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Off the Record (August 4, 2021)

OLD FRIENDS DIE and with them go whole universes of shared experience. My oldest friend died last week. We met in 1945, Rich Johnson and I, in my memory the day the war ended when we were allowed for the first time to walk together two blocks to Mario Shenone's market where all the Shenones spoke Italian and swept the floors with sawdust. We both remember church bells and sirens on that great, celebratory day. We attended the same elementary school in Corte Madera and graduated from the eighth grade in a matriculation ceremony at the open air Rose Bowl dance floor in Larkspur. Rich went on to Drake High School in San Anselmo, I went over the hill to Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley. We often laughed that we felt like Rip Van Winkle, born and raised in one seemingly unchangeable world that soon became a series of startling worlds as the world pummeled us and we grew older then old, him fighting valiantly his last years to defeat a series of physical blows including the loss of a leg and, finally, kidney failure, nursed the whole way by his saintly wife, Deb, without whom he'd have been gone years ago. Socially conservative Rich was politically liberal; we saw Lenny Bruce live twice in North Beach, Rich probably the only golfer in America who could make that claim. The guy never ate a fresh vegetable. We'd all laugh when he'd open his cheeseburgers to carefully remove anything that didn't look like meat and cheese. And he smoked. And he drank a lot of wine. For a guy with so many bad habits it was a minor miracle he was 81 when his abused body finally gave it up. His father, Leonard Johnson or, as his friends called him, Roach, was a warehouseman, a subset of Harry Bridges' powerful Longshoreman's union at a time San Francisco was a labor town, but hardly a liberal town except for Bridge's Longshoremen. Mr. Johnson often told the story of the day that Bridges himself offered Leonard a ride to the bus stop. Now, of course, the union chief and the boss ride in the same limo. Rich's mother, Mary, often fed us insatiable Anderson brothers, smiling as we wolfed down her neighborhood-famous griddle cakes. Rich and his brother, Al, were light eaters, and finicky about their food. We pounded down whatever was put in front of us. I've always thought I am probably the only one left who remembers the tense run-up to my brother's big Catholic wedding at St. Raphael's in San Rafael. Our side of the wedding party, including Rich, were surprised when the Catholic side said our close black friend, Robbie Harvey, could not participate in the ceremony. We won't participate either, then, our side announced. Harv, gracious all his days, settled the matter by assuring the Catholics that he was pleased simply to attend. From youth to the onset of decrepitude goes by fast for all of us, but we were always in touch, Rich and I, through the tumultuous years. Never an optimist, Rich said to me one day last year, “Did you ever think we'd last long enough to see the end of the world?” Almost to the end, my oldest friend was lucid as, it seemed to me, the medical profession steadily removed his body parts, whittling away at him as he spent more and more time in the emergency room and hospitals but never losing his laughter at the irony of it all. The last time I spoke with him it was almost like we were children again when we'd say, “See you tomorrow,” and there were decades of tomorrows. A month ago, I said, “Talk with you soon, Rich,” and then he was gone, taking a big part of me with him.

SUPERVISOR WILLIAMS: “Two seasons of abnormally low rainfall are reflected in dwindling reservoir supply across the state, but the mega-drought is even more alarming on the Mendocino coast and inland areas lacking water infrastructure where residents and businesses depend on well water. For those who maintain holding tanks, trucked water might be an option today at approximately $400 per load of 3500 gallons, but as coast water operators halt outside sales, the same delivery will likely cost $1000 or more. The added expense represents diesel fuel and driver time. For a family of three on conservation of 50 gallons per day each, this is enough water to last about three weeks. Some businesses have estimated a load being enough water to augment their operations for a fraction of a week. Options are slim, most requiring infrastructure that would take years to implement if funded today. One water tank manufacturer has two shifts running seven days per week, but we’re hearing 8-9 week delays. Hopefully some sort of government plan will materialize, but at present, I recommend you think about your water situation and exercise available proactive steps in anticipation of limited assistance. It’s recognized that the drought will impact businesses as they struggle to recover from the pandemic and local revenue from sales and bed tax will go dry.”

A READER WONDERS: “Why would the Sheriff turn to Duncan James law firm, the notoriously most expensive in town and the one who fleeced the city and the sanitation district for $$$, in his dispute with the Board and CEO? Surely, there are competent lawyers around that understand the tangled knots of government, and how to cut to the chase.”

UKIAH let itself be fleeced, which is what happens when elected people blithely spend public money on things they wouldn't consider buying themselves out of their own money. The Ukiah water/sewer fiasco should have been settled way before it stumbled on into court. The Sheriff's beef is legit, but it's another beef that should not have come to lawyers. It's clearer than clear that the Sheriff controls his own IT, which is a good thing lest the county fold it into their bungling IT department and the Sheriff can't efficiently go about his business. The last thing we need in Mendo is more confusion. But I agree the Sheriff, if he must seek outside legal assistance, should look in the bargain basement first. 

BACK TO MASKS! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that vaccinated Americans should wear masks indoors in crowded situations. It is a reversal on the decision the CDC made on May 13th, that fully vaccinated Americans were safe to unmask indoors in most situations. The decision comes as cases across the United States are growing once again due to the highly contagious Indian 'Delta’ variant and the refusal of millions of people to get inoculated. (Mendo, a half-assed county in many respects, is  of course only half-vaccinated.)

THE LOCAL HISTORY RE-WRITE BRIGADE remains determined to re-dub Fort Bragg because the Confederate general it's named after was morally defective. The re-writers, of course, are absolute paragons of ethical behavior and, as anyone who knows a few of them will attest, a very big barrel of laffs. But darned if Mr. Andrew Scully of Mendocino hasn't come up with a brilliant compromise: Take it away, Andrew: 

SCULLY: “I do believe I might have struck paydirt: Fort Brag— elegant solution, removes disgraced treasonous slave-trading creep’s name with one letter deleted. Easy-peasy. Or, Fort Swag — fashion forward, just thinkin'."

YES, we try to keep our comment line free of..... free of cyber-stalkers, such as this Pat Kittle screwball, a crude anti-Semite who, like the rest of his confederacy of dunces, has only that single, wrong opinion. But I had to laugh the other day as I gleefully trashed this comment from him: "Embarrassing FACTS about Schumer will not be tolerated here!"

SCHUMER is one more national figure whose name, here anyway, is like a chloroform rag suddenly being clapped across my face. There is nothing interesting about Chuck Schumer; there can't be anything interesting about Chuck Schumer. He's a black hole of negative interest. 

IN FACT, like millions of Americans, I find the entire ruling apparatus, Democrat and Republican, so thoroughly contemptible that what's left of my mind automatically lurches into a defensive crouch whenever I see or read about them, knowing in my bones they are enemies of everything good and true.

DEMOCRATIC REP. JARED HUFFMAN was headed to the House floor Wednesday when he saw a vocal GOP vaccine resistor — unmasked — in the elevator. Huffman decided to take the stairs, but not before issuing a sharp warning to Rep. Byron Donalds, telling the Florida Republican he shouldn’t be crowding into an elevator with other members. The two crossed paths again outside the chamber and Huffman had more to say, calling the GOP freshman “selfish.” “Here’s a guy who comes from a state that is ground zero for the Delta variant, goes on national TV to tell the world that he’s unvaccinated,” marveled Huffman, a California Democrat, as he recalled the incident. Donalds, who confirmed the encounter, said afterwards: “People need to mind their own business.”

MENDOCINO HISTORIC DISTRICT TOURS ARE BACK: For years Kelley House tour guides have led visitors and locals around our unique historic preservation district, regaling them with stories from Mendocino’s past and present. Thank you to volunteer guides David Tahja, Mary Jackson, and Jane Tillis, who are now taking tours by appointment only (two person minimum). Feel free to join a tour or to volunteer. It’s a great way to meet new people, enjoy a scenic walk, and help the Kelley House. Kelley House walking tours of the Mendocino Historical District are available by advance reservation by emailing

THE SHERIFF'S REMIT is clear. The state constitution says nothing shall impede the investigative responsibilities of the Sheriff… He's elected and controls his budget, and his computers are the department's computers. To interfere with him on these pretexts interferes with his mandate and is a losing proposition. Why public money should be spent on lawyers, outside lawyers at that, shouldn't be acceptable. But in an apparatus that has $93,375 on the consent calendar “to Provide [delinquent youth] with “Aikido, Mindfulness Meditation, and Trauma Resiliency and Emotional Regulation Skill Development Programming Services to In-Custody and Out-of-Custody Youth”…Well, hell, pass the checkbook.

THE MENDOCINO VOICE reported last week that Willits has nixed any water deal with Fort Bragg. Willits has issued its own stage-one water warning as its own supplies don't leave enough to sell.

THE UNSETTLING EVENTS of recent times have lots of people thinking apocalyptic thoughts, their doomer scenarios fed by media accounts such as this one getting a lot of play this week. According to a study by Anglia Ruskin University in England, a total global collapse wrought by climate change, the U.S. isn't among the Top 5 countries well-positioned to survive because our lengthy land borders make US vulnerable to migration, especially from the poor countries to the south of us but even from Canucks from the frozen north of their country.

THE UK professors rated countries' survivability on factors such as manufacturing capability, isolation from dense population centers, and proportion of arable land. The following island nations sit in the survivability cat bird's seat:

  • New Zealand
  • Australia
  • Ireland
  • Iceland
  • United Kingdom

COLLAPSE would involve the breakdown of supply chains and international agreements that facilitate trade among countries, bringing the global financial system to its knees.

IN A VERY SMALL WAY, Mendocino County's supply lines are largely dependent on Bay Area suppliers running our Fritos and Amazon surprises by truck up Highway 101. 101 gets knocked out, no more Fritos.

A NEW HOLIDAY INN sits at the south end of Ukiah's grandly mis-named Airport Boulevard, basically a collection of big box franchises only the Ukiah Chamber of Commerce might confuse with the Champs-Elysees. 

The new Ukiah Holiday reminds me of one of those Chechnya hotels that magically survived the Russian assault on Grozny back in '94. Devastation all around but one, squat, seemingly indestructible structure surviving a city otherwise totally destroyed. Welcome to Ukiah, Hotel Grozny!

AN INTERESTING PBS doc last week was all about Alden Global Capital's looting of the Denver Post, much as here in Mendocino, Humboldt and Lake counties. Alden has looted ancient community newspapers, selling off their real estate, dumping long-time staffers that made the papers sing. (Well, warble, maybe, but still…) The Denver Post staffers got together to start their own on-line paper but, as the film concluded, were guardedly optimistic they could eke out livings as journalists. Prior to Alden's takeover of the Post, it was owned by Dean Singleton, a minor league Alden who also scooped up community papers, cut them to the bone, but managed to parlay enormous debt into a tidy fortune for himself while at least keeping the papers alive. Alden also keeps papers alive, and I'll bet that even in their reduced state the three Mendo papers Alden owns return enough of an annual profit for the vultures at Alden to keep them on life support.

SINGLETON, ever the realist, appears in the documentary to say that newspaper-newspapers are doomed, as are the Denver Post staffers who've started their own on-line paper to go with it. We don't need Singleton to point out that the internet has killed newspapers, and has also knocked off thousands of print journalists. But looking at the Northcoast, the journalo-situation isn't all that dire; the Mendo papers hang on, and a few on-line papers (including the ava) like Lost Coast Outpost and Kym Kemp's terrific Redheaded Blackbelt website, plus lots of knowledgeable people chipping in on comment lines, seem to me to add up to a daily news diet as good as it's ever been. Oh yeah, the internet has major downsides, for sure, but everything is up there if people can be trusted to sort out truth from untruth, a big IF for sure.


This picture is of Father Yod and some of the ladies from the Source Family. It was a commune that began in Los Angeles not long after the Manson Family was busted. Oddly they started out as a health food restaurant.

At least one of the Manson Family members, Mark Ross, patched over to Father Yod as the death penalties came down. Many of the Source Family members changed their names to "something" Aquarian. Isis Aquarian is still a fervent follower of Yod even though he's been dead for many years. Mark Ross became Aesop Aquarian.

IRV SUTLEY WRITES: “The Anderson Valley Advertiser's Youtube post of Steve Talbot's 1991 KQED Documentary “Who Bombed Judi Bari?” followed by Talbot’s Belva Davis interview can be viewed by going to and entering the term "Anderson Valley Advertiser" in the search space. 

Webmaster Mike Kalantarian’s initial piece is the first option. In the six days since this was posted there have been over 70 views but no comments yet. I think you have to have a Youtube subscription to be able to comment or rate a post. 

I look forward to Mike Sweeney's being able to attach Cherney's chump version on the end of this. It is my intention to get Voice Stress Analysis for the statements made by Pam Davis and some of those made by Bari herself. Back in the day, Pam Davis refused to take a polygraph but with the newer, even extremely reliable technology of VSA  only an audio is needed to test, not a hook up to a machine.“

THE PERP, incidentally, is now a resident of New Zealand. Odd, isn’t it, that the massed forces of law and order from the FBI, the ATF, the Oakland Police Department and, natch, Mendocino County, managed not to include Bari’s ex-husband in their suspect pool while the lockstep “left” hauled out their preferred suspects — Big Timber; the FBI; Louisiana-Pacific; religious fanatics; men generally. Did Sweeney commit the perfect crime? Not quite, but he may as well have.


[1] The great Fort Bragg name change debate. I would prefer that the name not be changed. Not because I think Braxton Bragg or the Confederacy should be honored, but because I think it is much ado about nothing. I've been aware of Fort Bragg all my life, but it was only this name change controversy that caused me to become aware of the origin of the name. When I hear “Fort Bragg,” I think of the wonderful community in which I live, not some low-life Confederate General that died 150 years ago. That being said, if the name does need to be changed, at least change it to something short and easy to write. As far as I am concerned, “Pomo Palisades” dramatically fails this test. Another Suggestion: What about: Pomo Palisades?

[2] Remember the Bear Woman of Laytonville, an on-line comment: “The bear woman a Laytonville was not harmless she was dumping 6000 pounds of dog food around her house every month. She not only fed bears but fed everything including hundreds of other wild animals. she threatened to kill the fish and game biologist, game wardens and the government trapper. She also threatened to kill and burn down her neighbors houses who complain to fish and game about chronic bear problems . Because of this lady over 150 bears died during about a 20 year time. She didn’t help bears by feeding them she created bears that were chronically imprinted on humans for a food source and caused hundreds of incidences with her neighbors of bears destroying their property, killing their poultry and livestock and destroying their veggie gardens and fruit trees . This lady owned the only gas station in Laytonville and her daughter and son in law would defend her because it was all about their inheritance . She was worth a lot of money and didn’t care about her neighbors . This was not an old lady feeding Tweety birds! That’s the truth.. There's an old saying, A fed bear is a dead bear, if you feed bears human food you’re condemning them. This woman had no common sense.”

[3] I hear there's a big stir in the town of Mendocino about the porta potty. My first thought about this that the only people that don't find it is a good idea are the new people who have crawled out of the sludge called the East Coast or parts of Southern California. These people think they are residents of this county but they're transplants that have no say and should not ever talk about what's good and what's bad in a community. They were chased out of their own community either because of bad manners or they couldn't afford it anymore, but why come to our community Mendocino County and stir up the pot because you don't like what's going on? Crawl back into that cave that you came from and leave us alone. Sure, the drought is a big deal. The history of this town, distant as it may be, has always survived. Mendocino County survived all kinds of things — drought, storms even a few earthquakes but we're still here no thanks to the city people that have trashed our neighborhood, brought drugs and bad habits and even worse attitudes, because they think they're better and they're not, they are just part of that primeval slides that has slithered in looking to make money by stealing from long time local individuals by paying them not what they're worth in their time or for their property. There are people who come here to take advantage; much like the termites that eat your house the city people come to the community not to contribute, but take advantage of the locals. How dare they say things that are bad when what's being done is good and the simple fact that we have learned how to survive. Could they do the same with no electricity or sewer or no water? They would go skulking back to the caves called the cities where they belong. As to the problem of no water in Mendocino they were offered many years ago land with water but they turned it down and would rather put in a sewer system. It all had to do with the city people moving to the country and bringing their bad habits. Most of these people are anti-logging anti-ranching and anti-growth unless it means them. They need to all leave town. We need a stronger border. What would help many of these small towns is fixing it so only longtime locals people who were born here many generations ago and could be the only ones that could hold public office. That would change things greatly, and it would eliminate the city people from taking hold of our communities, yes Mendocino needs a city government but no one need apply that has not been here at least a couple of generations. To even the playing field we should even do that with County government and things would change greatly. — RD Beacon

[4] Back when prize fighting was a big thing, many TV shows and movies had scenes with a badly beaten and bruised and exhausted fighter barely standing upright and straining to keep his eyes open and arms still extended in at least a pose of self-defense. The American people (and much of the World) today ARE that badly beaten and bruised and exhausted fighter barely standing upright and straining to keep eyes open and arms still extended in at least an almost pathetic pose of self-defense.

We have been softened up and pummeled and taken beatings coming at us from various directions that have hit us repeatedly above and below the belt and even into those once-private bodily regions that were considered sacred and off-limits to outsiders. But even those limitations are now obliterated as the ongoing violation of the human body and spirit goes on without letup. We have been completely softened up for… what? The final massive right-cross that lays us out half-lifeless on the cold dirty ring canvas for the Final Count? How do we summon the strength to deal with our pain and the heaviness in our limbs and in our human spirits? Where do we find the strength to summon and call upon our God-given right of self-defense in the face of such an onslaught? We beg for time to heal and get our wits back. But there is no time. The body blows keep coming and our arms and eyes get heavier and the need to find strength has never been greater. Hollywood has already given us two possible outcomes. The badly-beaten fighter summons impossible strength to mount a furious defense and somehow prevails against all odds. Or, the massive right-cross comes from The Opponent and the tired heap of a broken fighter is laid out on the canvas for the Final Count in a pathetic heap of wasted effort and broken dreams. And the Opponent gets a wicked sick smile on his face and revels in his abusive punishing final blow and desecration of a human being. What’s that we’re now all hearing?… “SEVEN… EIGHT… NINE!”

[5] I have Real Bad anecdotal evidence to share. My hairdresser gf’s long-time client just told of her neighbor (Pediatrician Surgeon at Regina General Hospital) saying that RGH’s ICU is full of unvaxxed Covids.

If this is True, my analysis leads to: the Delta is Real and it is part of their repertoire. They will knock off the clean while “breakthrough” the poisoned.

I’ve no word on the compromisedness of these cases or how many beds are in ICU there. Regina has 200,000 people and 2 major hospitals. Regina is very, very highly vaxxed. Us unjabbed are a small minority.

Survival of the fittest. I take zinc & Vitamin D and remain hermitose but my gf (unjabbed) could bring me the Delta every time we play Yahtzee together.

These rotten scumbags! It reminds me of The Far-Side cartoon where 2 men are talking in the foreground with all manner of literal Hell surrounding them. The one guy, putting down his mug, says, “Oh man! Even the coffee’s cold! They’ve thought of everything.”

[6] Generally people are not very friendly or very loving in the Triangle! And the way people treat each other is horrible and reprehensible, people are constantly competing instead of helping and cooperating! Having grown up in the Heart of Mendo I can tell you that the biggest source of trauma for most kids are the other kids who attend these schools. Lots of people teach their kids to be bullies, to be dominant and teach them the discrimination that they are better than everyone else. Men teach their sons to be players and “get laid.” Kids are traumatized with scars that last a lifetime by teachers and classrooms. Not to mention being treated the way you get treated by strangers, clerks, acquaintances, friends and family in the Emerald Triangle is what affects you the most. People hate their jobs and hate their lives. Not to mention many people are completely bored to death, there is nothing to do for recreation on a daily basis. No daily tailgate gatherings, can’t even drink a beer in the park with your buddies on your tailgate; so people become isolated! Most people just get a loan to buy a car to drive to work, work every day for a pittance salary that barely pays for their home, car loan, or puts food on their table… For many it is a struggle between paying electric bill or buying groceries. Not to mention the high suicide rate among cannabis farmers and families who could not jump through the hoops McCowen and the BOARD OF Supes created that spelled nearly certain death or suicide for many rural cannabis farmers and their workers. Each grow we see that gets busted represents 10-30 workers livelihoods. The trickle down economic effect of cannabis affects everyone who lives and works in the Triangle. But nobody is doing anything to make the area fun. People are bored and isolated to death. People look like they are in the ozarks and many are on serious psych meds. Expressionless zombies everywhere! What kind of life is: work home work home work home….. for eternity?! It’s modern day slave living just enough food to eat and no extra money for many people and the county wants to take that away and make life even harder in their hatred and pursuit for dominance and control and power. Seniors used to be able to supplement their SSI checks with cannabis and young couples and young families used to buy their kids Christmas presents and school clothes with that extra few bucks the few plants brought in. But the people who hate, along with the Board of Supervisors, even took that little extra away from our working families and senior citizens! People are hate filled, envious and jealous; there is little community. Get out while you’re still alive!

[7] I have gardened for decades. Used to be that the only concern for the season was the first freeze. In Phoenix, there are two seasons, January to June and Sept to Jan. The temp extremes stop plant growth in the winter and for four months of the summer. Last year the temp. Was in the 110 to 118 range for most of August. August is normally much cooler, 100 -105 in August, but there was no monsoon to cool us down. Everything, even cactus and other desert plants suffered, sun burned, died, citrus trees dropped 2/3 of their leaves, Roses dried up, everything stopped growing and died back.

I found through the years here that:

Tomatoes stop flowering above 95 deg.

Squash of all types stop flowering above 105 degrees.

Corn is stunted above 110 degrees. Peppers are okay up to 110, then they stop growing.

The only thing I have found that consistently grows here is okra. We had a few seasons of jambalaya around here. 

The low humidity, 0-15% does not help.

When the soil is above 105 consistently, nothing germinates.

[8] Still don’t want be taxed for the $50,000 to $80,000 average cost of hospital stay or the increased premiums because of those costs, for those, who while they didn’t trust the government enough to get a $20 vaccine, surely will call on those they didn’t trust when they get sick enough to want to go to the hospital. Don’t want to fund lifelong government support payment those who won’t get vaccinated but who don’t die, just got really sick, or to their children if they do die until they finish school. Don’t want to be put at constant risk by those who think they should not wear a face mask in public places because they will not be inconvenienced out of concern for those, who even when vaccinated, stand a sizeable chance of getting sick. Nope if you’re old or disabled, you are expected to do all the risk management. Marie Antoinette would have thoroughly gone along with that “let them eat cake” idea. No one is asking you to lock yourself up in your house, like you are demanding others do. Just wear a mask in public. But mostly, don’t want anti vaxxers spreading lies, ignorance and misunderstandings to scare about vaccines and flick off worry about the disease.

[9] I, in the past year as I hit 59 and working 40 years now as a front line hospital guy in the emergency department, death was closer to me. Even though I went to a Christian school, and was told as long I go to church weekly and contribute Jesus will save me, but I still had anxiety about it. Then by accident I found the book, “Mediations” by a 2000 year old Roman Emperor named Marcus Aurelius and the philosophy he studied called Stoicism and how it helps you organize your life and see that these worries we all have are ancient. The best part, you can be a Stoic and still practice and follow the teachings of Jesus. Read some of the stoics and see how they face our morality, the corruption and fall of the Greek and Roman civilizations.

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