High Pressure | 29 Cases | School Vandalism | Toy Drive | Medicare Seminar | Orr Springs | Bearwise | Golden Eagle | Stumbling Supes | Strip Poker | Ed Notes | Coyote Valley | Drought Webinar | School Street | County Holidays | Wild Turkeys | Consolidation | School Closure | Wrong Way | Rolling Pharma | Outstanding Sepeda | Yesterday's Catch | Healthy Routines | Forward Pass | Callin Discussions | No Hands | Edu-Jobs | Yosemite Falls | Jivan Mukta | Found Object | Canned Heat
HIGH PRESSURE ALOFT will amplify over the Northeast Pacific during Tuesday and Wednesday. Easterly winds gusting from 20 to 30 mph will be likely across the ridges of Del Norte, Trinity, and Lake Counties during Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. Dry and mild conditions will then occur Wednesday afternoon, followed by a period of rain and gusty south winds on Thursday. (NWS)
29 NEW COVID CASES (since last Friday) reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon.
GRAFFITI, THEFTS AT LOCAL SCHOOLS
Dear Anderson Valley Community,
I wanted to ask for your help and cooperation. At both the Jr./Sr. High School and the elementary sites, we had graffiti occur over the weekend. We also had entry into two classrooms in the Junior High wing with the theft of a device in each room.
These events have been reported to the Sheriff. If you know of any information or details regarding these events, and who may have been involved, please contact me at email@example.com.
We can not afford to have this type of damage done to our school sites with the limited resources we have, and it is imperative that our students understand that and be held accountable.
Your help in setting expectations for your students is greatly appreciated. Their sharing with another student that may be considering an inappropriate choice, may be enough to prevent future events of this type and could deter a student from facing legal challenges.
We work together as a village, and I am asking your help to set the tone.
Louise Simson, Superintendent
Anderson Valley Unified School District Cell: 707-684-1017
SEMINAR: MEDICARE ANNUAL CHOICES & CHANGES
Tomorrow - Tuesday, November 16, 2021, 10:30 am, Online Zoom Seminar
- Learn which Part D premiums & formularies are changing
- Understand Advantage Plan changes
- Learn how to pay less for your medications
- Understand Advantage plans and your Medicare
Join us as we partner with Anderson Valley Village for an interactive online seminar.
Reserve your seat: 1-800-434-0222 or https://gmail.us3.list-manage.com/track/click?u=cea1e601922fa82e47579cc80&id=89ef5dbf05&e=358077c1c9
LIVING IN BEAR COUNTRY
RONNIE JAMES: Sonoma Wildlife recently sent two excellent articles on living with bears and what to do if you encounter a bear.
Our bears do not go into deep hibernation, but tend to take long naps during inclement weather and wake up on warm days and trash collection evenings. Here are the web sites:
SUPERVISORS STUMBLE FORWARD
AVA News Service
The Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday consisted of picking an attorney for the Sheriff (one that the Sheriff doesn’t want and won’t use); combining the offices of Treasurer-Tax Collector and Auditor-Controller; adopting a resolution calling for a moratorium on logging in state-owned Jackson Demonstration State Forest (without actually using the word moratorium); and the latest “strategic plan” update. The unifying theme (if there was one) was to confirm the ineptitude of the current Board.
The Supes (some would say dupes) approved County Counsel’s recommendation to hire outside legal counsel to advise the Sheriff on conflicts that County Counsel helped create. The conflict exists because the Supes underfunded the Sheriff’s Office, threatened to bill the Sheriff when he inevitably goes over budget for ordinary law enforcement services and attempting to merge the Sheriff’s computer system with the County’s general purpose computer.
The Supes moved to introduce an ordinance combining the two key financial offices of the County — Treasurer/Tax Collector and Auditor-Controller — despite admitting that they (the Supes) had only a cursory understanding of the qualifications and functions of the offices or the advantages and disadvantages of combining them. The Board previously directed that the issue of consolidation come back for an informational discussion. Instead, County Counsel presented an ordinance abolishing the two independently elected offices and combining them into one elected office. It was clear the Supes lacked sufficient information to make an informed decision but County Counsel said they needed to act before the end of the year because once the filing period for the offices opens (early next year) it'll be too late to make the change. Which underlines the rushed nature of the decision. Instead of giving the Supes enough info to make an informed decision, County Counsel (and the CEO) manipulated the Supes into acting without the info.
Treasurer-Tax Collector Shari Schapmire and Interim Auditor-Controller Chemise Cubbison each spoke forcefully on the risks involved. Schapmire (who is well respected as a conscientious public servant) emphasized that these are both small offices with heavy workloads and multiple specialized functions. Because the functions do not overlap and require separate special skills she did not believe any efficiencies would be realized by combining the offices.
Schapmire and Cubbison reminded the Supes that the two offices (and the Assessor-Clerk Recorder) were in the midst of implementing a new property tax system. Cubbison said her staff had been working overtime and without vacations for a year in an effort to keep up with implementing the new property tax system on top of the already heavy workload.
Supervisor Williams said he was looking to Supervisor Gjerde to see if they should introduce the consolidation ordinance or instead create a Director of Finance (a change which would need voter approval). Gjerde didn’t take the bait and no further mention was made of the Director of Finance position. Following the recent cannabis expansion fiasco it’s clear the voters won’t approve anything put on the ballot by these Supervisors. Williams pushed ahead anyway with a motion to move forward with consolidation followed by the usual back and forth without bothering to see if there was a second to the motion.
Supervisor Mulheren wanted to know what the qualifications were for the new elected positions. After some fumbling around County Counsel found the applicable qualifications or positions held, anyone of which would suffice. Supervisors McGourty and Haschak asked for more information prior to taking final action next month. McCourty and Mulheren went out of their way to assure “Shari” [Schapmire] and “Chemise” [Cubbison] that they really did care about their points of view — just not enough to heed them.
Mulheren said she knew they both felt they had not been consulted (which they hadn’t – no one bothered at any time to ask either them what the pros and cons of consolidation might be). Mulheren suggested “an ad hoc or some type of committee” as an after the fact way to hear from their previously un-consulted financial experts. McGourty finally brought the charade to a close by seconding the motion to proceed with “readings” (steps toward June’s ballot). Which passed unanimously.
* * *
The Board also unanimously adopted a resolution on Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JDSF) calling on the State to incorporate science into the management plan of the state-owned forest to make sure the goals of the plan align with the State’s climate action agenda. Supervisor Williams went out of his way to say the resolution did not call for a moratorium on logging. Supervisor Gjerde, the co-sponsor, agreed. Making them the only two people in the room who claimed the resolution did not call for a outright moratorium.
The wording of the resolution made it clear that the only scientific response to climate change was to simply stop commercial logging of the forest. Various professionals associated with JDSF, including a rep from the University of California Extension Service (McGourty’s go-to source for advice) called in via Zoom to say the resolution misrepresented the forest management plan. Instead of being out of step with the Governor’s “30-30 plan” (protect 30% of State lands by 2030) the UC guy said the JDSF forest plan was being used by the Governor to inform the 30-30 plan.
Similar to the financial department consolidation plan, it was clear the Supes lacked the background and information to make an informed decision on the resolution. So of course they adopted it. Unanimously. But with weasel-worded language calling for the Board to work closely with Cal-fire and be “involved” with the Jackson Advisory Group. Incredibly, the JDSF resolution was on the Consent Calendar! As if anything having to do with forestry in Mendocino County is non-controversial.
Also on the Consent Calendar was the latest dog and pony presentation on the Strategic Plan (which is strategic in name only). The Board hired a couple of wine and cheese style consultants from Sonoma County for $75,000 plus travel to develop the plan which consists of four strategic priorities. The “cornerstone” priority around which all others revolve is “An Effective Government Organization” (which is unable to produce monthly budget reports).
The consultants boldly proposed “A Safe and Healthy County, A Prepared & Resilient County, and A Thriving Economy.” It’s a great, if generic, wish list but Supervisor Williams (always willing to pop other’s balloons, even while floating his own) was quick to question how the County would come up with the money to finance all the “actionable” goals identified as part of the strategic priorities. He called for the Executive Office to prepare estimates of the financing involved for each vague item, “rounded to the nearest $10 million, in five year increments if they wish, the specifics don’t matter.” Especially since the Executive Office is so far incapable of producing those monthly budget reports.
The next step, now that the Strategic Plan has been drafted by the consultants, will be to hold some kind of online town hall to hear from the public before final adoption in January. The consultants have been meeting with selected groups of county employees and department heads (and individually with the Supervisors). Which means the public input will be too little, too late to really change anything — if there is any; nobody seems to be paying attention to this crap anyway. But won’t matter because once the plan is adopted it will go on the shelf to collect dust alongside all the other expensive plans paid for by the County but never implemented.
* * *
SUPERVISORS’ END-AROUND THE JUDGE
by Mark Scaramella
The Supervisors unanimously approved the appointment of an LA law firm for the Sheriff on Monday, despite the fact that the Sheriff wasn’t even in the County at the time, nor has Judge Moorman ruled on the Sheriff’s pending request. Undersheriff Darren Brewster suggested that the item be postponed for a week so that the Sheriff could be on hand, but he was ignored.
Brewster also reminded the Board that approving the LA firm would “look like an end-around the court.” County Counsel Christian Curtis said that the action was simply a matter of following through on the Board’s previous position that they intended to appoint someone other than Duncan James of Ukiah.
During the discussion a number of new questions and permutations of this already contorted issue arose:
Why did they proceed when Sheriff wasn’t even in town and the Judge hasn’t even released her ruling?
Since we know the Sheriff will not accept any attorney other than Duncan James, who pays for Duncan James? Will Judge Moorman order the County to pay for an attorney the Board has rejected?
Will Kendall’s principle attorney, Mr. McMullen of the Duncan James firm, file an injunction to stop the appointment of the Board’s preferred firm?
Will the Board appeal Judge Moorman’s ruling if Curtis doesn’t like it?
As several supervisors whimsically mentioned but didn’t pursue, will the Board attempt to address the underlying issues with specific agenda items? So far there seems to be some vague interest in that, but nobody’s been specific.
Tune in next week when Sheriff Kendall returns from an out-of-state family visit to find out what happens in this curiouser and curiouser non-issue drama.
RECOMMENDED VIEWING, NETFLIX: “The Unlikely Murderer,” a Swedish film about the man believed to be Olaf Palme's assassin. Even if you have no interest in the event, the series is so well acted it is certain to hold your interest.
RECOMMENDED READING: “Crossroads” by Jonathan Franzen. So much of modern fiction seems so bad I'd stopped reading novels a long time ago, sticking to an occasional short story in The New Yorker where most fiction is also unreadable. It's been non-fiction for me for a long time, the wisdom of my choice solidified every Saturday morning when NPR's premier nuzzlebum, Scott Simon, interviews an inarticulate author of a failed novel, the failure proved by the passages read by their creator as Simon sheds several octaves as he fakes how moved he is by a couple of paragraphs only a deep dish fraud could claim to be moved by.
I REMEMBER being impressed by Franzen's 2018 New Yorker piece on the rolling, unaddressed catastrophes unleashed by industrial civ, which we reposted last night right here. “Here's a guy who sees clearly,” I thought, and resumed contributing my share as one more swinish, consuming citizen of the First World to the serial apocalypses I will leave my grandchildren. I was aware that Franzen was also a fiction writer, but how good a fiction writer? My blind intolerance for contemporary creative lit forbade me from knowing. But just last week I noted a challenge somewhere that went like this: How good does a writer have to be to interest the averagely depraved modern reader in a Christian family struggling to emulate Jesus's standards of right behavior in contemporary America's moral cesspool? Real good, and this guy is a real good writer, light years better than anybody else out there. I haven't been this gripped by a novel in years. “Crossroads” is the goods.
SETTLING in to watch the Niners Monday night, I wondered how the great Fort Bragg quarterback, Kaylor Sullivan, had done post-Fort Bragg. I'd seen him several years ago when overmatched Fort Bragg played Marin Catholic at MC's Kentfield stadium. FB stayed with MC most of the first half as Sullivan picked apart MC defense. It was a hot fall afternoon and MC has a large roster of kids who, for years now, go on to play at the college level, and Fort Bragg was inexorably worn down by fresh waves off MC's inexhaustible bench. Sullivan showed that afternoon that he could compete at a high level. So I asked Fort Bragg's go-to sports guy, Lindy Peters who replied, “He got some good playing time at SRJC with his former long time teammate from Fort Bragg Lucas Triplett. He was the best high school QB I ever saw and that includes John Paye (Menlo Park) and Craig Bergman (Cloverdale) who both played college football at the Division 1 level.” And then, according to my crude on-line research, Sullivan enjoyed successes at Midwestern State, Texas, a local boy made good.
STEVE BANNON, white nationalist, handed himself in to the FBI in Washington on Monday morning after being indicted for defying a subpoena to testify before the House's investigation into the January 6 attack on, basically, them. Bannon, livestreaming his big day, told his supporters, “I don't want anybody to take their eye off the ball of what we do every day. We got the Hispanics coming on our side, African Americans coming on our side. We're taking down the Biden regime every day. I want you guys to stay focused, stay on message.”
BIDEN'S REGIME? Poor Old Joe barely knows where he is let alone being capable of directing anything regime-like.
BUT BANNON is a key voice in cheering on civil conflict in the accelerating crumbling civil context of 2021. Our elites are divided among themselves, we're getting whacked all over the globe, the economy is not supporting the millions of Americans who depend on it, and there's an ongoing and growing level of general lawlessness. Bannon and Company want a civil war. And you can be sure he has plenty of soul bros among law enforcement, including the FBI.
MENDOCINO COUNTYWIDE DROUGHT TASK FORCE
Date: 11/18/2021 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
Please click the link below to join the webinar:
Dial (for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
US: +1 669 900 9128 or +1 346 248 7799 or +1 253 215 8782 or +1 301 715 8592 or +1 312 626 6799 or +1 646 558 8656
Webinar ID: 889 7176 5675
MENDO: CLOSED FOR THE HOLIDAYS
All County offices will be closed November 25-26, 2021, December 24, 2021, and December 31, 2021.
CONSOLIDATION OF THE OFFICES OF TREASURER/TAX COLLECTOR AND AUDITOR/CONTROLLER
The Supervisors voted unanimously Monday morning to proceed with the first reading and formal adoption of a local ordinance to allow consolidation of the offices of Treasurer/Tax Collector and Auditor/Controller. A second reading will be back for final BOS approval on Dec 14, 2021. (Kathy Wylie)
HIGH SCHOOL CLOSURE (Miranda CA)
WRONG WAY ORTIZ
On Saturday, November 13, 2021 a Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputy observed Lawrence Ortiz, 37, of Ukiah, driving a vehicle which made a turn against a red light causing other motorist to stop to avoid a collision in the 1250 block of Main Street in Willits.
The Deputy initiated a traffic stop and Ortiz drove his vehicle into the parking lot of a local gas station. Ortiz then pulled back onto Main Street and started driving on the wrong side of the road against oncoming traffic in attempt to evade the Deputy. Several vehicles had to maneuver to avoid a collision.
A short pursuit ensued until Ortiz stopped near the intersection of Poplar Avenue and Hazel Street (Willits) where Ortiz was taken into custody without further incident.
Ortiz exhibited symptoms of illicit drug use, was evaluated and determined to be under the influence of a controlled substance.
The Deputy conducted a law enforcement records check and learned Ortiz was on Mendocino County summary probation and his driver’s license was suspended/revoked.
Ortiz was booked into the Mendocino County Jail for Evading A Peace Officer on Highway in Direction Opposite the Traffic, Under Influence of Drugs, Driving with a suspended/revoked Drivers Licenseand Misdemeanor - Violation of Probation where he was to be held in lieu of $20,000 bail.
On Friday, November 12, 2021 at about 11:00 PM Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies conducted traffic stop on a vehicle being driven by Foley Azbill, 42, of Covelo, in the 36000 block of Highway 162 in Covelo.
When Deputies contacted Azbill they observed a marijuana smoking pipe, processed marijuana and odor of burnt marijuana.
A search was conducted of Azbill and the vehicle. Deputies found a large amount of suspect methamphetamine on Azbill's person. The amount and way the methamphetamine was packaged lead Deputies to believe Azbill was going to sell the illicit drugs.
Azbill was booked into the Mendocino County Jail for Transportation of Controlled Substance and Possession of Controlled Substance for Sale and was to be held in lieu of $50,000 bail.
SHOULDA STAYED IN KERN, FREDDY
On Sunday, November 7, 2021 A Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputy conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle being driven by Freddy Sepeda, 41, of Willits near Highway 101 and Reynolds Highway in Willits.
The Deputy contacted Sepeda and conducted a law enforcement records check. The Deputy learned Sepeda had three outstanding arrest warrants from Kern County.
Two of the arrest warrants were felonies for motor vehicle theft and for grand theft. The other misdemeanor warrant was for violation of Post Release Community Supervision (PRCS).
Sepeda was booked into the Mendocino County Jail for Motor Vehicle Theft, Misdemeanor Arrest Warrant - Violation of Post Release Community Supervision, and Misdemeanor Arrest Warrant - Felony Theft and was to be held in lieu of $75,000 bail.
CATCH OF THE DAY, November 15, 2021
JUAN ANGUIANO-SILVA, Cloverdale/Ukiah. DUI.
KYLE AYERS, Willits. Domestic battery, child cruelty-infliciton of injury.
JOHN BARRY, Covelo. Domestic battery, failure to appear.
ALAN CROW, Clearlake Oaks/Ukiah. Taking vehicle without owner’s consent, controlled substance, paraphernalia, false personation of another.
MANUEL GONZALEZ, Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs, controlled substance, pot for sale, under influence, more than an ounce of pot, suspended license, failure to appear.
JANET TAFOYA, Ukiah. DUI, child endangerment.
PEDRO VALENTE, Willits. Vandalism.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
I think that most everything anyone does to avoid infection is probably a good idea, especially non-pharmalogical interventions like eliminating or avoiding alcohol, taking daily exercise for at least 30 minutes, minimum, eating a diet consisting of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, peas and seeds.
It’s also a good idea to reduce body weight to a Body Mass Index of 23 or less, and to do a few things to reduce stress, improve balance and flexibility, strength and endurance.
I’ve taken the Pf-pf-pf-Pfizer; I was none the W-w-worser for it.
Gotta die sometime.
I hope it goes well for each and all of you, as best as can be expected, under the current circumstances, despite all the lies exaggerations, half-truths, unsubstantiated claims, innuendos, and bullshit, most of which can be eliminated just by switching off the screens.
AMERICA FALLS APART, PART 2
by Matt Taibbi
You may have seen Glenn Greenwald’s announcement last week about the launching of a new app called Callin, which will create archivable audio discussions. Along with Chaos Monkeys author Antonio Garcia Martinez, podcaster and former Bernie Sanders Press Secretary Briahna Joy Gray, and others, Glenn and I have signed up to use Callin. Essentially, when a Callin episode launches, I take questions one at a time, responding live in radio-like style, hopefully creating something like a collegial discussion (though brutal criticism is fine, too).
My first episode was Monday at 4 p.m. — a discussion of this weekend’s article, “As America Falls Apart, Profits Soar,” about the Kyle Rittenhouse trial and its oft-missing context.
I’m hope Callin becomes a reporting tool, serving multiple functions at once. Say, for instance, I attend a campaign rally for a candidate. Afterward, I may launch an episode on-site in which interviews of that candidate’s followers will double as a potentially nationwide discussion, so that I might end up talking not just to three or four of that candidate’s followers from that crowd, but a dozen more from around the country.
The app archives and transcribes all discussions, so it’s useful to any reporter just in that sense, but also potentially useful in terms of finding sources. For instance, I could hold a talk with a subject-matter expert — say, a military accountant — and end up finding more people with the same background through a Callin discussion. This is my hope, anyway.
We’ll see. For now, I’ll start with a discussion of about 45 minutes about “As America Falls Apart, Profits Soar,” and see how that goes. Though free, you will need a Callin account to participate.
Here is the link.
CHOOSE A CAREER IN EDUCATION WITHOUT A COLLEGE DEGREE
by Michelle Hutchins, Superintendent, Mendocino County Office of Education
When we talk about jobs in education, most of us think of teaching. The truth is education requires a whole host of people doing all sorts of jobs to provide students with the support they need to succeed. We transport children to and from school—with bus drivers. We feed students—with food service employees. We give them additional attention and support—with paraprofessionals (instructional aides). We provide clean, safe environments for learning—with custodians and maintenance workers.
When students returned to the classroom after more than a year of remote learning, schools began hiring for vacant positions, but fears about COVID reduced the number of applicants. I’m here to let you know, schools are a great place to work—specifically because they have so many safety measures in place! In October, the Mendocino County Public Health Department hosted a meeting of local K-12 leaders where Public Health Officer Dr. Andy Coren complimented attendees on how well schools had minimized the risk of infection.
COVID does exist in our communities, but schools are safer than many workplaces. On school campuses, everyone wears masks indoors, schools continue to clean and disinfect high-traffic areas, and regular testing occurs. And with the approval of COVID vaccines for students as young as five years old, we have another layer of protection for students and staff.
So, this is a great time to consider a career in education. Here are some options.
Schools throughout Mendocino County need bus drivers. Being a bus driver requires special training and a special license, and because drivers interact with students, they must pass a rigorous background check and drug screening. The work is done via a split shift (transporting students in the morning and then again in the afternoon with a break in the middle). Most positions are part-time and pay between $16.06 and $31.00 per hour Some districts are combining bus driving with maintenance work, so employees have a full-time position, but even with this creative solution, it is difficult to find enough drivers.
Paraprofessional - Instructional Aide
If bus driving isn’t your thing, maybe you’d prefer to become an instructional or special education paraprofessional (aide). Teachers depend on paraprofessionals to assist with several important tasks. For example, in any given subject, students range from proficient to struggling. When a teacher has the support of a “para,” the teacher can provide information at a slower pace for those who need it. Paras also help by preparing materials, grading, working with the class while the teacher attends to a specific situation, and so much more. Special education paras work with students who have developmental disabilities and other challenges. These paras accompany students with special needs to help them overcome learning challenges.
To become a para, you do not need a college degree, but you must pass the paraprofessional exam, which is usually at the educational level of an associate’s degree. Paras are always under the guidance of a teacher, using the curriculum and instructional plans provided by the teacher. Paraprofessionals usually work part time and positions pay between $13.72 and $25.50 per hour, depending on the district.
The next job in high demand is a food service worker. Preparing and serving nutritious meals to students provides students with the fuel they need to succeed. Many students throughout the county depend on school meals for good nutrition. In many schools, we provide both breakfast and lunch, and this year, all school meals are provided to all students free of charge. Food service workers earn between $13.72 and $25.50 per hour.
Another important job is that of custodian. The great thing about this position is that work is often done after hours, allowing it to serve as a second job. Custodians, in partnership with the daytime maintenance crew, help keep classrooms clean and safe. Custodial work involves cleaning floors, bathrooms, and other areas. Custodians earn between $14.13 and $28.12 per hour.
If you’re looking for work and like the idea of helping children, consider working in education. They say one of the biggest determining factors of success for children is the presence of a consistent and supportive adult in their life. That could be a teacher, of course, but it could just as easily be a bus driver, a para, or any number of other adults working in education.
VISHNU IN GARBERVILLE
Warmest spiritual greetings,
Just finished a loop amble of downtown Garberville, CA (twice) at night, letting go of the body and the mental factory. Witnessing only, as the body-mind complex went where it needed to go and did what it needed to do. This is an excellent yoga, available to all and free of charge. It is about giving one's ego completely over. This is the way to real freedom. This is the condition of a Jivan Mukta. It is everybody's birth right. It may be claimed by anyone at any time. Immortality is a choice.
Craig Louis Stehr
THIS IS THE DRUMMER FOR CANNED HEAT
an interview of Fito de la Parra, by Bassam Habal
Canned Heat is one of the all-time classic American blues rock bands out of the 60s. Formed in 65, they are best known for their hits "Going Up The Country","On The Road Again" and their cover of Wilbert Harrison's "Let's Work Together." They played such legendary festivals as Woodstock and Monterey Pop. 50 plus years later, the band continues with long time drummer Fito de la Parra who joined in '67. We caught them recently on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles at the legendary Whisky a Go Go. Along with Fito on drums, the band currently consists of Dale Spaulding on guitar and harmonica, Jimmy Vivino from The Conan O'Brien Show on lead guitar and Rick Reed on bass. After the show, Fito chatted with us and regaled us with many a great story.
Fito, great to see you and hear you. Let's start presently and work backwards. I just saw an outstanding, outstanding performance at the Whisky a Go Go. So great to see you. I came a long way and was happy you were here playing.
Fito de la Parra
I hope it was worth it.
Oh, it was definitely worth it. So tell me about the current guys in the band and then we'll go backwards.
Fito de la Parra
This is only the fourth night we played with this unit. And you know, we haven't worked in two years, because of the virus and all the thing that happened. And also, we also suffered the loss of Larry Taylor, our original bass player who died two years ago also. So again, I had to replace people and reform the band. And Rick Reed came into the band after Larry died, playing the bass. And I wanted to form a band in California because I want to travel less but continue playing because I really love playing but I don't like traveling anymore. I'm totally exhausted of traveling, and I want to lower a little bit the travel thing. So I wanted to make a California band like Canned Heat was originally, everybody from California, and play more gigs in California. So that's how the idea to hire Jimmy Vivino came because he's Rick's brother-in-law. They even live together. And the other guitar player I've had for about 10 years, John Paulus; he lives in Oregon and he also had a quadruple bypass surgery and his health hasn't been that good. He cannot be traveling either so I decided to hire Jimmy. We played together a couple of times and I noticed how much he's into the original Canned Heat. He has listened to our band you know; he's listened to Alan Wilson alot. He's got the roots. He has an understanding of what Canned Heat music is about: country blues mixed with rock and roll know. We are the band that married country blues with rock and roll, not swing blues or city blues, country blues with rock and roll. So Jimmy is perfect for that. And he's got a very good attitude; he's a good entertainer. I'm delighted with him. I'm very happy with the band right now.
It definitely shows in the performance.
Fito de la Parra
I'm very happy. We have a very good vibe; some kind of freshness is still here after 53 years of being on the road. I'm the only one that's been there for 53 years, but still, you know, I feel a certain freshness and innovation and we're doing new songs and new old songs. But songs that we didn't touch with any other units, even the original lineup. But we do like "Whiskey Headed Woman", you know, we haven't touched "Whiskey Headed Woman" in 40 years. Turpentine Moan, the rocking Elmo James type thing, that's another early Canned Heat tune we stopped doing 30 years ago and all of a sudden with Jimmy on that bottleneck guitar, it became a lot of fun to redo those things, you know. So as I said, I'm very happy with this. I don't know where it's going because as I said I don't want to travel. A lot of the offers we're getting are far away and I'm turning them down. My manager's not very happy about that. 2019 we celebrated 50 years from Woodstock. It was a very active year. We went to Europe; we went to Australia. We went to Canada; we went to Mexico. I was exhausted at the end. That was it. I mean, it was our best financial year too, ever - 2019 and I was already telling my manager that I couldn't travel anymore. I am done with the fucking airplanes and hotels and the lines, and the waiting at the airports and shit. It is becoming horrible to me. It's a torture because also the traveling itself has become lower and lower quality all the time. They want more and more money and they give you less and less. I don't think there's a worse industry for the customer than the airline industry. So they lost billions, good. They had it coming I mean, I've been flying these fucking airlines for 53 years and pouring 40% of our gross goes to them, 40% of our gross. Not once I've gotten them to operate for nothing, not once I've gotten a thank you or anything from them. Anyway, don't get me going with the fucking airlines. So that's the reason why I don't want to travel anymore. I'm tired, exhausted, old but I still have this love for music. So I'm just going to play for no pay. I don't care. I don't care about the money anymore.
It definitely shows when you play you like, there's a guy that enjoys what he does and is having a ball up there.
Fito de la Parra
It just does so much good to me and to whatever I'm doing for people, is coming back to me. It's like a good karmic thing. I'm very healthy; I have a blood pressure of a 30 year old. No prescriptions, nothing. So that's because of drumming. Drumming is a aerobic exercise and at the same time, it's a meditation with a communion of the people. I am looking at you all. I knew who you were. I am looking how you're moving your heads and all that. If I don't have you moving and rocking and dancing, then something is wrong. It is a beautiful communion. That's what it is.
Absolutely. What would you say would be some of your favorite blues records growing up?
Fito de la Parra
Of course, starting with Jimmy Reed, because you know, Jimmy Reed. If you want to turn somebody on to the blues, one of the earliest people to listen to, to turn them on to is Jimmy Reed because of its simplicity, his wonderful lyrics, its primitiveness. That's one of my favorites and, of course, John Lee Hooker right next to Jimmy Reed and then you can go on and on and on. I love and respect all the Chicago guys, of course, Muddy Waters and everybody in the whole Chicago scene. I mean, there's so many people I admire.
Do you remember the first blues record you heard that knocked you out?
Fito de la Parra
Well, that was it That was Jimmy Reed. And as I said, I consider that and many musicians friends agree with me that if you want to turn somebody on to the blues, played them some Jimmy Reed to start with, something easy to digest and you know, very primal.
So how did you end up joining the band way back then?
Fito de la Parra
Well, I came from Mexico City. I arrived here a year before I joined the band. I didn't even speak English that good but I already knew blues music. I had been playing already with Mexican bands for about seven or eight years, starting with pop bands and rock and roll. You know, we were famous. I enjoyed fame and fortune from the very beginning of my career since I was 13 years old. I signed my first record contract with CBS at 13 years old.
What was the name of the band?
Fito de la Parra
Sparks. We had the original Sparks. There were some Sparks later in the 80s but I didn't want to sue them or do any of that. I'm not that kind of a person. There are people that say "Oh, you should have claimed the name." Create more havoc and ruin people's lives. Fuck that. So yeah, we've had Sparks in 1959/'58. So anyway, I played in Mexico for about four years, five years in these pop bands. I enjoy a lot of popularity, gold records and groupies, everything, just like here. Middle class kids from Mexico City, playing garage bands, copying American rock and roll from Elvis Presley and Bill Haley and Jerry Lee Lewis, you know, and that's how we started. But then eventually I met this American girl and she turned me on to the blues. She was kind of an intellectual, you know; she's an attorney now, well known state attorney and she was a smart girl. She was studying at the University of Mexico. She came to see us play and she enjoyed how we played etcetera. We were a pretty good band, pop band, rock band, infantile. And as she said, "There's this kind of music, you know, and I'm going to send you some records when I go back" and she sent me a couple of Jimmy Reed records, and another James Brown record, "Night at the Apollo", with all this rhythm and blues, so I started getting turned down to that music with these records this American girl sent me, and then at the same time, more or less, Javier Batiz arrived in Mexico City. Javier Batiz was also Carlos Santana's first teacher and first mentor. He's one of the greatest, probably the best rhythm and blues artist from Mexico. So he was born in Tijuana and he grew up in, in the nightclubs in Tijuana, entertaining people there all his life and then he ended up in Mexico City, and brought all that greasy black music, you know, into Mexico City to all of us that were playing kind of pop, following the top 10 of the US. So then we started getting aware of black music, and something a little bit different, a little, not as commercial, but with more heart. You know, and that's how I got turned on to the blues, so by the time I came to the US, I was already, not an expert, but I knew what I was doing musically and mentally. One of the things that happened as I joined Canned Heat is the day I went to my audition, I didn't know those guys were record collectors and musicologist and experts in music. You know, I mean, absolute experts. No bullshit. You know, these guys knew this shit. I, on my way to the audition, stopped by a record store and I bought this Chicago southside record of Junior Wells and Buddy Guy; you probably have seen it, you know, it's a very famous record, "Live at Pepper's lounge". So when I went to the audition, I knock on the door, and Bob Hite opens the door and he sees me with that record under my arm. Right? And I go, you know with my accent, "I'm Fito. I'm here for the audition." So I play and, you know, they offered me the job. Later, many years later, Bob came to me and said,"You know, I already heard you play before. I knew you could play but that's not the issue." He says, "Many other drummers can play good." He says, "What really got you into the band in my eyes, is because I saw that record you had under your arm the day you came for the audition." When he saw me with that record of Chicago blues, he thought to himself, "This is the drummer for Canned Heat" because the drummer they had earlier, the original guy, Frank Cook, was in the band for about a year before me, he was too much into jazz and they were arguing about styles and all that. Bob wanted a low-down heavy blues drummer. He didn't want a sophisticated jazz drummer. So that's one of the things how I came in. The record collector saw my record under my arm and he says, "That's the one."
So there was an open audition or how did you hear about the audition?
Fito de la Parra
The managers. I was playing all over Los Angeles already. I was lucky, I mean, I came here and I was already getting jobs. You know, I play in a place called The Tom Cat Club in Torrance, California. The Tom Cat Club was wonderful. I don't know how they heard about me but they came to see me and I'm playing with this funky black, it's not a black band but it's basically a black club, half black, half white in Torrance and we used to be the house band, so every weekend we had different celebrities that we backed. And that's how I got to play behind, you know, T Bone Walker, Etta James, The Shirelles, The Platters, Big Joe Turner. Every weekend, we had a treat. One of my idols in rhythm and blues will come to our club and play there and we've got to play with them. So the managers came to see me play in that club and they arranged for me to play in a wonderful little psychedelic place called The Magic Mushroom with one of my bands that I had so that the guys in Canned Heat could see me play. So that's how they did it, they booked my band and Canned Heat together, and that particular night, Canned Heat was not doing very good because they had just been in jail for a week in the famous bust in Denver, you must know about it. Maybe you know or something about that.
Well, I know about the song.
Fito de la Parra
The song "My Crime." So they just came from Denver, they just arrived; they were not in good shape but they had already made the decision to get rid of their drummer. So this band is already a little shaky and I had a great fucking little band, you know, with a black singer, you know, and a fantastic guitar player called Ted Greene who became quite a legend later on, a teacher of jazz guitar. Well, Ted Greene was my guitar player in my band Bluesberry Jam when he was just a blues guy, you know, before he became totally sophisticated and all that. We had a wonderful night and that night we kicked Canned Heat's ass really bad at The Magic Mushroom. That's another reason why they say they called me that same night at three in the morning, the managers. "We want you to come by and play with the guys and audition for them directly." So they never really even considerd any other drummers. Henry wanted to hire a southern guy from Texas, because he figured, you know drummers from Texas are known to be very good for shuffles. But I guess Bob and Alan just and Larry, especially Larry, liked me. And it was important that Larry liked me because he was a bass player and that's how they decided to hire me before they even tried over drummers. Another thing I can tell you about is when they pulled me out in the corner after we played, the two managers, they say, "We want to offer you, you want to join Canned Heat." And I answered, "I was born to play with Canned Heat." I wanted to show him some commitment and here I am, a little immigrant guy, you know, that just has a chance to join a great blues band. The band was not famous; it was not making any money. Money is not in the question here. This is all about music and they offered me the job. You know, I wasn't gonna be like the typical, you know, musician, "Well, how much are you guys gonna pay?" Because, you know, because of the nature of music and the music business, musicians have to be mercenaries. We're forced to be mercenaries. We don't get no pensions; we don't get none of this shit, you know what I mean. We have to hire whatever we can so it's a typical answer, you know. "You want me to play in your band, how much are you going to pay?" But I didn't do that with Canned Heat. I told them, "I was born to play with Canned Heat."
What do you remember about the first gig that you actually ended up playing?
Fito de la Parra
It was a wonderful gig. We opened, I guess The Doors opened for us or we opened for The Doors. It was with The Doors at the Long Beach Auditorium December 4, 1967. I still have the poster, scrapbooks. I actually collected scrapbooks It's amazing that I have 50 years of scrapbooks. The other day this guy came to interview me. He's doing a film about Randy California and he says, "Nobody that I've interviewed has all these documents. I mean, you have it all." He was admiring that. My book is really good. You should read my book.
What's title of your book?
Fito de la Parra
"Living the blues." It's doing real good, great reviews and sales. It's just been published. It was self-published for many years.
Henry Vestine worked with with Frank Zappa. Did you did you know Frank?
Fito de la Parra
I saw him in one of the gigs one time, you know just said, "Hello." We never got to talk. You reminded me of him a little bit when I saw you, I said, "That guy has the coat and long hair, you know, same type of hair of Frank."
That's great. What do you what do you remember about the Monterey Pop Festival?
Fito de la Parra
I wasn't in Monterey.
You were not at Monterey?
Fito de la Parra
That was the drummer that I was talking about, Frank Cook. I came in late '67.
Yeah, I was always wondering that. So, obviously, you're asked this a lot, and here it comes…
Fito de la Parra
You want to know about Woodstock?
Fito de la Parra
See, that's the reason why I wrote the book. The first chapter in the book is the Woodstock experience from the very beginning. You know, we have a great tale, "The Canned Heat tale of Woodstock." So I'll give you some of it but you know, you have to read the whole chapter of the book. So one of it - First of all, I didn't want to go. Henry Vestine had just quit the band; Harvey Mandel had just joined. We were not rehearsed. We were raw. We were broken because the original lineup had already suffered its first wounds, you know, because of Larry and Henry not getting along and because Henry taking too many drugs, and Larry being straight. What do you want? So I'm not going to go to that there anyway. Henry's gone. I am tired and laying down in my bed in some funky hotel in New York and my manager insists in getting in and I won't let him, so finally he drags me out of bed physically, and convinced me to go. "Look, turn the radio on. Look at the TV. There's half a million there." You know, Mexican kid just arrived right here. I don't know what the fuck Woodstock is or any of that shit. I'm happy to be in the band and be popular and all that. My book starts with this, "Fuck Woodstock. Leave me alone." We end up in White Hills, New York, laying on the asphalt pissed off and tired and we see a helicopter arrive that says, "Press". And there's two kids carrying their equipment into the helicopter running so we run after them, five hippies loaded on marijuana but dangerous hippies. Imagine the five of us running to a helicopter. The guys in the press go and Bob goes, "Where do you think you're going?" And he goes, "We're going to report the news." So he grabs the kid, you know Bob was 300 pounds. He was a big guy. He grabs the kid and boom, pulls him out of the helicopter and says, "No, No, No, we're going to make the news" and we jump on the helicopter and we hijacked the helicopter to get to Woodstock.
Fito de la Parra
That was the way we got there because it was impossible to get there. I mean, you know, our roadies took; we played a gig the night before okay, they left wherever, I think it was the Fillmore East or some gig that we played in New York. They left New York that night. By the time we arrived the following day at 4pm in the helicopter, they were just arriving to the stage and we saw the truck and we could not believe it. They took in, what, over 12 hours, a drive that normally takes two hours. They had to move cars out of the roads to get the truck in and ask all the hippies and girls and boys there, "Help us because we have the equipment for Canned Heat and we need to get to the stage." The roadies you know, loaded on Benzedrine, they made it. You know, they drove more than 12 hours and actually got there at the same time as we were flying from the helicopter and flying down, I see the truck. What a beautiful coincidence, because many bands didn't even have their equipment. I mean, it was chaotic. You know, it was a lot of shit going on there and you cannot tell by looking at the film. I mean, you have to see the background. So we were so happy that our roadies actually came through and made it with the equipment after that night and that's one of the great tales and that's why I always say that the roadies never get the recognition they deserve from all these arrogant musicians and I always call them the infantry of rock'n'roll. You know, the roadies are the infantry. And we have to give them some credit always, like the guys that did that stuff for us at Woodstock. It's Gunga Din. You know what I'm talking about, Rudyard Kipling's story of a little guy that saves the British Army. You know, the one they never cared for you. That's the roadies. They are the Ganga Din of rock and roll, the infantry of rock and roll.
What can you tell me about playing with The Hook(John Lee Hooker)?
Fito de la Parra
Oh, that's great too. That's another, when they asked me to join that band. About two years before John died, they called me up and they told me, you're asking me about The Hook when I played with him or Hooker and Heat?
Hooker and Heat.
Okay, because there's two different stories because I also played with John's band the last two years of his life and again, when they offered me that job, I didn't ask how much they paid. I was so thrilled and so privileged that John Lee Hooker asked me to play with his band but that's another story; that's later. But Hooker and Heat - we met John Lee Hooker in Portland at the Portland airport in 1970 or '69, around then and we saw him picking up his guitar, his old Epiphone and his suitcase, you know. "My god that's John Lee Hooker." I mean, we love him you know, especially the guys. I mean, Bob was an expert, Alan, you know they worshipped John Lee Hooker. We ran towards him when we recognized him. We were the groupies this time, you know. We were the ones, the fans you know, and we went there and we shook his hand and said, "John, we know you. We've been following your music" and he goes (imitates John Lee Hooker), "Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know about you guys. I like the way you guys boogie." He knew about us and then the idea of, "Why don't we make a record together" and then he goes (imitates The Hook again), "Yeah, yeah, yeah." He wanted to do it, of course. That's how the idea came and you know, it took about a year for the managers and the record companies to get their shit together because he was an ABC artist and we were United Artists, so, you know, the political bullshit of business but eventually they made a deal and "The Hooker and Heat" session was approved and it happened and most of the takes were first takes. John didn't like to do what they call, we call silly shit, stupid shit, like repeating the same song over and over. It's the blues. You know, you want to have this certain freshness about it. If you go to the studio and you play a track 100 times looking for the absolute perfection and then you find out the first or second take was the best one.
I was just gonna say that.
Fito de la Parra
It happens all the time.
All the time.
So with John Lee Hooker, forget it. (Imitates The Hook) "You take one or two takes, no more." If we had a technological problem or some kind of microphone problem, something, he would agree to do another take but he would not agree if the technology is okay, music had to be there the first time. That's the way it's supposed to be. A lot of the Canned Heat music was also like that. You know, we don't want to mess with it too much because sometimes you over rehearse it, over perfection or whatever, that takes the the soul out of it. It becomes too clinical. You know, and that's what we try to avoid. I mean, we didn't try; we had to. With John Lee Hooker, you're not gonna say, "Hey, we have to do five takes of this." Forget it. Forget it, you know, (Imitates The Hook), "I'm not uh, uh, uh gonna do it." There was no stupid shit, two takes maximum. It was wonderful. It took only a couple of days to make. Unfortunately, Alan died shortly after. He never even got to see the final product which we were very proud of.
If if Harvey was "The Snake" and Alan was "The Owl" and Bob was "The Bear", were you just Fito?
Fito de la Parra
I was just Fito because I already had a nickname. You know, my name is Adolfo and they call in Latin America, they call us Aldolfito or Rodolfito. The Rudolfs and the Adolfs are all Fitos and this is a Latin American thing, it's not a Spanish thing. But now the Spaniards are starting to get their Fitos around because there are a lot of Afolfos in Spain. Adolfo's really a Spanish name. It's not a German name. Many people call me Adolf. "Wait a minute. I'm Adolfo, I'm not Adolf."
My buddy said to ask you about the gendarmes in France.
Fito de la Parra
The famous bust, the famous bust in Paris.
Henry convincing them his heroin was B12.
Fito de la Parra
How do you know that story? He must have read my book.
No, he hung out with you.
Fito de la Parra
That's one greatest stories, that bust. It caused us a lot of trouble later. I was banned on all the Schengen countries for being a bad person. I don't know what the fuck with these people, but oh, that's a great bust, one of the greatest.
What can you relay to the people on that one?
Fito de la Parra
You wanna hear about that bust?
Fito de la Parra
The story, okay, it's a great story. It all started in Holland. We're in Holland playing in this beautiful place, one of those nice concert halls, you know, wood and all, beautiful and these Arab guys show up with this great hash, some of the greatest fucking hash I've ever smoked. They give us each a chunk. We take a hit. We get really loaded. We go play. We play a couple of hours. We're feeling real good. We come out, the Arabs say,"You guys want to buy some of that hash?" "Yeah, yeah, we want to buy some." We give them all this money and they give us all these packages. We jump on our bus, we're going to Paris because the next day; the next night we're playing at the Olympia. We have a long drive from Amsterdam to Paris. So we go in the bus, everybody holding whatever we're holding and I remember the manager also saying, "If anybody has any dope, you guys be very careful. We're going to France and we're going across the border. This is Holland and when you're coming from Holland to France, they always fuck with you." This is 1970, around there, '69 maybe. So we go in the bus, and everybody starts opening their shit trying to smoke something and it was all camel shit wrapped with weeds and stuff. The Arabs ripped us off. But in our desperation or I guess Bob, you know The Bear, he was always consuming everything, whatever he can. Bob and Henry would just take anything. He's just trying to get high and he keeps lighting this stupid shit up on the pipe, stinking the whole bus of camel shit because that's what they gave us in those packages and the moment I saw it and smell it, I didn't want to touch it. I said, "Fuck this." Well, Bob keeps stinking the whole bus with camel shit and of course, we never got high. And so when we cross the border, they opened the door to check for our papers, and they smell the camel shit and immediately say, "Everybody out" so everybody has to get out to be searched. As we were going out, most of us had a few pills. I had a little bit of coke and we knew we were gonna get caught. As we're getting out of the bus, Henry's putting his hands like this and we're giving him pills. Everybody, whatever we have in our sights, we don't want to be caught. Henry's taking it all, popping pills from everybody as we're leaving the bus. Okay, so we end up in the officer's office. They are starting to take all our information blah, blah, blah. We're criminals. They find, you know, they open Bob Hite's suitcase. They find a bunch of reds in the suitcase. Bob turns and looks at them and says, "I forgot I had them in there." I mean, stuff like that. They started finding all kinds of shit, they find the half a gram of coke that I had too. And at the same time, we're all sitting there; they're dealing with all this shit and Henry starts coming on to all those pills he popped on the fucking bus. So he has the balls to just get up and goes to the officer. The officer has a bag of syringes, and three of those syringes had the shit already inside, you know, that black shit inside and the other ones were empty but in France, it is legal to have syringes. It is no problem. So Henry comes on, on the shit he took on the bus, and he gets brave, you know, and he goes and tells the guy (in French), "Vitamin B12" and the officer goes, "Well", grabs the bag and gives it to him. Can you believe this shit? So he's all loaded. He's the worst of us. He grabs his bag of heroin, and goes out of the police station. They let him go. So eventually, this Moroccan chief, the Moroccan Captain shows up; he spoke Spanish. Finally, we get a way to communicate because we haven't been able to communicate. We're just getting busted. In Spanish, I was able to talk to him and convince him that we're just a band, and we're gonna play at the Olympia and you better call them because there is going to be a riot, and all that and I convince him to let us go. You know, we pay a lot of money. We gave him a lot of money, and they still, they put us on the record and we still had to pay attorneys and all kinds of bullshit. They kicked me out of Europe a couple of times because of the bust. I mean, a lot of shit we went through, but one of the main things is that as I'm arguing, arguing and begging with the Commissar, I looked through the window of his office, he's on the second floor, and I looked through the window of the bus; Henry's mainlining in the fucking bathroom of the bus. We are not even out of the bust yet. He took his fucking syringes and shit, went into the bus and got high. So that's the story. And then we were late, like five hours or so more and everybody at the Olympia was waiting for us. France was a scene. I mean, they were going to riot if Canned Heat didn't play, so that's why the Commissar let us go because they called the Olympia. See finally, when I talked to him in Spanish, he calls the Olympia and I tell him, "You better tell them that we're coming because otherwise you're gonna have to handle a riot." And you know in France in those times, they were having riots all the time. France has riots all the time, you know, and so they were into it and they let us go. And Henry got high in front of me as I am asking him. I am giving him a record. I am giving him dollars. You know, "Please let us go we have to play at the Olympia. We'll be going out of your country as soon as we're done, don't worry about us. You know, we'll be gone." And I turn to see and look out the window. and I see Henry in the bus, in the bathroom of the bus. So that's the bust. I wish I could tell you more stories but they are kicking us out.
Thank you for talking with us.
Fito de la Parra
Read my book.
Alright, God bless you.