DIRTGATE GETS DIRTIER. The following letter was sent to the Ukiah Daily Journal in response to the UDJ’s article about polluted MTA yard dirt being discovered to have been dumped at the Ukiah Fairgrounds: “I would like to take this opportunity to reassure our community that the MTA Board takes very seriously the soil issue reported on in your story of March 24. We have been reassured by the test data that it does not pose a public-health concern. The hydrocarbons found in the soil range from high in some areas to low in others, and independent engineers have stated that the probable source of the contamination is from the asphalt overlay that was in place for decades. While the MTA was not responsible for the original decisions that led up to this problem, we have been proactively working with the Fairgrounds administration in order to bring about a quick resolution. A workplan has been submitted to the Regional Water Quality Control Board, with a completion date of April 6th for the remediation work. We regret any concern this issue may have caused, and hope that the trust and support of our community will continue. — Jim Mastin, Chairman, Mendocino Transit Authority Board.
“TRUST AND SUPPORT”? Mastin says, “The MTA was not responsible for the original decisions that led up to this problem." Oh really? Then who was? And if it wasn't the MTA, why did the MTA submit a workplan to fix it? Why didn't the (unidentified) original decider submit the workplan? (There might be a reason, but we're left in the dark.) And Mr. Mastin “regrets any concern this issue may have caused”? So, does that mean the MTA doesn’t regret any pollution this may have caused?
MARCH HAS BEEN a rough month for Mendocino County senior citizens. First we had the tweeker kid who beat up grandpa, drug gramps out a country road behind a pick-up and heaved the old boy over the side. Then, last Friday, the Fort Bragg cops can’t help but see a guy driving “at a high rate of speed” through town. The speeding driver soon runs off the road north of Fort Bragg where the CHP discover him and his elderly mother in the wreckage, both of them injured severely enough to get themselves an emergency airlift to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. It gets worse. Back on January 7th, Fort Bragg Police were summoned to a home on Corry where “an elderly female identified Buckner as her caregiver. The investigation revealed that the elderly female might have been sexually assaulted and held inside the residence against her will. The female victim was taken to the Mendocino Coast Hospital for treatment of her injuries by the Fort Bragg Police Department.” Buckner was arrested for alleged attempted rape, false imprisonment and elder abuse, but charges were dropped “for insufficient evidence, relating to the victim's mental health and other issues.” The victim’s mental health? If the old lady gets any crazier she’ll probably be dead. Anybody want to bet that sonny boy has a tweek prob?
SAN FRANCISCO DA George Gascon threw a scare into the city’s stoner community last week when he said he intended to prosecute a woman delivering pot to a medical marijuana dispensary. Gascon declared that since marijuana is illegal, the delivery lady was breaking the law and he intended to prosecute. The city’s half a million stoners, er, patients, lurched into an immediate mass spaz, and by Monday the DA was issuing A weasel-lipped statement about how he and the delivery lady’s attorney, Terrance Hallinan, “had agreed to a two-week continuance for the purpose of reassessing the appropriate next step.” Which you can be sure will be a very quiet dropping of all charges.
POET ADRIENNE RICH, a true “giant of American poetry,” died March 27, 2012, at the age of 82 in Santa Cruz from “long-term rheumatoid arthritis.” Perhaps her most famous poem was:
DIVING INTO THE WRECK
16 May 1929- 27 March 2012
First having read the book of myths,
and loaded the camera,
and checked the edge of the knife-blade,
I put on
the body-armor of black rubber
the absurd flippers
the grave and awkward mask.
I am having to do this
not like Cousteau with his
aboard the sun-flooded schooner
but here alone.
There is a ladder.
The ladder is always there
close to the side of the schooner.
We know what it is for,
we who have used it.
it’s a piece of maritime floss
some sundry equipment.
I go down.
Rung after rung and still
the oxygen immerses me
the blue light
the clear atoms
of our human air.
I go down.
My flippers cripple me,
I crawl like an insect down the ladder
and there is no one
to tell me when the ocean
First the air is blue and then
it is bluer and then green and then
black I am blacking out and yet
my mask is powerful
it pumps my blood with power
the sea is another story
the sea is not a question of power
I have to learn alone
to turn my body without force
in the deep element.
And now: it is easy to forget
what I came for
among so many who have always
swaying their crenellated fans
between the reefs
you breathe differently down here.
I came to explore the wreck.
The words are purposes.
The words are maps.
I came to see the damage that was done
and the treasures that prevail.
I stroke the beam of my lamp
slowly along the flank
of something more permanent
than fish or weed
the thing I came for:
the wreck and not the story of the wreck
the thing itself and not the myth
the drowned face always staring
toward the sun
the evidence of damage
worn by salt and sway into this threadbare beauty
the ribs of the disaster
curving their assertion
among the tentative haunters.
This is the place.
And I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair
streams black, the merman in his armored body
We circle silently
about the wreck
we dive into the hold.
I am she: I am he
whose drowned face sleeps with open eyes
whose breasts still bear the stress
whose silver, copper, vermeil cargo lies
obscurely inside barrels
half-wedged and left to rot
we are the half-destroyed instruments
that once held to a course
the water-eaten log
the fouled compass
We are, I am, you are
by cowardice or courage
the one who finds our way
back to this scene
carrying a knife, a camera
a book of myths
our names do not appear.
* * *
(OUT OF RESPECT for Ms. Rich, no limerick today.)
In addition to being a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Adrienne Rich was also a radical, militant lesbian. She was militant almost to the point of being a separatist.
Yet, two ironic factoids factor into Adrienne Rich’s complex relationship with men.
One, her father, Arnold Rice Rich, MD, was the first Jew to be named a tenured professor at The Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Rich, a renowned pathologist, was eventualy promoted to Chairman of Pathology at The Johns Hopkins Medical School. Adrienne Rich was fiercely proud of her father.
Two, her husband, Alfred Conrad, committed suicide, leaving Adrienne Rich with the sole responsibility of raising three sons: David, Paul, and Jacob. Adrrienne Rich was a capable, loving mother. She had no daughters.
I know the above, because I took poetry workshops with Adrienne Rich at The Writing Seminars Department on the Homewood campus of The Johns Hopkins University.
POET WITHOUT A NAME
Among all our visiting professors,
You were our nearest neighbor
In Baltimore, and too angry
Too be anything but a lesbian.
I remember my classmate,
Tom Sleigh, telling me
He was going to ask
You autograph your book
With a “menstrating moon”.
But politics is no joke,
And you taught us that lesson
Along with the expected
Poetics. Once, when I came
Up to you after class
And asked rather stupidly
How I could be a better poet,
You told me to volunteer
At the where I would
And so I did —
At the People’s Free Medical Clinic
on Greenmount Avenue
In Baltimore. It’s the clinic started
By the Black Panthers and
The sister clinic to
Their clinic in Oakland, California.
I was a good-for-nothing orderly.
I watched a drunk choke to death on a cork.
I watched a handsome young hustler
Have his penis drained of pus
With a plastic pipette (he screamed).
I watched a young black mother
Bend over from a spontaneous abortion.
I watched the wild creature of schizophrenia
Tear at the sunlight on the clinic floor.
Thirty-five years later, I remember the poet
On the ocassion of her death at age 82
From long-term rheumatoid arthritis.
O Parjanye! Sustain us with rain.
Wash disease from our bodies.
Remove the sharp arrows
And malicious acts of our enemies
Both near and from away from us.
Make our bodies firm and robust.
O Poushai! May the child come out
Of the mother’s womb
As naturally as the oriole flahes
Between one tree and another,
And as the wind and mind moves at will.
O Brahma! O Lord of speech and good,
Abide in me, and give me strength.
Give me divine mind.
Let me write what is heard.
Stabilize my wisdom in affluence.
Make me ever full of knowledge.
Make me the enemy of lies, secrets, and silence.
Today, on the ocassion of the death of my teacher,
I come to the Yaagyikas with poets,
With yogi performers,
With water, Som-rasa, milk, and ghee.