WITHIN AN HOUR of the Boston bombs, the conspiracy creeps were on the internet where one of the creepiest of all, Alex Jones, predictably claimed that our government had done it. Jones called the bombings a "false flag op." Also on Monday, at the Willits Post Office, a pair of Larouchies showed up with their trademark placard depicting Obama with a Hitler moustache, and describing Obama as a Nazi. This stuff can make a guy nostalgic for the sedition laws. Our government does bad things but, and bear with me here Building 7 nuts, it hasn't descended to blowing up random groups of Americans. (Random groups of Mohammedans is another discussion.) Most AVA readers will know that Larouche is a fascist and all-round cult nutball. He comes on with a pseudo-populist message — re-enact Glass-Steagall, for instance — but he's a low down evil bastard who, we hope, didn't have much success signing up saps in Willits. Obama is not a Nazi, or even a fascist although his policies, across the board, are more destructive than even Bush managed. Democrats are not the friends of Americans who make less than a hundred grand a year, which is most Americans. Republicans are even less representative of most Americans. Obama and the Democrats, like the Republicans, represent only the owners of this country, not you. Rich people own the political system and they own all the people who get elected in the system. They also own you, from the food you eat to the movies you watch to the shelter you pay a third to half of your income for. I'm sorry to break this sad news to you on such a beautiful spring day, but there it is.
LAROUCHIES in Willits, a reader writes: Two members of the LaRouche PAC stopped in Willits on Tax Day, April 15, on their “Obama as Hitler” tour, petitioning on the public sidewalk outside the Willits Post Office.
FOOT and vehicle traffic was already a mess due to those mailing in their taxes on deadline. The petitioners blocking the sidewalk, at least at points during the day, didn’t make things any easier.
UGLY, aggressive comments – personal insults, “go to hells” and worse – were the replies to those who challenged them. One of the petitioners filed a false report of an assault by “a man, a person” Monday afternoon, after a woman took pictures of the petitioners blocking foot traffic, and tried to take pictures of the literature on their table, trying to grab one of the flyers as well to document who the petitioners were.
THE LAROUCHIES “Obama as Hitler” - showing Obama with a Hitler-like moustache - sandwich board was originally placed so as to block the public sidewalk even more than the two petitioners and their table did all day, but city staff came by in the morning to tell them they needed to move the sandwich board, and they complied, leaning it against the table instead.
CITY POLICE checked out the scene more than once, but said they didn’t observe what they considered “blocking the sidewalk” during their observations. Does “block the sidewalk” mean ignoring passersby, making it difficult for them to walk by (as the photo of the two petitioners blocking the sidewalk to the extent that a passerby had to walk on the red edge of the curb to get by clearly shows? Or does it mean “refuse to move” when a passerby actually asks?
CITY OF WILLITS has two ordinances under Chapter 12.08 - Street Obstructions of the City code: one prohibits “dangerous obstructions,” but the other more broadly reads: “No person shall place or cause to be placed upon any street, alley or sidewalk within the corporate limits of the city, anything that will obstruct the free passage or use of said street, alley or sidewalk” exempting delivery of goods.
NEWS REPORTS from small towns across America show that the Obama as Hitler tour has been regularly blocking sidewalks: in Manchester, CT, in mid-February, police did order LaRouchies to move their display from a public sidewalk. A report in the Hartford Courant says a police officer told them “they could continue their protest as long as they did not block the public way.” After some argument, the petitioners left, threatening to contact a lawyer.
IN HASTINGS, MICHIGAN last October, after police received complaints of harassment from “Obama as Hitler” LaRouchies, the petitioners were told by officers they’d have to remove their table and large standing sign from the sidewalk. The petitioners reportedly left without incident. The story in The Hastings Banner includes this paragraph: “Hastings Police Department reminds the public that they do have the right to a peaceful demonstration, however, city ordinance prohibits obstruction of any part of sidewalks.
LYNDON LAROUCHE'S cultlike (and mostly ineffectual) political movement started out when LaRouche was a Marxist in 1960s – LaRouche had joined the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party in the 1940s – but soon broke with the left, and is now considered an extremist right-wing group with some trappings of populism. LaRouchies have a long history of violence against left opponents and labor unions, and intimidation, harassment and threats against reporters and news organizations.
DEFECTORS describe bizarre paranoid behavior and psychological abuse of members. LaRouche served five years in prison after being sentenced to 15 years for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and tax code violations. He was paroled in 1994. LaRouche has run for President many times, mostly as a Democrat, but in 1992, from prison, LaRouche ran as the representative for the “Economic Recovery” party. LaRouche also ran for president in 1976 as the leader of his own U.S. Labor Party.
THIS JUST IN. There are now two tree sitters at the Willits Bypass, Owl and Crow. Owl is senior to Crow who just went up. It's ok if you call them 'Crowl.'
A MOUNTAIN LION, or what appeared to be one, was spotted Monday in north Healdsburg, police said. A female told police she saw what looked like a mountain lion in the tree line on a hill along Parkland Farms Boulevard near Quarry Ridge, police officials said. She reported the sighting at 4:14 p.m. An officer checked the area but did not see the animal. The Department of Fish and Wildlife advises people who encounter mountain lions to face the animal, make noise and try to look bigger. Do not run.
SNIVEL & SOB. Our phones have been on and off for months now. The phone company has no idea why. The prob, they say, isn't on their end. We've switched phones, jiggled wires, plugged and unplugged. Whole days pass without a single ring which, truth to tell, is regarded here mostly as a good thing. Other days the phone rings every few minutes. (Lots of lunatics seem to have us on auto-dial.) Callers, when they finally get through, are angry. One exclaimed, "I bet you do it on purpose?" I can't remember the last time I did anything on purpose, much less mess with the phone line. Then there's the Post Office. We do a lot of postal paperwork every week. Occasionally, we make a tiny math error, so tiny, so inconsequential that in any other context than a government context it would be overlooked. Or allowed to be corrected later. But Postmistress Colette, right here in Boonville, right here at the source of America's last newspaper, can't mail the paper out until the math is absolutely correct. The next level of the P.O. is breathing down her neck, you see, as are paperwork nazis all the way up the line. While the Post Office demands that our paperwork is perfect, the service they offer us in return ranges from imperfect to "Like, dude, we have no idea where your papers went." And we pay a lot of postage for deliveries that arrive in the Bay Area anywhere from a week to a month late, and sometimes doesn't get there at all. More distant readers get their papers about a month after they leave Boonville. I think the Pony Express got the mail clear across the country in three weeks. I've given up complaining. One anon PO drone wrote to say he wouldn't communicate at all with me if I swore at him again. I didn't swear at him the first time. I simply relayed a frustrated customer e-mail to him that contained this line, "What the bleep is up with the Post Office?" I would swear at him if he walked through our office door, and I'd be very tempted to leap for his throat, too. The nerve. As if he were the injured party here. But most of these people at the more distant levels of Post Office bureaucracy don't have names and are unreachable. None of them are responsible for anything. I imagine them in faraway lunch rooms on speaker phones. "Listen up. This might be fun. It's that Boonville guy again. See how long it takes him to go off." It's all frustrating in the extreme, but a good lesson in how precarious the lines of communication are for everyone. The internet is controlled by what? Ten mammoth corporations? We're at their mercy, too.
ON THE SET OF NEED FOR SPEED.
by Jason Killilea
I recently had the unique experience of working with the crazy circus that came through town to film Need for Speed. The movie is described as “a fast-paced, high-octane film rooted in the tradition of the great car culture films of the 70s while being extremely faithful to the spirit of the videogame franchise.” There are undoubtedly scores of young adults around here intimately familiar with the franchise who will gladly plunk their ten dollar bill down when the movie is released in March 2014.
Under normal circumstances I would not consume this genre of media willingly, however, after my own intimate experience with Need for Speed, I just can’t wait. I was one of several “Additional Production Assistants” hired locally and temporarily for the Mendocino Location. My chain of command looked something like this; Director, Assistant Director, Second AD, SECOND Second AD (my boss), then a team of five permanent Production Assistants (PAs) that I also reported to. Turns out the bottom of the totem pole had a great view. Some days I would be posted in a driveway with a walkie-talkie to make sure one of our own, perhaps headed to Lemons on a cigarette run, wouldn’t pull in front of a six pack of super cars dodging and weaving at 100mph. During these twelve hour shifts I was overseeing between zero and one cigarette runs.
Far from being bored, it afforded me the rare opportunity to sink into the here and now. A valuable retreat in today’s busy world. This, of course, punctuated by the occasional roar of speeding Lamborghinis being “pushed,” or “pulled,” by speeding camera cars.
On my third day I was posted at that tight little creek bed turn at mile 35 just north of Elk. From deep in my driveway I watched repeated takes of five hero cars blasting out of the notch pursued by the stunt CHP copter, pursued, again, by the camera copter. At lunch that day (breakfasts and lunches were resplendent)
I asked the stunt pilot if he was having as much fun as I imagined or was this just another day on the job. He said flying like that is illegal under any other circumstances and he was having as much fun as I imagined. An average production budget for a racecar feature is $50-$100 million. That calculates down to $1,000-$2,000 a minute on the set. This creates a pressurized environment for everyone.
Sometimes it seemed like everyone’s kind of an asshole but when you look deeper of course it’s not really the case. There is just no time for discussing feelings, no time for please and thank you. Radio communications become a tightrope act. Although things were often chaotic, especially during the first shot or two of the day, every circus member was hyper focused and adamant about moving the movie forward.
It was stimulating and enchanting to be part of such a powerful human hive. 300 of us, 150 walkie-talkies, tool-belts bulging with tools I’ve never seen, clipboards and binders describing the setup of every shot, piece of equipment and person involved. Grip trucks lumbering with every clip, rod, box, and tool. Supercars, their trailers and mechanics, 100 spare tires. Every evening all of us would drive to a bed, sleep, and drive back to the location.
After about ten days it began to sink in. Arriving at the seven am breakfast buzz I looked around and thought to myself, “These people are out of their minds.” On my eleventh and day we did a stunt, a “gag” in hollywood parlance, at Highway 128 and Flynn Creek. The mood was electric.
A stunt driver, a “stuntie,” was going to drive a car up the back of a tow truck ramp at 55mph, crush the vehicle already loaded, and spin through the air in flames before coming to rest in the middle of Highway 128. Special Effects had spent all day engineering, welding and fabricating things that will never be visible, to make sure the cars go just so, to make sure that everything explodes on contact, and to make sure the safety of the driver. The whole unit gathered with the stunt coordinator for a safety meeting. The kind where you actually discuss safety. The pressure of the environment doubled.
Ambulance and Fire were standing by, cameras were spooling up, repeated rehearsals ran through, “back to one and run it again.” When it was time to execute, “on the day” as they say, everyone but the players needed were pushed back out of view of the gag for safety. From my position guarding a driveway 100 yards east I could see perfectly. Just the luck, I was about to witness my first stunt.
My heartbeat thrummed in my ears and other cliches occurred on cue. From around the corner zoomed the car straight towards my position in the bushes. It suddenly veered off the road, up the ramp, and with a horrible bang crushed the loaded vehicle like a beer can, burst beautifully into flames, helicoptered through the air, and crunched to a landing in the middle of the highway.
Almost instantaneously I heard the directors voice over the radio, “Thumbs up!” referring, of course, to the stuntie himself. I stayed quiet and attentive at my post, exhaled deeply and enjoyed a cigarette. As we locals lunched together that day I described the scene and finished with, “That was so fun. What a great waste of resources and energy!”
Everyone laughed but in a way I meant it; we’ve got perpetual war on one hand, and a perpetual circus on the other. I, myself, am for the circus, even when it blows up cars in the middle of the redwood forest.
THE PERFECT TACO
When needing a fix in London, I went to a trendy taco place run by Spaniards in Notting Hill that offered passable crypto-Mexican dishes. The food was declared “smashing” and “brilliant” by otherwise sophisticated British colleagues, but my heart (and taste buds) knew otherwise. At a party I met an ex-pat from San Diego going through her own withdrawals. She whispered of a mobile taco stand amongst the warren of designer t-shirt boutiques and run-down strip clubs of Oxford Circus. The next day I hunted down the renegade son of Pancho Villa. But like all good revolutions, the initial burst of hope and justice quickly devolved into Stalinist despair. The Oxford Circus burrito was a burrito in name only, and also suspiciously Spanish-controlled. Even more distasteful than the bland concoction of flavorless beef and canned kidney beans was the five pounds an extra tortilla cost. Five bloody pounds! General Franco, dead but not forgotten! Even my Boonville-educated/ruined mind understood the cost to be something like $7.48, or $6.98, or $8.01 — a Thatcher-like outrage even by House of Windsor standards.
In Amsterdam Dutch friends took me to a “Mexican” restaurant run by affable Argentinians. I was skeptical, since the night before my hosts had treated me to a pizza joint where the speciality was a classic Neopolitan thin-crust pie topped with a falafel/gyro/Mighty Dog Beef Bits slathered in mayonaise. Generous amounts of a reddish/brownish sauce helped the medicine go down, come back up, before slithering like a bloated crocodile into the digestive swamp once and for all. En route to the Mexican joint, they made a quick detour to show me the outside of Anne Frank’s home, next door to the Anne Frank museum. The history was appreciated, though I wondered if an appetizer of Nazi evil was a bad omen. Not to worry: not only were the Panzer tanks driven from Europe, but the genial folks from Buenos Aires made a tasty platter of fajitas, served with a pita-esque bread, and washed down with Dutch lager kept chilled to the temperature of the secret tunnels connecting the House of Krupp to the White House, i.e., frighteningly cold.
Even in Manhattan the search for a decent taco or enchirito proved depressing. Tacos made by Puerto Ricans are not tacos. Tacos made by Cubans are not the tacos. Still, when a flashy new place opened down the street, I fantasized that this time would be different. The cynical might say that any restaurant calling itself “Burrrito Exxxpress” should be avoided. Maybe it was the three RRRs. Or the three XXXs. But I was jonesing, man. I needed a fix. Behind the counter was a Chinese man with a lit cigarette dangling from his lip. Could tacos made by Cantonese be tacos? No way, Jose! The cheese was American cheese. The condiment was Sriracha. And it went downhill from there.
To make a long story short, celebrating the glorious fact that I was in San Francisco, I decided to honor my own gods, and genefulect at the altar of a super al pastor burrito from San Jose Taqueria at 25th and Mission. Others claim allegiance to Il Castillito, El Faro, Gordo’s or even El Toro. But San Jose Taqueria makes the best al pastor, salsa and tacos. It is a no frills joint. The lighting is bad. Street creatures patrol the sidewalks. And the occasional gangster or ganster wanna-be strolls in like Foghorn Leghorn at a cockfight. But the al pastor is a perfect mess of burnt crispings and deep flavor, there’s free water, and a clean bathroom. If either of my two loyal readers doesn’t already know, al pastor is vertical spit-roasted pork shaved into crisp-thin wafers of Holy Jesus that’s good! Through years of scholarly research I’ve learned that Pastor means “shepherd,” the name given to Lebanese merchants who immigrated to Mexico City in the early 1900s, bringing with them vertical spits used for lamb and beef schwarma. (Yet another reason why all borders should be open.) If you want to partake of “authentic” Mission vibe, then order a few tacos and eat in. Though a giant burrito is best for take out: tacos, like the War on Terror, don't travel well. Also please do not be confused and visit the San Jose Taqueria on Mason Street in North Beach. Yes, it’s affiliated, but in the same way that GODFATHER I and II are connected to GODFATHER III. — Z
TENTH ANNUAL WHALE & JAZZ FESTIVAL, April 20, 2013 This highly regarded festival, presented by Gualala Arts, captures inspired, original jazz artwork, whale education, a film series, poetry and jazz, chowder challenge and tasting, and live music in beautiful settings conducive to a special coastal experience. The venues include wineries and restaurants, inns, a wine bar and casino, the classically restored Arena Theater, and the Gualala Arts Center nestled in the coastal redwoods. Entertainment, inspiration and education, the ambitious goals of this festival, are epitomized by outreach to local students through school presentations. In the past these have included both whale and jazz oriented programs and are tailored to encourage youthful enthusiasm for both. Jazz is indeed a vital, important and enormously significant cultural art form, unique to the American heritage, as evidenced by the recent gala opening of the prestigious San Francisco Jazz Center. We are honored by your attendance, as the festival's offerings are dependent upon spirited support and appreciation. We adore your interest and participation! Main Event: Jamie Davis & Quintet — Jamie Davis (formerly with the Count Basie Band) will share the stage with Roger Glenn, vibes & reeds; Glenn Pearson, piano; Kyle Gregory, trumpet; John Shifflett, bass; Larry Vann, drums and Matt Richards, alto sax. Tickets are $28 in advance, $5 more on the day of. Fred Adler, Festival Music Coordinator Whale & Jazz Festival Committee: David "Sus" Susalla, Fred Adler, Jan Harris Reinhart PSA
DRAWING FROM THE PAST: David Weitzman exhibit blends history and craft by Roberta Werdinger On Sunday, April 28, 1:30-4:30pm, the Mendocino County Museum will host an opening reception for "The Telling Line: A Display of Illustrations by David Weitzman." This retrospective exhibit of almost 40 pen and ink drawings on polyester film line the Long Gallery, representing the three decades that the artist has united history, technical know-how, and detailed writing in a series of unique books for children that document the traditional occupations and trades of our American forebears. Those books include "Skywalkers: How Mohawk Ironworkers Build the City," "Superpower: The Making of a Steam Locomotive," and "Old Ironsides: Americans Build a Fighting Ship" as well as books on subway construction, airplanes, and harvest threshers. Weitzman explains, "They are about young people becoming adults through their work and through their craft." In each book, Weitzman conducts meticulous research, studying historical documents and interviewing those involved in the trade, then creates a text and illustrations that are at once technically detailed and entertaining. He often uses family members and friends as models, including well-known Willits resident "Grandma" Mavis Bromaghim, whose life and work in quilting are also celebrated in the mural by the Noyo Theatre. Weitzman's drawings of Locomotive #14, part of the Roots of Motive Power, Inc. collection, and of the shipwreck of the Frolic whose remains are displayed in the Museum, will also be shown. Weitzman, a Covelo resident since 1974, says, "I'm kind of an archeologist. I'm preserving things for future generations that probably won't return." Before World War II, he explains, most young people did not finish high school. Instead, they entered the workforce at the age of 15 or even younger, apprenticing themselves to a trade. Weitzman's books document and honor the immense expertise and effort needed to build the machines and the transportation systems that sustain us, even as many of these skills are being lost due to rapid technological change. This reception is free to all and includes free admission to the Museum, a treasure house of artifacts and information from Mendocino County's varied past. Refreshments will be served, and visitors will have the opportunity to meet the artist and hear him talk about his work. The Mendocino County Museum is located at 400 East Commercial St. in Willits across from Recreation Grove Park and the Rodeo grounds. The Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 am to 4:30 pm. For more information please call 459-2736 or visit www.MendocinoMuseum.org.
PAPER, LINE SCISSORS
A new show at the Lost Coast Culture Machine featuring works on paper by Pauline Halper.
The new show on the walls—all over the walls—of the Lost Coast Culture Machine is a startling, fun, wildly oblique and quirkily lush show of work on paper by Pauline Halper. The show, 'Paper, Line, Scissors' is mostly cut-outs: variously colored paper that is drawn or painted on and then cut out ('re-drawn' in the words of the catalogue), and assembled into clusters/constellations that range from the size of a butterfly to, say, a pile of refrigerators.
The show, presented by Dietmar Krunrey and Anne Beck, founders and directors of the Lost Coast Culture Machine (gallery, handmade paper studio and art store) will be up through May 31. Halper, a Brooklyn born and raised artist, recently moved to Covelo where she made all the work in the show.
While some of the works are on one piece of paper, most are comprised of between two or three to as many as (I'm guessing here) fifty pieces placed together overlappingly. The individual pieces that make up these clusters and the works as a whole are all possessed of an energy, driving the whole show, that travels out of the world of design/balance, color scheme and figure that we're familiar with, that feels traditionally 'right' or gemütlich towards something that is curiously, sometimes achingly and often happily off-kilter in all these realms.
To wit: the delicate, attenuated yet ever sturdy/'perfect' balance of Alexander Calder's mobiles is in Halper's work but scrunched, densified; her color schemes achieve nuanced harmonics (O'Keefe?) but not in primary formulas that are immediately yummy; the figures in the work are recognizably human or of the natural/human world (bricks, legs, rocks, faces) and yet all seem to be shown in a skeletal or aural reduction that conjures pictograms and heiroglyphs.
A 'simple', usually black or dark painted line is often used (virtuosic, think of calligraphy) in an outline-y way that echoes the later work of Philip Guston—see especially the painting of a ladder (on an uncharasterically square-cornered, traditionally rectangular piece of paper) against an ever so slightly glittering, night-blue background—but Halper's line also brings to mind the graphic fluidity of graffiti.
In much of the work (see especially the large piece directly opposite the door upon entering the gallery) there is a dead-pan somberness, a cat-staring-at-you vibe that is offset, sometimes within the same piece by an equally dead-pan and palpable humor. But again, with the humor as with everything in this show, what's funny, the quiet laughter bubbling up in the work, comes from a created world that—while Picasso and Guston and Calder may all be clearly lurking in the work—is entirely its own, a fantastical (as in fantasy) and droll and superabundant recalibration of line, form and color.
The Lost Coast Culture Machine gallery is located at 190 E. Elm St. in Fort Bragg. Gallery and store hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 12pm until 5pm.