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Off the Record (February 24, 2021)

MILL CREEK is a Ukiah feeder stream to the Russian River. Used to be lush with fish, running down out of the west hills, across the valley floor and on into the rushin' Russian. These days, stretches of Mill are lush with trash and the lifestyle houseless, as an aghast on-line commenter emphasizes with a series of confirming photos: “What are we going to do about this? I believe that this is in your [McGourty's 1st] District. I know that you brought this up to The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office and they said they could not patrol for dumping, but this spot on Mill Creek Road is crazy. Forget the paint, there were containers with dangerous chemicals (paint was just the beginning), decomposed plastics, dead animals (at least one pet dog) and other contaminants. Biologists are now finding these plastics in the tissue of the meat that we eat. It is clear that this has been a dumping spot for decades. Apparently someone (the County) had put up a cyclone fence to prevent dumping, but the determined dumpers just smashed it down. We are open for discussion. If the Mendocino County Sheriff can’t help, we have to find another way. I think we are going to be out there again on Tuesday if you want to take a look at the remaining trash. We took an entire trailer load of trash out of there and there is still a huge dump further down the river. Maybe the new game cameras that broadcast to a cell phone? Mill Creek is an important feeder into the Russian River. We can’t let this kind of pollution enter the headwaters of the Russian River Watershed. I have more video if you need more evidence.”

GETTING kinda frantic at the leadership levels, what with that Republican bigwig McCarthy demanding of Trump, “Do you know who the fuck you're talking to?” And then Florida governor DeSantis allegedly telling President Joe to “Go fuck yourself.” But according to the fact-checking site, Snopes, DeSantis couldn't have told Old Joe to go fuck himself because nobody corporate reported it. That's that, then. If ABC and CBS don't report it it couldn't have happened, and so much for fact-checking.

WE'VE ALL BEEN under house arrest for almost a year and, if you're like me, you pounce on the latest Netflix documentary because you've seen everything else. Netflix dramas are mostly a deluge of sub-TV dreck. For the real good creative stuff the Brits do it best, cf the excellent series Happy Valley appearing, of all places on KQED Television where, amid the purplish life style and cooking shows leavened only by the occasional reality-based documentary, Happy Valley is a welcome relief.  The LL and I have been watching an old BBC detective series — circa middle 1960s — called “Endeavor.” Great stuff.) And last weekend, we both watched Netflix’s five-part “The Vanishing at the Hotel Cecil,” the manipulated story of the suicide of a mentally ill young woman from Vancouver in Los Angeles. I say “manipulated” because the filmmaker strings out the story unnecessarily, including all kinds of unfounded speculation from all kinds of uninformed “web sleuths,” although the filmmakers and millions of others know out front what in fact happened to Elisa Lam. But we get constant, all be them diverting, interjections of the hotel's louche history in the louche-est area of Skid Row L.A. to repeatedly make the obvious point that neither the hotel nor the neighborhood is conducive to the well-being of innocent young women, or human beings of whatever gender, age and relative sophistication. The film offers no speculation  on how some thirty thousand Americans are living on the streets of downtown L.A. so the constant shots of the destitute, the drug-addled and the unconfined insane are merely  cheap voyeurism. unrelated to the sad saga of Miss Lam. Why the doomed young woman with her history of life-threatening bipolar episodes was wandering around urban California by herself is the only question unexplored in the film.

IF I'M the only person who finds the young congressman, Eric Swalwell, deeply irritating I'll give him another look, but for now, given his Pelosi press conference ubiquity, it's clear the geniuses at the Democratic National Committee see Swalwell as their Man of the Future. Am I just old and embittered, or are people like Swalwell, Newsom and the rest of the young political bulletheads objectively the sociopaths they seem to be — empty suits, empty skirts, empty heads? Their palpable ambition is out of all proportion to their obviously limited abilities, and so, sooooo clear that, say, if Swalwell-Newsom had been in the Donner Party you know who would have been the only survivor. 


    We are the hollow men
    We are the stuffed men
    Leaning together
    Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
    Our dried voices, when
    We whisper together
    Are quiet and meaningless
    As wind in dry grass
    Or rats' feet over broken glass
    In our dry cellar
    Shape without form, shade without colour,
    Paralysed force, gesture without motion;
    Those who have crossed
    With direct eyes, to death's other Kingdom
    Remember us-if at all-not as lost
    Violent souls, but only
    As the hollow men
    The stuffed men.

— T.S. Eliot

HADN'T SEEN CHINATOWN since it first came out in '74, and I  think I enjoyed it this second time around even more than I did  when I saw it back in the day. It's striking how gloriously un-Woke the film is, a virtual celebration of the forbidden isms, race and sex division. Even I, your standard issue white, incorrect liberal geezer had to wince at the Asian stereotypes, but the performances by Faye Dunaway, Jack Nicholson and the great John Huston  are so good only the most art-proofed snowflake could possibly hiss the screen.

ALDEN GLOBAL CAPITAL, a hedge fund even more  destructive than most hedge funds, is buying the Tribune newspaper chain, including the Chicago Tribune, the New York Daily News and other local newspapers in a deal valued at $630 million. They already own us. Alden, based in Denver, owns the community papers in Fort Bragg, Mendocino. Willits, Ukiah, Lakeport, Woodland, Vallejo, Vacaville, Contra Costa Times, East Bay Times, SJ Mercury News, Chico, Redding, Eureka, Oroville — all Alden papers. The Sacbee and the other Bees are owned by a New Jersey hedge fund since last year. In Mendocino County, Alden, some time ago, sold off the real estate formerly housing the Willits, Fort Bragg, Mendocino, and Ukiah newspapers. Alden rents property for the remaining, and doomed, staffers at these papers.


LEW CHICHESTER of Covelo: “Re: Neil Waldron, catch and release. 

What are we supposed to do with this guy? He gets arrested, released on no bail, comes back to Covelo and does it all over again, wandering around town, randomly vandalizing buildings, gets caught, and then comes back and does the same thing, again. This has been going on for a couple of years now. He has on various separate occasions trashed the library, the grocery store, the convenience store/gas station, the co-op coffee/lunch shop, and an entire block of town was destroyed by arson this summer. Did Neil burn down the tire store, the North Fork Cafe, and the old post office/Center for the Arts? Who will ever know for sure. Likely candidate, though. Covelo is really taking it hard these days and we have this obviously disturbed and dangerous, mentally ill, drug addled individual on the loose. Is this really how our society unravels, with lunatics uncontrolled and garbage everywhere?”

COVELO, as Mr. Chichester says, is "taking it hard these days." The uncontrolled drug life is killing the town. Factor in an outsized population of thugs and their female auxiliaries tucked away in a valley an hour east of spread-thin law enforcement… and what to do? 

THE SUPERVISORS have got to focus on getting real help for Covelo. Does it even have to be said that the present lawlessness is unfair to the non-thug sectors of the population? At a minimum, the money incentives have to be offered for resident deputies who, with backup from the DA and the courts, make it their mission to clean up Mendocino County’s very own Dodge. 

WHAT TO DO with the county's proliferating Waldrons is an even bigger prob because they're so irremediably screwed up they need full-time supervision, and how do you do that outside full custody? What's the difference between, say, the Westside of Ukiah and Covelo? On the Westside, the Waldrons and free-range thugs aren't tolerated. In Covelo they are.

FOR YOUR Barbarians-at-the-gate files: Writing in the January issue of School Library Journal (of all places), Amanda MacGregor, a Minnesota-based librarian, bookseller and freelance journalist, asked why teachers were continuing to include Shakespeare in their classrooms. “Shakespeare's works are full of problematic, outdated ideas, with plenty of misogyny, racism, homophobia, classism, anti-Semitism and misogynoir,” MacGregor wrote, perhaps coining “misogynoir” to refer to a hatred of black women, and please join me in finding so much as a trace of it in Shakespeare.

THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION has issued a directive to stop immigration workers from using “alien” and “illegal alien” in official communication, and replace it with “non-citizen.” I'm sure the tough guys of the political right will snicker that it's just more PC euphemizing, but “non-citizen” manages to both avoid stigmatizing non-citizens while accurately describing their legal status.

Marcia Rafanan Meadlin

MARCIA RAFANAN MEADLIN has been appointed to the Fort Bragg City Council. A double native of Fort Bragg, Ms. Meadlin seemed to be the only applicant among the ten persons who applied who enjoys a broad base of support in the town. She fills the vacancy left by Will Lee, who resigned his seat to take a job out of the area.

THE GREAT TEXAS OUTAGE could have been avoided. Although Texas suffered a similar but not quite as severe frigid interlude about ten years ago, the owners of the Texas grid figured it was a one-off unlikely to re-occur, and here we are with millions of people "self-insulating" and lining up in sub-freezing temperatures outside markets whose shelves are mostly bare.

RECOMMENDED READING: ‘The Whites’ by Richard Price. At ease Snowflakes, this wonderful crime novel is not about race. The white in Whites refers to the great white whale-like obsessions of seven, multi-ethnic New York City detectives — six men and a woman — in their haunted zeal to finally bag very bad people. As a huge fan of Price's fiction, this novel had somehow eluded my hawk-eyed attentions but, as predicted truthfully by the book jacket blurbs, “Pick it up you won't put it down.” I did, and I couldn't.

FROM “WHITES” [A eulogy you’ll never hear]: “I don't know if anyone came here to celebrate John Junior's life, but I certainly didn't. I am here before you, I am here among you, to rage and curse God for the arbitrarily murdering fuck that he is, not that I'm the first parent ever to feel that way, and to grant myself at least one afternoon where suicide would be logistically difficult. You know, you read the papers after a young man dies in this city, someone's always saying, ‘He was just starting to get his life together, he was just talking about being a real father to his daughter, talking about getting away from the ‘hood, about enlisting, about marrying his fiancée, he was just about to do this, to do that....’ All these ‘justs’ whether they were true or not, because they all died young and ‘just’ was all they had, tomorrow was all they had. And the same could be said for my boy. He was ‘just’ about to finish his schooling, he was ‘just’ about to find his own way in the world, ‘just’ about to show me the man that now, now, he'll never get to be, the man that over the years would have null-and-voided every hardship, every heartache I've ever endured in my life. You want to hear what a great kid he was? How his heart was pure gold? How he loved life, loved people, loved a challenge, all that boilerplate et cetera, et cetera? For those of you who want to hear all that, consider it said. The fact of the matter was that he was just about to be, and now he's not.” — Richard Price, ‘The Whites’

RUSH LIMBAUGH has died. Over the years, I only heard a few minutes of the guy the late Alexander Cockburn memorably described as “the dirigible of drivel,” but even trying hard to understand his appeal to the millions of yobbos who tuned him in every day I didn't get it. I have a memory of a film clip of a sweating fat guy trying way too hard to be amusing, and failing, as he addressed some kind of fascist club lunch with his standard Republican witlessness. My second memory of Limbaugh was walking into a noon hour pizza place on Ukiah's North State where a bunch of inland yobs gathered every day to laugh at liberals with their radio daddy, liberals being the “left” you see, and if only a real smart guy like Rush (and people like us) ran the country we'd sure straighten things out. Enter Trump, who forever demeaned the Medal of Freedom by awarding it to Limbaugh.

THE SUPES are being asked to pay San Francisco lawyers a total of $350,000 to beat back the lawsuit brought by Harinder Grewal because Grewal maintains he was fired for no reason. Grewal briefly replaced the also purged Diane Curry as the county's Ag Commissioner. The whispers say he behaved “inappropriately” with some of the temptresses he supervised, but he clearly denies that he did. And given the emergency request for another 150 grand on top of the nearly quarter mil Mendo has already forked over to the Frisco legal firm, we can assume that Mendo’s $350 team is losing to Harinder's lawyer. Or lawyers. (It takes teams of them these days.) Good money after bad? 

THE $350k appears on the Supervisor's consent calendar this Tuesday. The consent calendar? $350k here, $350k there, pretty soon you're into serious money, especially for a broke-ass rural county with a mere 90,000 mostly broke-ass people with not much in common beyond their broke-assed-ness and their citizenship. 

$350k IS A LOT OF MONEY to wave on through via the consent calendar. Here's hoping one of our intrepid five reps pulls it for discussion, perhaps beginning that discussion with this, ah, global question: If County taxpayers fund six lawyers (at least) full-time, why is it that every time our CEO flips out and fires someone do the taxpayers have to fund someone's Frisco legal pals to travel up and down 101 at $300 an hour plus B&B to defend Mendocino County against another wrongful termination suit when we have six-plus or so lawyers already on the payroll, all of them with law diplomas, all of them presumably having passed the dumbed down BAR exam? How many wrongful termination suits are still pending? How much are arbitrary firings costing the county?

SPEAKING of consent calendars, Biden's certainly getting a free pass so far from the On Bended Knee Gang these days. Here's Anderson Cooper to Biden at last week's lemming's stuffed CNN Town Hall: "How do you like living in the White House." I caught a clip of Biden last night stumbling through his teleprompter about the Mars landing but didn't hear from him on the Texas disaster until Friday. 

AN ON-LINE comment: “Don’t worry, President Biden will be ready for the Prime Time State of the Union presentation; the best makeup artists from Hollywood are being flown in to perform their magic and craft Sleepy Joe into a young Rock Hudson; added to that, the White House physician — Dr. Feelgood — will administer thru IV his special elixir, a mixture of meth and steroids, giving Joe a close simulation of being alive and lucid. With the earpiece where messages can be received telling him what to say, all will be well.”

STATE SENATOR McGUIRE'S ballyhooed Redwood Trail kicked off in Ukiah. The Ukiah stretch of the chimerical path will eventually, McGuire cynically claims, link to other parts of the Trail to run the length of the state. But at $4.5 million for not quite three miles of the dreary, unpeopled Ukiah stretch, and not counting the additional expense of irrigation for “native plants,” it's a good thing the whole production is fanciful, that it will never happen, that it's simply more cynicism from Democrats in lieu of anything that might actually be of practical help to the beleaguered people of the Northcoast, not to mention the rest of America.

THE IMAGINARY Redwood Trail is a much larger swindle than it appears, a swindle pegged to the question that Democrat-controlled California will never ask: How did it come to pass that former Congressman Doug Bosco and the Democrats of the Northcoast came to control the railroad tracks and adjacent right of ways running from Sonoma County to Eureka?

HERE'S one reaction to McGuire's zoomed “town hall” this week touting the Redwood Trail: “The Redwood Trail seems like a scam to get the State of California to buy up the holdings along the right of way from former Congressman Bosco. This nature walk is taking we the taxpayers to the cleaners and only benefits the former Representative and half owner of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. What's in it for you, Mike?

“ROBBY asked this impertinent question at my suggestion and never got an answer. I watched the show through the solon's link as well as switching over to Youtube while it was live. I became literally sick while hearing the parade of pro-trail ‘experts’ praise and shout pre-recorded praise to McGuire in order to get their air time. Don't know if any commentary critical of the Bosco Relief $trategy of Financial Rescue was ever brought out. Your readers can see this political porn on Youtube where it will be until the End Times and decide for themselves.”

BUMPERSTICKER spotted on a tank-like SUV in Marin: “I hope something happens today that makes you happy.” Not if you knew me, I thought, but please stay safe.

JEEZ even by school board “closed session” standards the Oakley (Contra Costa County) school board — four super-size women and a 400-pound man — is awfully candid. They've all resigned,  buried beneath a national deluge of inappropriates, but as wacky as the former Oakley school board obviously was, were their observations all that far off from the reality of the community they “serve”? 

THE REMARKS that sank the Oakley school board: “They don't know what goes on behind the scenes. It's really unfortunate they want to pick on us because they want their babysitters back,” one of them zoomed, assuming she was off camera and off mike. Another remarked, ganga-banga style, “Are we alone? If you're going to call me out, I'm going to fuck you up.” And another one of the intellectuals said that with the kids back in school their parents could smoke dope in peace. He joked that his brother had a medical marijuana service and “the clientele were parents with their kids in school. When you got your kids at home no more smoking out.”

RECOMMENDED VIEWING: "I Care a Lot" (Netflix) is an often funny movie about an unfunny subject — conservatorships, and how conservatorships can be court-certified thefts of the property of the elderly. Featuring Rosamund Pike and Peter Dinklage, there's also a lot of implausible violence but the acting is good, especially these two, and, as I said, it's often funny, although it had me shuddering when I thought about how conservatorships are likely to work here in Mendo, where the underclass, young and old, lucrative until they aren't, are processed into public bondage in secret hearings before people indifferent to their welfare, the whole show ground zero class warfare.

WHERE'S CANCEL CULTURE when you need them? The Muppet movies just got nailed by the Appropriate Police for the “sexualization” of an episode involving Kermit the Frog, but not a peep from the local branch or its Frisco auxiliary on Judge Hastings, for whom the San Francisco law school is named. Hastings was a pioneer Mendo guy who raised horses in Eden Valley between Willits and Covelo. He was also California's first state supreme court justice. When the native population of Eden Valley got in the way of the judge's Mendo horse farm, presided over by a murderous 6'7" psychopath called Texan Boy Hall, Hasting had no difficulty persuading his friend, California's Governor Weller, to have the state pay vigilantes to kill Indians. Another psychopath, Walter Jarboe, later Ukiah's first lawman, was duly hired to extinguish native life throughout the Eel River Basin, which Jarboe's Rangers proceeded to do for a full year. Hastings himself spent most of his time in Benicia successfully practicing law, so successfully that when the old Indian killer finally turned up his toes he left a million dollars to the University of California, whose grateful regents named their law school after him. 


[1] They are not going to leave him alone. New York is after him for tax and banking fraud charges. Georgia will go after him for meddling in their vote count. Manhattan is going after him for sexual assault and paying off Playboy models and porn stars and for insurance and banking fraud and financial statements that increased asset values for loans and deflated values to get out of paying real estate taxes. He did the same thing for a golf course in Los Angeles. In Chicago they are going after him for financial crimes related to his hotel. He is also in problems with Deutsche Bank/Buffalo Bills soccer team funding. He also paid advisory fees to Ivanka against tax laws (federal taxes) and NY Dept. of Taxation and Finance is also after him for the same thing.

They couldn’t nail him on impeachment as president. But citizen Trump’s problems are just beginning.

[2] The US in the last several months has really proven how deranged and feckless a nation it is. 

Consider these optics: 

Grown men dressed as Vikings and Chewbacca from the Star Wars movies breaking into a national Capitol of a country of 325+ million ppl. 

A clownish attempted political conviction of a former President on accusation of incitement of insurrection for saying stuff like “You better fight like hell or you won’t have a country anymore.” The trial had Hollywood style videos but zero sworn eyewitness testimony. 

A sitting President who is so old, cognitively challenged, and decrepit, that he can only handle 20 minute public appearances. 

[3] “The calls for “unity” are a dodge. Unity requires broad consensual reality, not cynically-constructed pseudo-realities designed to cancel any notion of the common good, a common culture, or the public interest.”

It would seem that “broad consensual reality” is a bridge too far in a hyper-partisan political and cultural environment. The common good, a common culture, or the public interest … not sure they exist either, in any really practicable way.

There are very rich people, some that live comfortably enough, then working families that just get by, and a whole lot of poor who have not and never will have productive or prosperous lives.

It’s a question of class conflict, and competing interests, with a lot of race-base tribalism in the mix … not a lot of commonality it seems to me.

And while I think calling appeals to “unity” a dodge is going a bit far – they are meaningless in the context of America today, and the problems it faces. At least Donald Trump didn’t ever even pretend to call for unity.

The Biden Administration needs to get on with a sensible agenda to address critical issues while they have the numbers … I agree that it’s a waste of effort to call for “unity” – just get on with it.

And if they are opening the border with Mexico, and it has resulted in the entry of thousands in an unregulated and un-monitored way … then that is nuts. Not the way to solve a humanitarian crisis.

[4] I’m just shaking my head at how instantaneously the hard-out “conservatives” – especially ‘round here -jump onboard with the bullshit story that Texas went dark because all the windmills froze, ipso facto AOC and the GND (which isn’t even a ‘thing’ yet) are to blame, because idiots like Tucker Carlson say so.

The actuality is that, without any level of regulation in the Texas electrical production and distribution system, there was no requirement or incentive to carry sufficient excess capacity to deal with a dramatic weather event. Windmills can operate if they have de-icing systems installed, as required in other states & foreign jurisdictions but not required in unregulated Texas. Aside from the frozen windmills, you don’t have to dig very deep to learn that all manner of FF systems also failed due to the extreme cold.

 ‘Texas has a stand-alone power grid that’s deregulated.

The majority of the state’s power is controlled by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which is known as ERCOT. It’s a competitive pricing market, meaning it trades on supply and demand. Companies are trying to bring the cheapest form of energy to the market, which can come at the expense of building out more reliable infrastructure systems.

“Texas has chosen to operate its power grid as an island,” noted Rice University’s Cohan, which means the state can’t import power from other states when it’s most needed. He added that the impacts are also felt in the fall and spring, when Texas has an abundance of power that it can’t export.‘

[5] Yeppers. Looking at the big picture, it doesn’t really matter what the Dems or Reps do to finagle an extra swindle or two out of the imaginary economy– Bitcoin and the rest of the make-believe financing that we use to allocate goods are all going down. I can’t think of a more deserving party to be holding the tiller when the ship of state hits the rocks.

Meanwhile, in the countryside where I live, more and more people are planting fruit and nut trees and raising chickens. Our weekly farmers market used to have only fruits and veggies, but now there are sellers of beef, pork and chicken. Their prices are higher than the grocery stores, but not by much at this point.

Hopefully at least some of those tower-dwellers in Texas who aren’t too far Woke can arise from their slumber and find some new digs, where a veggie patch and a couple of chickens are a possibility….

Of course, I still have to figure out what I will barter with at the Farmer’s Market when the currency collapses. Pretty sure it’s not going to be Bitcoin…

One Comment

  1. Michael Koepf February 26, 2021

    Recommended reading: The Big Good Bye. Chinatown and the last years of Hollywood. Sam Wasson

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