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Off the Record (October 13, 2021)

FORMER DEPUTY TRENT JAMES has, as we go to press, four YouTube-posted segments of his “Confessions of an ex-cop” series and promises more. Trent James is the first cop in my memory to talk publicly about his experience in local law enforcement. James has worked for the Mendo Sheriff’s Department and for the Willits PD. His YouTube confessionals show him solo talking about his experiences over six years with the two local police agencies. 

Trent James

JAMES is a young, fit-looting man with the tats befitting his dude-dom residency. His diction is duly heavy on dude-speak or, for us squares, street talk that might shock your great, great, great grandmother but no one younger. So far, James has not delivered on his repetitive promises to reveal corruption of the actionable type. He is clearly unhappy with the man he describes as his former friend, Lt. Derek Hendry of the Willits Police,  also formerly a deputy with the Sheriff’s Department. James says Hendry was fired by the Sheriff’s Department for claiming to have been at the firing range for a routine qualifying shoot when he was at home. James promises much more but so far his beefs have lacked specificity, as they say. From our distant perspective, James seems to have been a good cop — honest, conscientious, dedicated to a task more difficult and trying by the day, serving for four years in Covelo as its sole resident deputy, a tour of duty he managed to complete with kudos from both his police peers and the restive community he patrolled. Apart from Hendry, Janes is very unhappy with persons in the command structure of the Sheriff’s Department he has not yet named. 

MORE THAN 70% of Americans say they would be less likely to back Biden’s signature $3.5 spending plan if it meant they faced higher taxes, according to a poll published last week. It’s probably news to that 70% that unless they rake in more than $400,000 annually their taxes will not be raised to pay for Biden’s FDR-like infrastructure plan. Have to laugh when I hear wage workers of the Trumpian type saying, “But we can’t afford it.” We. Like they’ll be having dinner tonight with Bezos.

FRONTIERS OF FREE ENTERPRISE, Ukiah, where on S. State Street a pot business called Kure advertises itself as “Home of the $5 pre-roll.” If the disease is reality the Kure may indeed be the pre-roll. 

LIBS breathed a sigh of relief when President Biden was elected, not for anything said about policy but for a psychic reunification of the country after four years of tumult and fiery division under President Trump. But eight months into the new presidency, America’s deep disunity shows no signs of letting up. A new poll has revealed that political divisions run so deep in the US that over half of Trump voters want red states to secede from the union, and 41% of Biden voters want blue states to split off. According to the poll from the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, 52% of Trump voters at least somewhat agree with the statement: “The situation is such that I would favor [Blue/Red] states seceding from the union to form their own separate country.” Twenty-five percent of Trump voters strongly agree.

BERLINERS (Germany for those of you hazy on your geography) have decisively voted to expropriate around 240,000 apartments currently owned by “mega-landlords” (private real estate companies & developers) and turn them into socialized public housing. In Berlin, more than 80% of the population are tenants and the rents have doubled in the last 10 to 15 years. Which will never happen here but it should. The people who do Mendocino County’s hardest jobs can’t afford a roof over their heads, if they can find one to rent.

PREDICTION: This time next year waterless, unimproved properties all over Mendocino County will be up for sale, such is the influx of delusional get-rich-quick marijuana buccaneers. There are insta-farms here in the Anderson Valley whose proprietors have bought water since the day they erected their get-rich-quick hoop houses. The Green Rush done rushed, so many planters presently harvesting so much product they’ve destroyed their markets with over-supply.

I DON’T understand the Skunk Train’s priorities. Rather than complain about the City of Fort Bragg’s looming iffy attempt to buy up acreage on the old mill site, The Skunk, it seems from here, ought to focus on running an honest train ride out of Fort Bragg by rehabbing Tunnel One (for starters) to give tourists a real ride for their expensive tickets.

COULDN’T HELP but notice Tuesday a noisy claque of anti-vaxxers on the southwest corner of Perkins and State, Ukiah. I was tempted to park to argue with them. But parking would mean climbing out of the Nanny Wagon my sister gave me, a 2014 Ford bipolar hybrid that comes with constant dashboard messages either congratulating me for wearing my seatbelt, thanking me for driving a hybrid or shrieking at me that I’m about to back into the Grand Canyon as represented by a curb. But what’s the point of arguing with internet-informed anti-vaxxers who lack all regard for the welfare of their fellow citizens, not to mention their own families? A big prob with anti-vaxxers, not to mention the Building 7 nuts, the grassy knoll legions and the millions of conspiracy-oriented Americans generally, is that they’re educated beyond their intellectual abilities, that they can read but aren’t able to properly evaluate what they read, can’t discern the difference between true fact and false fact, between possibilities and probabilities. And a show of hands would reveal that few, if any, of the anti-vaxxers took a science class in high school where the basics of immunology were taught. Anti-vaxxers standing on a street corner in Ukiah demonstrating their ignorance and hysteria is one more sign of the great fracturing.

BOOSTER SHOTS, a reader writes: “Rite Aid is also doing Pfizer 3rd shots by appointment - I had to wait today for 30 minutes but sitting out in the open away from others and the room where the shot was administered was pretty good size with only the nurse and me. They did not make me wait for any post observation but I had no reaction to the first two nor to flu shots so wasn’t too concerned. FYI CVS only has Moderna.”

FRANK BARDACKE of Watsonville writes: “Speaking of Orwell and Hemingway, did you ever come across this one (Emma Goldman on the Spanish Republic): ‘It was as if you were waiting your whole adult life to get pregnant, and you finally did. And then the baby was born dead.”

 (DIS)ENCHANTED MEADOW

Roughly 3 miles upriver, the way the crow flies, a great devastation is taking place. Up on the Albion headwaters, Mendocino Redwood Company (MRC) is liquidating its assets of old 2nd growth redwoods and firs, squandering a multi-generational asset and the hopes for humankind that these ancient giants represent. It is now a youthful slaughter, not only for these adolescent trees, but for the hopes of next generations in their fight against climate change.

A mile away, the sounds of this massacre cannot be heard, the thunderous fall, the sickening thud as these giants hit the Earth, their betrayed majesty on a dying planet. While activists and loggers go head-to-head 20 miles east in Jackson State Forest, the old ones here are falling.

“That was a big one,” my friend said to me, as I had said to her less than ten minutes before, when the last big tree fell. We heard at least 40 old ones go down in the five hours we were at Enchanted Meadow. That’s a little less than 10 trees an hour. There were three chainsaw crews working non-stop, to cut as many as they can before the winter rains set in and their negligently built roads inevitably begin to fail.

Yes, they are killing them fast. The Fisher family, owners of Mendocino Redwood Company, the GAP, Banana Republic, Old Navy, the Oakland A’s, and etc, etc, &c. — are wealthy to the level of obscenity to the tune of over $7.3 billion. They don’t need the money. Yet they are now criminally destroying the emerald jewel of Mendocino County, tearing the soul out of this part of the world, “Enchanted Meadow” and the designated Wild and Scenic upper Albion River. Meanwhile, the once mighty Albion Nation stands silent, as old activists and young new recruits trudge 20 miles east to fight loggers over pecker poles in the already twice ravaged Jackson State Forest. And MRC wants it this way, to the point of hiring armed domestic mercenary thugs to threaten and intimidate locals who would dare venture to a place they have been going to for over 40 years.

A coastal redwood can live to 2000 years, not that much less than the age of our entire civilization. At 800 years, they reach full maturity as the wondrous giants that leave all of humanity in awe. If you do the math, cutting these big trees at 150 years would be like killing a young teenager 13 to 15 years in relational lifespan. The mature old-growth trees of the Albion watershed are long since gone, and this forest was just starting to recover its glory, 30 years since activists prevented logging of second growth in the Albion watershed in the early 1990s. Now this legacy will wash away like the ravaged soil the bulldozers are leaving behind.

In ages past, if a nasty deed like this slaughter of big trees in Albion was to be done, they would at least have waited until spring, when there’d be time for the skid roads, landings and badly constructed haul roads to be mitigated before the winter rains set in. That would have been the decent thing to do. But there’s nothing decent about this. There’ll be no time for that now. There won’t even be time to get all the logs out before the violent maze of disturbed skid roads and soils turns into a nightmare of mudslides and sediment dumps that end up in the Albion River, ruining whatever habitat was left for the aquatic wildlife that depend on that river. It’s not only the legacy of trees that MRC is striking from the ledger of life, but the very existence of endangered coho salmon, murrelet, heron, osprey, and a host of other living beings now placed on the chopping block of oblivion.

Three chainsaw crews are working nonstop cutting the big trees, while activists, loggers and security goons are fighting it out over pecker poles on Highway 20 east of Fort Bragg. Where are you, Albion Nation?

PS. I have been asked to retract my statements about protesters in the woods, or more specifically, referring to some of the trees these brave forest defenders are protecting as “pecker poles.”

The reality is that some of the trees CalFire and private timber companies are slaughtering in Jackson State Forest are 90 and 120 years old, a few even older, and these old by human, young by their own standard trees — and those humans of all ages protecting them — deserve a lot more respect. I apologize for any error or misunderstanding.

The demolition of Mendocino County forests continues in JDSF and in Albion. It’s a whole lot easier anywhere to cut a tree for cash than to let it grow.

David Gurney

RED BEARD, Mendo’s increasingly famous fugitive, has now been featured in the Press Democrat. If Northcoast journalo-history is any guide RB will soon be featured in the SF Chronicle, and from the Chron to the LA Times and maybe even on into the New York Times if he does something spectacular, which we hope would not be violently spectacular although RB did crank off a rifle round at a pursuing pair of deputies who almost caught him on Cameron Road near Elk a few months ago. Cops will confirm that Red Beard, aka William Evers, 40, is impressively fit, on one occasion running full tilt from deputies through the dark and hurdling two fences. In another instance when he was surprised by police near Albion he dropped a jar of peanut butter to flee with a couple of bottles of wine, leading police to believe that Evers prefers booze to other forms of nourishment. Police also speculate that Evers fell deeply in love with Mendocino County when, as a state prison inmate, he was assigned to the fire camps on Highway 20 east of Fort Bragg. It’s clear that Evers prefers to sleep indoors, although this past summer he seems to have been camping, apparently on the south side of the Navarro River somewhere in Pebs Trippett’s neighborhood. When he first surfaced in Mendocino County at Judge Nelson’s cabin on Low Gap Road not far from Ukiah he’d been staying at a seldom visited cabin just above the judge’s place, helping himself to the judge’s liquor larder and, in the judge’s words, “Leaving my cabin a total mess.” Evers, who outran pursuers who nearly caught him on Low Gap, turned up near Philo, then on Cameron Road, Elk. Since, he’s moved across the Navarro River into the Albion River watershed where unoccupied, well-stocked houses are plentiful. Red Beard will winter somewhere between Navarro Ridge Road and Mendocino. If he knocks on the right door there are lots of alienatos in the Coast hills who will help him out.

SUPERVISOR JOHN HASCHAK: “I have been working with Senator McGuire and Sheriff Kendall to enhance enforcement against illegal cannabis grows in our County. On Sept. 29, the three of us, along with the sheriffs of Humboldt and Trinity counties, held a press conference to highlight the state funding $1.5 million for enforcement against the worst of the worst cannabis grows in our region. Mendocino County will get $600,000 for needed staffing and resources. The goal is to go after illegal water diversions, operations threatening endangered fish species, environmental degradation, or the presence of organized crime.”

A READER WRITES:

Thank you for your Catch of the Day website feature for if you didn’t take the time to do this (no doubt more than just a little bit of work to compile every day), I would not have recognized this man, Kyle Cohn, who has a history of violent crime, when he approached my daughter and me today in Ukiah.

Kyle Cohn

We were parked next to the community gardens behind the social services building, early afternoon eating our lunch in the car, when Cohn walked past my open window with another guy, way too close. As he passed by, he glanced sideways at me and said “Sorry,” then kept walking with his friend until they were a few yards ahead of us, where they stopped and talked. At this point I recognized Cohn, as he had been in the Catch earlier this week. After a couple of minutes, they started walking back, Cohn veering towards my car again. I quickly rolled up the window and locked the doors before he got closer. He asked if we were “going south,” muttering something about needing a ride to get to his daughter, by then I had the engine going and had started driving away.

Without the Catch I might not have been on high enough alert, as Cohn, while greasy, looks less feral and menacing than most perps. I might not have moved quickly enough to protect myself and my daughter. There were no other people around. It really seemed like they were casing us.

I’ll bet you get a lot of flak from people who think that posting arrest mugshots is such a mean and cruel thing to do, but it is a public service, without which, who knows what might have happened to us today.

I searched the AVA’s website and here’s Cohn’s arrest record:

  • Oct 5, 2021, Failure to appear
  • June 6, 2021, Burglary
  • May 10, 2021, Domestic battery, paraphernalia, disobeying court order, protective order violation
  • Oct 14, 2020 Failure to appear.
  • June 8, 2020, Domestic abuse, false imprisonment, resisting.
  • June 2, 2020, Domestic battery

A FRIEND OF LANNY COTLER WRITES: “I found out that beloved community member of Willits Lanny Cotler passed away today. Almost 20 years ago my mentor and friend, Lanny Cotler, reached out and held me up when I was attacked while protesting the War in Afghanistan and the bombing of a wedding. It was the fourth of July Parade. He was the only person who came to stand with me and walk a ways with me. 

Fly on free bird, fly on. I will never forget you— writer, actor, director, mentor, critical thinker, community builder. May you be free of pain and reunited with your brother and the energy of life in the universe. Thank you for being a part of my life, Lanny.”

THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE OF GENTLEMAN’S QUARTERLY, of all publications, features a story called ‘California’s Vanishing Hippie Utopias’ in which are several photos of ghostly owner-built structures at, among other Mendo and HumCo places, Albion’s famous Table Mountain collective. GQ? I half expected to see Captain Fathom in a full tux, and is Albion’s Bo’s Landing still a commune of sorts or is the Captain the only person still on board?

COMMUNAL living flourished on the Northcoast in the 1970s but was pretty much gone by the 1990s and, in any case, was pretty much a warm weather phenomenon anyway. The groups I knew drew lots of summer hippies, but when the rains and the cold set in, indoor plumbing and the comforts of the despised ‘burbs beckoned.

ALWAYS admired the surviving communards who toughed it out in their un-insulated, red-tagged hovels as Mendo officialdom, from the outset, did a lot of huffing and puffing about “bulldozing those goddam hippie shacks.” It was as if the supervisors at the time and the building inspectors feared being forced into full-time residence up all those back country dirt roads when, logically, local authorities should have been awarding medals to the newcomers for re-populating and re-prosper-izing an historically struggling rural economy. 

THE MORE sex-obsessed hippie bashers here in the Anderson Valley were known to spend hours at strategic sites overlooking hippie properties hoping to catch a glimpse of bare breasts. The Manson Girls, at their home near Navarro, became a kind of rural Mitchell Brothers Theater where the ‘necks had the place under daylight surveillance. The hippie interlude at the old Clearwater Ranch was another voyeur’s hot spot.

POLITICALLY, despite their fearsome reputation as mad dog radicals, the back to the landers were pretty tame, electing conservative libs and seldom straying from the mainstream Democratic Party only for George McGovern or some other figure billing him or herself as a reformer. And a whole slew of temporary hippies, weary of the thanatoid life, soon reclaimed their middleclass credentials and took over the public institutions of Mendocino County, from the courts to the schools, and not for the better.

I KNEW HIPPIE was over when, one night at a Boonville school board meeting, a woman who’d mooned me on her driveway but was now educating my children, told me to sit down and be quiet “because you’re becoming irrational.” Which I probably was, but the indignity, my friends, the indignity!

MY WIFE had been educated in strict Brit mission schools and me in the usual absurd edu-processes of Gringolandia. Often shocked at the way we did things here in Freedom Land, she thought the schools were, uh, undemanding. We were on the same page. Together we decided that our three could go to school if they wanted to go, but if they stayed home they’d have to read and do math probs for six hours. They usually preferred Boonville Unified. 

I’VE ALWAYS THOUGHT the hippie impulse was the correct (and logical) rejection to industrial civ, but also thought they were naive in their puzzlement at the violent rejection and insult they got when the first wave of the back to the landers landed on the Northcoast. But, at the time, even if they’d appeared in full Brooks Brothers, simply being new residents in an area wary of new people, the welcome mats would have been conditional. But soon, hippies were marrying the rednecks and a whole new beast was born, the Hipneck, and from the Hipnecks came fresh marriages with the Mexican immigration, the RedNexicans! 

ON LINE COMMENTS OF THE WEEK:

 [1] Should be “CAUTION” signs at the Covelo Hwy. 162 exit. “Enter at your own risk! May end up kidnapped, ripped off, tortured, raped, shot in a bar, or found dead; in an abandoned vehicle, on a dirt road, in a ditch, under a bridge…just keep going!”

[2] Oh, hey, great idea! Then followed by “Admission: Adults $15, Children under 12 free.” They’d come pouring in. It’s the economic boost Covelo’s been waiting for. A new tourist destination hits NorCal: “Crimeland.”

[3] Most men are basically mooches. At the age of 73, my dating days are pretty much over, but I still am occasionally importuned by some guy who wants to be “friends.” With the most recent one, his objective was to move in with me so that he could sell his house in a neighborhood that was going downhill fast, and have a woman around to look after him–and doubtless pay the bills. Men often seek relationships with women with such a plan in mind; they are seeking a life-preserver in the form of both a personal servant and someone to support them. Normally, this is the ONLY male motivation for seeking a long-term relationship. They do so ONLY when they find that they cannot manage on their own and, after casting about for some solution, they decide that their best bet is to find a woman to mooch off of. 

[4] You have Life? Good. Then Life has you as well All of you! Every organ, every drop of blood and, of course, your brain: your mind. But I have free will!, you say. Of course you do. Sort of

Now Life is normally quite placid. Even though Life lives on by consuming itself; the feasting is benign, as it is with all Life’s wards; with one notable exception. You…and me. And the rest of the human race. We are Life consuming gluttons extraordinaire. Think Gettysburg, Dachau, Hiroshima and …factory farming: ad nauseam.

This is not new, of course. Our behavior is old news. Life has cut slack to humans because we have a uniqueness that has warranted observation over time. Time may have just run out.

 Humans now have the ability to destroy the biosphere. Our pernicious conduct may have convinced Life that without its prompt. Interjection; it is inevitable.

Enter Mr. Covid 19. Force Majeure of modern plagues. Sponsor of the blame game to end all blame games. Seven billion people have an opinion…and an asshole. The ones who have a microphone or a computer demonstrate both, daily. Think Life has a hand in all this? Maybe the plague is a worldwide distraction to give the Biosphere a little breathing room to heal from ongoing human assault? Hmmm.

Millions are dead. Millions are becoming infected every day. The virus twists and turns and presents a new face constantly. We rush to keep up but seemingly always lag behind. How so? Is it out of our hands?

[5] I just love these foolish arguments, vaccinated death vs un-vaccinated death etc…

For Humboldt, it will take mandated or even forced vaccination, but for Mendocino, which is one of the silliest places in the world, they might just have to turn over “forced vaccination” to roadblocks and “proof of vaccination” for entry to the county…

People too silly to get vaccinated is one thing, but 4.5 million deaths worldwide is quite another…

How can anyone be so non-civic-minded as to insist on not getting vaccinated? It’s completely foolish, just totally ridiculous!

In the Bay Area, right now, over 85% of the people are vaccinated, but they wear masks outside, while driving their own cars, absolutely everywhere!

I’m the one who thinks masks are ridiculous, useless and ineffectual, but then, I was one of the first to take his vaccine…

I did my part, but nobody in Northern California seems to believe in doing theirs!

The hospitals are getting a break, but all those senior-citizens who kept on working their healthcare jobs for the insurance or whatever, hell, they all suddenly decided to retire!

When every hospital is staffed with up to 50% travelers, and the hospitals are all busy, do you really want to risk being a patient?

And women keep on having babies, patients with cancer or who need surgery, and just everyone else who wants medical care has to sit there and be exposed to people who refuse to participate in the only solution we have…

Don’t try to visit your loved ones in the hospital, either, cause the doors are locked and guarded…

It’s insane, sitting there and raving about Ivermectin and Hydroxyquinoline and, heck, whatever, and tooting about percentages and all that other junk which is covered here ad infinitum, when in the end, you will be forced to take the vaccine!

So what will it take?

Do the right thing! Get your vaccine! Before you have to be forced! Because you will be…

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