Partly Sunny | Blattner Road | AVUSD Update | Benoit Art | Ed Notes | Second Opinion | Open Dam | Buckhorn 2011 | Vocal Ensemble | Kimberlin Talk | Hippie Aunt | Beth Ellen | Shelter Cove | Yesterday's Catch | Before Chainsaws | Another Day | Easter Carnival | Marco Radio | Irish Whiskey | SVB Run | Presidio Readings | Addressing Homelessness | Little Patriot | Coming Attractions | Fetch Rule | Joe Pepitone | Anti-Theft | Immigration Policy | She Persisted | Zombie Economy | Happy Trash | Ukraine | Annoying Dog | Woke Up | Great Fall | Irish Isle
DRY WEATHER AND SEASONABLE TEMPERATURES will continue across Northwest California this morning and afternoon. A return to wetter conditions will occur tonight and persist through much of next week, with periods of widespread light to moderate low-elevation rain and higher elevation mountain snowfall probable. (NWS)
AV UNIFIED UPDATE: SUN!
Dear Anderson Valley Community,
It was so wonderful to have a few days of sunshine. I think everyone in the district, child and adult alike was happy to see the sky and feel the warmth. Speaking of feeling connection and warmth, I thank you to all our parents/guardians and family members that took the time to support your students during our conference week. One of the biggest strengths of this district is huge participation rates in our family/teacher conferences. We appreciate that. I also want to acknowledge the efforts of the students and family members that have been working together to create better engagement and achievement. There are so many students that were scheduled on my conference list due to lower performance, and when I went into the meetings, more times than not, we have seen such significant progress on their grades since the last progress report. We are here to help and we celebrate students and families that are creating such positive turnarounds.
The Drug Prevention and Anti-Bullying Task Force is scheduled for Tuesday, April 4 at 5 o’clock in the high school library. This is a district-wide meeting and will be translated. We hope that you can attend. We have identified areas we wish to address and now we need to come up with some strategies. We appreciate your participation. A resource folder with drug and alcohol interventions and information has been compiled. Here is the link. Drug and Alcohol Folder
A District painter has been hired and we are excited to start refreshing the exterior of our buildings. The first job will be to repaint the high school stage. We are returning our graduations to the traditional stage format. The painter will then move onto the exteriors of the elementary school. We have a beautiful new scheme that has been selected.
The district's WASC accreditation visit for the high school begins a week from Sunday, March 26. We appreciate the efforts of everyone involved. If you would like to meet the visiting committee, please join us at the Boonville Hotel on Sunday, March 26 at 3 o’clock. The final report from the visiting committee is scheduled for Tuesday, March 28 at 3:30 in room one at the high school. Certificated staff are required to attend but everyone is welcome.
Our FFA program under the direction of Beth Swehla is at the state convention. Antonia Marin also volunteered to chaperone. It is an amazing opportunity for the students. Beth is up for the Wise Owl Award!
We are officially adding into the schedule at the high school two periods of welding next year and two periods of digital design. These classes will be led by Steve Rhoades and Wynne Crisman. They have the appropriate CTE credentials to allow us to expand these offerings officially.
We have expanded an existing partnership with Gabriela Frank’s organization and a formal music program will be rolled out at the elementary site beginning next year and will be embedded at the high school site as well. This three day a week program features professional musicians that will work with our students to grow a base of musical fundamentals and provide additional enrichment for students that are already progressing in their musicianship. This funding was provided by the State Art and Music Block grant. We are good for two years and then we need to figure out how to sustain the program.
I sent a message out earlier this week about the Junior and Senior High school staff implementing a change in policy for next year related to cell phones. We will be pouching all students’ cell phones grade 6- through 12 next year in an effort to create more social interaction and engagement. The students KEEP their phones with them. Each room will have a device to open cell phones if needed. Parents can always reach their children by contacting the office. The staff did not make this decision lightly and are looking forward to creating more opportunities for engagement including our project based learning theme with the guiding question of “Who is Anderson Valley?” Also, more information on the sports physical appointments for AVHC clients on May 10 and the 17 will be forthcoming. We appreciate your collaboration.
The beautiful student art projects led by Kathleen Michaels are at the printer. We can’t wait to see those student outcomes!
I hope you have a happy and healthy weekend.
Louise Simson, Superintendent
Anderson Valley Unified School District
I'M NOT THE ONLY person wondering why all that oak and madrone cleared from both sides of 128 from Cloverdale to Boonville can't be at least partially set aside for locals who depend on wood heat. Nope, all being fed into the big chipper.
THAT DOG WASH at the very cool farm supply on Highway 20 just east of Fort Bragg is an idea whose time has come. Everything you need to machine wash ol' Rover for only ten bucks. I wonder if car washes could be modified to speed-clean grubby little kids. Give 'em a pool mask and walk them on through. Maybe make it mandatory for certain adults.
PREDICTION: All banks will have to be nationalized to protect all deposits, not just the ones topped at $250,000, to keep our faith-based monetary system from widespread collapse.
WITH LOTS OF CROOKS at the fiscal levers — First Republic and CVB Bank executives dumped millions of dollars in their stock before their crashes. Which ought to get them some country club jail time but probably won't. $12 million worth of its stock in just the past three months, according to the Wall Street Journal. Executive Chairman James Herbert II sold the most of any of the other insiders, off-loading a whopping $4.5 million worth of shares since the start of the year. In all, four of the struggling bank's top executives sold $11.8 million worth of stock so far this year, at prices averaging just below $130 a share, the Journal found.
THE COLLAPSE of Credit Suisse surprised me. Heck, Swiss banking is synonymous with probity, right? But Switzerland is also the home of the cuckoo clock and yodeling, both indications of precarious national mental health.
ERNIE PARDINI REPORTS that Monte Hulbert is alive and well: “I've seen him twice in the last couple of weeks. Aside from looking a little older, he looked none the worse for wear.” A Philo resident said they spoke to Monte recently and he seems to be doing just fine.
OVER THE DOC’S SHOULDER
To the Editor
My medical practice was swallowed up by Adventist Health six years ago. This “work of art” now hangs in the waiting room.
Michael Turner, MD
SCOTT DAM GATES TO STAY OPEN, Meaning Lake Pillsbury Diversions To Remain At Drought Levels
Seismically risky dam conditions contribute to uncertainty for future water supply, fishery conditions in late summer, fall.
by Mary Callahan
Pacific Gas & Electric says it intends to keep the gates open at Scott Dam from now on in deference to seismic safety concerns, meaning Lake Pillsbury in Lake County will never completely fill again, even in a wet year like this one.
The utility usually closes the dam gates in April, allowing spring runoff and snowmelt to raise the water level for summer recreation and water releases during the later, drier parts of the year.
But the company says updated seismic analysis of the dam suggested a higher level of risk than previous evaluations, prompting a change in operations. Instead, more water will be allowed to flow into the Eel River this spring instead of keeping it behind the dam.
“While risks to the dam remain very low, by reducing water levels in the reservoir we can mitigate against risk,” Jan Nimick, PG&E’s vice president of power generation, stated in a news release. “Storing less water in the reservoir (a 26% reduction compared to a full reservoir) lowers the water load on the dam, thereby significantly reducing the risk during or after a seismic event.”
That means summer and fall releases for federally protected fish and for diversions into Lake Mendocino and the Russian River will never be higher than they were in the 2020 and 2021 drought years, raising questions about water supply availability for downstream users.
“We had a good weather year,” Sonoma County Water Agency General Manager Grant Davis said. “We’re in the midst of it. But the uncertainty that this is going to bring now in perpetuity — PG&E’s decision to keep the gates down and reduce the flow — is going to have an impact.
“This will be the foreseeable future, where you have even further reduced diversions into the Russian River and make us even less resilient, as a result,” he said.
Lake Pillsbury plays a low-profile but critical role in the water supply system for hundreds of thousands of people in Sonoma and Mendocino counties who obtain their water from Sonoma Water contractors or from smaller agencies and municipalities.
Though most of their water is stored in Lakes Mendocino and Sonoma, some of the water in Lake Mendocino comes each year from Eel River water that goes first into Lake Pillsbury and is then diverted through PG&E’s Potter Valley power plant into the East Branch Russian River, about 80 miles northeast of Santa Rosa.
Historically, those diversions were sent through a mile-long tunnel to turn hydroelectric turbines and were byproducts of the power plant’s main purpose. But over time, Russian River waters users came to depend on the augmentations to Lake Mendocino stores.
At one point, those contributions over the course of a year accounted for more water than could be stored at a given time in the reservoir, which at full water supply level holds 111,000 acre-feet. Annual diversions once measured about 150,000 acre-feet, Sonoma Water Deputy Chief Engineer Don Seymour said.
About a decade ago, the pass-through water was reduced to around 60,000 acre-feet per year, he said. (An acre-foot is equal to 325,851 gallons, or about the amount of water needed to flood most of a football field one foot deep. It can supply the indoor and outdoor needs of three water-efficient households for a year.)
The volume was further reduced by drought in 2020 and in 2021 when a transformer bank on the power house blew and water supplements were limited to what could be sent through a bypass channel.
By then, PG&E already had decided not to renew its license for the aging, inefficient hydroelectric plant, raising uncertainties about water supplies that were only amplified by the equipment failure. The utility at one point said it would repair the transformer, but in December announced it was reassessing that decision.
The decision to keep the dam open, which requires authorization from federal regulators, means permanently low supplements to Lake Mendocino that, if not this year, in the next more moderate rainfall year could make a difference, Davis said.
“It’s not just Sonoma Water,” he said. “It’s all water users along the Russian River that could be affected by this.”
Among them is the Mendocino County Russian River Flood Control and Water Conservation Improvement District.
“This is a devastating blow to water right holders, reservoir operators and all Russian River watershed stewardship efforts,” said District Manager Beth Salomone. “We hoped to have years to prepare for this level of water supply reduction.”
At the same time, the proposal will likely serve to fast-track long-running discussions about the future of diversions through the soon-to-be-surrendered power plant and removal of the dam altogether — a key goal of environmental groups seeking to reopen miles of the upper Eel River to salmon and steelhead trout, Sonoma County Supervisor James Gore said.
Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake and Humboldt counties all have a stake in the project’s future, as do local tribes, fishing interests and environmental groups wrestling over competing interests in the area.
But representatives from many of those groups, who joined in 2019 to form the Two-Basin Solution Partnership, continue to seek a solution that would allow for wet water year diversions from the Eel River. That would support Russian River needs, they say, while improving cold water flows in the Eel River for fresh water and anadromous fish, the term for fish that migrate between fresh and salt water, like salmon and steelhead trout. Diversions would also help with water supply needs for tribes and for Humboldt County and populations north.
Yes, there is concern about water supply, Gore said, but it’s important “to turn concern into progress.”
“The partners have already signed onto the Two-Basin Solution. To me, let’s honor that. For me, this is go time.”
Charlie Schneider, Lost Coast project manager for California Trout, said PG&E concessions about 100-year-old Scott Dam apply also to Van Horn dam, which captures Eel River water for transfer into the diversion tunnel. He said removal of both would be add almost 300 miles of spawning habitat in the upper reaches of the Eel River, supporting the rebound of fisheries and tribal cultural practices.
“California Trout and other stakeholders have long recognized the Potter Valley Project facilities are outdated and must be removed in the interest of protecting imperiled Eel River fisheries and downstream communities,” he said. “We urge PG&E to work with federal regulators to secure approval for expedited removal of both Scott and Cape Horn Dams.”
The nonprofit also sought “to encourage Russian River water users that have benefited from Eel River water diversions for the past century to plan for a future without those diversions, or to explore options for an ecologically sound, dam-free diversion facility,” Schneider said. “CalTrout’s priority remains recovering the Eel River to health and dam removal is a necessary component of that effort.”
Opening day at the Buckhorn Boonville, Happy Saint Patrick's Day 2011. Today this photo reminds me of the places I've been, the places I'm going, and all of the unbelievable people I've had the pleasure to meet along the way! Happy Saint Patrick's Day 2023, Sláinte
SOLSTICE VOCAL ENSEMBLE
Sunday, March 19, 3pm - Mendocino Presbyterian Church
The award-winning vocal ensemble Solstice has enthralled Bay Area audiences with their technically precise and passionate treatment of music for women’s voices since 1996. With a repertoire spanning centuries, crossing musical and geographical boundaries, Solstice shares the music they love and their joy in singing together in an intimate concert that makes use of the hall's wonderful acoustics.
BILL KIMBERLIN: I will be speaking this Sunday, March 19th at the Anderson Valley Historical Society (Little Red School House) Boonville. The topic is motion pictures and how we did this stuff.
This photo is a visual effect. How did they do that?
TUCKER CARLSON & MENDOCINO COUNTY
Wednesday night, Tucker Carlson referred to "your hippie aunt from Mendocino County". The reference is 43 seconds into the show.
(1360) Tucker: This is spectacularly absurd! - YouTube
ED NOTE: Give me Mendo's hippie aunt over Tucker's fascist uncle.
SEPARATED AT BIRTH?
TRAVEL TRIP FROM BRUCE CHRISTIE:
“Shelter Cove is the only coastal community in the 75-mile stretch of California’s “Lost Coast,” where engineers gave up on extending Highway 1 because of the steep terrain. Twenty-six miles west of Garberville on Highway 101, it’s a town of about 600 full-time residents with a handful of lodgings and restaurants.
We started visiting 30 years ago when we were living in L.A., drawn by the beauty of the mountains and sea. We grew to love the dark nights, days when the sound of surf is all you can hear, and an environment that seems only lightly touched by the hands of man.
Shelter Cove is a great place to unwind, go fishing or hiking or tide-pooling, or just watch spectacular sunsets.”
CATCH OF THE DAY, Friday, March 17, 2023
SHAWNA BRITTON, Covelo. Probation revocation.
TIMOTHY DAVIS JR., Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs, suspended license for DUI, paraphernalia, probation revocation.
ELIJAH DEVINE-GOMES, Ukiah. Stolen property, conspiracy.
RICARDO GARCIA, Ukiah. County parole violation.
SKYLAR HENDERSON, Willits. Organic drug sale, paraphernalia, trespassing, probation revocation.
WILLIAM HILLER, Fort Bragg. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
CARANDIA LEYVA, Clearlake/Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs, concentrated cannabis.
DAVID RUSSELL, Ukiah. Controlled substance, fugitive from justice.
DIEGO SANDOVAL, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.
MYCHELL VEGA-AYALA, Ukiah. Protective order violation, failure to appear.
CRAIG, YOU'VE GOT IT MADE.
Awoke early at Building Bridges Homeless Resource Center in Ukiah, California. Following morning ablutions, walked to the Plowshares Peace and Justice Center for a free lunch, served by those dedicated Catholic Workers. Exited and walked to the MTA bus stop, which dropped me off at the Ukiah Public Library. Presently on computer #5 tap, tap, tapping away. Looking forward to eventually reading newspapers to be informed of the current international news, and then, will go to Schat's Bakery for an afternoon Java Jolt. This will provide energy to get to a grocery store to purchase food items for the evening, which will be enjoyed between the shelter check in time of 8PM and early wakeup the following morning. Please feel free to make contact if you wish, in order to do anything significant with me on the planet earth. Thank you.
Craig Louis Stehr
1045 S. State Street, Ukiah, CA 95482
Telephone Messages: (707) 234-3270
MEMO OF THE AIR: Good Night Radio show all night Friday night!
Deadline to email your writing for tonight's (Friday night's) MOTA show is about 7pm. If you can't make that, send it whenever it's done and I'll read it on the radio next week. Next week is fine.
Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio is every Friday, 9pm to 5am on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg as well as anywhere else via KNYO.org. Also the schedule is there for KNYO's many other even more terrific shows.
Furthermore, any day or night you can go to https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com and hear my last week's MOTA show. By Saturday night I'll put the recording of tonight's show there. And besides all that, there you'll find an engrossing agglutination of cultural high and low points to alternately crack your head against and bark your shins on until showtime, or any time, such as:
"In the village of unspeakable secrets: corruption, murders, zombie, forbidden love... the warrior meets his worthy opponent." https://misscellania.blogspot.com/2023/03/ninja-vs-shark.html
Michelle Yeoh /forty years ago/. She's still got it. She'll be fighting like a banshee in a blender until they carry her off to Penglai, the Chinese Tir Na Nog. https://boingboing.net/2023/03/12/to-celebrate-the-oscars-lets-watch-michelle-yeoh-battle-a-guy-with-a-chainsaw.html
And for Ireland: Victor Borge at the Kennedy White House. It wasn't just the piano thing, he could write like nobody's business. Just the idea of his /Library of Babel/ was a stroke of genius. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ei9VVDNxCc8
Marco McClean, firstname.lastname@example.org, https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com
FEED THE BIRDS
by Izzy Finkel
“If you invest your tuppence wisely in the bank/Safe and sound,” the directors of the Fidelity Fiduciary Bank sing to Michael Banks in Mary Poppins, “Soon that tuppence, safely invested in the bank/Will compound.” The boy, who would rather spend his money on a bag of crumbs to feed the pigeons, is unswayed by their doggerel. The coin has to be prised from the reluctant depositor’s hand. Railing, perhaps, against familial and nominative destiny, he screams for it back, sparking a panic that turns quickly into a run on the bank.
A grimy tuppence played no role in the demise of Silicon Valley Bank. What spooked customers initially was the declaration that SVB had to realize some losses on its bond portfolio before they got any steeper. Every bank run is unique, and some more unique than others. I once covered a bank collapse in Turkey where the depositors lining up outside had assembled not to withdraw their savings but to shore up the institution by putting more in. (The bank was associated with an enemy of President Erdoğan’s: its savers were fighting a takeover they saw as politically motivated, for motives of their own.)
More prudent risk management might have encouraged SVB to hedge its bond holdings better, but nothing about the investments was intrinsically untoward. Government bonds are meant to be the epitome of the wise old heads’ “safe and sound.” SVB’s wrong-way bet on rising interest rates was not, in itself, fatal. Its fatal idiosyncrasy was its customers. SVB focused its business on California’s tech and wine industies, which made it unusually exposed to a sudden depositor exodus, and not only because faddish tech bros, convinced en masse by intermittent fasting and nootropics, exhibited the same herd mentality at the whiff of a bank run.
Unlike the bankers in Mary Poppins, hell-bent on acquiring Michael’s tuppence, SVB’s error was to confine itself to too few big clients. That a boggling 90% of its deposits fell outside the FDIC guarantee in a regulatory regime that insures accounts up to the first $250,000 betrays how it focused on too narrow a slice of wealthy depositors. This meant there were fewer accounts to take flight. They knew each other, because they hung out in the same digital spaces. They had an incentive to flee. And they did more damage when they fled.
The California State Association of Counties (CSAC) [yesterday] unveiled its AT HOME plan, a first-of-its-kind comprehensive approach to effectively and equitably address homelessness in California.
The six-pillar AT HOME plan – approved by the CSAC Board of Directors – includes broad goals and specific policy proposals to ensure clear lines of responsibility and accountability for every level of government to improve the way California collectively responds to those who are unhoused or at risk of becoming unhoused.
“Nearly every major policy area in the state has a real system with clear responsibilities, except homelessness,” said Graham Knaus, CEO, CSAC. “This is unacceptable and leads to failure. CSAC is committed to changing this. We’ll work with our federal, state and local colleagues and partner with the Governor and Legislature to discuss and implement AT HOME, which provides a blueprint for reducing and mitigating homelessness in California.”
“No one level of government is solely responsible for the homelessness crisis,” said Chuck Washington, Riverside County Supervisor and CSAC President. “But any and all efforts to address homelessness will fail without a comprehensive system in which roles and responsibilities are clear. Accountability is foundational to achieving successful outcomes, and that is why so much of our proposal rests within that first accountability pillar.”
AT HOME was developed after months of an all-county effort analyzing barriers to addressing homelessness and developing solutions, all tailored to the unique needs of urban, suburban and rural communities. The six pillars of the AT HOME plan are:
Accountability: Clear responsibilities aligned to authority, resources, and flexibility for all levels of government
Transparency: Integrate and expand data to improve program effectiveness
Housing: Increase and maintain housing units across the spectrum
Outreach: Develop sustainable outreach systems and increase workforce to support these systems
Mitigation: Strengthen safety net programs
Economic Opportunity: Create employment and education pathways, as well as supports for basic needs
“Counties administer most health and human service programs on behalf of the state,” said Kathryn Barger, Los Angeles County Supervisor and CSAC Board Member. “Our ability to do so effectively is largely driven by having access to sustainable funding that reflects the scope of services we are responsible for along with flexibility so we can deliver results. Addressing our local homelessness crises effectively mirrors that approach – hold counties accountable but give us latitude and access to uninterrupted funds so we can deliver on our predefined goals.”
“The lack of affordable housing and shelter is a major contributor to homelessness, especially for aged, disabled, justice-involved and very low-income Californians,” said Keith Carson, Alameda County Supervisor and CSAC Board Member. “At the local level we need more flexibility and less red tape to build a full housing continuum. Working closely with cities, the AT HOME plan identifies ways to begin to streamline this process, remove barriers, provide resources, and support the development of infrastructure.”
“We don’t have enough trained health, behavioral health, and human services workers to manage the programs and services that assist with addressing homelessness,” said Nora Vargas, San Diego County Supervisor and CSAC Board Member. “The AT HOME plan identifies ways to recruit, train and retain more people, including those with lived experience, to help with outreach, rapid response, follow up, retention and other critical programs and services.”
“We need to institutionalize data-driven decision making. But current data systems and data sharing are antiquated and don’t support an integrated case management approach,” said Vito Chiesa, Stanislaus County Supervisor and CSAC Treasurer. “We need more robust systems to both collect and share data to improve accountability and transparency so we can track the services provided and make decisions based on facts.”
“To address homelessness over the long-term, there must be a goal and focus on employment, self-sufficiency, and the ability to cover basic needs for formerly homeless individuals,” said Ryan Campbell, Tuolumne County Supervisor and CSAC Board Member. “Specialized education and career supports are needed for formerly homeless, including justice-involved individuals, veterans, and former foster youth, to help support economic stability and opportunity. Counties need additional support to build these programs.”
“Massive economic and systemic inequities, as well as a tangled web of policies and programs built over decades, continue to stymie efforts to support those who are unhoused or at risk of becoming unhoused,” said Supervisor Washington. “It won’t be quick or easy, but with the state, counties and cities working together, AT HOME provides a roadmap to reducing and mitigating homelessness in California.”
California’s Counties are determined to work with our state and local partners to implement the comprehensive AT HOME plan to help those who are unhoused or at risk of becoming unhoused in our communities. Visit the CSAC website for more information on the AT HOME plan.
The California State Association of Counties (CSAC) is the voice of California’s 58 counties.
* * *
 Despite the lofty rhetoric the real purpose, as stated in the press release, is a plea for “uninterrupted funding” for the counties.
CSAC, the lobbyist for the counties, is staking its claim to a bigger share of the billions the State spends on homelessness each year.
But nothing will change unless California ends its failed policy of letting seriously ill people decide if they need treatment.
And does anyone think the Humco and Mendo Supervisors have a clue how to “equitably and effectively” spend money?
 What you say is true enough but until the mentally ill and drug and alcohol addicted are required to get treatment (and humanely confined if they don’t) nothing will change. The State will spend ever increasing amounts of money on an ever increasing number of sad souls living and dying on our streets and in filthy degrading camps.
 This is not “a plan.” It is political infighting over who pays for another ineffective publicity stunt. “The governor has approved more than $22.3 billion in new housing and homelessness spending since taking office, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, yet the homeless population has continued to grow.
Newsom said the state will pay to build and install the 1,200 small homes, which can be put up quickly and placed on public land to house people living in encampments along roads and rivers. Sacramento will get 350 homes, Los Angeles will get 500, San Jose will get 200 and San Diego will get 150.”
“The governor has approved” indeed. He’ll sign iffy on legislation.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
In my area there was relative peace and quiet here as a child in the 50’s. I could ride my bicycle around safely because there wasn’t much traffic. Most homes only had one car in the driveway because dad drove it to work and mom was home taking care of business, including raising her own kids and managing her own household – a full time job if it was done right. Today, if I go outside I hear a constant low rumble of cars and traffic everywhere, coupled with frequent bursts of annoying racket made by cars and motorcycles having been modified specifically in order to make noise – yeah – loud pipes save lives eh?
Peace and quiet will return to my area post Biden, as soon as a couple of years have passed from now. Legions of assholes and 4 wheeled morons will be forced to park their vehicles. For a while, fuel thefts will be rampant and people will be shooting and clubbing each other to death fighting over the remaining and rationed scraps of fuel available. There will be a short zombie period with very dangerous feral humans running around. But without fuel, they won’t be running all that far away from their home bases. Soon after that, lack of car parts and mechanics to fix them will turn all these vehicles into scrap iron, and the new bicycle and small displacement motorbike culture will emerge out of the ashes of the former car culture. People everywhere will become tough and trim, the obese people will just be a memory. Home gardens will be a primary food source, and large cities just a memory. Once again the streets will be safe for children to both play in as well as ride bikes on. There won’t be nearly as many people around either. During the worst parts of the crisis, it will be impossible to bury all the dead and many bodies will be eaten by scavenging coyotes, which are now everywhere. For the first time ever, I’m waking up in the middle of the night – as are my neighbors – to the very loud howling racket of a pack of coyotes moving through this town’s “greenbelt area”. People are getting upset here about their pets disappearing. If we do succeed in provoking a world war with Russia and China, the coyotes are gonna be fat and sassy here, snacking on both humans *and* their pets. What wonderful experiences are in store for us! It’s all good!
BYE-BYE, JOE PEPITONE
by Mitchel Cohen
There have been three professional baseball players I’m aware of from my Gravesend/Bensonhurst (Brooklyn) neighborhood: The one-of-a-kind Dodgers’ pitcher Sandy Koufax (who’d refused to play on the Jewish holidays, and made us all proud although we didn’t really know why!), John Franco, and Joe Pepitone, who was the NY Yankees’ first baseman in the mid-1960s.
You can still see the license-plate with Koufax’s name on it, on a black Jaguar on the next block. (Sandy’s? Or maybe a supporter’s?)
The Mets’ great relief pitcher, John Franco, grew up a few buildings over in the Marlboro Projects, and I remember him and his dad, who was a sanitation worker, from when I was a kid. (I vaguely remember some tension with them over a bus trip my parents organized for kids in the Projects to Hershey Pennsylvania when I was a junior at Stuyvesant High School, but don’t have a clue any longer what it was about).
Pepitone was sort of a gangsta from Bensonhurst, beaten by his father, who went on to live the high life as a Yankee in the mid 60s. He went to High school in Park Slope, before it was gentrified. When I lived there in 1977 thru 1982 the Slope was still a dangerous Mecca for activists. Similar in some ways to Coney Island. Even by the late 1970s I’d the opportunity to watch a patron of a particular bar on 7th Avenue come stumbling out with a knife in his back and fall face down on the sidewalk right in front of me. Same as, sometimes, we’d come across bodies on the beach in Coney Island. (They don’t call it Gravesend for nuthin!)
Pepitone was involved in some shooting incidents–he was shot by a classmate while in High School in 1958 and was lucky to survive. He is quoted in a newspaper article about the incident: “The kid was one of those wild ones you read about. He found this rusty gun on the docks and brought it to school. We were just finishing out last class, in office machines, and I was getting my coat.
“I was so frightened, I backed right into the clothes closet. The next thing I knew he had pulled the trigger. I didn’t feel a thing. I looked at my stomach and saw a hole. There was no blood. That’s all I remembered until after the operation.” (“Lucky to Be a Yankee — Luckier to Be Alive,” Associated Press, New York World-Telegram and Sun, February 26, 1962.)
Pepitone was called up by the Yankees in 1962, and he became only the 2nd Yankee ever (the first being Joe DiMaggio) to hit two home runs in one inning, which was special for the rookie as it portended an exciting continuation of the NY Yankee legacy following the thrilling 1961 season. At the end of the year they traded Moose Skowron to the Dodgers to make a spot for Joe to play 1st base, and he got two hits off of fellow Brooklynite Sandy Koufax in the World Series (which the Yankees lost in 4 straight games).
Pepitone was real smooth defensively at first base picking throws out of the dirt–except for one infamous throw by Yankee 3rd baseman Clete Boyer in game 4 of that year’s World Series in LA. Pepitone lost the ball in the glare of the LA crowd’s white shirts, he said, and that cost the Yankees the game and, he felt, the Series. Joe said, “Boyer’s throw was perfect. It was right there. I just lost it in the crowd. All I could see was spots. The ball hit me on the right wrist, then went up my arm and bounced off my chest.” (New York Times, October 7, 1963.)
As a Yankee, Pepitone lived the high life. He was the first pro baseball player to bring a hair dryer into the locker room along with various wigs, and loaded up his Pan Am carry bag with hair accoutrements. Yup, Joe Pepitone. He’d graduated from high school gun issues and now studied bar brawls (following the path paved by Mickey Mantle, Billy Martin and Whitey Ford). Unlike the great Mets’ pitcher Tom Seaver, who’d taken out full page anti-war ads in the New York papers, I do not know if Joe got involved in any of the political movements of the 60s, except to make use of some of the availability of drugs. In fact, Pepitone says he would get Mickey Mantle stoned on something besides alcohol, and after being traded to the Chicago Cubs Joe had this to say to Rolling Stone Magazine’s Dan Epstein in 2015:
“Oh, I loved it. The only year I hit .300 was there [in Chicago, 1971]. I started off going good, and the fans, I got crazy with them. The Bleacher Bums at the Cubs’ ballpark [Wrigley Field] they’d hit me in the back with a [bleeping] football during warm-ups, and I’d turn around and play catch with them. One time, someone hit me in the back with some foil, all wrapped up, and there’s like four joints in it. I went and stuck it in the ivy on the outfield wall, but I remembered where I put it. [Laughs] Once they saw me do that, the regular Bleacher Bums started throwing things at me every day; I’d get hit with a little packet, I’d look and there’s a gram of coke in there. I was like, “Holy [bleep]!” Right into the ivy with it! [Laughs] I’m telling you, I got speed, I got everything. Used to be I was always the first person at the ballpark, and the first one to leave; next thing you know, people are wondering why I’m hanging out at the ballpark so long. Leo [Durocher] goes, “You still here?” “Yeah, I gotta get a rubdown from the trainer!” Then I’d be out in center field with my shorts on, looking through the ivy to find my dope. [Laughs] I loved Chicago! With the [stuff] I was getting in center field, I woulda played for nothing!”
Jim Bouton, in his controversial book “Ball Four,” had a bit to say about Pepitone, like the others, but I think I’ll just leave it here.
And now he’s gone. Joe Pepitone — a great Brooklyn baseball name and colorful player — died on March 13 of this year (2023) at age 82 of a likely heart attack.
Joe exemplified the neighborhood, along with Sandy Koufax and John Franco — in very different ways, personally, but baseball–ah, baseball! — was on every boy’s brain in the early and mid-60s, until the Civil Rights movement, Kennedy assassination, and War on Vietnam kicked it off the frontal lobes. Can’t say I’m nostalgic for those times, but I do remember those World Series, and how after school every day we’d become our favorite players. I remember one 15-year-old sliding safely into 2nd base on the cement of Lafayette High School’s ball “field” (now covered by teachers’ cars). None of us could believe that he would actually slide on the cement! The idiot kid tore up his jeans along with his leg, wearing Number 25 just like his loony local idol.
Seeya, Joe. And thanks for the memories. Brooklyn to the end!
(Mitchel Cohen is Coordinator of the No Spray Coalition in New York City. He can be reached at: email@example.com. (CounterPunch.org.))
BIDEN HAS NOW EMBRACED REPUBLICAN RESTRICTIONISM ON IMMIGRATION
The administration is enshrining several Trump-era border policies—even though Biden promised to undo the damage that Trump had done to the immigration system.
by Gaby Del Valle
The Biden administration will soon implement a policy that will “encourage migrants to avail themselves of lawful, safe, and orderly pathways into the United States, or otherwise to seek asylum or other protection in countries through which they travel, thereby reducing reliance on human smuggling networks that exploit migrants for financial gain.” One could be forgiven for thinking that this regulation, slated to go into effect in mid-May, expands access to the asylum process. In fact, it does the opposite. The new policy “encourages” lawful pathways by further criminalizing the most common existing pathways. Once the rule goes into effect, anyone who passes through another country on their way to the United States and crosses the border between official entry points will be deemed ineligible for asylum unless they applied for asylum in that other country first. There are a few exceptions, but the new policy will affect virtually all non-Mexican nationals who arrive at the border.
Migrants can still ask for asylum at ports of entry, but the Biden administration recently made that process harder as well. Since January, all asylum seekers are required to schedule appointments with Customs and Border Protection via the CBP One app rather than going to the port of entry and asking for protection. CBP One limits access to asylum to people who have smartphones; can read English, Spanish, or Haitian Creole, the only languages in which the app is available; and can spend days or weeks checking the app for available appointments and weeks or months on top of that waiting for an interview date. Migrants who manage to clear these hurdles have to contend with a glitchy app that crashes often and that, advocates say, fails to recognize darker skin tones (migrants have to submit “video selfies” with their applications).
Put in the simplest terms possible, Biden made it harder for migrants to ask for asylum at official border crossings and is now trying to punish them for crossing between ports of entry. In doing so, the administration is enshrining several Trump-era border policies—even though, three years ago, Biden promised to undo the damage that Trump had done to the immigration system. It’s Republican restrictionism dressed up in the technocratic, social-justice-inflected language that has become endemic among Democrats of a certain type.
“To be clear, this was not our first preference, or even our second,” an administration official told reporters in late February. The official added that Congress’s inability to pass an immigration-reform bill forced the president’s hand. But Congress hasn’t passed any immigration laws in decades, and that didn’t stop Trump from his first- and second-choice immigration policies: building a wall, banning travel from Muslim-majority countries, and limiting asylum at the border.
Biden kept Title 42 in place, which since the onset of the pandemic has let border officials rapidly “expel” migrants to Mexico, ostensibly on public health grounds. Now that the pandemic emergency is set to end, and with it the pretext for Title 42, he’s bringing back two other restrictions: the third-country transit ban, imposed by Trump in 2019, which made anyone who passed through another country en route to the US ineligible for asylum; and metering, a practice by which CBP officers limited the number of people allowed to ask for asylum at ports of entry. Administration officials have argued that these are needed to manage the projected surge in asylum seekers once Title 42 ends in mid-May, estimating that border apprehensions may reach 13,000 a day.
A three-judge panel declared the transit ban illegal in 2020, not because Trump lacked authority to impose such a policy but because the administration violated the Administrative Procedure Act by failing to go through the customary notice-and-comment period. Time and time again, the Trump administration’s downfall was not its brutality but rather its incompetence.
For Biden and his advisers, it all comes down to optics. “Electoral politics trump values when it comes to access to asylum,” an anonymous administration official told the Los Angeles Times. “The desire to keep the border quiet resulted in compromising what I previously thought were deeply held Democratic beliefs.” In late 2021, several high-profile officials left the Biden administration. Some had signed on to undo Trump’s immigration policies, only to find themselves stymied by more senior officials. Andrea Flores, a young staffer, told The New Yorker that her policy recommendations were ignored because top White House officials “do not want to hear about more people coming in.”
What Biden apparently failed to consider is that he’s not winning anyone over by embracing Trump’s immigration policies. In her memoir about her time in the Obama White House, Flores recalled working on an immigration-reform bill during Obama’s second term. Democrats agreed to fund an additional 20,000 Border Patrol agents in exchange for a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented people, but the bill failed anyway. “No amount of harsh enforcement from Democrats would convince Republicans,” Flores wrote. A decade later, it appears that Biden’s senior advisers still haven’t learned that lesson.
by James Kunstler
The net effect of all the lying propaganda laid on the public by the people running things lo these many recent years is a peculiar inertia that makes us seemingly impervious to gross political shocks. Momentous things happen and almost instantly get swallowed up by time, as by some voracious cosmic amoeba that thrives on human malignancy. Case in point: the multiple suicide of several giant banks just days ago that prompted “Joe Biden” to nationalize the US banking system.
As if all the operations around finance in this land were not already unsound and degenerate enough, the alleged president just cancelled moral hazard altogether. It’s now official: from here forward there will be no consequences for banking fraud, poor decision-making, fiduciary recklessness, self-dealing, or any of the other risks attendant to the handling of other people’s money. Bailing out the Silicon Valley Bank and Barney Frank’s deluxe Signature Bank means that the government will now have to bail out every bank every time something goes wrong.
The trouble, of course, is that the government doesn’t have the means to bail out every bank. Its only resort is to ask the Federal Reserve to summon new money from a magic ether where the illusion of wealth is conjured to paper-over ever greater fissures in the splintering matrix of racketeering that America has become. That will quickly translate into US dollars losing value, that is, accelerating inflation, which is how nature punishes you when your government lies and pretends that it has a bad situation well-in-hand.
Be advised: the situation is not in-hand and is going to get a whole lot worse as new and subsidiary shocks thunder through the weeks and months ahead, until the whole wicked business blows. Likewise, the reactions of our government will only get more tragi-comically pathetic. The harder this gang of feckless, wannabe control freaks pretends to control events, the faster events spin out of control.
Money dies when it loses its direct connection to the generation of wealth from the real things of this earth: fuels, crops, metals, materials, labor, and the value-added products made from them. Since that divorce has already happened, the need arises for something else that can function as money (a store of wealth, an index of value, and a medium of exchange). The government will pretend that a Central Bank Digital Currency is that something else. Since banking is now nationalized by the Federal Reserve backstopping everything and everybody, then theoretically all the wealth of the nation is under its command. That would be another illusion.
This CBDC would not be “money” representing wealth because America’s wealth is going, going, gone, pissed away, falling apart, de-laminating, oxidizing, rusting in the rain, going up in a vapor. Think of all those mortgaged cars on the road racking up the mileage until they’re worthless and all those mortgaged suburban houses built out of particle-board and vinyl smeared all over the landscape, decomposing into their constituent chemicals — over time, a dead loss. And that’s what’s left of our American Dream: coldcocked by entropy and, by extension, the laws of the universe. The CBDC would just be a computerized tracking apparatus for zombies lurching pointlessly around that dead zone… a final insult. The CBDC is already DOA, only the CB doesn’t know it.
One big mistake so many commentators and observers are making takes us back to the matter of cancelled moral hazard, and of consequence in general: it is the failure to appreciate how much disorder will manifest from the farrago of mindfuckery and misconduct we’ve been subjected to. By which I mean things stop working, including the elemental things like your ability to get food, fix whatever breaks, and keep the lights on.
The potential disorder is why our government will probably not be able to fix itself. The disorder may go on for quite a while, but eventually the survivors will synergetically fix their circumstances themselves working in-step with the emergent mandates of reality. Having lived through a reality-optional period of history, it will come as an ecstatic shock to learn that the world requires us to pay attention to what is really happening and to act accordingly. We’ll find ways to get food, make some things work, and shine some lights in the darkness, if perhaps not by means we’re familiar with now.
In the meantime, expect more disordering tragi-comedy from the “Joe Biden” led psychotic regime ruling over us with its drag queen commissars, lawless Lawfare vandals, race hustlers, agents provocateurs, informers, censors, prosecutors, inquisitors, jailers, and propagandists — the worst collection of imbeciles, grifters, and villains ever assembled into political party.
UKRAINE, FRIDAY, 17 MARCH
The International Criminal Court announced Friday it has issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and an official at the center of an alleged scheme to forcibly deport Thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia.
Russia is not a member of the ICC and the court doesn't conduct trials in absentia, so any charged officials would either have to be handed over by Moscow or arrested outside of Russia to face ICC proceedings.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping will visit Russia next week for the first time since Moscow's Ukraine invasion began, officials confirmed Friday. It comes as Western leaders have grown wary of the nations’ deepening partnership during the war.
Two NATO members have granted Kyiv's repeated requests for aircraft in order to shore up its air defense — Poland will transfer four and Slovakia will send 13 MiG-29 fighter jets.
THE US IS LIKE ONE OF THOSE ANNOYING DOGS that's always barking at the neighbors and at passersby on the street because it thinks they are trespassing on its property.
— Caitlin Johnstone
WATCH THE GREAT FALL
Beyond Progress and Nostalgia
by Paul Kingsnorth
My name is Paul and I am a nostalgic.
Sometimes it can be good to get things off your chest. I’ve never been addicted to drugs or alcohol, but I have often been addicted to dreams. This is the lot of the writer. You become a writer because the world you encountered in the stories you read as a child is more exciting than the world you are actually living in. More exciting and, in a strange way, more real. Your world is school and suburbs and bus stops and breakfast cereals and maths homework and being forced to wash your dad’s car at the weekend and wondering how to talk to girls and listening to the charts to work out what kind of music it’s permissible to like. This is not Lothlorien, and neither is it Earthsea. The worlds created by Tolkein and Asimov and Verne and Howard are better than this, and there is no doubt at all that given a splinter of a chance you would prefer to live in them. Then, one day, you pick up a pen and realise that you can create your own.
Meanwhile, out in what is fondly called ‘the real world’ by people who often don’t know very much about reality, you are living in the Machine. If you have the kind of sensibility which prefers Lothlorien to Isengard, this means that you are a character in a tragedy rather than a heroic epic. Most of the things you like are fading away. The great forests and the stories made in and by them. The strange cultures spanning centuries of time. The little pubs and the curious uninhabited places. The thrumming temples and dark marshlands and crooked villages and folk tales and conviviality and spontaneous song and old houses which might have witches in them. The possibility of dragons. The empty beaches and wild hilltops, the chance of getting lost in the rain forever or discovering something that was never on any map. A world without maps, a world without engines.
This world, you can see, is on the way out, if it is not already long gone. The one that is manifesting to replace it is a left-brain paradise, all straight lines and concrete car parks where the corn exchange used to be. The future is STEM and chatbots and cashless parking meters and economic growth and asteroid mining forever and ever. There is no arguing with it. You can feel the great craters that it makes in the world, you can feel what is being tarmacked and neatened and rationalised into oblivion, and the depth of what is leaving, but you cannot explain or justify it in the terms which are now the terms we live by. And so, given your sensibility – you who are already becoming a self-exiled poet – you find that nostalgia is a form of rebellion. The world in your heart merges with the world that used to be. At least you have somewhere to hide.
I seem to be talking to myself. Mostly I have taken the world too personally. When I was younger, this made me very prone indeed to nostalgia. We all recreate our preferred old world. Mine was – probably still is - an awkward melange of pre-agricultural hunter-gatherer culture and rural England before the First World War. Is it possible to wander the whited hawthorn lanes of Edward Thomas’s south country, the barrows intact up on the downs, smoke curling from the chimneys of the old inns, the motorways and superstores nowhere to be seen, whilst also hunting mammoths? Probably not, though it might make an intriguing backdrop to a fantasy novel I will never write.
Nostalgia is a curious thing. The love of a dead past is, on the surface, pointless, and yet it seems to be a universal, pan-cultural longing for something better than an equally dead but often less enticing present. This is something which its critics never seem to understand. ‘That’s just nostalgia’, they say, dismissively, when you suggest that a high street made up of independent shops might have been better than one giant superstore, or that folk songs around the fire in the pub might be better than Celebrity Love Island. The suggestion seems to be that this thing, ‘nostalgia’, is a kind of sickness, like flu or measles, that just hits you sometimes, with no rhyme or reason to it. Of course, there is a cure: a commitment to Progress. To the future, rather than to the past. There was no Golden Age - but there will be! Keep the faith. Keep going.
I would suggest, instead, that nostalgia can be a rational response to a world heading in the wrong direction. Perhaps a practical response too. If the Machine is destroying so many things of value, from the home to the ancient woodlands that once surrounded it, then remembering those things is not only an act of rebellion, but can also be the first stage in an act of necessary restoration. Those of us who have long tried to do at least some of our work with what Ivan Illich called convivial tools, be they pens or scythes, have long had to endure the mindless mockery of those who imagine that new is automatically good and that the past has nothing to teach. We who believe that things of value are being lost, on the other hand, know that you cannot restore anything precious if you don’t first remember its contours.
Meanwhile, the fact that ‘nostalgic’ - like ‘Romantic’, ‘Luddite’, ‘reactionary’ and any other word that suggests attachment to anything before progressive Year Zero – has become a term of mockery makes it a tempting label to embrace if you are conducting a personal rebellion against the Total System. Being called names is supposed to scare you into silence, but it doesn’t work if you wear the names like a medal on your chest. Romanticising the past, you say? Well, maybe I do. But it’s a hell of a lot better than romanticising the future.
Why am I writing about nostalgia? Because we are living in a time of obvious decline and fragmentation. All of my essays so far in this series have tracked between three intertwined phenomena which together make up that decline: the cultural disintegration of the West; the ongoing degradation of nature; and the rise of revolutionary technologies, especially in the digital sphere. Taken together, this adds up to an age of revolution. This is a time in which nothing, from received culture to the climate of the planet itself, can be counted on to remain stable. Disintegrative forces are pulling at everything from all angles. Sometimes it feels like living in the heart of a whirlwind. It is only going to get fiercer.
In a time like this, I can see three potential stances that we can adopt as we face into the storm. Two of them are traps. The third - well, the third might just allow us to endure the weather front with our sanity mostly intact.
The first stance is the simplest, and by far the most popular. It is the stance that every established institution and every popular and officially-endorsed narrative promotes: to embrace Progress. We all know this tale. Everything has been getting better since the Enlightenment; Science and Reason will get us through; technology is our friend; we are leaving behind oppression and hate and embracing liberation and love; the arc of history bends towards whatever Western progressives are up to this month. This story is designed to be comforting, and for quite a while, for many people, it was. At root it tells us that the smart people are in charge and, despite inevitable hiccups along the road, will get us where we need to go.
The story of Progress is increasingly trickier to embrace, though. We can look around at the state of our streets and oceans and countries and find it harder and harder to persuade ourselves of humanity’s persistent moral and practical betterment. In this context, the second stance – nostalgia – comes into play. Where Progress tells us that a Golden Age lies in the future, nostalgia tells us that it lies in the past. Here, nostalgia has the weight of history on its side, as virtually every myth and religious origin story on Earth also teaches that we have fallen from a lost world which was better than the one we fell into. In this sense, nostalgia can be a more intuitive – more natural – story than that of Progress. It has another attraction too: unlike the story of Progress, which requires ongoing work, nostalgia requires little more than the ability to dream, regret or remember.
And this is the problem. The story of Progress is a danger because it is based on a delusion, and it gives humanity permission to attempt to deify itself. At its heart is a refusal to accept limits, to live with our given nature, and to respect the nature of the rest of life. The nostalgia story, though, contains a danger of a different kind. While Progress offers the possibility that your dreams may one day be realised (which is its attraction), nostalgia places them firmly in the past. Something good was lost, and you have to live with it. Everything worthwhile is behind you: so why bother? Whether you long for the return of the hawthorn lanes of old England or Holy Russia or pre-colonial Africa or the Islamic caliphate, if you let the dream capture you - if you forget that dreams, like the past, cannot be laid out on the map of the present – you can be made bitter, or worse. We’ve all seen it. Perhaps we’ve been it. These days this is the shape of at least fifty percent of our politics. As the world gets worse, nostalgia starts to become an ideological position.
The promised future, the lost past: both are unobtainable. The universe appears to be an organism in constant motion, like the human body. A swirl of circumstance comes together to create a moment or a culture or a being or a situation, like cloud comes together to create rain. It showers or it pours and then the clouds are dispersed by the sun. It is wise – in fact, it is vital – to be guided by the past. It is wise to cleave to a living tradition. If you think you have nothing to learn from your ancestors you are headed for a fall, and if you abuse those ancestors then your fall will be harder. But you have to remember also: your ancestors are dead. Soon, you will be joining them. Robert Frost, in a short, famous poem, used far fewer words than I just have to sketch the shape of the eternal story:
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
Gold is not the natural state of a fallen world. Gold is not the natural state of the leaves of the sycamore. The flower fades to make fruit, as another American poet, Robinson Jeffers, put it a century ago, gloomy and accurate as ever in a prophetic poem about the state of his nation:
While this America settles in the mould of its vulgarity, heavily thickening to empire
And protest, only a bubble in the molten mass, pops and sighs out, and the mass hardens,
I sadly smiling remember that the flower fades to make fruit, the fruit rots
to make earth.
Out of the mother; and through the spring exultances, ripeness and decadence; and home to the mother.
You making haste haste on decay: not blameworthy; life is good, be it stubbornly long or suddenly
A mortal splendor: meteors are not needed less than mountains:
shine, perishing republic.
But for my children, I would have them keep their distance from the thickening center; corruption
Never has been compulsory, when the cities lie at the monster's feet there
are left the mountains.
And boys, be in nothing so moderate as in love of man, a clever servant,
There is the trap that catches noblest spirits, that caught - they say - God, when he walked on earth.
Whether in human affairs or in the affairs of the rest of nature, nothing gold can stay. The republic will perish like the ripe plum in autumn. Nostalgia is the state of wanting the plum to remain ripe forever. Translate it into politics and, if you’re not careful, it translates into rage at the perishing of the republic, and a search for the enemies responsible. But all republics, all kingdoms, all bodies will perish. You can’t hold on.
Looks like I’m talking to myself again.
My point is this: as we refuse the rising Total System, as we stand against the Machine, we need solid ground on which to brace ourselves. Neither Progress nor nostalgia offer that solidity. Perhaps we all tend in one or the other direction. Perhaps we tip between the two depending on the day. But I think it is incumbent upon us to draw ourselves out, into the present, into the ongoing moment, and to acknowledge the reality of where we are. To open our eyes, and take in the moment.
There is a momentum behind these times. The vastness, and the destructiveness, of human technological civilisation is unprecedented. The Earth’s very nature is shifting in response to the threat. The great acceleration that I wrote about in a previous essay is only accelerating faster, tipping us now into the age of artifice, the war on reality itself. The speed of the technological and cultural changes, the number of people on Earth, the size of our cities, the rates of extinction, the scale of pollution: all of it is overwhelming to the small human mind. The great and historic shift that began when we cultivated the first grain of wheat is playing itself out. We fell from Eden into farming and cities; now farming and cities are reaching their endgame in the creation of a Total System which is being constructed to prevent the tottering Machine from collapsing like the Tower of Babel before it.
In the tornado of all this, each one of us is a grain of sand. Grains of sand can complain all they like about the tornado - but it isn’t listening. We are all living through what Robinson Jeffers described in another poem as ‘the falling years’. Jeffers had a ringside seat as the mid-twentieth century American republic transformed itself into a global empire in thrall to consumer materialism. As an isolationist, a lover of wild nature and an inheritor of his preacher father’s tendency towards thunderous sermons, the poet channelled his contempt at what his country was becoming into a kind of wilderness stoicism. Progress he dismissed with a wave of his hand. Nostalgia was no hiding place either, though it was necessary to salute the past. As an alternative to both, Jeffers embraced a kind of deep green stoicism: the only thing left when both civilisation and God are tried and found wanting:
These are the falling years,
They will go deep,
Never weep, never weep.
With clear eyes explore the pit.
Watch the great fall
With religious awe.
Jeffers tried hard to cultivate his stone-faced stoicism, but he kept falling back into a grand spiritual vision, one stripped of his father’s Christianity but which still orbited around what he called ‘the wild god of the world.’ As a younger man, the poet had tried Nietzsche like you would try smoking pot, but the ubermensch turned out to be no substitute for the divine heart of being. Jeffers found that divine heart in the wild cliffs, the ‘lonely oceans’ and the ‘heartbreaking beauty’ which ‘will remain when there is no heart left to break for it.’ Humanity was incidental in this world, and would fade, with all its foolish dreams. When it did, the cliffs would still be there.
You don’t have to embrace Jeffers’ theology to see that he was on to something in his instruction that we ‘never weep’ at having to live through ‘the falling years.’ Throughout history, empires and nations rise and fall, and something seems to pattern them, some mathematics, some bell curve of inevitability. When the falling years come, you cannot stop them, any more than you could have turned things around when the first steam engines or printing presses began their work. We all live in history, and are products of culture: to ‘watch the great fall with religious awe’ is not easy, and especially when the fall is this big. And yet this - the third stance - is perhaps the best chance to survive history as it enfolds us.
Another poet once tried to paint this stance in verse, drawing on history to do so. I first came across him a few years back, when I was writing my third novel and had found myself stuck. The central conceit and the title of a work of a fiction usually hold together in an intimate balance, and I wasn’t quite sure about either. Then one morning I opened up my email to find that a reader had sent me a poem by the twentieth-century Greek poet C. F. Cavafy. I don’t know why he sent it, but it gave me my title, and the core of my story. Cavafy’s poem was inspired by Plutarch’s tale of a dream which Mark Anthony had on the eve of his defeat by Octavian at the Battle of Actium. Anthony heard the sound of a procession passing by on the streets of Alexandria, making its way towards the gates and out of the city to the sound of ‘Bacchic revelry.’ Bacchus was Anthony’s god: the procession was his god abandoning him to his coming fate.
Cavafy turns this story into another lesson in how to survive the falling years:
When suddenly, at midnight, you hear
an invisible procession going by
with exquisite music, voices,
don’t mourn your luck that’s failing now,
work gone wrong, your plans
all proving deceptive - don’t mourn them uselessly.
As one long prepared, and graced with courage,
say goodbye to her, the Alexandria that is leaving.
Above all, don’t fool yourself, don’t say
it was a dream, your ears deceived you:
don’t degrade yourself with empty hopes like these.
As one long prepared, and graced with courage,
as is right for you who proved worthy of this kind of city,
go firmly to the window
and listen with deep emotion, but not
with the whining, the pleas of a coward;
listen - your final delectation - to the voices,
to the exquisite music of that strange procession,
and say goodbye to her, to the Alexandria you are losing.
After everything Anthony has done, everything he has fought for: it turns out that the gods have the final say. And when the procession passes, the poet tells us – when Alexandria is lost – you must not fool yourself with empty hope. You must have grace and courage. You must go to the window and watch the procession pass by. This is not ‘losing hope’, or ‘giving up’. This is being strong enough to see what is passing by: and to salute it as it goes.
As one long prepared, and graced with courage,
say goodbye to her, the Alexandria that is leaving.
In both of the spiritual traditions in which I have immersed myself over the last decade - Buddhism and Orthodox Christianity – this spirit of necessary detachment, this sense that to tie yourself too closely to the churning affairs of the world is to invite destruction, is the precursor to the work. To a Buddhist, the ongoing effort to ‘detach’ yourself from created things is the only way to sidestep the first of the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths: that ‘to live is to suffer.’ From an Orthodox perspective, to live after the Fall is also to suffer. The work of the Christian who wants to find the way home again is to ‘die to the world’: to rid himself of the ‘passions’ of worldly attachment as the essential prelude to walking the narrow path which leads to theosis: union with God.
The theologies of Zen, Orthodoxy, Mark Anthony and Robinson Jeffers differ wildly, and yet they alight, all of them, on this same reality. So does every other religious tradition I know of. To watch the great fall, to say goodbye to Alexandria, to accept that nothing gold can stay: this is the task of people who find themselves living through the falling years. It is the prelude to doing anything useful with our time. If we spend that time lamenting the fall, or trying to prevent it, or stewing in bitterness at those we believe responsible, we will find ourselves cast into darkness. If we ‘degrade ourselves with empty hopes’ of some form of technological or political salvation yet to come, the darkness will be just as deep.
No: the only way out is through. To dance with the way things are moving. To watch the great fall, accept its reality, and then get on with our work. What that work might be, in the age of the Total system, will differ for each one of us. Rebellion, restoration, protection, the building of new structures: I’m going to explore each of these in coming essays. But before anything can happen, we have first to get our inner house in order.
Me, I have to watch my tendency towards nostalgia. The things we mourn can be the things that make us human: the source of poetry and song, of the crooked places and small things, of everything that we hold dear against the Machine. Sometimes it is a pleasure to dream of the hawthorn lanes and the stillness before the engines. But it is necessary to dance only lightly with any of it. We are all sojourners here. Nothing gold can stay, and dreams can easily blind us.
As I wrote somewhere before, many lifetimes ago: there is a fall coming. Now, I think, it is here - and it is civilisation itself, at its very foundations, that is on the rack. The modern experiment has failed. The tower is coming down. There are opportunities to be found in all of the cracks that are spreading upwards from its foundations. In the rotting of the old world is the seed of the new. But only if we let go - of both the past and the future.
Nothing is coming back.
We are not going where we thought we were.
Beyond Progress and Nostalgia is the third stance: I will meet you there. We can watch the fall together.
Another poet, the grumpy Welsh vicar R. S. Thomas, wrote exquisite lyrics about the Machine, about rural life, about the search for belonging amid the maelstrom. Sometimes he despaired, but more than once he seemed to pinpoint the right disposition for surviving the laughable madness of modernity. Once he saw it appear as he watched an old farmer - aptly named Job - working his fields one morning. I will give them both the final word:
Job Davies, eighty-five
Winters old, and still alive
After the slow poison
And treachery of the seasons.
Miserable? Kick my arse!
It needs more than the rain's hearse,
Wind-drawn to pull me off
The great perch of my laugh.
What's living but courage?
Paunch full of hot porridge
Nerves strengthened with tea,
Peat-black, dawn found me
Mowing where the grass grew,
Bearded with golden dew.
Rhythm of the long scythe
Kept this tall frame lithe
What to do? Stay green.
Never mind the machine,
Whose fuel is human souls
Live large, man, and dream small.
I am wondering what the rate of return the big monied people were getting from their uninsured bank accounts in SVB. It seems “safety” and liquidity can be obtained in T-bills, with a far better rate of return than a savings account. In my world, having half a $billion in a savings account doesn’t make sense. That amount of cash was needed to meet someone’s payroll? That doesn’t seem right either.
Interview with Yuma, AZ Sheriff
Trump is posting on Truth Social that he expects to be arrested next Tuesday and is calling for protests.
Future charges on other matters in different other venues (DOJ and Georgia’s Fulton County) are very possible.
Interesting name – Truth Social – for a media outlet that is neither.
If Trump is arrested Tuesday I’m going to peacefully and patriotically make my voice be heard.
Ezekiel 16:31 (updated)
When you built your shrine at the beginning of every street and made your high place in every square, in worshipping money, you were like a harlot, Trump.
Yes, exactly. Trump, unlike ordinary Americans, can’t face charges and defend himself in a court of law. He is a man of no courage and no grace. What a tawdry thing he’s gotten himself into. Maybe this time justice will prevail
I’ve heard several lawyers (both sides) claiming the hooker/porno situation is the government’s weakest case
So, if they lose, which is predicted by many, everything else will look like they’re just out to get Trump. Which everyone already knows they are.
I’ve also heard the New York police are preparing for Tuesday’s arraignment if it even happens.
Check it out…
Trump does not worship money. Money provides Trump the luxury of worshipping himself, and successfully selling his narcissistic self to a large group of people, as well. The Democratic Party knows Trump is their ace in the hole because they know Trump is about the only candidate Biden can beat.
Patriotism includes allowing the justice system to do its job without fear or favor.
If he’s arrested, I hope Dr. Spacecase’s ETs transport him, immediately, to the moon, sans life support.
The Democratic Party won’t allow it.
Speaking for the entire Democratic Party, are you? Right.
Re Bank Failures: Isn’t it revealing that Republicans dig in their heels against relieving the crushing debt burden of student loans but rush to the front of the line in support of Biden’s assurances that the deposits of the super rich will be fully covered, even when above the $250,000 FDIC insurance threshold? Slavery isn’t dead folks, never has been and never will be.
Most the Republicans I know are mad about the Bailout of Democrat banking institutions like SVB. Will Biden’s Treasury Department bail out a small bank in a Red State? I doubt it.
SVB, Signature Bank donated primarily to Democrats in the past two election cycles before bank collapse
In 2020, 96% of SVB contributions went to Democrats
Most of the Republicans you know probably are mad about every little thing that happens under and Democratic administration, even those caused primarily by laws passed and signed by their fellow Republicans.
Democrat administration, not Democratic administration. The Democrat party is far from being a democratic party.
Actually, “Democrat Party” and “Democrat Administration” are yet another Republican Party falsehood. The official name is the Democratic Party. The Republicans have made it a habit – beginning in the 1940s and expanding in the mid-2000s – of referring to it at the Democrat Party. Democrat Party also is ungrammatical. Therefore, they – and you – are wrong. It is Democratic Party and Democratic Administration.
Don’t you mean the Republic Party?
To expand on my comment, the Republicans who use the term “Democrat” rather than Democratic in regards to Party and/or Administration do so as a slur.
California Democrats are the ones who ran to the front of the line, led by Governor Newsom.
“WATCH THE GREAT FALL”
Paul Kingsnorth’s thoughtful, tragic writing on the state of the world and nostalgia for the old, lost ways, is most interesting. Watching the world straight-on —not turning away— as it begins to crumble and fail. Watching with grace and courage.
Thank you Everett Liljeberg for sharing your fine and interesting collection of photographs.
“Millennial Anti-Theft Device”
So true. I hadn’t driven a slush box in years. Then, one day I found myself behind the wheel of one. Had a hell of a time getting it out of PARK. Then, someone told me I needed to step on the brake pedal…
Hope my old manual-trannie wrecks outlast me. If they do, they’ll end up having used far less energy than I would have used buying electroeggmobiles to replace them, figuring in all the energy used to build and transport them, from mining raw materials, to finished and delivered product. Enjoy your brave new world…
Long overdue. Do away with the robber barons along with their yuppie lackeys.
Pandit Jasraj – Mandukya Upanishad – A musical experience of OM
Maybe “the fall” isn’t here just yet. The beautiful writing of Paul Kingsnorth makes a good point, and is true enough in the long run, that all things must end. However, if we just fold our hands and assume it is already here, we are taking the easy way out, even though it is tempting to agree with KIngsnorth and accept our fate with dignity. Another poet, Dylan Thomas, said “rage, rage against the dying of the light”. Maybe we should not discount any of the three methods described by Kingsworth, but allow history, progress and acceptance to work together to keep things together a bit longer. History I mention first because it is the teacher, the spirit of our species, what sets us apart, and what makes us “special”. “Progress” can be made by a monkey or a dog, in learning new tricks, but history belongs to humans. Acceptance is, in my view, non-discrimination, an important Buddhist belief. Non-discrimination could solve all of our woes if it were not so terribly (impossibly?) hard for humans to learn. That is where history becomes the enemy, in warping our “story” to whatever we think will advance our particular race or civilization or even village!
Kunstler may be the shrillest alarmist, but Kingsnorth’s piece is more chillingly effective. For another vision of the same thing see the YouTube video of “Watch It Fall” by Billy Springs.
Well, I mailed in my tax return on February 24, and the refund showed up in my bank account today! That’s the fastest turnaround in several years. I had been getting them around June or July, during the trump regime.
This article in the latest New Yorker about a besieged local paper in Greenwich Village and its elderly editor brought to mind a little bit the AVA and its esteemed editor and publisher.