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Mendocino County Today: April 16, 2012

STATE PARKS is running a legal advertisement in the Ukiah Daily Journal that says the state is “accepting proposals for five year contracts to maintain and operate up to three state parks scheduled for closure in Mendocino County.”

THE THREE PARKS? Hendy Woods, Philo; Russian Gulch, Mendocino; and Westport.

ANYBODY WHO'S BEEN to a Giants game knows the kettle corn guy, identified as Howard Ellsworth Lowe, 71, in a fine piece in Friday's Chron by Sam Whiting. A couple of times a game the kettle corn guy breaks into a nimble, free form dance that's pure joy to behold. They put him up on the big screen and the crowd goes crazy. Hence his nickname, “Crazy Legs.”

THE ECONOMICS of kettle corn don't work in Howard's favor, which is no surprise, but they turn out to be worse than I would have thought. We're talking about a 71-year-old man with arthritic knees who probably walks five miles a game up and down stadium stairs for an average take of about a hundred bucks. (He gets 15% on a bag of the stuff that goes for $6.75.) In the off season, Howard lives in Sacramento. In the city, he stays in hostels that cost him $15-$30 a night with a three-night limit. The old guy's got the secret, though, dancing for barely minimum wage.

BTW, the Giants shortstop, Brandon Crawford, made a truly great play on opening day, suddenly appearing from deep short on a dribbler past the pitcher to one hand it and, in one motion, nail by a foot the Pirates fastest guy, Andrew McCutchen. Only the very best of the great shortstops could have made that play, so great his teammates were roughing him up like he'd hit a grand slam.

WE'VE MADE FORMAL requests of the Fort Bragg Police Department and the Mendo DA for whatever files they have on the Fort Bragg Fires of 1986 and 1987. Fort Bragg's attorney, Michael Gogna, replied at length to say those files were destroyed some time ago because no homicides were involved. In fact, there might have been one, that of Kenny Rick, who allegedly committed a fairly acrobatic shotgun suicide just before he was due in San Francisco to testify on the fires before a federal grand jury. Rick had been hired to set some of the fires.

THE DA has yet to respond to our request for the DA's files on the arsons, but has said informally there's nothing in his office related to the infamous events. It all should have been preserved as history if not grist for the legal mills, not that those mills were grinding fine and slow in the 1980s — they'd been self-monkeywrenched by the DA herself. We suspect that most of the information may have been disappeared by former DA Susan Massini; it was on her watch that the statute of limitations was allowed to run on the fires although there seems to have been more than enough evidence to indict at least two well-connected persons. The fires, incidentally, still inspire pure terror in the low-level persons who have direct knowledge of who did what.

FROM MENDO NATIONAL FOREST headquarters at Willows: “Snow pack measurements taken at Anthony Peak on the Mendocino National Forest at the end of March show that snow depth and water content in the Forest have significantly improved compared to two months earlier. The average snow pack measured at the end of the month was 69.1 inches, with water content measuring 24.5 inches. These measurements are 104% of average snow pack and 85% of average water content… For reference, 1991 was the record low with 4.1 inches of snow pack. The record high was in 1969 with 148.8 inches of snow pack. … Originally established in 1944, the Anthony Peak snow course provides data for precipitation draining into the Grindstone watershed into Stony Creek and Black Butte Reservoir, ending in the Sacramento River.”

THERE'S ALSO very good cross country skiing up on the Mendocino Pass, I'm told, the last big ridge of the Coast Range separating Mendocino County from the Sacramento Valley. Anthony Peak rises 6,954 feet, and is Mendocino County's highest point. There's a drive-up lookout station at the summit, unmanned these days. The drive over the Pass to Willows is about three hours, impassable in the winter months, pretty good gravel road much of the way in the summer time, and a trip any true Mendolander should make at least once.

AS WE SAY IN BOONVILLE: Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahm! Om Shanti Productions presents Mother’s Milk and Honey: A Celebration of Sweet Sound on Mother's Day, Sunday, May 13, 2012 at Frey Vineyards, 14000 Tomki Road, in Redwood Valley at 2pm. $20 in advance, $25 at door, Children 12 and under free. Tickets available at, or at Three Sisters and Ukiah Natural Foods Coop in Ukiah, Mazahar in Willits, and Twist in Mendocino. Come celebrate Mother’s Day, and relax under the oak trees with your family and community while listening to beautiful music. Headlining the musical offerings will be MaMuse, a merry duo from Chico. Sarah Nutting and Karisha Longaker weave voices like a Celtic knot upon a sparse instrumental pallet of upright bass, guitar, mandolins and flutes. Original songs transmitted through the heart and infused with improvisation and storytelling, leave audiences softened and singing along. Creating beauty and magic wherever they go, MaMuse is what a meadow would sound like if it could sing. Additional sweet sounds from the Blushin’ Roulettes, Ayla Nereo, Alyra Rose, Resonate and Breath. An assortment of food and drink will be available for purchase, including a delicious meal prepared with local ingredients. Crafters will be showing their wares including clothing, hand readings, henna, and more. And, mosaic art materials and participatory group art-making will be taking place. This is a family-friendly, kid-friendly event. (Blushin’ Roulettes sample at:

THE COLD WAR’S over and the problem’s not Russians

Although Putin could still cause serious repercussions

We’d have psalms with no sweat

And bahms not roulette

Even cold warriors could find themselves Blushin’

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