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LIGHT RAIN AND SNOW SHOWERS will gradually diminish today. A pattern shift to cool and dry weather is expected this week with Wednesday bringing the only real chance of rain. (NWS)
RAINFALL SINCE CHRISTMAS (past three weeks): Yorkville 29.96" - Boonville 21.90"
ANN SIRI: Well there she blows! The big fir went 6:00 this morning. It had 3 ways to go. Of course it took the worst. It went right thru the center of the grove.
Happy it's down but now we lost 3 from the grove and 5 going to come down that were healthy and in the ground half out of the ground 2 aiming right for the barn and if my clinometer is correct they will take almost 1/2 the girls side. 2 more fences and posts down. Girls are moved around. I just hope when it's all over (the girls have taken quite a beating over the last 2 months) that they can emotionally recover. They are quite terrified. All these trees measure out 100 to 137 ft. The root ball on the fir is about 18 ft dia. Just a waiting game for now. Just way too much windy to help the trees down.
RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY
Come again some other day
We want to go outside and play
Come again some other day
Rain, rain, go away
Come again some other day
We want to go outside and play
Come again some other day
Rain, rain, go away
Come again some other day
We want to go outside and play
Come again some other day
On January 13, 2023, Code Enforcement for the County of Mendocino declared a public nuisance at the Creekside Cabins property in Willits, due to the failure of the owner/operator to address urgent health and safety risks. As part of its summary abatement process, the County has reached out to a contractor to provide a temporary ingress/egress over the sinkhole. Because of traffic safety issues, the bridge is only expected to be available for a short time to allow occupants to relocate to a safer location.
Mendocino County Social Services has worked, and will continue to work, with eligible tenants for any additional resources they may need as they relocate. The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office and Office of Emergency Services staff will also be available to provide additional support and guidance.
While these relocation plans are being developed and implemented, members of the public are strongly encouraged to avoid this area for the safety of the residents, County employees and contractors.
I firmly believe that there is a segment of the public that can’t read on a first grade level. Living near Green Valley Road, I had the opportunity to walk down to see Atascadero Creek after the rains. Road closed sign were posted in two places, with caution ribbons across the road. Well, they were across the road but had been ripped down. The road was flooded just west of the bridge.
Several vehicles drove down but had enough sense to turn around on the narrow country road, causing an interesting tangle. But, one pickup tried to go through, only to stall. Two men on quads were driving through the water. No helmets, of course. We pedestrians got a few chuckles watching.
What is it about “road closed” that people don’t understand? Perhaps I’m correct: they can’t read on a first grade level.
THE CLIMBING COSTS OF THE NEW MENDOCINO COUNTY JAIL SPARK EXASPERATION AT BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MEETING
"I feel like the county needs to make a full court press to go back to the state and say, hey, this is your program. You’re realigning people from state prisons into county jails."
MATTIAS VIETTO, Boonville's gun-slinging wine intern, presumably, is housed at the Mendocino County Jail. Was the young Argentine a wine intern? Middleclass name, middleclass puss, Argentina is a burgeoning wine center, and what diff does it make anyway? Well, none, really, but it's mildly annoying that no one in the Anderson Valley's wine industry will admit to sponsoring Vietto, against whom a conviction for armed robbery is likely to get the kid at least ten years in the state pen unless the wine guy DA takes pity and they go wine tasting together, so to speak.
A Mendocino County Superior Court jury returned from its deliberations late on Wednesday afternoon to announce it had found the trial defendant guilty as charged … plus some.
Defendant Stacey Eugene Rose, age 52, generally of the Ukiah area, was originally charged with one felony count of criminal threats and three misdemeanor counts, to wit, brandishing a replica firearm, resisting or delaying a peace officer, and vehicle tampering.
At the conclusion of the People’s case-in-chief, the prosecutor asked for leave of court to amend the charging document to conform to the People's proof that had been presented to the jury.
That motion was granted, meaning that two additional and separate misdemeanor counts of vehicle tampering were added to the list of charges the jury would eventually be asked to decide.
Accordingly, having started the trial looking at four criminal charges, the defendant ended the trial facing six criminal counts, with the jury finding the defendant guilty of all six.— Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office
ALL OF WHICH stemmed from one episode where Stacy, distraught on the end of a relationship, brandished a fake gun at his family's home on Lambert Lane, threatening suicide and general mayhem. The Sheriff himself, Matt Kendall, a shirttail relative, talked Stacy down.
STACY'S fundamentally a good guy, Known him since he was a kid, and I'm confident I speak for a lot of Anderson Valley people with similar perceptions of the guy. He's obviously going through a rough patch, but he'll pull himself together and resume his normal, employed functioning. It's not in anybody's interest to pack him off to prison. I hope the probation office and the court will recognize that this one episode was atypical, that Stacy is not a violent person, but a person with a long history of non-criminal behavior who, despite this event, will always be a presumed member in good standing of the Anderson Valley community.
A READER COMMENTS: "The Palace Hotel is Ukiah’s business, and I am not from Ukiah, so Iet Ukiah do what they do. But I have a question, what is the attraction of the Palace Hotel, other than its history? Was it ever on any list of attractive buildings in Ukiah? For the last 60 years I have driven or walked by this building, and spent a night there, but not once have I taken much notice of it beyond its wall of brick that can not be fully seen because of the tight quarters of the location. Brick structures continue to be built today, they are not unique. Quaint bars, and restaurants with attractive features continue to be built as well.But I have a question, what is the attraction of the Palace Hotel, other than its history?"
"OTHER THAN ITS HISTORY?" I'd say the history of the Palace is significant in the memories of a lot of Mendo people, although its architecture is ordinary. My late friend, Richard 'Dick' Day of Philo's pioneer Day Ranch, since blasphemously obliterated by a winery, told me how as a kid freshly inducted into the Army, he decided to splurge on the most luxurious last free night he could think of — a night in the Palace Hotel. Dick said the Army had told him he'd be home in a year. "I was home five years later," he recalled with an ironic chuckle, after having served in every major European campaign during World War Two.
All-Pro tight end George Kittle tweeted Thursday night that he had been without power “going on 4 days” — making him one of tens of thousands of Californians still without power due to the recent storms.
“A lil help would be appreciated thanks. Just trying to prepare for something this weekend,” Kittle tweeted at Pacific Gas & Electric Co., alluding to Saturday’s game.
PG&E responded gamely but unspecifically, saying: “We’ve got our offense, defense and special teams on this, George! We’ve got the power back for 2.4M people through the past two weeks’ storms, and we’re gonna get you (and everyone else still out) back as soon as we can!”— Eric Branch, San Francisco Chronicle
NATIONAL NEWS the other day reported that a high school football player in Texas is defending his coach, who is currently under investigation for alleged misconduct after he forced the team to do 400 push-ups in an hour without any breaks. Brady Luff, a varsity captain for the team, defended his coach and stated that Harrell would never put the students at risk. He also denied that the players were deprived of water during the workout. 'Our motto, it's the number 16,' the junior said. 'Sixteen ball games to win a championship. We do these workouts and it's all about discipline. If we get them right, we move on. If not, we do 16 push-ups.'
UH, 16 PUSH-UPS over an hour's time with or without water available, which it was, shouldn't tax a teenager, even a teenager otherwise prone on his couch all day, staring into his telephone.
THE MEDIA PACK is now asking irrelevant questions like, "Will the president's re-election campaign be harmed by this latest documents scandal?" First off, the president could be storing satchel nukes under his bed so far as he is aware of anything. Second, even the possibility of a second Biden term is grotesque given his evident malfunctioning, and the possibility of a second run against Trump is doubly grotesque and a sure sign that the American Experiment has not worked out. Third, I'll bet there isn't a single bit of information contained in thousands of allegedly 'top secret' documents any more revelatory than weather predictions. Government bureaucrats always head for the mattresses rather than reveal what a gang of feebs they really are.
RECOMMENDED VIEWING, both on Netflix:
(1) The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker. This one's the saga of Kai Lawrence whose eccentric media interviews made him famous after he saved a woman from being assaulted by bludgeoning her attacker with a hatchet. Fascinating story of a wandering hippie dingbat who goes from hero to convicted murderer.
(2) Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street. Hard to outdo the many monsters inhabiting Wall Street but Madoff did it. The whole saga is positively Shakespearean in its consequences and, of course, more confirmation that the regulators and the regulated are similarly derelict.
PG&E AGREES NOT TO CUT DOWN MENDOCINO COUNTY TREE WITH EAGLES NEST AMID NEGOTIATIONS
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has reversed course and granted yet another reprieve for a 120-foot ponderosa pine in Mendocino County’s Potter Valley that a group of advocates earlier this week pledged to chain themselves to.
by Kathleen Coates
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has reversed course and granted yet another reprieve for a 120-foot ponderosa pine in Mendocino County’s Potter Valley that a group of advocates earlier this week pledged to chain themselves to.
For the past two weeks, activists have gathered to pray around three tree, located on a 186-acre private ranch along Ridgeway Highway, in attempts to save it from being cut down.
The group’s concern is for a pair of bald eagles that have occupied the tree’s nest. The birds returned earlier this month to claim the nest and now are exhibiting mating behavior, said Peter Galvin, director of programs at the Center for Biological Diversity, an Arizona-based nonprofit known for its animal advocacy.
But the utility agreed Thursday to not cut down the tree amid negotiations with the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians and environmental groups.
“After being notified this past week that eagles are in the vicinity of the Potter Valley tree, PG&E is pausing on vegetation management that would impact their nest,” Megan McFarland, a spokesperson for PG&E, said Friday evening via email. “We will work closely with the U.S. Department of Fish and Game on a resolution once the eagles are no longer in the area.”
PG&E had obtained the necessary permit to remove the tree, which the utility considers a fire danger, and intended to cut it down by Sunday, the last day to legally remove the pine before the start of a seven-month period when bald eagle nesting sites are protected from timber cutting because of breeding season, McFarland said.
PG&E’s permit allowed it to cut down a tree with an inactive nest, but the return of the eagles complicated matters, Galvin said.
“The true solution is to de-energize the line; PG&E says the solution is to cut down the tree. We say this is a unique situation that requires a unique solution,” he said.
PG&E'S LATEST GIFT
California utility regulators recently approved lowering the price utilities pay for excess solar power, citing equity reasons. They lowered the price so much that it nullifies it as an incentive. A homeowner purchasing rooftop solar can recoup the investment in five-six years. The new incentive extends it to 12-plus years. Similar actions in other states, like Nevada and Arizona, killed the sale of rooftop solar and the industry. California utility regulators did it anyway.
California’s stated goals is more dependence on green energy. The mystery then is why did regulators, the governor, etc., effectively eliminate the incentive to buy rooftop solar? The fact they think the current price for power is too high is irrelevant. It’s there as an incentive to meet stated goals, and it has clearly worked. Why is there no replacement, like state tax breaks?
Additionally, solar customers have lower electric bills because the payment for extra power comes off the bill. It does not create an inequity. You do not have to gut the incentive to buy rooftop solar and destroy the industry and its jobs to fix the appearance of one. What the heck is going on?
MENDOCINO THEATRE COMPANY’S 2023 SEASON OF PLENTY
It is with great pleasure that I welcome one and all to Mendocino Theatre Company’s first full season since the onset of Covid 19. We are thrilled to be back in high gear with an exciting slate of plays, classes and special events. Much has transpired in these past few years and events have challenged us to become stronger and even more committed to our community, to the role of theatre in American culture and to the nurturing of a vital creative future for our children.
Among the many offerings in store for you on the main stage are: an American premiere of a popular British comic satire; a North Coast premiere of moving drama about the science of love and a young girl’s love of science; a uniquely American folk musical; a youth production; a laugh-out-loud situation comedy; and a haunting Irish holiday ghost tale. Additionally, we are proud to launch an expanded and revitalized educational initiative that includes a curriculum of youth and adult classes, and a year-round concert series featuring local and regional musicians and composers.
Mendocino Theatre Company continues its commitment to representing diverse voices, acting as a bridge between communities through storytelling. We invite you to join us as together we embark upon our 46th year presenting plays of substance and excitement, from classics to cutting edge.
Elizabeth Craven, Producing Director
MEMO OF THE AIR, Good Night Radio, Friday/Saturday, January 13/14, 2023
Whatever Lola wants (or) Body ritual among the Nacirema.
“The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself, with desire for what its monstrous laws have made monstrous and unlawful.” -Lord Henry Wotton
Here’s the recording of last night’s Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg (CA), ready for you to re-enjoy: https://memooftheair.wordpress.com
Thanks to Hank Sims of Lost Coast Outpost here’s a page with lots of other ones going back quite a way. And thanks to the Anderson Valley Advertiser, which always provides about an hour of each of my Friday night shows’ most locally relevant material, going back decades. And tiny bravely struggling KNYO itself. Find KNYO’s hidden donation heart and help the station out with a one-time gift or, if you can, a recurring gift from your own hidden heart. And/or acquire a concentrated vial of new and improved fire-engine-red KNYO hot sauce, to promote vim and pep and vibrant health. (“It’s toasted!”)
Here’s a link to my dream journal project, that I add to at random every week or so. I’d like to read /your/ dreams on the radio and I always offer to. Just email me. Or include them in a reply to this post. Or send me a link to your dream journal and I’ll make a note to go there and check for updates. It doesn’t have to be a dream. I’m here to read your writing on the radio and subject is no object. See About and Contact.
— Marco McClean
CATCH OF THE DAY, Saturday, January 14, 2023
WILLIAM AADLAND-BREEN, Willits. Failure to appear.
TRINITY AMADOR, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.
JUSTIN BALL, Fort Bragg. Disobeying court order.
JEANIE BETTEGA, Vallejo/Ukiah. Failure to appear.
NICHOLAS DAVILA, Leggett. Assault, battery, vandalism, false personation of another.
ANGEL GUEVARA, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
JONATHAN HENDERSON, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
DUSTIN LASTOFKA, Fort Bragg. Fugitive from justice.
ALIYAH MALICAY, Ukiah. DUI, suspended license for DUI, probation violation.
OSCAR MARTINEZ, Covelo. Protective order violation, probation revocation.
ALFREDO MENDEZ-SALDANA, Covelo. Failure to obey lawful order from peace officer.
KRAIG NOWLIN, Ukiah. Possession of IDs of ten or more people with intent to defraud, conspiracy.
LAURA PITTENGER, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
PETER QUINONES, Fort Bragg. Suspended license, failure to appear.
JULIO RODRIGUEZ-EZCHAVARIA, Ukiah. Criminal threats.
OSCAR SANTANA, Rohnert Park/Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, vandalism.
MEGAN SPAIN, Ukiah. Disoderly conduct-loitering and alcohol.
AMANDA TERLOUW, Ukiah. Possession of IDs of ten or more people with intent to defraud, paraphernalia, conspiracy.
by Richie Wasserman
My dad, Louis Wasserman, was for many years a professor of Political Science and Philosophy a San Francisco State College, now University. Among his many activities was as the head of the College Lecture Series, which brought interesting and famous speakers of the day to the campus to hopefully stimulate the minds of its students.
On this night the lecturer was to be Aldous Huxley, the famous philosopher, humanist, pacifist, poet, and author.
My father would occasionally invite the current lecturer for dinner at our home in Mill Valley on the evening of his or her talk. As they were acquainted from prior years in Los Angeles, Mr. Huxley accepted. His most famous book, “Brave New World” was then required reading in English class and I made it a priority to attend in spite of the busy social life of a high school junior.
At that time, I was a sallow youth, concerned mostly with seduction of the opposite sex (I was a total failure) and other pursuits non-academic. As I will reveal later, my recollections did not include the more esoteric nuance of the dinner conversation.
The lecture took place in, or around, 1959, and concerned the potentialities of the human mind.
As I discovered much later, this was a favorite subject of Mr. Huxley. At the beginning of his lecture, he quoted Ophelia as she tells Claudius in Act 4 of Hamlet: “We know what we are, but know not what we may be”. This quote defines, in a way, Huxley’s pursuit of knowledge and the potential of the human mind.
His early friendships with D. H. Lawrence and Bertrand Russel and later associations with such luminaries such as spiritual teacher Jiddi Krishnamurti and Hindu Swami Prabhavananda, both of whom resided in Los Angeles, told of his wide range of both mentors and contemporaries with whom dialog concerned the pursuit of the meaning of life itself.
It was in Los Angeles that Huxley first experienced Mescaline, and his experience helped to define much of his writing. In “Doors To Perception” he wrote of his own trips under the influence of the cacti, and in his final book, “Island”, in 1962, he writes of a utopian society which used a hallucinatory drug to deepen a state of religious-like serenity.
What I did remember from that dinner over 60 years ago was that Huxley was very apologetic about his blindness, his sight being limited to blurred shapes since school days in England. At the beginning of the meal that my mother carefully prepared, he explained that he had to eat with his fingers due to his condition, and proceeded to deftly eat the salad, dressing and all, in the only way he could. Later, standing before our brick fireplace with one arm on the mantle piece, he joked that a prize Hereford bull imported at great expense from England for breeding stock by a ranching friend, “had better not be impotent”. The great man was actually human!
Huxley lived in LA until his death in 1963, within hours of the demise of C. S. Lewis, and the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The angels must have been fluttering their wings with anticipation.
I REMEMBER ONE DAY IN LOUISVILLE I was riding a bus reading in the paper about Patterson and Ingemar Johansson. It was right after I had won the Olympic gold medal in Rome and had turned professional, and I was confident then I could beat either one of them if I had the chance. But I knew I wouldn't get the chance because nobody much had ever heard of me. So I said to myself, how am I going to get a crack at the title?
Well, on that bus I realised I'd never get it just sitting around thinking about it. I knew I'd have to start talking about it — I mean really talking, screaming and yelling and acting like some kind of a nut. I thought if I did that people would pretty soon hear enough of that and insist I meet whomever was champion.
— Muhammad Ali
TWEET IT LIKE LEBRON: 49ERS’ BROCK PURDY’S GOT GAME, IN THE PLAYOFFS TOO
by Ann Killion
Brock Purdy wasn’t quite four years old when LeBron James entered the NBA, which means the basketball star has been a sports icon literally since Purdy can remember.
In the second half of Saturday’s playoff game, James tweeted out to his 52 million Twitter followers “PURDY GOT GAME!!!!!!!!”
And we finally found something that seemed to faze the San Francisco 49ers’ rookie quarterback.
“LeBron said that?” Purdy said when I told him about the tweet, his eyes widening. “Oh, that’s sweet.”
James’ tweet wasn’t the only sweet thing on Saturday for Purdy. He became the first 49ers rookie quarterback to win a playoff game, the first rookie quarterback in NFL history to have four touchdowns in a playoff game (three passing and one running). And he directed a 25-point second-half outburst that swept away Seattle until next season and put the 49ers two wins away from the Super Bowl.
With their comprehensive 41-23 victory over the Seahawks, the 49ers live to play another week, opponent to be determined on Sunday. That is all they are guaranteed. But Purdy’s performance on Saturday almost certainly locks in something else, a little further in the future.
With an impressive second-half performance to notch his seventh consecutive win and his first playoff victory, Purdy will be the 49ers’ starting quarterback next season. Barring injury, that fact should be — if it wasn’t already — etched in stone.
Kyle Shanahan, whose gameplan called for more passes than runs in the first half, again exhibited an extremely high level of confidence in his high-achieving rookie.
“I’ve felt that way from the beginning,” Shanahan said. “Once he got in there against Miami, we just had to call plays to try to win the game and he did such a good job. And he’s done it every time since. I’ve got a lot of confidence in him.”
Purdy’s first pass Saturday was an incompletion intended for Deebo Samuel. But his teammates attributed that misfire more to a wet ball than to rookie nerves.
“I don’t think there was any nerves at all,” Samuel said. “As the game slowed down, it settled down for him. He knows the guys he has around him to build him up.
Though the weather wasn’t terrible for most of the game, the ball was wet at the start.
“It just got away from me,” Purdy said of his first pass. “There’s some emotion going into the game. You feel it: the environment and the fans and knowing that it’s win or go home. You feel that in pregame but once the game started it’s 11 on 11. I gotta do my job.
“It wasn’t. ‘Gosh we’re in the playoffs and we’ve got to get all tense’ or anything like that. We’ve just got to play our game.”
Purdy played his game, including showcasing his escapability. He pirouetted away from the rush and found a leaping Brandon Aiyuk. On the same possession, he scrambled for a first down, with his run including a little high step that looked like a bad knockoff of Deion “Prime Time” Sanders.
“The high step just sort of comes in the moment,” Purdy said. “I don’t really think, ‘I’m going to high step this linebacker.’ I just try to get him to stop a little bit so I can get a couple more yards.”
Purdy exhibited moves. But after springing out to an early lead, the 49ers struggled. The league’s best defense allowed two long touchdown drives (78 and 71 yards), while the 49ers settled for field goals or went three-and-out, Purdy sprayed some balls around and suddenly looked a little like, gasp, an untested rookie. At halftime, the 49ers trailed 14-13 and Purdy was 9-for-19 passing for 147 yards and had a few balls sail into dangerous territory.
But in the second half, the Brock Star that 49ers fans have fallen head over heels for re-emerged, ready to check off yet another box. He had won at home, won on the road, won against icon Tom Brady, won while trailing.
Now he was ready to win in the playoffs.
“It’s another thing to say he’s done,” Shanahan said. “Some games mean more than others. If you lose this one, the season’s over.”
That was not going to happen. To start the second half, Purdy marched the team down the field and took the ball in himself for the go-ahead touchdown. The rout was on. After a Seahawks fumble set up another 49ers touchdown and Purdy spun away from a sack to find Elijah Mitchell — his final read — for an easy trip into the end zone, Purdy celebrated. And his lineman Mike McGlinchey mimed, injecting ice into his veins, in a nod to the one of the rook’s previous celebrations.
The 49ers are more than impressed with their little bro.
“He’s a special dude,” said linebacker Dre Greenlaw. “Just watching him from the sideline, he’s just so poised. It’s unbelievable to have a teammate that’s young like that and can come in when the odds are stacked against him — Mr. Irrelevant. … It’s unbelievable man.”
The Seahawks were left awfully impressed too, after the 49ers piled up 505 yards.
“They whipped our ass,” defensive end Quinton Jefferson said. “They could do whatever they wanted. It was a frustrating game.”
With every week, the Purdy legend grows. His fan base grows. After Saturday, you can add a certain basketball legend to the Purdy bandwagon. And, perhaps, that legend’s 52 million followers.
What’s not to like?
JANUARY 9, 1969 – Namath Guarantees Super Bowl Win over Colts
While receiving an award from the Miami Touchdown Club, Joe Namath responded to a heckler with a bold statement in a moment of anger regarding Super Bowl III. Namath made a guarantee regarding the outcome of the game. It would prove to be one of the biggest storylines in the brief history of the Super Bowl and lead to one of its greatest games.
When Joe Namath made his acceptance speech for an award presented to him by the Miami Touchdown Club, a fan in the back of the room yelled out, “Hey, Namath! We’re gonna kick your ass!” It was upon hearing this that the New York Jet quarterback responded with a statement out of anger that would soon take the sports world by storm. “I’ve got news for you,” Namath said to the heckler. “We’re gonna win the game. I guarantee it.”
Joe Namath’s prediction would not be well-received by New York Jets head coach Weeb Ewbank who had wanted to keep a low profile going into the game. Ewbank was upset with his star quarterback’s bold statement and told him how Baltimore Colts head coach Don Shula would likely use this as bulletin board material. Namath then told his coach, “If (the Colts) need that to get ready, they’re already in trouble.”
Behind the scenes, the New York Jets were very confident about their chances against the Baltimore Colts. In watching film of the Colts, tight end Pete Lammons spoke up and said, “If we don’t stop watching these films, we’re going to get overconfident.” Even Joe Namath in interviews leading up to Super Bowl III had stated that he felt his team was going to win.
While the story was not front-page news the following morning, the story picked up steam and became the central focus of the storyline leading up to Super Bowl III between the New York Jets and Baltimore Colts from Miami’s Orange Bowl. As it would turn out, Joe Namath’s prediction came true and the Jets defeated the Colts 16-7 in an upset win. Namath would be named the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl III for his leadership of the team on the field and executing the team’s game plan.
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
For many Indonesian families, the number one monthly cash expenditure is – believe it or not – telecommunications.
No matter how “working-class” people are categorized (excluding the desperately poor, though many still have them) every family has a couple of “devices”, and enforce a “stay in touch” ritual with the children and relatives. Schools ban cell phones which means they lock them up during class hours. This includes the popular pesantren, Islamic boarding schools. But after hours the kids are back on their devices.
So even with discounts and reasonably cheap data packets, how can the millions of working-class citizens scrounging to pay for food, ciggies, fuel for a wobbly motorbike and electricity (the other main cash drains) afford their Telkom or Indosat or XL?
That is not the point: it is clearly a case of addiction. I see it around me all the time. Kids sidle up to my place in the hills to mooch off my wi-fi. Some loiter outdoors but the more familiar neighbors plop themselves inside and glue faces to tiny screens, for hours. Little or no conversation or socializing, just staring and the occasional chuckle.
Meanwhile, Grandpa, hunting down wild grasses to feed the goats, wouldn’t know to operate a cell phone if you took him to MIT; dad is out in the fields hoeing the sweet potatoes or corn plants (barely able to figure out his own device) in the blazing sunshine, while those 25 and under are obsessed with the usual content.
This phenomenon is undoubtedly being repeated all across the third world (although Indonesia has traditionally been far ahead of everyone else, as the military dictatorship used the telco networks to monitor and control the populace, all the way from the pioneer Palapa satellite in 1970).
It’s a generation of mutants, and I do not foresee these kids out planting the rice seedlings in the hot sun anytime soon. Nevertheless, that may be all that is facing them, before long. I’ll probably be knocking elbows with them.
RUSSELL BANKS, JOHN BROWN AND THE AMERICAN SOUL
There are few contemporary novelists who have explored the dark undercurrents of American society with more insight and pathos than Russell Banks, who died earlier this month.
by Chris Hedges
The deep malaise that defines American society — the rage, despair and widespread feelings of betrayal and loss — is rarely captured and almost never explained in the pages of newspapers or on screens. To grasp what has happened to the United States, the savage economic and emotional cost of deindustrialization; the destruction of our democratic institutions; the Neolithic violence that sees us beset with almost daily mass shootings in malls, offices, schools and movie theaters; the rise of the militarized state; and the consolidation of national wealth by a tiny cabal of corrupt bankers and corporations, we must turn to our artists, poets and writers. Foremost among writers who explored our peculiar American zeitgeist was the novelist Russell Banks, who died on January 7th at the age of 82.
His novel “Continental Drift” tells the story of Bob Dubois, a 30-year-old New Hampshire oil burner repairman who moves his family to Florida in a forlorn effort to strike it rich, and Vanise Dorinville, a Haitan immigrant, who flees Haiti in an overcrowded boat to the United States and endures rape, forced labor and the drowning of her child and nephew. With these two plot lines, Banks juxtaposes the glittering promise of America against its stark, indifferent callousness.
“The more a man trades off his known life, the one in front of him that came to him by birth and the accidents and happenstance of youth, the more of that he trades for dreams of a new life, the less power he has,” Banks writes. “Bob Dubois believes this now. But he’s fallen to a dark, cold place where the walls are sheer and slick, and all the exits have been sealed. He’s alone. He’s going to have to live here, if he’s going to live at all. This is how a good man loses his goodness.”
The novel is a savage indictment of the divides erected by globalization, racism, class and political systems. It was written, as Banks noted in the last line of the book, to “destroy the world as it is.” In “Affliction” the main character, Wade Whitehouse, lives in a dilapidated trailer and works odd jobs. In “The Sweet Hereafter,” a rural community is convulsed by a fatal school bus accident that kills 14 children. And in two other novels, “The Lost Memory of Skin,” the story of a 22 -year-old living with other sex offenders under a south Florida causeway, and “Rule of the Bone,” about a sexually abused homeless 14-year-old boy, Banks employs the plight of disaffected youths to expose the hypocrisy, mendacity and banality of the adult world.
Banks also turned his fierce and uncompromising gaze on artists, as he did in his novel “Foregone” where sections of the book are scathingly autobiographical. It is written through the eyes of a renowned documentary filmmaker who is dying of cancer, the disease that took Bank’s life. It delves into the often selfish motivations of artists, the tricks of memory, the myths we use to build our fictional personas, the ways wealth can suffocate and corrupt us, the mutations of self that estrange us from those we love, the deep fear of being unloved and the heady idealism that is at once the charm and curse of youth.
“Time, like cancer, is the devourer of our lives,” he writes in “Foregone.” “When you have no future and the present doesn’t exist, except as consciousness, all you have for a self is your past. And if, like Fife, your past is a lie, a fiction, then you can’t be said to exist, except as a fictional character.”
Banks had no illusions about human nature or the moral neutrality of the universe.
“Of all the animals on this planet, we are surely the nastiest, the most deceitful, the most murderous and vile,” he writes.“Despite our God, or because of him. Both.”
Banks grew up in poverty. He dropped out of Colgate University — where he had been given a full scholarship — after eight weeks and hitchhiked through a snowstorm to Miami, Florida. His plan was to go to Cuba and fight with Fidel Castro. By the time he arrived in Florida, the Cuban Revolution was over. This was fortuitous, he said, as he had no idea of how to get to Cuba from Florida and did not speak Spanish. He worked as a laborer, including as a mannequin dresser at a Montgomery Ward department store and in New Hampshire with his father, who was a plumber and pipe fitter. Earl Banks was an alcoholic who was physically abusive to his son, striking him when he was two and damaging his left eye. Banks said he at once “hated and adored” his father, who abandoned the family when he was twelve. His novels often contain fraught relationships between fathers and sons.
Banks writes with brutal honesty in his novels, short stories and screenplays about the struggles and unattainable dreams of those who have been marginalized, neglected and demonized by the wider society. He makes visible those rendered invisible. He never romanticizes the poor and the underclass, but at the same time has a deep empathy and love for those he portrays — those living on the edge in trailer parks, traumatized Vietnam veterans, former convicts, outcasts, immigrants and people of color, especially African-Americans. He places race and class at the center of his understanding of American society. Few contemporary writers or artists in any genre have done more to tell the story, or recover the humanity and dignity, of those cast aside and reviled in American society.
Bank’s masterpiece is his novel “Cloudsplitter”, the fictional account of the life of abolitionist and insurrectionist John Brown. The title of the book is taken from the translation of the Algonquin name, Tahawus, for Mount Marcy, the highest peak in the Adirondacks in upstate New York where it loomed over Brown’s farm. Banks, as with all his novels, conducted prodigious amounts of research. There are few factual deviations from Brown’s turbulent life. Banks lived in upstate New York close to where Brown is buried.
In his 22-piece series “The Legend of John Brown,” first exhibited in 1941, the painter Jacob Lawrence chronicles a seminal stage in the life of the abolitionist in each panel. The first depicts Brown as Christ nailed to a cross with blood flowing from his nailed feet to the ground. The next scenes portray Brown as a man of exceptional religious conviction, willing to suffer financial failure and hardship in his fight for abolition. The middle compositions tell the story of Brown’s plans to free slaves, including his raids that massacred pro-slavery settlers in Kansas, his failed attack on the U.S. arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia; the final panels portray his capture with head bent, covered by long hair and holding a cross, his sentencing and subsequent hanging.
Brown’s religious zeal and martyrdom became a catalyst to the Civil War that followed. He remains one of the most enigmatic figures in American history, a bundle of contradictions, a man of rigid morality and high ideals, who at the same time could murder those who supported slavery with unmitigated savagery.
W.E.B. Du Bois explained the inherent contradictions of Brown’s execution in a 1932 speech he gave at Harpers Ferry.
“Some people have the idea that crucifixion consists in the punishment of an innocent man,” he said. “The essence of crucifixion is that men are killing a criminal, that men have got to kill him...and yet that the act of crucifying him is the salvation of the world. John Brown broke the law; he killed human beings...Those people who defended slavery had to execute John Brown although they knew that in killing him they were committing the greater crime. It is out of that human paradox that there comes crucifixion.”
The novel captures the interior life of Brown and those closest to him, exploring the visions, doubts, fears, self-deceptions and passions that defined them. It required “the interweaving of history, biography and letters and interviews,” Banks told me in an interview in February 2022, with the ability to enter into “the subjective interior of a particular person.” This exploration of interior lives is something historians, biographers and journalists rarely achieve. It allows us to understand “the ambiguities of the subjective human experience.”
The narrator of “Cloudsplitter” is Owen Brown, the third son of John Brown, who was with his father during most of the defining moments of his life, including the raid on Harpers Ferry. In the rare book room at Columbia University, Banks poured through a dusty box of interviews with Brown’s elderly surviving children taken by Catherine Mayo, assistant to Oswald Garrison Villard, the first biographer of Brown at the turn of the 20th century. Owen had died in 1889, so was not included in the interviews, but he serves as Banks’ vehicle to explain Brown. The novel delves into issues of class, race, capitalism and the oppressive power of a domineering father.
“It’s meant to even invoke Abraham and Isaac,” Banks told me of his novel. “It’s meant to tell the father-son story when the father is loyal to a force or figure that’s larger than family and the tensions that arise from that, and the son’s attempt to ally himself with the father’s allegiance in order to please the father rather than simply to share in the same allegiance. This is an ancient story I’m telling, a mythic story really. But Brown’s life and his relation, particularly to his son Owen, really evokes those myths. It’s hard to resist it — once I started working with the materials. I mean it was there. I didn’t have to make that up.”
Brown, like many committed revolutionaries, from Vladimir Lenin to Che Guevarra, was attempting to forge a new world, one created through violence and one he was willing to be martyred to achieve. He saw himself as a latter day Oliver Cromwell, leading a militia that included four of his sons to attack pro-slavery settlers in Kansas. In 1856, Brown’s armed band butchered two families of Tennessee farmers in Pottawatomie County, Kansas.
“He believed slavery was evil, but in a profound Biblical sense, not in a civic sense although it was, of course,” Banks said of Brown.
In the novel, Owen reflects on the Kansas murders: “On that dark May night in ’56, I truly thought that we were shaping history, that we were affecting the course of future events, making one set of events nearly impossible and another very likely, and I believed that the second set was morally superior to the first, so it was a good and necessary thing, what we were doing. We could slay a few men now, men who were guilty, perhaps, if only by association, and save millions of innocents later. That’s how terror, in the hands of the righteous, works.”
Following the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which stripped Black people, even those who had escaped to northern states, of all legal protection and imposed heavy penalties on anyone who assisted an enslaved or formerly enslaved person, Brown may have been correct in his belief that violence was the only route to end slavery.
But Banks refuses to absolve Brown for his acts of terrorism, which were designed to spread fear among pro-slavery Kansas farmers, nor Brown’s lust, on some level, for his own death.
“There is an anger that drives one, not to suicide or even to contemplate it, but to place oneself in a situation which has as its outcome only two logical conclusions — a miraculous triumph over one’s enemies, or one’s own death — so that the line between suicide and martyrdom is drawn so fine as not to exist,” Banks writes.
Brown lived for a month in Frederick Douglass’ attic before the 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry, which was crushed by Colonel Robert E. Lee and Lt. James Ewell Brown “Jeb” Stuart, both of whom owned slaves and would later fight for the Confederacy.
“Poor, deluded fools,” Banks writes of poor whites in “Cloudsplitter.” “Because their skin’s as white as the rich man’s, they believe that they might someday be rich themselves. But without the Negro, Owen, these men would be forced to see that, in fact, they have no more chance of becoming rich than do the very slaves they despise and trample on. They’d see how close they are to being slaves themselves. Thus, to protect and nurture their dream of becoming someday, somehow, rich, they don’t need actually to own slaves, so much as they need to keep the Negro from ever being free.”
Brown desperately wanted Douglass, along with Harriet Tubman, to join his assault, which he hoped would ignite a massive slave revolt. But as much as they admired Brown, they were deeply skeptical of his plan. They feared the full weight of the U.S. military and believed that Southern slaveholders would react by augmenting their reign of terror and randomly execute any enslaved person seen as a potential threat. They had been enslaved and had a far more realistic understanding of the institution of slavery and the lengths it would go to preserve itself.
“Father believed that the universe was a gigantic clockworks, brilliantly lit,” Banks has Owen say near the end of the novel. “But it’s not. It’s an endless sea of darkness moving beneath a dark sky, between which, isolate bits of light, we constantly rise and fall. We pass between sea and sky with unaccountable, humiliating ease, as if there were no firmament between the firmaments, no above, or below, here or there, now or then, with only the feeble conventions of language, our contrived principles, and our love of one another’s light to keep our own light from going out: abandon any one of them, and we dissolve in darkness like salt in water. For most of my life, surely since that day in October when I fled the field at Harpers Ferry, I have been a steadily diminishing light — until the day when I began to set down this long account, and my light flared up as it never had before.”
Banks understood the original sins of America and their consequences. He grappled in his writing with the distressing pathologies that give rise to the horrors carried out in our name overseas and at home. He forced us to look at ourselves, to see who we are, all the while holding out a flicker of hope that if we can grieve for others, we might change.
IT'S A HARD THING TO ARTICULATE, to explain why I don't think I'm a racist. Some people get it, even [some black people] get that it's not racist. They get what it is, what I'm trying to do there. But you know, that kind of stuff's not for everyone. Any image that has been used as a derogatory, stereotype — anti-Semitic caricature of a Jew or whatever — you draw that with the purpose of making some kind of ironic satirical take on it, that's going to be lost on a lot of people who just look at the image and all they see is anti-Semitic or racist, that's all they can see. They can't get past that. And I understand that. That's why I say that kind of stuff is just not for everyone, that's all. But there are those who get that type of thing. And I'm sorry if some images I've drawn are hurtful to some people. I truly am sorry. I feel bad about that. But, somehow I almost feel like it has to be vented. Somebody had to do it, put that shit out there. Otherwise, it's just stewing and boiling under the surface all the time in the culture in a way that's just, ugh, just so ugly. You know, the white people and the black people, the guilty liberals, the ignorant bigots. A big boiling pot, an ugly underbelly of the collective consciousness. It just has to be released somehow, in some way that's not murderous. It might be hurtful to some people, but it's not murderous. To anybody that looks at those images for more than 3 seconds, you can see that I'm not promoting racism.
— Robert Crumb
HARRY’S FRACTURED FAIRY TALE
by Maureen Dowd
I am, faith and begorrah, no monarchist.
Yet I found myself, over the last few years, exhausted by the exodus of Harry and Meghan, quitting palace life for the Netflix lobby, spilling secrets to accrue the gazillion that would be needed for a Vinyasa-and-Oprah lifestyle in Montecito.
If Meghan Markle wanted to change the world, couldn’t she do it more effectively from within the monarchy, blowing the dust off old rituals, as she did with her wedding? How could Meghan be “shocked to discover institutional racism in the very institution that created the most enduring business model for it?,” Alicia Montgomery wrote in Slate.
Couldn’t Harry and Meghan rise above Rupert Murdoch and salacious tabloid coverage, as the Obamas rose above the vile coverage on Murdoch’s Fox News? (And shouldn’t the royals stop having the tabloids laid out with their breakfast?)
Harry thought he’d find closure in disclosure. He will never feel the crown’s heaviness, but was his burden so unbearable that it needed multimedia unburdening? The family spats seemed sitcom-worthy, the drama as puffed up as a flower girl’s dress. As someone who has maneuvered sibling friction over politics, I learned to bite my tongue, so I could remain close to my siblings.
Couldn’t the couple have played the inside game, as Diana did, more effectively torturing Harry’s “villain,” Camilla?
Now that I have read “Spare,” however, these questions seem pointless. It’s like asking Orestes, “Couldn’t you just have made nice with your mother?”
The unfathomable 1997 accident in Pont de l’Alma tunnel in Paris, the crash that extinguished Diana’s radiance, a luminosity recalled so lovingly by her son in his memoir, turned the House of Windsor into the House of Atreus.
Much to the shock and discomfort of the royal family, Diana’s death opened a flood of emotion for the stiff-upper-lip Brits, and Harry is determined to keep that torrent flowing and make sure his mother is avenged.
The book is about hunting and being hunted. Harry hunted for the Taliban in Afghanistan and game in Africa and Balmoral — and love. When he killed a rabbit as a child, his nanny “blooded” him — smeared the animal’s blood on his forehead. When a teenage Harry killed a stag, his guide stuck his head in the carcass, giving him a “blood facial.”
Harry often identifies with the quarry. Once, when he was high on weed at Eton, he saw a fox and felt more connected to it than to his classmates or his family. He loathes being hunted by what he terms the “sadists” from the tabloids, just as his mother was, to the point where he thinks both sanity and life are endangered, for him and Meghan.
This is a prince who needs a hug. He couldn’t get one from his “Pa,” who couldn’t get one from his mother. (Maybe that’s why Charles kept his tattered teddy bear into adulthood.) Harry’s brother, preoccupied with primogeniture, often kept his affectionate younger brother at arm’s length, oddly calling him “Harold” and earning a place as Harry’s “arch nemesis.”
So Harry married Meghan, a hugger, like his mother, and moved to hug-at-hello Southern California where a stranger like Tyler Perry offered up his L.A. compound to the homeless couple and A-listers welcomed the former “Suits” actress to their ranks.
I have to admit, if it were me, I would have put up with a lot to live through history, to see the end of the Elizabethan era. I would have loved to be bouncing over the Scottish highlands with the queen in her Land Rover, nursing a thermos of Scotch and hearing anything she had to say about anyone.
Harry, winningly self-deprecating in the book, recalled his moniker of “Prince Thicko” and concedes he was not literary. He feels intimidated that Meghan has read “Eat, Pray, Love.” He’s also so uninterested in history — even though it was his own family he was studying — that a teacher presented him with a wooden ruler engraved with the names of every British monarch since 1066. When he got a chance to chat with his grandmother, he did not quiz Gan-Gan about her illustrious and notorious relatives. He taught her how to say “Booyakasha,” Ali G-style.
He couldn’t get into Shakespeare, despite his father’s love of the Bard. “I opened Hamlet,” Harry wrote. “Hmmm: Lonely prince, obsessed with dead parent, watches remaining parent fall in love with dead parent’s usurper …? I slammed it shut. No, thank you.” Harry is not an intellectual, like Hamlet, although he is aggrieved and obsessed with his mother and following what he thinks are the desires of his parent’s ghost, even if it leads to a collapse of the court.
Harry’s internal struggle was not “To be or not to be” but “To split or not to split.” He split, he spilled and now, as at the end of all Shakespearean tragedies, the stage is covered in blood and littered with bodies.
Harry told a Telegraph writer that it could have been worse and that he left out a lot of damaging material about his father and brother. He is just, he said, “trying to save them from themselves.”
WOKE ME WHEN IT'S OVER: The University of Southern California's School of Social Work has published a letter saying it will remove the word 'field' from its curriculum and practice and replace it with the word 'practicum' instead. The move is meant to reflect 'anti-racist' values, but some have argued that it insults the intelligence of the people who it is addressing. 'This change supports anti-racist social work practice by replacing language that could be considered anti-Black or anti-immigrant in favor of inclusive language,' the letter read.
UKRAINE, Saturday, 14th January
Air raid sirens sounded in Kyiv as Russian missiles hit critical infrastructure in the Ukrainian capital, officials say.
Kyiv’s military administration says critical infrastructure has been hit, but did not elaborate.
Earlier on Saturday, two Russian missiles hit Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, the regional governor reported.
Russia has claimed control of Soledar in east Ukraine, its first claim of victory in months of battlefield setbacks, but Ukraine says fierce fighting is still under way.
JEFF BECK’S 10 ESSENTIAL SONGS
The guitarist, who died on Tuesday, could make his instrument slash, burn and sigh. Listen to tracks released from 1966 to 2010 that reveal his range and intensity.
by Jon Pareles
Songs could barely contain Jeff Beck’s guitar. It jabbed at tunes with brute-force riffs. It sparred with singers for the spotlight. It clawed at the limits of verses and choruses, screaming melodies of its own, making notes slide and wriggle; sometimes it scraped out funky, contentious rhythm chords.
Yet in quieter moments, Beck’s guitar could also be startlingly tender, cherishing a melody or proffering teasing, insinuating undercurrents. Beck, who died on Tuesday at 78, was also a master of electric guitar tones, of amplification and distortion. He could make his Stratocaster sound icy, searing, slashing and otherworldly in the course of a single track.
Here, in chronological order, are 10 tracks that reveal Beck’s range and intensity.
The Yardbirds, ‘Over Under Sideways Down’ (1966)
The pushy, up-and-down, Eastern-tinged guitar line that opens the song, and the squirming guitar riff behind the chorus, turn this track from jaunty British Invasion pop into something far more urgent. Beck’s lead guitar takes over for the entire last minute, melding rockabilly and something like raga, leaving the rest of the band to whoop along.
Jeff Beck, ‘Shapes of Things’ (1968)
Beck’s supercharged remake of a Yardbirds song has Rod Stewart on vocals and a churning, whipsawing arrangement that rivals anything from contemporaries like the Who. The song gallops from the get-go, as Beck answers his own power chords with countermelodies high and low. The bridge rockets into double time, and after the final verse the band stages a neat slow-motion collapse.
Donovan with the Jeff Beck Group, ‘Barabajagal’(1969)
Beck the bandleader, abetted by wailing backup singers including Suzi Quatro, catalyzed this rowdy song by Donovan, the normally soft-spoken flower-child troubadour. Beck’s electric guitar opens with twangy rockabilly syncopation, sets up the choppy piano groove and pointedly spurs things along. He really starts to wail toward the song’s free-for-all finish.
Stevie Wonder, ‘Lookin’ for Another Pure Love’(1972)
Beck and Stevie Wonder shared songs and appeared on each others’ albums in the 1970s, and “Lookin’ for Another Pure Love” from Wonder’s “Talking Book” featured the guitarist at his most sweetly melodic in the song’s bridge. His solo eases up to a high note and then casually trickles down, continuing through the track to garland Wonder’s vocals with little slides and curlicues, reveling in the song’s sophisticated chord progression.
Jeff Beck, ‘Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers’ (1975)
Beck’s best-known ballad is an instrumental version of a Wonder song. He plays it with long-lined phrases and constantly changing nuances of tone: as a dialogue, as a keening lament, as bitter self-accusations, as an anguished plea, as a fragile chance at hope. From start to finish, it sings.
Jeff Beck, ‘Freeway Jam’ (1975)
Written by Max Middleton, then the keyboardist in Beck’s band, “Freeway Jam” is a brisk shuffle that materializes and fades out as if it’s excerpted from a jam session, though parts are clearly mapped out. It gives Beck room to peal some clarion melodies and then attack them with trills, bent notes, blues licks and dissonances. A live version featuring the keyboardist Jan Hammer, released in 1977, makes the tune even more gleefully frenetic.
Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart, ‘People Get Ready’ (1985)
Rod Stewart rejoined Beck for a remake of the Curtis Mayfield gospel-soul standard, “People Get Ready,” that starts out restrained but grows fervid. Beck offers a stately, fanfare-like guitar hook after the first verse, then engages Stewart more and more: taking over the melody with note-bending variations, surging up from below, goading Stewart to shout and leap into falsetto. Despite its dated 1980s production, the song finds the spirit.
Jeff Beck, ‘THX 138’ (1999)
Could a player as physical as Beck handle the mechanical drive of electronica? Of course. A tireless programmed drumbeat drives “THX 138,” but Beck rides it in multiple ways: with an Eastern-tinged modal loop, with sustained power chords, with high blues lines, with ferocious stereo call-and-response chords, with a melody that leaps skyward. For all the gadgetry, human hands dominate this mix.
Jeff Beck with Jimmy Page, ‘Beck’s Bolero’ (2009)
Before he formed Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page was Jeff Beck’s colead guitarist, and then his successor, in the Yardbirds. In 1966 they collaborated to record “Beck’s Bolero,” written by Page, for Beck’s first solo single. This gracious latter-day reunion for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is noisy, flashy, virtuosic and over the top in exactly the right proportions.
Jeff Beck, ‘Over the Rainbow’ (2010)
For all his speed and dexterity, Beck never underestimated the beauty of a sustained melody. He played this Hollywood standard backed by chords from a string orchestra, sliding through the tune, holding back some notes and using tremolo on others, making every turn of the familiar song sound like a precious discovery.