old ladies won't have anywhere to take classes if the whole show slides off the bluffs into the sea."

TIBURCIO VASQUEZ was, for a time, the best known outlaw in America and, as described in a just-released biography called Bandito by San Francisco-based John Boessenecker, certainly among the most active highway robbers in America's flush history of banditry. Vasquez was a Californio, that doomed race of Spanish-descended Californians who began arriving in the state when it was a northern frontier of Mexico, some of them conquista­dores who rode in to what became San Francisco with Junipero Serra while Serra himself, ever the ascetic, walked the whole way from Mexico City. It's always striking how fast our history is moving, especially when you consider that Father Serra staggered into the Bay Area a mere 224 years ago. Serra's string of missions were California for the next seventy years or so until the missions were secularized, i.e. became the private prop­erty of connected Mexicans. California became the native home of several thousand rural aristocrats presid­ing over vast ranchos from San Diego to, of all places, Hopland here in Mendocino County, the whole of it casually administered out of Mexico. These brief gen­erations of "Californios," whose ancestral home was Monterey, which is where Vasquez and, earlier, General Vallejo, were born. The Californios, and their gracefully vigorous rancho lives were overwhelmed by the Gold Rush of 1850, the Californios dispossessed. By then, California had been formally annexed by the United States. Vasquez was one of many dispossessed Cali­fornios who spent the rest of his life dispossessing Yan­kee travelers of whatever valuables they had on them, right down to their watches and boots, if the boots were new and the watches were gold watches. His biggest heist occurred when he and his gang robbed a whole town near what is now Fresno. In between forays holding up stage coaches, rural stores, bars, and the occasional Anglo whore house, and in between stays at San Quentin where he organized an all-time record four break-outs, Vasquez, revered by Californios and Mexicans, depended on remote settlements of his admirers to hide him from the law, what little law there was from 1850 to 1870 or so. (Lynch law was more prevalent than the courtroom type.) Vasquez had flair. He read poetry and even wrote some. He also sang his way into the arms of many women, married and single. Bandito is a wonderful of picture of California as it was from the Gold Rush through the full establishment of a coherent state, which only really commenced about 1880. Vasquez, inciden­tally, hid out for a while at the Feliz ranch based in Hopland, and there's an account of him being chased into the hills above Anderson Valley in 1865 by the legen­dary Mendocino County lawman, Doc Standley.  I was pleased to see that Boessenecker's fascinating biography of Vasquez is dedicated to the late Jack Reynolds, who died in Willits about ten years ago. Jack's late wife, Rosalie, is also cited by the author for her help with his marvelous book. Rosalie is fondly remembered by many in the Anderson Valley where she lived for many years following the death of her husband. The author says the Reynolds, retired from the antiquarian book business, were of huge assistance to him in locating the source material for his project. Boessenecker is clearly a formi­dable researcher. He has tracked down people, towns and even two-shack hamlets deep in the Coast Range that haven't existed for a hundred and fifty years. This book is highly recommended for anyone interested in the true history of the Golden State.

MRS. RICHARD KRUSE called Monday. She was not happy. Mrs. Kruse has ample reason not to be happy. Her husband is looking at multiple charges of the sexual abuse of girl children.  Mrs. Kruse says he's not guilty, that he'll be cleared. She says last week's item about Kruse suggested "he's guilty because he's ugly." I had to admit that I've seen more attractive people, but the link­ing of an assumption of guilt to physical appearance was hers, not ours. Heck, if criminality was assumed based on externals most of us would be doing life. Mrs. Kruse went on to say that "People go for Shar Peis because they're ugly, and people like English bulldogs because of their heart," suggesting that looks aren't everything or anything at all when the person inside is good. "But," Mrs. Kruse said, "you're saying he's ugly so he must be guilty. I can tell you," she went on, "that this man is adored by 250 children, and we have the letters from many people that he isn't what he's been accused of being. This man will be found innocent. Don't try him just because he isn't a pretty boy!" Mrs. Kruse pointed out that pretty pedophiles "have a much easier time than ugly ones. I'm a little bit ashamed of what you put in the paper." Well, that will save me from being ashamed, although I agree with Mrs. Kruse that being accused of vile crimes is not the same as being convicted of them. We'll be watching this case, and you'll certainly be reading about it. Meanwhile, Mr. Kruse, 67, is being held at the Mendocino County Jail with bail set at $500,000.

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