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Off the Record (Sept. 28, 2022)

LAUREN SINNOTT: I’m painting a new mural as part of the Art for Alleyways project in Fort Bragg! It will depict one strand of Fort Bragg’s interwoven history: Finnish immigration during the late 1800s and early 1900s. These immigrants brought a strong tradition of cooperation for the common good. They wove a social network with plays, presentations, music and dance, labor organizing and enjoying refreshments together after a cleansing sauna. Check the pictures to see where, how, why I always trace a paint lid somewhere and what Suomi means. I know some of you know!

See why I'm better known in Ukiah here but also know that I'm so happy to be working in the center of Fort Bragg, our wonderful, vibrant coastal city.

KING CHARLES THE THIRD, a mini-review: Very good on environmental issues, excellent on modern architecture, most of which he correctly considers an international abomination. But otherwise unappealing. He's the beginning of the end for the monarchy.

OUR ROYAL FAMILY, the Kennedys, came and went fast with the ill-fated Kennedy brothers, John and Bobby, with no heirs in sight, unless you're among the millions of blind, deaf and dumb who yearn for the Trumps.

TWK made the best (and only possible) case for the disgraced former Ukiah cop, Kevin Murray last week. The DA himself seems to be making a retroactive case for his processing of the Peoples' prosecution on the nearly impenetrable County website. And it is unconvincing, as you can read for yourselves elsewhere in the ava. A jury wouldn't have agreed to let Murray slide, which is why we got a see-through phony plea deal that was a gift to the defendant.

WITHOUT rehashing the entire sordid mess, somehow, some way, Murray eluded what he had truly deserved — a tour in the state prison system. The recommendation of the Sonoma County Probation Department, to whom the Murray case was farmed out, thought the defendant deserved at least a year in a county jail. And the SoCo assessment of Murray was written without the knowledge of the DA's own investigation because the DA withheld it. Why? There's an X factor here somewhere, an unknown consideration that let Murray slide, with poor old Heidi Larson shoved up front by the DA to take the blame for the deal, a defeated-looking woman who looks like she goes home and watches cat videos.

BUT MAYBE MURRAY isn't an unrepentant sociopath, maybe he's grateful, maybe he knows he's gotten a major break, maybe the rest of his life will be lived as a human-type being. I don't know the guy, but based on his priors he seems irremediable. 

MIKE GENIELLA has done an excellent job deconstructing Kevin Murray's miraculous escape from the consequences of his felonious rampage as a Ukiah cop. The logistics of Murray's escape were clumsily orchestrated by the DA, who lied about the availability of witnesses, and Judge Moorman, who lied about the genesis of her contradictory decision to, in her words, not let Murray think he was getting “a slap on the wrist” as she slapped him on the wrist for crimes that would get anybody else serious prison time.

IT'S THIS KIND OF THING that causes the mass cynicism Americans generally feel about the justice system and, locally, doesn't do much to inspire Mendo people to drive all day back and forth to Ukiah for jury duty, not to mention the judges' silence about their judges-only new County Courthouse no one but them want.

SAN FRANCISCO has periodically announced can't-miss schemes for reducing homelessness, the catch-all term for a variety of people who live outside because there are rules inside. Many millions of public dollars have been spent in pursuit of the noble goal of getting the unhoused indoors, most of the money going to the people who run homeless programs in SF and in the outback in places like Ukiah.

THE NUT of the prob, besides the cash and carry compassion of the people who run homeless programs, is that the drug and alcohol sectors of the homeless comprise the largest segment of the unhoused, and the only way to get them indoors is by compelling them via arrest and court order into locked-door rehab facilities. Which do not exist in the quantity needed. If a lightly populated vastness like Mendocino County can't get its suicidal drunks and hard drug cripples off the streets and out of the bushes despite literal millions vaguely aimed to that end, Frisco and the greater Bay Area is even less likely to accomplish that great feat for much larger numbers of the incapacitated. (At any one time, Mendo is home to no more than 300 walking wounded, people so screwed up they're unable or unwilling to care for themselves. There are roughly five hundred Mendo people tending to them.)

THE SOLUTION is much more genuinely low cost housing for working people, reinstitution of a national hospital system for all those millions rendered permanently incapacitated by this, that or the other thing.

DR. JENINE MILLER'S title seems to change with the seasons, but she's vaguely responsible for the County's mental health. Dr. Miller said recently that over the past 8 years, 184 of our fellow citizens have permanently, voluntarily, checked out. 

ANTONIO GUTERRES, SEC-GEN OF THE UNITED NATIONS: “Let’s have no illusions. We are in rough seas. A winter of global discontent is on the horizon. A cost-of-living crisis is raging. Trust is crumbling. Our planet is burning. People are hurting – with the most vulnerable suffering the most. The United Nations Charter and the ideals it represents are in jeopardy. We are gridlocked in colossal global dysfunction. The international community is not ready or willing to tackle the big dramatic challenges of our age. These crises threaten the very future of humanity and the fate of our planet.”

AND HERE I WAS wondering how the 49ers would do against Denver on Sunday. I get zero sense of urgency from the leadership, such as it is, but if that international symbol of elder abuse magically occupying the White House tottered out to his teleprompter tonight and said, “Listen up, you degenerate, insensate bastards, from this day forward it is illegal to drive your cars. You heard me. Park 'em. Permanently. Violators will get one warning. There will be no second,” I'd say, “You got my vote, Joe. I’m parking my car forever. 

FRED GARDNER on Favorite Books:

I'm with you on John R. Tunis, Dos Passos, Bardacke, Chekhov and others. My Graham Greene of choice is Travels With My Aunt and Shakespeare play Measure for Measure. I was thinking “How could he leave out Annie Proulx?” till you got to bat again. I'm with Betsy Cawn on Fowler and Goffman. Did you ever read Christina Stead? Did anybody mention Pynchon? Gore Vidal? Zora Neale Hurston? Francine Prose? Charles Willeford? Upton Sinclair? Robert Stone? It's just a big wide fictional world and we're all damn lucky to be readers!

Here's a sleeper: Leaves in the Wind by Gwyn Thomas, a Welshman. Little, Brown 1949, republished by Monthly Review in the '60s. 

POINTLESS blurb-like “stories” are common in the Chron and the Press Democrat, the two papers I read every day. Used to be that the junior-most reporter would be dispatched to ferret out some details of the nightly mayhem rather than the paper reporting, ’Three people murdered last night in Oakland.” If the reporter couldn't find any substantive stuff, he would file a story with a lot of fluff, but interesting fluff, on why he came up empty. 

OF COURSE given the givens of our imploding society, a nosy reporter could get him or herself a toe tag just for asking. There's still an open case of the murder of a retired cop who was shot protecting a television news crew from getting robbed. That happened in Oakland. All this is unnerving, of course, but even more unnerving, an experienced criminal of my broad acquaintance told me a couple of years ago that some gangs require at least one murder as an initiation fee, “and they can be of anyone.”

MIGHT BE TIME to stock up on iodine pills, what with Putin rattling his nukes as his failed attempt to colonize Ukraine goes so wrong that he's instituting a draft and reinforcing his frontline troops with convicts, promising them their freedom if they fight.

A LITERARY look at what may be coming up if Putin gets shoved all the way out of Ukraine, is Cormac McCarthy's ‘The Road,’ just about the bleakest fiction you'll read.

SOME OF US will recall that the Reverend Jim Jones brought his flock west to Mendo from Indiana because he'd read an article in Esquire that claimed the Emerald Triangle was somehow less susceptible to nuclear radiation drift than any other area of the United States. The article, which I have a vague recollection of reading wayyyyyyyyy back when that mag was a must-read, included a lot of dubious wind charts and weather stats allegedly supporting the thesis of the NorthCoast being out of nuke-drift.

JONAH RASKIN suggested favorite foods as a follow-up to favorite books. Why not? I said. Lists are fun, and JR proceeded to list his:

Not in order of importance and not all at once, please.

  • Hot dog and sauerkraut with mustard.
  • All beef hamburger, rare, with fries and ketchup.
  • French onion soup.
  • Foie gras and fuck the duck and the geese.
  • Dim sum in a genuine Chinese restaurant.
  • Ramen, increasingly a favorite.
  • Pizza, of course, always popular with me, excellent at Arizmendi in the City and elsewhere.
  • A Reuben on rye. 
  • Tarragon roast chicken with roasted carrots and mashed potatoes.
  • Garlic mussels steamed in white wine with fries on the side.
  • Grilled cheese sandwich 
  • Spaghetti with one meatball and red sauce, a dish introduced to me by the song ‘One Meatball’ by singer Josh White. 
  • Butter croissant with coffee.

THE GUY EATS GOOD, but some of these edibles must be special occasions. Foie gras? I wouldn't recognize it if it appeared on my plate. Anyway, thinking about it, and writing as a food-as-fuel guy lucky to be married to an excellent cook, I most fondly remember the fuel I consumed as a kid, and never quite got over hankering for — chokers (peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with lettuce if avail}; Eskimo pies, tamale pie, lamb chops, which went for about a dime a pound in 1950; deep fried chicken; mom's potato salad; Baby Ruth bars, none of which except for lamb chops I've eaten since.

AS A CHRONOLOGICAL ADULT, and in no particular order:

1. pot roast

2. ground beef sandwich on sour roll at the old Joe's at the foot of Taylor Street, SF

3. BLT's

4. lemon meringue pie my wife makes with real lemons

5. apple pie, home made

6. Beef and egg clay pot like they made at Woy Loey Goey's on Jackson in '67

7. Any kind of curry

8. Indian fry bread

9. East Indian roti

10. spaghetti

11. Homemade rum raisin ice cream made by my niece, Frances

12. bulk granola

13 Mex food and the donuts from the Redwood Drive-In, Boonville

14. chicken pot pie

15. pan-fried t-bone steak 

SORRY TO see Dave Foreman go. Only met the famous, or infamous, founder of Earth First! once. Foreman saw clearly the damage that had been done, and is being done, to the natural world and tried to do something about it. I liked him. He was smart and articulate, and quite reasonable. I thought he prevailed in his argument with Judi Bari who'd opportunistically denounced him as a sexist — defined as any man who argued with her — and then waylaid Foreman with her usual posse of dwarf bully girls at an event in Sebastopol. Foreman simply pointed out that he wasn't a social justice warrior, that his war was confined to the fight against the people gnawing away at the planet, many of them headquartered in the U.S.

FOREMAN also had to fight off the FBI who tried to frame him as an industrial saboteur. The feds, via an agent named Michael Fain, did successfully set up people close to Foreman by persuading them to take down a major power link out in the Arizona desert. Fain promised he would bring the dynamite. Surprise! (Note to all you kids out there; at any do-good meeting the people advocating violent felonies are the FBI agents. Or their snitches, of whom there are, or were, several in Mendocino County. One lives on Greenwood Road, another is a prominent Ukiahan, a third got a free pass to blow up his ex-wife and took off for New Zealand.)

THESE DAYS, the FBI, founded, and still functioning as a national political police force, is infiltrating retarded Trumpers like those idiots in Michigan and arresting them for felonious beer talk. And going all out to get Trump. The federal police apparatus functions these days an extension of the Democratic Party, and has been sicced on Trump ever since the big orange wahoo became politically viable.

SPEAKING of the new County Courthouse no one wants, the Supervisors' obliviousness to the magnitude of this looming boondoggle, the biggest boondoggle in Mendocino since the Potter Valley Diversion of 1910, was on full display this week, as they seriously talked about moving the DA across State Street to the old Rexall Drug Store, presently occupied by the Deadbeat Dad's offices. (Where incompetent lawyers and connected cops go to die.) 

A WHOLE LOT of County offices besides the DA's crew will have to find new quarters when the new County Courthouse goes up, the lucrative contract work being done by a Sacramento outfit as local labor, as usual, gets stiffed. And the new County Courthouse is a cinch major eyesore among other reasons to oppose it. Simply moving the DA across the street from his present office behind those Chilean Secret Police one-way windows hardly addresses getting him and his legal crew up and down Perkins Street in a timely, efficient manner. The proposed County Courthouse at the foot of West Perkins is not defensible, even less defensible than Mendocino County maintaining nine judges, the most judges per capita of any population in the state. The County did fine with two judges for a hundred years.

ALBERTO ALDACO is running for the Fort Bragg City Council. He has lived in FB for eight years. Prior to Mendo, he lived in Sacramento. He makes his way in a business he owns called Tech Guru. Aldaco writes on his Facebook page: “So my political campaign sign got taken down by a “mysterious” person/entity, who won’t be named. But regardless, it’s disappointing to see that the only Spanish speaking person of color, sign got taken down. It’s more symbolic than anything, it is not just a disrespectful throw at me but more importantly, it’s a slap in the face to the Spanish speaking community. We need to do better guys, as a community. We are all part of the same community and we are only going to improve as one unit together. Together, we can !”

THIS KID seems quick to play the race card, but it's sure to resonate with the Coast’s Green Hairs. Note to Aldaco: Dude! Everyone's campaign signs get taken down. That's how you can tell it's election time in Mendocino County. You're not being singled out.


Trying to hit some not already mentioned.

  • Barbara Tuchman: The Proud Tower, The Guns of August, The Zimmermann Telegram. (Call these three a WW1 trilogy and count 'em as one.)
  • Stilwell and the American Experience in China. (Great background on American relations with China and a great WW2 story.)
  • William Shirer: Memoirs: A 20th Century Journey (3 volumes). From Iowa to Paris, Vienna, Rome, Berlin and everywhere else. I'm such an ignoramus I still haven't read Rise & Fall of 3rd Reich except as serialized in the Reader's Digest when I was in junior high in 1962. Shirer was consistent, principled, and on the left.
  • Scott and Helen Nearing: The Maple Sugar Book. A good entry into their books. Much of is it how-to-do practical stuff, but the more enjoyable for all that. If you're interested in farming, forestry, gardening, arboriculture, homesteading, check out Scott and Helen!
  • George Eliot: Middlemarch... and everything else, especially Felix Holt (he's a radical), Daniel Deronda (looks at Jewish life), and Romola (Florence at time of Savonarola). 
  • Emile Zola: L'Assommoir/The Gin Palace… and the whole Rougon-Macquart series, especially Germinal, Nana, The Masterpiece.
  • Ivan Turgenev: A Sportsman's Sketches. If you won't read or re-read this, I'm gonna come and kick the piss out of you! Sorry, but it's for your own good!
  • Victor Hugo: Les Miserables. Get a good audio version. It'll blow your ass away!
  • Gabrielle Roy: The Tin Flute. One could call this French-Canadian author the godmother of that whole generation of great 20th century Canadian women writers.
  • Vladimir Nabokov: The Defense. For us chess freaks, and one of his best things.
  • Neal Bascomb: The Perfect Mile. For us track freaks. Lots of fun, the story of the 4 minute mile and more.
  • Paul Gallico: Farewell to Sport. Funny, and with sharp insight into the mechanics of trying to do anything in sports. A sweet period piece about New York in the 20's and 30's. Roger Kahn's entertaining biography of Dempsey put me onto Gallico, who also comes up in Shirer's memoirs.

OK, by my count, that's twelve.

STEVE NOTES: “ALL of these books are on Our Side, with the workers, the farmers, and the performers.  Except Nabokov, all of these authors are more or less decently on the left. (I think it's safe to say, without qualification, that our boy Nabokov was not on the left.  The others maybe need the “more or less” fudge. Like, I think Turgenev's mom owned about a million acres in Russia, and some of the others were from privileged backgrounds which may have occasionally tainted their views.)”

THE WAY WE LIVE NOW. A Los Angeles bar owner has slammed the city council for overlooking the crime threatening to take over the public areas of the vast city. To illustrate his beef Paul Scrivano sent a video to the city council of a street nut throwing a bag of shit at him when he asked the guy to leave the entrance to his bar. “It’s a true feeling of helplessness,” Scrivano said. “It’s not the end of civilization when someone… goes to the bathroom on the street. It’s the end of civilization when the government looks past that, and when the government says that’s okay. LAPD tells me they’re just unable to write tickets, write citations, make arrests for these levels of crime, so that’s what causes the end of civilization,” he concluded. The video? the Los Angeles City Council responded by requesting that Scrivano not send “unsolicited” and “inappropriate” content to them. 

A READER WRITES: “I haven't seen one word about murdered journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, an American citizen, and a Christian for Christ's sake! You've got room for neocons like James Kunstler, assorted MAGA freaks in your on-line comments of the week, and yet Shireen slips under your radar? I realize this is all random, but…”

ED REPLY: The murder of Shireen Abu Akleh by the Israelis was extensively covered everywhere else in all the left-lib media, from the NYT to Counterpunch. I don't think people read the ava for international news, not that we ignore it, but our focus is pretty much local, the big picture stuff of interest to us only when it comes with unique perspectives not generally available elsewhere — the LRB is better than all the left-lib pubs put together, as was Alexander Cockburn, who will always be sorely missed by us. Kunstler? Kunstler is the best writer by far on the other side, and he's very funny. I think it's intellectually healthy for us pwoggies to occasionally look up from our catechisms, don't you?

JAYNE THOMAS'S MEMORABLE BOOKS: I’ve been reading since I was three, and one book that shocked my core was Dracula (Bram Stoker)! As a 17 year old freshman at Indiana University living in the Gothic dorm quadrangle, I was lent the book by Seniors, as per custom, when my roommate was gone for a weekend. Mine was a Dark and Stormy Autumn one, with tree branches creaking, paned casement windows banging, lightning, thunderous rain, and I spent all night devouring it in terror. So perfect! (It’s also a delicious reread.)

Later, I liked Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire (and the film, too, one of Tom Cruise’s few (to me) admirable roles) but am disgusted with other contemporary authors who humanize these classic demons. 

  • 100 Years of Solitude (Gabriel García Marqués). A rare novel that made me laugh out loud throughout.
  • OK, so do P.G. Wodehouse’s books on Jeeves and Wooster (as does the brilliant PBS series with Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie.)
  • The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark. (Carl Sagan)
  • Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution. (Mona Eltahawy)
  • The Case Against Israel (Michael Neumann)
  • 1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus (Charles C. Mann) 
  • Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America. (Ira Berlin)
  • Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire’s Slaves. (Adam Hochschild)
  • BAD or the Dumbing of America (Paul Fussell) (30+ years and it’s only gotten worse!)
  • Anything by Dorothy Parker.
  • The Mother Tongue: English and How it Got That Way. (Bill Bryson)
  • Baseball and Lesser Sports. (Wilfrid Sheed). Baseball Haiku: The Best Haiku Ever Written about the Game.
  • I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections. (Nora Ephron) (Hilarious and suggests I’ve no doubt forgotten volumes (!) that belong in this list.) 

LINDY PETERS, FORT BRAGG: “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.”


[1] I am a small cog in the vast machine but in my own way, yes, I helped to grow the beast. Managing the growth of mankind and population was never really possible until the advent of the technologies that exist today, and I for one believe that any such management can only take the form of genocide as we see in progress today. No pat on the back. My arms cannot bend that far anymore. All I have ever done was to do my best to live small, never be greedy, and to always give back to my communities and the people around me. I continue to do this to my best abilities every day. I am nothing special my friend, I am just another stupid man and one of me is more than enough for this world to bear. But by my example I hope that others may see value and consider doing their best as well to give more than they take, at least when it comes to people.

[2] The Amish are worth considering. I have Amish/Mennonite/Anabaptist ancestors and their influence is still felt. They’re best situated to survive what’s coming – strong families and social ties, faith, non-dependence on the state. If the electricity gets turned off, they’ll be just fine. I’m always interested by the fact that they let their kids freely partake of the supposedly wider culture in their teens, and they can leave the Amish way of life behind if they wish – yet, not many do. The pull of close families and communities where you are truly safe among like-minded friends of your own culture is a powerful thing.

[3] Another more glaring example is the reporting on Putin. Putin has Stage 4 Cancer, he’s had 3 heart attacks, he has Parkinson’s Disease, he’s on his last legs — all of which I’ve seen in the legacy media in the past 6 months. Meanwhile, Biden appears to be in the middle stages of dementia, and the stroke he had in the 90s is never mentioned.

[4] I remember sitting at a stoplight in the early 00’s as I watched a homeless addict pedal by on my bicycle that was ganked the weekend before during a neighborhood block-party. I gave chase down some alleys but he got the slip. The houseless would party at the beach and retire to parks and the SD river valley for Dirty Mike & the Boys antics.

Society has become TOO MUCH of a situation where WE have to pay for YOUR poor life choices.

And THEY are becoming legion.

[5] What can be done?

That’s the question.

On one hand, the DC underworld elites are fine with the way things are – Ukraine as a laundromat for warmongers, grifters, and politicians on ‘both’ sides. There is no motivation for change.

But for us, here’s a start:

Free the press! Encourage political and governmental transparency. Preserve personal privacy. Free Julian Assange and Edward Snowden. Open the electoral system to fairly include third parties, and genuine choices. Secure the vote – hand written hand counted.

Get money out of politics. (how is a whole nother question.) Revoke personhood status of corporations. 

The role of our politicians should be to take this list from the people, prioritize, and break down each one into doable steps, and then implement those steps. That is the role of government. 

To get the ball rolling, the first thing that needs to happen is to secure the vote. Before November.

[6] I hate to say this, but I really do feel that these [stalker] acts against women by men are really not taken seriously a lot of the time. Even rape. Let's hope it doesn't get to this point with this creep. I think any man would be surprised to know how vulnerable most women feel, how we always feel a need to look behind our backs. This is something that I and most women I know-my sisters, friends, elders, nieces- Have ingrained in us, not even from our mothers warning us, but from our own experiences. How Judge Russell Roeca does not consider this is, to me, misogynistic, the criminal elements aside. [Roeca is a SF judge appointed by Newsom] When I used to bartend, this customer used to sit at the bar, stare me down, then when I left sometimes at 2-3am, he would be sitting at the bust stop in front waiting for me, telling me I was his future wife and that we were going to have a family, and that I'd eventually succumb to him. I was 25. I told him repeatedly that he was a jerk, to fuck off, that I thought he was disgusting. I told him off most every night after this occurred regularly. My male colleagues finally started to physically threaten him, and he eventually never showed up again. This was the 90's and the world was less scary. 

[7] 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.

[8] 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.

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