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MCT: Monday, August 24, 2020

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SCATTERED SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS will spread north across northwest California this morning and afternoon, and then exit the region tonight. Additional isolated thunderstorm development will be possible over portions of Trinity county during Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon. Otherwise, seasonably warm temperatures typical of late August will occur across the interior during the next seven days. (NWS)

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WE RECEIVED the sad news Sunday morning that Miguel Ridolfi has died. Only 46, a resident of Philo, Miguel is remembered as a dedicated EMT and a volunteer with the Anderson Valley Ambulance. 

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Remains In Effect From 11 Pm This Evening To 11 Pm Monday. Make Preparations.

Fire Starts Due To Abundant Lightning Possible Tonight Through Monday Evening.

Affected Area: Coastal Mendocino County


THUNDERSTORMS. Scattered thunderstorms will pose a threat for fire starts due to lightning.

OUTFLOW WINDS...Gusty thunderstorm winds will cause ongoing fires to behave erratically.

IMPACTS. Any fires that develop will likely spread rapidly. Outdoor burning is not recommended.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS. A Red Flag Warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now, or will shortly. A combination of dry fuels, lightning strikes, and gusty thunderstorm winds can contribute to extreme fire behavior.

A moist and unstable mid-level airmass is forecast to spread north across the region today. As that takes place, isolated thunderstorms may develop over Mendocino and Lake counties this evening. Additional thunderstorm development will be more likely tonight into Monday afternoon across much of Northwest California as the remnants of a tropical system move north across the area. Lightning combined with dry fuels will increase the threat for fire starts. 

Issued By Eureka CA, National Weather Service

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WALBRIDGE FIRE is now 50,069 acres and 0% contained. Cal Fire says Walbridge is their top priority for today across the entire LNU Lightning Complex. Across the entire LNU Lightning Complex (which includes Hennessey, Gamble, 15-10, Spanish, Markley, 13-4, 11-16, and Walbridge fires) it is 314,207 Acres, 15% contained with 125 Structures Damaged, 560 Structures Destroyed, 4 Injuries and sadly 4 fatalities. 

Sunday they were expecting winds from the south west that may push the fire north east. Plus potentially more lightning, thunderstorms and a fire weather watch. It is really smokey and thick in Healdsburg today due to the winds pushing the smoke our direction. 

Ariel Kelley

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Mendocino County Public Health posted Sunday @ 4:42 pm: "COVID-19 Daily Update – 8/23/2020

Five additional cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Mendocino County, bringing the total to 629.

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FEMA has approved a grant for California that would fund $300 per week to Californians who are unemployed due to COVID-19, in addition to their regular unemployment benefit.

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Beginning August 23, 2020, 10:30 AM

Parking lot in front of the Methodist Church building

Pastor Dave Kooyers from Valley Bible Fellowship will present;

“What is The Gospel?”

Free Admission/Everyone Welcome

No offering will be taken.

All Covid-19 precautions will be taken;

Less than 50 people

More than 6 feet between families

Face coverings required

No touching (Cooties are everywhere)

No Holy kissing

Outdoor singing is OK (or make melody in your heart)

Please come and join us for worship every Sunday until further notice.

Ephesians 5:19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.

For additional information please feel free to call Pastor Dave Kooyers (707) 895-2325,

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I was extremely sorry when I received a phone call from Gavrilah Wells telling me that her father, Peter, had passed away, actually doubly so because I had known Peter longer than any of my current friends but had let the thought and previous experiences of driving the county’s worse paved road, the one that runs the 37 miles on Orr Springs Rd. where I live through Comptche to the coast, keep me from visiting Peter in recent years. 

We first met in Sausalito in 1960 or 1961 when he was managing the Trident, a restaurant and jazz club on the town’s waterfront and then when he and his first wife Ricky, who had gone to school with my sister in Los Angeles, became my neighbors on a narrow dirt road, only fit for walking, in the Mill Valley hills, we saw each other every day as did our respective shepherd-Irish wolfhound mixes, Rocky and Sam, who were brothers, separated at birth. 

When Peter married Diane, his second wife and lived near Muir Beach, I was a frequent visitor and remember well the wonderful time we spent getting his mother, Edna, to pose for my photos, including one standing in the surf with a pitchfork, that would become collectable posters from her restaurant, Edna’s Fish & Chips on Columbus Ave. in North Beach, with one later turning up, to my delight, at The Troubadour, a popular cafe and music venue in London’s Earl’s Court. Well before the ATM, Edna’s was where I went to cash checks on nights out in San Francisco. 

Peter’s sense of humor and laughter was infectious and embraced everyone around him. Like the world was, at least, in part, a colossal joke but one that we all could share. I still can hear him laughing. 


Jeff Blankfort


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Machtig Redaktor,

The thing that has always annoyed me about David Yearsley’s column is his stuffing the space with loads of musical techno-gabble, “descending arpeggios of muted minor 7ths” and on and on, that mean nothing to the average reader. But in “Celebration of Change” he takes his Green Book gloves off his piano hands and pounds the cum out of his Mighty Wurlitzer. Congratulations, a great read!

Jay Williamson

Santa Rosa

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by Tommy Wayne Kramer

It was supposed to be yet another hot day in a long line of the hottest days of 2020. Temperature predicted at 103. At least the 103 was Fahrenheit.

That’s a small joke, but still, another day of blistering heat seemed a lot big much, given we’d been blistered plenty all week. Lawns and gardens were exhausted. Dogs found cool spots and laid on them.

Wife Trophy walked around with a glazed look and searching for her own cool spot. She considered nudging aside the dog. I drank cold beer.

So when Aug. 17, 2020 arrived we expected more of the same: punishing waves and wallops of heat.

And then, in what may have been the most spectacular weather forecasting miscalculation in Ukiah history, the day dawned cool, gray and still. I was in the front yard at 5:30 a.m. and stood looking upwards until my neck ached.

I was rewarded with a face full of rain. Then stillness and clouds, mostly mottled gray and with an odd still serenity. I got coffee and came back out.

A few extra, bigger drops fell on my head and then came the lightning. Then came the thunder.

Lightning billowed behind layers of clouds in a creamy orange glow. Thunder erupted in sharp crashes. Thunder ricocheted in mighty cascades seemingly from Willits to Hopland and to the coast and back. Lightning and thunder in California are roughly equivalent to palm trees and surfboards in Ohio. My wife was startled at the noise and the glowing clouds but her response was mild compared to the dog’s. The dog thought the house was collapsing and scurried off to get under it. We left her inside and stood staring at the sky as heavy raindrops splattered across our upturned beaming faces.

Trophy was thrilled, and it was a perfect start to a day we’re unlikely to experience again anytime soon, unless it’s raining again right now as you read. Anything can happen. It did last Monday, for instance.

And then it stopped, I took the dog for a long walk and when I got back Trophy took her for another. We assumed the gaudy light show and wild precipitation was over, but we were wrong.

Not as wrong as the newspaper’s weather forecaster, of course, who by noon was probably unemployed and looking for work in the booming umbrella sales industry.

Rain coughed and sputtered back to life an hour or two later, delighting the flowers, ducks and froggies, and further puzzling all the rest of us.

It came near raining all day, and in our memories it will have done exactly that. A little later, although the steely skies never gave way to blue and sunlight, the rains interrupted themselves and I leashed up the dog and set out on a second big walk.

It was 3 o’clock when we headed south down the sidewalk and by 3:01, at the corner of Smith Street, the rains resumed.

The sprinkles got heavier and I got happier. Warm summer weather and rain are a Midwestern thing. You wouldn’t understand. I stuffed my ball cap in a back pocket and walked west a quarter mile or so to Highland Avenue, pelted and moist all the way.

The lightning, obscured by sheets of cloud, was barely noticeable, but the thunder more than made up for it. By this point the dog paid no attention at all.

The thunder rocked and caromed around the valley in heavy, cracking thuds, delivering big booms I felt in my chest like those thick old bass guitar throbbings that opened a Led Zeppelin show at Winterland, circa ’74. You had to be there.

Or else you had to be in Ukiah in August, circa ’20.

‘I’m (Sob!) Unworthy!’

It’s awkward to be included on the commemorative display outside Anton Stadium, and the honor far exceeds my contributions.

I’m mildly embarrassed to be included on a list of local legends and luminaries like Bob & Susie Hardie, all those Ledfords, Jeff and Dianna Trouette, the Pomas, Ernie Wipf and scores more.

I’m humbled and proud, an odd combination, and thank those responsible.

Old & in the way

We can hardly tell when we slip quietly out of middle age and into elderhood, and it must be difficult to determine when it is we’ve arrived in

Alzheimerville. Here are some tips:

1) You keep talking up Walter Mondale for President.

2) Friends clip magazine articles out for you with titles like “Is it Too Late to Sell My Pancreas? Ask Your Doctor Now!”

3) Your spouse invites a neighbor over to help you set the table for lunch.

4) You keep forgetting to put your socks and car keys in the mailbox.

(Tom Hine has been writing under the ‘Tommy Wayne Kramer’ byline since the late 1970s but often wonders why.)

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by Jim Shields

Here in Mendocino County, by my non-empirical estimate anyway, barely a majority of folks comply with Pandemic Orders.

It seems people living in unicorporated areas practice social distancing only in regards to Public Health Orders: They stay as far away from them as possible, out of sight is out of mind. When mixing with others, it’s mostly bear hugs and unmasked faces. Lots of parties with lots of young people, all of them COVID non-believers.

As one person in a letter-to-the-editor put it, “Stupid is as stupid does — people riding bikes wearing face masks — people outdoors in the fresh air and nature wearing face masks — and what about the dummies who ride by in cars with face masks on…are they afraid they are going to get covid-19 from their seat belts? This is what fear and ignorance does to people.”

Another person sent me this note: “Remember at the beginning we were simply supposed to flatten the curve? In nearly every location across the country, that’s been done. Public health officials owe citizens and business owners a justification for the continued restrictions and threat of penalties in the context of true COVID-19 risks, not simple case numbers.”

At the Board of Supervisors meeting this past Tuesday, in a draft letter written by Supe John McCowen to state public health officials, the Supes addressed COVID Orders and overly restrictive provisions on small businesses. This is actually a letter within a letter since McCowen incorporated a note from a businesswoman and mother who expended a mere hundred words capturing completely the fiat-created dilemma of so many small businesses:

“As you know, Mendocino County was officially placed on the State Watch List on August 17 retroactive to July 25 based on the case rate per 100,000 population. We agree that the increased case rate is a serious concern and are confident that our Public Health staff are fully committed to the Targeted Engagement process with CDPH staff and to following through with all identified and agreed upon Action Steps. However, we are concerned that mandated Watch List restrictions, which prohibit the indoor operation of specified business sectors, may not be appropriate in all situations. We respectfully suggest that our local Public Health Officer, in consultation with CDPH staff, is uniquely qualified to make case specific decisions to impose greater or lesser restrictions than those mandated by the State … As stated in a recent letter from Shirley Matilton, a self-described Native American female, minority multiple small business owner/entrepreneur, certified cosmetology instructor, working stylist, distributor, mother and wife: ‘I have witnessed first hand the devastation of this pandemic in our community. From a mother’s standpoint with three small children and newly remote learning. As a consumer in a small town with closed small businesses everywhere and worse yet permanently closed small businesses. I have felt the fear at night over health, the mental wellness of community — watching crime rates and domestic violence rise, to financial fears — how are we going to pay these bills? Having a family to support, I see and feel the direct ramifications of an unstable economy and unprecedented challenges.’ She asks: ‘Why can’t we find a balance to allow people to make a living and push forward?’”

So there you have it, four insightful perspectives that cover quite a bit of ground on this Pandemic that’s hopefully not transitioning into a new norm.

Church wins lawsuit on pandemic health order

Everybody’s a Supreme Court Justice when it comes to this Viral Plague and related health orders that close businesses, declarations about who’s an essential and who’s a non-essential employee, and, of course, “who says I have to wear a damn mask.”

At some point, the real Supremes will be deciding these and many other Coronavirus-generated constitutional disputes. Until then, we’ll have to accept mulitple lower court rulings, from multiple jurisdictions rendering multiple conflicting case law. Got that? Good, let’s take a quick look at what one judge just decided when a church argued its First Amendmend rights were violated by public health orders promulgated by city, county and state officials.

An L.A. Superior Court Judge ruled last week that a SoCal church can hold indoor services if attendees wear masks and stay at least six feet apart.

The judge issued his decision after hearing pleadings for a temporary restraining order against Grace Community Church sought by Los Angeles County.

The church sued and the county counter-sued over C-19 health orders prohibiting houses of worship from holding services indoors during the coronavirus pandemic.

The church and its Pastor, John MacArthur, sued Gov. Gavin Newsom, Attorney General Xavier Becerra, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles County health officials, alleging the officials demonstrated unconstitutional bias in the administration and enforcement of C-19 regulations to the detriment of churches.

The county’s lawsuit against the church asked that MacArthur and his staff be ordered to comply with health orders banning indoor, in-person worship, and that congregants attending outdoor services wear masks and abide by the six foot distancing rule.

Realizing they were in a no-win position, the county downplayed its suit, explaining in a statement it “reluctantly” filed suit “after working with the church for several weeks in hopes of gaining voluntary compliance with the health officer’s orders, which allow for religious services to be held outdoors in order to slow the spread of a deadly and highly contagious virus.”

But the church’s attorney would have none of the politicians’ soft-shoe, blasting Newsom for his alleged unconstitutional actions and the state’s efforts “to discriminate against churches by treating them less favorably than other organizations and activities that are not protected by the First Amendment.” Church attorney Charles LiMandri said that it is particularly offensive when the government “has given free rein to protesters and is not similarly restricting marijuana dispensaries, large retail outlets and factories and abortion providers.”

What do you think will happen if and when a C-19 vaccine is developed by one of our consumer-friendly Big Pharma monopolies, and state and/or federal governments order compulsory vaccination? Think there will be more than just an uptick in litigation?

Don’t think for even a fleet second of what the anti-vaxxer response will be. Will they seek their day in court or will they hold court in the streets?

Who knows what they’ll do, but one thing is for sure there’s no sign of C-19 going away any time soon.

(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, and is also the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live:

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TRUMP won't deliver one big speech at the end of the Republican National Convention this week, but will appear every night, The New York Times reported Sunday. According to the Times, he wants extra airtime to rebut accusations leveled against him during the Democratic National Convention last week.

AOC said Friday that the Democratic National Convention had organized its on-line gala to exclude progressives like herself. “Would I have done things differently? Of course. But as a young progressive Latina I know I was not the target audience for this convention. The target audience for this convention was white moderates who aren’t sure who they’re voting for in November. Do I agree with centering the programming on that audience? Not necessarily. I think we could have done more to rally turnout enthusiasm from our party’s base. Muslims had ZERO representation which is just utterly crazy to me — we need the turnout Ilhan [Omar] and Rashida [Tlaib] delivered in their primaries.”

IT WAS OBVIOUS that the DNC gave Ocasio-Cortez a grudging 90 seconds to endorse, as a convention formality, Bernie Sanders, the only Democrat other than herself who can generate enthusiasm for the Democratic platitudinous platform, whatever it is, in actual proposals.

I HAVEN'T DETECTED even a hint of enthusiasm for Biden/Harris. Even Mendo comment from middle-of-the-road extremists who delude themselves that the Democrats are the way forward, even "progressive," seem unenthusiastic, settling for Biden simply because he isn't Trump.

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During the initial homicide investigation Monday, August 17, 2020, which occurred at a large illegal marijuana operation in Covelo, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Marijuana Enforcement Team was able to eradicate/destroy 2,128 actively growing marijuana plants on the night of the homicide.

In addition to the aforementioned growing marijuana plants, two plastic style hoop houses containing processed marijuana were located, containing two thousand pounds of hanging/drying marijuana "bud."

Due to the amount of marijuana located at the scene, safety concerns, and limited resources, Sheriff's Office personnel were unable to eradicate all of the marijuana on that night, therefore a second search warrant was authored/served Wednesday, August 19, 2020.

An additional 4,721 marijuana plants were discovered and eradicated from the property.

At the conclusion of both search warrants, the property was found to have a total of 6,849 marijuana plants in addition to the 2,000 pounds of hanging/drying bud marijuana previously stated.


Original Press Release:

On Monday, August 17, 2020 just after 11:00 the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) started receiving information from the Covelo area about possible shooting from a vehicle near the Round Valley Indian Health Center on Biggar Lane. A short time later reports were coming in that one person was shot, just east of the Health Center on Shady Lane with a possible suspect vehicle, a red Ford pick up, seen leaving the area. A short time later the vehicle was spotted by an Officer with the Round Valley Indian Tribal Police. The vehicle was seen traveling west bound on Biggar Lane and continued across Highway 162, almost striking the Tribal Police Vehicle. The vehicle then pulled into the Tribal Cemetery on the west side of Highway 162. The Tribal Police Officer attempted to contact the female driver and male passenger but they fled into a wooded area where he lost sight of them.

Another Tribal Police Officer responded to the east end of Shady Lane on a report of someone being shot there. The Officer located two victims who appeared to have been shot. An ambulance responded and it was determined one victim, an unidentified adult male, approximately 30 years of age, was confirmed deceased at the scene. The second victim, a 38 year old adult male, suffered a minor gunshot wound and was treated by the ambulance crew and released.

The Mendocino County Detective Unit responded, as did the Mendocino Multi-Agency SWAT Team, the Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force, the California Highway Patrol and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The MCSO Marijuana Unit had been working the area with the California National Guard Counter Drug Team Helicopter which also responded to assist. A "Shelter in Place" order was issued due to the armed and dangerous suspect loose in the area. A MCSO trailing bloodhound was used to track the suspects from the vehicle into the Mill Creek drainage. The adult female, Shayla Guerrero, who had been the driver of the vehicle was located in the creek just north of the cemetery and detained. The bloodhound believed to follow the creek bed for approximately 1 mile west, until it lost the scent at the intersection of Refuge Road and Crawford Road. A continued search of approximately 3 square miles was unable to locate the suspect and the shelter in place order was lifted at 7:30 PM.

The decedent was located in a very large marijuana growing operation encompassing approximately 15 acres. A search warrant was drafted for the scene. The second gunshot victim, was interviewed, and indicated his vehicle had been stolen the day before. He and another party saw the vehicle pull into the the marijuana growing area where he waited while the other party left to locate Tribal Police. While the first party waited, and third person, uninvolved with the vehicle issue, stood nearby. At one point the suspect entered the vehicle to flee and the vehicle struck a large pole, The suspect exited and fired one round from a handgun at the first party, striking him causing a minor wound. The round was believed to have continued on, striking the second party, who ultimately succumbed to his injuries. MCSO has not been able to make a positive identification of the decedent and next of kin have not been located.

Detectives learned the shooting suspect was Jameson Jackson, a 34 year old while male out of Ukiah. 


Several weeks early Jackson had fled from law enforcement in the Calpella area where deputies were seeking to arrest him on four outstanding warrants for his arrest. He currently has felony warrants for his arrest for making criminal threats, second degree robbery, cruelty to a child, dissuading a victim by force, rape by force, failing to appear on charges, committing a felony while on bail for a felony. He also has misdemeanor warrants for his arrest for cruelty to a child, battery, violation of a court order, and violation of probation.

Shayla Guerrero was arrested for conspiracy and accessory and booked into the Mendocino County Jail. She is being held on $100,000 bail. An arrest alert has been issued for Jackson related to the homicide and the outstanding warrants. If anyone has any information related to Jackson's whereabouts please do not approach him, consider him armed and dangerous, and call 911 or MCSO Dispatch at 707-463-4086.

Update #1

On 08-19-2020 at approximately 5:50 PM there was a possible sighting of Jameson Jackson in the area of Mina Road and Highway 162 in Covelo, California.

Officers from the Round Valley Tribal Police Department responded and subsequently located Jackson before the arrival of Sheriff's Deputies who were busy conducting fire evacuations in Covelo at the time of the sighting.

Jackson was placed under arrested and thereafter released to Sheriff's Office Detectives who will be having Jackson booked into the Mendocino County Jail on the listed charges. Bail has yet to be determined as of the issuance of this updated press release.

The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office would like to thank the Round Valley Tribal Police Department for their assistance in this investigation.

Jameson Jackson was captured on Tuesday, August 18, 2020 in Covelo.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, August 23, 2020

Amezcua, Beers, Canepa


MICHAEL BEERS, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol. (Frequent Flyer)

RANDALL CANEPA, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, camping in Ukiah, failure to appear, resisting.

Caporgno, Cordova, Date

RICK CAPORGNO, Hopland. Domestic battery, protective order violation, probation revocation.

ESAU CORDOVA, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. DUI, no license.

TAYLOR DAYE, Laytonville. DUI.

Foley, Granados, Hipes

SIDNEY FOLEY, Ukiah. Domestic battery.

FERNANDO GRANADOS-RANGEL, Lewd/lascivious acts upon child under 14.

JOSEPH HIPES, Willits. Controlled substance for sale and while armed with loaded firearm, felon-addict with firearm, ammo possession by prohibited person, conspiracy, county parole violation.

Hoelbl, Kester, Magana

STEVEN HOELBL, Upper Lake/Ukiah. Failure to appear.

ADAM KESTER, Willits. Control substance, paraphernalia, no license, probation revocation.

LUIS MAGANA-ALVAREZ, Ukiah. Paraphernalia, failure to appear.

Montano, Ochoa, Potter

MICHAEL MONTANO, Ukiah. DUI, probation revocation.


BRIATT POTTER, Willits. Controlled substance while armed with loaded firearm, armed with firearm in commission of felony, possession of bomb making materials.

Secker, Starnes, Vevoda, Willis

NATHANIEL SECKER, Santa Rosa/Fort Bragg. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, probation revocation.

KEVIN STARNES, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.

PAUL VEVODA, Morgan Hill/Ukiah. DUI, probation revocation.

SCOTTY WILLIS, Ukiah. Vandalism.

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THE WHOLE HIPPIE THING was far out to me, I didn't know about hippies. I would go down to Haight Street just to hang out, it was better than going to the zoo.

I'd be wearing my black suit, have a white shirt on and shoes, shades with my hair slicked back. I remember a guy coming up to me on Haight Street with Tie Dye clothes and purple hair and saying, "Are you really Charlie Musselwhite?" I said, "Yup." He said, "Man you're weird. I bet you've never had acid have you?" I said, "Man I was getting LSD from the mafia in Chicago when you were in diapers."

In 1962 I was 18 years old and I moved to Chicago. It was pretty much assumed that the mafia ran all the nightclubs on Rush Street, in Old Town.

You'd see these guys walking around and the way they walked and the way they dressed, you knew they weren't tourists.

There was a place I used to go to that was open 24 hours and they had a big bank of pay phones. They'd (the Mob) be all back there on the pay phones and if you thought you were going to sit back there, they'd tell you to move and "Don't be using the phones,” it was all for them. They were always real nice to me but I knew things could change quickly.

LSD was something new at that time, even though it wasn't illegal yet, it was rare and very underground. It was making the rounds…

Charlie Musselwhite and Mike Bloomfield, New York, 1964

Before that Mike Bloomfield and I took peyote and that was a tremendous experience. Mike really got into acid after that and he told me no matter how much he took, and he took enormous gargantuan doses of acid, it never ever approached what we experienced on the peyote.

I had these buttons that somebody had given me and we made a tea out of it, drank it and then ate the buttons. For two days we were pouring through art books and listening to records. Mike said I disappeared at one point. 

— Charlie Musselwhite

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The (California) Dream Is Over… I'm a native Californian, born and raised in Los Angeles, educated at UC-Santa Cruz, and a four-decade resident of San Francisco — where my SF-born wife and I raised our two sons. This is where I started — in defiant opposition to the parochial, New York-based media empire. This is where I wrote my bestselling books about San Francisco as the tumultuous center of America's cultural revolution ("Season of the Witch") and the dark side of American power ("Brothers" and "The Devil's Chessboard") — provocative studies that could never have been written by historians or journalists embedded in the East Coast establishment (note the relentlessly bland Jon Meacham's recent DNC address to the nation). I love California (especially its northern half) — in fact, I feel more Californian than American. But the dream is over, even for a passionate native like me.

This season's wildfire apocalypse is the final blow. Still hammered by a pandemic, millions of us are now sealed inside our homes by toxic, smoke-filled air — if we're lucky to still have homes. This is the fourth or fifth (I've lost track) year in a row that California has been ravaged by raging fires. But this inferno is the worst — hundreds of out-of-control fires all over the state (especially here in the Bay Area), with our firefighting capacities quickly overwhelmed.

A couple I know well were already burned out of their dream home near Santa Rosa two years ago. The last I heard, they had finally received some of their insurance money and loaded their two dogs and whatever was left of their belongings into their car and were heading out of state to find a new place to live.

The dark whispers about pulling up stakes and leaving the state… I hear them more and more these days — from longtime, even lifelong residents of California. The ecosystem is collapsing all around us. The state is becoming uninhabitable. We now have two fire seasons: one from June through September, aggravated by the warming climate and drier terrain; and a second one from October through April, driven by the increasingly powerful Santa Ana winds. In other words, California is now a tinderbox for nearly the entire year.

My wife and I suddenly find ourselves old and beset with health problems. California has always been our home and it's where most of our families and friends live. But the state is becoming dangerous and distressing territory, not just for vulnerable people like us but for younger, fitter people too.

Today, the San Francisco Chronicle featured a grim article about the spiking calls to suicide hotlines and soaring suicide rates in the Bay Area during the pandemic — and these statistics don't yet reflect the additional anguish of being shuttered inside your home because of the poison fumes, depriving people of their last refuge, northern California's majestic wilderness.

The article quotes a 28-year-old waitress who lost her job at a downtown SF restaurant after the pandemic. Our downtown is now an eerie, smoky ghost town. She lost her job and then her apartment. Kept afloat for now by friends and family, she is fighting a recurrence of the deep depression — the feeling that she is a "failure" — that afflicted her at an earlier age. "I've been trying to find where I fit in this world, even if nothing ever goes back to normal."

It was the redwoods that did me in today. When I heard that our region's two largest reserves of old-growth redwood trees are now being attacked by flames, it seemed like the end of California itself.

I don't like being dire. If my Irish writer's temperament occasionally succumbs to melancholy, I always bounce back — hey, I'm a sunny Californian by nature. But California is no longer a land of dreams. It's a state of despair.

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What’s even more odd is how many people are little toady lickspittles that also propagate the latest talking point data.

We now have a nation of Karens scared to death of everything.

Three different outings yesterday for a trip up into the hinterlands of San Diego wife got a subway sub and some weirdo was in their screaming about cookies and a water cup calling all the women sweetie and cussing at the young counter ladies. To the point she called me as I walked in I assessed not one “man” in the place and thought this could get ugly fast. Funny I walked in he took one look at me and scurried off. The manager of the Subway comped our sub.

Since we had the dog in the car she then went into the local Smart and Final store for some drinks and watched some lady flipping out on people about coming within six feet of her screaming and yelling.

Finally having had enough of people she decided at the gas station to just stay in the car while I went in to pay for some gas and one of the customers decided to whip it out and urinate on the gas pump next to his car. Mind you the guys wife was in the car next to him.

We finally wound up in the mountains about twenty miles away from the nearest paved road and had the heavens open up and pour down at least 1 inch rain causing the temps to plummet from 90 degrees to 71 in about ten minutes then back up to 88 when the rain stopped. Not a soul in site anywhere nor any cell signal having lunch on top of a mountain.

Every lizard around was out sunning themselves after getting rained on and the local hawks were picking them off as fast as they could.

The dog was bouncing around chasing lizards until she was exhausted.

The only sounds to be heard was the thunder off in the distance, quails and my dog panting.

Sometimes we need to take stock of our surroundings and change them for our own sanity.

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by Paul Modic

Currently reading a novel set in wine country in Eastern Washington and reading the vicious comments posted by petty people on the Hey Garberville Facebook page, trashing this young woman for putting her garbage bag next to a random dumpster when she found it locked, reminded me of the great hitchhiking adventure to pick apples back in 1975.

It was the end of Summer and the beat was pulsing through the community: goin' up to Washington to pick apples. (I had done it a couple days in Michigan a few years before and had gotten fired when I went cluelessly from one tree to another picking the low-hanging fruit instead of choosing one tree and picking it bare using a ladder.)

Some hippies were combining the apple-picking destination with a side trip to the Fiddlers Contest in Weezer, Idaho.

I was talking with some women who wanted to go north. One was Raisin, nee Connie, who was the daughter of Helen of “Helen's Greenhouse” fame. Her operation was just across the river after the Whitethorn Junction and we all stopped there to buy starts and later in the year vegetables. (Raisin had been going with Buffalo Chip and where the hell is he these days? And Raisin?)

Later Raisin blew up the greenhouse, maybe after her mother and husband had left, and there was a bust of some magnitude.

Sky, who was later famously together with David Hathcock, also wanted to go north to pick.

So there we were: Raisin, Sky, and Zukini by the side of the road with our thumbs out heading north! (I was also on the hunt for a mimeograph machine with which to start a local underground paper, twelve years before Gulch Mulch sprang on the scene.)

I only remember one thing about that road trip north and that's what I thought about when the local internet lynch mob of busybodies was savaging that hapless young woman on the Hey Garberville page a few days ago.

One afternoon we were standing by the highway and I was innocently eating a can of Planters Spanish Peanuts. When I finished the can I went to the side of the road and gently placed it down on the curb.

Those women lit into me! How could I litter like that they said. I had instantly become lowlife hippie scum in their eyes and I was in for a 400 mile shaming.

In my defense I said I wasn't littering because I didn't callously throw it. They weren't buying that then and neither is anyone now.

(It reminded me of an episode when I was about eight: I went into the neighborhood restaurant, Ray Keesling's, in Muncie, Indiana where the waiter was also our paperboy. I asked him how much the french fries were and he said fifteen cents. A while later he brought out a huge pile of fries and said, “Eat hearty!”

I ate the delicious fries with lots of catsup and left without paying. When I came back a few days later he said, “Why didn't you pay for the fries when you were here before?”

“I only asked you how much they were,” I said. “I didn't order them.” When you're a kid you kinda learn how the world works as you grow up, right?)

We got to Chelan and I found a job picking huge ripe apples at Sunshine Orchards. (If I were like Ray Oakes I would now google the area and probably find out that the apple orchards had been replaced with vineyards.) I wasn't very fast and the skillful Mexicans showed me up without trying.

I spent my apple-picking earnings on a mimeograph machine I found for sale in Chelan at a church for $50, and mailed it back to Whitethorn. (My friends and I put out a couple issues, a country classic called “Stickers 'n Weeds.” There was the inevitable political article by Paul Encimer, Charley Wilson was interviewed about micro-hydro power Pelton wheels and the new 200-mile offshore limit, and someone else wrote about how to do an herbal abortion, among other stories. After a couple years I donated the mimeo to EPIC.)

There was a new-agey woman in town named Loretta Hazan who invited the traveling apple-picking hippies to her house for some cosmic events and just to hang out. There I met a young woman about my age, twenty-one, and we got together in Loretta's remodeled basement. No condoms, no worries—it was the seventies.

It was slam-bam and I have to wonder if maybe someday I'll get a knock on my door. Well, it'll probably just be the police.

* * *



  1. James Marmon August 24, 2020


    It was nice to see that Scotty Willis is still kicking around, I wonder how the love of his life Kalisha Alvarez is doing? She should be getting released soon or has already been released.

    Ukiah transient who violated probation 31 times sentenced to prison
    October 19, 2017

    A 28-year-old Ukiah woman was sentenced to 44 months in prison Thursday for repeated violations, the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office announced.

    Kelisha Sheree Alvarez, described by prosecutors as a “well-known, aggressive transient,” has amassed 10 misdemeanor convictions, a felony vandalism conviction and a felony strong arm robbery conviction since 2009. She has also violated her terms of probation 31 times, prosecutors said.

    “There is no question that the courts have shown extreme patience in a long-term effort to work with the defendant, perhaps to a fault,” said District Attorney David Eyster. “Alvarez has never made any real effort to comply so today’s decision was the right decision.”


  2. James Marmon August 24, 2020


    Has anyone noticed but me that President Trump and his administration are telling Democrat voters how they can cheat in the coming election (mass mail-in ballots) and get away with it? The Resistance hates Trump so much that they will be unable to resist the temptation. “All’s fair in love and war”, right? They’re being played by the master, again.

    Trump and his administration are making their case to the public before it even goes to the Supreme Court which it will get to soon. Justice John Roberts will be the one on trial then.

    James Marmon MSW

  3. Lazarus August 24, 2020


    “Stand your ground”, Palestinian style…

    Be safe,

  4. George Hollister August 24, 2020

    On the list of things Trump has done is make the Republican Party the party of the working class. Not since before FDR, and before. The Republican, and Democratic parties have treated workers as necessary collateral damage in the implementation of trade, corporate tax, and regulatory policies. Worker’s jobs have been sacrificed for a greater good on behalf of either the consumer or for the environment.

    The Democrats option for being put out of work due to government policy is go on welfare. The Republicans option is to go find a different job. I guess there is a limit to that, and the Democrats are now playing some serious catchup. Bernie Sanders is the closest thing the Democrats have to Trump. We are watching history here, folks.

  5. James Marmon August 24, 2020


    Monday afternoon’s COVID-19 update from Public Health – Lake County:

    ✅ 303 Overall cases (+13 since Friday’s update)
    ✅ 17 Active cases (+1)
    ✅ 283 Recovered cases (+12)
    ✅ 0 patients currently hospitalized (-1)
    ✅ 8885 Negative Test Results (+204)

    Only 3 deaths recorded so far.

    • James Marmon August 24, 2020

      Mendocino has 110 active cases
      Lake County has 17 active cases

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