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DRY WEATHER with warm interior daytime temperatures will continue today. Coastal low clouds and fog will burn off by late morning in most areas, but the fog bank will linger over the coastal waters and portions of the immediate coast. Otherwise, expect abundant sunshine over the interior. A weak frontal system will clip the northern portion of the area, bringing a chance of light rain to Del Norte County Tuesday night and early Wednesday. (NWS)
ABEJA HUMMEL: Handmade buckskin bag with metal water bottles--Stolen at the fair. Thief was seen and described as a young male who appeared to be of east-Asian decent. Not Cool, dude. Left 7 kids thirsty, and my son tanned and sewed that buckskin bag. Please return--no questions asked...you can leave it at Boont Berry with my name on it. Or I can pick up somewhere in Ukiah or on the Coast if it's out that way.
WE HAD A GOOD TURNOUT for the Mendocino County Fair parade today! Ambulance 7420, Engine 7471, Engine 7484, Water Tender 7491, and Engine 7466 got a little extra polish this morning.
The next City Council meeting features an agenda item that codifies an Anti-Bullying-Policy to address the hostile attacks our City employees have had to withstand from certain members of our local community. The staff report mentions some employees have actually resigned and others have suffered severe emotional trauma while working in an atmosphere of intimidation and fear.
The offensive comments by such individuals are clearly classified as bullying in the workplace. The time is now to address this problem and I am hoping our community will support the City Council’s efforts to insure a safe and healthy work environment for our valued City employees. Public scrutiny is welcome. Hostile threats and belittling commentary is not.
QUESTIONS ON PROPOSED FIRE TAX
by Jim Shields
Next week both the Laytonville County Water District Board and the Laytonville Area Municipal Advisory Council will vote on whether to support a ballot measure, Measure P, in the November election that calls for imposing a one-quarter cent sales tax to provide funding for local fire departments and fire-prevention services.
Also at their meetings, both bodies will also make decisions on whether to support Measure O, which if approved by voters, will increase the Library sales tax by one-eighth of one cent, for a total of one-quarter of one cent. Your total sales tax rate will not increase. That’s because the initiative is timed to take effect at exactly the same time that a three-eighths of one cent sales tax, part of Measure B, the 2017 Mental Health Initiative, will sunset but will be followed by a one-eighth cent sales tax that remains in effect until repealed by voters..
Last week’s column explained what both the Fire Tax and Library Tax were all about.
Several readers contacted me with questions regarding the Fire Tax, and the fact that tax proceeds would be deposited into the County’s general fund, and thus be subject to the Board of Supervisors making a decision to spend the money on purposes not related to keeping local fire departments operational and other fire protection purposes.
What follows are readers’ comments (they requested anonymity) and my responses:
Your article on the Measure P Fire Tax did not mention that, at least as I understand it, the tax money does not go to the fire departments. I have read that the tax will go to the county general fund with the intention of transferring the money to the fire departments, a ploy to circumvent the two-thirds yes requirement to pass a fire tax, as opposed to just needing a majority to pass a general fund tax.
That might be okay if there is something in the measure that requires the county supervisors to give the money to the fire departments. If there is nothing in the measure to prevent the supervisors from diverting the money if the supervisors decide the money is needed elsewhere, we are left only with their promise to do what the voters want. Like the fate of the Measure B money.
Maybe I am wrong. The comments from the measure’s supporters that “there is no ambiguity or discretion” is the exact opposite of what I’ve read. “The watchful eyes of our 20 fire chiefs and their district boards will be on it” appears to have no legal backing.
I am a 100 percent supporter of the fire departments, but I don’t trust any of the supervisors and will not vote for anything as ambiguous as this measure appears to be.Willits Resident
Thanks for your comments, I don’t disagree with your points. You may be aware that the courts have recently ruled that citizen tax measures require just a simple majority for passage. However, Boards of Supervisors and City Councils’ tax measures still require the super-majority vote approval.
Just read your article in today’s UDJ re Measure P.
Where will the collected tax money from this measure go? A separate line item, or an account designated just for fire? Or the General Fund?Ukiah Resident
Good Afternoon ,
Pleasure to hear from you, assume everything is going fine.
The way the fire tax will be handled, if approved by simple majority vote, is as follows:
1. Tax proceeds will go into the General Fund.
2. Ninety percent of proceeds will be apportioned among the 20 fire departments in accordance with a formula drafted by the county’s Fire Chiefs Association and previously approved by the BOS.
3. Ten percent of the proceeds will go to the county’s Fire Safe Council.
4. The tax will sunset after 10 years unless re-approved by the voters.
In essence, the Fire Chiefs and Fire Safe Council will be keeping sharp eyes on the money once it’s deposited in the GF to make sure the BOS keeps its “pinky promise” not to spend the money on anything but fire departments and fire safety issues.
I hope this answers your questions.
Feel free to contact me anytime if you have any other questions.
Thank you for your response. We are doing well, thank you. Hope you and your family are also well.
I am not comfortable with this tax money going into the General Fund and on a “pinky promise” to be used for fire/emergency services.
I don’t trust our leaders one bit. I trust our Fire Chiefs, but the reality is they have little to no influence (no one does) on the BOS if things go south. And if and when members change on the BOS the new incoming crowd who didn’t pinky swear could go in another direction with the money.
Even when new tax money is put into a special fund, it is misused (Measure B).
I’m just not swayed to vote yes on this measure. Sorry.
I sure appreciate you keeping us well informed of political issues in this county. I know how tiring it must be. I served on the inside for many years and it really took a toll. Trying to always stand for what is right against those who seek to discredit you is exhausting.
So, thank you for your many efforts. You are appreciated!!Ukiah Resident
I’ve told the Chiefs the burden is on them to make this work. And that it is critical not to conduct themselves as the ineffective Measure B committee has done. I believe they understand. But you’re right, the history is not encouraging on these kinds of deals.
(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, firstname.lastname@example.org, the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District, and is also chairman of the Laytonville Area Municipal Advisory Council. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live: http://www.kpfn.org.)
PAULA SALMONTE: Friday September 30th, 6:30-8:30pm David Scollin, Will Siegel and I will bring some jazzy tunes to Ukiah Brewing Company. Hope to see you there
PAULETTE ARNOLD: A LIFE IN THE PERFORMING ARTS
by Mike Geniella
A half century ago Duke University graduate Paulette Arnold arrived in Ukiah, one of the ‘back to landers’ who would transform the cultural landscape of Mendocino County.
For the newcomers, the 1970s were liberating: a time of creativity, hippie shacks and personal freedom. Changes rippled through the county: liberal politics, communal living, mom-and-pop dope growing operations, the Mendocino Grapevine, Real Goods, and skinny dipping in the swimming holes along the Russian and Eel rivers.
Alternative lifestyles flourished in the hills and valleys but there were tensions, as longtime county residents viewed the newcomers with suspicion and raised eyebrows. Political battles raged over elections to the county Board of Supervisors, land use and planning issues, and the rise of environmental challenges to longtime logging operations.
Everyone has grown older, most people have learned to live together, and generally there is an appreciation for the changes that have withstood the test of time.
There is little doubt it is in creative arts where newcomers like Arnold made significant and lasting contributions.
The Ukiah Players and Kate Magruder became a major artistic tour de force. The work of artists such as Wayne Knight and R. Crumb are widely recognized. Even Red Tail Ale made then at the Hopland Brewery was part of the creative ferment and helped propel a national movement toward craft beers. The Hopland Brewery, where Wayne Knight’s portraits hung on the walls, became the first brewpub in California since Prohibition.
Arnold made her mark in the changing community in dance, and as a co-founder with Laurel Near of SPACE, the acclaimed School of Performing Arts & Cultural Education based in Ukiah.
Before arriving on the North Coast in 1974 Arnold traveled to Europe, explored New England, and took in the Pacific Northwest before making her way down to Mendocino County. At last, she had found the place that offered her hopes of a creative lifestyle. “The county just seemed right,” recalled Arnold.
The Mendocino vibrancy of the time was intoxicating, even if the economic opportunities were slim for a university graduate with a degree in history. No matter said Arnold. “I was determined, and I made it.”
Now, after nearly five decades calling Ukiah home, Arnold said, “I am so grateful for what this community has given to me, and for the hundreds of kids who have danced and acted their way into full and rich lives.”
It was not an easy road, especially for a young woman who grew up in the South’s tobacco growing country, where her family roots are deep and community ties strong. Arnold’s mother directed church pageants. “I was incredibly involved. I loved the singing, and the dancing,” said Arnold.
As she grew older, however, Arnold began to understand that racial inequality was a fact of life in her community. “Even as a little girl, I knew I did not want to live in a place where racism, bigotry and hypocrisy thrived,” said Arnold.
Arnold’s family is deeply rooted in the Piedmont region of North Carolina. Her hometown of Creedmore at the time was a rural hamlet with less than 2,000 population. Arnold’s grandparents were tobacco farmers. Arnold recalled that she, her older sister, and their mother worked with other family members every summer ‘putting in’ the tobacco crop. Her father was a World War II veteran, and machinist in a local hosiery mill. Arnold was a high school cheerleader.
Still Arnold felt a gnawing unease as she grew. “How things were done locally just didn’t feel right,” said Arnold.
In 1968 Arnold began a summer of personal transformation.
Arnold was accepted into the Governor’s School, an innovative residential summer program for high school seniors in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
“Our course was a survey of dramatic literature, eight plays beginning with Oedipus Rex, including the Hairy Ape, and ending with Waiting for Godot,” Arnold recalled. But she learned and experienced much more.
Arnold attended her first classical music concert while at the Governor’s School, and she saw the Martha Graham and Erick Hawkins dance troupes perform. Arnold relished making new friends among aspiring young actors and artist.
“I experienced a sharply different social environment that summer from the one I had known growing up,” recalled Arnold. She graduated from high school and was admitted to Duke University.
After graduation from Duke with a degree in history, Arnold immediately began to look for a place where she could lead a a lifestyle that satisfied her inner yearnings.
“I knew I had to go elsewhere to find that,” said Arnold.
For the family, the notion of Arnold eventually moving West and embracing a California lifestyle attracting national notoriety was unsettling. Arnold’s mother affectionately considered her daughter’s choice to forsake the bucolic Piedmont region of North Carolina “the beginning of the end.”
Arnold learned on her personal journey that change does not come without difficulties. And a fine university education does not guarantee a good paying job in a rural area. In that regard, she found local opportunities in Mendocino County were thin.
Arnold found work as a staffer for a fledgling legal aid office in Ukiah, where she met attorney Mary Ann Villwock, a newcomer from Indiana’s farm country. The two have been friends since, and Villwock remains a steadfast supporter of Arnold’s creative arts endeavors. Villwock since 2003 has been president of the SPACE board of directors.
It is Villwock, a founding board member of SPACE, who is orchestrating efforts to honor Arnold on September 30 for being a driving force in the Ukiah Valley’s performing arts scene. The event also will highlight the final touches in the transformation of the historic St. Mary’s Catholic Church into SPACE’s performing arts theater and education complex.
SPACE is the culmination of the talents of Arnold and Near, and a cadre of dedicated community supporters led by Villwock who have supported their endeavor. The pair’s shared dreams have provided creative outlets for thousands of kids over the past 27 years.
“Paulette is so deserving because of her long years of teaching and leadership, and the immeasurable impact of her work on the lives of our students,” said Villwock. A new education wing at the SPACE complex is named in honor of Villwock’s late parents, Lucille and Paul Villwock, who were major donors.
Laurel Near said it was Arnold who really put shape to their shared dreams of a performing arts program for kids.
“She has an eye for detail, a keen business sense, and an appreciation for how performing arts can expand the lives of children,” said Near.
It turned out Arnold also had a flair for staging children’s productions, set design, and costumes.
Superior Court Judge Jeanine Nadel, another founding SPACE board member, recalled the time Arnold used an aged VW bug as a stage prop for a student play. “We wondered how she could even get it up on the stage, but she did, and it worked. The kids entered and exited the stage through it.”
Nadel said Arnold’s vision in her stage productions was always ‘playful, colorful, and active.” Her talent one-on-one with performers was giving “very specific stage directions which embody her sense of humor and drama.”
Arnold, Near, Nadel and the other driving forces behind SPACE were determined to set high training and production standards even though the actors and performers were young.
“We believe that children’s theater should be like theater for adults, only better. To do that, we collaborated with professional musicians, choreographers, and set, lighting, costume, and sound designers,” said Arnold.
The results are striking. “Once the children see that we are serious about providing them with a professional setting and equipment, their effort and attention as magnified to a higher level,” said Arnold.
There also is a twist to casting decisions. “Roles are given based on what individual students need at that moment in their personal development more than who auditions the most strongly,” said Arnold.
Beginning in April 2010 all SPACE productions moved to the new theater complex. The SPACE program essentially revolves around two-hour rehearsals twice weekly September through December. In early January, rehearsals begin on the theater stage. Eight school matinees are scheduled on Thursday and Friday mornings and are attended by elementary school children on field trips. Two performances are held each successive Sunday for the public.
Arnold is credited with developing other SPACE initiatives.
A creative arts summer camp inspired by Jim Beatty’s ‘Ha Ha This A-way’ program in Berkeley targets children entering kindergarten through second grade. It is in collaboration with First 5 Mendocino, a non-profit dedicated to providing services to children up to 5 years of age.
“Viva La Cultura!’ is a Latino program that Arnold developed with SPACE directors Anibal Fragoso and Ignacio Ayala and local artists Carlos Jacinto and Olivia Zamora to produce productions by Latino artists in Spanish. They include Mexican Independence Day celebrations, and ‘Teatro en Llantas,’ scenes and songs created by community members and performed on flatbed trucks at various locations across town.
In 2014, Arnold assisted in the local staging of ‘The Laramie Project,” an international play in support of youth questioning their gender identity.
Arnold worked with Near, Villwock, Nadel and other board members to oversee the St. Mary’s renovation and raise more than $7 million to turn the performing arts complex into a reality. Sometimes they met several times a week with project manager John Moon to guide the project to completion.
Finally, before retiring from active engagement in SPACE productions last year, Arnold created the organization’s Business Manual and oversaw the creation of a facility operations manual.
Arnold’s exhaustive list of accomplishments reflects a life of dedication to creative arts for children.
“I had a childhood to cherish. I was a happy kid,” said Arnold.
For Arnold, being engaged in performing arts and working with children became her path.
Villwock remembered meeting Arnold and seeing that she was “an individual of great skill, knowledge, and drive.”
“I thought she should go to law school until I realized her passion was in performing arts,” said Villwock.
Arnold’s friend Jim Beatty was another ‘back to the lander’ who arrived in Mendocino County in 1977 and settled on Greenfield Ranch west of Redwood Valley.
Beatty recalls that his first years here were “consumed with putting down roots, learning how to build with the help of many friends on the ranch my ‘hippie’ house.”
In the fall of 1979, Beatty said he attended his first modern dance performance presented by Mendocino College’s Mary Knight. “I approached Mary after the show and told her how much I had enjoyed the performance and that I was interested in joining her group. She suggested I consider taking her Modern Dance Class, and I registered for the class that fall.”
Arnold was among his classmates. Along with Carolyn Crane, the three new friends discovered dance was the ‘perfect vehicle to express creative energy in a new way.”
In 1980, Arnold, Beatty and Crane formed ‘ABC Dance Theater.’
“Over the next five years our performances included a wide variety of dramatic and humorous works featuring our individual and group choreography and creative expressions. During this period, the experience spoke to my dream of teaching and working with young children,” said Beatty.
Arnold in the meantime had taken intensive training in dance and theater programs across the U.S., including a six-week fulltime summer program at her alma mater Duke.
Arnold eventually invited Beatty to join her in developing local creative movement classes for preschool aged children.
“What a gift. Paulette became my mentor. We shared a belief that children are beautiful, creative individuals deserving of opportunities to express themselves and their creativity in a safe, supportive, and non-competitive environment.”
Beatty said becoming involved with Arnold was a ‘life-changing experience for me. I had found my calling as it were.”
Eventually Beatty moved onto the Bay Area where he developed an acclaimed children’s theater arts program called “Ha Ha This A-Way.” Beatty and Arnold’s ties remain strong, and he eventually became the lead teacher of SPACE’s young child program.
“This grew to include dance, yoga, clowning and circus arts. It is a position I joyfully filled for over 20 years all the while relying on Paulette as my mentor, friend, and supporter,” said Beatty.
Beatty said in short, he is blessed, and so is the community SPACE serves because of Arnold’s work.
“Thank you, Paulette Arnold.”
RD BEACON of Elk: Remembering the old days,
Today I noticed that the Mendocino County Fair and Apple show is underway for its last day of the three day session.
For many years I rode in the parade proudly bringing in a trophy haul riding a horse.
Over the years less and less of my friends would be there either because they moved away, or because of the downsizing of the timber industry. Most that I knew worked in the woods, or sawmill somewhere.
As the city people drove the timber industry out, so did a lot of my friends go away, faces I was used to seeing. I looked down often from the top of the horse as I rode through the streets of Boonville.
Old and young alike, mothers, fathers and children that I knew for all my life had either passed away or moved away. The dynamics of the county have changed. The last time I went to the county fair I hardly knew anyone there, no one except a handful of people, and then a few of them up and died, and now have passed to the great heavens above.
Sure there are more people there who do not like locals. They are tied to the new grape industry that has moved in, or just plane uncaring tourists with little or no manners, shoving, pushing people around in a crowd.
No more the days of the respectful citizenry that inhabited the bulk of our County.
Even though it's supposed to be the County fair, it's not represented by members of the Board of Directors from all over the county. It is a select political group that inhabits Anderson Valley. It should be called the Edison Valley Fair and Apple Show. Leave the county out of it. For the last half dozen years I have decided not to go to these events for I don't know anybody there and there is no longer the respect given to the locals as it was in the old days. When I was younger it was more enjoyable but as I got older I found it's easier to stay home and not have to deal with the crowd, except on Fridays and Saturday nights when I can deal with them up in the bar, the only bar in Elk where you could get hard liquor and I can entertain them by playing the piano. It seems to be a better crowd that what you will find in the Valley. A few locals show up and we talk of days gone by, but no longer our local horsemen in the parade, only the transplants that of come in from other countries. No longer is there the hometown feel that we all used to have where people would speak a special language that was in Boonville. It was called boontling, there is hardly anyone that understands it now. When we hopped into the new century and look back at the old most of our friends are passed away, and have taken a large part of the fabric of history with them.
CATCH OF THE DAY, September 25, 2022
JADA BOGGS, Covelo. DUI, no license.
NICOMEDES CRUZ, Salinas/Ukiah. Possession of creature unlawfully taken, resisting.
JEREMY ELENNISS, Willits. DUI, resisting.
ALEJANDRO GONZALEZ, Napa/Ukiah. DUI, no license, probation revocation.
ALYSIA GRIFFIN, Ukiah. DUI.
SEGUNDO OTERO, Mendocino. DUI.
LEWIS PERLL, Willits. Domestic battery, assault with deadly weapon not a gun, criminal threats, child neglect, burglary tools.
MARC PLANER, Cloverdale/Ukiah. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, burglarly tools, probation revocation.
MARISELA REYES-COCHADO, Upper Lake/Ukiah. Allowing an unlicensed driver to drive.
STEVEN SELLINGER, Willits. DUI, assault on peace officer.
JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, Ukiah. Protective order violation.
JAIME UTRILLA, Hopland. DUI.
49ERS GAME GRADES: Offense fails to get in gear during rough night in Denver
by Michael Lerseth
There’s not enough lipstick to make this pig presentable. The San Francisco 49ers didn’t convert a third down in the first half (finishing 1 of 10), had only three rushing first downs, rushed for only 88 yards (55 on two Jeff Wilson runs), and had only one drive of more than five plays. Oh, and Jimmy Garoppolo (18-for-29, 211 yards, 81.2 rating) stepped out of the end zone for a safety — a big deal in what ended up being a one-point game.
This unit more than carried its share of the burden, forcing three-and-outs on eight of Denver’s first 11 possessions before buckling on the 12th as the Broncos went 80 yards on 12 plays to score the game-winning TD with 4:10 to play. Russell Wilson was sacked four times — including Nick Bosa’s weekly contribution — and Denver managed just 261 yards and punted 10 times.
The 49ers’ best player Sunday night may well have been Mitch Wishnowsky, who averaged 51.7 yards on his seven punts — one of them a 74-yarder. Two punts were downed inside the 10-yard-line, one of which was corralled inside the 1 after a double tip-drill by Samuel Womack and long-snapper Taybor Pepper.
Kyle Shanahan’s call for a screen pass thrown from the end zone with an immobile QB might have raised eyebrows in any case. But when Garoppolo stepped out of the end zone for a safety, it looked downright silly. Top of the to-do list this week: put together an offensive line that can consistently open holes for the backs.
The worst part of this loss may not be known until the extent of the ankle injury suffered by LT Trent Williams (on the Garoppolo safety) is determined. If he’s out for any length of time, that would be three key offensive starters lost in three weeks (joining RB Elijah Mitchell and QB Trey Lance). The 49ers’ defense is sturdy, but scoring only 10 points twice in three weeks is ominous, and next week the Super Bowl champion Rams come to town.
A MILLION ROSES FOR A QUEEN
by Tommy Wayne Kramer
A journey of 3000 miles begins with a flight delay as someone probably once said, along with the Death of Her Majesty, as Agatha Christie probably once wrote.
There are worse places to be marooned for a few hours than a big airport full of bars, restaurants and TV sports, even if a pint of beer costs six times more than a gallon of gasoline, the food has cheese sauce over it and the only games on TV are soccer.
Been in London near a week, our trip shadowed by the loss of Queen Mum.
And a loss it is; unanimous from every angle.
We walked a few blocks to Buckingham Palace the second night in town and a strolling crowd swept us to a grassy garden where wife Trophy told me lots of cards and flowers had been left for the Queen. So we’re walking a quarter mile to see a bunch of cards and flowers? Well, okay.
We came to the area I thought a lot of flowers would be strewn about, but I was wrong because I was completely unprepared for a knee-deep swath of roses, pictures, posies, petunias, poems, wreaths, Paddington Bears, letters, cards, mementos and bouquets of every kind.
I came, I saw, I shook my head in disbelief. Countless flowery tributes were spread out stretching a hundred feet in every direction and another 30 feet wide. (NOTE: In England the measuring is done in meters, liters, cubits and kilometers; excuse me an inch would you?)
Marvel I did. A thousand flowery aromas mingled to a single gardenia-like fragrance of the corsage your girlfriend wore to the senior prom: Heaven scent.
I bent and read notes penciled by semi-literate grade schoolers with sweetly misspelled greetings and words, often accompanied by stick-figure drawings, always of a woman wearing a triangle for a dress and a hat of stars and ribbons two feet high. And a small dog. And sometimes the kid inserted herself into the drawing to make it more personal, and it always fit just right.
Moderately overwhelmed by this outpouring of love tinged with grief, I walked a bit further and spotted another spread of flowers. A big spread, twice the size of the one I’d departed, and straight across a narrow pathway was another.
And then, past a few trees, lay three or four more massive gatherings of flowers brought by mourners. And another and another, and many many others. I realized the mound I’d let (moderately) overwhelm me was perhaps one percent of the total.
Collected, the flowers, tributes and contributions might not cover Ukiah from city limits to city limits, but would surely over-fill the cemetery on Low Gap Road many times and layers over.
This outpouring of affection, made real by English citizens taking time to write personal cards expressing deep feelings for their beloved Monarch, often came attached to what could only have been expensive (or home-grown) bouquets. Such tributes are as genuine as we can reasonably imagine in the 21st century.
I could still be up there among seemingly endless rolling cushions of grassy gardens, covered deeply and completely with only narrow paths between, in vast memorials to the dear Queen Elizabeth II. There were family photos, black-and-white, snapped at parades 50 or 75 years ago that had been saved, some peeled from scrapbooks with yellowed cellophane tape still visible at the corners, and an explanation of how the picture came to be taken and saved. And how much the picture and memories had meant to today’s donor.
Then a card wishing Blessings, signed “The Jamesen Family, Dallas Texas.”
Paddington Bears were well represented in that perfectly natural bond between the fuzzy little fellow and his Queen. One water color painting tacked to a tree trunk showed the pair, paw in gloved hand, walking off to her next, and final, destination. I’m sure the ever-helpful stuffed bear brought her comfort.
Any attempt to estimate the number of flowers brought to honor the Queen would be fruitless. The amount of roses, whether counted or weighed or measured in pounds sterling (think dimes, quarters, pesos, rubles) spent in their purchase falls pointlessly short of the true measure of their value. And that’s just the roses.
We know that lots of little kids, assisted by parents, left behind stuffed Paddingtons, and pieces of their hearts, when they departed the garden. There were thousands of such gifts.
A chap named Oscar wrote “I allways loVe the Queen and I hOp your fine.” Next to the card was another message (“if you Wan this yOurs.”) A little red plastic truck was parked atop.
Then Trophy and I and hundreds of others went quietly off into the deepening English dusk, heading home following our near-spiritual experience.
A mile (think liters, meters, hectares and kilograms) or so later we settled into Albert’s Pub where we shared steak and ale pie, chips, cole slaw, and a fine pint of English Lager.
THE DOUBLE PLAY AT 16TH AND POTRERO has burned, with it a museum of photos, memorabilia and a wonderful wall painting of the old Seals Stadium is gone.
TREATING DESPAIR WITH DRUGS and alcohol is a time-honored tradition — I just advise you to assess honestly if it's really as bad and as intractable a situation as you think. Not to belabor the point, but if you look around you at the people you work with, many of them are — or will eventually be — alcoholics and drug abusers. All I'm saying is you might ask yourself now and again if there's anything else you wanted to do in your life.
I haven't done heroin in over 20 years, and it's been a very long time as well since I found myself sweating and grinding my teeth and the sound of the tweeting of birds outside my window.
There was and is nothing heroic about getting off coke and dope.
There are those who do — and those who don't.
I had other things I still wanted to do. And I saw that I wasn't going to be doing shit when I was spending all my time and all my money on coke and dope — except more coke and dope.
I am extremely skeptical of the "language of addiction." I never saw heroin or cocaine as "my illness." I saw them as some very bad choices that I had walked knowingly into. I fucked myself — and, eventually, had to work hard to get myself unfucked.
I'm not going to tell you here how to live your life.
I'm just saying, I guess, that I got very lucky.
And luck is not a business model.
— Anthony Bourdain, "Medium Raw" (2010)
ROADSIDE TRASH, an on-line comment: Cleaning up the trash is a good start. Criminalizing those who illegally dump trash must be done. How many times do we see a cleanup around here and as soon as the crew leaves, within a few weeks it’s well on its way to becoming just as trashy as before the cleanup? How about game cameras that report dumping immediately in areas that are cleaned up and immediate arrests? How about forcing illegal dumpers to be part of the cleanup crew? Isn’t it offensive the state uses this many tax dollars and the culprits just sit back and destroy the environment with nothing being done to them? It’s unfortunate the only solution being given is to throw more money at the cleanup and giving no thought to “cleaning up” the root of the problem, the evildoers themselves.
"TOLSTOY has told us himself how wicked he found his own nature, how he had to struggle with it. Tolstoy is not naturally over-courageous; by long effort he has trained himself to be bold. How afraid of death he was in his youth and how cleverly he could conceal that fear. Later on, in mature age, it was still the fear of death which inspired him to write his confession. He was conquering that fear, and with it all other fears. For he felt that, since fear is very difficult to master in oneself, man must be a much higher being when he has learned not to be afraid any more."
— Lev Shestov
POLICE DOGS, an on-line comment:
What’s up with dogs having ranks?
How does a dog become a lieutenant? Can they climb the ladder and become corporals or whatever? Why do they need to be designated as such? It’s been shown scientifically that they are mostly just trained to hit on command anyway.
I’m not fully anti police or even that liberal, but this has always baffled me, though.
Maybe I’m bitter because the police sicced a dog on me unlawfully, let the dog chew my entire right side to shreds and then assaulted me for the crime of trying to pull the dog by its collar off of me. They also charged me with assaulting an 'officer' simply for pulling an attack dog away from my body. That charge was dropped before I could even mention the word lawsuit.
They are dogs.
Good job keeping narcotics off the streets for a whopping five minutes, though.
GLORIFYING VULGAR FANS further ruining the ‘NFL Experience’
by Phil Mushnick
While watching the NFL games on Sundays, note how many times crowd shots focus on families other than those who resemble the Addams or Manson families.
Do they show a father seated with his kids enjoying their time together as well-comported fans, a family sharing popcorn and sipping soft drinks, those more likely to be in a Norman Rockwell print than to be arrested for drunk and disorderly? It’s likely that in 10 hours of watching you won’t see even one such crowd shot.
Yet you’ll see more than 50 shots of adult men and women selected for TV attention — rewarded — because they appear dressed and well-oiled for such attention, something akin to Beer Pong with “The Price Is Right” contestants.
That would mean that those who would dare escort well-behaved loved ones to NFL games are intentionally ignored or are no longer welcomed, thus no longer attend.
I used to attend Giants games at Yankee Stadium with my father. The few loud-mouthed vulgar drunks in our midst would be shouted down and even threatened by the sober, often with various antiquated shouts such as, “Hey, Pal! I’ve got my wife and kids here! Can it!”
No one had to call an usher or security. It was handled by peer pressure.
Now, the civilized at NFL games, at least according to what TV directors prize, appear to be short of such peers. They seem vastly outnumbered, surrounded by those who are two shots short of puking on the guy in front of them.
A close friend waited years — prior to Roger Goodell’s “good investment” PSLs — to buy Jets season tickets. He was thrilled when his time came. But with his wife and young son surrounded by drunks, he lasted less than one season.
The end came when a “fan” wobbled into the aisle next to where his wife was seated, unzipped his fly and urinated on the steps. Livid, he summoned an usher.
Solution: He was told that he and his family should change from the seats they had purchased and move rows higher in search of empty seats.
For a few bucks per game, that usher wasn’t going to go to war for him and his family.
He knew then it was all backward — the good guys had lost another.
It strikes me that every time TV chooses to delightfully focus on the biggest fools in the stands — “These fun fans are what it’s all about!” — that those in the broadcast truck responsible for these shots, 15 or 20 times per telecast, should have their loved ones sit among them, to really soak up the “NFL Experience.”
It also strikes me that every time a shot of the attention-starved, the uncivil, unsteady or just drunk and disruptive (before many drive home), appears as the essence of NFL fandom, watching the game and endless commercials at home sits an ex-patron pleased with his decision to save his self-worth.
It now seems that every Monday the internet includes videos of booze-fueled brawls from the games that Sunday — before, during and after. To wear the jersey of the visiting team is an invite having your jaw broken.
And Roger Goodell, at $63 million per to ignore what has corroded the NFL as a sport and a sports attraction — commissioner of the Nero Fiddles League — does nothing.
“It’s all about our fans,” he has proudly boasted. Which ones?
(New York Post)
SOME PEOPLE are just not to be trifled with. Empress Dowager Cixi began as a concubine to an emperor of the late Qing dynasty. She would come to rule China for 47 years, instituting numerous reforms. Later, she was scapegoated for an uprising that ended the Qing dynasty. She’d been dead three years, so it must have been her fault.
--On This Day in History, Shit Went Down: September 21, 1898--
When Cixi was 25, the emperor died, but she’d had a five-year-old son by him who became emperor. His dad had named regents in case of his death and Cixi was opposed and punted them, assuming the regency herself. Five-year-old boys have a tendency to do what their mom tells them, so she was effectively in charge of China.
The year was 1861, and China was in deep trouble. The Second Opium War had recently ended and left the country in chaos. Cixi oversaw the restoration of the Qing dynasty, allowing it to survive another five decades.
Cixi’s son died when he was only 18, and so Cixi threw the succession rules away, adopted her nephew, who was three years old, and got him installed as emperor so she could be regent for him as well. In 1889, when the emperor was 18, Cixi “retired” but remained a powerful head of the family, with most government officials deferring to her rather than to the emperor.
Nine years later when the emperor decided to speed up the pace of change, launching 100 days of reform in politics, culture, and education. Cixi and more conservative members of government saw the reforms as too radical, fearing they would weaken the country. So, on September 21, 1898, she staged a coup d’état. She had the leaders of the reform movement executed and the emperor was exiled to house arrest for the remainder of his life.
Cixi would later implement reforms in China at a more moderate pace, but China had problems that were beyond salvaging. She died in 1908, and in 1911 the Xinhai Revolution brought an end to China’s last imperial dynasty. She was posthumously blamed, and history viewed her as a ruthless despot for many decades. More recent examinations determined she managed to maintain political order in a time of great turmoil.
THE SLOW-MO COUP
by Mark Danner
Scarcely an hour before and a couple miles away—just as I was shuffling off the Ellipse with my half-frozen, flag-wielding fellows to march up Constitution Avenue toward the Capitol, where, the ranting president had vowed to us, “I’ll be there with you!”—Trump was climbing into the Beast, the presidential limousine. When the driver took the wheel to return his precious cargo to the White House, Trump grew instantly irate. “I’m the fucking president!” he screamed to his Secret Service protectors. “Take me up to the Capitol now!”
They had refused, of course, and went on refusing, even after the enraged President seized one of the agents at the throat. Or so White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson recounted to the January 6 Committee, unleashing a cascade of furious denials. Did the president really respond to this thwarting of his will with violence? Perhaps a better question to have explored was: What would the president have done had those Secret Service agents obeyed? How would that day have unfolded? For it is clear that he had some plan, clear that what was intended to seem an impromptu visit to the Capitol had been well thought out, at least for Trump. "Cass, are you excited for the sixth?," Rudy Giuliani had asked Hutchinson as they left the White House four days before. "It's going to be a great day." Why? she asked. "We're going to the Capitol. It's going to be great. The president is going to be there. He's going to look powerful. He's going to be with the members. He's going to be with the senators."
He's going to look powerful. In his mind's eye, did Trump see himself descending from the Beast amid the welter of bodies outside the Capitol, to the wild cheers of the beefy men pummeling the police — and turning from their violent work to howl and slam their gloved hands together or raise their fists — and to the shouts of noncombatants arrayed in their Trumpian finery milling about the Capitol lawn? There in his chic black overcoat he would have waved, smiled, thrust his fist in the air as the tens of thousands of his faithful, far and near, raised their voices in a bloodcurdling roar. And finally, after shaking scores of hands, taking a few selfies, and perhaps offering an inspiring word or two through a megaphone, he would have led the crowd up the steps, as the cheers rose deafeningly and the little screens of the cell phones held aloft conveyed him making his triumphant way up to the domed temple in thousands of miniature images.
For had the president chosen to stride up those steps, who would have dared to stop him? His followers would have fallen in behind him and the Capitol police would have fallen away before him and he would have breached the doors himself, his golden orange hair shining beneath the mythic white dome in the crisp golden sunlight of that historic January day.
(New York Review of Books)
1902 — LONDON RETAINS A SPECIAL PLACE in the gazetteer of Russian revolutionaries — the safest place in the world for the political refugee. Berlin is the capital of the country with the largest, most powerful Social Democratic Party. They won almost half the votes in the last general election based on universal suffrage. Paris is the capital of the country with the longest tradition of revolution. Not a single party now existing but has been involved at some time in armed uprising, advocated seizure of power, or been discovered plotting to stage a mass insurrection. I visited both cities in 1895 and soaked up the experiences of our German and French comrades.
But London ranks in a different table, almost seems from another planet. This is the capital city of the country which not only invented capitalism but also discovered the first principles of how its invention worked. Without such British political economists as Adam Smith and Ricardo and Mill, Marxism might still be waiting to be evolved. Not only has London played host to Bakunin and Herzen in the past, Kropotkin and Tchakovsky today, it is renowned above all as the home, for 40 years, of that otherwise stateless, proscribed emigrant, Karl Marx. German and French authorities, for all their protestations, collaborate with the Russian secret police. Maybe it is because the London authorities feel so superior to all these crude and cruel European autocrats, regarding even the tsar of all the Russias simply as an Asian warlord, that they refuse to believe any foreign conspirators, with unpronounceable names, can ever do any harm. They will never hand over any legal resident, whatever his nationality, who does not wish to leave.
— Lenin, as channeled by Alan Brien
THE NIEMAN-CARLSEN CHESS MYSTERY
by Andrew McGettigan
“Chess speaks for itself,” Hans Niemann said last month after unexpectedly defeating the world number one, Magnus Carlsen, in Miami. He beat him again in the Sinquefield Cup in St Louis on September 4. The following day Carlsen pulled out of the tournament, announcing his withdrawal on Twitter ten minutes before play was scheduled to start. He wouldn’t give a reason, but embedded a YouTube clip of Jose Mourinho saying: “If I speak, I am in big trouble.”
Rumors spread that Carlsen suspected Niemann of cheating. As amateur online Pinkertons speculated how a competitor might evade the tournament’s airport-style security checks, one of the more sensational suggestions involved the transmission of computer-aided moves via Morse code to vibrating anal beads. It was quickly forgotten that what was at stake was the career of a fast-rising 19-year-old, accused of unfair, outside help – the chess equivalent of doping.
Carlsen may not have spread any allegations himself, but he did nothing to stop them either. And then, yesterday evening, facing Niemann again in the sixth round of the Julius Baer Generation Cup, he resigned on the second move. He once more refused to explain his actions, turning down requests for comment or interview. The Generation Cup is an online tournament where players dial in from home; Carlsen is in Norway, Niemann in New York; both were live on camera, both expressionless for the few seconds of connection. It was a divisive gesture. Spectators and media tended to view it as unsporting: a dirty protest that should perhaps see Carlsen ejected from the competition for bringing the game into disrepute.
There’s a chance that Carlsen will be drawn against Niemann in the knockout stages that begin on Thursday. If he resigns then, he’ll be eliminated from the competition. The Generation Cup is part of a tour initiated by Carlsen and organized by the Play Magnus Group. He still holds a minority stake in the company and acts as its public face, which makes his behavior all the harder to understand: the pairing had long been scheduled and was an obvious flashpoint given what had happened two weeks earlier.
The Generations Cup’s tournament director, Arne Horvei, said on Sunday that the organizers had no concerns about Niemann after examining his recent games and there were no grounds for rescinding any invitations. Ken Regan, a computer scientist who runs a model designed to spot players getting covert assistance, has also given Niemann’s recent play a pass. He did concede, however, that his model would not be able to spot if Niemann had managed to spy on Carlsen’s opening preparations, a separate avenue of online speculation.
The only evidence of cheating in the public domain relates to Niemann’s early track record in online play. It raises complex questions about the participation of children in adult competition and the relative status of online misdemeanors, whether youthful or otherwise. Niemann insists that he has never cheated in chess played across a board and stopped cheating online when he stopped being a child.
He has admitted to being twice barred from chess.com, the largest online chess platform (hosting ten million games a day). The first time was at the age of 12, when he and a friend played in a prize money online tournament while consulting a device; the second time at 16, when he used engine assistance in what he described as “random,” “unrated” games. This has raised suspicions, as he claimed he was merely trying to improve his rating, but you cannot improve your rating by playing unrated games.
On September 8, chess.com put out a press release indicating that they had “detailed evidence … that contradicts his statements regarding the amount and seriousness of his cheating.” It turned out they had suspended Niemann again immediately after his St Louis game against Carlsen and removed him from their flagship tournament, the Global Championship.
This is all very murky. On September 4, the platform’s “chief chess officer,” Danny Rensch, was tweeting his excitement at the prospect of Niemann defeating Carlsen. The next day Niemann was persona non grata and the target of endless online speculation.
There is a serious discrepancy here: chess.com has done what the Generation Cup did not, even though it is not directly involved in either of September’s controversial tournaments. Niemann appears to have played no games on the site since late August.
The situation is further complicated by the fact that at the end of August, the Play Magnus Group accepted a takeover bid of $80 million from chess.com. It’s possible that Carlsen is party to information held by chess.com that he is not at liberty to pass on to other parts of the Play Magnus Group until the deal goes through.
The multiplicity of possible interpretations is exhausting. At the moment, nothing speaks for itself, and that’s a big problem for the state of the game at large as well as Carlsen’s personal reputation, with this all coming so soon after he chose to relinquish his world title.
(London Review of Books)
RUSSIA SAYS US "WRECKED" UKRAINE TALKS, BUT PEACE IS STILL POSSIBLE
A US official rejects Putin’s claim that NATO sabotaged a "peaceful settlement" with Ukraine early in the war. Whatever happened then, it is not too late for diplomacy in this perilous moment.
by Aaron Mate
In his Sept. 21 speech announcing an escalation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused NATO states of sabotaging a peace deal that could have ended it months ago.
At talks brokered by Turkey in March, Putin said, “Kiev representatives voiced quite a positive response to our proposals... But a peaceful settlement obviously did not suit the West, which is why, after certain compromises were coordinated, Kiev was actually ordered to wreck all these agreements.”
Speaking at the United Nations hours later, President Joe Biden criticized the Russian leader but did not address his claim that the US thwarted negotiations.
Asked about Putin’s remarks, officials from the White House’s National Security Council (NSC) and the State Department offered differing responses.
An NSC official referred me to the Ukrainian government for comment about “their peace negotiations in the spring.” But overall, the official added, “it is inaccurate that the U.S. discouraged Ukraine from seeking a peace agreement. Throughout this conflict, we have said that it is up to Ukraine to make their own sovereign decisions.”
A State Department spokesperson did not address Putin’s rendering of the March-April negotiations, and instead focused on the period before the invasion.
“As part of our efforts to deter President Putin from launching a full-scale invasion of Ukraine’s sovereign territory on February 24, 2022, the United States consistently spoke of the two paths Russia could choose: dialogue and diplomacy, or escalation and massive consequences,” the State Department wrote. “We made genuine and sincere efforts to pursue the former, which we vastly preferred, but Putin chose war.”
Asked if it had any response to Putin’s account of the peace talks that occurred after the invasion, the State spokesperson did not respond.
The Russian government has not offered any additional detail or evidence for Putin’s claim that Ukraine and Russia were close to a “settlement,” and that Kiev’s NATO backers intervened to “wreck” it. But the Kremlin is also not the first to assert it. The claim originated with sources close to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who described the episode to Ukrainian media outlet Ukrayinska Pravda.
According to their account, talks between Ukraine and Russia collapsed after then-UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited Kiev in April and informed Zelensky that Putin “should be pressured, not negotiated with.” Johnson also relayed that “even if Ukraine is ready to sign some agreements on [security] guarantees with Putin,” Western nations “are not.”
That report was followed this month by an overlooked disclosure from former White House Russia expert Fiona Hill. Citing “multiple former senior U.S. officials,” Hill wrote that “Russian and Ukrainian negotiators appeared to have tentatively agreed on the outlines of a negotiated interim settlement” in April. Russia would withdraw to its pre-invasion position, while Ukraine would pledge not to join NATO “and instead receive security guarantees from a number of countries.”
If the Ukrainian Pravda account is accurate, then it was the UK’s Johnson, presumably acting at the behest of the US, that undermined this agreement.
And even if Putin is exaggerating the negotiations’ progress, or Western responsibility for their collapse, his claim that Russia and Ukrainian officials were close to a “peaceful settlement” signals that one may still be possible.
David Ignatius, the Washington Post foreign affairs columnist, appears to be the only establishment media journalist who reported Putin’s remarks. In Ignatius' view, the Russian leader’s claim about a thwarted peace deal in the spring offers a potential, if unlikely, “off-ramp” today. Invoking the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, Ignatius compared Putin’s comment to the message from Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev that offered President John F. Kennedy “a path to de-escalation.” As with Khrushchev’s private overture to Kennedy, Putin’s claim about peace talks, Ignatius writes, is now Biden’s “letter to answer.”
As for the Ukrainian government, he added, Kiev “needs a reality check about its longer-term battlefield prospects.” That seems unlikely: in response to Putin’s threat that Russia could use nuclear weapons to defend itself, a Zelensky advisor urged the US and other powers to pledge “swift retaliatory nuclear strikes to destroy the nuclear launch sites in Russia,” if Moscow “even thinks of carrying out nuclear strikes” in Ukraine.
If the White House is to heed Ignatius’ advice and pursue an off-ramp with Russia, the US approach to diplomacy may also require a reality check. Despite the State Department’s claim to have “made genuine and sincere efforts” for “dialogue and diplomacy” with Russia prior to the invasion, the available record tells a different story.
As the Ukraine crisis escalated in January, a US official specializing in Russia relayed that “the Russians are still interested in a real dialogue,” according to the Washington Post. Russia’s goal, this official said, is “to see whether Washington is willing to discuss any sort of commitment that constrains U.S. power." But in the ensuing weeks leading up to Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion, Washington made clear that such constraints were a non-starter.
Russia’s core demands came on two tracks. The Kremlin asked the US and NATO to return their nearby military footprint to pre-1990s levels by withdrawing offensive weaponry and troops from states on Russia’s borders. As for Ukraine, Moscow sought guarantees that Kiev would not join NATO and that it would finally implement the 2015 Minsk accords, the agreement to end Kiev’s war with Russia-allied rebels in Ukraine’s Donbas region. That eight-year war, triggered by the 2014-US backed Maidan coup, left an estimated 14,000 dead, with over 80% of civilian casualties since 2018 occurring in the breakaway, rebel-held Donbas regions.
On all fronts, the US and allies balked.…