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Off the Record (March 24, 2021)

IT WOULD be interesting to learn where Mendo people get their covid information. Nothing against the Mendo medical apparatus, whose meandering directives are confusing and often contradictory, but I go to Fauci for the general trends and the Mendo covid chart to see how we're doing here behind the Green Curtain. If I have a specific question I ask Chloe at the AV Health Center. Asking the County about covid, on the off chance you might rouse someone on a County phone or e-mail line, risks frustration.

A READER points out that CEO Angelo is done. “The Supes spent almost five hours on her closed session evaluation last Tuesday then emerged to state their intention to return to a Chief Admin Officer arrangement between them and the Angelo-CEO model, and Angelo herself announces that she plans to retire in the not-too-distant future.”

HOW WOULD the mighty AVA evaluate the old girl? On the plus side, given the boards of Supervisors she's had to make seem plausible prior to this board, not bad, given that as a quintet they were incompetent and often contained at least one certifiable 5150. Ms. Angelo seems to have concluded early on, “Well, if I don't step in here and run this sucker the whole show could collapse. I'll be the boss, and these clowns will sign off on whatever I put in front of their uncomprehending pusses.” Which she did. But now that there's a smart and engaged board, assuming Gjerde continues to have regained consciousness, the boss lady command structure is obsolete. To us, Angelo's deficits include a bad temper, a Queeg-quality paranoia and, dare I say, a barely concealed contempt for, and hostility to, the male gender, understandable of course given the many sins of the phallocracy all the way back to the Garden of Eden. 

ACCORDING to the omnipresent Supervisor Williams, there were no new covid cases reported Monday. I know it's spring and hope springs eternally, but the plague seems to be retreating.

CHATTING with DA Eyster today, he toted up the number of Mendo people stashed at the County Jail on murder charges — 13, a County record. 

RECOMMENDED VIEWING: NomadLand starring the hyper-annoying Frances Dermond who, fair to say, is less annoying in this film, which is more like a documentary because it often focuses on real people who live nomadic lives out of their vans. The nomads include a lot of older, retired people who can't afford fixed addresses and lots of younger people who move around to avoid fixed addresses, funding themselves from temp jobs. There's a truly horrifying segment when Ms. Dermond takes a temp job in an Amazon warehouse, an experience that would cause most people to at least ponder flight as far from the Bezos octopus as possible. Early in the film we get Bob Wells, the guru of modern-day vagabondage, delivering a surprisingly radical overview of The Situation. “The Titanic has sunk…” He goes on to cheer his fellow vagabonds for shedding the usual entrapping obligations that fixed address people endure. Disencumber, America, and hit the road!

NOT RECOMMENDED VIEWING: The Trial of the Chicago 7. Not even close to the event or the times of that event, an exercise in how to take an interesting subject and make it boring. Happened in the fraught year of '68. There are lots of documentaries on that era which are much more interesting. As a West Coast foot soldier on the left in that period, to me, these guys, the so-called leaders of the so-called Movement, the only movement in history that's moved steadily backwards, were what the Brits call “rum characters,”” opportunists who saw the left merely as one more photo op. (Except for Abbie Hoffman and Froines.) As things heat up again, we shall see what we shall see, but today's psycho-social context is a lot tougher, more dangerous than it was in '68. 

EYE-POPPING INVESTIGATION in the Sacramento Bee uncovers a series of vile text messages sent between members one squad of Eureka Police Department officers led by Sgt. Rodrigo Reyna-Sanchez.

The messages, sent over a period of several months, include multiple vulgar references to women, demeaning comments about homeless people, fantasies of employing deadly violence against suspects and jests about people who have contracted COVID-19.

At one point, an officer is told of an upcoming anti-war demonstration at the courthouse and replies “I’ll beat those fuckin’ hippies down.”

The Bee reports that the text messages were confined to a group of six officers on the squad. The paper names only Sanchez and one other officer, Mark Meftah.

EPD Chief Steve Watson tells the Bee that an internal investigation has been opened into the matter.

There’ll be more on this story later today, and certainly more in the days and weeks to come. Read the Bee’s story here.

(via Hank Sims, Lost Coast Outpost)

THESE OBSERVATIONS FROM 2005, make us here at the Boonville weekly the senior critics of the Northcoast Democrat's ongoing rail scam:

AND THEN there were three. By our count there are exactly three people left in Northern California who claim to believe trains will again link Marin County and Eureka, and they don't really believe it, but it's a fantasy that pays them well. They are former Congressman Doug Bosco, former Bosco aide Mitch Stogner, who now runs the North Coast Railroad Authority, and Congressman Mike Thompson. [Assemblyman] Wes Chesbro also can be counted on as a believer because he believes whatever Thompson and Bosco tell him to believe. The fantasy railroad has become a kind of Northcoast Democratic Party jobs program, much as the State Garbage Board also presently functions for termed-out professional officeholders. This sinecure pays more than a hundred grand a year while the hacks and hackettes wait for an assembly or state senate seat to become available.

ANYWAY, THE RAILROAD which, in the days when Americans knew how to do things, once ran four trains a day, two north and two south, between Sausalito and Eureka. The line lasted until 1967 when, ah, the whole country was derailed, you might say. (Myself, I think things got generally better beginning in ‘67, but older Americans tend not to share my opinion.) These days, as anyone knows who’s walked the Eel River Canyon, or parts of it as we have, the idea that its track could again run trains on it is pure nonsense. The Chinese-dug tunnels have collapsed or partly collapsed, and the track has either fallen into the Eel River or disappeared beneath massive landslides. It would cost millions to rehab, millions that will never ever be available because the timber and ag which sustained the train are long gone.

CHESBRO, THOMPSON AND BOSCO, all three self-interested, of course, are fighting a rearguard action because the Humboldt County Grand Jury has also now bailed on their fantasy. The HumCo Grand Jury studied the North Coast Rail Authority and its operations for two years, interviewing numerous railroad experts, geologists, and others familiar with the Eel River Canyon and the condition of the track there. They also reviewed a study of the long-term financial feasibility of the proposal to restore the rail line between Willits and Eureka. The Grand Jury’s conclusion? “As of this date, it has been over ten years since trains traversed the Eel River Canyon. Tracks are broken and twisted with large portions of railbed entirely missing. This condition is due to highly unstable ground throughout the region and lack of maintenance. Local geologists familiar with the area testified that the effects of earthquakes and natural erosion in the Eel River Canyon are amplified because of particular soil types found there. A 2003 study examined the long-term financial feasibility of the Northwestern Pacific Railroad. The study, a thorough examination of anticipated revenues, expenses, and conditions that could produce both, concluded that income generated could not meet expenses over the next 25 years. The study did not speculate on operating costs of the railroad. … The Grand Jury concluded that the principal objection to the restoration of the rail line is the enormous cost likely to be incurred. Any benefits from such a project would be other than monetary and limited in scope for the foreseeable future.”

NPR SAID last week that the Atlanta shooter had “sexual addiction issues.” Two former housemates of the manchild charged with eight counts of murder after three Tuesday night shootings at Atlanta-area Asian spas say he previously attended a rehab center for sex addiction. Hold it right there. Sex addiction? Vigorous exercise and cold showers was the old cure. That was before the internet where, these days, more than half the people on-line, men mostly, gaze for hours at other people having sexual relations. I've always thought it was obvious that pornography, aside from the ritual humiliation of half the world's population, drives a lot of sex crime while also subtly undermining public morale, which is already low from the overall nutso psycho-social context of late (very late) capitalism. But this particular monster, who said he believes in “God and guns,” somehow blamed the young women whose temptations he couldn't resist for his alleged addiction, many of them enslaved by the money they owe to Chinese criminals who smuggle them into the U.S. where they are trapped in these sordid brothels like the ones this degenerate shot up.

SINCE 1982 the Bulwer Lytton Fiction Contest has challenged participants to write an atrocious opening sentence to a hypothetical bad novel.

LISA KLUBER of SF won in 2020 with this beaut: “Her Dear John missive flapped unambiguously in the windy breeze, hanging like a pizza menu on the doorknob of my mind.”

ANOTHER WINNER was penned by Lisa Hanks of Euless, Texas: “As hard-nosed P.I. Dan McKinnon stepped out into the gray gritty dawn, a bone chilling gust of filth-strewn wind wrapped the loose ends of his open trench coat around him like a day-old flour tortilla around a breakfast burrito with hash browns, sausage, and scrambled eggs, hold the pico.”

NAMED for the Emerald Triangle marijuana-growing region of Northern California’s Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity counties, the Emerald Cup is a community celebration that has grown to become a global movement honoring the year’s finest organic cannabis harvest, striving to highlight the diversity in cannabis through its participants, expert judges, and featured panelists.

THE ABOVE CHARACTERIZATION of the now famous pot contest that began humbly just north of Laytonville, is not widely shared by Mendo growers who commented on-line:

(1) I remember those posers when they started blasting out their egos at the old Czech Lodge. Blow it up, make lots of noise and bring a quick end to our scene. THANKS! Nobody I knew in the hills ever brought anything to their blingetty-bling showcase and we still don’t. But yeah- claim it all you greenrushing latecomers! $$$ and EGO and call it whatever you want… We know who you really are: carpetbaggers and sellouts

(2) They are allowing indoor this year. I think that’s wrong.

(3) The emerald cup is a total joke. Way to exploit the entire community for your own gain. They stole the emerald triangle’s namesake and are using it to shamelessly self promote themselves and their own friends. The entire cup is rigged and the same friends of theirs are always winning, I put no legitimacy into these lame contests and refuse to enter into any competition like this. The only reason they are going to a TV show format is to continue to self promote and sell out to a larger audience.

(4) Tim [Blake, founder of the Cup] lost any credibility he ever hoped to have when the emerald cup moved to Sonoma so they could reach a “bigger audience.” I’m from Laytonville and personally know him & the johnny come lately crew. Some are good, some are bad. But no denying they all came here after 215 to capitalize.

FEAR. Marilyn Davin's excellent piece on her recent experience with Mendocino County's “cultural services,” library division, is the very tip of the local FEAR iceberg. Fear also characterizes American life, maybe always has, and definitely paralyzes a broad swathe of this county's population. If I had a nickel etc. for every time someone said, “Please don't quote me,” as if his or her life were in danger if his or hers non-life-threatening mundanity would earn him/her an immediate bullet to the head, I might plausibly claim to live “in the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

COUPLA recent cases in point: A Coast woman I've known for years, not well but a long time, wrote a long, single-spaced denunciation of me apparently prompted by  my opinion on an animal matter. And all this time I thought my opinions on the four-footed community were so highly evolved, so absolutely cutting edge that this was one area of local public life that put me beyond criticism. Nope, not to my critic. I'd not only somehow betrayed her but the animal kingdom. But here's the kicker, and I'm still kicking myself for honoring her request to “not publish this letter.” Why? Because she knew it was false, factually and emotionally incorrect, and by publishing it she would be revealed as the liar and bully she is, at least where I'm concerned.

THEN THERE'S THE MORE AGGRESSIVE of the passive-aggressives who don't confine their “Please don't print this” to their written assessments of my admittedly numerous character defects, but begin by saying, “Publishing this you've hurt a lot of really, really good people,” like I did a drive-by of Oprah Night at their book club. I know lots of “really good people” who are good without publicizing the fact, but when someone writes in to say, “Don't use my name, but you've hurt a lot of really good people,” let’s hear it for hurt.

INTERESTING and entirely plausible take on the Caspar dog shooter from a person close to the convicted shooter. It goes like this: she took responsibility for her boyfriend who actually shot the animal because he’s a two-striker and, as they say, “known to law enforcement.” This low-down shooting and wounding of the couple’s dog would send him back to prison for a long time. The presumed woman shooter is terrified of Mr. Wonderful, so terrified she is unable to free herself from him, won’t go to Project Sanctuary or the police, although he brutalizes her, too. It might be that the much-maligned Judge Brennan, aware of this situation, went light on the woman because he knew that she probably hadn’t shot the dog, in which case the judge deserves high praise. From our suspicious perspective, shooting a dog is much more likely the kind of thing a man would do, and a man, presumably, would have finished the poor dog, not merely wounded him as was the case here. 

TRUMP WAS VACCINATED in January, which he didn't make public until recently. That's how much he cares about the people in his political base. A recent poll found that nearly 50% of Republican men are still reluctant to get vaccinated.

We already knew the Republican Party is the crackpot party, full of right-wing Christians and Q-Anon supporters. That makes it the anti-science party that vilified Dr. Fauci when he contradicted Trump about the pandemic.

Since Trump's political base is anti-science, they probably don't understand Darwinism and natural selection, which means many Republicans are in effect selecting themselves out of that relentless evolutionary process.

Of course we liberals are very sad that some Republican men will die as a result. They should know that dying is an unskillful way “to own the libs.” 

Alas, we libs will be particularly sad when we are compelled to benefit politically after conservatives in effect volunteer to winnow their own political herd. (Rob Anderson, District 5 Diary)

I WONDERED when the history re-write mobs, literary division, would get to Philip Roth. Now that he’s unable to answer back here they come, although alive he was regularly accused of misogyny and a general depravity by the neo-censors, turning that criticism into some wonderful lit. I thought Roth should have won the Nobel given the breadth and depth of his work. Roth’s fiction perfectly reflects American life from the McCarthy era to the present, and any artist who does that is going to make enemies. He wrote candidly in non-fiction about his relations with women, especially his turbulent marriage to the actress, Claire Bloom. She wrote a book about their four-year union claiming, among other things, that Roth kicked her daughter out of the house because, Bloom alleged, “she bored him,” which made me laugh simply at the accusation. Roth answered at hilarious length, but one did come away wondering why he’d married her in the first place. Anyway, does it even have to be said that ascribing the sins of fictional characters to their author is silly?

WHICH takes me back to an odd interlude when a male relative, then living with us at our Boonville compound, without asking, moved his love interest in with us, by far the most annoying woman I’ve known. I thought at a glance she was off, but how far off was the question. She didn’t live in my house but she always seemed to be lurking there, especially at dinner time.The first day of her first week, “Cindy” we’ll call her, walked past me as I sat reading, sing-songing, “Uh oh, spaghetti-o.” For days, every time she passed by I’d get a new jingle. “You’ll wonder where the yellow went when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent, Pepsodent.” One morning, pre-first cup, she sang out, “The best part of waking up is Folger’s in your cup!” Imagine that at the crack of dawn in your kitchen from a near stranger. Or, another early morning, “Step on a crack, break your mother’s back.” If I was anywhere near her I’d get either a jingle — she seemed to have total recall of every tv ad she’d ever seen — or some off the wall question: “Bruce, have you read Professor Langdon’s ‘History of Icelandic Geography’?’” No, I guess I missed that one, not that sarcasm ever deterred her. Spotting a batch of homemade soup on the stove, she helped herself to a mixing bowl-size serving then spent an hour methodically retrieving every miniscule morsel of meat, piling it up beside her bowl in a perfect protein pyramid. “You really ought to go vegan,” she said. After a couple of weeks of this I confronted lover boy. “She’s gotta go.” He said, “Who’s gotta go?” He was genuinely puzzled, until I hit him with it, “Your girlfriend. She’s nuts. She bothers everyone all day every day.” But he says, “You’re being way too sensitive, Mr. Proust. If she goes, I go.” And they went.

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