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A NORTH PACIFIC HIGH will keep skies clear and temperatures mild through tomorrow. By very early Tuesday morning, a low pressure system with colder air will bring lower temperatures throughout the region, low elevation snow, heavy snow above 1000 ft, potential for convective storms producing small hail at the coast, and rain. The low pressure system will impact the region through the end of the week. Very cold low temperatures are expected Friday and Saturday morning. (NWS)
AV UNIFIED NEWS
Dear Anderson Valley Community,
I hope you had a wonderful weekend and enjoy your Monday holiday.
Important district-wide events:
District College and Career Dinner, Tuesday, February 28 at 5:00 at the Junior/Senior High School
Join us for a tasty dinner by Terri and Steve Rhoades and learn about high school credit requirements, college preparation, and career options including apprenticeship and career technical programs. Parents and students fourth grade and up are encouraged to attend. Let your school office know that you want to attend, so we can make sure we have enough food for you and your family.I am delighted that we have 180 reservations all ready. The deadline for reservations is this Thursday AT 3:45 p.m.
The group at the ELAC meeting on Thursday has volunteered to form a parent/guardian problem-solving committee to address drug use and bullying at both sites. The first meeting will be on Tuesday, March 7 at 5:00-6:00 in the high school library. Anyone is welcome to attend. The purpose of the committee is to identify:
• Drug education for students, staff, and parent/guardians
• Bullying education for students, staff and parents/guardians
• Understand enforcement options at the site
• Create community awareness about the issues related to bullying and drug use and increase parent/guardian involvement to prevent the issues in the schools.
• Increase parent/guardian participation at schools for events and volunteer opportunities.
• Ensure there is appropriate local drug intervention and family support for any family member requesting support.
• Other items as determined by the committee.
I have invited the Health Center staff and the Sheriff's office as well.
We will press on with facility hardship funding. Plans are in review for the elementary septic with the County and a full plan set for the library and science wings will be submitted to DSA shortly. I have a meeting in Sacramento this week about hardship funding for all of the other things we need to fix. Congressman Huffman has offered a visit on Tuesday to tour the needs which we have gratefully accepted.
In the meantime, we must celebrate girls’ softball, Junior Hgh soccer, and baseball and all of the amazing enrichment occurring at the elementary school! Gabriella Frank will unveil a music partnership At Both Sites Next Year. Is this cool or what?
Have a happy weekend!
Louise Simson, Superintendent
Anderson Valley Unified School District
Every Student • Every Possibility • No Matter What
CREEKSIDE EVACUATION AFTERMATH
Steffanie Darr and her son have finally settled in at a mobile home park in Lake County, following the two-day evacuation January 25-26 from Creekside Cabins & RV Resort after a culvert that provided the only access to the property was washed out just before the New Year. It was a long road to the Darrs’ new home; Theirs was the last trailer to be towed out, they spent the night on the side of Highway 101, and they were then towed to a mobile home park in Willits rather than the space they’d secured in Lake County.…
MIKE GENIELLA: There are people and events that help define the character of every community, and we had the pleasure Saturday night to engage again in a great tradition in the town of Ukiah, Mendocino County's economic, political and government center. Mardi Gras, an annual event benefiting St. Mary's School, raises an incredible $80,000 in one night to help keep tuition affordable for local families. One of the stars is fifth-generation baker Zack Schat. He and his crew cooked and served a flawless dinner for 450. A tip of the hat to you, Zack.
ROBBIE LANE: So, the inaugural meeting of The Fellowship took place today in Boonville; no politics, no ethnicity or gender bias, no specific theology… Just good hearted people gathering in the name of love and companionship, possibly looking to do positive things for our brothers and sisters. We’re looking at March 18 for our next meeting. Any and all are welcome. Let me know if you are interested. Oh, and by the way, no KoolAid was or ever will be served! If this resonates with anyone of you, please call me at (707) 489-2915.
MENDO OLD TIMER NEEDS HELP GETTING TO HAWAII (Posted by a friend; please contact Mr. T directly.)
John Terwilliger, a long-time Mendo local, who owned and operated the Elk Store for many years, needs some help getting to Hawaii where he is going to retire.
He has plenty of money, and is not asking for donations. What he needs is a travel companion, for whom he can pay the airfare! He needs someone to help him get to the airport, and get settled in Hawaii.
John has a fixed income, and a credit card with a $1,100 limit, so as you can imagine it's rather tricky to just up and move to another state with this limitation. Making matters worse, he also currently cannot drive, as he needs to get re-tested at the DMV after his recent stroke operation.
Does anyone want a free round-trip ticket to Hawaii, in exchange for some logistical help with transportation?
If you are interested, or if you think you could help out John in another way, please give him a call, or go see him at the Mendocino Hotel:
Mendo Hotel Room #307
EYES ONLY, LOCALS
SALMAN RUSHDIE has led an angry backlash aimed at publishers for making woke changes to the classic children's books by Roald Dahl. Rushdie was recently stabbed, losing the sight in one eye, for protecting free speech. He said the changes to Dahl's books were “absolute censorship.” Hundreds of changes have been made to the beloved children's books, including no longer referring to Augustus Gloop as “fat.” Other characters have had their genders changed and words like “mad” and “crazy” have been removed by “sensitivity readers.”
SO FAR as I'm aware, “woke” has only raised its green-haired head a couple of times in Mendo, both occasions being confined to the Mendocino Coast where, in the first instance, an obviously unhinged young black woman tried to rustle up a few bucks for herself during the Black Lives Matter festivities, the other when a small group of ahistorical prigs mounted an unenergetic campaign to change the name of Fort Bragg. The town, you see, was named after Braxton Bragg, a slaveholder who became a Confederate general. Bragg, before he turned traitor, was posted as a U.S. Army officer to Fort Bragg to protect Indians from white settlers, a righteous assignment that Bragg carried out with all due diligence, escorting Coast Indians to Covelo where a reservation had been established. Not to repeat myself too many times, but we should celebrate our history, murders and all, because we've survived it and, grudgingly in too many cases, tried to make amends for the worst of it. Vote NO on a name change for Fort Bragg.
I GOT A LETTER from one of the County's innumerable non-profits signed by a woman who appended “she-her” to her name. I asked her if she was a Siamese twin but didn't hear back.
ANOTHER BIG MEDIA WEEK for Mendocino County in the great outside world where Mendo seems perpetually in the news for one bizarre reason or another. Last week it was a drunk driver who got off because he was fleeing two irate women, one his girlfriend, the other his wife who'd caught him with his Jezebel. His defense was perfectly reasonable with the jury that acquitted him. “Yeah, I was drunk, but I had to get outta there for two obvious reasons.”
THIS WEEK, the Great Outside got a few yucks out of a Chronicle story about Mendo's failed pot licensing program, the basic stat being 832 applicants forever in process, only 12 licenses approved. We're talking about a total of, max, a couple of hundred acres in pot because each applicant is limited to ten thousand square feet. And pot prices have collapsed, with these saps still trying to play by Mendo's insane rules.
SO HERE WE ARE, the entire fiasco beginning with “legalization,” soon exacerbated by the Mendo Supervisors who refused to simply adopt HumCo's workable strategy — Mendo is home to more experts per capita than any county in America — as Mendo piled on all manner of unreasonable stipulations. Then appointed a dozen stoners to drift in and out of an office recently moved to the decrepit Willits courthouse to steer legalization and, and, and…
THERE WAS A TELLING EXCHANGE between supervisors Williams and McGourty when Williams asked wine guy McGourty if the pot rules were applied to grape permits what would happen? McGourty's candid reply: The grape industry would be a lot smaller.
ATTORNEY HANNAH NELSON has tried, and tried mightily to bring some clarity to the licensing mess. “Historically, and even recent history, demonstrates that the local cannabis department is not equipped to process the number of applications that would need to be processed,” Nelson said. “I have clients who have submitted three, four and even five times and the county keeps losing things, changing what was required, and failing to track its own steps along the way.”
FORMER 3RD DISTRICT SUPERVISOR, John Pinches, has always said he could write a workable pot licensing program on a cocktail napkin. I think he had in mind, basically, an annual flat fee, which would keep off the local cops but leave growers to fend off other authorities on their own. It's all moot now with the collapse of prices and lots of people permanently retired from the game. Legalization killed the golden goose, one lamentable result being a big hit for Mendocino County's economy. Gone are the days a small army of long-haired grunges would come down out of the hills to pay for new trucks with wads of cash, the days when cops would take off a crop here and there, just enough to keep prices up. Illegal worked just fine.
ATTENTION CSD TRUSTEES. We need benches in downtown Boonville. No place for visitors to sit while they enjoy their ice cream cones and take-out viands. Mosswood and the General Store are generous with their outdoor seat time, but otherwise it’s standing room only in Anderson Valley's lead city. “But, but, but.... won't the bums sit on them all day?” That's called “local color,” besides which we don't have any bums here. Leeches are another matter.
BUT BENCHES for Boonville have long been a consensus want for Boonville. CSD even applied a grant to fund them. And there's even a bench plan, but the plan involves Caltrans, and Caltrans decrees only concrete benches, and even though local artists have tried to come up with a design that will satisfy both the bureaucrats at Big Orange in Eureka and our basic desire to have benches that don't look like concrete blobs, which are the hemorrhoid jobs Eureka prefers, the project seems endlessly stalled.
ANOTHER long pot discussion at the Supervisors the week before last. How many public hours over the years do you estimate have been devoted to this one subject? Thousands, more than any other by far.
THE CAKEBREAD wine people own the former nursery property at the Philo end of Anderson Valley Way where two fine little buildings sit empty, both of which could easily be converted to housing. So, like, why not, Cakebread?
LYNN DERRICK will not be returning to her old stand at Queenie's Roadside Cafe. Lynn's been at the grill of her wildly successful Elk restaurant for 22 years, and if anybody deserves a rest it's her.
POT-HEAD NATION: A TRUCKFUL OF TURNIPS
by Tommy Wayne Kramer
Recently I came across an article on the long-term effects of marijuana use and as any and all of us would predict, the academic paper was not illustrated with a yellow smiley Happy Face.
People who’d been using marijuana heavily and for a long time were the target of the analysis. The only humor I found in the article was that the people running the study considered use “heavy” if using marijuana once a week or more.
The results were published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, and duly noted everything from reduced IQ to learning and processing deficits, cognitive impairment, lowered motivation and a smaller hippocampus area in the brain.
And surprise surprise, weed is much more potent now than when we were smoking Mexican ditchweed in the 1970s. Back then THC was pegged between 1 percent and 4 percent; today it ranges at 15 percent to 30 percent with even higher levels for edibles.
Eat pot gummies and you’ll be able to feel your IQ running down your leg. IQ decreases 6% with sustained marijuana use, says the study, but at least your chances of dementia go up.
As if all this isn’t bad enough for those of you with expanded consciousness and the ability to hear secret messages in Led Zeppelin songs, sustained ganja inhalations are worse for your mental well-being than long-term alcohol or nicotine use.
None of this comes as a shock or surprise to any of us, even if we don’t know a hippocampus from a rhinoceros. We know about reduced motivation and lowered ambition and lethargy and brain fog because we’ve all experienced it. Big science just serves as amplification.
I’d like to see a similar study over a long period of time about the sustained impact of watching daytime TV shows. What happens to the IQs of viewers exposed to Gilligan’s Island, the Jerry Springer Show, Oprah, Wheel of Fortune, Scooby Doo, The Shopping Channel, Maury Povich, The View and Big Time Wrestling.
Do viewer IQs suffer immediate, dramatic cognitive loss from watching these and similar programs, or does it require several weeks of daily exposure?
Youngsters who scroll on their cellphones must be susceptible to various maladies that also beg further study. Enlarged and calloused thumb surfaces, for starters, then on to stunted relationships, obesity and sustained viewing of daytime TV programs.
Is it too late to get kids interested in stamp collecting, Nancy Drew novels or Ham Radio?
“Don’t take a fence down until you first know why it was put up” is a good piece of advice from G.K. Chesterton, a writer known for much good advice.
Not knowing why an action was taken by a previous Board of Supervisors or County Administrators ought to be a warning sign to proceed with caution.
Not long ago, perhaps 10 or 12 years, the county was in a fiscal fix partly of its own making, exacerbated by the economic downturn starting in 2008. Housing prices fell, money was short and Mendocino County, acting as proactively as it is sometimes able, decided renting space for county departments was a long-term losing proposition.
The cry went out that county offices and departments would, from that day forth, be located in county buildings, saving all kinds of money. Made sense, so the Office of the Alternate Defender, something of a little brother to the Public Defender’s office, was moved from rented space on North State onto the county campus at Bush and Low Gap.
Not an ideal location as it forced attorneys to drive to the courthouse multiple times daily, but oh well.
Now a new crop of Supervisors and another Administrative boss have come to town, ignorant of their predecessors’ immediate history and the county’s precarious fiscal condition waaaay back in 2012.
And, for reasons that they probably think make perfect sense, the Alternate Defender office has been moved out of its county-owned facility and back into rented offices on South State Street.
The obvious question is this: Did anyone think it might be prudent to determine why the Alternate Defender’s office came to be parked at Bush and Low Gap in the first place? I doubt it.
But when the next revenue crunch hits, some budget wizard will impress co-workers with the clever notion of having all county departments installed in county offices. At which point Mendo history, even in tiny 10-year increments, will once again re-do what it undid before re-doing what it did in the first place.
The obvious next step for the county, says TWK, is do an about-face, declare marijuana illegal, fire all its expensive administrators and code enforcement officers, sell their vehicles, put the Alternate Defender in the vacated office space, and watch the local economy grow when small (and largish) pot farmers get back to work buying pickup trucks, soil amendments and second houses along the south coast. Tom Hine says crazier plans have been tried.
THE LAKE PILLSBURY ALLIANCE
We are writing to give you an update on the Potter Valley Project and to recap the actions that took place in 2022. We will also share a little bit about our work to raise public awareness of the regional importance of Lake Pillsbury.
On July 29, 2022 the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) accepted PG&E’s proposed 30-month timeline to file a surrender application and decommissioning plan for the Potter Valley Project. PG&E’s deadline for filing is January 2025. We can expect concentrated periods of outreach to stakeholders throughout the surrender process and multiple opportunities for public comments. Thus far, PG&E has not disclosed which stakeholder groups will be contacted.
Consideration to reopen the hydropower license for the Potter Valley Project
On March 16, 2022 the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) filed a request with FERC to reopen the hydropower license for the Potter Valley Project to incorporate eight new interim measures to support protected endangered salmonids while the future of the PVP is being determined.
On August 15, 2022 FERC requested NMFS to provide additional information to support the points it raised in their March 16, 2022 letter.
On October 13, 2022 NMFS responded to FERC’s request with additional information and reiterated the need for FERC to consider reopening the license.
On November `6, 2022 FERC announced that it is considering reopening the PVP hydropower license and invited interested parties to submit motions to intervene and public comments through December 16, 2022.
One of the interim measures proposed by NMFS is to develop and implement a reservoir storage-based cold water pool management strategy for Lake Pillsbury, targeting suitable summer water temperatures for salmonids below Scott Dam while managing the water storage demands in the Russian River. To review all of the interim measures proposed by NMFS, click here.
PG&E Intends to Transfer Potter Valley Project to subsidiary LLC – What will this could mean for Equipment Repairs and Water Diversions
On December 13, 2022, PG&E filed a joint application with FERC to transfer most of PG&E’s current non-nuclear licenses, including the license for the Potter Valley Project, from PG&E to Pacific Generation, a subsidiary Limited Liability Corporation (LLC).
The Potter Valley Project has not been producing electricity since mid-2021 due to a transformer bank failure in the power house. PG&E previously stated it planned to replace these components to get the powerhouse fully operational within two years.
On December 15, 2022, PG&E notified FERC that: “PG&E is currently in the process of considering long-term planning associated with Power Generation’s portfolio. As a result, numerous projects are being reassessed to ensure resources are utilized prudently, including the Potter Valley transformer replacement project.” PG&E plans to complete the assessment and update FERC with its decision regarding the replacement project by April 15, 2023.
In the meantime, the PVP continues to be unable to generate power and deliver water through the power house into the Russian River; a limited amount of water can still be delivered through the power house bypass.
What we’ve been up to!
We continue to use our professional consultants to help us raise public awareness about the regional importance of the Lake Pillsbury water supply for people, firefighting and wildlife and fish.
In the Fall of 2022 we ran a highly successful “take action” social media campaign in Lake, Mendocino and Sonoma Counties highlighting the importance of Lake Pillsbury for regional fire suppression. We reached over 100,000 people, and many took action. Hundreds of letters were sent to local, state and federal elected officials asking them to get involved in the Potter Valley Project and find a solution to save Lake Pillsbury. We plan to continue these themed campaigns as long as we have funds to support them.
LPA representatives continue to attend a variety of meetings in Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake Counties on the Potter Valley Project. We help elected officials in Lake County stay informed of any new developments or anticipated actions that could impact the future of the PVP and Lake Pillsbury. Lake Pillsbury is now within Congressman Mike Thompson’s district and we have reached out to him and his staff on multiple occasions to discuss the Potter Valley Project from our point of view.
We have been monitoring the Whoosh fish passage system for several years and recently attended a presentation where they discussed advanced technology improvements to provide multi-directional fish passage for dams like Scott Dam, that do not have a fish ladder. Whoosh has addressed dam height issues, which was a sticking point for Scott Dam (138 ft. tall). One of the things that caught our attention is the Whoosh system can now separate up to four different species, making it possible to separate out invasive pike minnow to protect the Eel River during downstream migration. And, the Whoosh system can be utilized in areas that do not have electricity.
Our hope is that a regional entity will form during the surrender process to take over the critical infrastructure of the Potter Valley Project. Billions of infrastructure dollars are available for modernization of aged dams. That coupled with Whoosh technology could provide a viable alternative for fish passage at Scott Dam and it will be far less expensive than dam removal.
In closing, we ask you to consider a donation to help us continue our advocacy work. While the LPA team members volunteer their time, we are wholly dependent upon donations to fund our non-profit organizational needs.
Click here to send a few $ our way.
GREAT EXAMPLE FOR YOUR KIDS, ERIC
On Tuesday, February 14, 2023 at 4:08 P.M., an adult female contacted Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Deputies at the Sheriff's Office in Ukiah.
Deputies learned the adult female was the reported victim of a domestic violence incident, which occurred the day prior in the 1700 block of South Dora Street in Ukiah.
The Deputies learned the adult female was involved in a physical altercation with the father of her children, identified as being Eric Olecik, 46, of Ukiah.
Through their investigation and collection of evidence, the Deputies developed probable cause to believe Olecik committed the crimes of Felony Domestic Violence Battery, Felony Violation of Probation and Misdemeanor Violation Domestic Protective Order.
The Deputies contacted Olecik on a public street as they were driving to his residence. The Deputies contacted Olecik and ultimately arrested him.
Olecik was transported to the Mendocino County Jail where he was booked on the above listed charges. Olecik was to be held in lieu of $25,000 bail.
EUREKA BURNS UKIAH
On Friday, February 17, 2023 at approximately 10:58 p.m., Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched to an alarm call at G&C Auto Body located at 51 Kunzler Ranch Road in Ukiah.
Shortly after, the alarm company called into the business, a male subject answered the phone stating he needed help.
When Deputies arrived, they observed apparent evidence that someone had broken into the business. Deputies looked inside the business and observed at least five separate small fires inside.
Deputies also observed a male subject later identified as Benjamin Dimmick, 26, of Eureka, standing inside the business next to the fires, attempting to light another fire.
Dimmick had barricaded some of the doors and refused to come to the front door when verbally asked to do so. Dimmick had locked himself inside the business and was refusing all verbal requests to comply.
Deputies without hesitation had to force their way into the burning building while trying to apprehend Dimmick.
Dimmick was ultimately taken into custody and pulled out of the burning building which quickly filled with heavy smoke as the fire began to spread.
Deputies deployed their fire extinguishers in an attempt to extinguish the fire until Ukiah Valley Fire Personnel arrived on scene for further suppression efforts.
While on scene Deputies learned Dimmick had just been involved in a nearby hit and run incident which was currently being investigated by the California Highway Patrol (Ukiah Office).
An arson investigator from the Ukiah Valley Fire Authority arrived on scene and assisted with further scene investigations.
During the investigations, Dimmick was placed under arrest for five counts of Felony Arson and Burglary.
Dimmick was subsequently booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held in lieu of $25,000 bail.
* * *
Dimmick: Seven prior cases; one dismissal before yesterday's arrest in Ukiah for Benjamin Dimmick
Eureka Police Department Press Release:
On January 31, 2018, at about 3:48 p.m., officers with the Eureka Police Department located a vehicle associated with felony warrant suspect, 21 year old Benjamin Dimmick. The vehicle was parked near his residence on the 3500 block of California Street.
Due to Dimmick’s history of fleeing and violently resisting arrest, officers set up a perimeter around the residence. Upon contact, Dimmick exited the rear of the residence, jumped over a fence, and fled through a greenbelt. K9 Vex began trailing Dimmick east through the greenbelt. Dimmick exited the greenbelt near Ponderosa Court and was met by a perimeter officer. Dimmick was taken into custody without further incident. He was found to be in possession of peppery spray and Soboxone.
Dimmick was transported and booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility on felony warrants for felon in possession of a firearm and carrying a concealed dirk or dagger as well as fresh charges for possession of tear gas, possession of a controlled substance, resisting arrest, and probation violation.
Additional Priors: johnchiv.blogspot.com/2018/02/seven-prior-cases-one-dismissal-before.html
In 2015 local researcher Jodie Buschman wrote:
William Boone made a trip to California in or near 1848 during the Gold Rush. This was before he and his wife Harriet were married. Harriet’s parents had slaves who had a boy nameed Watt. When William and Harriet went to California by wagon train, William rode scout while Harriet and Watt drove the wagon.
From what I’ve gathered on William Waightstall Boone (Boon) is that he was born July 2, 1828 in Burke, North Carolina, the great grandson of Israel Boone, brother to Daniel Boone the famous explorer/scout. In 1848 William traveled to California because of the California Gold Rush; no details have been found of the length of his stay or activities. William returned to Hickory County, Missouri where on March 9, 1856 he married Harriet Elizabeth Jopling.
William and Harriet had nine children. The first child Robert Nelson Boone only lived for 14 months, no date of his birth or death could be located as of this writing. Based upon their marriage date and the birth of the second child, it’s safe to assume that Robert was born shortly after their marriage. Records indicate that Robert Boone was buried in California; a map indicates burial in the area of Oakhurst, CA. This makes sense; after they reached California, they ran a halfway house on a stage route, length of time unknown. The second child Mary Isabelle Boon was born April 9, 1857 in the Napa Valley. The third child John Benjamin Boone was born on November 15, 1858 in Anderson Valley, CA. The fourth child Ida Virginia Boone was born on October 17, 1860 in Anderson Valley, CA as was the fifth child, the twin to Ida. The twin died as an infant with no details found of its age or gender. It would be assumed that the twin child was buried in Anderson Valley. The sixth child Gussie Varnia Boone was born on August 17, 1864 in Anderson Valley, CA. The seventh child William Boone, was born on October 6, 1868 in Napa Valley, CA (questionable but possible; the Boones were registered in Anderson Valley on the 1870 Census). The eighth child Alfred Joel Boone was born on May 3, 1871 in Hickory County, MO. The ninth and last child, Harriet Eleanor Boone, was born on September 9, 1875 in Hickory County, MO.
The question of how the name of Boone came to be spelled as “Boon” without the “E” can be explained in that the Great Register of Mendocino County has the name typed as “Boon, William Waitsell,” dated June 23, 1866. Add to that, the 1870 Census lists the family as “ Boon, William W”, dated: August 2, 1870. My guess is that the 1870 Census simply followed the typed error on the 1866 Great Register.
The Boone family had to depart in very close time proximity to the 1870 Census to enable them to arrive back in Hickory County, MO. since their eighth child was born in Hickory County, MO in May of 1871. It may not be out of the question that they had already departed prior to 1870 since the seventh child was born in Napa Valley in 1868 and the Census data was entered after their departure; purely speculation on my part. Looking at these dates of events, my guess is that the Boone family lived in Anderson Valley between the years of 1857 and possibly as late as 1870, which is approximately 13 years give or take.
I used Ancestry.com for all of my research and could find no information regarding life in Anderson Valley for the Boones except for the births of their children and the death of a twin infant.
CATCH OF THE DAY, Sunday, February 19, 2023
BRIAN AMMERMAN, Fort Bragg. Failure to appear.
BRITTANY FITZGERALD, Willits. Domestic battery.
BREANNA MAXFIELD, Willits. Domestic battery, resisting.
A DAY HOME FROM SCHOOL WITH BURT BACHARACH AND MY MOM
by Andrew Scully
Parts of the day are as clear as the lines on my face. Other aspects are more obscure and faded, harder to access across the decades. And many years have passed since that day in late-60s Los Angeles. What I vividly recall is driving with my Mom in our big white 1964 Chevy Impala down to Topanga Plaza, driving to Wallach's Music City to buy a phonograph record. It was just me and her in the car, me and my pretty, stylish Mom. I was home from school sick that day, which was unusual. I was in elementary school, in 6th grade, and I rarely missed a day because I was fairly healthy and I liked school. It was 1969.
Not only was I home that day but my Mom was home as well, which was unusual. She very often wasn't home during the weekdays because she was in law school, and she had class most days. She also had my brother and sister and me and my Dad to deal with in the evening, so on top of law school she was a very busy and remarkable woman.
Other kids that I knew, or many people that I've met since were neutral or even ashamed about their parents. Not me. I was proud of my law student mom, very pretty, with her unerring eye for style and Canadian manners, she was quite chic. My father cut a dashing figure as well. Tall and good looking, he was Dean of International Students at UCLA. I idolized my parents and couldn't show them off enough.
So it was quite special for me to be home with my mom when this song came on the radio, it was probably “Boss Radio” KHJ, 93 on the Dial. It probably came up after the Stones or Temptations. Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head. I'd heard it before. It had an instant appeal to me not only melodically but the word play and the optimistic anything-is-possible attitude of the song. I loved it.
When I heard it come up and called my mom in to listen, I did not know that she also liked the song, loved it in fact. She had heard it a bit too, because she had just seen a movie with my Dad called Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. She loved that movie. Everything about it; the plot and dialog, Redford and Newman in their prime, Katherine Ross, all of it. “Butch Cassidy went on to win several Oscar’s that year, including Best Song for “Raindrops”..
My mom and I connected over many things, but one of them was that song that day. Like me, she liked the melody and the message. Once when I was very young she told me over some upset that some people were more sensitive than others. And that she felt sure I was one of those sensitive people. When she told me that I felt an indescribable sense of connection, of solidarity, because I realized she wouldn't have said that to me if she didn't feel it about herself as well. Many times since that day I've reflected on her comment and found myself wondering why she hadn't told me the magic secret of how to be less sensitive. But I imagine the answer was that she really didn't know herself.
My mom and I were very close. I thought she was very special and she was, and we really bonded over that song that day. I remember her comforting me when I was sick that day and making me feel better. She always could do that, with her confidence in me. She was a role model to me and one of my heroes. She was in law school at a time when most of my friends' moms were home watching soap operas. Later that year she took the California State Bar. She passed on the first try (it even took my Dad twice) and she became a Los Angeles County Deputy Public Defender. She went on to an accomplished career and had many honors come her way.
My mom was not only good looking, she had impeccable taste, beautiful manners and was really quite elegant. Her hands and fingers were slender and delicate, the hands of a pianist. And she did play. Chopin, Bach and Debussy. She also loved Broadway show tunes. I particularly remember one of her favorites, “Baubles, Bangles and Beads”, a standby she played until the end of her life.
Burt Bacharach too, had more than a touch of elegance and glamor about him. It seemed that he led a charmed life, but I think there was a lot more hard work and talent than charm. He definitely had some fateful encounters that were important to his career. He was very fortunate indeed in meeting Hal David, the man that wrote the words of all his most famous songs; “Raindrops”, “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?”, “The Look of Love”, ”Say A Little Prayer”. Many of these songs helped interpret and explain the mysterious zone of love and romance that exists between men and women. All those and many more were imagined and written by Hal.
In another fateful encounter, Burt Bacharach found in Dionne Warwick an artist with an uncanny sense of pitch and a phenomenal range in her voice that would allow her to handle his soaring tunes. He knew it, he identified her amazing talent. And it was that combination of Hal David, Dionne Warwick and Burt Bacharach that went on to produce and record a string of top 10 and immortal tunes. Dionne Warwick became Bacharch’s muse.
There is a temptation in writing about the past to imagine or remember it through a filmy gauze that may minimize harshness or emphasize a softness of somehow better old days. And it has been said the memory is an uncertain friend. But it would be an error to believe that the sixties were totally cool graphics and music and that everything was cool and happy. A lot of things were. But a lot of things were really screwed up. There were wars and there were rumors of wars. There were political assassinations. There were some really bad people running through the hills of LA. It was a scary time as well as a happy time.
But to listen and to understand and appreciate a song like “Raindrops” or “The Look of Love”, well that requires belief. It requires and inspires belief in something greater and better than what we have here and now in front of us. Raindrops is a song about hope and optimism. It seemed a bridge between the reality of the world and what I hoped and dreamed things could be.
That song certainly connected my mom and me. I shared a special smile with her whenever that song came on, ever after, we understood what it meant our whole lives. Until the day she died when that song came on, we knew what it was about. It raised the bar and gave me something to hope for.
That song taught me, and I'm privileged and thankful to have learned it. God bless you Mom, and thank you Burt.
PERHAPS the most difficult song to sing or play in pop music is the late Burt Bacharach’s broadway tune “Promises, Promises.” Why? Instrumentally there are a number of seemingly random insertions of 3/4 time measures in the otherwise 4/4 meter. But that’s far from all of the difficulty.
Try as I might in my keyboard heydey decades ago, I was never able to get through ‘Promises, Promises’ without tripping up, thus I never performed it for an audience.
Other major keyboard challenges in those days included Gershwin’s harmonically complex ’Bess You Is My Woman Now,’ a version of which I finally more or less mastered after weeks of work.
And the much less known but equally clever and difficult “Edelma” by the brilliant Argentian composer Terig Tucci.
I briefly considered trying to learn Liszt’s ‘La Campanella,’ but gave up early on. Way too hard, a true finger-breaker.
PS. According to one on-line commentary the popular version of the La Campanella played in the occasional modern concert is the third version which features “reduced technical complexity,” if that’s conceivable.
RAMPARTS MAGAZINE’S LARGER THAN LIFE CHARACTERS
by Warren Hinckle (1974)
Conrad Lynn was a Clarence Darrow of lost causes, a brilliant lawyer with the spunk and sputter of a fired-up tea kettle, who paddled a lone canoe upstream against the political currents of the thirties, forties and fifties, defending unpopular causes before their time had come, being dealt losing cards from the stacked deck of the administration of justice, yet always raising the ante and staying in the game. Often his clients were those who sacrificed themselves on the altar of the propaganda of the deed, such as the Puerto Rican nationalists who shot up Congress in 1954, or the mixed bag of revolutionaries alleged to have plotted to blow up the Statue of Liberty. More often, his clients were people whose brand of pacifism or black activism was not on the approved list of the civil liberties or black establishments, such as pacifist Ruth Reynolds, framed for a term of years in a Puerto Rican jail in the early fifties, whose plight was shamefully ducked by the American Civil Liberties Union. Most of his clients suffered no such lack of publicity; usually, they had a big press but a bad press, such as Robert F. Williams, the black freedom-fighter of Monroe, North Carolina, later an exile and the author of the much-feared little book, Negroes with Guns, whose ascent of the ladder of militancy began when he was kicked out of the NAACP because he insisted on standing up for his rights at a time when the only posture approved by the millionaire morticians and other black bourgeois running the NAACP was to stoop.
Conrad had done his share of busting over the years. The lawyer for the first “Freedom Ride” South, he busted the whites-in-front, blacks-to-the-rear seating pattern on the buses of the rapid transit system of the Confederacy; he busted the segregated lockers at Rockaway Beach, the whites-only swimming pool at Palisades Park, and innumerable other recreational and commercial conveniences of racism. In the doing, he’d been involved in more than his share of police busts and headbusting.
Conrad’s San Francisco law offices were on downtown Broadway, where he shared a suite in a vintage 20s building with his law partner, Gene Ann Condon, an attractive Irish blonde some decades younger and almost six inches taller than Conrad; a girl of good IRA stock, she was no stranger to the company of revolutionaries. The office was a legal lumberyard, with briefs and files stacked in every conceivable cubic inch of space, under chairs, on top of chairs, files and bookcases, piled askew in corners as high as an elephant’s eye.
Conrad took me on a wild ride to Harlem during the riots of 1964, where I was the only white reporter inside the Lenox Avenue war offices of the Progressive Labor Party.
As we bounced along Riverside Drive with the top down on Conrad’s banged-up yellow Carmen Ghia convertible, going up to Harlem, he was talking faster than the speed limit, spinning out a story a mile—wild, hilarious tales from the skeleton closets of radical politics, which he would astoundingly intermix with his personal sexual memorabilia. (Years later Conrad sent me the manuscript of his unpublished autobiography to read. I was amazed and delighted to find that he hadn’t changed his pattern of reminiscences, even in type script. Interspersed and contemporaneous with his moving accounts of the inner world of black and radical politics and the effect of international leftist politics on the thirties and forties were these painfully honest and at times purposefully amusing little memoirs of his sex life. He mentioned not only every girl he ever laid, but every girl he ever thought about laying. It was all in all the most enjoyable volume of political memoirs I have ever read, and I must mention one memorable incident from it, so as to perhaps spur a publisher on to print the book.
Conrad had just graduated from law school and begun practicing law, no small achievement for a black man then, but that triumph was as nothing to him compared with getting the girl of his desires, whom he had yearned for over a period of years, to go to bed with him. But at the critical moment his erection collapsed, and he was consumed with shame. The girl sullenly went to sleep, and Conrad describes how he lay there in the dark, tears of disgrace in his eyes, and he asks himself one of the great questions of all time: “Of what use was it having become a lawyer if I couldn’t even fuck?” He reported that things had a happy ending, however, the next morning.
Ours was a heady, gale-force conversation, full of life and vitamins and gossip, and by the time that bumpy ride was over, I thought of Conrad Lynn as a soul brother, a rare free spirit who could battle the world without losing his ability to enjoy it. These were some of the stories he chose to tell on our way to our appointment in Harlem:
There was the time Conrad spent in the Army, “literally pounding shit”; he was handed a large mallet and ordered to keep a giant cesspool moving, a cruel and unusual punishment for the lawsuits, unpopular with the noncoms, that he kept filing, as a private, to desegregate the armed forces. Conrad told how, as a young lawyer, he drew up the papers for Adam Clayton Powell to buy a whites-only apartment house, which Powell kept whites only. He told me tales of “Scotic,” a black shantytown which rose on a garbage dump in Nassau County on Long Island in the late thirties, where destitute black families moved when they had nowhere else to go, lived in homes made from old packing crates and survived largely by picking through the garbage, living like animals off the waste of an affluent society. Conrad once appeared before the great Judge Learned Hand, who, although retired and in his early 90s, was still sitting as a Federal Circuit Appeals Judge. Conrad was seeking bail for a Puerto Rican-nationalist fanatic, an ex-lawyer who had shot a federal judge in the head during a political trial. When Learned Hand heard what Conrad’s client had done, he rose and staggered from the courtroom, one hand to his head, the other waving backwards signaling No, No, No, before Conrad had a chance to say a word.
Finally, there was the weekend of Fidel Castro’s visit to New York to address the United Nations, when Conrad, working for the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, was assigned to make the arrangements so Fidel’s party could move uptown from fancy Manhattan to the Hotel Theresa in Harlem. The manager of the Theresa was less than overjoyed at the prospect, and demanded a cash deposit of close to $1,000. It was Saturday night, the banks were shut, and Conrad was scratching his head trying to figure where he could come up with that amount of cash when he thought of the Harlem gamblers, who all carried big rolls; so it was that a politically sympathetic black gambler put up the money so Fidel Castro could move up to Harlem... .
We were so caught up in these stories, Conrad in the telling and I in the listening, that, even though I wasn’t sure where we were going, I regretfully broke into Conrad’s stream of consciousness to ask if we hadn’t missed the turn to Harlem, which we had.
* * *
But Conrad was not the first nigger in the Ramparts’ woodpile. That honor would go to John Howard Griffin—a most extraordinary fellow, a one-man-band of virtue and a virtuoso, who is, quite literally among other things, and at all of these first rate—a novelist, essayist, musicologist, theologian, expert in animal husbandry, public speaker, propagandist and journalist-saint of the white man’s struggle in the black cause. Griffin is also a faith healer of himself, as the man has had so many physical things wrong with him, among them blindness and tumors from head to toe, yet has kept working twenty hours a day, that he must rank as the eighth medical wonder of the world—a cautious ranking on my part as I forget the first seven.
“When I was a Negro…” John was always saying, because he was one, for almost a year, a white man who took drugs and dyes and baked himself under ultraviolet lamps to turn himself into a black man, so he could walk the streets in the South and experience what it does to a man’s soul to be black in this society. He wrote about it in a book called ‘Black Like Me,’ the desperate, sensational attempt of one white man to convey to other whites the reality of racism.
What he didn’t write in the book was that the drugs he took to blacken his skin were to cause him severe pain and Jobian medical complications for years after—accelerating the growth of tumors, fortunately nonmalignant but painful and dreadful, which were yet another cross on top of a Calvary of medical problems, most resulting from his being shot to pieces in the Pacific in World War II. Griffin took all of this pain in silence; he was constantly on the go, driven by the vision he had during the 11 years of his life when he was totally blind, of a holocaust that was coming because of the madness and evil of racism. He was a determined Texan, out to make the world understand before it was too late, always driving himself too hard, as if he were performing the collective penance for the sins of the white race against the black, as if the very devil were chasing after him to do good.
Blind or sighted, Griffin worked on like a metronome. He was always trying to save somebody, himself last. A medical student in France on the eve of the Second World War, he spent two years working with the French Resistance smuggling Jews out of Germany and Austria. Griffin was lucky ducking German bullets, but later in the war, serving in the Air Force in the Pacific, he wasn’t so lucky. He was mustered out with 5% of his sight remaining, the residue of head wounds. By 1947 he was completely blind, and remained so until his sight was partially restored a decade later after multiple operations. Some critics, whose cynicism is such they could not believe a man as straight and sincere as John Griffin could exist on this earth, and who therefore carped at ‘Black Like Me’ as some sort of gimmick, were to comment that the nearly blind Griffin wore dark glasses because he wanted to be thought a movie star.
During his ten years in the dark, John studied music with the Benedictines in France and Thomistic philosophy with the Discalced Carmelites in America, settling in his native ‘Texas where he took up animal husbandry, married, fathered three children, wrote two novels and an anthology of essays and journalism. Hardly a year after his sight was partly restored he went off to find a cooperative dermatologist to darken his skin; once he could see again, he wanted to see what it was like to be black.
If there was something wrong with Griffin it was that he is a goddamn saint, an insufferable Christian, a soft-spoken, gentle guy who never seems to think ill of anyone; he even prayed for those friends and neighbors who burnt him in effigy on the main street of his home town of Mansfield, Texas, when the word reached the local pool hall that he had gone and turned himself into a nigger.
Interestingly, for all his personal softness, Griffin’s novels have a magnificent sense of evil; his books, which fairly exude brimstone, are as out of print as they are out of favor in some fashionable circles. (A short story of Griffin’s was once printed in a creative writing “textbook”; he read the usual textbook-type questions at the end of the story such as, “What does the author mean by this scene?” and said he couldn’t answer a single one of them.)
The civil rights movement was one big integrationist Elks Club to John Griffin. He was constantly traveling about the country, speaking, wearing himself hoarse warning about what was coming in those too-short days before Watts and Detroit. He knew everyone who had so much as lifted a pinky against Jim Crow, and Ramparts made the acquaintance of them all—white Southerners who had long fought the good fight, such as John Henry Falk, the radio personality lost in the static of the 50s blacklists, and the late P. D. East, the integrationist editor of the ‘Petal Paper’ of Mississippi; 20% more in tune with our growing itch to get out of the frying pan of the Church and into the fire below, and blacks who knew where the action was, such as Dick Gregory.
John Griffin, convert to Catholicism who bled for the pain of black men, was to gradually displace, by sheer moral weight, those other High Church converts who once bent the ear of Ramparts founder Edward Keating.
WHO WAS PABLO NERUDA AND WHY IS HIS DEATH A MYSTERY?
After a decade-long investigation, a team of forensic experts issued their final report on the exhumed remains of the acclaimed Chilean poet. Here’s why there are so many questions around his death.
Fifty years on, the true cause of death of the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, in the wake of the country’s 1973 coup d’état, has remained in doubt across the world.
The Nobel laureate was not only one of the world’s most celebrated poets but also one of Chile’s most influential political activists. An outspoken communist, he supported Salvador Allende, Chile’s leftist president from 1970 to 1973, and worked in his administration.
Mr. Neruda’s death in a private clinic just weeks after the coup was determined to be the result of cancer, but the timing and the circumstances have long raised doubts about whether his death was something more nefarious.
On Wednesday, The New York Times reviewed the summary of findings compiled by international forensic experts who had examined Mr. Neruda’s exhumed remains and identified bacteria that can be deadly. In a one-page summary of their report, shared with The New York Times, the scientists confirmed that the bacteria was in his body when he died, but said they could not distinguish whether it was a toxic strain of the bacteria nor whether he was injected with it or instead ate contaminated food.
The findings once again leave open the question of whether Mr. Neruda was murdered.
Who was Pablo Neruda?
Mr. Neruda was a Chilean lawmaker, diplomat and Nobel laureate poet. He was regarded as one of Latin America’s greatest poets and was the leading spokesman for Chile’s leftist movement until the ascendancy of a socialist president, Mr. Allende, in 1970.
Born July 12, 1904, he grew up in Parral, a small agricultural community in southern Chile. His mother, a schoolteacher, died shortly after he was born; his father was a railway employee who did not support his literary aspirations. Despite that, Mr. Neruda started writing poetry at the age of 13.
During his lifetime, Mr. Neruda occupied several diplomatic positions in countries including Argentina, Mexico, Spain and France. To the end of his life, he was as engaged in political activism as in poetry.
Mr. Neruda died in a clinic in Santiago, Chile’s capital, at the age of 69. His death came less than two weeks after that of his friend and political ally, Mr. Allende, who died by suicide to avoid surrendering to the military after his government was toppled in September 1973.
How was he as a political figure?
During his time in Barcelona as a diplomat, Mr. Neruda’s experience of the Spanish Civil War pushed him into a more engaged political stance. “Since then,” he later wrote, “I have been convinced that it is the poet’s duty to take his stand.”
The diplomat lost his post because of his support of the Spanish Republic, which was dissolved after surrendering to the Nationalists of Gen. Francisco Franco. He also lobbied to save more than 2,000 refugees displaced by Mr. Franco’s dictatorship.
Mr. Neruda, a lifelong member of the Communist Party, served only one term in office. As a senator, he was critical of the government of President Gabriel González Videla, who ruled Chile from 1946 to 1952, which led Mr. Neruda into forced exile for four years.
He returned to his country in 1952, a left-wing literary figure, to support Mr. Allende’s campaign for the presidency, which was unsuccessful then and in another two attempts. In 1970, Mr. Neruda was named the Communist candidate for Chile’s presidency until he withdrew in favor of Mr. Allende — who was finally elected that year.
THE WEST'S BETRAYAL OF FREEDOM
Westerners once endlessly propagandized "freedom" as the ultimate democratic virtue. Now, in fear of revolt, the leaders of these countries are mounting an opposite campaign.
by Matt Taibbi
Justin Trudeau might have a “too much freedom” problem, but that doesn’t mean anyone else does.
“Freedom cannot exist without order.” — Canadian Justice Paul Rouleau
The Honorable Justice Paul Rouleau’s “Report of the Public Inquiry into the 2022 Public Order Emergency,” an analysis of Justin Trudeau’s decision to institute Canada’s Emergencies Act and seize funds during last year’s trucker protests, blasted across Canadian media this weekend, reduced to a handful of headlines. As has become the norm in Western media, language was nearly identical:
Trudeau’s ‘Freedom Convoy’ shutdown was justified, inquiry rules - Politico
Canada’s use of emergency powers during ‘Freedom Convoy’ met threshold, commissioner says - Reuters
Federal government met the threshold to invoke Emergencies Act: Rouleau - CBC
Rouleau’s report is clearly written by a man with mixed feelings. On one hand, he agreed “the Government did not have a realistic prospect of productively engaging” with those who “believed COVID-19 vaccines were part of a vast global conspiracy to depopulate the planet.” At the same time, Rouleau refused to confine “misinformation and disinformation” to protesters:
“Protest organizers’ mistrust of government officials was reinforced by unfair generalizations from some public officials that suggested all protesters were extremists… Where there was misinformation and disinformation about the protests, it was prone to amplification in news media… The fact that protesters could be at once both the victims and perpetrators of misinformation simply shows how pernicious misinformation is in modern society.”
In the report you also find significant criticism of Canada’s Covid-19 policies and heavy-handed emergency measures like allowing Canada’s Border Services Agency (CBSA) to keep foreigners out. Rouleau even said he came to his main conclusion, that Trudeau’s invocation of the Emergencies Order was legal, “with reluctance.”
But such musings have no propaganda benefit, and Rouleau’s report was reduced to a single thought, that Trudeau’s Emergencies Order “Met the Threshhold.” This was almost exactly like the American press reaction to the 2019 report by Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz, which tore into FBI malfeasance for hundreds of pages but gave the press the headline it wanted: “Justice Watchdog Finds Russia Probe Was Justified, Not Biased Against Trump.”
Toronto Star columnist Susan Delacourt expounded on the theme, in a piece called, “‘Freedom’ has been a weaponized word. The Emergencies Act report finally tells us what it means.”
The article, which rails against the “warped idea of freedom… populism, and misinformation being sprayed all over social media,” reads like all the tsk-tsking editorials in the West you’ve read since Trump, which used every crisis to hype the idea that freedom = danger. It wasn’t long ago that a person couldn’t go outside without having the word “freedom” jammed in his or her ear, whether it was Mel Gibson yelling it over his hair extensions in Braveheartor Republican congressman Bob Ney engaging in a Pattonesque invasion of the House cafeteria so he could rename your potato-based side dish “Freedom Fries.”
This was back when freedomwas one of the four words President George W. Bush knew, and every newly funded think tank or research center felt compelled to stick the word somewhere in the title: “The Freedom Center for Freedom Studies.” We loved the hell out of rights and freedoms when America had a superpower adversary infamous for depriving them, and nearly as much when we could highlight Islamic fundamentalism’s hatred of the “decadent” freedom-loving West during the War on Terror. “They hate us for our freedoms” sounded a lot better than “They hate us because we support Israel and steal oil.”
Most of all, freedomwas a joyous propaganda theme back when upper-class America still had an interest in getting the struggling small-town voter to identify with massive corporations eager to throw off the yoke of the EPA and the SEC. Ronald Reagan was the first politician to master selling the same economic “liberty” to poor workers and the giant manufacturers who’d soon abandon them. Freedom wasn’t a dangerous concept, in other words, so long as the very wealthy still felt a deficit of it.
By 2016, however, the WEF types who’d grown used to skiing at Davos unmolested and cheering on from Manhattan penthouses those thrilling electoral face-offs between one Yale Bonesman and another suddenly had to deal with — political unrest? Occupy Wall Street was one thing. That could have been over with one blast of the hose. But Trump? Brexit? Catalan independence? These were the types of problems you read about in places like Albania or Myanmar. It couldn’t be countenanced in London or New York, not for a moment. Nobody wanted elections with real stakes, yet suddenly the vote was not only consquential again, but “often existentially so,” as American Enterprise Institute fellow Dalibor Rohac sighed.
So a new P.R. campaign was born, selling a generation of upper-class kids on the idea of freedom as a stalking-horse for race hatred, ignorance, piles, and every other bad thing a person of means can imagine:
After 2016, virtually every editorial in papers like the New York Times and the Washington Post suddenly argued every citizen is a monkey, every entry in the Bill of Rights a hand grenade. Quietly, as if pulled by cats, the idea that rights are “not absolute” was then introduced across the West. Britain’s Rishi Sunak was among the most recent to go there, explaining the right to protest is “not absolute” in introducing a tougher police law. There was even an under-noticed detail in the first Twitter Files involving an insta-poll a company called NetChoice conducted of congress members for Twitter in the wake of the Hunter Biden laptop story, showing Democrats shrugging at the blocking of the story, because “the First Amendment isn’t absolute.”
It’s no accident that the Enlightenment thinkers who brought us freedoms of speech, press, assembly and religion have recently undergone makeovers in elite undertakings like the 1619 Project, which tell us with straight faces that the Charters of Freedom were basically a ruse to keep King George from freeing the slaves. Freedom in these tales is cast not just as a theft-sanctifying invention of self-interested white guys, but a form of intellectual libertinism that’s only safe in the modern world when doled out by “responsible” people, college-trained in the art of harm avoidance.
Editorially, the new rage is telling us the First Amendment is more of a Swiss cheese than you might have thought, if you were raised on misinformation like Schoolhouse Rock. “The First Amendment doesn’t guarantee you the rights you think it does,” read a solemn CNN piece from a few years back. A more recent AP editorial, anxious to disabuse people of the notion that they can and should be able to say whatever they want, purports to tell readers “What the First Amendment Really Says.”
Meanwhile new think-tanks and research institutions no longer tend to have “Freedom” in their names. New “disinformation” labs sound like “Alliance for Securing Democracy” or “Defending Digital Democracy” or the “Center for Countering Digital Hate.” (It’s humorously transparent that the people who fund such places see themselves and democracy as being the same things). These titles reflect the advocacy imperative: defending the status quo by defining critics as Hitlers, Haters, and Terrorists. Unlike thoughtful Justice Rouleau, the staffers at these groups don’t recognize “disinformation” as something that can also be produced by neoliberal governments or intelligence agencies. “Covid came from a lab” can be conspiracy theory, but the pee tape can’t be.
I’ve lived in places where freedoms are absent, met people who would crawl over glass to be able to work a hot-dog stand in peace, and find myself endlessly astonished by Americans (or Canadians, or Brits for that matter) who are anxious to sign up as accomplices in a general rights recall.
I know why they do it. The educated ones see themselves as the admins in a future society of conditional liberties, so they don’t have a problem building machines that define people unlike themselves as wreckers and “disinformationists.” I’m old enough to remember what Soviets called people like this: stukachi, i.e. “knockers,” or snitches. In the Soviet context these patriotic intellectuals listened in on the Intourist bus to your vacation conversations with family (for nighttime reports to the KGB), or chatted up the old ladies on the lavochkabench outside your apartment building to find out who was sleeping with whom (for the same bosses).
In the digital age, instead of snooping in subways or rifling through underwear drawers, the Western snitches read social media posts, and sift them into piles: safe, unsafe, blacklist-worthy. The recent Washington Examiner story about the state-funded think tank GDI that rated news organizations by “risk” with the aim of reducing ad revenue for NPR’s competitors is just the beginning. We’re finding documents in the Twitter Files that show U.S. government agencies sorting people into categories like “Russia-aligned” or “threat actors” for activities as diverse as membership in the gilets jaunes, or retweeting ZeroHedge, TeleSur or the Daily Wire. There’s a huge galaxy of quasi-private agencies doing this on an even broader scale.
It’s all part of what’s become an urgent propaganda mission, convincing ordinary people to fear their own freedoms, and volunteer for “emergency” suspensions of rights. Too much citizen freedom really is a problem for people like Justin Trudeau, who rightly fear a throw-the-bums-out campaign. But in democracy, bums sometimes need throwing out. And we need the freedom to say so.
WHEN A WAR ZONE IS PREFERABLE
Thirteen-year-old Yana, last name withheld, looks for a bus after walking from the Panhandle to attend the San Francisco Summer Resource Fair at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, Calif., Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023.
The eighth grader, who fled her home country Ukraine with her mother due to the ongoing Russian invasion, is having a difficult time at school after she was bullied and had her phone stolen, making her want to return to Ukraine to reunite with her friends and father.
Everything Yana, a 13-year-old Ukrainian refugee, knew about public schools in the United States was what she had seen on television or in the movies, often idyllic settings where teenage conflict and angst ironed itself out by the end.
IDOLATRY IS THE PRIMAL SIN from which all other sins derive. Idols tempt us to become God. They demand the sacrifice of others in the mad quest for wealth, fame or power. But the idol always ends by requiring self-sacrifice, leaving us to perish on the blood-soaked altars we erected for others.
For empires are not murdered, they commit suicide at the feet of the idols that entrance them.
We are here today to denounce the unelected, unaccountable high priests of Empire, who funnel the bodies of millions of victims, along with trillions of our national wealth, into the bowels of our own version of the Canaanite idol, Moloch.
The political class, the media, the entertainment industry, the financiers and even religious institutions bay like wolves for the blood of Muslims or Russians or Chinese, or whoever the idol has demonized as unworthy of life. There were no rational objectives in the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and Somalia. There are none in Ukraine. Permanent war and industrial slaughter are their own justification. Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, General Dynamics, Boeing and Northrop Grumman earn billions of dollars in profits. The vast expenditures demanded by the Pentagon are sacrosanct. The cabal of warmongering pundits, diplomats and technocrats, who smugly dodge responsibility for the array of military disasters they orchestrate, are protean, shifting adroitly with the political tides, moving from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party and then back again, mutating from cold warriors to neocons to liberal interventionists. Julien Benda called these courtiers to power “the self-made barbarians of the intelligentsia.”
These pimps of war do not see the corpses of their victims. I did. Including children. Every lifeless body I stood over as a reporter in Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Palestine, Iraq, Sudan, Yemen, Bosnia, or Kosovo, month after month, year after year, exposed their moral bankruptcy, intellectual dishonesty, sick bloodlust and delusional fantasies. They are puppets of the Pentagon, a state within a state, and the weapons manufacturers who lavishly fund their think tanks: Project for the New American Century, Foreign Policy Initiative, American Enterprise Institute, Center for a New American Security, Institute for the Study of War, Atlantic Council and Brookings Institute. Like some mutant strain of an antibiotic-resistant bacteria, they cannot be vanquished. It does not matter how wrong they are, how absurd their theories of global dominance, how many times they lie or denigrate other cultures and societies as uncivilized or how many they condemn to death. They are immovable props, parasites vomited up in the dying days of all empires, ready to sell us the next virtuous war against whoever they have decided is the new Hitler. The map changes. The game is the same.
Pity our prophets, those who wander the desolate landscape crying out in the darkness. Pity Julian Assange, undergoing a slow-motion execution in a high-security prison in London. He committed Empire’s fatal sin. He exposed its crimes, its machinery of death, its moral depravity.
A society that prohibits the capacity to speak in truth extinguishes the capacity to live in justice.
Some here today might like to think of themselves as radicals, maybe even revolutionaries. But what we are demanding on the political spectrum is, in fact, conservative: the restoration of the rule of law. It is simple and basic. It should not, in a functioning republic, be incendiary. But living in truth in a despotic system, one the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin called “inverted totalitarianism,” is subversive.
The architects of imperialism, the masters of war, the corporate-controlled legislative, judicial and executive branches of government and their obsequious mouth pieces in the media and academia, are illegitimate. Say this simple truth and you are banished, as many of us have been, to the margins. Prove this truth, as Julian did, and you are crucified.
“Red Rosa now has vanished too…” Bertolt Brecht wrote of the murdered socialist Rosa Luxemburg. “She told the poor what life is about, And so the rich have rubbed her out.”
We have undergone a corporate coup d'état, where the poor and working men and women, half of whom lack $400 to cover an emergency expense, are reduced to chronic instability. Joblessness and food insecurity are endemic. Our communities and cities are desolate. War, financial speculation, constant surveillance and militarized police that function as internal armies of occupation are the only real concerns of the state. Even habeas corpus no longer exists. We, as citizens, are commodities to corporate systems of power, used and discarded. And the endless wars we fight overseas have spawned the wars we fight at home, as the students I teach in the New Jersey prison system are acutely aware. All empires die in the same act of self-immolation. The tyranny the Athenian empire imposed on others, Thucydides noted in his history of the Peloponnesian war, it finally imposed on itself.
To fight back, to reach out and help the weak, the oppressed and the suffering, to save the planet from ecocide, to decry the domestic and international crimes of the ruling class, to demand justice, to live in truth, to smash the graven images, is to bear the mark of Cain.
Those in power must feel our wrath, which means constant acts of non-violence civil disobedience, social and political disruption. Organized power from below is the only power that can save us. Politics is a game of fear. It is our duty to make those in power very, very afraid.
The ruling oligarchy has us locked in its death grip. It cannot be reformed. It obscures and falsifies the truth. It is on a maniacal quest to increase its obscene wealth and unchecked power. It forces us to kneel before its false gods. And so, to quote the Queen of Hearts, metaphorically, of course, I say, “Off with their heads!”
— Chris Hedges at the Rage Against the War Machine rally, Washington, D.C., Feb. 19, 2023
THE WEST’S BETRAYAL OF FREEDOM
When discussing freedom, its always good to start with what freedom means. Freedom means taking responsibility for yourself. It is a common fantasy that we can turn responsibility over to government and remain free.
Save it for the Federalist Society and Heritage. They’ll give you a peppermint stick to suck on for being such a good little feller.
My comment was in response to the one by Hollister.
Women and Domestic Violence—Catch of the Day
After the astute comments by several folks yesterday regarding domestic violence issues/ laws and MCSO arrests, today’s arrestees are notable: 2 out 3 are women arrested for domestic battery, with one also charged with resisting.
$25,000 bail for Dimmick? With his lengthy and violent criminal history? In neighboring Sonoma County it would be at least 10 times that much. And should be.
Thank you for the interesting music lesson Mark, my husband thoroughly enjoyed it as did I.
RE: BIDEN’S WAR
Why is Joe Biden visiting a war zone where no American troops are deployed?
Because lots of US weapons are there, gifts from freedomlandia, weapons that you helped buy from our robber barons of the “defense” industry! Besides, I am sure that that there are plenty of US CIA and assorted other US spooks there, fighting their best for freedom for all us grateful and gullible ones back home..
Because it is in our national interests for him to do so.
Why is he not in Ohio?
Since you made the claim, please explain why this is “Biden’s War?” Neither Biden nor the United States invaded Ukraine. Russia, under the dictatorship of Putin, is the sole invader of Ukraine and it is entirely responsible for this war.
Educate yourself, Mr. Newman:
“In 2014, Washington helped engineer a coup in Ukraine overthrowing democratically elected president Victor Yanukovych. Yanukovych had been friendly to the West. But in the face of financial conditionalities imposed by the International Monetary Fund, his government turned to Russia for economic help, enraging the West. This led to the Maidan coup only months afterward, with the new Ukrainian leader being hand-picked by the United States. The coup was carried out in part by neo-Nazi forces, which have historical roots in the Ukrainian fascist troops that assisted in the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. Today, these forces are concentrated in the Azov Battalion, now part of the Ukrainian military supported by the United States. The domination of Ukraine by right-wing Ukrainian ultranationalist forces and Russophobe groups as a result of the coup led to rebellions in the eastern Donbass region of the country and to a brutal repression, with more than forty people burned alive in the public Trades Union building in Odessa, to which they had fled, at the hands of right-wing forces (Bryce Green, “What You Should Really Know About Ukraine,” FAIR, February 24, 2022; David Levine, “Council of Europe Report on Far-Right Massacre in Odessa,” Word Socialist Web Site, January 19, 2016).
Following the coup, the predominantly Russian-speaking Crimea decided to merge with Russia through a referendum in which Crimean people were also given the option of going forward as part of Ukraine. The largely Russian-speaking Donbass region in the eastern part of the country meanwhile broke away from Ukraine, in response to the violent repression against ethnic Russians that had been unleashed by the new right-wing government. This resulted in the formation of two peoples’ republics of Luhansk and Donetsk in the context of the Ukrainian civil war. Luhansk and Donetsk received military backing from Russia, while Ukraine (Kyiv) received ever-greater Western military support, effectively commencing the longer-range process of incorporating Ukraine into NATO (Arina Tsukanova, “So Who Annexed the Crimean Peninsula Then,” Strategic Culture Foundation, March 28, 2017; “What Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics Are,” Strategic Culture Foundation, February 28, 2022).
In the war of Ukraine on the Russian-speaking population in the breakaway republics of Donbass, some 14,000 people were killed, and 2.5 million people displaced, most of them taking refuge in Russia. The initial conflict ended with the signing in 2014–15 of the Minsk Agreements by France, Germany, Russia, and Ukraine, and endorsed by the UN Security Council. According to these agreements, Donetsk and Luhansk were to be given the right to self-government, though remaining in Ukraine. Nevertheless, the military conflict continued and eventually intensified again. In February 2022, there were 130,000 Ukrainian troops besieging and firing on Luhansk and Donetsk, effectively tearing up the Minsk Agreements (Abdul Rahman, “What Are the Minsk Agreements—And What Are Their Role in the Russia-Ukraine Crisis,” February 22, 2022; “Who Is Firing at Whom And Who Is Lying About It?,” Moon of Alabama, February 20, 2022).
Russia insisted on adherence to the Minsk Agreements along with a demand that Ukraine not be brought into NATO and that the rapid U.S.-backed military buildup in Ukraine directed against the Donbass republics cease. Vladimir Putin declared that these demands were all “red lines” for Russia’s security, which if crossed would force Moscow to respond. When Ukraine and U.S.-dominated NATO continued to cross the red lines, Russia massively intervened in the ongoing civil war in Ukraine in alliance with Donetsk and Luhansk.”
All highly debatable, but people can do their own research.
I respectfully disagree, my esteemed editor.
Virtually none of the article is debatable: All facts, easily verifiable.
Unreliable sources do not truth make. One critic characterizes the World Socialist Website as “Pro-Putin propaganda.” Another questions its accuracy due to “…use of some sources that promote conspiracy theories.” The Strategic Cultural Foundation may be accurate in its statement about outcome of the Crimea referendum, but a referendum held under Russian control can hardly be considered free and fair.
As for red lines, Putin established them so that minimum action by the Ukrainian government would provide cover for him to launch the Russian invasion. The Ukraine has a right to self determination, but Putin cannot accept this basic right. So he sowed the wind by launching the Russian invasion. May he and his country harvest the whirlwind.
CREEKSIDE EVACUATION AFTERMATH:
This intimate piece brings light to the awful situation of Creekside RV Park. And what some, if not all, of the residents, endured.
Props to the Mendo Voice and the AVA, who have continued to cover this ongoing disaster after most of the authorities and the media, let it disappear.
Yes, Laz, I second your thoughts here. What a sad mess this was, as you say, an “ongoing disaster” for those poor folks without much in the way resources. Their lives were upended.
I’ll never understand the 2 day evacuation limit. What, the $250,000 temporary bridge would disintegrate on day 3? And how did County medico Cohen suddenly determine it was a health hazard? I believe the property owner should bear all related costs, but the actions of the County and CalTrans don’t pass the smell test.
Mr. Marmon, President Biden went to Kyiv to pick up the last payment for Hunter Biden from the Ukrainian gas company. I heard this on Fox News.
Joe Biden says he’s in Ukraine to show solidarity with the resistance, but knowing how this old crook operates, we have to wonder if he’s also there to collect his “10% for the Big Guy”
Today’s edition is a treasure chest of illuminations and elucidations, deeply appreciated on this side of the Cow.
Braxton Bragg was never in California. It was named by Lt. Gibson for his former Captain in the Mexican War. From Wikipedia:
In the summer of 1857, 1st Lt. Horatio G. Gibson, then serving at the Presidio of San Francisco, established a military post on the reservation, approximately one and a half miles (2.4 km) north of the Noyo River, and named it for his former commanding officer Capt. Braxton Bragg, who later became a General in the Army of the Confederacy.
I agree about not changing the name. It is not right to lose the history for political correctness.
Interestingly, the Fort Bragg Army Base in North Carolina IS being renamed.
First it was Dr. Seuss. Now it’s Roald Dahl. What’s next for the Woke Mob? Shakespeare? Or maybe Nobel Prize winner Isaac Bashevis Singer? After all, how dare he title one of his short stories Gimpel the Fool? Which, by the way, is one of the best short stories ever written.
There is much to detest about Right Wingers, but the “woke” chapter of the left is running neck and neck with them.
Sounds like hate speech, Mr. Rosenthal.
The next thing you’ll be claiming is that women don’t have penises.
I don’t give a shit about people who mutilate themselves – that’s a them problem. But don’t mess with literature.
P.s. I know you meant it non-pierced tongue planted firmly in non-tattooed cheek.
As a retired teacher and ex-lit major, I could not agree more strongly.
There seems to be a lot of people all over the political spectrum who would like to undo The Enlightenment.
It’s all about making Americans even dumber than they already are.
Shentlemen, please. Who of us would squeal and shriek if some of the Bard’s words were not taken too literally in The Merchant of Venice ? And the truth about Richard III is nowhere to be found in Shakespeare’s hit piece. Must we gild this dross with our approval and temper it with some hard and fast conviction that it mustn’t be edited?
Try that at the mighty AVA — where even God meets the fell blue pencil—!
Who asked you, you brain addled alcoholic?
I see you’re still working on your bogus Robert Burns style prose.
It hasn’t gotten any better in the last ten years but it does somewhat obscure the poverty of your thoughts and the deterioration of your mental processes.
Get thee to a rehabery, go. Farewell. Or, if thou wilt needs marry, marry a fool; wise women know well enough what monsters you make of them. To a rehabery, go, and quickly too.
The puritanical zealotry of an Atheist makes for a peculiar spectacle….
The story of “dropping the “e” in the spelling of Boonville is incorrect. Both Boonville, New York, and Boonville, Indiana are spelled the same way, no “e”.