It’s distressing and almost painful to see graffiti, big, bold and in your face, on downtown walls and simultaneously realize no one is capable of dealing with it.
By “dealing with it” we mean covering the ugly scrawls over with coats of matching beige paint, or accosting, arresting and chopping fingers off the cretins who despoil exterior walls of homes and businesses. Our collective inaction makes us seem weak, unable to reclaim what no punk graffiti slob(s) should be able to take from us.
Ukiah’s police force has no cadets to go out on a bright sunshiny day and roll paint over the offensive messages? Ukiah police have no cooperative teenagers to suggest IDs of vandals, or vulnerable teenagers willing to trade information in exchange for leniency in juvenile court?
No church groups can send out teams of youngsters with brushes and paint buckets? No letters to the editor expressing community displeasure? No downtown business owners demanding something must be done?
Up a notch, or perhaps half a notch, from ugly graffiti on public walls in public spaces, we gaze in dismay upon the bathrooms at Todd Grove Park. Here we have ugly murals from amateur painters subjecting local citizens to sophomoric political nonsense via 200 square feet of visual blight.
We assume they are simply unschooled, never taught artistic spatial basics of perspective or dimension. All is flat, featureless, lifeless, primitive. A slogan unworthy of a bumper sticker has been mercifully covered over, allowing us to avoid further insult via the idiotic viewpoints of children with no more intellectual depth than artistic skill.
Ukiah, I Sing Of Thee !
Son Lucas, master of all things internetty and cyberish, recently introduced me to the wonders and mysteries of something called “Spotify.”
Spotify is an online jukebox. I’m sure anyone under the age of 40 has cultivated a deep, meaningful relationship with Spotify, and anyone over the age of 50 can’t spell it.
On Spotify one can “dial up” or “access” any noise that’s ever been recorded, more or less, or request a category / style of music the website (?) will then fulfill.
I suggested songs of “Ukiah” so I could prove the Doobie Brothers once performed such a ditty. It was so. But along with that song came a torrent of others named, or referencing, Ukiah. You wouldn’t believe.
I happily listened to the first 10 or so Ukiah songs that Spotify coughed up. Being no music critic (we’d have to lure UDJ alum Ron Gluckman back to fill that slot) I can offer only amateur thoughts and analyses. And since Ron’s not coming back anytime soon, mine will have to do.
1) Ukiah the Red Mountain, by Y / N: He sings “The world’s on fire, the world is burning” and maybe it’s about the blazing conflagrations that have attacked the area in recent years. Ends in mournful howls, falsetto vocals.
2) Ukiah, by Robert Francis: Terrific professional production, it sounds like a pop single back when they still recorded pop singles. Semi-intelligible lyrics but I did hear references to both Jonestown and insane asylums in the 1970s. It ends with “For now I’m in Ukiah on the run.”
3) El de Ukiah, by Grupo Reservation: No comp[rendo, que lastima.
4) Ukiah Lullaby by Anson Wright and Tom Gilson: Finger pickin’ acoustic noodling instrumental, with a bass guitar hovering.
5) Ukiah by Jon Bennett: Think early Bob Dylan vocals, quick, nimble guitar work wrapped around a tale of druggie merry-go-rounds in SF. When he learns a friend is set up near Ukiah he sings “Gotta get outta the Tenderloin and when I do I’ll send for you. Gotta get away from this G-D dope and when I do I’ll send for you.”
6) Ukiah, by Hylian. Album cover is black skull-and-crossbones on blank white, and the song is retro punk circa 1979. Strangled, snarling vocals.
7) Ukiah, by Seafood. Nicely done harmonies and counterpoint, (“Do you think you ever will come back again?”) plus engaging acoustic guitar work and some la la la’s toward the end.
8) Ukiah, by Night Committee. Driving professional rock n roll sound, easily qualifies as radio-worthy in an earlier era. Sound in mature and complex. Just one quick listen, but lyrics are well above average, given the genre.
A Very Good Year (End)
During the course of a year a lot of decisions get made, and as 2021 was drawing to a close it seemed time to do a little housekeeping.
I decided to get rid of 1200 lbs of couch that had been sitting for a decade, like an ugly granite boulder, in our living room. The couch became my dumbest decision in all of 2021, which includes moving out of state, having a heart attack, and deciding to be an Oakland A’s fan. I suppose I’ve had worse years.
Lucas and his pal Phil muscled the inert beast out to the sidewalk on a bright sunny mid-December day, and hung a “FREE” sign on it. The couch didn’t sell even at sidewalk sale prices, and then it rained hard for about a year. I covered it with a tarp that made it look like a tumor, but with fungi. It sat. We waited.
There it squatted, daily sinking half an inch deeper in mud as it gained water weight, mould and more fungi stuff. Despair set in. Neighbors laughed and pointed. City officials drove by, slowly. Homeless camps had better furniture than me.
Then on the very last day of 2021 a neighbor named Terry Mack offered to haul the couch to the dump. Tears welled up in my eyes. He declined money and even refused help loading 3000 lbs. of soaked sofa into the back of his truck.
“It’s what friends do,” Terry shrugged. “Happy New Year.”
Suddenly offing the couch was a brilliant idea, and 2021 became an almost good year. I’ll remember this year from the warm glow a friendly act can bring.
(Tom Hine shouts ‘Happy New Year’ at Terry and Melody Mack, and all you other helpful friends and neighbors in Ukiah. TWK says “True Dat.”)