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Mendocino County Today: March 30, 2012


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:


Adrienne Rich

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

assiduous team

aboard the sun-flooded schooner

but here alone.

There is a ladder.

The ladder is always there

hanging innocently

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

will begin.

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

lived here

swaying their crenellated fans

between the reefs

and besides

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

in which

our names do not appear.

* * *

(OUT OF RESPECT for Ms. Rich, no limerick today.)



  1. John Sakowicz March 31, 2012

    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.

  2. John Sakowicz March 31, 2012


    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
    Feel dumbest.
    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.

  3. bilbo April 12, 2012


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