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A COOLING TREND will kick off today for interior areas and will continue through the weekend. Coastal areas will continue to maintain seasonal temperatures. (NWS)
BOONVILLE AFTER DARK, two comments
1) The dumb dumbs doing all the skid marks and donuts (fresh ones from last night) in the valley also decided to leave a vape pen and at least two other cartridges at the Elementary school parking lot. The disrespect for and in the valley is getting too stupid.
2) Hell, if they can afford the gas good on ’em, country kids have been doing donuts in the Valley for decades, there is very little for young people to do. In the Deep End it's way more wild than donuts, I hope they don't keep leaving trash but it really does no harm. As to disrespecting the Valley, that happened when they cut all the timber and squeezed out ranchers to grow froo froo wine.
HEALTH CARE DISTRICT BOARD MEETING: THURSDAY, JUNE 30.
The Mendocino Coast Health Care District will hold a Regular Meeting of the Board of Directors on June 30. Closed Session at 5 PM, Open Session at 6 PM.
Please join us at Zoom: us06web.zoom.us/j/87895614520?pwd=dDBFSDMvUGpaZXhWRy8rTzZaQXR6QT09
The Agenda may be found at: www.mchcd.org
Please call with any questions: Norman de Vall, Board member, 357.5555
THE COAST CAT PROJECT
Today was a huge milestone for our newest project in the valley! 38 cats and kittens were spayed and neutered. We have been working on this site for the last few weeks with Coast Cat Project. So far, we have pulled 30 kittens and 39 adults. The majority of those adults will be released back once they have recovered from surgery. The rest of the cats and kittens are with fosters.
Thank you Dr. Burns, Mendocino County Care-A-Van & team. Thank you Julie and Anderson Valley Animal Rescue. Thank you to Jill and Steve who have been the overnight caregivers for all these kitties! Thank you Coast Cat Project. And thank you to everyone else who has made this possible!
So many more kittens remain and we still have more adults to TNR. But we made a huge dent today and that is truly amazing.
FOURTH TIME THE CHARM
With the June 2022 primary votes now all counted and the re-election of Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster confirmed and officially in the books, this electoral outcome adds a rare footnote to local legal history. Only two prosecutors have ever been re-elected by the Mendocino County voters to serve as the county-wide District Attorney for four terms. In June 1950, incumbent Mendocino County DA James Elmer “Jim” Busch became the first Mendocino County-wide prosecutor to be elected to a fourth term in office. Seventy-two years later, DA Eyster now becomes only the second four-term DA in Mendocino County's 172-year history.
— Mike Geniella
CEDRIC CROOK: Ukiah’s New Interim Police Chief
by Mike Geniella
A quizzical look spreads across the face of Capt. Cedric Crook as he looks around his office. It is as if he is still trying to accept the reality that he is now the interim Police Chief of a department rocked by a string of misconduct cases.
It’s been a head spinning two weeks for Crook and his staff of twenty-six sworn officers since the abrupt firing of former Police Chief Noble Waidelich. Yet, in Crook’s mind the task is clear: “We are going to do our jobs. We are going to survive this.”
Crook’s good cop instincts are at play. He projects calm in the face of uncertainty, and he is convinced a tarnished police department can restore itself to the respect and prominence it once enjoyed on the North Coast.
“We are a solid agency. We know how to serve and protect our community,” said Crook.
It is too early for Crook or city officials to speculate whether the department veteran he will be in the running for a permanent appointment as police chief. He joined the department in 1997 straight out of the Police Academy.
The whirlwind of recent events allowed no time for Crook to prepare to take on the role as Police Chief.
“It’s only been since June 14. Honestly, all of us are focusing on our jobs and doing what it takes. Crime doesn’t stop, and neither can we,” said Crook.
Ukiah’s Deputy City Manager Shannon Riley said City Hall is “grateful to have someone with as much experience as Captain Crook to be able to step into this interim role.”
Crook unexpectedly found himself as chief of the department when his predecessor, Noble Waidelich, was fired less than a year after he took office.
Waidelich’s departure was abrupt, and specific details behind the reasons remain unknown. Results of an outside criminal investigation being conducted by the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office into Waidelich also are unknown. Besides those issues, Waidelich in September is facing trial in a civil lawsuit filed in 2017 by a former county probation officer who claims he physically and emotionally abused her while they lived together. She eventually lost her job and was officially branded a liar by District Attorney David Eyster while Waidelich rose through the ranks to become chief.
The Ukiah department also is shadowed by the pending criminal trial of Sgt. Kevin Murray who has been charged with a litany of crimes spanning over eight years including burglary, forced oral copulation, and possession of methamphetamine.
Just this past March, the department cleared a squad of officers of wrongdoing in connection with a violent arrest of a naked mentally ill man. At the same time, it was disclosed that the city paid $211,000 to settle a federal lawsuit brought by lawyers for 25-year-old Gerardo Magdaleno, the man tased, taken down, and beaten by officers before he was finally subdued.
The interim police chief is described as a “quiet but genuine” man, with a reputation as a good investigator and former member of a county-wide drug task force.
Crook, 47, grew up in Mendocino County. His mother is a retired schoolteacher, and his late father was an accountant. He is the father of two sons.
For Crook, his appointment as interim chief is a challenge even though his rise through department ranks reflects a depth of policing skills, and his reputation among law enforcement is seemingly rock solid.
“I wasn’t expecting this, no doubt,’ said Crook, who still wears his Captain’s shirt even though he is now in charge of a police agency with a $12 million annual budget.
Crook recalls wanting to go into law enforcement before he even graduated from Ukiah High School.
“I always wanted to be a cop,” he said.
Crook left Ukiah after high school to attend the University of Nevada at Reno. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, and a minor in Spanish.
“When I graduated, I was bilingual, but I don’t make that claim now. I am a little rusty,” said Crook.
Crook has witnessed some high-profile cases and local disasters up close during his career, including a devastating fatal fire that ravaged the northern end of Redwood Valley in October 2017.
Crook also rode in the ambulance on a cold night in March of 2003 that rushed now retired Ukiah Police Sgt. Marcus Young to a local hospital following a shootout with a violent felon in the parking lot of the local WalMart. Young survived thanks to help from a young police cadet who was riding with him, but the officer’s injuries eventually forced his retirement.
Crook was among the first responders to the scene. “None of us will ever forget that night,” said Crook.
Crook declined to talk specifics about recent department problems because of pending investigations, and litigation.
Overall, Crook said the Ukiah department is not alone in struggling with persistent mental health, gang, homeless, and drug related issues.
“I can say that all the agencies in the county are now working more closely together on these issues, and we are meeting and developing better ways to respond,” said Crook.
Fentanyl, a powerul and deadly manufactured drug, is a surging problem locally as it is statewide and nationally, said Crook. There are persistent gang-related problems, he added, and substance abuse and mental health issues within the local homeless population remain rampant.
Crook said while he is unsure what the future holds personally, “I am going to do the job I have always done. The staff and I will get through this together.”
SUPERINTENDENT LOUISE SIMSON WRITES:
Today was a busy day today with the district office move to the high school and Vero, Sara, and Angel Rocking it with the amazing assistance of Dennis and Guy. Leigh is out under the weather, but her prep work was part of the plan!
I was in a GREAT WASC meeting with Julie H. and Vero calls me and says she got an alert that there is a fire on Crestview. So my reptilian superintendent brain thinks--where is that in relation to kids and what do we need to do? So, I say, "Where is Crestview?" Vero, ever graceful, says, "Isn't that where you live?" and of course, she was right. There was an evacuation order for my street.
I confirmed with my neighbor that there was indeed an evacuation required and tore over the hill (way too fast). I thought about what I would take from the house. You probably know by now, I AM NOT A STUFF PERSON. The one really important thing was a rag doll my mom (who is 91) made for me one Christmas, when I was five and my sister regifted to me refreshed, when I moved into this house and joined you a year ago. After that little blast from the past, it was just documents and a few clothes.
I live in a really funky little place at the end of a gravel road in the base of a mountain. As I pulled up to my street, it was blocked by multiple officers, and I could see the tankers flying overhead and smoke. The officer related, I couldn't pass through to the house to pack, but he was optimistic that we would have a good resolution. I waited and was thankful, because I keep a case of water in my car, and I shared it out with all of my neighbors and officers standing around in the same circumstance because it was hot. The kindness parade continues with an MCOE employee texting me to make sure I knew what was going on. That was very kind, especially, as she was in the same boat with her home on a nearby street.
I was also thankful, because I have a "Go bag". If you DON'T HAVE A GO BAG, MAKE ONE TODAY. My childhood friend, who was evacuated three times in one year, says it is a must and I was thankful, I LISTENED Take a small suitcase, put some old clothes, shoes, underwear, toiletries/medications, jacket, check book, a little cash, and copies of your insurance cards and credit cards into the bag, and something special (for me it is a quilt my sister made with all of the scraps of dresses my mom sewed for us when we grew up with each scrap telling a story), toilet paper and a blanket. I also keep a pup tent and sleeping bag in my car. You never know, until YOU NEED TO KNOW. I was glad today that if the worst happened, I had enough to begin a new day.
May you never need to begin a new day. But if you do, take 30-minutes to make sure you have a GO bag.
Grateful to all of the first responders who knocked it back.
And then, when I did make it back into the house, I find I have a perfectly lovely note in the mailbox from Beverely Dutra. Her kindness always comes at just the right time.
On a celebratory note, SEE MISS JULIE H. ROCK HER ROOM REFRESH! Well done! Mr. B. and his students made additional progress in the shop.
DO YOU FEEL THE TRANSFORMATION?
WAS FORT BRAGG PLAYED?
A recent Eureka Times Standard report said: “Humboldt County Planning Director set to get a raise after turning down Fort Bragg job.”
Reporter Sonia Waraich: “Humboldt County’s planning and building director is set to get a raise after things didn’t quite pan out with a job in nearby Fort Bragg. This week, the [Humboldt] county Board of Supervisors is set to give Planning and Building Director John Ford a 15% raise, or an increase of $23,286 to his base annual salary [which in 2020 was $151k per year—ms]. The proposed increase comes after Ford turned down a job to become city manager of Fort Bragg in Mendocino County because his family wanted to stay in the [Humboldt] area. ‘While the Department Head compensation plan allows for an increase of up to 10%, a request of 15% is proposed today to be reflective of a commensurate salary for the skills and ability required of the Director of Planning & Building as demonstrated in the past and will be required in the future to effectively execute Long Range Planning functions that will address housing shortages, the emergence of new industries and population growth,’ the staff report states.’ … The proposed raise is on the supervisors’ consent agenda, meaning it will be passed with a single vote along with the other items on the consent agenda unless a supervisor or member of the public specifically pulls it for separate consideration or discussion.”
The Fort Bragg Presser earlier this month announcing Ford’s decision to stay in Humboldt County said that Ford “changed his mind due to family issues, including the challenge of making his son switch middle schools as well as ‘his wife’s desire to remain where they are.’ Mr. Ford said, ‘This would place significant stress on my family and would not allow me to be as socially involved in the Fort Bragg community as the job mandates’.”
Ah yes, those old familiar “family issues.” Like his wife went along with his submission of a job application to Fort Bragg, and then suddenly realized she and her son didn’t want to move.
Right. Of course.
It sounds a lot more like Mr. Ford just used Fort Bragg as leverage to get himself an overlarge Humboldt County raise. As soon as the Humboldt County “staff” promised to put his $23k raise on the HumCo Supes’ consent calendar, Ford decided to stay where he was.
WAY TOO HOT
The Anderson Valley Advertiser (AVA) newspaper has been a Mendocino County icon since 1984 when Bruce Anderson bought the Boonville weekly and turned it into a snarling attack dog against political hacks large and small. As publisher and editor, Anderson boasts, “Since then [the paper] has consistently published … some of the most imaginative and well-written articles and stories found in the American press. Because of the quality of output, and its independent nature, this small-town weekly has earned a national circulation as the last of the old fashioned newspapers, unbeholden to advertisers, or even its readers. You haven’t read another paper like it because there isn’t one.”
Over these nearly four decades, the AVA has produced some good investigative reporting and uncovered the misdeeds of a few corrupt county officials. I can still remember many years ago when Anderson exposed a shady County Superintendent of Schools who was summarily dismissed for misappropriating county funds. More often than not though, the people Anderson chooses to skewer are just regular folks trying to go about their business. For example, one of his favorite targets for ridicule over the years has been the county’s environmental community, what he derisively calls the “lib labs.”
At some point, the AVA took on CounterPunch writer Mark Scaramella as its Managing Editor who now covers the county government beat in his weekly column “County Notes.” Like his boss, Scaramella is a mixed bag, some good reporting and some not so good. His relentless coverage of former county CEO Carmel Angelo for her multiple conflicts of interest, I suspect may have contributed to her recent departure. But when Scaramella writes about the county’s Third supervisorial district where I live, it becomes abundantly clear he knows little about this part of the county on which he pontificates with pretentious authority.
The most redeeming aspect of the AVA is its liberal “letters to the editor” policy, even to the extent of publishing letters critical of the paper… or so I thought. My recent experience sending two letters critical of Anderson’s and Scaramella’s coverage of the county’s new wildlife management program never saw the light of day in the AVA. In a brief email exchange in which I challenged them to publish my most recent letter where I called into question the credibility of their primary source of information, former USDA Wildlife Services trapper Chris Brennan, I received this unsigned email reply:
On 6/20/2022 4:55 PM, email@example.com wrote: “No, Jon. Your letter is wayyyy too hot. It could get us all killed. Sheesh.”
What does this even mean? I replied to them asking, “… do you actually believe Brennan is so psycho that he would go on a mass killing spree if you published my letter?”
To this question I received no answer, and thus ended our brief email exchange.
The AVA may be unbeholden to its advertisers and readers, but in this true confessions, its editors appear to be deathly afraid of their own sources. How pathetic is that? Turns out, the AVA’s two snarling attack dogs are actually just a pair of cowering bitches.
Incidentally, Mendocino County Observer editor, Jim Shields, who carries Anderson’s and Scaramella’s columns, published both of my “wayyyy too hot” letters (3/9/2022 and 6/23/2022 editions). Let’s hope it doesn’t get us all killed. Sheesh.
MARK SCARAMELLA REPLIES:
I’ll cop to occasionally pontificating with pretentious authority, although it doesn’t seem to have bothered you until I quoted what Dead Dog told the Supervisors recently. Also, I don’t write about the Third District — mainly because you’re in it. If you have a gripe about my coverage of County affairs, other than Dead Dog, though, let’s hear it. PS. I am not a “CounterPunch writer.” I have submitted a few articles to them. But I’ve been covering local affairs for the AVA long before any of those CounterPunch contributions.
CHRIS BRENNAN REPLIES:
To the Editor:
Jon you are defiantly not connecting the dots because if you did view my public comment to the Board of Supervisors June 7 (6:57 into the video). I clearly state that there is no need for the new Mendocino wildlife non lethal program because two of the three components you talk about are being done for free.
You have three components to your new program, 1. To have a non-lethal technical assistant hotline that citizens can call in for advice and information on how to deal with wildlife conflict. 2. To set up a website for technical assistance. 3. To set up a wildlife exclusion service to plug holes under private homes so skunks and raccoons can’t get under them.
Jon, two of these components are being done for free by two government agencies and a private citizen.
1. California Department of Fish and Wildlife, wildlife conflict biologist 707-298-4958 and their website: www.wildlife.co.gov/living-with-wildlife.com
2. USDA Wildlife services, Derek Millsap 530-708-0369. Their website is: www.aphis/ourfocus/wildlifedamage/sa_program_overview.com
3. Chris Brennan Licensed Trapper, free non-lethal technical assistance. 707-272-5442
All of that is being done for free; it does not cost the Mendocino County taxpayers a dime.
Your third component of having a wildlife exclusion technician? In Mendocino County we call them handymen. Anyone can fix a hole under their house. People can call me and I can give them advice on how to do their own exclusion work. This isn’t Sonoma or Marin County.
Supervisor Ted Williams said, “I don’t feel it’s the job of the county government to plug holes in somebody’s house any more than it is to do their laundry” — Board of Supervisors’ budget hearing, June 7th
Jon maybe you don’t realize it, but the county is going broke. The last thing this county needs to do is spend any money on a program that is already being done. Spend this money on the libraries, the county roads and the Sheriff’s department. Not a pipe dream WOKE program.
Jon what makes you a wildlife expert? It’s obvious by driving past your land on Dos Rios Road that you know nothing about land management. Your property is full of 15 foot dead and dying manzanita and brush, very low value for wildlife habitat. A fire waiting to happen.
I invite you to come to my ranch Jon, I will give you a tour. For 42 years I have been thinning, limbing and burning to maintain a healthy forest. My pastures are well managed and rotationally grazed. I have no yellow star thistle on my 140 acre ranch. I also lease another 2900 acres of land and maintain 20+ miles of fence line for my cattle.
By the way Jon, what do you actually do for a living? Rumor is you are a trustafarian, nobody seems to know what it is that you do.
Jon, I talked to the one contractor that is supposedly going to be doing the technical assistance hotline, Tracy. She informed me she had no actual ag experience and she was going to be urban only.
Jon, you state in your opinion that I have no expertise in wildlife conflict. I have been raising livestock for over 40 years. I’ve had hundreds of hours of training through the USDA wildlife services research lab. I’ve gone to thousands of wildlife conflict cases, property damage and livestock depredation calls. I have done so much non-lethal technical assistance work that I won an award from the USDA, the only one in the state to get it.
And Jon, yes, I am a trapper and still trap today as a private trapper since retiring from the USDA. I have caught over ten thousand animals in my lifetime. Coyotes, mountain lions, bears, wild hogs, varmints, etc. I think I know a little something about wildlife.
My advice to you is to stick to writing about your favorite subjects, marxism, the green new deal and socialism. And tend to your own land, it needs a lot of work. Have Project Coyote fund your exclusion pipe dream and not the Mendocino county taxpayers.
Licensed Trapper And Rancher
ROUND VALLEY TRIBAL MEMBERS Advocate in State Capitol for ‘Feather Alert’ to Help Find Missing Indigenous People
On Line Responses:
(1) I support the alert system. But let’s also be clear - the very local families know who the scumbags are in their community. The scumbags that deal the meth and the fentanyl and promote a dangerous environment. I would suggest cleaning up your community! In whatever way you see fit. Don’t cover for or protect your local scumbags…I know - they are cousins and such so what are you supposed to do, right? Well I’m not sure running to the state will solve that problem, unless you want to give the authority to clean out your reservation to the very institutions that promoted your own genocide not that long ago. It’s a conundrum for sure. Another thing that happened in Covelo was the leasing of tribal-held land to Mexican cartel members for large-scale weed growing. This influx of people with questionable profit-motivated morals did not help your valley. These weren’t some kind sweetly silly hippies you allowed in! Meanwhile you have always hated the police coming in - for good reason! - but all of these actions created the perfect storm of scumbags. And eventually the scumbag factor will start disappearing people. It’s a friggin’ tragedy that will need a heavy cleaning…
(2) I’ve spent a decade in the hills of humboldt. Just as in the city the “streets” know. The locals are 100% aware of all the drug houses and problem people. Then are sad when bad things happen cause they play blind. Gotta choose a side. To be fair...I wouldn’t turn in my family either. The powers that be want that good ol cowboy vs. Indian back. Don’t think so pay attention and stop playing into it for a few $.
(3) The hitch is that the people who are missing are not children - they make their choices and have a right to do so. Not infrequently they themselves are members of the sketchy groups you cite, even if on the periphery. It is not a case of absolute good versus absolute evil. And once families take the side of one member of a community who is in conflict with another, it is not easy to keep everyone from being dragged in on one side or another. How can it be done? It certainly is not being done outside of tribes either.
ALAN CROW WRITES: “The more I read Herb Caen's essays in the AVA, the more I realize he was a brilliant writer. Would the esteemed Editor be kind enough to enlighten this reader on who Mr. Caen was and a little of his history?”
HERB CAEN, born and raised in Sacramento, was indeed a brilliant writer, and an important figure in the history of the SF Bay Area because his columns defined for us those times in a way few writers could. As a kid of about 12, I'd read the Chron's sports pages then try to puzzle out Caen's col, which was over my head until I got to high school, and probably still over my head, but I was too dumb to realize it. He was always smart, often funny and, I realized much later, a good prose instructor. “Keep it tight and bright.” One of my prize possessions is a fan note from the man himself in which he said he was a regular AVA reader, buying the paper “most weeks” at City Lights. Millions of us wouldn't trade him for Chicago's Royko, New York's Jimmy Breslin or, closer to home, Gaye LeBaron of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, the last becoming a must read for me from when I landed in Mendo in 1970 who did for Santa Rosa and SoCo what Caen did for San Francisco. I should confess I suffered a rather rocky relationship with Mrs. LeBaron who seems never to have gotten over me once — I swear to you only once! referring to her — as Gaye La Ga-Ga. (She was a little too close, I thought, to the Rose City's crooks, elected and free range. Doug Bosco? Gag me, and jail him.) And there's Tommy Wayne Kramer whose cols for the Daily Journal and, over the years, several other Mendo publications, including this one, have given Ukiah the distinct sense of being a real place that unreal town is likely to have. The media times have changed, for the radical worse, in my opinion, with the loss of newspapers and hometown columnists. It occurs to me at the mention of Herb Caen; that a few old, old timers will also remember the KSFO talk jock, Don Sherwood. Every morning we read Herb Caen and every morning we listened to Don Sherwood, a very funny, daring kinda dude for those staid times. It was Caen who wrote something like this: “When Don Sherwood told a joke on the radio, you could see all the commuters in the cars next to you laughing.”
Mark Scaramella adds: I’ve been hooked on Tommy Wayne Kramer ever since he wrote this about then-Press Democrat Editorial Page Editor Pete Golis: “If oatmeal could write, Pete Golis would be out of a job.”
A READER WRITES: On the question of When does life begin? Decades ago a woman friend definitely answered this question for me: “Life begins in the scrotum of a guy in a bar a around 8pm after two beers.” Second best answer: “When the kids leave home.”
AUTUMN FABER on the Green Container at Little River:
I am so disappointed in this community... RE Green Container
Leave it to the older, established community of Mendocino, to attack and destroy a long time local's business because it offends their line of sight. SHAME ON YOU.
There is a disgusting entitlement in this community that tends to elbow out the younger generation that is struggling harder than any other generation to survive here.
Craig Come is a long time local who contributes to our community and brings environmental awareness with his kayak tours. But by GOD it's GREEN!
You have too much time and comfort so you look for problems where none exist.
Consider counting your blessings that you are not at war, that you are likely too old to worry about getting an abortion when you need one, and that you most likely already own property and assets.
Instead of attacking the livelihood of my generation, you might consider the fact that the consumerism of your generation has left the planet barren and my generation without recourse. You want to keep our community sterile and free of diversity.
I am embarrassed by the way you just went after this local business for the sole purpose of your own comfort. Because of you Craig is now looking to sell the container. You can celebrate the victory of closing a small locally owned, environmentally supportive business. Yay for you.
Autumn, the recent discussion in the Announce List about the color of the kayak storage container was never an attack on the kayak business. When I wrote Terry at the State Park I made sure to explain that my complaint was NOT about the kayak business which contributes a valuable marine experience for locals and visitors to the coast. Apparently you haven’t read all the posts because I stated clearly that I completely support Craig’s kayak business. The State Park has assured me that they are going to work with Craig on getting the neon color of the building changed so that it blends with the landscape. They have no intention of changing anything but the color of the storage unit. The kayak will remain on Van Damme Beach.
Please read posts carefully before reacting, attacking “boomers” and making broad generalizations. I don’t think anyone involved in the discussion had ill intent of any kind.
Laurie, You were NOT supporting his business. Actually, Laurie, you created a lot of unnecessary backlash against a longtime local trying to survive. I'm sure you think your actions were justified but from where I am standing it is TOTAL privilege and it is shameful. Supporting his business would be booking a tour and enjoying what he is offering.
ED NOTE: Looked ok from the photos this old boomer saw, and I agree totally with Autumn re local boomers, many of them anyway.
RANDY BURKE sends a couple photos taken in Richmond, Yorkshire, UK:
Dear friends and readers and work crews and politicians who live, breathe, work and decide the matters relevant to Mendocino and nearby counties.
I was born in California in the early 1980s. As a young girl we moved away but one summer my family and I traveled over 1000 miles for a vacation that led us through this area. What I saw during the brief drive was so magical that it touched my soul for life. So much in fact that at age 26, with the opportunity to finally return to my roots, I packed up my apartment in another state and rode down with my cat to reside permanently in Mendocino County.
Fast forward to now and as we are all very aware we are experiencing an extended drought. I cannot in good conscience remain silent another second about the absolute tragedy going on right in front of our eyes. I have held my tongue until I was chomping at the bit, cussing guys out in the privacy of my car, crying in solitude and with friends present. But enough is enough!
When will this beautiful area be warm and dry enough reason to realize that the threat — no, the "potential threat," being thwarted by this so-called "fire suppression action" of PG&E and CalFire (most of whom by the way get proceeds from the 140,000 board feet already being cut (I looked it up. It took some doing to find) be stopped? It is literally stupid to think that clearing out most trees and virtually every shred of underbrush to create "defensible space" on state park lands, and private ones as well, will somehow prevent an uncertainty in the first place and not just create an even larger and worse wildfire if the wind blows. Because, hey, now it has become a barren windtunnel!
All one has to do is Google whether deforestation causes drought to see for youselves the facts of this debate and to see that it does indeed matter. I have also learned through independent research, lengthy discussions with people with fire science experience and forest science degrees as well as personal observation that it just doesn't work! Some of these contract timber guys are even being paid to come from as far away as the East Coast, housed in expensive hotels all the way to California!
No wonder it's costing PG&E millions of dollars! And so we fall.
But no. Oh no. That's not enough! They leave piles of debris, bark mulch and erosion in their wake. No shade left, animals displaced in places so special to me that I cry. They are ruining God's country. So I am now compelled to stay these facts:
• We are in a symbiotic relationship with the trees. They clean our expelled carbon dioxide and turn it back into oxygen for us to breathe. 98% of our breathable air comes from trees. We need each other — period.
• Trees provide homes for thousands of different animal species, shade when it's hot, and shelter when it's raining. Do we want a homeless animal population on our doorsteps?
• On the Hawaiian island of Lihua, a man named Aubrey Robinson planted over 80,000 trees on the island during his lifetime increasing annual rainfall by 20% proving that they bring the rain.
• Brush and ground cover in forests allows mushroom growth which renews soils to a healthy state from rotten leaves of the previous year and keeps the soil wetter for a longer time into the year so that it can hold more water and also soaks it up instead of allowing it to run off. Soil also erodes without groundcover. That's why Caltrans puts boulders on the hills they strip.
• Deforestation causes a rise in temperatures due to lack of shade and lack of moisture content in soil directly adding to the drought.
• It looks very stupid and ugly.
• PG&E fires were caused by equipment failure at transistor boxes, not by trees falling on lines and that doesn't mention the arsonists.
• Countless plants and animals are being cut from their lifelines which rely on vegetation surrounding the trees for habitat.
Do we want to live in a desert? Devoid of plants and animals without sufficient water to meet our basic consumption rate? Don't we miss our lakes? Will we continue harming soil health and moisture absorption levels, cutting our necks by cutting off our resources and access to water, creating a higher likelihood of burning in the potential fires that might happen? Well? Coupled with all the chippings and bark they leave behind as well? To me this situation appears "primed" for fire.
I will cut out with this question: Are we too stupid and dumb or greedy to look at the facts, all of the facts, and therefore change our eminent future, a future free from breathing, cleared of plants, and trees, and us, to stop this ridiculousness? Can we therefore change our climate back to a good one before it's too late?
Back to when we had more water, few fires and more trees in less mismanagement of our most precious resources?
Tree Hugging Hippie Named ‘Mo’
EVERYONE IS INVITED TO ATTEND the Alice DiMicele concert on Saturday, July 2nd at the Redwood Valley Grange, 8650 East Road in Redwood Valley.
The concert will follow the Black Bart Parade earlier in the day, and will open at 4 and run until 7 p.m. All tickets will be sold at the door, $20.
The Redwood Valley Grange is proud to present Alice DeMicele, an American/folk singer songwriter based in Southern Oregon. Her voice is rangy, sometimes soft and intimate, other times bold and brassy, evoking a distinct mood in every song she sings.
DiMicele built a dedicated fan base as an independent musician with stirring live performances spanning a three-decade career. Her new album, “Every Seed We Plant,” is her 16th release, a snapshot of life in these times, gutwrenching, hopeful, vulnerable, intense.
The title track, “Every Seed We Plant,” was inspired by Alice’s dear friend and elder of the Takelma Tribe, Anges Pilgrim Baker. DeMicele said, “It was written on the way to Grandma Aggie’s memorial. The song overtook me, flowed out of me like Grandma was there guiding me. I wrote it, played it once, then sang it that day for her family and friends.”
As an accomplished songwriter, DiMicele draws on folk, jazz, blues, R & B, and rock & roll influences, landing her music consistently on Folk, Americana, and community radio stations around the country and internationally, including syndicated shows.
Her deep acoustic groove, unique vocal style, and heartfelt lyrics create an unmistakable sound that is all her own. She is a delightful performer and has shared stages with Bonnie Raitt, Joan Baez, JJ Cale, David Grisman Quartet, Steve Winwood, Ferron, Peter Rowan, Richie Havens, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, and more.
Her festival performances include: Strawberry Music Festival, High Sierra Music Festival, Oregon Country Fair, Joshua Tree Music Festival, Britt Festivals, and Kate Wolf Music Festival.
Originally from New Jersey, Alice DiMicele grew up singing in school choirs and remembers, “I sang on the way to school, and back home. I just made stuff up.”
On her 12th birthday, her grandmother gave her Stevie Wonder’s album “Songs in the Key of Life.” DiMicele reflected, “I learned every word, every note, and every nuance of that album by listening to it over and over.” She picked up the guitar at age 17 and honed her skills playing in coffeehouses in upstate New York and New Jersey. In 1986, she found her home in Southern Oregon and released her first recording in 1988, “Make A Change.”
Invite your family and friends and make a special day in Redwood Valley on July 2 with the Black Bart Parade, 11 a.m., the Redwood Valley Grange fundraiser concert with Alice DeMicele, 4 p.m. Enjoy a Thai noodle meal at the Grange: $10-one, $15-two; also beer, wine, and nonalcoholic beverages will be for sale.
FIRST FRIDAY AT GRACE HUDSON
This Friday, July 1, Grace Hudson Museum's First Friday event will take place from 5 to 8 p.m., largely in the Wild Gardens. The eclectic musical duo, Midas Well, featuring Char Jacobs and Chris Gibson, returns to the Museum and will perform under the Brush Arbor. Their repertoire crosses genres to include jazz, blues, folk, country, Americana, and some originals. The current mild weather and long midsummer days is a perfect time to take a stroll or a guided tour through the Wild Gardens, now looking lush and blooming with summer wildflowers. Little Bear will delight with his popular table of Native American tools and toys. This is also a great opportunity to see the Museum's current exhibition, "Pulped Under Pressure: The Art of Handmade Paper." And it's a good opportunity to check out the Museum's core galleries devoted to Grace Hudson's artwork, Pomo basketry, and the history of the Hudson-Carpenter family. Light refreshments will be served.
The Grace Hudson is at 431 S. Main St. in Ukiah. For more information please go to www.gracehudsonmuseum.org or call (707) 467-2836.
ART – MUSIC – FOOD – DRINKS – BLOOMS
Join us for Art in the Gardens at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens! In addition to the annual festivities, the weekend will kick off with a party (the Soireé is back!) and a variety of workshops to get your creative juices flowing.
Learn More & Get Tickets: www.gardensbythesea.org
WAKE UP CALL, LITERAL
On Thursday, June 23, 2022 at approximately 7:00 A.M., Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched to reports of a possible adult male overdosed in the 600 block of Pinoleville Drive in Ukiah.
Emergency Medical Personnel requested law enforcement respond first to secure the scene as it was reported to them that the male may be violent.
Upon arrival, Deputies attempted to contact the 34-year old male, who was reportedly inside his residence. The Deputies knocked on multiple locked doors and announced their presence for several minutes, with no response. A short time later, a male subject was seen approaching the front door.
Deputies observed the subject fall near the door as he attempted to open the door. Deputies observed the male fall backward at which time he stopped moving or responding to Deputies. Fearing for the male's safety, Deputies determined it necessary to force the locked door open so they could render emergency aid.
Upon entry, Deputies observed the male was unresponsive. Deputies assessed the male and located a faint pulse.
Deputies determined the male was barely breathing and his eyes were non-responsive. The male was also bleeding from superficial wounds on his face and neck. Based on their assessment, Deputies feared the male was suffering from a potentially fatal opioid overdose.
A Deputy immediately administered one 4mg dose of Narcan to the male and was met with negative results.
Shortly thereafter, the Deputy administered a second 4mg dose of Narcan and the male became responsive and started breathing. Medical personnel arrived a short time later and took over care of the male, ultimately transporting him to a nearby hospital for further care.
In April 2019 the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) began to issue NARCAN® (Naloxone HCI) nasal spray dosage units to its employees as part of their assigned personal protective equipment. MCSO's goal is in protecting the public and officers from opioid overdoses. Access to naloxone is now considered vital in the U.S. The Center for Disease Control. At that time, the California Opioid Overdose Surveillance Dashboard reported Mendocino County ranking, per capita, 3rd in all opioid overdose deaths.
Narcan nasal spray units are widely known to reverse opioid overdose situations in adults and children. Each nasal spray
device contains a four milligram dose, according to the manufacturer. Naloxone Hydrochloride, more commonly known by the brand name NARCAN®, blocks the life-threatening effects of opioid overdose (both medications and narcotics) including extreme drowsiness, slowed breathing, or loss of consciousness.
The antidote can reverse the effects of an overdose for up to an hour, but anyone who administers the overdose reversal medication in a non-medical setting is advised to seek emergency medical help right away. The spray units can also be used by Public Safety Professionals who are unknowingly or accidentally exposed to potentially fatal amounts of fentanyl from skin absorption or inhalation.
The issuance of the Narcan nasal units, thus far, have been to employees assigned to the Field Services Division and the Mendocino County Jail medical staff. Employees are required to attend user training prior to being issued the medication.
Sheriff Matthew C. Kendall would like to thank Mendocino County HHSA Public Health for providing the Narcan nasal units to the Sheriff's Office free of charge as part of the Free Narcan Grant from the California Department of Public Health.
Since the April 2019 issuance, there have now been (14) fourteen separate situations wherein Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Patrol Sergeants/Deputies have administered NARCAN and saved the lives of (14) fourteen people in need of the life saving antidote medication.
In October 2021 the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office received a grant from the California Naloxone Distribution Project through the Department of Health Care Services to help maintain an inventory of the live saving antidote.
The 192 dosage units have been distributed to the Field Services Division and Corrections Division as current inventories from Mendocino County HHSA Public Health are being exhausted.
Sheriff Matthew C. Kendall would like to thank the California Naloxone Distribution Project through the Department of Health Care Services for awarding the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office with the Naloxone grant to better help protect his employees and the public.
‘DATING RELATIONSHIP WITH TWO KIDS’ AND YOU STILL MISPRONOIUNCE MY NAME?
On Sunday, June 26, 2022 Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched to a domestic violence incident that occurred just north of the city of Willits.
Deputies contacted a 26-year old adult female and learned she and Daniel Arancibia, 27, of Willits, were in a dating relationship and have two children in common. Reportedly, the adult female and Arancibia were traveling in a vehicle heading southbound on US Highway 101 somewhere just north of the city of Willits.
Arancibia was driving the vehicle and the adult female was sitting in the front passenger seat when they became engaged in a verbal argument. The argument escalated when Arancibia struck the adult female on the left side of her upper chest causing a visible bruise.
The pair continued their travels to their residence in the city of Willits and Arancibia left the residence prior to Deputies arriving to investigate the reported incident.
Arancibia was located a short time later at the intersection of Monroe Street and Central Avenue.
Arancibia was taken into custody without incident and was subsequently booked into the Mendocino County jail for Domestic Violence Battery where he was to be held in lieu of $25,000 bail.
DHARMA BUM, UKIAH BRANCH
Penned this at a cafe table inside of the Ukiah, California Co-op. Comfortable in the air cooled space with big windows all around, my discounted day-old brownie and a cup of organic coffee are next to the writer's notebook and the purple & black cap purchased in Hawaii featuring a white coffee plant flower.
Presently digesting a free lunch from Plowshares, served up by those committed Catholic Workers, am right now at the Ukiah Public Library. Will later read today's New York Times. Nothing else whatsoever is planned, today or ever. Remaining chill in the Mendocino county seat, and letting the bank checking account increase due to (soon incoming) social security benefits. The dental work is finished, and the insurance paid for it. If anybody wishes to do anything at all further, insofar as serious radical social action is concerned, please contact me.
I am identified with that which is "prior to consciousness". I am not the body. I am not the mind. The Immortal Self I am.
Craig Louis Stehr
CATCH OF THE DAY, June 29, 2022
DANIEL ARANCIBIA, Willits. Domestic battery.
PAULA BREST, Ukiah. Trespassing.
JOSEPH BUCKINGHAM, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
ANTHONY KOCHIE, Ukiah. Battery, vandalism.
DYLAN KOPMAN, Cazadero/Ukiah. Failure to appear.
SIERRA MARTINEZ, Eureka/Ukiah. Controlled substance.
JUSTIN MCNIEL, Ukiah. Obstruction of justice, sale/transport organic drug/narcotic.
ERICA PYORRE, Fort Bragg. Battery, elder/dependent abuse without great bodily harm or death.
ROBERT SMITH, Ukiah. Shopping cart, storing camping paraphernalia.
JOSEPH WOODEN, Fort Bragg. Recklessly causing fire, trespassing.
MOURNING IN AMERICA
I am announcing my services as a professional mourner. Whenever there is a murder using a weapon which is designed to kill people such as an AK automatic gun/AR 15, I am ready to start the mourning from our Willits headquarters. We will wail, sob, and shriek for three days or until radio, print and TV attention has been diverted away from the incident toward something else such as "scantily clad female impersonator found dead in bedroom of Texas Senator." Of course, the hiring of a professional mourner is to direct attention away from the slaying by AK 47. I am compensated by the “Friends of the Second Amendment” organization.
When you decide to put a speed bump in downtown Boonville, put a sign outside town which reads "really huge speedbump just ahead" in English and Spanish.
If your candidate lost the Superintendent of Schools race remember I asked all schools in the county to broadcast a summary of Press Democrat news at all grades seven and above at 1 PM each school day. Doing that would have ensured a win.
In 1946 after the United Nations was founded there was an effort (mainly by college students) to set up a world government authorized to handle problems such as Russia/Ukraine. It was opposed by the usual suspects.
All right, you pro-abortion agitators, it's time to put your money where your mouth is. I don't have a dog in this fight.
Richard Blum has accumulated a vast fortune. His old woman, Dianne Feinstein, grabbed a bunch of his money to contribute to sisterly causes. She gave "Sisters Nonviolent Coordination Committee (SNIC) $200,000 due to an error — three too many zeroes, the amount was $200,000,000. Never mind, SNIC needed the money to assist girls who wanted abortions but lived in a state where abortion was illegal.
One such girl we will call Winefred. She had always been told to keep her knees together. One day there was a knock on the door. It was the youth pastor from the Seventh-day Adventist church who invited Winifred to a seven night adventure meeting. It was on the sixth night when it happened. The youth pastor showed up with a sixpack of Coor's. Winifred had never tasted beer before. She liked it! Winifred was overweight and a little bit cross. Midway through the second can of Coor's her knees began to separate when she remembered what the girls in high school always said: "Get a lot when you're young." It was after the third can that it happened. Her knees never came together again and the youth pastor was transferred to a church in Las Vegas where his talent for finding new members was better appreciated.
A month later Sisters Nonviolent Coordinating Committee sprung into action. Where is the daddy? He's over in Las Vegas proselytizing and impregnating. Well, we'll have to get you an appointment at the nearest clinic which is in Atlantic City. SNIC flew Winifred to Atlantic City first class, put her up in a first-class hotel, and taxied her to the clinic and paid for the show and three pills at $700. SNIC was ready to fly Winifred back to Podunk. No, no, said Winifred. I want to stay right here where the clinic is handy in case I have to use it again.
Just watch: if Beto O'Rourke beats Abbot there will be a surge to get him on the presidential ticket in 2024 as another Obama. I don't want to waste my time with people unless they are smarter than I am. That shouldn't be too difficult to do. They are ubiquitous. One reason I read the Press Democrat is that occasionally they will pull an excellent piece from the Times or the Post, usually from the left. They receive good letters to the editor from intelligent people, often women. The PD is trying to attract conservative readers so they are printing right wing columnists, three from the Times and the Post regularly. They have been eliminating liberal columnists they used to carry. They miss a lot of news stories that are on MSNBC and CNN. I think this is deliberate. It's a good idea to listen to Tom Hartmann programs on KZYX. Hartmann is very knowledgeable, way to the left, he thinks fascism will begin in November. He has a good filter to stop the nuts who call in. Many of the people who call in are quite intelligent and have something to say that it is worth listening to.
I found a 2019 book on Daedalus called 'Journalism' by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. He said journalism is the best job in the world. Most of the pieces were sent from Europe where he was a correspondent for different agencies. I also found a book named 'Midnight in Siberia' by David Greene about a trip on the Trans-Siberian Railroad with stops where he has details and conversations with local people. Paul Thoreau made two trips on the railroad in two different books but the coverage was limited.
I usually have two or three books going at one time because I am curious about what is going to happen next and I pause to read a story or two by Checkov. I am on my third Checkov book now. He is about the only Russian author I read.
I could live on Irish short stories. William Trevor is dead. He lived in England but wrote about Ireland. I also like Indian writers very much. Did you notice that French expatriates are able to vote in French elections? They don't have to reside in any particular place. They can be hippies or bums, men trying to get away from toxic women.
Did you know that Willits has the world's largest collection of tattooed women? It seems like every other female is well illustrated. At least they don't wear pantsuits.
If Republicans win control of Congress in November you are not going to like what follows. Democrats seem to let nature take its course. The DNC which does more harm than good should put out a list of those congressional districts which are most in danger of falling to Republicans so that delegations of provocatively dressed women can be sent in to typical male venues where voting is usually nonexistent and say, "I've come to talk to you about your erection, er, election." Here are 10 points to consider in the election, five of which we will now discuss and five more later after we know each other a little better. Women should be knowledgeable about the NFL and autoracing. A delegation of Humboldt's finest might swing three districts depending on waist, bust and butt measurements.
PS. Noah Feldman says that Lou Dobbs (not Fred C. Dobbs) is the "tyranny of the majority." (PD, 6/25/22)
UKRAINE: WEDNESDAY, JUNE 29
NATO formally invited Sweden and Finland to join the alliance, in the most historic ripple effect of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. On Tuesday, Turkey had lifted its objections to the two countries' membership. NATO also declared Russia the "most significant and direct threat" to its members.
The U.S. said it would boost its military presence in Europe, including a permanent army headquarters in Poland. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed NATO leaders, reiterating the country's need for more weapons and aid.
Russian forces made "incremental advances" to encircle Lysychansk, the last Ukrainian-controlled town in the eastern Luhansk region, according to Britain's defense ministry. The agency also called it "a realistic possibility" that Russia's deadly missile strike on a shopping mall in Kremenchuk on Monday was intended to hit nearby infrastructure.
Ukrainian authorities said 144 of the country's soldiers have returned in a prisoner swap with Russia. Of those released, 95 are fighters who defended the Azovstal steel plant in the besieged port city of Mariupol, which Russian troops captured in May.
The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released a report concluding that Russia's invasion of Ukraine has "created disastrous consequences for the civilian population and had a devastating impact on the enjoyment of human rights, notably their rights to life, security, health, food, water, education and housing." The U.N. has documented more than 10,000 civilian casualties since the war began in February.
NOT A THEOCRACY
I was raised Catholic and went to Catholic schools. However, I have always believed separation of church and state to be of paramount importance. The Catholic Church’s involvement in government was a constant concern among many, maybe most, U.S. citizens (particularly during Al Smith’s presidential run in 1928 and, for my contemporaries, JFK’s run in 1960). At the time I didn’t think that concern was justified. Unfortunately, now I do.
All of the Supreme Court justices who voted to nullify Roe v. Wade are Catholics, with Neil Gorsuch, who was raised Catholic, apparently now attending the Episcopal Church. These justices disregarded precedent even though Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett stated under oath their belief in stare decisis, and hence Roe v. Wade was settled law.
The court currently consists of six Catholics, two Protestants and one Jew, which is not at all reflective of the population. It appears that all but one Catholic (Sonia Sotomayor) believe their religious beliefs take precedence over U.S. law. It’s like we are now being held captive to the church’s canon law instead of U.S. law.
This country was never intended to be a theocracy. It’s precisely what the founders tried to save us from — so we could worship (or not) as we each saw fit.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
In my opinion, it’s changed from “won’t do” to “can’t do”. New generations of young males have spent nearly all their time locked up in public schools, taught nonsense and no real world skills. Not only that, but their bodies are soft and pudgy unless maybe they are involved in school sponsored sports. Big deal. Joe Blow is a big stud in high school pushing a ball around. Put him on a house framing crew in 95 degree heat all day long and see how he does. Or have him pouring, leveling, and finishing concrete for a factory floor. He’ll be as big a clutz with that starting out as the nerds will be. At some time in the future, we’ll be needing factories here to make shoes and boots for example. If it turns out that we “can’t do those jobs” then we might find ourselves going about barefoot or with rags wrapped around our feet until we “can do those jobs.”
UKRAINE IS THE LATEST NEOCON DISASTER
by Jeffrey Sachs
The war in Ukraine is the culmination of a 30-year project of the American neoconservative movement. The Biden Administration is packed with the same neocons who championed the US wars of choice in Serbia (1999), Afghanistan (2001), Iraq (2003), Syria (2011), Libya (2011), and who did so much to provoke Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The neocon track record is one of unmitigated disaster, yet Biden has staffed his team with neocons. As a result, Biden is steering Ukraine, the US, and the European Union towards yet another geopolitical debacle. If Europe has any insight, it will separate itself from these US foreign policy debacles....
The neocon outlook is based on an overriding false premise: that the US military, financial, technological, and economic superiority enables it to dictate terms in all regions of the world. It is a position of both remarkable hubris and remarkable disdain of evidence. Since the 1950s, the US has been stymied or defeated in nearly every regional conflict in which it has participated. Yet in the “battle for Ukraine,” the neocons were ready to provoke a military confrontation with Russia by expanding NATO over Russia’s vehement objections because they fervently believe that Russia will be defeated by US financial sanctions and NATO weaponry.…
The most likely outcome of the current fighting is that Russia will conquer a large swath of Ukraine, perhaps leaving Ukraine landlocked or nearly so. Frustration will rise in Europe and the US with the military losses and the stagflationary consequences of war and sanctions. The knock-on effects could be devastating if a right-wing demagogue in the US rises to power (or in the case of Trump, returns to power) promising to restore America’s faded military glory through dangerous escalation.…
FREE BRITTNEY GRINER
Brittney Griner’s trial in Russia is set to begin July 1, according to reports in the Russian media.
Her detention had been extended until July 2, but it will now be further extended pending the duration of the trial.
According to the Associated Press, Maria Yarmush, an international civil affairs lawyer, told Kremlin-funded TV channel RT that Griner would have to be convicted and sentenced before applying for a presidential pardon in order to be swapped.
Griner’s lawyer, Alexander Boikov, told the New York Times that he expects the trial to take up to two months.
Griner was filmed this week going to and from her pre-trial hearing, where her detention was officially extended until Dec. 20.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was asked Sunday on CNN whether Griner and former Marine and security director Paul Whelan could be the subjects of a prisoner swap.
“As a general proposition … I have got no higher priority than making sure that Americans who are being illegally detained in one way or another around the world come home,” he said. "But I can’t comment in any detail on what we’re doing, except to say this is an absolute priority.”
Griner’s U.S. teammate, A’ja Wilson, became emotional when speaking about the video of her friend in handcuffs on Tuesday.
“It was tough. I hated seeing it,” she said. “It made my stomach turn. BG is our sister. She’s our sister and I can’t imagine what she’s going through. I pray every single day that the people that are in high-ups are doing what they need to do to get her home because it’s unacceptable.”
GUN CONTROL, an on-line comment: “Some gun rights advocates disagree that the new rules are consistent with the court’s new standard. “It’s not an improvement on California’s concealed carry laws, it’s in defiance of this court opinion,” Dan Reid, a lobbyist with the National Rifle Association, said at Tuesday’s Assembly Public Safety committee hearing on the bill.”
Uh-huh. Fuckwits like the this just want to sell guns. They don’t give a shit how many kids are murdered in their classrooms or how many women are murdered by abusive partners. They don’t care that in some places, the streets drip with the blood of young adults and others shot by those who have no sense how precious life is, for themselves or anyone else. They’d rather push this Rambo fantasy that only a “good” person with a gun can counter some bad guy with a gun… never mind that the reality is most of these idiot “good” guys would freeze in a shootout and get their sorry asses killed. There was a good guy at the supermarket massacre in Buffalo, a retired police lieutenant. He fucking died, murdered by the 18 year old radicalized white supremacist armed with an AR-15. Dan Reid and the NRA would rather push their self-serving narrative that we ALL should have guns that can blow off the head of an eight year old to counter the crazies with guns that can blow off the heads of eight year olds.
It’s time for the insanity to fucking stop.
BE A LADY they said. Your skirt is too short. Your shirt is too low. Your pants are too tight. Don’t show so much skin. Don’t show your thighs. Don’t show your breasts. Don’t show your midriff. Don’t show your cleavage. Don’t show your underwear. Don’t show your shoulders. Cover up. Leave something to the imagination. Dress modestly. Don’t be a temptress. Men can’t control themselves. Men have needs. You look frumpy. Loosen up. Show some skin. Look sexy. Look hot. Don’t be so provocative. You’re asking for it. Wear black. Wear heels. You’re too dressed up. You’re too dressed down. Don’t wear those sweatpants; you look like you’ve let yourself go.
Be a lady they said. Remove your body hair. Shave your legs. Shave your armpits. Shave your bikini line. Wax your face. Wax your arms. Wax your eyebrows. Get rid of your mustache. Bleach this. Bleach that. Lighten your skin. Tan your skin. Eradicate your scars. Cover your stretch marks. Tighten your abs. Plump your lips. Botox your wrinkles. Lift your face. Tuck your tummy. Thin your thighs. Tone your calves. Perk up your boobs. Look natural. Be yourself. Be genuine. Be confident. You’re trying too hard. You look overdone. Men don’t like girls who try too hard.
Be a lady they said. Wear makeup. Prime your face. Conceal your blemishes. Contour your nose. Highlight your cheekbones. Line your lids. Fill in your brows. Lengthen your lashes. Colour your lips. Powder, blush, bronze, highlight. Your hair is too short. Your hair is too long. Your ends are split. Highlight your hair. Your roots are showing. Dye your hair. Not blue, that looks unnatural. You’re going grey. You look so old. Look young. Look youthful. Look ageless. Don’t get old. Women don’t get old. Old is ugly. Men don’t like ugly.
Be a lady they said. Save yourself. Be pure. Be virginal. Don’t talk about sex. Don’t flirt. Don’t be a skank. Don’t be a whore. Don’t sleep around. Don’t lose your dignity. Don’t have sex with too many men. Don’t give yourself away. Men don’t like sluts. Don’t be a prude. Don’t be so uptight. Have a little fun. Smile more. Pleasure men. Be experienced. Be sexual. Be innocent. Be dirty. Be virginal. Be sexy. Be the cool girl. Don’t be like the other girls.
Be a lady they said. Don’t be too fat. Don’t be too thin. Don’t be too large. Don’t be too small. Eat up. Slim down. Stop eating so much. Don’t eat too fast. Order a salad. Don’t eat carbs. Skip dessert. You need to lose weight. Fit into that dress. Go on a diet. Watch what you eat. Eat celery. Chew gum. Drink lots of water. You have to fit into those jeans. God, you look like a skeleton. Why don’t you just eat? You look emaciated. You look sick. Eat a burger. Men like women with some meat on their bones. Be small. Be light. Be little. Be petite. Be feminine. Be a size zero. Be a double zero. Be nothing. Be less than nothing.
Be a lady they said. Don’t talk too loud. Don’t talk too much. Don’t take up space. Don’t sit like that. Don’t stand like that. Don’t be intimidating. Why are you so miserable? Don’t be a bitch. Don’t be so bossy. Don’t be assertive. Don’t overact. Don’t be so emotional. Don’t cry. Don’t yell. Don’t swear. Be passive. Be obedient. Endure the pain. Be pleasing. Don’t complain. Women are less than men. Let him down easy. Boost his ego. Make him fall for you. Men want what they can’t have. Don’t give yourself away. Make him work for it. Men love the chase. Fold his clothes. Cook his dinner. Keep him happy. That’s a woman’s job. You’ll make a good wife someday. Take his last name. You hyphenated your name? Crazy feminist. Give him children. You don’t want children? You will someday. You’ll change your mind.
Be a lady they said. Don’t get raped. Protect yourself. Don’t drink too much. Don’t walk alone. Don’t go out too late. Don’t dress like that. Don’t show too much. Don’t get drunk. Don’t leave your drink. Have a buddy. Walk where it is well lit. Stay in the safe neighborhoods. Tell someone where you’re going. Bring pepper spray. Buy a rape whistle. Hold your keys like a weapon. Take a self-defense course. Check your trunk. Lock your doors. Don’t go out alone. Don’t make eye contact. Don’t bat your eyelashes. Don’t look easy. Don’t attract attention. Don’t work late. Don’t crack dirty jokes. Don’t smile at strangers. Don’t go out at night. Don’t trust anyone. Don’t say yes. Don’t say no.
Just “be a lady” they said.
— Camille Rainville
In the Wild West, the harsh Puritan sanctions were not as “practical” as in America’s more conservative East. The shady ladies of the West were generally tolerated by other women as a “necessary evil.”
Read about Painted Ladies of the Old West: legendsofamerica.com/we-paintedlady
HOW POLIO SHAPED MY LIFE
by Patrick Cockburn
I was unlucky in catching polio. It was in Cork, Ireland in 1956 during one of the last polio epidemics ever in western Europe and the US. A vaccine had been successfully tested the previous year and, at the time I fell ill, mass inoculation was being rolled out for the first time to stop the spread of the virus in Chicago.
The number of new infections declined as herd immunity was established, marking a turning point in the effort to stop epidemic polio. The success of this decades-long campaign was one of the greatest US achievements in the 20th century. Not that it did me any good at the time as I was admitted to St Finbarr’s fever hospital in Cork city on 30 September.
When I was released three months later, I was at first confined to bed or was in a wheelchair and learned to walk again with metal callipers on my legs and wearing a plastic waistcoat to keep my back straight. Though my mobility improved markedly over the years, I could not run and have always walked with a severe limp.
I was conscious of my disabilities, but I never thought much about why this had happened to me. Only in the late 90s, when I was in Iraq as a journalist talking to doctors and patients in ill-equipped hospitals hit by UN sanctions, did I start to feel it strange that I knew more about sickness in Baghdad than I did about polio in Cork, when it had been me lying in a hospital bed.
I started reading about the disease, which has probably been around for thousands of years. But it was not until the first half of the 20th century that polio epidemics began to sweep through cities. Before then most people contracted the virus in infancy, when their mother’s antibodies helped them gain immunity.
Long before the Covid-19 pandemic made the phrase “herd immunity” infamous, the pool of people who had polio without knowing it was large enough to prevent pandemics. It was modernity that gave the polio virus its chance: as 19th-century cities acquired clean water supplies and efficient drainage systems, babies were no longer contracting the virus in large enough numbers to provide protection.
When collective immunity faltered, epidemics would surge periodically through cities like New York, Melbourne, Copenhagen, Chicago. Devastating though these outbreaks were, they seldom occurred at the same time in different places because vulnerability to the virus would vary.
Nobody had written a history of the Cork epidemic, which had paralysed part of Ireland for the best part of a year, although it lived on in popular memory as a terrifying event and there were plenty of victims still alive since they were crippled as small children.
I asked surviving doctors from that period why this was the case. They said they believed that people in Cork had been so frightened of the disease that they wanted to forget about it once vaccination had removed the danger. Polio had always carried an extra charge of terror compared to other diseases because its victims, whom it crippled or killed, were young children.
In 2005, I published a memoir about the epidemic called The Broken Boy. I described my experiences in the context of my family and of Ireland in the 50s. Much of the text made gloomy reading but it ended on an upbeat note that later turned out to be over-optimistic.
At the end of the final chapter, I had written dismissively of the last prophetic line in Albert Camus’s novel The Plague, in which he wrote that “the day will come when, for the instruction or misfortune of mankind, the plague will rouse its rats and send them to die in some well-contented city”.
I found this a bit portentous and out of date, writing that polio might have been among the last of the life-threatening plagues, such as leprosy, cholera, tuberculosis, typhus, measles, malaria and yellow fever, to be eliminated or brought under control during the 20th century.
Polio epidemics had a surprisingly short career: less than 70 years between the end of natural immunity and the widespread use of the Salk vaccine. It was a story with a seemingly happy ending and this was the topic of my original book. Few people realised – certainly I didn’t – that if polio epidemics were a product of modernity and not of backwardness, then the way might be open for other epidemics of equal or greater severity.
I was surprised but not very alarmed when Covid-19 was first identified in Wuhan at the end of 2019 because previous coronavirus outbreaks, such as Sars 1 and Mers, had not spread far and had been suppressed. As more information about the virus emerged in the early months of 2020, it struck me that in some respects the pandemic more resembled a polio epidemic on a world scale than the 1918/19 Spanish flu outbreak to which it was often compared.
Covid-19 and poliomyelitis – to give it its full name – are alike in being highly infectious and most of those infected have few if any symptoms and swiftly recover. But they become carriers all the same, infecting others, some of whom may belong to theunlucky 1 or 2 per cent – there is great dispute about the fatality rate among victims of Covid-19 – who will feel the virus’s full destructive impact.
There are similarities in the treatment of both illnesses, particularly in trying to keep people breathing: the “iron lung” was invented in the US in 1929 and the first intensive care unit was created in Denmark in 1952, both in response to polio. Simple methods of combating the two viruses such as handwashing are the same.
The poliovirus was worse for the very young; for the coronavirus it is the old who are hardest hit. For both illnesses, respiratory aids – the “iron lung” and the ventilator – have been symbols of the struggle to keep people alive. In Cork in 1956, doctors did not seem to grasp how frightening such machines were for children: when I was in St Finbarr’s, one girl screamed and struggled when doctors tried to put her inside an iron lung because she thought it was an actual coffin and she was being buried alive.
Politicians often compare the campaign to suppress the coronavirus to waging war against a dangerous enemy: they wrap the flag around themselves and call for national solidarity. Fear and a need to see visible action to counter it are a feature of all epidemics. In Cork, doctors were convinced that the disease would only be stopped when it ran out of victims.
In the book I quote Jack Saunders, the city’s chief medical officer, insisting that a real quarantine was impossible because “for every case detected there were one or two hundred undetected or undiagnosed in the community, principally among the children.” Similar words were to be used 66 years later in Sweden and in US states like Texas, Florida and North Dakota to downplay the Covid-19 pandemic or suggest that there was no way of stopping it.
There were similarities too in the response of governments and peoples to the threat. At every level of society and the state, fear of death – or, more accurately, fear of being held responsible for deaths – drove decision-making.
As a consequence, this was often ill-judged with under-reaction and over-reaction succeeding each other as the authorities lurched from commercial close-downs to over-rapid reopenings. Wuhan city in central China with a population of 11 million could scarcely be more different from Cork with just 114,000 inhabitants in 1956, but popular reaction had points in common. As in Wuhan, local people in Cork convinced themselves that they were being fed false information downplaying the severity of the epidemic.
“There were rumours everywhere in the city,” said Pauline Kent, a physiotherapist who treated victims, “that dead bodies were being carried out the back door of St Finbarr’s at night.”
The medical authorities in Cork were truthfully announcing the number of new cases and fatalities each morning, though they were simultaneously undermining their own credibility by issuing upbeat statements, dutifully reported in the local newspapers, with headlines such as “Panic Reaction Without Justification” and “Outbreak Not Yet Dangerous, Say Doctors”.
Arguments about lockdowns, commercial closures and quarantines raged on a miniature scale in Cork during just as they were to do many years later in America and Europe.
Rescue came as the epidemic burned itself out and the first doses of the vaccine developed by Dr Jonas Salk arrived in Cork in 1957. It was in such demand that part of the first consignment was stolen.
There was little surprise that the life-saving inoculation had been developed in the US, which many people in western Europe saw, in the aftermath of the Second World War, as the source of all good things and of scientific breakthroughs in particular. Perception of American competence and capability was partly shaped by its conquest of polio.
Everything that was done right over polio was done wrong over Covid-19. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, himself crippled by polio, had been the driving political force behind developing a polio vaccine, while Donald Trump minimised the danger posed by Covid-19, refusing to wear a mask and recommending quack remedies.
In 1956 Elvis Presley was filmed on the vastly popular Ed Sullivan Show on television baring his upper left arm to be vaccinated, while in January 2021 Trump was vaccinated in secret in the White House. Presumably, he did not want to offend those of his followers who were dubious about vaccination and considered it unmanly.
Polio was sometimes called a “middle class” disease in Europe because it was the better off who suffered worst. They had lost their natural immunity because they drank clean water and used modern sanitation systems. My parents never realised that their children were far more at risk in our isolated country house than if we had been living in the slums of Cork.
The opposite was true of the Covid-19 epidemic during which it has been the poor living in cramped accommodation and with pre-existing bad health who have been the most likely to be infected and to die. Health inequality exactly replicated social inequality. In Britain there was a sour joke that the lockdown only applied to the middle class, because they stayed at home while the working class brought them food and other necessities.
One great difference between the two epidemics and their consequences is that Covid-19 killed far more people, but even with long Covid, the long term impact of coronavirus is less visible and destructive than polio. The latter affected young children and left a proportion of them crippled for life. This was why it caused such terror at the time – and indeed now, with reports of the polio virus being found in sewage in London– while the fear of Covid-19 was never so pervasive.
Polio shaped my life. I cannot remember what it was like not to be disabled and it became part of my identity. But I never felt sorry for myself and threw away my crutches when I was at boarding school aged about 10. Nobody bullied me, though I would certainly have hit them if they had tried.
I found out in later life that I was at ease in violent places from Belfast to Baghdad and I assumed that this had something to do with my experiences in hospital in Cork in 1956 when I had stopped eating and my parents thought that I was dying.
I was stoic or fatalistic about my own suffering from an early age but that did not mean that I had enjoyed it. Time passing did not make the experience less horrible, merely that I had become used to coping with memories of it.
On occasion, people would say supportively that perhaps I had benefited in terms of character and resilience from facing challenges early in life. No doubt their comment was meant to be a sort of morale-boosting compliment. But I could not help being irritated, feeling sourly that these qualities, supposing they existed at all, had been bought at too high a price.
(This an edited extract from ‘The Broken Boy’ by Patrick Cockburn. A new edition is to be published on July 7.)
THE PRIME MINISTER'S EMPIRE OF BOOKS
by Anne Fadiman
A few years ago I bought a secondhand book titled 'On Books and the Housing of Them.' Actually, to call it a book is to stretch -- or compress -- the meaning of the word since, although it was hardbound, it was only 29 pages long. I duly registered that it was written by someone named Gladstone but it did not occur to me that he could be that Gladstone. What loosened my purse strings (to the tune of eight dollars, an extortionate 28¢ a page) was the topic. I have never been able to resist a book about books.
Then I lost the little volume. Or rather it lost itself. Too slender to bear a title on its vermilion spine, 'On Books and the Housing of Them' was invisibly squashed between two obese shelf neighbors, much as a flimsy blouse on a wire hanger can disappear for months in an overstuffed closet. Then, last summer, when I pried out one of the adjacent books -- the shelf was so crowded that a crowbar would have aided the operation -- out tumbled the vanished ectomorph. This time I looked at it more carefully. It had been published in May of 1898 in a limited edition of 500 which made the eight dollars seem more conscionable. The frontispiece was a sepia portrait of an old man. His hair was white and his cheeks subsided comfortably into his jowls, but his gaze was as fierce as a raptor's. The caption read, "William Ewart Gladstone, 1809-98."
It was that Gladstone: four times British prime minister, grand old man of the Liberal party, scholar, financier, theologian, orator, humanitarian and thorn in the side of Benjamin Disraeli who, when asked to define the difference between a misfortune and a calamity replied, "If Mr. Gladstone were to fall into the Thames, it would be a misfortune. But if someone dragged him out again it would be a calamity."
I later learned that 'On Books and the Housing of Them' was originally published in 1890 in a British journal called 'The 19th Century.' M.F. Mansfield, a New York publisher, esteemed it highly enough to reprint the essay in what I now realize was a memorial edition. Gladstone died on May 19, 1898. My little volume was rushed into print before the end of the month. (Boot up your computers and match that, Random House.) And then the book quickly sank into an obscurity so profound that it was not even mentioned in 'Gladstone,' Roy Jenkins recent 698 page biography.
It should have been. If you wish to understand the character of both Gladstone and Victorian England, everything you need to know is contained within the small compass of 'On Books and the Housing of Them.' In the index of the Jenkins biography under "Gladstone, William Ewart, characteristics," we find: Energy. Priggishness. Disciplined nature and control. Conceit. Probity. Neatness and passion for order. Authoritarianism. Single-mindedness. These quintessentially Victorian trades suffuse every page of Gladstone's book. The well-regulated efficiency that he desired so vainly, for the British Empire, he desired equally — and achieved — within the miniature empire of his own library.
The theme of 'On Books and the Housing of Them' was simple: too many books, too little space. The problem, said Gladstone, could be solved by a shelving system that might "prevent the population of Great Britain from being extruded some centuries hence into the surrounding waters by the exorbitant dimensions of their own libraries." This observation was simultaneously facetious and earnest. Blackstone had a Scotsman's natural parsimony. His diary, which he began at 15 and abandoned at 85 after he was blinded by cataracts, often detailed his days down to 15 minute intervals: It was, in his words, "an account-book of the all-precious gift of time." Just as his father, a canny businessman, never squandered a penny, so Gladstone never squandered a minute. James Graham who served in the cabinet with Gladstone in the 1840s, marveled that he "could do in four hours what it took any other man 16 to do, and he worked 16 hours a day." If he stuffed into a day what would take another man a week it was only reasonable that he should wish to stuff into a single room enough books to fill another man's house.
Here was the plan: "First, the shelves must as a rule be fixed. Secondly, the cases, or a large part of them, should have their side against the wall and thus projecting into the room for a convenient distance they should be twice the depth needed for a single line of books and they should hold two lines, one facing each way." This was just a warm-up. It took several thousand more words to fill in the details. Gladstone's parsimony did not extend to his verbiage. As a parliamentary orator, he was, according to Disraeli, "inebriated with the exuberance of his own verbosity," and as a writer he may be the only man in history to have written a long-winded 29 page book. The bookshelves that projected at right angles into the library he declared, "should each have attached to them what I rudely termed and endpiece (for want of a better name), that is, a shallow and extremely light adhering bookcase (light by reason of the shortness of the shelves), which both increases the accommodation, and makes one short side as well as the two long ones of the parallelopiped to present simply a face of books with the lines of shelf like threads running between the rows."
One can see why during an 1884 Cabinet meeting Joseph Chamberlain, President of the Board of Trade, composed this premature epitaph for the world's most anal-retentive statesman and handed it across the table to another Cabinet member:
Here lies Mr. G. who has left us reclining,
while he is no doubt still engaged in refining;
and explaining distinctions to Peter and Paul,
who faintly protest that distinctions so small
were never submitted to saints to perplex them,
until the Prime Minister came up to vex them.
Mr. G. calculated that a library 20' x 40', with projecting bookcases 3 feet long, 12 inches deep, and 9 feet high ("so that the upper shelf can be reached by the aid of a wooden stool of two steps not more than 20 inches high"), would accommodate between 18,000 and 20,000 volumes. I trust his arithmetic. He had, after all, been Chancellor of the Exchequer. This shelving plan would suffice for the home of an ordinary gentlemen, but for cases of extreme book crowding he proposed a more radical scheme in which "nearly two thirds, or say three-fifths, of the whole cubic contents of a properly constructed apartment may be a nearly solid mass of books." It was detailed in a footnote so extraordinary it bears quoting nearly in full:
"Let us suppose a room 28' x 10', and a little over 9 feet high. Divide this longitudinally for a passage 4 feet wide. Let the passage project 12-18 inches at each end beyond the line of the wall. Let the passage ends be entirely given to either window or glass door. 24 pairs of trams run across the room. On them are placed 56 bookcases divided by the passage, reaching to the ceiling, each 3 feet broad, 12 inches deep, and separated from its neighbors by an interval of 2 inches, and set on small wheels, pulleys, or rollers, to work along the trams. Strong handles on the inner side of each bookcase to draw it out into the passage. Each of these bookcases would hold 500 octavos; and a room of 28' x 10' would receive 25,000 volumes. A room of 40' x 20' (no great size) would receive 60,000 volumes."
The system of rolling shelves that Gladstone invented here is used today in the Bodleian Library's Radcliffe Camera and at the New York Times Book Review among many other places. Like its author's life, it contained not a wasted cubic inch.
I have seen a photograph of Gladstone in his own library at Hawardan Castle which he called the Temple of Peace. He sits in a wooden armchair surrounded by leather bound volumes on shelves that are of course constructed according to the principles set forth in 'On Books and the Housing of Them.' (The right angle projection plan not the rolling shelves plan.) For 44 years the Temple of Peace provided a haven from his political life. Gladstone wrote the little book there between his third and fourth premierships, not long before his 80th birthday, noting its composition in a diary on December 17, 1889, the day before he "reviewed and threw into form all the points of possible amendment for change in the Plan of Irish Government etc. for my meeting with Mr. Parnell."
When the leadership of Great Britain pressed too heavily on him, Gladstone did one of three things: felled large trees with an ax, walked around London talking to prostitutes, or arranged books. It was an odd trio of diversions, especially the second, which, although its ostensible purpose was to reform fallen women, sometimes stimulated so many carnal thoughts in the reformer that he whipped himself afterward with a contrition-inducing scourge. Tree felling also had its perils (bruised fingers, splinters in the eye). Only book arranging which Jenkins describes as occasionally reaching the level of "frenzy," was invariably safe and satisfying. Parliament might be maddeningly resistant to Blackstone's plans for reduced defense spending or Irish home rule, but his books were always pliant. He never entrusted the ask -- an unending one since he bought books by the cartload -- to a secretary. "What man who really loves his books," he asked, "delegates to any other human being as long as there is breath in his body, the office of inducting them into their homes?" A few months before he wrote that sentence, he had endowed a library in the village of Hawardan, moved 20,000 of his own books there by wheelbarrow and placed everyone on the shelves himself.
I believe that books -- buying them, reading them, annotating them, indexing them, housing them, and writing about them -- saved Gladstone from paralyzing stress. Without them, he might not have lived to the then-astonishing age of 88 in spite of erysipelas, bronchitis, tonsillitis, indigestion, lumbago, catarrh, pneumonia and finally cancer of the palate. "The book must of necessity be put into a bookcase," he wrote. "And the bookcase must being housed. And the house must be kept. And the library must be dusted, must be arranged, must be catalogued. What a vista of toil, yet not unhappy toil!"
As I contemplate the vista of my own book-choked apartment, I sometimes wonder whether the only thing that could prevent my library from extruding me onto the streets of Manhattan would be a visit from Gladstone and a few rolling shelves. We could work side by side -- two happy compulsives with dust on our sleeves -- and when we were finished the little book with the red spine would have room to breathe.
YOUR HUMBLE SERVANT
by Herb Caen
What I consider the most cynical utterance in the entire literature of Americana -- H.L. Mencken's "No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public" -- presents a point of view I eschew enthusiastically. In fact, I not only eschew it, I spit it out.
Unlike some of my colleagues in the children's art form, I have a possibly sick respect for the public and I genuflect before the readers. Mine -- or at least those who bother to write -- are possessed of such a knife edge intelligence I can only marvel that they'd bother with my poor tripes al a mode. They seem overbred to the point of extinction, better read than Gore Vidal, trilingual at the very least, and so civilized that they offer their criticisms with an air of genteel embarrassment.
To come to the point, I love them, especially those who have stuck patiently with me through thin and thinner, forgetting my foibles and my feeble French, putting up with my crochets and carelessness, even swallowing the dumb jokes without once saying: "Get thee to a punnery." As I reflect upon this excellent body of Americans I can only think that history has long over-estimated H.L. Mencken. For all I know he died broke. (A dozen letterwriters will assure me tomorrow that he didn't, citing his net worth at death.)
What started all this, somewhat to my surprise, was a letter to the editor from the aptly named Fred Anger of San Francisco criticizing the entire ineptly named stable of Chronicle columnnists. I will not repeat the contumely he directed at Charle McCabe since the contumacious Mr. McCabe is well able to fend for himself. Mr. Anger's displeasure with Stanton Delaplane will likewise be ignored. I know Mr. Delaplane as a saintly man beyond reproach and a writer of infinite style. His opinion of me, however, engages my ego ridden attention. "Herb Caen," he said, "has been writing the same column for 30 years."
A couple of years off, on the kind side but pithy and possibly true. Since Mr. Anger is a literate member of the reading public -- my favorite people -- I did not take his charge lightly. Have I been in a groove or a rut, is a rut much different from a grave and whatever happened to Walter Winchell? He sank out of sight in a sea of three dots … and here I am still using them. He said-she said jokes, punchless punch lines, Names that no longer make News, all the dreck that's unfit to print and all the trivia that's dead by noon -- those perishable items that die in the dark of the ink.
Well, mea culpa and all that, Mr. Anger. But every bone in my aching head assures me that this is not circa 1940 and a glance in the mirror convinces me it's later than I ever thought it would get. But if the column doesn't reflect this at least once in a while and I have been wasting everybody's time and a lot of type, garbled and otherwise.
In 1940 I did not know anything and was sure of everything. Today I'm not even sure about columns (value thereof in relation to reality, unperceived). 30 years ago I thought there was nobody in journalism to compare with Winchell and his three little dots. 30 years later the statement is still true but for a much different reason: I have reversed my opinion but the schoolboy addiction caused permanent damage. I'm punchy from those short, punchy items.
I began as a sentimentalist and a callow nostalgic. In the manner of a schoolboy in love, I thought San Francisco was the greatest city in the world -- there were no warts on my lady. I still think San Francisco is the greatest city in the world, but now I concede her warts and they bother me, perhaps too much.
30 years ago I could sit for hours at the knees of graybeards as they spun their tales of an older and better San Francisco, being put down as a Johnny-come-lately and accepting it -- "Kid, this was some town in the old days, too bad you missed it." But as writer Nick Browne has put it, "Nostalgia is a wretched witness who cannot describe the accident, gets the details all wrong and is very likely in the pay of an interested party."
Nostalgia also gets the names and dates wrong and has a fatal sense of direction. Old San Francisco was wonderful, as youth is wonderful, but I will take San Francisco now and onward with all its faults and problems. At least we've been shaken out of our self-satisfaction and that clears one big boulder out of the way.
As for Mr. Anger, who started all this, give me 30 more years of writing the same column. Maybe by that time I'll have got the hang of it.