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Off the Record (August 24, 2022)

DAVE SMITH HAS DIED. The popular and well-known Ukiah raconteur, bookstore owner, and writer, died Friday in his post-op hospital bed where he was recovering from seemingly routine hernia surgery. There will be no services — Smith was an avowed atheist — but a celebration of his life are planned after friends and family recover from the shocking news of our good friend’s death at age 80.

REMEMBERING DAVE SMITH

MIKE KALANTARIAN: A favorite memory, when visiting Ukiah, was dropping in at Mulligans, Dave’s bookstore near the corner of Church & State (actual street names). He had a couple easy chairs up front and the time would comfortably pass in conversation, Dave nursing his perpetual cup of green tea. He knew so many interesting people, and the longer you hung out the more of them you would meet. Mulligans was one of those great social nexus spots, and it was a big loss when it closed. The hole is bigger now that Dave is gone. Rest easy, friend.

MIKE GENIELLA: A community loss. Best thoughts for family and friends.

BRUCE McEWEN: I thought Dave’s passing was significant because he was a book dealer and in the past ten years, beginning with the demise of Mulligan’s, books have become obsolete.. . not to mention all the kind things Dave did for me when I was a homeless vagabond involving the censure of the conservative Ukiahans and their ersatz travesty of Christian charity.

BRUCE ANDERSON: I was shocked and saddened by the death of Dave Smith, a long-time friend, and the most dedicated atheist I've known, posting nearly daily debunks at life after death and kindred mystical beliefs. But for his sake, I hope this smart and funny man will somehow live-on in an after-life arranged as a library with him in the middle of it.

LF MAMMNINA: “To be of Use.” Thanks for that. R.I.P. ol’ pal

MARCI TODD MARLTON: RIP Uncle Dave. You left us with so many wonderful memories of summer boating excursions and countless hours of cooking with you.

KATY TAHJA: Sorry to lose such an interesting man, I loved Mulligan’s too. Do I remember correctly he was one half of Smith & Hawken, an old back to the land mail order company? 

MARK SCARAMELLA: Yes, it started in 1979 as a garden tool supplier with outlets in 22 states plus mail order and on-line, but after it was sold to corporate chains and then went bankrupt, it ended up in the hands of Scotts Miracle Gro in 2004 which then closed it again in 2009. Dave Smith recommended boycotting it while it was in the hands of Scotts, saying, “Scotts couldn’t have been a worse corporate owner.” Prior to Smith & Hawken, Dave Smith was active in Cesar Chavez’s United Farmworkers Union. He wrote about that experience in the AVA in 2014.

THE FASCISTI are circulating the above meme, but isn't it a facsimile of Trotsky's armored train the great revolutionary rode all over Russia as he consolidated the Red Army? Scholars to your libraries!

THE LOOMING CIVIL WAR seems right on schedule. Trump told Fox on Monday, “I will do whatever I can to help the country. The country is on fire. What can I do to reduce the heat?” He said his representatives had reached out to the DOJ to offer assistance to calm his supporters as their outrage grows over the FBI's raid on Mar A Lago. “People are so angry at what is taking place. Whatever we can do to help—because the temperature has to be brought down in the country. If it isn't, terrible things are going to happen. The people of this country are not going to stand for another scam.”

DULY CHAGRINED, I read the news that Mickey Mantle's rookie baseball card from Topp's Bubblegum is expected to sell for $10 million. I may have owned that card! My late brother and I were religious collectors. Every time we had a nickel, which is what Topps went for in the early 1950s, we invested in their bubblegum. We also spent hours writing to individual ballplayers asking them for their autographs, and invariably back came a black and white, 8 by 10 glossy signed by the object of our reverence. No idea what became of these treasures, but we started our collecting in the late 1940s and many of those cards and miscellaneous early photos now go for lots and lots.

BOOKS? Did somebody say books? I have one here that is probably of greater interest to the old timers of the Albion Nation than it was to me because other than Captain Fathom, I didn't recognize most of the people important, at one time, to the author, Clifford Allen Sanders, who lived on the Mendocino Coast in the hippie heyday of the 70s and 80s. Sanders' memoir is a kaleidoscopic look back at his life, a varied and interesting one. A companion book of his short stories, called “No More My Echoing Song” contain some vividly moving accounts of the author's early years in hard scrabble Oklahoma. Sanders traveled a very long way from barefoot in Oklahoma to easy-scrabble Albion. Both books are titled “No More My Echoing Song, the second Redux.

BASED ON HOME PRICE data from the first quarter of the year, the salary needed to afford the median American home stood at almost $76,000 — roughly $8,500 more than the typical household actually makes. The study found that San Jose leads the nation in unaffordable homes, with the median home priced at $1,875,000, requiring a salary of at least $330,758 to afford the expected monthly payments of $7,718. The top four markets for median home prices were all in California, with San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles following San Jose. New York City ranked seventh on the list for home prices, coming in slightly below Boston.

MENDO'S GONNA LIEN ON YOU

The Code Enforcement Division is adding new information for the CEO Report beginning in July 2022. We are including a new chart titled “Liens” to reflect the recordation of Notices Of Violation on properties, as well as those properties which have received a letter from Code Enforcement stating that Division intends to Record a Notice Of Violation. The recordation of a Notice of Violation has proved to be one of Code Enforcement’s most effective tools in guiding property owners toward compliance and protecting potential or future property owners by providing detailed information about violations that exist on properties they may be acquiring via a title search.

YOU CAN READ UP on the Kenny Rogers' case via the link below, but he's known around the County Courthouse as the “Immaculate Conviction” because there was zero evidence that he was responsible for the crime that put him away, and he certainly wasn't responsible for the incompetent lawyers who took his money but provided no defense. https://theava.com/archives/425

ANYWAY, Rogers, once of Westport, presently of San Quentin, is looking for an attorney who will represent him, because a new law, P.C. 1170.03 qualifies him to argue that he is not a danger to society and should at last be freed. Rogers, pushing 70, has been locked up for 14 years for a crime he did not commit and was not responsible for. I doubt that DA Eyster, a reasonable man (mostly) would oppose Rogers' release, but he needs a lawyer to appear in Mendo Superior Court to make his appeal. Come on, legal eagles. A single appearance on a wronged man's behalf? Surely…

MY STONER FRIENDS get mad at me when I say stuff like, “I've never known a committed toker who wasn’t at least ten degrees off. A lot of them are like functioning drunks, stumbling through life's minefield but not eluding most major explosions.” For a fact, I've known a depressing number of Mendo kids, and so have you, who were premature potheads who, as youngsters, were bright and happy and ambitious and optimistic only to become schizo, lethargic basket cases by their early twenties, and that was true even when marijuana wasn't nearly as potent as it is now. 

AND HERE we are in a society coming apart every which way with some 48% of Americans having tried the love drug with 16% regularly at it, at least according to a Gallup poll of more than 1,000 people, both figures radical under-counts, I'd suppose. (Assuming there are 260 million adults in the US, 16% would be about 42 million potential adult customers, minimum then add teenagers…) Researchers say cannabis-infused gummies in brightly colored cartoon packaging are designed to appeal to youngsters and should face the same kinds of regulation as tobacco and alcohol. Next-generation oils, vapes, dabs and drinks with high concentrations of THC, the main psychoactive in cannabis, are more akin to hard drugs than 1960s hippie weed. A Columbia University study says cannabis use is “much more common” in states that have legalized the drug and warn of a “potential explosion” of use among both adults and children.

THE AFFECTION SHOWERED on Liz Cheney by love-struck Libs seems to have gone to her reactionary head. In her startlingly delusional concession speech Tuesday, after having been slam-dunked by an even wackier Wyoming Republican, Liz placed herself in the company of Martin Luther King, Abe Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant! Lunacy runs in her family, of course, but still… (Pssst, Liz. They only love you because you took on the Orange Monster. The Libs won't love you in the morning. Count on it.)

CAN YOU IMAGINE facing the Nazis with the present leadership? The Republicans, considered only by their visuals, look more or less together but, as we know, are dangerously out of touch with reality. The Democrats look nuts and are also woefully unprepared to address the rolling catastrophes engulfing us, although there's some good stuff in Poor Old Joe's recent legislation. But the Dems all look daffy, talk nuts and generally incapable of captaining the sinking ship of state. Schiff, for instance. He's omni-present on Party media — NPR; MSNBC; CNN etc. But gimmee a show of hands, doesn't he look like the kid who took names for the teacher when she was out of the room? Schiff has been the go-to guy driving every false Get Trump scheme the Clinton Democrats have come up with, from the Steele Dossier and Russia Gate to the fruitless Jan 6 hearings, and not even close as a plausible leader. 

Fishback, Vuitton

DEB SILVA COMMENTS: “The #3 Catch of the Day [August 16, 2022], Devon Fishback, has a Louis Vuitton logo neck tattoo. WTF?”

WTF indeed, and good catch, Deb. We didn't know Louis Vuitton from Big Mac, and we'd really like to hear from this guy why he has permanently inscribed himself with a commercial advertisement.

MOST OF US know by now that the rightwing describes even the tamest liberal as, variously, "leftist" or "left-leaning" or "communist" or, among their heavy hitters, "Marxist." Of course the rightwing has conflated socialism and communism for years as, say, social security, in their dim eyes, becomes a “socialist” program devised by “communists” in the Roosevelt Administration, of which there were zero. Just today, I read a really dumb article by a black scholar named Deroy Murdock that began, “The sinister plan to fire teachers for being white is naked bigotry and Marxist.” He refers to a scheme by guilt-ridden libs in Minnesota to atone for the sins of the past in this crazy, color-coded manner is not a good idea and, as Professor Murdock writes, bigoted, clothed or unclothed and not even faintly ‘Marxist.’ 

MARX’S sociology was pegged to social class, not race, as in the working class creates the wealth stolen from them by the owning classes and, over the long haul, the owning classes wind up owning just about everything unless the working class takes it away from them, by force if it comes to it. Naturally, it's in the interest of today’s owning classes, who count media ownership among their possessions, to describe any program or movement that might cost them money as “socialist” or “Marxist.” Their propaganda works to convince millions of Americans (Trump followers), many of them of the working class, to vote against their own best interests, against themselves and against the welfare of their families. (cf James Marmon of Clearlake)

THE PROB in this country is that both parties are funded by the wealthy. If you apply a local Marxist class analysis to the Democrats, you'll find that the most enthusiastic of them, the Westside of Ukiah for instance and up in the hills for another instance, are drawn from the financially secure sectors of the middle and upper middle classes. Everyone else lives east of State Street and here and there in pockets of nearly Third World squalor with only dope and booze as succor. The Democrats pretend not to be class-based by pretending to look out for the interests of working people and the poor but don’t, while the Republicans make it clear they're organized to protect wealth and to keep back the poor. In the view of the Boonville weekly, both parties are utterly, irremediably corrupt with the two least capable people in our country — Trump and Biden —leading us to a probably violent dissolution.

ANOTHER DELUDED writer, this one on the left, begins, “Trump is in hot water, and why he may be prosecuted.” That one reminds me of Time Magazine's seemingly annual covers declaring, “Castro's Finished.” Those wishful thinking covers went on for years, and Castro died of old age, peacefully in his bed.

THE LATEST IN CRACKPOT-ISM: An off-campus co-op for students at the University of California, Berkeley named the “Person of Color Theme House” has banned white guests from entering common areas of the house. A list of house rules revealed that occupants were told “many POC moved here to be able to avoid white violence and presence, so respect their decision of avoidance if you bring white guests.” While the student house aims to have an “inclusive” environment, the rules specifically state “white guests are not allowed in common spaces,” according to the list, which was posted on Reddit. The accommodation, which is located close to Berkeley's campus, is a five-story, 30-room home that can house up to 56 students. But the “rules,” which were leaked on social media, have caused many people to correctly call them “racist.”

I’M NOT SURE WHAT’S MORE ENERVATING: liberals embracing Liz Cheney or the Left fist-bumping Henry Kissinger. But here we are. We can’t escape two of the most grotesque shadows of our past. No one needs either of them as allies, even fleeting ones. They contaminate all they touch. — Jeffrey St. Clair

LIFE IN SAN FRANCISCO THESE DAYS, a reader comments: 

The quiet agreement at SFGov from the top down is to allow what they consider low level crime to flourish. The stolen goods processing facilities in the Mission operate freely from a network of huge 24/7 encampments with luxury vehicles coming and going 24/7. The camps do such a high volume that just the detritus they generate fills the sidewalks daily. At best SF Department of Public Works might come and pick up the evidence as a maid service. There is no action from SFPD whatsoever. Same with the Fentanyl superstore. The only time they react (there never is proactive anything) is when the inevitable horrors happen. Shootings, stabbings, daily tent and vehicle fires. They come and take some notes and leave, and the people responsible maybe move a block away. No consequences. The basic social contract of the American City is being ignored here and look at the results: the Mission covered in graffiti and a crime magnet. The city is experiencing crime in areas once thought safe. Kids coming in from the East Bay to hunt for victims. It’s all caught on camera and reported and the City doesn’t care. People and Companies are fleeing. But if there’s not fast money to be made, the city doesn’t care. Now a $300 parking ticket? That’s their priority.

MAUREEN DOWD wrote a silly column in last Sunday’s NYT claiming the rightwing is now acting like “unhinged Leftists” of the 60s when it comes to the FBI. Did it really escape her attention that members of a rightwing militia blew up the Murrah Federal Building in 1995, killing 165 people? As for those “unhinged Leftists,” the FBI really was coming after them. (See: COINTELPRO.) — Jeffrey St. Clair

“ALL POLLS STRONGLY indicate that I am the candidate that Democrats LEAST want to run against, by far, hence the politically motivated Raid on Mar-a- Lago – Which has backfired, big time! I beat them twice, did much better the second time (many millions more votes than the first!), and may just have to do it again. Our Country is going to Hell!” -Donald J. Trump via TRUTH SOCIAL”

BETCHA, DON. Betcha the Democrat shot-callers are praying you're the candidate, because even whatever lame-o wuss the Democrats put up he/she will give you a go and maybe even beat you. The Republican the Democrats are truly afraid of is DeSantis, a shoo-in if he gets the nod, and the guy the major fascisti like the Koch Bros are already shoveling tons of money to.

MOST people know that Big Pharma represents an ongoing criminal conspiracy against the health and welfare of Americans. Mark Cuban, a billionaire, has done a major service to beat back the age old drug gouging of the pharmaceutical monopolies by introducing an on-line drug store that sells prescription drugs at cost plus one dollar handling and five bucks for shipping. He isn't making a dime off this literal life-saving enterprise. Cuban's Cost-Plus Drug Company has already saved the lives of innumerable diabetics, to name one huge group of sufferers whose meds force many of them to choose between food and the insulin that keeps them alive.

CUBAN is not advertising. His break-through service is spreading by word of mouth. Which is the way I heard about Cost Plus Drug Company via my son-in-law as he described prices to my brother-in-law. Metaformin is a diabetes drug sold by the crooks at $564.47. Cost Plus Drug's price is $46.20. A drug called Imatinib goes for $2502.50 at your basic corporate drug store. On-line at Cost Plus Drug it goes for $14.40, to give you one of the more spectacular rip-offs some trapped soul has paid for the chemical compound he needs to go on living.

IF COST PLUS DRUG CO. keeps on keeping on, it will break Big Pharma, or at least force them into radically lowering their prices. https://costplusdrugs.com/

THE EDITOR of this fine publication is only on one drug — Advil PM. Knocks me out promptly at 9pm. I stay away from the medical profession except for occasional cortisone shots to my knees. My wariness of the profession seems to be a family legacy. Me dear old Mum was a registered nurse, arriving at her golden years with a burning hatred for the profession only an insider could possibly muster. "They're all drunks and drug addicts," she'd say of doctors, almost all male in her day, and memorably told a young neurologist who saw her just before she died, "I've never seen a doctor. Why do you think I'm still alive?" She also was a dedicated union person. "The week us nurses went union, my pay doubled from $300 a month to $600. You think the doctors were for us? Hah!" 

AMONG MY WORST FEARS, right up there with spending eternity with nothing but NPR and Scott Simon for company, is suddenly conking out at the Boonville Post Office and getting hauled over the hill to find myself at the mercy of the vegetarian cultists at Adventist. "Gitchy-goo, you bastard. We've got you now!" If you find me downtown non-responsive but breathing, get me to the Catholics at St. Mary's Emergency, Stanyan Street, San Francisco. I'll pay half your gas fill-up.

SERIOUSLY, this is the first presser I've seen from Little Mikey McGuire that's actually relevant to the lives of real people. He's correctly come out against AB 257, a law proposed in the California Legislature, which would establish new regulations for counter-service restaurants where customers pay first, then eat. It completely changes how and if many local restaurants can continue in business. AB 257 creates a misleadingly named “Fast Food Sector Council” of 13 unelected political appointees to set wages, benefits and working conditions for all counter-service restaurants whose brands have more than 30 locations nationwide, even though most counter-service restaurants are individually owned and operated by community members.

THE MAJOR DISAGREES: From what I read I think McGuire’s wrong on this one. It applies only to larger chain franchises and exempts most locally owned restaurants, which seems like a good thing. It might make things better for workers, too, but that’s not entirely clear from my brief reading on it such as: vox.com/policy-and-politics/2022/8/15/23296481/fast-food-ab257-california-sectoral-labor-unions

ON LINE COMMENTS OF THE WEEK

[1] Broken systems return broken results no matter the inputs. Here are some of the repairs:

-Term limits

-Personal donation limits

-Corporate donation bans

-Mandatory annual IRS auditing of elected politicians

-Exponentially increased capital-gains taxes on elected politicians windfall market transactions

[2] I’ve felt like being in the death-drive years ago, about to turn 50, waiting with dread for the long emergency to arrive, interesting though how this planned future is now revealing itself…

I live in south city STL, and it’s already dangerous and filled with drug zombies, so I know it wouldn’t be long into true chaos that I’d have to escape or die..

But the thing that mostly keeps me depressed and trapped, is the fact that no one around me I love/like seems to notice that any of this is going on. Some of them know things are fucked up, but they are stuck in the 2 party thinking, so it’s always the other side’s fault. 

Then of course, any comprehension beyond that is ‘conspiracy’.

By the end of Trump’s term, I kept imagining two fists punching each other. I’ve learned to zoom out and see the bigger picture, and you see just how demonstrative the 2 side schism is by design. Once one can fully comprehend this fact, then it all appears like Pro Wrestling.

I just feel so alone though with this conscious awareness, like discovering you’re in the Matrix, or in Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

That’s what feels so despondent to me, that we’ve lost the value of aesthetics, the education from it, the spirituality. When is real art and beauty celebrated anymore? 

Nevermind the collapse of society, why does it have to get so ugly and stupid on the way?

I crave meaning but all I get is anxiety.

[3] A BURGLAR BREAKS IN to a home and holds the husband and wife in it hostage. At gunpoint, he forces the two to sit on chairs facing the opposite way, backs to each other, and ties them to the chairs. The burglar slowly and methodically begins stealing from the house.

 When the burglar has taken everything of value, he gets ready to leave, the homeowners still bound to their chairs, when suddenly, the man yells at the burglar,

“Please untie her, please, let her go!”

The thief responds with, “No, I'm not untying either of you so that the authorities get notified as late as possible. Don't worry, your neighbors will soon wonder why your lights are still on throughout the night and check in on you long before you succumb to dehydration.”

The man yet again pleads,

“Please, just untie her, I'll do anything!”

The burglar once again explains his reasoning,

“I need to get away with this crime, I'm sorry, I can't leave anything up to chance.”

 The man shuffles his chair towards the burglar, in a state of mania, exclaims, “I'm begging you man, just let her go, she won't call the cops, I promise!”

 The burglar, still unwilling to budge, did find it quite touching how much his hostage cared about his wife.

 “Wow,” he said “You must really love your wife to beg me to untie her so desperately.”

 “No,” the man replied, in a state of frenzy. “My wife will be home in 15 minutes.”

[4] To make any difference, the city and county must look toward the business of homelessness. As long as there are free services available, a certain number of people will choose living in a tent and having someone else run their life for them over doing what is difficult, working for a living. The people who run things are very comfortable with homeless bums laying around under foot all over the city. Catholic Services and other NGO organizations feed and clothe them and they are reimbursed by local and federal money. The offal of homelessness, trash, human waste and all of the incredible crap these bums accumulate is always cleaned up by Santa Rosa. When you and I go to the dump it is $35 for a small amount of trash. Bums get it for free. Nothing will change until the city says NO. It is a clear cut “Them or Us” situation. So someone will sue the city? OK, we are already spending millions of dollar enabling these freeloaders. Kick them out, show them the door, adios huevon. What the city is doing now is an invitation to continue being a drug addled freeloader.

[5] I had my first donut in a while a few days ago, driving down to the Sound and just had a hankering for a donut. Pulled over at a Dunkin Donuts — even in the little town it was pretty busy. Ordered a coffee and a few chocolate frosted donuts — I can’t describe how good the donuts were.

[6] Cake donuts, I’ll bet. I must admit, I could probably eat a dozen if they were put in front of me. That’s why I never let that happen. I do admit to liking a bagel now and then, though. My weakness/avoidance is the green chile cheese bagels they sell here locally. Can’t get near them for fear of a binge coming on. My green eyed chile monster comes out.

Speaking of which, has anyone noticed that Disney’s coming out with “She Hulk: Attorney at Law”? She’s green, she’s large, and she’ll sue your ass into submission! Rumor has it, she single-handedly intimidated Deshaun Watson into settling with the NFL.

[7] There are a few ethical doctors around who actually give a damn about their patients and read about the field they practice. Probably about 25% of MDs, maybe a third. 

The problem is that most doctors are authoritarian personalities who derive their own sense of power from their yielding to the power of medical boards and societies. Kind of like, “I was just following orders.” But with a twist.

[8] BRING BACK THE GRIZ? An on-line comment: "Any veteran camper who has camped recently in bear territory will tell you how bad of an idea this is. If we can’t educate people on how to live with black bears, their utter failure of co-existing with grizzly bears is frightening. As a Tahoe-native, the inability for people to understand how to secure trash and/or food from the docile black bear does not bode well with grizzlies. We spent a week camping last month at Twin Lakes Bridgeport and the nightly cacophony of car alarms being used by campers as a “solution” to get rid of bears breaking in to their coolers speaks to the level of education. And even when educated, they shrug and do the same thing. On the other hand, maybe the fear of grizzlies will keep them out of the mountains and bring the camping experience back to the pre-COVID days."

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