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DRY WEATHER with slightly cooler than normal temperatures are forecast today through tonight. Frost is expected for some of the interior valleys early this morning and again early Monday morning. A front will bring light rain to mostly Del Norte and northern Humboldt counties on Monday. Another weak front may bring some more light rain Tuesday through Wednesday. Dry weather is expected for Thursday followed by a chance for rain Friday through Saturday. (NWS)
HUMMINGBIRD NEEDS A RIDE
We have a injured humming bird who needs a ride to Sonoma Wildlife Rescue about 15 minutes south of Santa Rosa either Sunday or Monday. Is anyone going that way?
Ronnie James <email@example.com>
UKIAH SHELTER PETS OF THE WEEK
This week we’re showcasing two handsome male dogs, Bear and Ollie. Bear is a 7 years young, mixed breed, neutered male. Bear spent some time in one of the shelter’s great foster homes, and he told us recently, “Hey, I'm just a dog, and I like the usual, you know…sniffing, exploring, and hanging out in the sun. I like to get my butt scratched, to pee on top of certain smells, and, of course, wag my tail. Oh yeah, when the human I’m hanging with calls me, I always go, just in case they want to give me some love. “
Ollie is a 1 year old, neutered Siberian Husky, and 53 ultra-handsome pounds. He’s an active dog who will need daily exercise and secure fencing. When meeting another dog, he is vocal but appears friendly, and he enjoys being with people. Ollie is a fan of playing tennis ball fetch, and it’s great to watch him as he plays. Ollie is a little aloof (not unusual in Huskies) and would probably do best in a home with older kids.
For more about our PETS OF THE WEEK, and all of our dog and cat guests, and ESPECIALLY our many adorable puppies, visit mendoanimalshelter.com.
Visit us on Facebook at: facebook.com/mendoanimalshelter/
For information about adoptions, please call 707-467-6453.
BEER AND BEETHOVEN With The Ukiah Symphony Orchestra
Enjoy the soothing sounds of Beethoven outdoors at the AVBC Beer Park, performed by the Ukiah Symphony Orchestra, Oct. 23, 1-3pm.
JONAH RASKIN: I am at the North Beach branch of the San Francisco Public Library, 850 Columbus Avenue, from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday October 25, 2022. Exploring the Beat Generation writers.
GLORIANA MUSICAL THEATRE RETURNS next weekend with a fabulous show, Addams Family: Young At Part. You don’t want to miss this amazing cast and production. Thank you for supporting youth theatre in our community!
JUDY FJELL CONCERT IN UKIAH OCTOBER 27
Singer-songwriter Judy Fjell is returning to Ukiah for a one-night concert on Thursday, October 27, 7:00 pm at the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, on Orchard Ave in Ukiah. Judy is the founder of the Inland Valley Women’s Chorus; she is a lesbian feminist and musical activist, and her songs burst with political relevance and joy of life. The Ukiah UkeTones ukulele group will provide an opening set. Tickets at the door are on a sliding scale, $20-30, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds.
Fjell has been a songwriter, teacher and choral director for decades; she has founded several other women’s choruses in Northern California and Montana, and the Music Empowerment nonprofit. In 1997 she returned to her home state of Montana, where she writes songs, teaches private music lessons and workshops, leads music for Unitarian Universalist congregations, and tours about once a year to the West coast. She is the founding director of Women Making Music weekend retreats and Summersing camps, has recorded 20 album collections, written over 300 songs, and continues to write lessons and songbooks for ukulele players, voice students, and spiritual seekers.
More information about the concert is available from Madge Strong, firstname.lastname@example.org or Mary Buckley, email@example.com, 707-621-0339.
COUNTY NOTES & other stuff
by Mark Scaramella
SUPERVISOR MULHEREN: “Throwing out random questions on Facebook or an online newspaper is not the same thing as asking me questions. MulherenM@MendocinoCounty.Org; 707-391-3664 text is best.”
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FROM AN UNBYLINED water agency meeting summary in last week’s Fort Bragg Advocate:
“County officials ended the update by noting that all of the water district managers ‘agree that another year of drought will present a hardship for the county and require water conservation, proactive management, and other measures’.”
That’s interesting because “conservation” is not on the County’s list of water agency priorities. In fact, nobody at the County level has mentioned or proposed any conservation beyond the self-evident restrictions posed by water shortages and outside agency curtailments.
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In the October 2022 CEO Report, CEO Darcie Antle reports “In an effort to streamline permit review and expedite services, the Building Division has assigned more reviews for smaller projects to field inspectors during office hours. Applications continue to be received for all types of projects; minor planning applications have increased by 70%, which includes Boundary Line Adjustments, Certificate of Compliance, Administrative Permits, and Categorical Exclusions.”
That’s supposed to be worthy of recognition of some kind, we supposed. But the planning department’s own permit status chart shows that they haven’t done much real planning work (depending on what they really mean by some of these terms and numbers). For example they only dealt with 3 new single family homes and 10 in the last three months. No multi-family units (which are supposedly slightly more affordable because of property and infrastructure economies). The backlog (“aging”) is quite large, perhaps due to staffing shortages that nobody seems to care about. As the text says most of the permits issued and inspections performed were for minor things which don’t involve actual buildings.
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SUPERVISOR JOHN HASCHAK:
“I appreciate the many people who showed up [at a Willits Town Hall meeting on Oct. 9] and Senator McGuire for his accessibility and openness. Senator McGuire is the Senate Majority Leader so we are fortunate to have him as our representative. He certainly gets things done on behalf of Mendocino County.”
“…gets things done on behalf of Mendocino County”? Like what? Haschak concluded his October report with a bold proposal to mitigate the effects of the ongoing drought: “Time to be thinking rain, rain, rain!”
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Governor Newsom’s Community Assistance, Recovery and Empowerment Act (CARE), aims not to commit anyone or set up conservatorships, but rather to see courts compel those who need it to get help. The homeless can refer themselves to CARE courts under this new law, which starts in Glenn, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, Stanislaus, Tuolumne and San Francisco counties next year (2023) and goes statewide in 2024. Or they can be referred by families, doctors, nurses, psychologists, social workers and others with whom they interact. They also can still refuse to participate. But once evaluated by a CARE court, they will undergo mental health and addiction treatment and receive supervised housing. There is no prison involved, no confinement. Just two years of shelter, a clinical team, a lawyer and a volunteer supporter with whom they can converse regularly.
— Thomas Elias
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AV COMMUNITY SERVICES DISTRICT Trustee Larry Mailliard told his colleagues last Wednesday night that he had attended a meeting of the Mendocino County Association of Fire Districts where Piercy Volunteer Fire Department Chief Pat Landergen had attended a recent Great Redwood Trail meeting because his department will end up having first responder responsibilities along the trail if it ever makes it north of Willits. According to Mailliard, Landergen was concerned about security, accidents, medical aids, access difficulties, impacts on neighbors, etc., and concluded, “It’s filled with nightmares!”
THAT MAY SOUND kinda paranoid, but only because we don’t think there will ever be a trail north of Willits, certainly not in our lifetime, just like there was never a train when it was the North Coast Railroad Authority. The Great Redwood Trail is a jobs program for Democratic Party hangers-on who will make more money on plans, consultants, grants, and delays than the old NCRA could ever dream of.
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LISA LATT TO TAKE OVER COUNTY PAYROLL (Good luck to her and County employees…)
From the Oct. 18, 2022, CEO Report
“On October 13th, the Executive Office Fiscal Unit met with senior budget staff from various departments and offices of Mendocino County. The agenda was to open discussions, on Zero Base Budgeting. … An open forum discussion also took place on the expectations of Zero Base Budgeting, focusing on finding ways for best implementation with the County’s General Fund departments. Several items came out of this initial discussion, such as specific needs for departments on salary projections and the desire to work more collaboratively with other departments and the possibility of supporting mutual needs. We would like to thank Social Services, the Sheriff’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office, the Assessor-Clerk- Recorder’s Office, and the Information Technology department for providing their time, experience, and expertise in support of this project. Future meetings are planned.
“Shortly after the conclusion of the September 13th Board of Supervisors meeting, the Executive Office Fiscal Unit began preparations to transition payroll processing from the Auditor-Controller/Treasurer-Tax Collector’s Office. One of the first actions was to interview and hire a new Payroll Manager. Please join us in welcoming Lisa Latt, who began on October 11th, on the Executive Office Payroll Team. We look forward to building a stronger team with Le Dang and Danielle Grilli providing the foundation for growth and resiliency within the County’s payroll system.”
“Zero based budgeting” is Supervisor Ted Williams personal hobby horse which he has been pushing since he was first elected in 2018. We have extensive experience with zero-based budgeting which basically means starting each fiscal year without a blank budget and building it up piece by piece with clear rationales for each piece. It does not apply — at all — to County government with budgets for mainly mandated services, grants, or time/day/shift coverage and pre-negotiated, pre-set wages and salaries. There’s nothing wrong with requiring each budget to be clearly explained and justified, but building the budget up each year from scratch based on mandated services that must be provided at known costs is a giant waste of time. Then again, Williams is good at wasting time on purely abstract concepts which, as County Union Rep Patrick Hickey recently noted, translates to Mendo’s many “go-nowhere ad hocs.”
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WE NOTICED that the Supervisors have quietly spent an as yet undetermined but sizable amount of money on fancy new Dell Computers for themselves. At their first meeting in October they seemed to be getting along ok with Apple laptops.
But at last Tuesday’s meeting they were all hiding behind large Dell computers/screens as the Apple laptops were still there but off to the side.
Of course, there has been no laudatory press release about these wonderful new machines nor what benefits they may provide. Perhaps if Williams had applied “zero-based budgeting” to this particular expense we’d find out what the fancy new machines do for the Board. (Could they be bullet-proof?) The optics are very bad too. Here they are refusing to consider a cost of living raise for their employees, but they can go out and buy new computers for themselves?
PROPOSITION 30’s NUMBERS are downright weird. It proposes to tax California’s very wealthy by imposing a 1.75% tax on income they make over $2 million per year. Somehow, according to the legislative analyst office, this is supposed to rake in between $3.5 and $5 billion dollars a year. According to census data, about 0.1% of Americans earn over $2 million a year, probably a bit higher in California. So that’s about 50,000 people generating, say $4 billion a year in new tax revenues, or an average of around $80k per multi-millionaire (proportionately, of course). $4 billion is 1.75% of about $57 billion. That means that maybe 50,000 people in California are together earning $57 billion dollars a year — over their first $2 million — in taxable income. 80% of the revenue from Prop 30 is supposed to fund electrical grid upgrades and electric vehicle subsidies. (The other 20%, oddly, will supposedly go to CalFire which is would nearly double their annual budget.) Governor Newsom is against Prop 30 because he calls it a subsidy for a few wealthy rideshare operators. But taxing 0.1% of California’s multi-millionaires doesn’t exactly sound like that. Why didn’t Newsom’s grand proposal to eliminate gas powered vehicles in California in 10-15 years include a funding stream proposal? Why didn’t the Legislature deal with it? How will Newsom pay for the hugely expensive electric car/grid upgrades if it doesn’t pass as he urges voters to vote No? We just don’t get it.
FROM THE SHERIFF:
During the month of October the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office has been swearing in new personnel. Currently we are on track to hire 6 corrections officers by the end of the month, and this is exactly what we need to see. We have been working on recruitment of local people to help us meet the needs of our communities. As we continue to recruit we also have to retain in order to continue filling our ranks.
Much if this is because our county is a wonderful place to live and work. For that I am grateful to all of our communities.
Law enforcement across the United States has been suffering losses in numbers and California is no exception. Early retirements and people simply quitting the job is plaguing police departments and Sheriff’s Offices. This combined with fewer police academy cadets is creating a vacuum, people simply aren’t entering the law enforcement profession as they have in the past.
Over the past 30 years I have always enjoyed my job. It is challenging and fulfilling at the same time. Working with our communities which have completely different needs from one end of the county to another is very rewarding and the deputies who work for us often find their personal niche in the communities they serve.
So we have to ask ourselves why is this happening. Exit interviews are revealing why this is occurring in policing. Much of it appears to be a lack of support by our leaders for those who serve us. There is a National narrative at work.
Police Officers and Deputy Sheriff’s are tied to the laws the legislators hand down along with the policies of the state. If the legislation is flawed, the people forced to enforce it will suffer the backlash, not the legislators. Much of this legislation has had a direct effect on crime. The felonious killing of police officers has risen by 57% in the United States, the job simply isn’t safe. The national narrative which continually pushes the police are the problem simply isn’t true.
We have to find balance and currently we have become so polarized our in our nation that I am afraid it’s going to take some very strong and dedicated leadership to make this happen. We have to start here in our communities.
George Floyd has become a household name in our nation, however when I mention the names of Michael Paredes and Joseph Santana, no one knows who they were. These men were police officers gunned down just a few months ago in California. If one person is to be remembered, all should be remembered.
The national narrative is telling us police violence is the problem however no one is talking about resisting arrest, assaults on officers or the personal responsibility of residents to obey the law. I don’t understand this, how did we get here.
Everyone is talking about our rights however no one is talking about responsibility. Rights and responsibility are connected to one another. No one will have their rights unless they exercise their responsibilities. It seems when a few refuse to excursive responsibility and aren’t held accountable, we all pay with the loss of our rights.
If a felon has no fear of his intended victims, then he must have fear of the police, the judge and a jury. This is the way things have to work in order to keep peace in a chaotic time. When we detect the crime, the criminal is often the person who will dictate the outcome of this encounter. No one is talking about that and it’s high time we start.
I am seeing new narratives being spun every day. If a person is on drugs the narrative is “self medicating” if a person attacks a deputy the narrative is “behavioral health”. Believe it or not there are criminals out there who commit crimes because they are criminals.
In the past few decades we have seen these narratives used in many cases as excuses to remove the personal responsibility we should all share. I have seen many cases in which the narrative is clearly asking people to simply outsmart their common sense, that never works out for anyone.
Let’s continue to do things better in Mendocino County than what is being done across the remainder of the state and the nation. Let’s continue to support each other, be good neighbors no matter what someones background or political beliefs may be. Let’s continue to support our deputies and first responders.
This has been very helpful in allowing more recruitment of the best candidates we can find. Don’t allow the national narratives and polarization of our nation to polarize Mendocino County.
Remember we are still hiring for Dispatchers, Deputy Sheriffs, Corrections Deputies and Professional Staff. It’s a great place to work and a career one can be proud of.
Sheriff Matt Kendall
COUNTY POT PROGRAM STILL A MESS, ONLY BIGGER
by Jim Shields
What a difference a year makes.
Last year, reacting to a bone-headed attempt by the County (with the exception of Supervisor John Haschak) to expand marijuana production by an across-the-board 10 percent, growers broke all records to be broke in the history of the local pot industry.
This notable feat was accomplished in the wake of the North Coast Regional Water Board issuing an investigative order that found that our area was already “inundated” with with weed resulting in the ongoing destruction of watersheds.
As I’ve always said, you can’t grow weed without water, so the 2021 sky-high overproduction resulted in further depletion of water supplies during the second year of declared drought emergency orders.
While last year ended with the exit of most of the outside big monied pot businesses, it also triggered the current economic crisis of long-established local businesses, especially those in the unincorporated areas of this county. Almost all small businesses are hurting, some worse than others as suppliers and vendors demand cash on delivery. The real estate market is flooded with homes and properties abandoned by people who have cut a trail to parts unknown. Newspapers are full of legal notices advertising sales on mortgage defaults.
Even though everyone — growers, non-growers, businesses, and local governments — have historically benefitted from “pot dollars,” no one seems to know or has any ideas about what to do about this mess we now find ourselves in.
Ironically, the Board of Supervisors have been holding more tedious, infertile meetings with same old die-hard attendees espousing their same old grievances, where the ostensible goal is to attempt to disburse millions of dollars in state grants to several hundred folks who signed up nearly six years ago under the failed cannabis ordinance that over 90 percent of growers have avoided like the plague. These monies are earmarked to assist growers in complying with environmental review and other resource regulations, as well as an “equity” program for people who “suffered” from the “War On Drugs.”
Again, ironically, it was the enforcement of prohibition weed laws that resulted in pot netting thousands of dollars per pound. Most growers looked at it as not “suffering” from the “War On Drugs” but just one of the risks of doing business. It was called the greatest price support system ever created.
Many argue now — and I’m one of them — that those were the good old days when you had a system that actually worked: growers made money, law enforcement made money, government made money, and local economies were stimulated.
And then it all came to crashing and crushing end with legalization epitomized by the cold-cocking blows of Prop 64 and local blundering à la Mendocino County.
I always warned folks, be careful of what you wish for because with legalization comes regulation and everything that goes with it.
Anyway, somebody who has some thoughts on our current dilemma is Sheriff Matt Kendall, who wrote a piece on the ongoing chaos surrounding pot.
Here’s some excerpt’s from what Kendall had to say.
Recently I read an article, in which a press release completed by Attorney General’s Office was quoted. I don’t know how many people in Mendocino County read this article however I found it to be a little insulting. This article seemed to be declaring the legalization of marijuana a success in California. Sadly, as I read the article and realized, Sacramento must be a long way from Mendocino County. I began to wonder if the policy makers truly understand what’s going on in rural California. It’s not that they haven’t been told yet it seems they probably aren’t listening. Clearly the roll out of legalized marijuana has been a much different experience for those of us living in the emerald triangle.
Reading this press release made me realize those of us who have seen our county at a time prior to legalization and at a time following it, have a much different view of what has occurred here. I can tell you, as a rural sheriff I feel as if the policy makers came to our county, hit it with a wrecking ball then began praising themselves for offering us a broom to clean up the mess.
The article stated, “California has the largest safe, legal and regulated cannabis market in the world, but unfortunately illegal and unlicensed grows continue to proliferate.” I have not seen a safe, legal, or regulated market in Mendocino County. I doubt the families of the homicide victims murdered in grow sites over the last few years would agree with this statement. I also doubt the legal cultivators, many of whom have poured their life savings into a failing system would agree either.
In 2020 I, along with other Northern California Sheriffs, met in Trinity County with members of the state’s marijuana policy team. During this meeting we asked several questions including, what are the plans for enforcement against drug trafficking organizations as well as how would they deal with the marijuana being diverted to the black market and shipped out of state. We also brought up the struggles of finding personnel and asked who would be handling the enforcement of the massive wave of illegal marijuana which we all knew was coming …
We asked if they had a target number of product production which would supply the needs of legal marijuana within the state. We pointed out the fact that producing beyond market saturation would cause diversions to the black market. The black market would have a negative impact on legal farms and as the prices drop, the violence, environmental impacts and damage to the legal farms would continue and escalate. If the black market isn’t dealt with all legal markets will fail …
Homicides, robberies, and environmental destruction have become the new normal for rural communities. We had two rolling shootouts in the Ukiah and Willits area on highway 101 this year. Drug Trafficking Organizations are not one trick ponies. Once they have established a footing in our rural areas, they bring fentanyl and other hard drugs as well as human trafficking, violence, and intimidation. We are seeing these things occur and continue to occur in our county. We simply can’t have this in Mendocino County. … Sadly, the CAMP (Campaign Against Marijuana Planting) program is a shadow of what it once was, we only received 7 days of assistance from them this year. The problem isn’t with boots on the ground, it’s the policies which have restrained us from making true impacts … Little to no enforcement on the illegal market has created the perfect storm for our communities.
We need the state policy makers to step up and provide more personnel for enforcement, also we need them to change the flawed policies which have brought these problems to our communities … Without changes in policies these issues will continue. Reach out to our state leaders and legislators, let them know we have a problem and together we can come together to find a solution.
My only comment on the Sheriff’s cogent piece is: We’ve passed the point of no return with pot regulation. It’s a failed experiment. Pot farming is defaulting — and it will take some time — back into from whence it came, albeit with scaled down balance sheets, because the only market that counts is shaded black.
Newsom Splits With Demos Over Prop 30 Tax Hike
Prop 30 is a November ballot measure that would hike taxes on millionaires to subsidize electric vehicles and fund wildfire response and prevention. It would raise annual personal income taxes on those making more than $2 million a year by 1.75%.
Prop 30 is expected to generate between $3 and $4.5 billion a year and will have the tax sunset by either 2043 or when California achieves a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 80% below 1990 levels.
The initiative is backed by the California Democratic Party but staunchly opposed by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom who is urging voters to reject it.
Newsom says the measure could destabilize the state’s budget which relies — some argue disproportionately — on taxes from the wealthy. With a recession already lurking just around the corner, September’s tax revenues came in $2.8 billion under estimates, putting the state’s coffers about $7 billion below recent economic forecasts, according to a Dept. of Finance report.
Polls from early October show that while Proposition 30 continues to enjoy a double-digit advantage in terms of support percentage amongst voters, but that support has dwindled from earlier polls, with total support coming under the 50% mark for the first time.
I expect Prop 30 will be decided, one way or the other, by a razor-thin margin.
Update On Windfall Profits Tax Special Session
According to Consumer Watchdog, 50 environmental and public interest groups wrote legislative leaders to back Governor Gavin Newsom’s call for a special legislative session to establish a cap on record California oil refiner profits.
“We thank Governor Newsom for rightly standing up for Californians who are being taken advantage at the gas pump by a cartel of oil refiners who are making windfall profits at their expense,” the groups wrote to Newsom, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate pro Tempore Toni Atkins.
“Legislative leaders must now follow through with a sensible and straightforward law to tax the unconscionable profits that refiners are reaping, not because of any ingenuity or hard work on their part, but because they are able to take advantage of hard-working consumers simply by gouging,” the letter concludes.
“As you know, California gas prices at the pump have reached stratospheric levels approaching $7 a gallon in some places. Only the legislature can answer the Governor’s call with a windfall profits tax that takes back the unreasonable profits oil refiners have been making off Californians’ pain at the pump,” the groups wrote.
“Consumer Watchdog research shows that the ‘gouge gap’ between the average price per gallon at the pump in California and what consumers pay in the rest of the United States is approaching $3 ... It's a consequence of five big oil refiners in California who make 97% of the gasoline and have intentionally restricted supply to artificially drive-up prices. Thus, a windfall profit tax is sorely needed to bring California gas prices under control.”
“In the second quarter of 2022, California’s five biggest refiners—Chevron, Marathon, PBF Energy Phillips 66 and Valero—raked in $26 billion in profits, virtually doubling profits from the year before. In June, California’s gouge gap with U.S prices was $1.25 per gallon and today it is more than twice that. Second quarter 2022 profits reported by the refiners for the Western region were three to ten times higher than they were the same quarter of 2021. They were also higher than in any other region reported
"At the end of the month, when these refiners begin issuing third quarter results, we expect to see still greater profits because production costs have not risen.”
The letter breaks down California’s environmental taxes and fees to refute refiner claims that they are the reason for stratospheric prices at the pump. These costs make up only 69 cents of the gap between what Californians pay on average for gas versus the rest of the country.
Here’s this week’s report from the Farm Bureau.
Hydroponics debate: Can crops raised without soil be organic?
A debate is raging within the organic farming community over whether crops grown in hydroponics systems can be sold as organic. Two recent court rulings backed the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s position that foods raised in hydroponic growing systems are eligible for organic certification. Some farmers argue that hydroponic crops cannot be organic because they are not grown in soil. A group of organic farms sued the USDA after officials refused to prohibit organic certification of hydroponic farms.
Comment period extended for proposed organic livestock and poultry standards
The public comment period has been extended on proposed changes to U.S. organic regulations for organic livestock and poultry production. A proposed rule clarifies living conditions, healthcare, transportation and slaughter practices. Recommended changes would also establish indoor and outdoor space requirements and stocking-density limits for poultry. The USDA has extended the deadline for comments from farmers and the public to Nov. 10.
(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 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live: http://www.kpfn.org)
Not to say that all growers are this way, but many had small gardens, paid a large (though probably not all) portion of their income tax – it’s hard to buy larger things like cars and land if you don’t have an income – and contributed to local nonprofits, kids sports, PTA, etc.
More importantly to our economy, they bought locally – groceries, restaurant food, drinks in bars, cars, weed whackers, clothes, gifts, etc. (Also many also ran local businesses which provided services to the community) Now those local businesses, non profits, kids sports teams are all suffering.
In turn, those businesses aren’t buying advertising contributing to your local news sources having less money to pay freelancers which provide your news so in this next round, you are going to see favorite restaurants go under or reduce hours, the clothing store you rely on for your favorite socks is going to collapse, your kid’s sports team won’t have the money to buy new uniforms or to take kids to pizza after a win, the local hospice won’t be able to support your mother when she passes, etc.
Unless we find some way of getting money circulating, we’re all going to hurt.
CHRIS SKYHAWK: Good morning friends, this post will be a rare one, and perhaps never repeated. I am going to praise a corporation!! United Airlines was awesome, with my current limitations I had arranged wheelchairs at each airport to get me to my connecting flights - since Rochester is a mid-sized city, you can’t fly there direct, so as anyone who travels knows, you are always slightly worried that you have covered all your necessaries, I had heard about all the massive backlogs at airports now that ppl. Are flying again - so I was pretty worried, since if I Get in a race with a turtle the odds are even, though I would bet on me!, either way - I was not looking fw. to hobbling across Chicago/ O’hare! As you can imagine it’s a funny yet painful picture! I even showed up a day early for my flight WTF! Stroke boy and his stroke brain crack me up - my dad purchased the tix for me. Stroke boy got real, really fixed on departure day being on Oct. 12, when he checked the email from United - all the time of the flights were as he expected - he failed to notice in the smaller print the actual day, jeezus! So my dear friend Atta had driven me down. We get to the desk and they say, “Mr. Skyhawk we weren’t expecting you today, your flight is tomorrow” - but again they were awesome - they got me on other flights and still got me to Rochester that night!, and again someone helped me at every stop both ways! So yes, United is going to get a friendly review from this hawk!
Then coming home I call myself the human baton, Taylor Lampson picked me up at the airport and got me to Gary Pace in Sebastopol, who got me to Lynda McClure in Boonville where I spent the night. In the am Margie Enos of Albion picked me up and got me to Fort Bragg, to my tin can nest - so it was mighty adventurous, but in there end the jigsaw puzzle came together nicely...
CATCH OF THE DAY, Friday, October 21, 2022
ERICA ALLEN, Ukiah. Child cruelty infliction of injury, bringing alcohol or drugs into jail.
JUSTIN BALL, Fort Bragg. Disobeying court order.
DAVID BARRETT, Willits. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, failure to appear, probation revocation.
GLENN BOSSOM, Covelo. Touching of intimate parts of another against their will.
TROY CONNORS, Willits. Controlled substance, concealed dirk-dagger, paraphernalia, unlawful registration, suspended license.
MARC CUFF, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
LITTLEFEATHER FARIAS-VANSICKLE, Willits. DUI, suspended license for DUI.
SHAWN GARRETT, Lakeport/Ukiah. Child cruelty infliction of injury.
KEVIN GRAVIER, Willits. DUI, controlled substance, suspended license for DUI.
MARCELO IBANEZ-SANCHEZ, Ukiah. DUI.
JONATHAN MARTINEZ, Fort Bragg. Marijuana for sale, organic drug for sale,, pot sales, narcotics for sale, contempt of court.
JARRETT NELSON, Ukiah. Controlled substance for sale, leaded cane-billy-etc., suspended license, probation revocation.
ADAM PARKINSON, Leggett. Failure to appear.
MARCUS SLOAN, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
ASA SWEIGART, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.
PALOMO VALDEZ-CEJA, Ukiah. Suspended license for DUI, failure to appear, probation revocation.
I'M SAVING WATER
Hundreds of thousands of people in Sonoma, Marin and Mendocino counties rely on water stored in Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino. Rest assured: the reservoirs are aggressively managed to retain as much water as possible. Flows in the Russian River are monitored in real time, and experienced operators use this information to make changes to releases. The goal is to keep stream flows just above state-required minimum levels in the Russian River and Dry Creek.
It sounds easy, until you consider that the amount released from the two dams must account for evaporation, the water used by trees and other riparian vegetation, water pumped by farmers, the demands of urban customers who are supplied by large riverside wells and the length of the river — 114 miles. Fortunately, Sonoma Water operators have the training and know-how to meet these demands while still preserving as much water in the reservoirs as possible.
We’re also fortunate to have a forward-thinking board of directors, which agreed to invest in rain-forecasting strategies and technologies. In 2020, through Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations, we increased water storage by nearly 20%, roughly equivalent to the water used by 22,000 households. Sonoma Water is proud to be a recognized leader in innovative water management.
General manager, Sonoma Water
This screed, (such a lovely old fashioned term), was written by a long time coast resident now in the Veterans Home in Yountville. I don’t know if you wish to use the photo… I fell the screed id fine without it. As a man in his 80’s Nels really wanted to express his concern about politics… he asked me to spread the screed around as he is not a computer user… another senior helped him get the project this far… maybe include a caption as to what a screed it. Thanks
Katy in Comptche
Not in America!
End the fascist nightmare!
Vote Democracy Yes!
Holy the wombs of the grandmothers of Kansas!
To the polls ye daughters of Liberty!
To the polls ye sons of Freedom!
Vote Democracy Yes!
Let Democrats, Independents, and Republicans Unite!
The Eagle flies with both wings!
Remember the hope and promise of President Lincoln:
that America shall have a new birth of Freedom!
S/Sgt. USAF 1952-56
Veterans Home of California at Yountville
October 10, 2022
BASEBALL HISTORY IS NO LONGER WRITTEN WITH ASH BATS
Invasive insects and batter preferences have led to the elimination of the wood that dominated the sport for generations. There may not be a single ash bat used in this postseason.
by Zach Schonbrun
CLINTON TOWNSHIP, N.J. — On a glorious autumn afternoon, Rosa Yoo stepped off a road at the Round Valley Recreation Area and plunged into the woods to perform the grimmest task of her job as the New Jersey Forest Service’s health specialist: checking on the status of the white ash trees.
She arrived at a clearing, where a grove of ghostly gray husks cut haunting figures amid the colorful foliage. As she suspected, the trees, whose canopies a year ago painted the landscape in gold and maroon, were dead or hastily dying.
“There’s dead ash trees everywhere,” Yoo said. “It’s hard to find an ash tree anywhere that hasn’t been infested.”
Infested, she means, by an invasive insect called the emerald ash borer, which for years has been munching its way across North America, leaving huge patches of dead forest in its wake.
Among native tree species, ash represents a tiny fraction of the continental woodlands. But there is one arena where ash has historically reigned: in baseball.
Most of baseball history has been written with ash bats, from Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak in 1941 to Roger Maris’s 61 home runs in 1961 to Mark McGwire’s 70 homers in 1998.
Babe Ruth swung ash bats weighing 46 ounces. Ty Cobb had his crafted for him by a coffin maker. Ted Williams used to travel to the factory of Hillerich & Bradsby, the maker of the Louisville Slugger, to select the lumber he wanted carved into his bats.
Today, however, ash has all but died out of baseball as the trees face beetle-driven extinction. This postseason, which stretches from early October to early November and began with 12 teams and more than 300 players, may be the first in generations that does not register a single plate appearance with an ash bat.
In 2001, Hillerich & Bradsby was producing roughly 800,000 ash bats a year, with many of them going to scores of major leaguers. Today, the company retains only one ash devotee: Evan Longoria of the San Francisco Giants, whose team did not make the postseason.
It is as if all Major League Baseball stadiums suddenly stopped selling hot dogs. When Jack Marucci started making bats for his son in a backyard shed in the early 2000s, the wood he picked up at the lumber yard was ash. Because what else would he choose?
“That was the staple,” Marucci said. “All I knew was ash bats.”
The company he started, Marucci Sports, and its sister brand, Victus, now make bats for more than half of the players in the big leagues. Only five Marucci customers requested ash this season: Joey Votto, Javier Báez, Kevin Plawecki, Tim Beckham and Kiké Hernández, none of whom made the playoffs.
There may be a handful of others, like Brad Miller of the Texas Rangers. But Aaron Judge’s 62 home runs for the Yankees this season came off the barrel of a maple bat.
Pete Tucci, the founder of Tucci Limited in Norwalk, Conn., thumbed through his logbooks trying to pinpoint the last client who came to him seeking ash bats.
“It was Omar Narváez,” said Tucci, referring to the Milwaukee Brewers catcher. “He ordered six ash bats in spring training in 2020.”
And that was it.
The transformation has not gone unnoticed. A former first-round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in 1996, Tucci swung only ash bats during his career. He tried maple, which was gaining ground in the late 1990s. He didn’t like it.
“I kept trying it because other guys were liking it,” Tucci said. “But I’d always go back to ash.”
Baseball hitters are legendarily intuitive, and Tucci was no different. Because ash is a softer wood, with a looser grain structure, it can be more susceptible to splintering or flaking. But in the barrel, the so-called sweet spot, the softer ash bats can flex upon contact, producing a “trampoline” effect on the ball.
“The grain kind of creates a bit of a groove,” Tucci said. “I felt like that groove caught the ball a little bit more and produced more backspin. I felt like I got more performance out of an ash bat than a maple bat.”
When he got into bat making, though, in 2009, it was a different story. Joe Carter was the first notable star to experiment with a maple bat, in the 1990s. But after Barry Bonds hit 73 home runs in 2001 swinging a maple Sam Bat from the Original Maple Bat Corporation, a Canadian company, dozens of others followed, opting for maple’s hard-but-light combination.
It is a good thing, too. Because just as maple was gaining popularity, quality ash timber — with the favorable eight to 12 growth rings per inch — was harder to come by.
In the state park in New Jersey, Yoo swung her hatchet into one of the dying ashes. She peeled back a section of bark the size of a pancake as if it were Velcro.
“That’s not supposed to happen,” Yoo said.
The emerald ash borer is the size of a grain of rice. But it swarms the forest, penetrating the protective bark of ash trees. It lays eggs in the cambium layer, on which the larvae eventually feed, cutting off the tree’s vital nutrients from the inside. Once satiated, the winged insects burst out of the tree and restart the cycle.
Since the borers were first detected in the United States in 2002, in Michigan, efforts have been made to stop or slow their progress. But they have been spotted as far north as Winnipeg, Manitoba, and as far south as Texas. This summer, they were discovered in Oregon.
More recently, Yoo has been assisting as the New Jersey Department of Agriculture attempts a biological control, releasing parasitoid wasps known to feed on emerald ash borer larvae. But it will take years for the predators to catch on in the numbers required to fight back against the borer, which is native to Asia and most likely hitched a ride to the United States on a container ship.
Meanwhile, trees are dying.
“Nature has a very resilient way of hanging in there,” Yoo said. “I believe there will still be ash, but it will be a long time before it can get back to where it was.”
Bobby Hillerich, a fourth-generation bat maker for Hillerich & Bradsby, admitted the company was late to fully appreciate the impact. Louisville Slugger started in 1884 using ash and hickory, a heavier wood that fell out of favor by the 1940s.
For more than a century, Hillerich & Bradsby sourced its ash lumber from mills dotting Pennsylvania’s densely forested northern tier and across the southern New York border. The woods offered such abundance that 40,000 trees a year could be felled to make Louisville Sluggers, at a cost of just 90 cents per board foot.
“We had this fantasy that it was going to be containable,” Hillerich said of the insect infestation. “It was probably a few years later that we came to realize this was not going the way we thought.”
The company still makes 325,000 to 350,000 ash bats a year, Hillerich said, but they’re the low-end variety that customers might find at a local retailer.
“They’re usually used for protection,” Hillerich said, “or for costumes for Halloween.”
Regardless of the borer, Hillerich thinks maple would still have become the most popular wood wielded by major leaguers because of its firmness and consistency. But the demand for ash would have probably remained strong, he said, if bat makers could have maintained their supply.
“We had to have some hard conversations with some guys,” Hillerich said. “We said we can’t be sure of the supply of ash we were getting. We just can’t guarantee it was the quality wood that they’ve been swinging.”
Birch is another species that has gained a greater foothold in ash’s void. But it has its faults, too.
“Players don’t like the sound,” Hillerich said.
Jason Grabosky, the director of the Rutgers Urban Forestry Program, retains more optimism than most about the future of North America’s ash trees. Because they are capable of shedding seeds in large quantities, a new generation of ash trees might yet take root after the borer has laid waste to the old.
For baseball, however, it is the end of an era.
“It will probably be at least a generation before we see ash bats come back,” Grabosky said. “But if we have children playing baseball, I imagine we will still want ash bats.”
VAN GOGH WAS THE ULTIMATE OUTSIDER, an outcast even. His paintings were so radical and idiosyncratic as to seem almost solipsistic to the critics of his time, the blazing solipsisms of a madman. Very few got what he was up to. His work seemed dangerous, a kind of vandalism against the rules of proper art. Today, everyone gets Van Gogh. Or thinks they do. He’s been tamed. His work rendered as safe and as common as wallpaper. Some of his images have been turned into wallpaper. His work has become a product, endless reproductions of reproductions. Many of the paintings themselves have become trophies for billionaires, multi-million-dollar hedges against the vagaries of the market. Everyone loves Van Gogh now, hence the reflexive outrage over the National Gallery protest. He’s the loveable eccentric. In life, he was a pest, a nag, irritable and anti-social. He was the guy who’d bust up any social gathering by saying the wrong thing, by speaking his mind, regardless of the circumstances or consequences. His paintings now hang in galleries and boardrooms he would never have been invited into. His work had long since lost any cultural relevance, until a splash of soup reinvigorated his art, let us see it again in a radical perspective, infused with new layers of meaning. Van Gogh: “It is not the language of painters but the language of nature which one should listen to, the feeling for the things themselves, for reality is more important than the feeling for pictures.
— Jeff St. Clair
HALF MAN, HALF ANT! MANT!
“Ninety-nine percent of all creatures die by being eaten alive.” — Mary Ann Tirone Smith
Here's the recording of last night's (2022-10-21) Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg (CA): https://tinyurl.com/KNYO-MOTA-0511
Thanks to Hank Sims for all kinds of tech help, as well as for his fine news site: https://LostCoastOutpost.com
Thanks to the Anderson Valley Advertiser for providing well over an hour of the show's most locally relevant material, as usual, without asking for anything in return. Just $25 a year for full access to all articles and features (TheAVA.com). And if you can find it in your corazon, find the big red donation corazon at KNYO.org and put twenty or more toward sorely needed replacement equipment. That would be so great. If you were never a special person before, you are a special person now. Or buy some KNYO hot sauce. (“It's toasted!”)
Last night's show, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the so-called Cuban Missile Crisis, had and has new features for you to discover, as well as timely local election and health information, some poetry by Notty Bumbo, D.H. Lawrence, and David Gurney, stories by Molly Bee, David Herstle Jones, Sebastian Iturralde, Paul Modic of Laytonville, Nona Smith, Tony Bourdain, and lots more; the usual two chapters of both No More My Echoing Song by Clifford Allen Sanders and Kent Wallace's new book, a work in progress: Mister Westerner. Speaking of whom, Kent Wallace called to recount an encounter with a bellicose Russian cheerleader in Vietnam. Andrew Scully called to cast an unflattering light on our town's historically malodorous namesake, General Braxton Bragg, and also to list some of the recent sex-and-violence-related shenanigans of Ukiah's Finest. Some corazon-related music, mostly after David Jones' story about a corazon attack in Zihuatanejo, and, uh, like that.
Besides, at https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com you'll find a fresh batch of dozens of links to not necessarily radio-useful but nonetheless worthwhile items I set aside for you while gathering the show together. Such as:
Cosplay winners showcased in an arresting video style. Also: this all looks like back to normal, to me. I hope we don't get another tidal wave of disease this year because of a huge number of people defiantly refusing their shots for anything and also not wearing a mask. Domino masks don't count, nor would a Daredevil mask, though owl-bear or Spiderman or Rorschach masks might, depending on the fabric.
Inside the wood. “De gnurrs come from de voodvork out.”
Menopause, myth or hoax? (via Redwood Mary, candidate for Fort Bragg City Council.)
And: Half man, half ant! Mant! (The whole short film. 15 min.) “Oh, Bill, if you could only listen to the man and leave the insect aside.”
P.S. Email me your work on any subject and I'll read it on the radio next Friday night. If it's full of swears I have to wait till after 10pm to read it, that's all.
— Marco McClean, email@example.com, https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Trumpers back their orange deity regardless of what he said or has done. Their support is based on the hidden boxes he checks for them whether that be racism, religious fanaticism, classism, or whatever they feel that by supporting him they get a leg up they don’t have to work for. To maintain their thin veil of expected privileges while stopping others from advancing. It’s not a method of self improvement. It’s self stagnation and creating a quality of life gap between themselves and others as a way to feel superior. They spout all sorts of debunked garbage and off the wall claims as a way to keep their bigotry concealed.
KEN BURNS WISHES MORE PEOPLE WOULD CALL WILLA CATHER A GREAT AMERICAN NOVELIST [interview]
Are you a big reader?
I am. Not as much as I want to be for leisure, because I am constantly reading during the day — my days are 12 and 15 hours long, and therefore by the time I can just sit down and read for pleasure, it’s sort of catch as catch can. But I love the reading I do for my work. People think that film is in some ways the enemy of the word. And it’s not, in our case. We don’t believe in that dialectic whatsoever. In the beginning is the word. And our films reflect that. They are written. They’ve been enormous collaborations that I’ve had with Geoffrey C. Ward and Dayton Duncan over the years, and with my oldest daughter, Sarah Burns, and her husband, David McMahon, who have written the scripts for the films. They’re long ongoing processes. Unlike many cinematic circumstances, the first drafts for these do not come down from Mount Sinai written in stone. They are something that you never stop working on. And our most recent film, “The U.S. and the Holocaust,” written by Geoffrey C. Ward, is a case in point where even after we’d locked the film — which is the semi-technical term in filmmaking for promising your sound editors you won’t touch it anymore — we unlocked it a million times to remove an adjective or to add a qualifying “perhaps” or “some believe,” or whatever it might be, just to be more faithful to the intensely rigorous scholarship we try to attend to with every film.
What books are on your night stand?
I have a pretty big night stand. I have an old chest at the foot of my bed and then my actual night stand, and on it I have poems called “Acquainted With the Night: Insomnia Poems,” edited by Lisa Russ Spaar, a gift from a friend. I’m reading an old esoteric text called “In the Light of Truth,” by Abdruschin. And that follows a good deal of reading I do every single day from Tolstoy’s “A Calendar of Wisdom.” I also have on my bed stand “Anna Karenina,” one of my favorite novels of all time. I have W.E.B. Du Bois’s “Data Portraits,” which has the subtitle “Visualizing Black America.” It’s this incredibly graphic way of understanding American and particularly African American life at the turn of the 20th century. It’s just a wonderful, wonderful book. I have “The Twelve Lives of Alfred Hitchcock,” by Edward White. I am rereading for the third time overall and second time in three years “A Farewell to Arms.” We had done a film that came out a year and a half ago on Ernest Hemingway. And I have “The Lincoln Highway,” by Amor Towles, which I just love. And also — I have now moved to the foot of my bed — his “A Gentleman in Moscow,” which I had read before. I also have Tom Hanks’s book “Uncommon Type,” and I am reading “The Immortal Irishman,” by Timothy Egan. And I’ve got “The Sympathizer,” which I’m trying to pick up and reread again, by Viet Thanh Nguyen. And then, I got about three-quarters of the way through it before something happened production-wise, but I was really into Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run.” Then the last book — oh, there’s “The Underground Railroad,” by Colson Whitehead, which I read again — and then I have Kim Stanley Robinson’s “New York 2140,” which is a really wonderful book, imagining a less dystopian future. It does have disasters and climate change, but it also has sort of human adaptability, and it’s really spectacular. And then I have, always, the film critic Andrew Sarris’s “The American Cinema,” which is his sort of rating of directors. He was a subscriber of the French journal Cahiers du Cinéma and their auteur theory. And so, you know, there’s just wonderful takes on, you know, Nicholas Ray and Chaplin and F.W. Murnau. It’s just a wonderful Bible, which I tell you, I have had in my possession since whenever it came out in the late ’60s. And in fact, as a high school student who was dedicated to becoming a filmmaker, I had sort of digested it all. But there was one comment that he made that I memorized about the director Nicholas Ray. He said that Ray — referring to a movie called “Johnny Guitar,” which was written by Philip Yordan — he said, “Yordan set out to attack McCarthyism, but Ray was too delirious to pay any heed as Freudian feminism prevailed over Marxist masochism, and Pirandello transcended polemics.”
Did you just recite that from memory or you had the page open?
Oh, I did it from memory. I’ve already moved out of my bedroom. I’m going to go and check it out.
No, no. I’ll take your word for it.
Yeah, well, here’s what it was. At 17 years old or 16 years old, I had no idea what that meant. And so I really had it as my life’s mission to sort of parse it as if it was some literary holy grail, right? And I remember — I went to Hampshire College in the late summer of 1971 and presented the man who would be my mentor, Jerome Liebling, with this sentence. And he just looked at me like I was out of my mind, got out from behind his desk, lined with photography books and all sorts of things, and took me by the elbow, as he did for the rest of his life, and guided me out of his office and shut me out of his office. I found myself standing in the hallway contemplating suicide. Here I am being told that this sentence that for me was going to unlock the mysteries of this literary universe was, you know, beside the point. But I still love Andrew Sarris, and I still, with great affection, remember that sentence. But I also remember the very earthbound wisdom of just making films and not trying to spend a lot of time theorizing them. I could parse that sentence now, but you don’t want to hear it.
It sounds like you’re a rereader. But are there any classic novels that you only recently read for the first time?
Yeah, I had read some Turgenev in college and I’ve gone back and I’ve been trying to make space to read more of the things that I hadn’t read. I really love Russian literature, it’s just fantastic. I love anything that’s good. My tastes are pretty eclectic, and there’s a big turnover of things. A few months ago I read this great tiny memoir by the poet and novelist Jay Parini, who I know and is also the author of “The Last Station,” a novel of Tolstoy’s last days. His memoir is called “Borges and Me.” He’s a graduate student in Scotland, and he’s been given the task of taking care of Borges, who comes there, and their adventures are, to say the least, as great as any Borges story. It is great. And I didn’t see it on my bookshelf, but it’s very rare that I don’t have Borges’s “Labyrinths,” because when I was in college that book opened my head and my heart like a can opener. I’m never really too far away from that. Another book I’m reading — because I just moved to the kitchen, where I was reading last night — is “The Other Side of Prospect,” which is a book by Nicholas Dawidoff. He sent me the galleys. It’s a fantastic account of his growing up that’s also about the racial divide and delineations of New Haven.
What’s the last great book that you read?
Oh, “Anna Karenina.” In my own personal feelings, Gabriel García Márquez has written two or three novels that have rearranged my molecules — “Love in the Time of Cholera,” “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” “No One Writes to the Colonel,” “Chronicle of a Death Foretold,” those are all in decade rotations — but I don’t know anything that floats my boat the way “Anna Karenina” does. As I said, I participate daily in reviewing Tolstoy’s calendar, in which each day has a set of comments that are spiritually oriented. They sometimes involve quoting other people or they are just him or a combination of that. And they’re like the opposite of Vespers for me, my morning prayer. I get up and literally within the first few minutes of my day I read this day’s thing by Tolstoy. And I find these perceptions about human beings and the foibles and traps and difficulties and possibilities so inspiring still. And he’s been gone, obviously, for well more than a century.
Can a great book be badly written? Can anything overcome bad prose?
Can I invert that question? I was told at some point that I had to read “The Education of Little Tree” because it was this perfect, spiritually perfect book. And everybody was reading it. And I, just out of orneriness or obstinacy, just didn’t do it because all my friends were saying that I had to. And then finally I started reading it and it was, it was beautifully written. By the time I got to Chapter 3 or 4, it was revealed that the author of the book — his name is Asa Earl Carter — had been a speechwriter for George Wallace, and had coined the phrase “Segregation now, segregation forever.” I couldn’t read another word of it. And I realize I have inverted your question. But it’s the other side of that coin, the Leni Riefenstahl question, which we have to deal with in Film 101. I tried over and over again to kick-start that fourth chapter or whatever it was. And I never could. So I missed the complete luminosity of the book that all of my friends had recommended, yet had also found that knowing something about the author had made it, however luminous the prose might be, unpalatable to me.
Presumably you read a lot of historical primary sources for your work, and some of it must be fairly noxious from a social standpoint, a historical standpoint. And I wonder if you can separate a book from its social context and read it for itself, or if you’ve ever changed your opinion of a book based on information you learn about the author. It sounds in this case like the answer is yes.
You know, that is a wonderful question. For work, the answer is no. Like, you just read it, right? I mean, I’ve had to take some of the worst, you know, racist or most recently antisemitic bile and put them into the mouths of actors who read this stuff, and I can do that for work. There’s a kind of discipline in which you’re accepting all of the stuff. When I’m reading for pleasure, it gets a little bit more complicated. A kind of emotional instrument in me is more the governing part of it. Does that make any sense? It’s just reactive, in an emotional sense. Not in a sentimental or nostalgic way, but just in something higher emotionally. But for work, that’s my job. I’m trying to digest a mountain of evidence that is about American history. And I’ve been interested in a true, honest, complicated process, unafraid of controversy and tragedy, but equally drawn to those stories and moments that suggest an abiding faith in the human spirit, and particularly the unique role this remarkable but also sometimes dysfunctional Republic came to play in the positive progress of mankind. So, you know, that’s my sort of catechism. Then I have to just digest all of that material that we read with the saying, this is how it is. You know, sometimes their “S’s” look like “F’s” and sometimes they use the N-word.
Do you have an ideal reading experience — where, when, how, electronically or on paper?
Always on paper. I’m sorry, I’m still killing trees. I think my most pleasurable times are the ones that sneak up on me suddenly — the afternoon that opens up because I’ve completed an editing pass a little bit sooner than expected and nobody has discovered this for the rest of the day. And all of a sudden I’m sitting in my living room with a book and just reading it. My 17-year-old daughter for my birthday gave me Donald Hall’s “A Carnival of Losses: Notes on Nearing 90,” which was, you know, he basically said, I can’t write poems anymore, but I can write these little prose poems. I knew Donald Hall fairly well. My brother knew him even better. One of his great poems is about a pig roast back in Ann Arbor that my brother had been involved in. And while he was living, he lived near me in New Hampshire. And I just said, Oh that’s so thoughtful, Olivia. And then something happened and I read the entire thing cover to cover in one sitting. And I just thought, Oh my God, what a great gift. And it was because some work I finished early and I was able to just, you know, pull aside and do it.
What writers working today — novelists, playwrights, critics, journalists — do you especially admire?
I cannot say enough about Isabel Wilkerson. I think “The Warmth of Other Suns” and, most recently, “Caste” are really, really important books that are also incredibly accessible. There is something so spectacular about how she writes and what she writes that whatever it is she turns her pen to, I’ll be there to read.
Did any book influence your decision to become a documentarian, to go into film?
You know, that’s a really interesting thing. Reading the Andrew Sarris one, but accidentally. My mom was sick with cancer from the time I was 2 or 3. There was never a moment when I wasn’t aware that there was something either dreadful happening or I knew exactly what was going to happen, that she was going to die. And she did, just a few months before my 12th birthday. A few months after that, my dad, who let me stay up at night to watch old movies with him on TV, or he’d take me out to the cinema, I watched him cry at “Odd Man Out,” by Sir Carol Reed, about Irish stuff in the late teens or early 1920s. I had never seen my dad cry, not when my mom was sick or when she died or at the funeral. Friends have commented on it, and I just said, you know, that’s what film does. It gave him a safe haven. And so I decided, at about 12 or 12½, however old I was when this happened, that I wanted to be a filmmaker, which meant John Ford or Alfred Hitchcock or Howard Hawks. And that meant I had to be steeped in the history of American dramatic cinema — Hollywood, in essence. And that meant that I would be drawn to Andrew Sarris and that meant that I would be trying to parse everything, including that crazy, miraculous, wonderful sentence about Nicholas Ray and “Johnny Guitar.” And that would prompt my professor, who became a beloved mentor, a father figure to me till the end of his life, who passed away in 2011, Jerome Liebling, to insist that there is as much drama in what is and what was as anything the human imagination can dream of. And so all of a sudden, I found myself 18 years old and now interested in making documentary films. So in some ways, I was driven by the density and the complexity and maybe the opacity of that sentence in Andrew Sarris’s book.
Your films always probe some aspect of the American experience. They tell America’s story. You mentioned Isabel Wilkerson, but are there other authors you particularly admire who do something similar to your project in books?
Yes, in almost every project we do, I emotionally adopt writers and scholars who are in their field. It might be the late Alan Brinkley for our film on Huey Long. It might be Shelby Foote for “The Civil War.” It might be Roger Angell for “Baseball,” or Albert Murray and Stanley Crouch for “Jazz.” I could go on.
What did you read to prepare for the Holocaust film?
It was divided into different realms. One was “The Guarded Gate,” by Daniel Okrent. It was an important thing to figure out the early reaction to immigration, how the open doors of 1870 and 1920 led to the pernicious Johnson Reed Immigration Act of 1924 that was so racist and antisemitic, a kind of eugenics applied to American legislation. But then as you delve into the Holocaust itself, there are a number of seminal texts, like “Hitler’s Willing Executioners.” That’s not a place that we were going, per se. But we availed ourselves of the scholarship of Deborah Lipstadt and Rebecca Erbelding and Peter Hayes and Timothy Snyder and Daniel Greene, who, you know, really brought the stories to life. So yeah, every film has that set of scholars that we don’t just read, but we engage. And who, in the case of Daniel Greene and Rebecca Erbelding and other scholars at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., we probably consulted, if not every day, then every other day on the last year of the project, just to make sure that we reflected the most recent scholarship, that we didn’t exaggerate or get into hyperbole, as is often the case on film and to just, you know, get it right, call balls and strikes, as difficult as that might be.
Do you have an opinion on the best book that’s been made into a great movie?
There’s an OK book that was made into “The Godfather,” which is arguably one of the greatest American movies ever made. Certainly in the top five. And I would argue that maybe the best Shakespeare on film is Akira Kurosawa’s “Throne of Blood,” which has zero lines from William Shakespeare in it but somehow catches the spirit of “Macbeth” in a way that most adaptations, with the limitations of the screen attempting what should be the stage, haven’t quite done. Nothing comes close to “Throne of Blood.” It’s hard to say the equivalent of a certain line of iambic pentameter is the way the mist or the breath of the horses comes out of their nostrils, but I’ll feebly make that argument: that there was a kind of equivalency that took place in Kurosawa’s transition. And he’s also made, to my mind, the best film ever made, his “Seven Samurai.” There’s nothing better than those three hours and 12 minutes or whatever it is.
Is there a book that has not yet been adapted into a movie or TV show that you’d love to see adapted?
Well, I don’t know what the plans are for “The Lincoln Highway,” Amor Towles’s recent book. But I would like to see that and “A Gentleman in Moscow” adapted. They’re wonderful books with dense, rich plot and carefully drawn characters that might offer filmmakers some possibilities to explore.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned from a book recently?
That Americans knew what was happening during the Holocaust and didn’t do enough. We took in about 225,000 refugees, more than any other sovereign nation. But even if we hadn’t filled out the relatively measly pernicious quotas in the Johnson-Reed Act we could have let in five times as many.
That’s from an amalgam of books, I would be hard pressed to say which ones. That’s the difference in some ways from the personal, pleasurable reading, which has its own singularity. Work reading is a kind of collective scholarship that has to be absorbed in so many different ways: from primary sources, from the scholars’ interpretation of primary sources, from recent scholarship, from interviews we do, from interaction with other scholars. So the work stuff has more of a collective impact than a singularity of authorship. And that, I think, is OK.
One of the things I haven’t mentioned is my love for the historical and biographical works of the David McCulloughs, who was a mentor and just passed, and of the Doris Kearns Goodwins and Jon Meachams and Walter Isaacsons — all people I know, whose books I look forward to. And I’ve left out dozens. But they’re a huge part of my reading, not necessarily for work, though I just finished a film earlier this year on Benjamin Franklin that drew on Walter’s book along with the work of many other scholars. So, you know, we’ve never made a film based on any one book, including my first film, “Brooklyn Bridge,” which was inspired by David McCullough’s book. But his book was about the construction and ours was half about the construction and half about its durability, its strength and vitality and promise. We’re not the type of people to say, “We’re going to do this book.” It’s, “We’re going to do this subject.” And then that permits us to read Shelby Foote but also Barbara J. Fields and Ira Berlin, you know, and hire them as advisers.
Do you have favorite genres and genres that you avoid?
I don’t like horror. I had a big science fiction thing in high school and college and I haven’t read science fiction in ages and ages. I used to read religiously Roger Zelazny and now I can’t even find his books on a bookshelf at a reputable bookstore. But everything else is kind of open. I like good writing. One writer I love is Willa Cather. People say, Was it Melville or Hemingway or Twain who wrote the great American novel, meaning “Moby-Dick” or “A Farewell to Arms” or obviously “Huckleberry Finn,” where, as Hemingway rightly said, American literature begins. But what about “O Pioneers!” or “My Ántonia”? For that matter, what about Gabriel García Márquez? We do not have a copyright on the word “American.”
How do you organize your books?
Haphazardly. I do tend to categorize in some places by subject, like a wall of Civil War stuff that I’ve collected. But I realize I’ve got Civil War books in three or four different places. There’s large books in one room and novels in another, not alphabetized. One problem is that there’s a lot of folks in the household.
What book might people be surprised to find on your shelves?
I don’t know. I don’t think there is anything surprising. My interests are wide. I’m reading a lot about lynching right now, “At the Hands of Persons Unknown” or “Without Sanctuary.” I can’t say that’s for pleasure, but it’s certainly important to mention. Of the 40-odd films I think I’ve made — I’ve never really counted them — the ones that don’t deal with race you can count on the fingers of one hand, and still have at least a digit left over to make a gesture. I’m interested in the “original sin of the United States,” as the historians call it, and how that influences us. If you take any kind of dive into American history, it is a rare thing where you don’t bump into that question.
You’re throwing a literary dinner party. What three people, living or dead, do you invite?
Not just because of the quality of the writing, but because I’d be interested in the conversation, I would invite Twain, who experienced more tragedy than anybody I can imagine but was without doubt the funniest person of the 19th century. He said it’s not that the world had too many fools, it’s just that lightning isn’t distributed right. That will still be funny in a thousand years if we haven’t destroyed ourselves. I would also invite Tolstoy, because I have a daily relationship to him and I would love to know ever more about him. And then I would have to say Willa Cather.
If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be?
I don’t know. I saw him the other day. Talked to him. He’s a reader. He knows history. And that’s important. You know, I think for the previous person, I would have recommended any book. But I’m not sure I could be as presumptuous as to say, You need to know this. Maybe “Caste” or “The Warmth of Other Suns” would be a good beginning if you weren’t sensitive to the racial dynamics of the United States and wanted a political sense of how you might begin to act. But there are so many books that are going to aid us. I think right now understanding Russian history is a really important thing, I guess I would say. And there’s a standard textbook, by Nicholas V. Riasanovsky, that I think is not soulful. For understanding the Russian psyche, you can glean a lot more about who the Russians were from Gorky and Turgenev and, you know, obviously Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy.
Are there books that you find disappointing or overrated?
I’m always surprised. I wouldn’t name names because it’s so hard to write a book. But there have been lots of times when I have been disappointed that a well-known author — this would be mainly in nonfiction or almost exclusively in nonfiction — that you feel that it hasn’t been carefully edited. It hasn’t been carefully read. And I find more often than I would like to admit where, for instance, a number that’s given on Page 78, on Page 143 is now a different number and there is no explanation. And I just think, that’s the simple task of editing your own work. I’m not blaming it on publishers. I’m blaming it on the author.
What’s the best book you’ve received as a gift?
I have four daughters, and the third one gave me the Donald Hall book I mentioned. The gifts from them mean the most. The most prized gift I ever received wasn’t a book at all — my oldest daughter, Sarah, when she was 12 or thereabouts, on one Christmas morning, I was a single dad and very anxious that I hadn’t gotten it all together for that day. And there was an awkward silence between her and her sister. And I thought, Oh, no, I really screwed up. And she said, I have one more present for you. And stood up in her nightgown in that light that is always there on Christmas morning, and recited from memory, flawlessly, Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address.” That was her present to me. I just burst into tears when it was over. I’m about to cry now, just remembering the moment. I can’t think of anything I’ve received that has been more meaningful than that.
What do you plan to read next?
We’re working on a big series on the American Revolution, and I’ve already got a lot of books piled up in my editing space that are, you know, the usual subjects about it. But also, we’re arranging for a way this is no longer, you know, 55 white guys in powdered wigs in Philadelphia and those Minutemen in Middlesex County. They’re also, you know, the motley crew that is the Continental Army in the end, which is filled with free Blacks and enslaved people. And there are enslaved people fighting for the British. So there are loyalists you need to consider, and Germans you need to consider, and French and pro-American Brits and royalists in the United States and a whole variety of people, and most important, the Native peoples on whose land all of it is taking place. And so much of that is related to the desire to acquire that property and to dispossess those original inhabitants of their land.
So you’re doing a lot of homework reading.
Yeah, but it isn’t homework if you love what you do.
(New York Times)
UKRAINE, SATURDAY, 22ND OCTOBER
Russia has launched a “new massive strike” targeting Ukraine's energy grid, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said.
He said the attacks were on a “very wide” scale, hitting Ukraine's regions in the west, centre, south and east.
Nearly 1.5 million households were without electricity, Kyiv said.
But Mr Zelensky said most of the Russian missiles and drones were being shot down, and such strikes would not stop a Ukrainian military advance.
“Of course, we do not yet have the technical ability to shoot down 100% of Russian missiles and attack drones. We will gradually come to this - with the help of our partners, I'm confident of this,” the Ukrainian leader said in his video address late on Saturday.
Almost a third of Ukraine's power stations and other energy-generating facilities have been destroyed in a wave of air strikes since Monday last week.
How is Russia using 'kamikaze' drones in Ukraine?
Russia-Iran ties over Ukraine pose new dangers
The areas targeted by the latest attacks include the Cherkasy region, south-east of the capital Kyiv, and the city of Khmelnytskyi, further west.
Air strikes and power disruptions were also reported from Odesa in the south to Rivne and Lutsk in the north-west.
The national electricity operator, Ukrenergo, said the strikes may have caused more damage than intense bombardment earlier this month.
President Zelensky said that 36 rockets had been launched on Saturday, and most of them had been downed.
The deputy mayor of the western city of Lviv, Serhiy Kiral, told the BBC on Saturday that Russia's strategy was to damage critical infrastructure before the winter, and bring the war to areas beyond the front line.
“The more successes the Ukrainian armed forces are having at the front the worse it's going to be for people on the home front because Russia is going to do all it can to target civilians and to target critical infrastructure,” he said in an interview with the Newshour radio programme.
On Friday Mr Zelensky accused Russia of planting mines at a hydroelectric dam in the Kherson region of southern Ukraine, which is under the control of Moscow's forces.
He said that if the Kakhovka hydropower plant was destroyed, hundreds of thousands of people would be in danger of flooding. Russia has denied planning to blow up the dam and said Ukraine was firing missiles at it.
The dam may provide Russia with one of the few remaining routes across the River Dnieper (called Dnipro by Ukrainians) in the partially occupied Kherson region.
Thousands of civilians have been leaving the city of Kherson in recent days, as Ukrainian forces advance.
And on Saturday a new directive from occupying Russian authorities was released, renewing its appeal for civilians to leave “immediately”.
The transfer or deportation of civilians by an occupying power from occupied territory is considered a war crime. In September, the UN said there were already credible accusations of forced deportation of Ukrainian children from Russian-occupied areas.
Russia's ambassador to the UN, Vasily Nebenzia, said the allegations were unfounded.
Meanwhile, Ukraine's armed forces said that Russian troops on Saturday had left two villages - Charivne and Chkalove - in Kherson region. The claim has not been independently verified.
Across the border, in Russia's Belgorod region, the local governor said two people had been killed in Ukrainian shelling.
WHEN TO WORRY
Among “defense intellectuals,” there is, or was when I covered such things, insane talk of how America could “absorb” a Russian first strike and have enough missiles in reserve to destroy Russia. These people should be locked in sealed boxes and kept in abandoned coal mines. Note also that Biden, Blinken, and Bolton, bibbety bobbety boo, and their families, live in DC, the priority target. While the rats are aboard the ship, they won’t sink it. If they are discovered boarding a Greyhound out of Washington at three a.m., dressed as washerwomen, it will be time to worry.
— Fred Reed (for the saker blog)