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Mendocino County Today: August 28, 2012

THE NORTH PASS FIRE burning northeast of Covelo has, as of Monday noon, consumed 31,650 acres. Cal Fire says the blaze is “32% contained.” The fire began early the morning of Saturday, August 18th. It continues to burn east toward Anthony Peak. Mandatory evacuation orders remain in place for portions of Indian Dick Road, Blands Cove Road and Mendocino Pass Road. More than 1,700 fire personnel were assigned to the fire as of Monday.


JESSE WAYNE BACON, 51, of Willits, carjacked a gold-colored SUV of an Oregon family at 7:50am Sunday from the Circle K gas station on South Main Street, Fort Bragg. Unbeknownst to Bacon, a 14-year-old girl was asleep in the backseat. Bacon, discovering the girl, let her out at the Fort Bragg McDonald's and careened off, the Fort Bragg police in hot pursuit. He soon crashed into one of Fort Bragg's impenetrable hedges, the equivalent of vegetative tank traps, and was taken into custody. The Willits man had been seen breaking into cars in central Fort Bragg prior to his carjack. Police subsequently located Bacon's pick-up truck with stolen items inside, his identification and his dog.

MONDAY'S DISASTERS INCLUDED a pickup knocking down a power pole on Highway 20 about six miles east of Fort Bragg that closed the road for some four hours until one-way controlled traffic was allowed through.

COMMENT OF THE DAY from Bob O'Day of Macon, Georgia: “Criticism of macho, or anything that ‘macho’ could be generalized to, has produced a nation of men who are afraid to open their mouths. Also a fear of ‘not sounding too technical’ or of ‘being too logical’ or ‘being too analytic.’ I am generally progressive, but, in a nation where young professionals-to-be ‘celebrate their sluttiness’ while cautioning men not to look at them like sex objects, where young law students insist that they have a right to have as much sex as they want while insisting on the right to have their contraception and abortions financed, the men's motivation to protect them from much of anything except sheer legislative stupidity will naturally wane. Akin is not the only one in denial of simple biology.”

SUSPICIONS CONFIRMED. A just released Duke University study has found that teenagers who routinely smoke marijuana will lower their IQs over the long term. Start smoking after 18 and you will be more or less copacetic. Study participants from New Zealand were tested for IQ at age 13, before significant marijuana use, and again at age 38. The mental decline between those two ages was seen only in those who started regularly smoking pot before age 18. Our government reported in June that 23% of high school students said they'd recently smoked marijuana, making it more popular than cigarettes.

A WOMAN has been positively identified as one of the persons who died in a North County crash near Confusion Hill north of Legget in the first week of August. The accident left three people dead, but the vehicle and those in it were not found for several weeks. According to CHP, “The right rear passenger out of the triple fatal traffic collision has been identified as 55 year old Cindy Ann Lane of Laytonville. The right front passenger’s identity is pending a DNA match.” According to an earlier CHP report, the driver was identified at the scene by family members as 38 year old Phillip R. Manus of Legget. The victims were last seen in Garberville around August 4th or 5th but the wreck was not discovered until August 21st.

GALLERY ROUTE ONE 14th Annual Box Show Closing Party & Live Auction September 30th, 3-5pm. Live Auction starts at 4pm. Benefits GRO's programs including Artists in the Schools, Latino Photography Program, With the Earth and Far From Home exhibitions in the Project Space and more.


THE STORY in last week's SF Chronicle began, “The man who gave the Black Panther Party some of its first firearms and weapons training — which preceded fatal shootouts with Oakland police in the turbulent 1960s — was an undercover FBI informer, according to a former bureau agent and an FBI report. One of the Bay Area's most prominent radical activists of the era, Richard Masato Aoki was known as a fierce militant who touted his street-fighting abilities. He was a member of several radical groups before joining and arming the Panthers, whose members received international notoriety for brandishing weapons during patrols of the Oakland police and a protest at the state Capitol…”

HO HUM. It was obvious at the time that the FBI had informers in all the revolutionary groups — black, Asian, Hispanic, white. Would anyone have expected anything else? If you announce yourself as engaged in a violent effort to overthrow capitalism's central government, you're going to get police attention. (Duh.) And who knows if Aoki, who became a kind of revered figure in Bay Area Asian curricula, and for years was absolutely a totemic figure equivalent to the Virgin Mary at KPFA, was or wasn't an informant. He's dead, and all we've got is the FBI's word for it, and they're about as credible as that old cross dresser, J. Edgar, who founded the agency. But if Aoki was selling guns to the Panthers and he wasn't working for the FBI, it would be interesting to know how he managed it without being arrested.

THE LEFT “leadership” of the time routinely discredited people they didn't like, or saw as rivals, with accusations that their perceived opponents were working for the other side which, in the event, many of them were.

YOU COULD see disaster coming by '67 when a lot of white puff balls began stomping around in black leather jackets, flashing guns and muttering about “offing” this person or that. To me, then and certainly now, it was all a load of posturing bullshit that accomplished exactly nothing except the murders of mostly innocent people and a total discrediting of even the possibility of an American left.

CLOSER TO HOME, here in Amnesia County during the Redwood Summer period, Judi Bari routinely accused one or another harmless doofus of being an FBI agent simply because this or that doofi had either annoyed or challenged the leadership role she had assumed for herself. Which was just as well that she'd grabbed the reins, because Judi was the only person on the scene with the brains, energy and ruthlessness to pull the amorphous mass of fagged out old hippies, mental cases and alienatos who made up Redwood Summer's Ground Corp, all pointed in one direction — the timber corporations. For a few months there it was exciting, a growing resistance to the distant people destroying the timber economy of the Northcoast via cut and run.

AT THE RISK of sounding like a paranoid, I've thought for years that the Mendocino Environment Center functioned as a federal listening post in the Redwood Summer period, much as the FBI set up phony do-good offices in black neighborhoods during the 1960s to sniff out the radicals. I always found the MEC gloomy and depressing. Judi Bari and I shared many a laugh at some of the characters who hung out there, but I only visited if I absolutely had to. You'd be introduced to some nut case just arrived from wherever, and you'd have to say, “Hello, Tree. Nice to meet you. I like your leaves.” No one had a real name, and a lot of them discredited the political message of the effort simply by their goofy presence. Often, the only seemingly normal person at the MEC was Mike Sweeney, whom we now know to be hyper-normal. Sweeney conveniently made his office there, as did Madam Bari. I thought Betty Ball was mentally challenged and a shameless ass kisser, and I thought Gary Ball was an arrogant little prick. If they were even liberals in any known sense they could have fooled me. The Balls had no visible means of support, which is always suspicious but Mendo, as we know, is teeming with trustafarians, generally the only people who can afford full-time “activism.” Everyone else is at work. When Bari died the Balls bounced back to Colorado where, the next I heard of them, they were denouncing the young people who'd burned down a ski resort, an act which seemed to me totally beyond reproach.

EARTH FIRST!, in the early Bari period, advocated industrial sabotage, a federal crime. Advocating federal crimes brings federal attention. (Double Duh.) The FBI famously sowed dissension among left groups by snitch accusations at the same time the FBI worked to set people up by snagging them in the act of committing major felonies, as they famously did in Arizona during their campaign to frame Dave Foreman. In that one, an FBI agent named Fain persuaded a small group of naifs to go out into the desert to take down a major power line. “I'll bring the explosives,” Agent Fain promised. I've forgotten the details, but as I recall three people were duly packed off to the federal pen. I've always suspected that it was the Cherney-Bari creeps who twice destroyed my vehicles by pouring metal filings in the engine oil. That particular tactic was right out of the Earth First! monkey wrench manual. I'd been non-personed by Bari by that time because I'd told her I believed Steve Talbot's version of the attack on her, that her ex-husband, the most interesting man in Mendocino County, had done it. That stance cost me about five grand in new engines, but it was just the kind of thing these creeps were engaged in around the County at the time. The Bari-Cherney claim that they were only engaged in non-violent resistance is simply one more lie still heard on KPFA and other venues where the credulous gather. I think I was probably the only non-logger whose vehicles they sabbed.

I DIDN'T KNOW AOKI, but I'm not taking the FBI's word that he was working for them, although it seems he was. Anybody running guns at that time was getting a pass for sure.

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