Partly Sunny | Calypso Orchid | Train Singer | Jughandle Rock | Shears Subdued | House Repair | Ed Notes | Mendocino 1868 | Seeking Sheila | Waidelich Case | Shanel Fundraiser | EBT Event | Black Point | Telling Quote | Seed Swap | Boonquiz | Poetry Celebration | Yesterday's Catch | School Bullies | Weaver Nest | Insulin/Narcan | Harley Baby | WPLJ Good | Hearst Castle | Tranq Warning | Howlin' Wolf | Bank Socialism | Critter Snack | Woke Defined | Ukraine | Tut's Chair | British Bond | Sears Home | Talls | Beethoven Creekside
MAINLY DRY WEATHER is expected this morning with a return of light showers this afternoon and evening over the inland areas as a weak trough passes across the area. A deeper trough will bring additional rain and mountain snow Thursday through Friday. A colder storm will likely impact the area with more rain and mountain snow early next week. (NWS)
GREG SCHINDEL SKUNK TRAIN SINGER IS FIGHTING CANCER
Greg Schindel, Train Singer needs your help! Over the past six weeks, my cherished husband, Greg has undergone blood tests, x-ray, biopsy, CT and bone scans. We know now that he is now facing Stage Four, Metastatic Prostate Cancer. It is advanced and aggressive, and it has spread to the bones in his sternum, pelvis and spine and he is in pain.
Greg created and became the persona of Train Singer. His famous mustache, sparkling smile, and kind face have welcomed folks aboard the California Western Railroad Skunk Train, since 1988. Train Singer has brought joy and smiles to thousands of people from around the world! With his commanding voice, along with his quick guitar-picking fingers, autoharp, and six harmonicas he shares a diverse collection of classic train songs with delighted passengers. He also developed his own original style of music, described as “Northern California Transcendental Folk Jazz.” He was the lead singer and songwriter for the musical group, Kindred Souls. His original songs include thoughtful lyrics about life and love in the country.
Over the years, “Mr. Schindel” has been adored by hundreds of elementary school children as the Visual and Performing Arts Director and, as a substitute teacher for the Willits Unified School District.
St. Francis in the Redwoods Episcopal Church has been blessed with his leadership as the director of hymns and music for 35 years. He has been described as, “the heart of the congregation,” when he sends up his praises in song.
Greg is well known for being involved in civic events in Willits, Mendocino County, California including Willits Community Theater, Willits Frontier Days, KLLG Hometown Radio, Hometown Celebration and many more since coming to Willits in 1983. Visit www.trainsinger.com to learn more about Greg’s many gifts and hear his music.
Greg and I have been happily married for 45 years. We have four adult children and six grandchildren. This diagnosis means he will need to start hormone therapy and radiation treatments to slow the cancer and relieve the bone pain. With only MediCare and no supplemental insurance we have quickly exhausted our savings. Donations would help us with medical expenses and with transportation to treatments. We are grateful for any donation. If you are unable to donate, please consider sharing this link. If you prefer, you may send checks, payable to Greg or Donna Schindel, PO Box 1376, Willits, CA 95490
Thank you for supporting this wonderful and generous family man.
Donna Schindel, Willits
FORT BRAGG AMBULANCE CREW ATTACKED, UNIDENTIFIED SUSPECT SUBDUED BY POLICE WITH TASER
On March 20, 2023 at approximately 11:27 PM, officers of the Fort Bragg Police Department responded to assist the Adventist Health Mendocino Coast ambulance after a request for emergency assistance. An as-of-yet unidentified male, had become agitated while being transported, and began fighting medical staff.
During the altercation, the suspect was able to obtain a pair of medical shears requiring the ambulance crew to stop and evacuate the ambulance. He was able to free himself, utilizing the medical shears and began chasing medical staff around the ambulance while brandishing the shears in a threatening manner.
Upon arrival, Officers observed the suspect was running from the area of the ambulance towards the area of the Sea Bird Lodge and carrying the shears. As officers approached and ordered him to stop, he began making slashing motions and threatening gestures with the shears towards officers. Officers began attempting to de-escalate the situation and requesting compliance. The suspect did not comply, and continued through the parking lot of the Sea Bird Lodge and onto the 700 block of South Franklin Street as officers followed.
Once at South Franklin Street, the suspect ran from officers northbound on South Franklin Street, eventually stopping in the parking lot of the Cottages at Cypress Street, which is a senior living facility. Officers continued to attempt to de-escalate the situation with the suspect continuing to make threatening gestures with the shears towards officers and himself. He approached a residence at the location and attempted to enter. Officers had personal knowledge he did not live there. Officers feared for the safety of the occupants in the residence and believed the suspect was going to force entry. An officer on scene deployed their Taser device successfully, allowing the suspect to be taken into custody without further incident.
After being taken into custody the suspect was taken to the emergency room at the Adventist Mendocino Coast Hospital for medical treatment and mental health evaluation. Drugs may be a factor in this case. The suspect is facing several charges yet to be determined.
Anyone with information on this incident is encouraged to contact Acting Sergeant Ferris of the Fort Bragg Police Department at (707)961-2800 ext 139.
This information is being released by Sergeant Jon McLaughlin. All media inquiries should contact him at email@example.com.
THE MOSTLY GRAY WEATHER lately is perfectly sunny for catching up on the books. Let me know what you’re reading, ava book readers. Me? Being at the advanced age that this play really, really resonates, I’ve re-read King Lear, although I have no crown and only one non-covetous daughter; Robert Louis Stevenson’s Travels In Hawaii, which has the best descriptions I’ve read of the leper colony at Molokai, circa 1905; The Short Stories of Laurie Moore, an author who cuts deep but is also wildly funny; The Darkest Year: The American Home Front 1941-1942 by William Klingaman, wonderful descriptions of unprepared America and Americans scrambling to beat back fascism; Life on the Mississippi by Buck Rinker, part adventure, part history of the way 18th, 19th and early 20th century Americans moved goods by river on both sides of the Appalachians, a genuine learning experience for this American previously unaware of the crucial river trade developed by early bargemen. The author builds his own raft and sets out to re-create the experiences of early raft traders; Trollope: His Life and Art by CP Snow, a bio with plenty of illustrative photographs of this remarkable writer and founder of the Brit’s modern postal system. (Special thanks to Michael Weist, a fellow Trollopian, for the gift of this book.)
CONTINUING TODAY’S LIT-CHAT, a reader writes: Since you mentioned ‘The End of the Affair,’ I re-read it and would like to weigh in with my two cents. On first reading the jumbled timeline was distracting for me. (Being a simple, linear minded person.) The book was a bit short of the humor that Graham often provides. The “miracles” may of course be coincidental. I know that it won some Catholic book award in 1952 (and another friend said it was their favorite book). I prefer the more political works which do always address moral questions. Having been a Catholic (12 years of indoctrination), I am now “in recovery.” My preferred Graham Greene comment on religion was in ‘The Confidential Agent’ (1939): “We are unlucky. We don’t believe in God. So it’s no use praying. If we did I could tell beads, burn candles — oh, a hundred things. As it is, I can only keep my fingers crossed.” I believe that I am an atheist, but I often wonder about all that dark matter/energy which seems to be missing (more than 90%). To paraphrase the Bard: There is more to the world than is dreamed of in your philosophy. (Astrophysics?). Our creation story is a “singularity” of zero volume and infinite mass that “explodes” to create time and space, really?
YOU MUST KNOW that Greene was a devout, practicing Catholic viz ‘The Power and the Glory.’ Of all his novels, my faves are ‘The Comedians’ set in Haiti under Duvalier, a picture of 50s Haiti that holds up well as an explanation of the hell that beset country has been throughout most of its modern history. Most of us have probably read ‘The Quiet American,’ a prescient novelistic account of a bullet-headed CIA man murderously meddling in Vietnamese affairs he knows little about. (Was it this novel that got Greene banned from the U.S?) The novel of his I most admire is ‘The Power and the Glory’ revolving around a hunted priest in Mexico during the Diaz dictatorship as the Diaz regime tried to extinguish Catholicism throughout the country by murdering priests, this priest famously called “the whiskey priest.” Another of Greene’s strong arguments for faith. The whiskey priest, struggling to maintain his faith, puts it this way: “It ought to be possible for a man to be happy here, if he were not so tied to fear and suffering—unhappiness too can become a habit like piety. Perhaps it was his duty to break it, his duty to discover peace. He felt an immense envy of all those people who had confessed to him and been absolved.”
SHEILA TRACY, PLEASE REPLY
Looking For Sheila Tracy
The Mendocino Land Trust is about to have a Former Board Member Reunion event on April 29th but we are having trouble finding a few of our former Board Members. We are looking for Sheila Tracy, Board Member from 1988-1989. Can anyone help us find her so we can invite her to our event?
Conrad Kramer, Executive Director
Mendocino Land Trust
FEDERAL SUIT FILED AGAINST EMBATTLED FORMER UKIAH POLICE CHIEF ALLEGES SEXUAL BATTERY, CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
A federal civil rights lawsuit accuses former Ukiah Police Chief Noble Waidelich of sexual assault around the time he was put on administrative leave before being fired in June.
by Colin Atagi
A federal civil rights lawsuit accuses a former Ukiah police chief of sexual assault around the time he was put on administrative leave before being fired in June.
Noble Waidelich and the city of Ukiah are named in the 12-page complaint filed Feb. 28 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in Eureka.
The complaint was filed by Johnston & Hutchinson, a Los Angeles-based law firm which represents the plaintiff, who was only identified as Jane Doe.
It alleges sexual battery, battery, violations of civil rights and negligent hiring.
Waidelich could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.
“The City has no comment on the sexual battery allegedly perpetrated by former police chief Noble Waidelich because it has no knowledge of what did or did not happen between Waidelich and Jane Doe,” said Patrick Moriarty, an attorney representing the city, in a statement.
“The City and department will defend against Jane Doe's claims that they were responsible for the allegedly unlawful acts of Waidelich.”
Allegations stem from an incident said to have occurred June 13 at Jane Doe’s home in Ukiah.
“During the acts and omissions alleged herein, Chief Waidelich was on duty, in uniform, and wearing a badge and carrying a firearm,” according to the complaint.
Further details about the incident aren’t included in the complaint, which still provides a small window into events from the week of Waidelich’s termination.
He was placed on paid administrative leave June 14 and the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office reported at the time it was investigating “an allegation of criminal conduct.”
The Sheriff’s Office forwarded the case to the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office before it was passed to the California Attorney General’s Office in October. One month later, the AG’s office referred it back to Mendocino County after declaring there was no conflict of interest.
Waidelich was fired days after the investigation began in June, but city staff said it was for an unrelated violation of police department policy that was never disclosed.
Ukiah Police Capt. Cedric Crook was appointed acting police chief following Waidelich’s departure. He was sworn in full time March 15.
Waidelich was hired as an entry-level officer in 2005, tapped as the interim chief in September 2021 and named chief just over a month later. His annual salary was $187,789.
In the allegation against the city, the complaint states, “Defendants city of Ukiah and Ukiah P.D. owed plaintiff a duty to properly hire, supervise and retain or dismiss Chief Waidelich.
“On information and belief, defendants city of Ukiah and Ukiah P.D. knew or should have known that Chief Waidelich was a risk to members of the public and specifically Jane Doe and should not have hired him.”
At the time of his termination, Waidelich was involved in a 2017 civil lawsuit filed by his former fiancee, Amanda Carley. Her daughter, Madison, filed a separate but similar lawsuit at a later date.
The former Mendocino County probation officer alleged years of domestic abuse by Waidelich and retaliation by the county after she reported it.
Both cases were settled in October, according to the plaintiff’s attorney, Richard Freeman.
(Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
HARVEST MARKET, FORT BRAGG, LAUNCHES CALIFORNIA FRUIT AND VEGETABLE EBT PILOT INITIATIVE
Initiative Helps Low-Income Families Afford Fresh Fruit and Vegetables at a time of high food inflation and shrinking safety net support Fort Bragg, Calif
Join elected officials, local farmers, and Fort Bragg community members to celebrate the launch of the California Fruit and Vegetable EBT Pilot at Harvest Market. This program provides CalFresh participants up to $60 per month in rebates when they purchase fresh, local produce with an easy card swipe process.
Invited speakers include:
• SPUR - San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association Representative
• CA Senator Scott Wiener
• CA Senator Mike McGuire
• CA Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula
• CA Assemblymember Jim Wood
• Fort Bragg Mayor Bernie Norvell
• Harvest Market Representative
• CalFresh Representative
• Local Food Bank Representative
• Testimonial from CalFresh recipient
Friday, March 24, 2023, 10AM – Press Conference
10:45AM-11:00AM – Post Conference Media Interviews Available
171 Boatyard Dr, Fort Bragg, CA 95437
With extra funds allocated during the pandemic coming to an end in March, low-income families in California will find themselves stretching their resources even further than before, finding it more difficult to afford food for their families. There is some good news, however. Proposed legislation, Assembly Bill 605, sponsored by Dr. Joaquin Aramubula, D-Fresno, would build on the program at Harvest Market and expand the California fruit and vegetable supplemental benefit program to be available at many more grocery stores and farmers’ markets throughout the state – helping hundreds of thousands of Californians afford more food and supporting California’s fruit and vegetable growers who have been dealing with both historic droughts and floods.
This event marks the public launch of the California Fruit and Vegetable EBT Pilot at Harvest Market after two weeks of a “soft opening” period. Harvest Market is the first and only grocery store in the country offering this type of benefit on a CalFresh card.
Additional grocery stores will soon be offering it in the coming months, and it is also available at select farmers’ markets in California.
Speaker lineup, marketing signage, stage with produce display outside store, visuals inside grocery store available.
HELLO HISTORY? GET ME REWRITE
US Navy Renames Two ships
Note one telling quote that also applies to Fort Bragg, CA. Brig. General Ty Seidule said: “It’s not just about getting rid of names. Whom you choose to honor is who you value.”
Philip Zwerling, Ph.D., http://www.philipzwerling.com
Change Our Name Fort Bragg, www.changeournamefortbragg.com
ED NOTE: Doc Zwerling has mobilized the Coast's a-historical green hairs for a spring offensive to get Fort Bragg's name changed on the vague historical grounds that Braxton Bragg, a consensus bad man who did his bad in the 19th century, is memorialized in Fort Bragg, the town. Stop the next ten Fort Braggers you see on the street and ask them who Braxton Bragg was. No one will know or care, so the best Zwerling and his posse can hope for is inspiring some research by a few conscientious citizens interested in who the heck the guy was. Fort Bragg was founded to protect Indians from the white pioneers — a grim collection of fugitive criminals, Indian slavers, and general low lifes — not murder them, an honorable pedigree for any town, and one of many reasons to keep Fort Bragg as Fort Bragg, a name placed on the Coast outpost by one of Bragg's military colleagues who seems to have admired him. (Bragg's blundering generalship was one of many reasons the South lost the Civil War.) It's understandable, obviously, that Southern black people would want to remove statues honoring Confederate generals and I, for one, am happy that they've done it. Overall, though, erasing reminders of America's bloody history is a bad idea because it also erases the truth of what happened. But I think our sanguinary history is one more reason to celebrate our unprecedented, magnifico country, that despite its history, America has grown, prospered and done much, and continues to do much, to atone for the sins of our fathers. Viva Fort Bragg!
FLAVORS OF THE FARM, Saturday, 3/25 at Noon at Thrive Homestead Community, Middletown (Lake County)
We are hosting a Seed Swap, a Sesh with Legacy Vendors, a bonfire and several workshops from Hugelkultur Construction to Cactus Cultivation. Join the Thrive Patreon to attend: Flavors Of The Farm 3/25 | Thrive Homestead Community on Patreon
NEXT BOONVILLE QUIZ: APRIL 6
Yes, a time to rest your brains as the next General Knowledge and Trivia Quiz is not until the 1st Thursday in April - that’s the 6th. Hope to see you at Lauren’s at The Buckhorn in the meantime, the only place in the Valley to get a ‘proper’ drink and a wide variety of beers from afar. You know it makes sense. Cheers, Steve Sparks, The Quizmaster.
MENDOCINO SPRING POETRY CELEBRATION 2023
48th Anniversary * 18th consecutive Revival Mendocino Spring Poetry Celebration 2023.
Oh yes, we’ll do it again, on the floor or on the air, at the Hill House or KZYX, or both!
Hey, write some lines and stay tuned. It’s the first day of Spring! Shovel away the snow, shake off the cold rain. Evoke! Evoke!
Dan and Gordon, hereby consulting widely.
Gordon Black <firstname.lastname@example.org>
CATCH OF THE DAY, Tuesday, March 21, 2023
WILLIAM AADLAND-BREEN, Ukiah. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
JOSE BARRIGA-BARRERA, Ukiah. County parole violation.
ERIC CROUCH, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
KIM HETH, Ukiah. Domestic battery.
JAMES LYONS, Ukiah. Domestic battery.
MARIELA MISHEVA, Las Vegas. Marijuana cultivation in violation of Fish & Game code, rent-etc. storage location for sale of controlled substance.
TZETZO MISHEV, Las Vegas/Ukiah. Diversion of state waters while cultivating marijuana.
KARI NOWLIN, Ukiah. Forgery.
RONNIE SALAMONE, Willits. Parole violation.
ALEJANDRA SALAZAR-LEON, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. Transportation-giving marijuana over 18.
JARED THURMAN, Willits. Reckless driving in offstreet parking facility.
HALEY TYRRELL, Willits. Failure to appear, resisting.
COLLEEN WARNER, Gualala. Burglary, petty theft.
The single biggest contributor to the chaos in public schools is a lack of appropriate discipline by school administration. Violence and bullying start in the primary grades and never get dealt with. A reprimand or a time out does not create a safe place for youth that want to learn.
When bullying gets reported to a principal, they simply say they will look into it. They are not allowed to discuss what if anything ever happens. I know firsthand because my grandson continues to be the victim of vicious ongoing bullying at Maria Carrillo High. Nothing happens, and it doesn’t stop.
These students should be suspended for one week with their parents giving one warning. Next instance should be suspension from the school district. No exceptions. I am pretty sure after a few have been properly dealt with the message will get across.
This most likely will not happen because educators are out of touch with human nature, and they want the state money that comes with the bully. Bullies are bullies and will not change. How many innocent youths must bear the scars of meanness due to our school administrations not doing their most basic job? Maintaining a safe environment for everyone is primary, education is secondary.
D. Don Johnson
CALIFORNIA TO CAP INSULIN COST AT $30, START MANUFACTURING NALOXONE (NARCAN)
by Melissa Alonso & Zoe Sottile
California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Saturday that the state will cut insulin costs by 90% and that it will start manufacturing naloxone, a nasal spray used to reverse opioid overdoses.
The lower insulin cost results from a collaboration between CalRx, a California Department of Health Care Services program, and the non-profit drug manufacturer Civica Rx, according to a news release from the governor’s office. A 10-milliliter vial of insulin will be available for no more than $30, pending approval by the US Food and Drug Administration, says the release.
Though insulin was discovered more than a century ago and costs little to make, brand-name insulin is often sold for roughly $300 per vial, CNN has reported. The high cost has forced many people with diabetes to ration or skip drug doses, which help the body manage blood sugar.
Civica Rx is a non-profit generic drugmaker that focuses on manufacturing drugs that are in short supply or may experience price spikes. The organization is backed by hospitals, insurers, and philanthropies.
“People should not be forced to go into debt to get life-saving prescriptions,” said Newsom in the release. “Through CalRx, Californians will have access to some of the most inexpensive insulin available, helping them save thousands each year.”
Insulin has become a poster child for the soaring cost of many prescription drugs. Newsom’s announcement follows several insulin manufacturers that have announced their own caps on the price of insulin, like Sanofi, Eli Lilly, and Novo Nordisk.
In addition to the new insulin contract, Newsom also announced that California would seek to manufacture its own naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan. The drug can reverse the effects of opioids like fentanyl and heroin and help restore a person’s normal breathing.
The decision is part of the Golden State’s “Master Plan for Tackling the Fentanyl and Opioid Crisis,” according to a news release from Newsom’s office.
The plan “is a multi-pronged approach,” which includes a “crackdown” on transnational criminal organizations trafficking drugs through the California National Guard, while also supporting several opioid awareness programs and increasing the availability of fentanyl test strips and naloxone.
Saturday’s announcement “expands on Governor Newsom’s efforts already underway to get overdose medication to all middle and high schools across the state,” said the statement. Several California school districts are already stocking up on the drug following multiple overdoses among high school students.
California is currently searching for a California-based naloxone manufacturing facility, according to the release.
WHITE PORT & LEMON JUICE
Well, WPLJ, sure tastes good to me
WPLJ, won't you take a drink with me
It's a good good wine
Really makes you feel so fine
(so fine, so fine, so fine)
Well, I went to the store
When they opened up the door
I said, please, please, please
Give me some more
White port and lemon juice
White port and lemon juice
White port and lemon juice
Ooh, what it'll do to you
Well, the W is white
The P is the port
L is the lemon
And J is the juice
You take the bottle
You take the can
Shake "em up fine
You got a good good wine
I feel so good
I feel so fine
I got plenty lovin'
and I got plenty wine
— Ray Dobard & Luther McDaniels (1956)
FENTANYL GETS WORSE, if that’s possible
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is warning the American public of a sharp increase in the trafficking of fentanyl mixed with xylazine. Xylazine, also known as “Tranq,” is a powerful sedative that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved for veterinary use.
“Xylazine is making the deadliest drug threat our country has ever faced, fentanyl, even deadlier,” said Administrator Milgram. “DEA has seized xylazine and fentanyl mixtures in 48 of 50 States. The DEA Laboratory System is reporting that in 2022 approximately 23% of fentanyl powder and 7% of fentanyl pills seized by the DEA contained xylazine.”
Xylazine and fentanyl drug mixtures place users at a higher risk of suffering a fatal drug poisoning. Because xylazine is not an opioid, naloxone (Narcan) does not reverse its effects. Still, experts always recommend administering naloxone if someone might be suffering a drug poisoning. People who inject drug mixtures containing xylazine also can develop severe wounds, including necrosis—the rotting of human tissue—that may lead to amputation.
According to the CDC, 107,735 Americans died between August 2021 and August 2022 from drug poisonings, with 66 percent of those deaths involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl. The Sinaloa Cartel and Jalisco Cartel in Mexico, using chemicals largely sourced from China, are primarily responsible for the vast majority of the fentanyl that is being trafficked in communities across the United States.
FDA recently communicated to health care providers about the risks to patients exposed to xylazine in illicit drugs. A copy of that communication can be found here: FDA alerts healthcare professionals of risks to patients exposed to xylazine in illicit drugs.
RECKLESS CAPITALIST BANKS RESCUED BY GOVERNMENT SOCIALISM – AGAIN!
by Ralph Nader
Once again, government socialism – ultimately backed by taxpayers – is saving reckless midsized banks and their depositors. Silicon Valley Bank (S.V.B) and Signature Bank in New York greedily mismanaged their risk levels and had to be closed down. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), in return, to avoid a bank panic and a run on other midsized banks went over its $250,000 insurance cap per account and guaranteed all deposits – no matter how large, which are owned by the rich and corporations – in those banks.
Permitting such imprudent risk-taking flows directly from the Trump-GOP Congressional weakening of regulations in 2018, which was supported by dozens of Democrats, led by bank toady Senator Mark Warner (D-VA). That bipartisan deregulation provided a filibuster-proof passage by the Senate.
The other culprit is the Federal Reserve. Its very fast interest rate hikes reduced the asset value of those two banks’ holdings in long-term Treasury bonds, which reduced their capital reserves. With the “what, me worry” snooze of the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation, S.V.B had little supervision from state regulatory examiners and compliance enforcers.
Actually, big depositors sniffed the shakiness of these two banks and acted ahead of the regulatory cops with mass withdrawals that sealed the fate of S.V.B. Imagine, S.V.B was giving out bonuses hours before its collapse. For this cluelessness, the bank’s CEO, Gregory Becker, took home about eleven million dollars in pay last year.
All this was predicted by Senator Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Katie Porter. Warren, in particular, specifically opposed the 2018 Congressional lifting of stronger liquidity and capital requirements along with regular stress tests for banks with assets over $50 billion. Trump’s law allowed the absence of these safeguards to cover banks with assets up to $250 billion. Such de-regulation covered S.V.B and Signature.
Signature Bank had former House Banking Committee Chair Barney Frank on its board of directors. His name is on the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which was passed following the 2008 Wall Street collapse. Even Mr. Frank was clueless about what Signature’s CEO Joseph DePaolo was mismanaging. (DePaulo was paid $8.6 million last year.)
Of course, the underfunded FDIC doesn’t have enough money to make good all the large depositors in these two banks. So, it is increasing the fees charged to all banks for such government insurance. The banks will find ways to pass these surchargers on to their customers.
Other midsized banks may be shaky as more major depositors pull out and put their money into mega-giant banks like JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup, which are universally viewed as “too big to fail.” The smaller businesses harmed by these closed banks are now on their own. No corporate socialism is as yet saving them.
One of the provisions of the Dodd-Frank law was to require federal agencies to rein in bank executives’ pay that incentivizes recklessness and even fraud, as Public Citizen noted. Yet after 13 years, PC declared: “a hodgepodge of federal agencies – the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the Federal Reserve, the National Credit Union Administration, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Securities and Exchange Commission – that is supposed to finalize the rule has so far failed to do so.”
Defying mandates of Congress, often riddled with waivers from Capitol Hill, is routine for federal agencies. They know that when it comes to law and order for profiteering corporations, Congress is spineless. Have you heard of any resignations or firings from these sleepy regulatory agencies? Of course not. They continue to raise the ante for corporate socialist rescue even beyond their legal authority. For example, where does the FDIC get the authority to guarantee all the deposits in the failed banks when the Congressional limit is strictly $250,000 per account?
Some people will remember Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson telling the Washington Post that there were “no authorities” for massive bank bailouts – think Citigroup in 2008 during a private weekend meeting in Washington, DC – but, he said, “someone had to do it.”
Meanwhile, the American people remain fearful but silent over the safety of their bank deposits. They heard Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen tell Congress that the banking system “remains sound.” Some remember that’s what her predecessor said in the spring of 2008 about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – the safest investments after Treasury bonds. By the fall, both of these giants had collapsed taking millions of trusting shareholders down with them.
Finally, all those brilliant economists at the Federal Reserve surely must know that when midsize banks lose almost 20% on the value of their 10-year Treasuries, due to the very fast interest rate hikes by Jerome Powell’s Fed, trouble is on the horizon. Why didn’t they anticipate this outcome and do some foreseeing and forestalling? Nah, why worry, didn’t you know that the Fed prints money?
Or maybe the Federal Reserve (its budget comes from bank fees, not the Congress), couldn’t see beyond fighting inflation, something it did not take seriously in time over a year and a half ago. More than a few outside economists repeatedly gave the Fed fair warning. But then the Fed, hardly ever criticized by the mainstream press, was listening to its brilliant economists.
Stay tuned. This rollercoaster ride is not over yet.
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
WOKE: the result of getting up in the morning, pinching yourself, and realizing you are still alive, having taken one more step along the road to your own mortality.
UKRAINE, TUESDAY, 21 MARCH
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow is ready to support Chinese business “in replacing Western enterprises that left” Russia since its invasion of Ukraine.
Ahead of expanded talks with Putin, Chinese leader Xi Jinping said Russia and China are pushing for further cooperation and are seeing “early results.”
Xi is in Moscow for a second day of talkswith Putin as part of a visit framed by Beijing as a peacemaking project, despite deep skepticism in Kyiv and the West.
Meanwhile, a Ukrainian official tells CNNdiscussions are underway with China to organize a call between Xi and President Volodymyr Zelensky to discuss Beijing’s peace proposal for Ukraine.
Xi’s visit to Moscow coincides with a Ukraine trip by the Japanese prime minister to meet Zelensky.
THE SECRET AGENT
by Alexander Cockburn (1987)
The most successful saga in postwar popular culture got off to a conscientious start after breakfast on a tropical morning in Jamaica on 16 January, 1952. Ian Fleming, 43 years old and ten weeks away from his first and last marriage, knocked out about 2,000 words on his Imperial portable claiming (falsely) that he was just passing time while his bride elect, Anne Rothermere, painted landscapes in the garden. In fact Fleming had been planning to write a spy thriller for years and he kept up the regimen of 2,000 daily words until, two months later, he was done, with Commander James Bond recovering from a near lethal attack on his balls from Le Chiffre’s carpet beater. Le Chiffre was finished off by a Russian, Vesper Lynd, dead by her own hand, and a major addition to the world’s cultural and political furniture was under way.
On 16 January, 1962, ten years to the day after Fleming had typed those first words of Casino Royale (“The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning”) filming began on Dr. No at Palisadoes airport in Jamaica, with the British Secret Service and the CIA duly represented by Sean Connery and Jack Lord. That was 15 Bond films and a quarter of a century ago. Fleming lived long enough to see only two of them, Dr. No and From Russia With Love, before dying in August, 1964 of a heart attack helped along by his 70 or so Morland’s Specials a day.
He has much to answer for. Without Fleming we would have had no OSS, hence no CIA. The cold war would have ended in the early 1960s. We would have had no Vietnam, no Nixon, no Reagan and no Star Wars.
Let those dubious of such assertions study the evidence. It was Fleming, assistant to the director of British naval intelligence during the Second World War, who visited Washington DC in 1941 and wrote a long memo of advice for General ‘Will Bill’ Donovan, President Roosevelt’s Co-ordinator of Information, whose duties included the collection of intelligence and the planning of various covert offensive operations.
According to Ivar Bryce, a lifelong friend of Fleming’s who was working at the time for Sir William Stephenson, the director of Britain’s intelligence operations in the Americas, “Ian wrote out the charter for the COI at General Donovan’s request… He wrote it as a sort of imaginary exercise describing in detail all the arrangements necessary for financing, paying, organizing, controlling, and training a secret service in a country which had never had one before.’
Fleming’s memo was dashed down in long-hand over two days in the British Embassy with the diligence later exhibited in his imaginative stints after breakfast in Jamaica. It impressed Donovan who gave him a .38 Police Positive Colt inscribed with the words “For Special Services” and went on to build the COI which later evolved into OSS and later still into the CIA.
So, you see, it was all Fleming’s fault. He had a riotous imagination utterly unsuited to serious intelligence collection and analysis, and the offices of the British Admiralty often rang with laughter at his mad schemes. It was Fleming who suggested that British sailors be entombed in a giant lump concrete off Dieppe, from which they could keep watch on Dieppe through periscopes. It was Fleming who proposed to send a cruiser into Nazi waters with a transmitter beamed to the German Navy’s wavelength which would, in his words, “keep up a torrent of abuse, challenging the german Naval commanders by name to come out and do something about it. No sailor likes to be accused of cowardice and Germans are always particularly touchy.”
Fortified by such boyish fantasies, the officers of OSS never wrought much damage to the foe, but, from Donovan and his subordinate, Allen Dulles downwards, they learned to exploit romantic public fantasies of what a secret service should be. They thus ensured their survival, if not in the field then. in the crucial bureacratic battlegrounds of Washington.
At the end of the war the future of the OSS hung in the balance. Alert to the importance of publicity for their supposedly secret organization, Donovan and Dulles lent every assisttance to Hollywood producers racing to be first in the theaters with an OSS movie. Paramount’s man in this race was Richard Maibaum, who, with Alan Ladd, produced ‘OSS.’ Donovan aid was later responsible for turning the Bond novels into film scripts. Maibaum recently recalled that “before we got done we had literally about ten technical agents all telling us marvelous stories of what happened to them all over the world which we incorporated into the plot. There were foreshadowings of things in the Bond films, — the pipe that was a gun, and other gadgets. There were some things we couldn’t use, such as foul smelling stuff like an enormous fart that the OSS agents used to spray on people they wished to discredit, and thus cause them to be socially humiliated. It was called Who, Me? We could never get it in, because the Johnson office would never let us use it.”
Soon the postwar audiences were enjoying Maibaum’s OSS along with Cloak and Dagger from Warner’s and 13, Rue Madeleine from Twentieth-Century Fox. This spy hype helped the OSS resist bureaucratic extinction and instead metastasize into the CIA.
Having engendered the OSS, Fleming now began to lure Anthony Eden down the path of fantasy. Like many in the small but enthusiastic fan club for Fleming’s early thrillers, Sir Anthony Eden rejoiced that in Fleming’s pages, if not in the real world, a Briton was capable of decisive, if ruthless action. Eden, as prime minister, resolved that the fortunes of 007 would be reflected in bold deeds, undertaken by himself. In concert with France and Israel he invaded Egypt in 1956. He had not studied the works of his friend Ian with sufficient care. Bond and his master, M, placed the highest priority upon acting at all times with the approval of the United States. In the case of Suez, President Eisenhower said the invasion had to stop and it did. Twelve days later Eden had an attack of what his spokesman called “severe overstrain” and his doctors urged him to spend a few weeks in absolute seclusion and repose.
Once again Eden was overwhelmed by the fantasies of his friend. After the war Fleming had bought a plot of land on Jamaica’s North Shore and built a small house on it. To acquaintances trembling with cold in English winters Fleming would body forth ‘Goldeneye,’ his Caribbean paradise. In the crisis, seeking rest, Eden and his wife decided to go to Goldeneye. Fleming was delighted, since it raised the rental value of the place and he was badly in need of cash. But for the Edens the trip was unfortunate. The quarters were unalluring. Gazing into the rafters of Goldeneye, the prime minister, already suffering bouts of paranoia, fancied he saw rats. He was right. He consumed days chasing them in the company of his two bodyguards. Finally, harrowed by lack of sleep, broken in health, he returned to London, announced he was “fit to resume my duties” — and resigned three weeks later.
In 1958, Fleming wrote Dr. No, which advanced the novel notion that Cuba, as the local representative of the international Communist conspiracy, had perfected a reactor-based instrument capable of sabotaging US missile tests, thus explaining the Soviets’ apparent advantage in space technology, as evidenced by the launching of the Sputnik.
Having proposed a fictional Caribbean missile crisis, Fleming followed up in person. In the spring of 1960 he was taken to dinner at the Washington home of Senator and Democratic presidential candidate-elect Jack Kennedy. The conversation turned to the problem of Castro. How should he be dealt with? Fleming’s imagination sprang into action. As Fleming’s biographer, John Pierson, reported the conversation, he told assembled company, which included a CIA man called John Bross, that “the United States should send planes over Cuba dropping pamphlets, with the compliments of the Soviet Union, to the effect that owing to American atom-bomb tests the atmosphere over the island had become radioactive. that radioactivity is held longest in beards; and that radioactivity makes men impotent. As a consequence the Cubans would shave off their beards and without bearded Cubans there would be no revolution.”
Everyone, including Senator Kennedy, laughed at the scheme. The next day Allen Dulles, director of the CIA, telephoned a friend of Fleming’s to express regrets that he had not been able to listen to Fleming’s plans in person. Within two years, the Kennedy brothers, along with Allen Dulles, director of the CIA, were hiring gangsters to help in either the murder or humiliation of Castro, with the latter being attempted by a dust which would cause his beard to fall out. The subculture of sabotage and assassination coaxed into being by the Kennedys finally, on 22 November, 1963 turned back on the President.
Just as Eden helped raise the real estate value of Goldeneye, so did President Kennedy augment the fortunes of the fantasist. On 17 March, 1961, an article by Hugh Sidey in Life announced that President Kennedy read at a rate of 1,200 words a minute and had ten favorite books. ‘From Russia With Love’ was ninth, just ahead of Stendhal’s ‘The Red and the Black.’ Bond became the embodiment of western discourse on the cold war. The men who would later construct the Reaganite view of the universe turned, time and again, to their Bond for edification. From him they learned that the Russians use Bulgarians as “proxies” and thus the legend of the KGB-Bulgarian plot to kill the pope was born. They watched Thunderball and conceived that terrorists, probably Libyans, would steal atomic bombs and attack American cities. They worried about germ warfare when they saw On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and about weather modification when they saw The Man With the Golden Gun. But it was the lasers in Goldfinger and Diamonds Are Forever, along with the space station in Moonraker that made the deepest impact. Could missiles be destroyed in space? Could there be such a thing as a space shield? They brooded. To hand was a Bond sequel by John Gardner called For Special Services in which the villain announces on page 222 that ‘The Particle Beam — once operational will prevent any country from launching a conventional [sic] nuclear attack. Particle Beam means absolute neutralization.” On March 23, 1983, President Reagan proposed a space-based defense system, known as SDI, which would use lasers and particle beams. Star Wars was born.
As I said, Fleming and Bond have a lot to answer for.
In late January 1987 I drove out to Pinewood Studios outside London to spend the day on the set of The Living Daylights, fifteenth in the series of Bond films produced by Harry Saltzman and Albert (Cubby) Broccoli, or by Broccoli alone, and distributed through United Artists, A spoof, Casino Royale, was put out in 1969 through Columbia, starring, Woody Allen and David Niven, and a remake of Thunderball, called Never Say Never Again starred a revenant Connery and was put out through Warner Brothers. The original nucleus of Pinewood Studios was Heatherden Hall, a fashionable weekend retreat for politically influential members of the upper class, owned by Grant Morden, a Canadian speculator and member of parliament. He died a bankrupt in 1934, and in 1936 Charles Boot, eager to build a studio to rival Hollywood, joined forces with a rich Methodist flour miller, militant Christian, and film enthusiast, J, Arthur Rank, and founded Pinewood Studios.
The moment of truth that struck Anthony Eden when President Eisenhower told him to call off the Suez adventure afflicted Pinewood nine years earlier. The postwar Labour government, wishing to fortify cultural nationalism and repel invasion by Hollywood, imposed a 75% tax on the box office earnings of Hollywood films. The tax was to be paid in advance, on the basis of estimated revenues. Hollywood promptly placed Britain under embargo, causing a potentially disastrous shortage of product, Rank announced that to fill the breach he would undertake the production of 47 films at a capital outlay of £9 million, the largest commitment to film making ever made in Britain.
But the Labour government was buckling under tremendous pressure from the United States. The 755 levy was abandoned and replaced by a ceiling to the profits that could be repatriated to Hollywood, with the balance to be reinvested in Britain. The Hollywood films came flooding back, just in time to sink the hastily produced and cheap material being put out by Rank.
By 1952 the situation had improved, Social democracy in the Attlee variant, so impotent in the face of the United States, had also fostered a new audience for middlebrow comedy. Genevieve came in 1952, Doctor in the House in 1953, launching a long and profitable series. In 1954 Norman Wisdom made his first comedy at Pinewood, Trouble in Store. To the Doctor series and the Wisdom comedies was added, in 1958, the first of the Carry On films, Carry On Sergeant, launching a cycle of 28 more comedies, of immense popularity in Great Britain and Australia. :
Then in 1962, to a Pinewood shuddering from the great Cleopatra disaster of 1960 (it rained all the time and the costly Egyptian sets had be torn down and reassembled in Rome), came Dr. No, a production modestly budgeted at $1 million and starring an unknown leading man. In the ensuing quarter of a century Bond became the backbone of Pinewood. A generation of technicians have grown up on the saga, and low cost productions (there were 42 films produced at Pinewood in 1962 and 1963, including two Bond movies and three Carry On films) have given way to the blockbuster projects of today, in which the average Bond movie costs around $30 million. Two films can take up all eighteen stages, as happened in 1982 with Octopussy and Superman III.
The British film industry, as embodied in Pinewood, has been sustained since the fifties as much as anything else by preoccupations about social control, authority, security and reveries, comic or serious, of omnipotence: Carry On Sergeant, Norman Wisdom’s On the Beat, Peter Sellers’s Pink Panther series, the Bond films and, at the extreme level of fantasy, the Superman cycle. The progression indicates 35 years’ worth of increasing integration of world capital and culture in the journey from the provincial particularism of a Norman Wisdom to the globally totemic late Bond.
The question of globally totemic late Bond, of the simultaneously mutable and immutable nature of our hero, is very much on the minds of Cubby Broccoli and his associates at Eon and United Artists these days. After five tours of duty, Sean Connery gave way to George Lazenby, who was swiftly replaced, after only one turn in OHMSS, by Connery and then by Roger Moore, who made seven Bond movies over 13 years, culminating in A View To a Kill, made when Moore was in his late 50s. The new Bond is a forty-year-old actor, Timothy Dalton.
In the dining-room of Heatherden Hall, Charles Jurow, marketing director of the Bond films and long associate of Broccoli’s, brooded about changing Bonds.
“People who saw their first Bond with Sean never took to Roger, and people who saw their first Bond with Roger never took to Sean. Roger’s movies grossed more than Sean’s, and in fact A View To a Kill broke all records. Roger really came into his own with The Spy Who Loved Me. It took a change of directors really, from Guy Hamilton to Lewis Gilbert. Hamilton saw the character of Bond so much in terms of Sean, and Roger just couldn’t do the things required of him, like slapping a woman or being a vicious killer. Now John Glen has made the last four, but he’ll allow an actor, particularly one he respects, to develop a character in his own persona and not have too many fixations on the way it was done before.”
The unit publicist, Geoff Freeman led me to the sound stage. There was a tremendous racket of a wind machine and we rounded the corner to observe Dalton clinging to a net and being kicked in the face by Andreas Wisniewski. A few moments later the noise stopped, Dalton sat down in his chair and Wisniewski went back to reading The Agony and The Ecstasy.
John Glen took me over to a viewing machine to show what was going on. The net is hanging out the back of a plane some thousands of feet above Afghanistan, piloted by Maryam D’Abo. A time bomb is ticking away and Bond and Wisniewski are battling it out on the net which holds bales of drugs which…
Glen started his professional life at Pinewood as a sound man, running up and down stairs to recreate the noise of Harry Lime’s feet as he fled down the Vienna sewers in The Third Man. He’d made his mark in the Bond series as editor and action unit director, most memorably in the ski chase and parachuting sequence in The Spy Who Loved Me. He said that somewhat as a consequence of Dalton’s arrival, The Living Daylights will be straighter than the high period Moore. “Dalton is the best actor we ever had, and we’re probably slightly more adult in the approach we’re taking. Tim is certainly a great mover.”
I went over to talk to Dalton, and asked him how he was enjoying the film. He said very much, thank you, adding rather earnestly that “if you enjoy work then you enjoy all movies.”
We started talking about Fleming’s novels, with Dalton maintaining that the first, Casino Royale, was the best: “It was the melting pot out of which the series evolved, but much more disturbed and psychological. Bond says clearly that he’s in a state of moral and ethical confusion. He looks back on people he has killed and realizes they were just guys on the other side, doing their job. Then there’s a marvelous moment when his friend the French agent says that if Bond is confused he should forget about people and just go after the evil that creates the necessity for spies.” Dalton stopped, brooding raptly, then plunged on.
“In the same book he fell in love with a woman who in turn fell in love so deeply with him that she couldn’t tell him she was a double agent and committed suicide, but at the same time by committing suicide she betrayed her love to him. How does a man deal with that?”
Dalton’s name has been linked with that of Vanessa Redgrave and since Redgrave is a committed member of a Trotskyist groupuscule it was tempting to enquire whether Dalton himself was a Trotskyist and thus, whether, in a manner of speaking, 007 had been politically compromised. “As a species, secret agents aren’t looking too good these days,” I said. “No, but then who has looked good of late?”
The wind machine started up again. Dalton went back to the net and a few seconds later was being kicked by Wisniewski in the face again.
He was right about Casino Royale. Bond was in poor ideological shape at the beginning, running badly to seed in a way that would have aroused the contempt of his fictional antecedent, the fascist Captain Bulldog Drummond. In the exchange with the Frenchman Mathis, alluded to by Dalton, Bond unburdens himself of the following:
“The villains and heroes all get mixed up. Of course ... patriotism comes along and makes it seem fairly all right, but this country-right-or-wrong business is getting a little out of date. Today we are fighting communism, Okay. If I’d been alive 50 years ago, the brand of conservatism we have today would have been damn near called communism, and we should have been told to go and fight that.”
It didn’t take too long for Bond to straighten himself out and declare unending war on evil in the manner prescribed by Mathis. As Maibaum puts it, “the basic success of Bond is Ian Fleming's James Bond syndrome: a ruthless killer who is also St. George of England, a modern day combination of morality and immorality. In the age of the sick joke it clicked.”
Of course the Bond of the books was a bit of a sicko, held together mostly by his sanction from the state: licensed to kill. He could never keep any relationship together, and if Vesper Lynd hadn’t done herself in with a handful of Nembutals before they got married she probably would have got around to it in the end. What a prissy old autocrat of the breakfast table he would have been, howling for his perfectly brown egg, boiled for three and a third minutes and then put in its Minton cup, next to the Queen Anne coffee pot and the Cooper’s Vintage Oxford marmalade! There was something a bit common too in all this insistence on the very best, as though Bond knew that in the end he was, as the elegant Dr. No put it in Maibaum’s line in the movie, “nothing but a stupid policeman,” on hire to the ruling class. Hence the great scene in From Russia With Love, when the class impostor Bond, played by a working-class boy from Edinburgh with a Scots burr in his voice, comes up against the other class impostor and psychopath Red Grant, played by Robert Shaw. “Red wine with fish,” says Connery, “I should have known.” “I may take red wine with fish,” Shaw hisses viciously, “but you’re the one on your knees now.”
Bond was in urgent need of a shrink. Fleming himself had the good fortune to be cared for in his troubled teens at Kitzbuhel in Switzerland by a couple called Forbes-Dennis, who were much influenced by Alfred Adler. Mrs. Forbes Dennis, who wrote under the name Phyllis Bottome, thought the young Fleming proof of Adler’s theories, his impressive elder brother Peter being the Adlerian Gegenspieler. “The Gegenspieler,” wrote Bottome in her book on Adler, “is a contemporary brother or sister by whom the child felt dethroned … in almost any intimate relationship that follows, the child as he develops into the man will build up the same perpetual antagonism between himself and any beloved person.” The subject, said Adler, pushes aside the world by a mechanism consisting of “hypersensitiveness and intolerance … the neurotic man employs a number of devices for enabling him to side-step the demands of reality.”
If Adler had lived long enough to visit Pinewood in 1982 when they were making Octopussy and Superman III he would have surely felt vindicated.
Somewhere along the line, in their post-imperial fantasy life, the British got muddled about secrets and spying and sex and identity, and the confusion has been causing them endless trouble ever since. The week I was in England the newspaper headlines were replete with spy and sex scandals. Thatcher’s government was claiming that national security had been “compromised,” by a New Statesman article about a British spy satellite. Another story concerned Mrs. Payne, a woman on trial for running prostitutes, about whom Terry Jones, of the Monty Python crew, has produced a film. According to the account in The Independent,
“A tall man who dressed as a French maid at Cynthia Payne’s parties told yesterday how he was ‘touched up’ by a man he later learned was a ‘boisterous, tall and very fat’ undercover policeman. Keith Savage, with short cropped hair and a Geordie accent, told a jury that the bearded officer put his hand up his skirt and fondled his bottom. ‘I was a bit upset about the police bursting in and I thought this man was trying to console me. But he got a bit overfriendly ... I think he had a motive of a sexual nature.’ Another policeman, he claimed, was dressed effeminately wearing eye make-up and a monocle.”
The titular villains in the Bond books are always grotesques. Le Chiffre, in Casino Royale, set the tone, weighing in at 252 pounds at a height of 5’8”, with his “small, rather feminine mouth,” small hairy hands, small feet, small ears “with large lobes, indicating some Jewish blood,” “soft and even” voice and white showing all round the iris of each eye, “large sexual appetites” and “flagellant” tastes.
This, in admittedly baroque form, was our old friend the Father Figure, as evinced in the scene where Le Chiffre goes to work on Bond’s balls with the carpet beater and promises to chop them off with a carving knife. Fleming inaugurates the torture scene thus: “My dear boy” — Le Chiffre spoke like a father — “the game of Red Indians is over, quite over. You have stumbled by mischance into a game for grown-ups, and you have already found it a painful experience. You are not equipped, my dear boy, to play games with adults, and it was very foolish of your nanny in London to have sent you out here with your spade and bucket.”
But when Bond, manhood spared by the Russian executioner who dispatches Le Chiffre, recovers in hospital and then prepares — with Vesper Lynd’s help — to check that all physical systems are in working order, he discovers that she too is a villain. This is less surprising when we realize that Bond’s women are often men, thinly disguised. This is progress from Buchan and Drummond, where they were often horses. Vesper is introduced with the news that “her eyes were wide apart and deep blue and they gazed candidly back at Bond with a touch of ironical disinterest which, to his annoyance, he found he would like to shatter, roughly. Her skin was lightly suntanned and bore no trace of make-up except on her mouth which was wide and sensual, ... the general impression of restraint in her appearance and movements was carried even to her fingernails, which were unpainted and cut short.”
Of course there was dutiful mention of Vesper’s “fine breasts,” but Fleming does not seem to have been too interested in them. Four years later, in From Russia With Love, Fleming scurries past Tatiana Romanova’s breasts with a mumbled “faultless” before assuming a hotly didactic tone on the matter of her ass: “A purist would have disapproved of her behind. Its muscles were so hardened with exercise that it had lost the smooth downward feminine sweep, and now, round at the back and flat and hard at the sides, it jutted like a man’s.” A year later, after publication of Dr. No, Noel Coward wrote to Fleming, saying that he was “slightly shocked by the lascivious announcement that Honeychile’s bottom was like a boy’s. I know that we are all becoming progressively more broadminded nowadays but really, old chap, what could you have been thinking of?”
Fleming didn’t address the point in his response, but there is an answer in one of his notebooks from the 30s, a period when he looked, in one description, like someone who had walked out of the pages of The Romantic Agony: “Some women respond to the whip, some to the kiss. Most of them like a mixture of both, but none of them answer to the mind alone, to the intellectual demand, unless they are men dressed as women.”
For Bond there were father figures lurking behind every shrub, none more imposing than old M, with his damnably blue eyes, whom Bond tries to kill in an Oedipal spasm at the start of OHMSS. But here too we find that ambiguity discovered by the very fat policeman when he slipped his hand up Savage’s skirt. Fleming’s father was killed in the war when he was a boy. The dominant figure in Ian’s life was his formidable mother, Mrs. Val. Like Holmes and Moriarty locked together over the Reichenbach Falls, mother and son maintained vigorous psychic combat until they died within two months of each other in 1964, Mrs. Val going first in July. Fleming often called his mother M.
Always this terrible confusion! The real ‘M’ in the war was the head of MI5, a man called Maxwell Knight. He was loved by his secretary, Joan Miller. She died in 1984 but her daughter fought, over the desperate efforts of MI5 to suppress them, to publish her memoirs, which are now available in Ireland. There is a poignant passage in which Miller describes the object of her doomed love: “As I sat there watching this avowed opponent of homosexuality mince across the lawn, a number of things became clear to me… His tastes obviously inclined him in the direction of what, in a phrase not then current, is known as ‘rough trade.’ It was plain that he’d taken himself, that time, to the cinema tea room, instead of spending the afternoon with his wife in Oxford, in the hope of effecting a suitably scrubby pick-up.”
If Bond’s women were men in the books, in the movies they are fish, starting with Honeychile, who comes up out of the sea in Dr. No in one of the most successful associations of woman with water since Botticelli stood Venus up on a clamshell. In the movies Bond is often to be found down in cold water or up in the snow. The problem for Maibaum and for the various directors was no doubt to find scenery to match or compensate for the distraught psychic landscapes of the books. They found the answer where Jules Verne so often did, in the soothingly amoral underworld of the sea. It didn’t always work. The underwater sequences in Thunderball are numbingly slow. But at their best, in the explicitly Verne-like Spy Who Loved Me with Curt Jurgens’ Atlantis on its tarantula legs, or in the lesbian fantasy, Octopussy, the movies do take on the surreal texture of a Max Ernst painting.
They also lightened everything up. The only time Bond really behaves like a licensed killer is at the start of Dr. No, when he studies the renegade Strangeway’s empty gun, says “You’ve had your six” and then kills him in cold blood. Maibaum gave Bond a sense of humor. The idea was to present the cold war as a necessary, but humorous — in the case of Moore, frivolous — ritual.
Right from the start the film series stood in marked contrast to the books in being pro detente. The only bad Russians are renegades, part of SPECTER, intent on sowing distrust between the great powers, as in The Spy Who Loved Me, where Jurgens schemes to arrange mutual assured destruction of all great powers other than his own. Maibaum says now that starting with Dr. No, “for some reason, looking at the very, very long-range future, United Artists did not want the Russians to be out and out villains, so we made Dr. No come from SPECTER rather than SMERSH. That was really done for reasons of motion picture distribution, thinking that maybe some day Bond might go to Russia.”
Michael Wilson, producer and co-writer of The Living Daylights, and also Broccoli’s stepson, sounded a dignified political note to match whatever commercial considerations United Artists may have been nourishing, saying that ‘I think that if we do have an influence in the world it’s an influence of moderation. Our films are seen by 250 million people in the first five years after they are made, right across the world, and because of that we are mindful that we have a responsibility. You can’t be spewing out a lot of venom.”
Dr. No set the high standard for Bond villains. The best of these villains was probably Gert Frobe in Goldfinger and Maibaum gave him one of the best lines. “Do you expect me to talk?” Connery grits as the laser slices towards his crotch. “No Mr Bond, I expect you to die.” On the whole one feels rather sorry for the villains, cultured and bold but thwarted in their schemes for world conquest by so mean an intellect as Bond’s. But they don’t have the juice that Fleming’s cold war fifties political stance gave the novels which is no doubt why the films got more and more fantastical, as sea, snow and travelogue became substitutes for Fleming’s paranoid verve. So Dalton may talk of a return to the Bond of the books, but how can that be done in the age of Gorbachev?
It is not surprising, given the length of the Bond series, that the audiences now take so much pleasure in the expected, in Bond as ritual: the pre-credit sequence established in From Russia With Love; the encounter with Miss Moneypenny; the throw-away lines and polished dialogue; the gadgets produced by Q.
Ah yes, the gadgets: the briefcase with knives and gold sovereigns, the Aston Martin DB5 with ejector seat and saw-blades in the wheel hubs ... In the mid 1960s Umberto Eco wrote an interesting essay about Fleming in which he discussed the author’s stylistic technique. “Fleming takes time to convey the familiar with photographic accuracy,” Eco wrote, “because it is upon the familiar that he can solicit our capacity for identification. Our credulity is solicited, blandished, directed to the region of possible and desirable things. Here the narration is realistic, the attention to detail intense; for the rest, so far as the unlikely is concerned, a few pages suffice and an implicit wink of the eye.”
Fleming, and through him, Bond, was acutely aware of commodities, mundane objects of desire. No previous thriller writer had ever accommodated himself to such an extent to the psychology of acquisition, of envy, to the spiritual rhythms of the advertising industry. The makers and marketers of Bond movies understood this aspect of Fleming’s appeal very well, and soon the world grew used to Bond’s pedantic lectures on Taittinger and Q’s proud demonstrations of the latest in British gadgetry.
The movies are full of tie-ins, from Cartier watches to vodka to the trusty Aston Martin itself. Backdrop becomes commodified too, as the Bond producers scour the world for fresh locations, and ministers of tourism plead for a visit.
In this matter of commodities the Bond films have been a somewhat ironic reverie of British omnipotence. The cycle of Bond films began just when the Labour prime minister Harold Wilson was urging the nation to cast aside the archaic vestments of the past and bathe itself in the “white heat of technology.” Things worked in Bond movies but they didn’t work in Britain, and as Kingsley Amis once sadly remarked, if Bond had really had to use his mini-submarine in combat conditions it would have surely taken him straight to the bottom. In 1983, just when Q gave Bond a staggering number of gadgets in Octopussy, Britain became for the first time in history a net importer of industrial goods.
Noel Coward put the contrast between fantasy and reality well. “One of the things that still makes me laugh whenever I read Ian’s books is the contrast between the standard of living of dear old Bond and the sort of thing Ian used to put up with at Goldeneye. When Bond drinks his wine it has to be properly chambré, the tournedos slightly underdone, and so forth. But whenever I ate with Ian at Goldeneye the food was so abominable I used to cross myself before I took a mouthful. … I used to say, ‘Ian, it tastes like armpits.’ And all the time you were eating there was old Ian smacking his lips for more while his guests remembered all those delicious meals he had put into the books.”
I headed back into London from Pinewood and, late in the evening, turned on Channel 4. There was my friend Robin Blackburn, editor of New Left Review, addressing the nation on the paramount necessity of Britain becoming truly socialist if it is to get out of its present mess. “The social horizon.” Robin said, “is still defined by institutions which serve British capital but which are not specifically capitalist and are not found in any other capitalist country. Our ruling institutions are the products of oligarchy and empire. Consecrated by time and custom they are like a dead weight on the imagination and aspirations of the living. Britain has become a living museum of obsolescence, whose most splendid trophy is nothing less than the world’s last ancien régime.”
Under prime ministers stretching back to Churchill, 007 has done his best to put Britain’s foot forward. He himself is, with the happy assistance of United Artists, one of Britain’s most successful exports. But if Bond is a fine example of world cultural integration at the level of kitsch, things are not in good shape on the home front, as bad under Thatcher as it was under her predecessors: productivity down, exports poor, rate of returns lousy, per capita income half what it is in France. What has improved strongly is the coercive apparatus of the state. “You're nothing but a stupid policeman,” Dr. No told Bond. If he had not had the misfortune to drown in his own nuclear well, the doctor would have been unhappy to discover that Bond’s trade — policing the British state — has fared better than most of the other props in the old museum. In this respect at least, the fantasy came true.
NO, I DON’T PLAY BASKETBALL
by Scott Cacciola
Dave Rasmussen has learned to deal with the small inconveniences that life lobs at him.
He can tell you how much space — down to the inch — an exit row seat affords him on different commercial airplanes. Once, he needed a ceiling tile removed so that he could run on a treadmill. He scouts the roominess of potential rental cars by going to the Milwaukee Auto Show.
And by now Rasmussen, 61, is ready for the strangers who gawk and take photographs and ask versions of the same question that he has fielded his entire life: Did you play basketball?
For exceptionally tall people like Rasmussen, who is 7 feet 2 inches, March may be the worst month. The N.C.A.A. men’s and women’s basketball tournaments have captured the attention of office pool bracketologists. The N.B.A. playoff chase is heating up. And tall people everywhere, including those who have never attempted a jump shot, are swept up in the madness through no fault of their own. Rasmussen is a retired information technology specialist.
“I always feel so bad for those people,” said Cole Aldrich, a 6-11 center who played eight seasons in the N.B.A. before he retired in 2019. “If you’re tall, there’s this belief that you should automatically be good at basketball. And if you aren’t, then what the hell is wrong with you?”
Many tall people gravitate to basketball, which favors the vertically advantaged since they are closer to the hoop and their length helps them defend, block shots and score against shorter opponents. But there are also millions of people who spend their days ducking under doorways and cursing ceiling fans — and have nothing to do with the game.
In any case, it gets old. Ask Tiffany Tweed (or maybe don’t ask her), a 6-4 hospital pharmacist from Hickory, N.C., who gets interrogated all the time. There are basketball questions, of course. But also: How tall is your father? How tall is your mother? And: Can you grab that book off the top shelf for me?
Tweed played basketball when she was younger, but she now tells people that she was a ballerina and does a twirl on her tiptoes to prove it. (She was not a ballerina.)
“I decided that I was going to have some fun with it, because I’m sick of answering the same questions the same way,” said Tweed, 37, who has a popular TikTok account where she shares the joys and pains of, say, shopping for jeans with a 37-inch inseam. “I love being a positive role model for girls who are tall. But when I get home, I’m like, please leave me alone.”
The average W.N.B.A. player, at a shade taller than 6 feet, towers over the average American woman (5 feet 3.5 inches). American men who are between 6 feet and 6-2 — significantly taller than the 5-9 average — have about a five in a million chance of making the N.B.A., according to “The Sports Gene,” a 2013 book by David Epstein about the science of athletic performance. But if you hit the genetic lottery and happen to be 7 feet tall, your chances of landing in the N.B.A. are roughly one in six. (There are 38 players on active rosters who are 7 feet or taller, according to N.B.A. Advanced Stats; the average height of an N.B.A. player is 6 feet 6.5 inches.)
Still, most 7-footers are not pro basketball players, and instead are often unfairly burdened with being compelled to explain their life choices to strangers.
Daniel Gilchrist, 40, played basketball briefly at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kan., before injuries forced him to call it quits. His father, Jim, had steered him toward the game for obvious reasons: Daniel was 7-7.
“At the time, I kind of resented him for that,” Daniel Gilchrist said. “But now that I’m older, I kind of understand why he wanted me to play. And I’m glad I did it, but it was never something I was passionate about.”
Gilchrist now follows his passion as an actor, appearing onstage at the Topeka Civic Theater. Last year, he played the role of Lennie in a production of “Of Mice and Men,” which he described as a lifelong dream. He has also been cast in an upcoming film — as a sasquatch. He acknowledged the long process of self-acceptance.
“It did take me a while,” he said, “especially as a teenager. And there are still days when I wish I could blend in. But a long time ago, I figured that I could either accept it or become a hermit.”
Some tall people refer to other tall people as “talls.” But true talls tend to be wary of phony talls — women in stilettos, for example. Kimberly Schmal, a 6-foot utility biller from Oak Harbor, Wash., gets the urge to investigate whenever she spots a fellow tall.
“So you go over and take a closer look: Is she wearing heels? No! She’s just tall!” said Schmal, 38. “And you strike up a conversation.”
Growing up, Schmal was a cheerleader. She did not want to play basketball — or volleyball, a basketball-adjacent pursuit. The problem for Schmal was that the girls’ volleyball coach at her high school managed the local Burger King, and he desperately wanted her to come out for the team.
“He would sit next to us at the booth and just be like, ‘Volleyball, volleyball, volleyball,’” Schmal recalled.
John Stewart, 64, who is 6-6 and played basketball in high school and for two years at a trade school, never harbored any illusions about a future in the game.
“I didn’t have any scouts following me around!” he said. “I just didn’t have the talent.”
Stewart has since spent 46 years working at a rock quarry near his home in Burlington, N.C., where he has gotten used to people remarking on his height and asking the usual questions. And for a few fleeting seconds, he is happy to let them imagine that he played big-time college ball, or even in the N.B.A., until he tells them the truth.
“It doesn’t bother me at all,” he said. “It’s kind of like my 15 minutes of fame.”
This summer, Stewart plans to attend the annual convention for Tall Clubs International aboard an Alaskan cruise. The organization includes 38 chapters in the United States and Canada. There are height requirements: 6-2 for men and 5-10 for women. But membership is otherwise open to all, said Bob Huggett, the organization’s 6-7 president.
“The only thing we have in common,” Huggett said, “is that we’re tall.”
Huggett has a pat response whenever someone asks whether he played basketball.
“No,” he says, “did you play miniature golf?”
In recent years, membership at many chapters has decreased — a symptom of a larger trend among social organizations. Nancy Kaplan, 55, a retired kindergarten teacher from Albany, N.Y., recalled how much fun she had as a member of the Tall Club of New York City in the 1990s. No one stared. No one pointed. And no one peppered her with questions about being 6-3.
“It was just so lovely to walk into a huge dance hall and everybody was your height,” she said. “I could even wear heels. I mean, heels! I was the short one in a lot of those groups.”
Kaplan has otherwise struggled with her height “every day of my entire life,” she said. As a young girl, she was teased and called names like Big Bird. The girls’ basketball coach at her high school hounded her about joining the team until she caved, though it was a short-lived experiment.
“I hate running, and I hate sweating,” she said. “I would run up and down the court fixing my hair.”
As a teacher, Kaplan said, she was scrutinized by colleagues.
“It was never the kids who said, ‘Wow, you’re so tall,’” she said. “It was the other teachers and staff who would make comments: ‘You’re too big to teach kindergarten. How do you get down in their chairs?’ It’s very painful and hurtful that someone can come up to you and just comment on your height.”
If nothing else, she can commiserate with her younger sister, Anita Kaplan, 49, who is 6-5 and described certain triggers in her own life, such as when she enters a public restroom.
“The women, in their peripheral vision, will see you and give you that look for a fraction of a second,” Anita Kaplan said. “And you know exactly what they’re thinking: Why is this man in here?”
Nancy Kaplan said the only time she felt fully seen as a woman was when she was pregnant.
Anita Kaplan, unlike her older sister, was drawn into the vortex of basketball by her father, Allen, a 6-7 optometrist who sensed her potential. She worked at her game in the family driveway, where she sought to compensate for her lack of dexterity — “I am not athletic, not even a little,” she said — through sheer willpower. Her feel for the game grew along with her reputation.
“They called me the Truck,” Kaplan said. “And I got to be around tall men. I had an ulterior motive.”
She landed at Stanford, where she was a decorated center, then played professionally for a few seasons. Now, as the mother of three teenage sons (two of whom are taller than 6 feet), she has nuanced feelings about her stature. She loved playing basketball, she said, but she also has the lived experience of always standing out, of never being able to hide. People, she said, approach her all the time to ask if she played hoops. She tells them no.
Steve Dexter, 67, has gotten so tired of questions about basketball that he now tells inquisitive strangers that he once graced the hardwood for the University of Oklahoma. The twist is that Dexter, who is 6-7, never played basketball.
“Athletes were not my crowd,” said Dexter, who lives in Laguna Beach, Calif. “I was kind of a nerd.”
These days, as a real estate investor and author, Dexter considers his physical stature to be an asset, citing research that tall people are deemed “more trustworthy and authoritative.”
Rasmussen, who at 7-2 is the tallest member of Tall Clubs International, recalled joining friends at a political rally in Milwaukee many years ago. Afterward, he was approached by Secret Service agents who gauged his interest in doing surveillance. It was a change of pace from the usual questions.
“I think they figured that if I could dress like a schlep, nobody would suspect me,” Rasmussen said. “But I never followed up.”
In retirement, Rasmussen has remained active. He swims, bikes and plays the violin and the viola in quartets and an orchestra.
At rehearsals, he sits on a high stool in the back row, where he can enjoy being a part of something larger than himself.
Fort Bragg could. change its name to a Pomo name, except the Yuki might take exception to that. That was Yuki domain, until some killing resulted in it being Pomo. At least that is what I have read. How about we change the name of Fort Bragg to a number? How about a number drawn out of a hat? That shouldn’t offend anyone. But you know, that number would be Arabic, and the Arabs have a notoriously cruel history. We can’t use a Roman numeral. The Romans were at least as bad as the Arabs. Let’s call Fort Bragg No Name City. It’s Fort Bragg’s call. I won’t impose myself.
New York DA Alvin Bragg, a black man, doesn’t appear to have a problem with his name. I would think Fort Braggians would be proud to share his name, with what he is doing to Trump and all.
James, off we send you to your meditation corner, to sit and ponder what is really important in this big world. Or, an alternative, go play with your kitties and delight in their joy.
No Name City would be a good new name for Fort Bragg. We could get Clint Eastwood to come and dedicate it for us. Lindy Peters could be a great stand in for Lee Marvin.
Arabs are put to shame in the cruelty department by the US, since even before its founding by wealthy slave owners, not to mention witch burners. And, we’re damned proud of it! Just ask one of our scumbag “leaders”.
Re: No, I don’t play basketball!
Daniel Gilchrist is Tex’s cousin. People often ask where Justin & Aaron get their height; I think from reading this article, you could say it is hereditary.
Who gets to decide on the question of changing Fort Braggs name? Only those in the city limits? I don’t live in the city, but have that name on my mailing address… do I have a vote?
And I would never consent to a name change without knowing the NEW name…
Not to throw stones, but if any place should be thinking about a name change, it should be Kelseyville. That man was an evil abuser of indians.
Over blown statement, inaccurate.
DEA up to its usual scare tactic tricks, as history shows.
Legalize State of California manufacture of Fentanyl now!
RE: “Xylazine is making the deadliest drug threat
our country has ever faced, fentanyl, even deadlier,” said Administrator Milgram. (DEA)
—> March 22, 2023
The United States Drug Enforcement Agency says xylazine is becoming a major threat to the country as the nation sees it mixed with an already deadly drug — fentanyl.
With names like those, I wouldn’t touch ’em. Aspirin and Ibuprofen are bad enough.
Aspirin and Ibuprofen may be gateway drugs, whose use can lead to compounding problems. My next try in the natural world, for one imagined or real health concern, may be Ceylon Cinnamon and Manuka Honey together.
Then again, maybe NOT. Hell, MAYBE water is a gateway drug! Or air. After all, we start dying and getting addicted to the evil ways of this sick human monkey “society” as soon as we are born…each day one day less.
Re: Fort Bragg name change…
I was once told by a native Southern Humboldter that he and his associates always referred to it as Fart Bag.
How about Fog Bragg?
… to atone for the sins of our fathers.
What about the “sins” we of the present continue to inflict on others?
For all you gung-ho name changers, I suggest you do a little research on your leader, Philip Zwerling, Ph.D. All you have to do is check out his website. This guy “retired” to Fort Bragg in 2018. He’s been there only five years. Of all the places he could have chosen, why did he move to Fort Bragg if he found the name so offensive?
I don’t live in Fort Bragg, but I once lived in an area where a main thoroughfare’s name was changed. The confusion and expenses that ensued were massive. Street signs, freeway exit signs, business stationary and websites – all had to be changed, months of publicity before and after the name change and many more hidden costs impacted those who lived and did business on that street. Are the residents and business owners of Fort Bragg prepared for that? Is this what they want?
I doubt that a simple name change is gonna have any real effect on the town. People living in Riverton, WY could change the name to Welfare Cowfarmer, or Polluted Ag Runoff, and people would still drive 50- over 100 miles down from the counties to the north to shop there, because the prices are significantly less than what they would pay at “home”.
How about OhNoyoDon’t?
Good one, Mr. Harvey–
Best pun I’ve ever seen on the AVA. Kudos, Mr. Reading, and ditto Mr. Dunbar!!!
I used to live in Ft Bragg and I recall a soldier from the other Ft B in court once, and he felt so casual and at ease like he was at home in his old BDUs and run over combat boots. So I think Ft B should retain its current moniker and the 82nd Airborne could garrison a battalion of shock troops there to stand sentinel duty in case China attempts a costal invasion. With Ft Lewis (w/ its entire Army Corps) to the north and the marines at Camp Pendleton to the south, Ft B is left as the soft middle ground and needs reinforcements to halt the Yellow Hoards as they wade ashore and clamber up the headlands.
My plan has the added advantage in that the troops can be billeted in all those tony seaside motels and the officers in the AirB&Bs w/ their families … what’s not to like?
In the highly likely event my plan is scuttled you could end up with the Chinese Invasion Fleet’s admiral’s new name for his easily established beach head, something like Wu-Wu Ville… !
Airborne AirB&B—?— That’s kinda catchy —-Where’s Gilbert & Sullivan when you need ‘em?
FORT BRAGG AMBULANCE CREW ATTACKED, UNIDENTIFIED SUSPECT SUBDUED BY POLICE WITH TASER
Another fine piece of community policing by FBPD officers, pursuing this mentally ill and/or drugged suspect threatening medics, police and potentially others with sharp shears. It sounds much like one of those incidents that could have ended badly, with the guy dead after persistent threats made with a deadly weapon. We read about them all too often.
We owe these officers gratitude and admiration for their effective intervention, using a taser, not bullets, to subdue this man. One can imagine how quickly this all played-out, and the courage and quick thinking needed to end it safely for all involved. Kudos to FBPD, a force that well serves our coast community.