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Off the Record (November 30, 2022)

WE DON’T BELIEVE IT, BUT according to a recent Mendocino sales tax revenue report by HDL Associates (the County’s go-to on sales tax revenues and predictions), the business with the most sales tax revenues for July-September of 2022 in the unincorporated area of the County was the 101 Market & Deli on South State street in Ukiah. 

A COUPLE of weeks ago, the Press Democrat posted a story headlined, “SoCo leaders travel to rep North bay at UN Climate conference.” The posting aroused such an immediate deluge of negative comment the wusses at the PD took it down. The following was representative: “I wonder if they are using vacation time or are we paying them for this junket? Why are they flying jets, and in Nancy Pelosi's case one very big jet, to Egypt when they can Zoom the conference? While their cities have increasing crime, a drug-bum explosion, side shows, poor general maintenance, rough roads, high taxes and many of their constituents are living paycheck to paycheck they are on an extravagant vacation to Egypt ostensibly to save us all from an imaginary armageddon. They are selfish opportunists posturing as noble public servants.”

MARILYN DAVIN: I, read the Catch of the Day with growing dismay as more scary-looking women charged with domestic abuse and other violent crimes stare back at me. I’ve noticed lately that current commercials featuring work environments invariably show a determined woman ordering around groups of hapless, sexless male underlings. And so-called “action” flicks, in a misguided (in my opinion) and perverted nod to “diversity” show violent, heavily armed female leads to be every bit as murderous as their male counterparts of days gone by. I remember in the distant past something about gender equality bringing out the best in both genders, not the worst.

ANOTHER GROTESQUELY BOTCHED execution the other day, this one in Alabama. The doomed man was repeatedly jabbed as his executioners futilely sought a vein to get the fatal IV needle into his arm. And because they couldn't find a vein, the guy walked back to his cell to await another try.

PRISON EXECUTIONS are carried out in medical conditions, typically around midnight with a ghoulish doctor looking on, and aren't open to the public in whose name the state's mandated murder is being carried out, and thus don't serve the deterrent purpose they theoretically are intended to serve. 

I WOULDN'T DARE tell the families of these Death Row bastards not to execute the man or woman who drove emotional holes in their surviving hearts, but why not require the victim families to either personally approve the ultimate needle or plunge it in that elusive vein themselves?

BUT, BUT, BUT we're not medical professionals, the families might say, which brings me to the point — if we're going to keep the death penalty, and good on Gavin Newsome for commuting to life in prison California's condemned, how about carrying it out in as dignified a manner as possible in the grim circumstances? 

BRING BACK firing squads, and hold the executions in football stadiums, with proceeds to the victims, the condemned perhaps enjoying a last cigarette on the Jumbotron as the crowd chants, USA! USA!. Firing squads get it done fer shure where midnight needles and hangings don't. Guillotines — “France's national razor” — would also be an effective and undoubtedly popular means of execution, but by whatever means state murder is carried out by making the executions public, the public's atavistic desire for revenge might be temporarily slaked and a goodly sum of survivor's benefits raised.

JUST as it seemed that the smaller vehicles were about to disappear into Ukiah's yawning potholes, and the larger ones having to get their front ends realigned every time they risked a drive through the county seat, Seldom Seen Sangiacomo, phantom city manager, gave the go ahead to pave Ukiah's primary thoroughfares. 

JOHN HALL: Today’s PD, pg A7, “More Great Redwood Trail lawsuits” by Sonia Waraich, Eureka Times Standard.  Two different law firms from the “midwest” are soliciting landowners adjacent to the Great Redwood Trail. 

WHICH IS VERY ODD given that the trail, beyond the two grim miles of pavement in Ukiah, will never happen, but it's not surprising given the dumbed down Bar Exam and the increasing number of legal sharks out there.

THAT KID who shot up the gay bar in Colorado was raised by a crazy single mother who left tweaker-dad, also an obvious whacko who became a pornography “actor” calling himself Dick Delaware. How could the shooter not grow up to be some kind of public menace? There are armies of them out there, maybe not all that many red flag cases but certainly enough of the terminally estranged to ensure the now daily mass shootings.

WHY SO MANY MASS SHOOTINGS? I'd say the overall cause of social collapse is, obviously, capitalism, the winner-take-all social-political organization of the economy presently collapsing into a state of all against all while 60 million people are declared “food insecure.” And heat insecure, too, if you're part of the food insecure who live in the cold states. You can't do away with basic standards of behavior plus a failed system of mass education plus huge sectors of impoverished people plus the sanctioned celebration of the vulgar and the tawdry plus a corrupt political system plus easy gun access plus pornography, and expect sane people to come out the other end. What kind of society celebrates a Madonna and a Snoop Dog? Answer: a doomed society. 


That graphic Grange Movie ad in the 11/16 edition reminded me... Add Lookalikes: David Harris and Chris Hedges. And there's something similar about them politically, although Hedges took it all the way and I don't think Harris did. He wrote a good book about Noriega and another about the Stanford activist who killed his seducer, Allard Lowenstein, a prime mover in the McCarthy for President campaign (and CIA man). Dylan's riff about divorce lawyers reminded me that Judge Moorman's old friend Chris Andrian changed his specialty from “family law” to “criminal defense” after taking a bullet in the shoulder from the enraged spouse of a client. I think I'm remembering correctly. The old cranium ain't want it used to be.

FROM THE NOVEMBER 8, 2022 CEO REPORT by County CEO Darcie Antle:

During labor negotiations, the County has fielded many proposals for sources of funds to pay for an across-the-board pay increase. For example, two unions proposed cutting vacant positions; after extensive study, the County showed that aside from positions that have been recently vacated (and are therefore in current recruitments) or are public safety and revenue generating positions, such cuts would not yield material savings. Assertions have also been made that departments are not spending all the money that has been allocated to them; while the County awaits the Auditor Controller/Treasurer Tax Collector’s close of the books for FY21-22, the information at our disposal currently does not suggest this has been the case. The County has provided labor partners with all the financial information it has at its disposal, all of which led the County to the conclusion that it cannot commit to a COLA for all County employees at this time. For example, in response to information requests from some labor partners, the County provided customized reports that show the County’s FY 21/22 budget for salary and benefits is within a half of a percent of its actual expenditures for the same year – meaning it is unlikely that the County has overestimated expenses or undervalued revenues.

“Much has been made of the fact that the County has not closed its books on FY21-22, and therefore, the potential remains that revenues exceeded expectations or expenses were lower. While hope springs eternal, nothing the County has seen so far suggests this will be the case. In fact, the County is anticipating a shortfall in the first quarter of FY22-23.”

* * *

Mark Scaramella replies: “…after extensive study…”? Without department by department budget versus actual reports, these are just self-serving claims and there’s no way to evaluate these claims. The “customized reports” have not been made public.


[1] When I was a kid, and this was in the 70s, both of my pediatricians were smokers. It was common for them to come into the room to do my check up with a lit cig in their mouths. Lol… I ran into one of them about ten years ago. He was well into his 80s and still smoking. On the whole he seemed quite healthy. No indication of dementia either. Patients used to smoke in their hospital beds. I once heard of a patient who smoked inside an oxygen tent. When the nurse no-no’d him, he noted that he had been wondering why the cigarettes only lasted two pulls.

[2] A lot of the old mobsters (and new, I guess) liked to dress to the nines. ‘What, me a criminal with these threads?’ Of course, law enforcement wasn’t fooled for long.

I love film noir from the forties and fifties, and love seeing gangsters and detectives both seeming to compete for the cover of GQ or Esquire magazine with their dapper suits and dandy fedoras.

Dick Powell suited up well. In the “Pope of Greenwich Village” Mickey Roark makes it a point to look sharp before confronting Burt Young in a showdown near the end. Cagney, Bogey, Garfield, Raft, Pesci, de Niro, Nick Nolte and crew in “Mulholland Falls”, etc., etc., all looked good in suits and ties.

The image says a lot. “Miami Vice” on tv was dressy in a loose, louche way. But what about the Wall Street ‘power’ suit, is it really any different from the sharkskin gangster suit?

Make a statement, that’s what a suit can do. Look at the Pachucos and the Zoot suits.

“Fashion is what you adopt when you don’t know who you are.” Maybe all those know who they are, but I doubt it. 

ZZ Top summed it all up though. “Every Girl Crazy ‘Bout a Sharp Dressed Man”.

[3] THE TRUE STATE OF THE NATION, an on-line comment: Sometimes I agree with you (not always let’s be clear!) Perhaps our democracy is dead due to a combination of 1) Dumbed-down dummies who can’t be expected to vote intelligently on complex issues but also 2) Manipulative politicians and the interests behind them who have decided it’s easier to keep them dumb and manipulate them to vote against their own interests!. Thankfully we have a republic and so we have a constitution and Bill of Rights that cannot be simply voted away by the hordes of dummies who go to the polls and vote straight party lines because…well….it’s all too complicated so they just pick a team and pledge loyalty. I was disgusted as a young man watching the War on Drugs sap our country’s wealth and I am still disgusted by the gullibility and idiocy of the average American voter. Sheep led to slaughter, so easily tricked and convinced. On a good day it cracks me up. But most days it’s just sad. Because it means that democracy cannot really work. It is a farce…a farce to entertain the masses while the wealthy steal all the loot. Bread and circuses to keep them occupied….

[4] Wish I could remember what all those keys sound like. I used to play Trumpet in high school, so I’ve been watching some trumpet videos on YouTube of late. A relatively new guy – Wayne Bergeron – is pretty damn good, but for my money Doc Severinsen is still the best I’ve ever heard. Not only can he play with infinite presence and clarity in the upper registers up above C4 all day long, but he can employ all the tricks of the trade – lip trills, double and triple tonguing, note slides and slurs, and extended hold at the end of phrases – up there in rarified air too. His lungs had to have been enormous. To listen to a trumpet player of similar talent live is an opportunity that no should ever miss. They can literally fill a room with their volume, and by volume I don’t just mean decibel level. They have a tone and a presence that fills the room in all registers and decibel levels.

[5] In 1944 Germany – one of my mom’s neighbors was killed by a burglar with an axe. He was a homeowner trying to defend his meager food stash and got hacked up trying to protect a big sack of potatoes. We were reminded of this story sometimes if we complained about supper not being what we wanted. She’d go: 

“You don’t know how good you have it! Why, when I was a teenager all we had to eat was yadaydadaydayada…” 

Ok mom, whatever you say…

[6] People like Kyrie Irving and Kanye West were cancelled because of alleged anti-semitism.

They didn’t say anything antisemitic, they were just accused by the people who decided that they were the sole arbiters of who is and isn’t anti-semitic; and those people are wielding that accusation much the same as they wield the charge of racism, i.e., anyone who has an opinion they don’t like on anything at all, is going to be a racist or anti-semitic or misogynistic.

We are going to be seeing more people able to express their views where more people will see them. The phony “you are anti-semitic” weapon is wearing out.

[7] Regarding “the wholesale demolition of truths, values, and principles,” I recently saw – and I am not making this up – a video clip titled “Brazilian deaf trans woman sings Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You”

Clearly this person faces challenges in life, including confused sexual identity and, of course, being deal and mute. Such a person deserves everyone’s kindness and compassion.

But there are still objective truths in this world. In gown and tiara this person makes a dreadful looking “woman” and, never having had the benefit of hearing the human voice, it is understandable that their “singing” sounds like a hound dog baying at the moon. 

In a world of “truths, values, and principles” it would be cruel to put this person on a TV talent show with judges and a live audience, but in today’s America both are obliged to pretend to regard “her” as beautiful and wonderful. 

Human society requires both truth and beauty for life to be worthwhile. Things of this sort make a mockery of both. All woke persons would surely agree that I am a terrible bastard for calling bullshit on this, but someone must, and I do.

[8] When we simplify the issues to “out of town brought in by others,” or people who are “too lazy to work” we accomplish absolutely nothing. For decades we’ve put band aids on the majority of society’s very real and impactful ills and now we’re experiencing the cause and effect of such neglect of community. Now this isn’t reflective of our community in particular- but we’re also no exception. With neglect to mental health, the ever growing and blatant issue of income equality and then you add the post covid psychosis when literally EVERY SINGLE HUMAN you encounter has a chip on their shoulder (like they were the ONLY ones experiencing hard times in covid, not everyone) and you’ve got a huge mess that will not be solved by a continuation of “lock them up” either. We’ve been doing over incarceration for decades and people STILL be committing crimes. If people feel like they’re required to dedicate every second of their life to work jobs they hate and have no long term benefit to them besides stress and living paycheck to paycheck (and STILL not enough) then why would we continue doing so?? What’s the payoff?? Little to none. We’re seeing society commit slow suicide in many non-traditional ways and it’s not gonna be bandaids that solve this shit.

[9] DOGS IN PUBLIC PLACES, an on-line comment: Dogs and humans co-evolved over tens of thousands of years. They’d lurk around camp, in trade for scraps, they’d bark when a roving tribe of strangers rustled the brush. Fast forward. Now we live in dense enclaves, supported by elaborate systems and structures that eliminate discomfort and risk. Now we leave our armored huts to “relax” in nature. Back when the beaches were a buffet for sea lions, grizzlies, wolves, and mountain lions, a pack of poodles might have been a welcome presence.

I don’t know…there’s a certain expectation that one’s behavior towards say a bear or mountain lion affects the outcome in an interaction. We don’t always get it with domestic dogs. They should behave like puppies on a calendar right? Perhaps a majority of dog owners shouldn’t have them, but people need to know that our reactions trigger certain behaviors too. We have to live the way things are, not keep beating our heads against what should be. You had a stick? A dog grabbed it? Whack the freaking dog! Let go and get another stick! Do some people attract dogs’ attention with subtle freak outs? My mom is 76 and walks a grumpy fat Chihuahua every day, off leash (as a scofflaw) on popular dog trails…encountering pitbulls, even poodles! (clutch the pearls!) She has never experienced aggression from other dogs or dog owners.

I have an acquaintance who insisted on picking out the biggest pitbull in a litter of puppies. The dog is sweet, but never let off leash or out of a small yard, even in a private rural setting. He goes batshit crazy if he can escape, and knows the routine: owner starts screaming and freaking, it becomes a game of keep away! At least. If the poor guy ever got to go to the beach, he’d stay away from any people lest they try and leash him!

[10] I'm from one of those white American families that had stories about Cherokee ancestry. In our case, it was at least potentially plausible as the family traces back to early settlers (mid 1700s) in western North Carolina, which was the original home of the Cherokee. Unfortunately, extensive genealogy research never turned up any evidence of tribal affiliation, and eventually we completely debunked it with DNA tests which showed not a trace of Native American ancestry. Some of my distant cousins (mostly those who still lived in western North Carolina) had over-identified with the family legend and were shocked and disappointed.

Although in most cases, no one in the family received any economic benefits by claiming to be Native American, I do know of one distant cousin who claimed to be “Eastern Cherokee” on a college application in the 1990s (before DNA tests were available) and received a grant intended for Native American students.

As a descendant of settlers, I understand the desire to let ourselves off the hook for the violent displacement, land theft, and genocide of Native Americans. It is easier to think that our ancestors were victims rather than perpetrators. It is a painful truth to face, but face it we must if there is any hope of righting these historical wrongs. If you want to honor Native Americans, don't claim ancestry without appropriate proof, instead, educate yourself about Native American history and support Native American programs and causes.

[11] AN ON-LINE MARIJUANA STORY: I wonder if it was the new officer from down south they tend to get really buggy-eyed when they see “a lot of weed like that” where the local officers don’t really care about it anymore. Is so the newbie got excited and thought this was cool. One time I had four trash bags full of trim I was taking it over to somebody else’s house. I had to stop in town to help a family member. So…while I’m in town police officer walks by he says whose car is this it smells like marijuana I say it’s mine he stops and talks to me. Has me open up the car and looks at the bags and starts getting really excited. He calls his other fellow officers over that were nearby investigating a traffic accident. They all looked at it and said it’s not worth it the judge is just going to throw it out why bother. The guys like it’s marijuana. It’s weed, the other Officer says look you’re going to see tons of this stuff around here this is not that big of a deal and the judge is just going to throw it out. The new officer looks at the other officer and says well this is illegal. That older Officer says I’m not dealing with this and walks off says over his shoulder as he’s leaving you do what you want with it. The young newbie cop looks at me stands around for a little bit more and then shuts the back of my car. I laugh I say hey if I get pulled over again your handprints are there he looks at me with big old eyes and says get the heck out of here. So the newbie probably found it and it was exciting to him. But the newbie in Willits has been pulling people over for rolling right stops and other stuff. Not gaining community support. How long will he stay? Time will tell.

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