Press "Enter" to skip to content

Mendocino County Today: Sunday, April 30, 2023

Cooling | Pomo Landmark | Burn Permits | SCP Watch | New Firefighters | Water Mafia | Pet Harvey | Flynn Missing | Boontling Classic | Ed Notes | Noyo Mermaid | Project Declined | The Valley | AV Events | Lawns | Opioid Program | Old Pontiac | Verizon Problems | Vargas Returns | Yesterday's Catch | Gunned Up | Copy Mishap | Intolerable Situations | Military "Service" | Cancel Cultures | Left Confusion | Dog School | Marco Radio | Poole Off | Game 7 | Store Closures | Ukraine | War Fatigue | Totalitarian Dystopia | Piss Money | Garden Lessons | Blues Singers | Kennedy Legacy

* * *

COOLER WEATHER will occur today through much of next week, and showers along with a few thunderstorms are expected Monday through Wednesday. In addition, northwest winds gusting to 25 mph are forecast to occur in the wake of a cold front this afternoon and evening across exposed locations in Lake and Southern Mendocino Counties. (NWS)

* * *


Caltrans District 1 and members of the Hopland Band of Pomo Indians were on hand today as the Historical Landmark (No. 549) was unveiled in a ceremony at Frog Woman Rock in Mendocino County. Frog Woman Rock, a large volcanic monolith that sits nearly 900 feet tall, is located in the ancestral territory of the Hopland Band of Pomo Indians and to this day is considered to be a place of great power to the many Pomo tribes in the area.

A landslide in the 1960s resulted in roadway loss and the plaque was moved and never replaced at that time. Over the last several years, Caltrans has worked closely with local tribes and state agencies to reestablish the roadside California Historical Landmark monument.

“This plaque will be a permanent reminder that we can work together properly and in a good way by honoring such a significant place like this rock,” said Tribal Historic Preservation Officer Ramόn Billy Jr. of the Hopland Band of Pomo Indians. “You made this real for us and I thank you. We no doubt will accomplish more down the road, but this does make me pleased as I have always wanted to see something like this over at the rock.”

If you would like to visit the landmark, the parking area is located between Hopland and Cloverdale next to southbound U.S. 101 at post mile 5.2. 

* * *


On Monday, May 1, 2023, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Mendocino Unit will require CAL FIRE burn permits for residential burning within Mendocino County. Property owners can access this website to obtain a free burn permit. Burning can only be done on permissive burn days and is prohibited on non-burn days.

* * *

A READER ASKS: SCP seems to own Little River — What else has SCP bought besides Albion Inn, Glendeven Inn, Steven's Wood Inn, and Rachel's Inn (Cobbler's Walk Inn)? They appear to now own 50% of the businesses in Little River. I heard that Mendocino Hotel and Hill House sold to one buyer, does anyone know who that is?

* * *

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALEC ALARCON AND SAM DOUGLAS for passing their firefighter academy! Alec was honored for his achievements today during his graduation ceremony in Windsor, and Sam graduated similarly earlier this year. Both started out as AV Fire Department cadets in high school and have continued within the fire service career path and education since. Alec is currently working for Life West Ambulance in Sonoma County for now, and Sam is currently a Reserve firefighter with Healdsburg Fire Department. Well done, we are proud of both of you! Carry on and stay safe!

(Anderson Valley Fire Department)

* * *


by Mark Scaramella

At the end of a record-setting three-year drought from 2020 to 2022, the Mendocino Wine industry managed to produce a comparative record amount of grapes in 2022, almost 62,000 tons, 30% than the previous year, according to the US Department of Agriculture’s 2022 Preliminary Grape Crush Report for Mendocino County. Part of that large percentage increase is due to lower tonnages from the prior (drought) years. (In 2018 Mendo produced 82,000 tons of grapes. In 2020 it was down to 56,000 tons; and 49,000 tons in 2021.) But how could the tonnage have gone back up so much in 2022, the third drought year?

The only way grape tonnage goes up if acreage stays the same is more water. This is further proof that inland grape growers, aka the Cheap Water Mafia, took more than their share of water from Lake Mendocino as we suspected from the unusually high flow rates into the Russian River in the spring of 2022. 

Conservatively speaking, Mendo grapes use a minimum of half an acre-feet of water per acre per year, more when watering new rootstocks or spraying for frost protection. So if Mendo produced 62,000 tons of grapes in 2022 on about 17,000 acres of grapes at about six tons per acre that’s about 8,500 acre-feet of water per year. 

Lake Mendocino typically holds up to 70,000 acre feet nominally, but 80% of that is owned by Sonoma County. So in a good year there’s about 14,000 acre-feet available to Mendocino. In a drought year, Lake Mendocino would get only 20% of about 40,000 acre-feet.

Thus, even allowing for fluctuations in the numbers and the nature of these rough estimates, Mendo grape growers got most of Lake Mendocino’s available water during the severe drought years from 2020 to 2022. 

You have to hand it to the Cheap Water Mafia. They have wormed their way into positions of control of most of Mendo’s water and cleverly arranged Mendo’s water affairs to make sure they get as much water as they need, first in line, at the time they need it, and at the lowest possible cost so that they can produce a $20-plus bottle of premium wine.

* * *


Although he’s a big boy, Harvey is mellow and easy to handle. He enjoys getting out and about, and if you’ve been looking for a walking partner, Mr. H is your guy! Harvey is playful with toys and loves nothing better than a good game of fetch. We think Harvey will be a wonderful companion in a home with older children, and might like the company of a canine friend. Harvey is a German Shepherd Dog, a breed known for their exceptional intelligence, loyalty, confidence and noble character. These dogs can learn almost anything! Harvey is two years old and 88 swooningly handsome pounds.

For more about Harvey, head to You can begin the adoption process on our website. Visit us on Facebook. For information about adoptions, please call 707-467-6453 in Ukiah, and 707-467-6453 in Ft. Bragg.

* * *


Flynn Washburne is now on the missing persons database.
Hope for the best.
At my age no surprise if not.
Missing Person / NamUs #MP89200 › case
View NamUs missing person case MP89200 for Flynn Washburne missing from Eureka, California. Date of last contact: Oct 25, 2021. NCMEC case number: –.

ED NOTE: Missing? Last we heard, Flynn was in Denver where he has a sister, but he has not responded to our efforts to get in touch with him. (Flynn! Call home!)

* * *


The Boontling Classic is just 8 DAYS AWAY! Register now at and make sure to get an awesome locally printed t-shirt before they sell out!

Thanks to the generous donations of our sponsors, amazing prizes await in the post-race drawing, including bottles of wine, beer, and gift certificates from local businesses such as the AV Brewing Company, AV Market, Mosswood Cafe, Rossi's, Foursight Winery, Goldeneye, Lichen, Roederer and even a gift basket from the Mercantile! All proceeds go to the AV Food Bank.

This is going to be a fantastic community event and we can't wait to see you all there!

* * *


ALEX MURDAUGH “FANS” are sending money to the man's prison account, the man who murdered his wife and younger son, while South Carolina ghouls are running tours to the courthouse where Murdaugh was tried and to the Murdaugh family properties.

I ONCE SUGGESTED that the Anderson Valley Community Services District run fundraising tours of Anderson Valley's most macabre sites, of which we have a large enough complement to make about a two-hour jaunt down Murder Lane. Think about it — Jim Jones taught school here; Leonard Lake and Charles Ng not only lived in Philo, Lake was recording secretary for our fire department; out Mountain View Road, infamous chomo child kidnapper, Kenneth Parnell, night clerk at Ukiah's Palace Hotel; and then we had the Manson family on Gschwend Road in Navarro, the Manson girls bringing the first dope into the Anderson Valley. There were lesser psychos, of course, like Arturo Flores who was operating a one-man gringo eradication program. My tour plan died for lack of a second, but how many rural communities can boast this many world class psychopaths? 

THE SKUNK RAILROAD. I don't get it. The Skunk successfully eminent-domained 46 acres of the old mill site in Fort Bragg, snatching it from the City of Fort Bragg, which had better, more community-oriented plans for the parcel, at least tentatively, and then the Skunk tries to eminent domain a small parcel from a Willits family guy, who goes broke defending himself, and will stay broke if and until his legal fees are returned to him, although Judge Nadel ruled against the Skunk's attempt at legalized land theft in the Willits guy's case. The rub? In both cases the Skunk said it could eminent domain land crucial to their Willits and Fort Bragg operations, the Skunk pegging their argument to their status as a legally adjudicated railroad, although since the collapse of the tunnel on the Fort Bragg end of the Skunk line, the Skunk has not been a functioning railroad. So, rather than involve itself in expensive lawsuits why didn't the Skunk raise the necessary funding to rehab the Fort Bragg tunnel soon after it collapsed then, with trains running back and forth between Willits and Fort Bragg, the Skunk would have a plausible railroad as it had been for many previous years? Surely, the business could have raised the funds to repair the tunnel on the basis of assured future earnings.

COASTIES are meeting to determine how to beat back the mega "hospitality' corporations gobbling up Coast properties which, heretofore, local businesses owned and operated by local people. Seems from here, though, that horse long ago departed the barn when Mr. Burger King snagged the Mendocino Hotel forty years ago, and anyhow loyal to “the community” were the recent local businesses who have lately sold out to the “hospitality” vultures?

CAPTAIN RAINBOW and I were reminiscing about memorable Variety Shows over the years. I'm still wincing at the one where a babe in a mini-skirt and mogambo blouse to match strolled on stage, perched herself on a stool and sang a torch song about how she stole the man of the jilted woman sitting directly in front of her in the first row. Rainbow and I agreed that one had left the audience gasping.

I ASKED SHERIFF KENDALL about the Albion Bridge jumpers when the Sheriff stopped in the other night. He said a press release would be forthcoming when he had all the facts, but he did express sorrow mixed with bewilderment that two young women from Utah could be so despairing as to drive all the way out to the Mendocino Coast to kill themselves, going on to say that despair among the young seems to be growing given the high incidence of suicide and heavy drug use among people of all ages in Mendocino County.

I KNEW THE LATE STAN MIKLOSE only casually, first encountering him and his young family at Coast running events where the Miklose family was a ubiquitous presence. As was Stan as he padded around Fort Bragg putting in his many daily conditioning miles. And I knew Stan at Down Home Foods where he went out of his way to place the AVA in line of sight of his many customers. Reading the memories of Stan by his many friends, all of whom lamented his passing except for one of Stan's daughters who weighed in on the MCN chatline to say that Stan was a bad man and that she was glad he was dead. I'd heard rumors of trouble in the Miklose family but those were from years ago when Stan and Sally Miklose divorced. The small size of our communities lend themselves to all sorts of malignant gossip which, of course, is also inherent in the human beast, but Stan would have had to have been an awfully bad man indeed for a daughter to publicly announce she was glad he was dead. 

IT'S ANNOYING to hear the talking heads constantly repeat their chaste concern that it's Biden's age everyone is worried about. Wrong. It's not Biden's age that's worrisome, lots of 80-year-olds are highly functioning — take me for instance, well, on second thought… I had to look up the spelling of “raucous” the other day, me, a guy who used to win spelling bees! But it's Biden's obvious and utter lack of competent functioning that's the prob, and it's only further proof that the Democrat cabal running Biden is as utterly corrupt as their party is. Ditto for mass media, of course. It's going to be interesting to watch the DNC screw over the only popular figure they have, the only candidate who can win back the estranged legions who deluded themselves that the Orange Monster was somehow on their side. RFK is the man we want. RFK's analysis of what has happened and what needs to be done is irrefutable — irrefutable I tell you! 

ADD TO YOUR signs-of-the-time collection: The Ukiah Walmart keeps its men's underwear under lock and key.

SAN ANSELMO residents have added this unprecedented event to their signs-of-the-time collections: About a dozen junior high boys, mounted on e-bikes, invaded the Safeway at the Red Hill Shopping Center, riding their bikes on into the store where they scooped up as many of bottles of booze as they could carry and rode on out and away. The police soon identified all of the youngsters and have reportedly visited their homes with a view to advising their parents to get a grip on their little dears. I don't know which is more appalling — junior high age kids invading a supermarket, or junior high age kids invading a supermarket for the purpose of stealing liquor.

AND ANOTHER REASON for praising the VA's medical services. When's the last time your doctor called you to see how you were doing? In my case, never, but my colleague, The Major, a recent patient at the VA has received two such calls. (I'm looking for my DD214 just in case.)

* * *


* * *


* * *



Got a prolonged chuckle out of the "Bidenistas Gather" headline.

On the other hand, I continue to shake my head at the insistent references to "the" Anderson Valley. In your Ed Notes there was no "the" attached to multiple references about Napa Valley. 

My mother was able to attend a year of high school in Anderson Valley during the 1930s and without ever referring to the entire locale as "the" Anderson Valley. Going farther back, my oldest uncle (born in 1888) constructed a home for himself and his wife in the town of Navarro and who owned property near Floodgate, did not add "the" in front of references to Anderson Valley.

This use of "the" as an introductory article to Anderson Valley reeks of an insecurity second only to the pretentious affectation of referring to a certain coastal community as 'the village."

Beyond that, it is good to see you continuing to edit and publish the AVA.

Malcolm Macdonald


ED NOTE: The Anderson Valley, being the one and only, and certainly the one and only valley in the eyes of the people who live here, the singular The Anderson Valley is not only appropriate but required.

* * *


* * *


* * *


FORT BRAGG, CA — In response to the continuing rise in opioid addiction in our coastal communities, Mendocino Coast Clinics (MCC) has significantly expanded its Suboxone Program, including opening a new location dedicated to supporting those who want to overcome their addiction.

Opioids include prescription painkillers like OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin, as well as street drugs like heroin and Fentanyl—all of which come with a high risk of dependence and addiction. In 2021, the latest year for which data is available, Mendocino County had a higher rate of opioid-related overdoses than any other California county, according to the California Department of Public Health. Nationally, opioid-related deaths have increased more than eightfold since 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Led by Lin Taylor, Ph.D., MCC’s program includes medication-assisted treatment (MAT), employing an FDA-approved anti-craving medicine called Suboxone along with individual and group counseling to help patients address issues such as withdrawal and relapse. Case managers provide a single point of contact for appointments, medication refills, and other needs.

MCC’s model integrates primary medical care and behavioral health care, making referrals between the services smooth and easy for patients. In the Suboxone Program, participants receive care from a full range of clinical and support staff, including MAT providers, peer recovery specialists, case managers, nurses, and the most recent addition: a licensed clinical social worker. This allows people receiving treatment to conveniently receive all the services needed with just one appointment time.

The Suboxone Program’s expansion has been funded by a $2.5 million grant awarded in 2021 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. In addition to a new location, the expansion has included hiring additional staff members, some of whom are bilingual and bicultural, which allows people to receive support in either English or Spanish.

Taylor said, “Our new location is a confidential and nonjudgmental place where people can seek help and support when they’re ready for it. In addition to providing treatment for opioid use disorder, we help educate family members, provide support systems, and connect folks with important resources.”

MCC partners with several local organizations to reach as many people as possible, including the Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center, MCAVHN Care, and Prevention Network, Mendocino County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, and the Mendocino County Jail.

Taylor emphasized that the MAT program is one of several services within MCC’s Suboxone Program, which provides the type of holistic support that people managing opioid use disorder need if they are to break the cycle of addiction, including anger management and support groups with access to online and in-person 12-step programs.

“We have a MAT program, and we supply Narcan, but we’re also educating people about opioid misuse and supporting their recovery in a number of different ways,” Taylor explained. “Some people drop in just to talk. Others need our help finding housing, food, jobs, or transportation assistance. We also refer people to our South Street clinic when they need to see a medical or dental provider.”

During its first year of grant funding, the MCC Suboxone Program served 56 patients, surpassing its goal of treating 36 people. MCC plans to increase the Suboxone Program’s reach each year, ultimately serving a total of 324 unique patients by the end of 2026. The program is currently serving over 140 clients that are actively participating in their recovery.

The Suboxone Program is open to anyone with or without health insurance—participants do not have to be already established as MCC patients to access these services.

Taylor noted that addiction does not discriminate and can affect anyone, regardless of age, race, gender, or socioeconomic status. She said, “If you or somebody you know has opioid use disorder or substance use disorder and needs help, call MCC’s Suboxone Program team at (707) 969-7950. We’re here to help.”

(Ukiah Daily Journal)

* * *

BILL KIMBERLIN: I have been going through our family picture box with my brother and we ran across this photo.

It was taken in Anderson Valley but not at the Resort. We think because of the bird bath and brick surface next to it that it was at the McDougal's where we sometimes stayed. The photo is of me and my uncle DeWitt's Pontiac which is either a 1947 or 1948. Help on the date of the car would be appreciated.

* * *


Have you noticed worse VERIZON cell service over the past six months? Let’s make group complaints to Verizon and the CA Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) because they seem to be ignoring us individually. Higher number of complaints = more power. This is posted in 3 other AV groups on FB. 

We have been having problems for an unknown period bc we were gone December-March. Now that we’re back, we know we have some neighbors and friends throughout AV having problems also. We no longer get even one bar on most of our property (we used to get 2 in some areas and 1 in most). Also, we keep having to call to get them to reset Wi-Fi calling from their end because it goes in and out. I believe that periodically not even being able to call 911 makes this an issue relevant to this group.

If you are having VERIZON problems, please do 2 things ASAP: 

1. Call Verizon (611 on your phone in a place that gets service) and DON’T hang up until you get a trouble ticket #. Make sure they put “Anderson Valley” in their system with the trouble ticket. 

I’m collecting data to work my way up to 3rd level tech support for our community; that’s where they have the power and tools to address the problem. Please send the # to me with the date & your physical address. Please use a FB PERSONAL MESSAGE or TEXT MESSAGE Five10-8four3-o4six5. I will reply with “Thanks”; if I don’t please resend. 

2. We missed the first set of meetings, but please submit an EMAIL to the Public Advocates office of the CPUC (CA regulators) for their upcoming hearing on this topic BEFORE May 1st. 

a. Use “AV poor cell service” as the subject. 

b. Include your Verizon trouble ticket #, date, physical location and a BRIEF description of your CURRENT problem.

c. Send to

d. Copy me bc I’m collecting data to make a group complaint to the CPUC (DawnTrygstad At

Thanks! More detail below if interested: 

1. If you, or someone you know, is having this problem, please call Verizon Technical Support. It’s a pain to go through the steps with the Customer Support, but please stick with it until you get referred to Technical Support and get a Trouble Ticket number. Then send it to me via PERSONAL MESSAGE or TEXT MESSAGE Five10-8four3-o4six5 with your physical address. I hope to collect a dozen or more to work my way up to 3rd level support. We have to get there or above to get them to address the problem with tower fixes/changes. Below that they will say ok & they have addressed it, but they don’t have the authority or system access to look at tower issues, let alone fix anything. 

2. We might be able to use public regulators to coerce them to fix the problem thru the California Public Utilities Commission CPUC. 

Below is the content of one of those Verizon emails I usually ignore, but found searching for a response to my trouble ticket issued over a week ago and ignored ever since. We missed the first set of public comment meetings but can still participate in the 2nd set.

“Notice of public hearings in Rulemaking 22-03-016 regarding service quality for telecommunications services in California. Dates:

1. Public participation hearing, April 18, 2023, at 2:00 p.m.

Toll-free phone number: 1-800-857-1917; code: 1767567#

Spanish language toll-free phone number: 1-800-857-1917; code: 3799627#

2. Public participation hearing, April 18, 2023, at 6:00 p.m.

Toll-free phone number: 1-800-857-1917; code: 1767567#

Spanish language toll-free phone number: 1-800-857-1917; code: 3799627#

3. Public participation hearing, May 3, 2023, at 2:00 p.m.

Toll-free phone number: 1-800-857-1917; code: 1767567#

Spanish language toll-free phone number: 1-800-857-1917; code: 3799627#

4. Public participation hearing, May 3, 2023, at 6:00 p.m.

Toll-free phone number: 1-800-857-1917; code: 1767567#

Spanish language toll-free phone number: 1-800-857-1917; code: 3799627#

Why am I receiving this notice? The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) wants to hear from you. Virtual public hearings have been scheduled to hear your comments, concerns and opinions regarding the quality of your telephone, mobile telephone, and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service, with a particular emphasis on service outages and service restoration. Your participation by providing comments can help to inform the CPUC on these issues. You can watch a livestream of the hearings or participate via telephone. You can also submit comments by mail or post them on the CPUC’s public comment portal.

How does this process work? This rulemaking is considering revising existing service quality requirements for telephone service, as well as adopting new standards for mobile telephone service and VoIP service. The rulemaking is assigned to a CPUC Administrative Law Judge and a Commissioner, who will consider proposals and evidence presented during formal processes, and then issue a proposed decision. Any CPUC Commissioner may sponsor an alternate decision with a different outcome. R.22-03-016 ALJ/TJG/smt - 4 - The proposed decision, and any alternate decisions, will be discussed and voted upon by the CPUC Commissioners at a public CPUC Voting Meeting. 

Parties involved in the rulemaking include the Public Advocates Office. The Public Advocates Office is an independent consumer advocate within the CPUC that represents customers to help them obtain the lowest possible rates consistent with reliable and safe service levels. 

Find out more here: 1-415-703-1584, email or visit

Contact the CPUC: Please visit to submit a public comment about this rulemaking to the CPUC. You may also mail written comments to the CPUC’s Public Advisor’s address below. For more information on participating in the public hearing, submitting comments, to request special assistance, or to request a non-English or Spanish language interpreter, please contact the CPUC’s Public Advisor’s Office at least five days prior to the hearings.

CPUC Public Advisor’s Office

505 Van Ness Avenue

San Francisco, CA 94102

Phone: 1-866-849-8390 (toll-free) or 1-415-703-2074


Please reference Rulemaking 22-03-016 in any communications you have with the CPUC regarding this matter.”

We missed the first set of meetings, but please submit an EMAIL to the Public Advocates office of the CPUC (CA regulators) for their upcoming hearing on this topic BEFORE May 1st. 

a. Use “AV poor cell service” as the subject. 

b. Include your Verizon trouble ticket #, date, physical location and a BRIEF description of your CURRENT problem.

c. Send to

d. Copy me bc I’m collecting data to make a group complaint to the CPUC (DawnTrygstad At

* * *


William Alton Vargas, 71, convicted murderer of Jim Cummings of Fort Bragg back in 1997, was booked into the County Jail on Friday on charges of “proceedings.” Our guess is he might be undergoing a sentencing review, or maybe a psych eval.

Bill Vargas


THE BITTER IRONY in the murder of 77-year-old Jim Cummings in August of 1997 (apart from the irony of being murdered at an advanced age) is that Cummings had been quite kind to both the accused killer and the accused killer’s family over a period of many years. Cummings, ruthless in his business dealings, had a soft spot for derelicts and the miscellaneous walking wounded, many of whom found shelter in Cummings’ Cannery Row-like complex at Noyo Harbor. Cummings’ assassin, William Alton Vargas, Jr. then 45, had been employed by Cummings to do odd jobs around Noyo in exchange for rent and walking around money. Twenty-three years later Vargas is still incarcerated at Napa State Hospital where he is supposedly being restored to sanity, or enough sanity to stand trial for Cummings' murder.

PERSONAL NOTE: Having corresponded with Vargas for many years, he's the only crazy person among my epistolary acquaintances who writes well, so well it makes me wonder, How nuts can this guy be? People writing from the bin are typically incoherent, in my experience anyway. Vargas was deep into methamphetamine when he shot Cummings, meaning he was in a state of altered consciousness that often doesn't carry over into life without the drug, at least that seems to be the case with the small army of post-tweek Mendo meth heads who've regained themselves after years on the white powders.

IN HIS LETTERS to Boonville, Vargas has mentioned another Mendo guy, Joe Mannix, who is held in the same unit as Vargas. Joe grew up in Boonville. I knew him as a kid, remember how much he enjoyed playing basketball. But he got into marijuana at an early age and, as so often happens, it seems to have triggered adult schizophrenia in Joe, and he became dangerously unhinged, once stealing a small plane from SF International and steering it into nearby San Bruno Mountain. (Joe learned to fly in the flight class then offered at Boonville High School.) Another time he miraculously landed a Cessna on a cliff outcropping on the east side of the Anderson Valley almost directly opposite central Boonville, the marooned plane a sight we all marveled at for weeks. Joe also threatened to do a kamikaze into the high school gym when it was full of people. And then he was shut away, apparently forever. Vargas wrote that they keep Joe in a drugged stupor at Napa, and you have to wonder if the chemical healers make any real effort to bring Joe back. 

DEVELOPERS have coveted Noyo Harbor for years, envisioning a tourist trap similar, albeit on a smaller scale, to San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. With Cummings gone, and his tangled affairs involved in a lengthy probate, the wolves circled but soon roosted, and broadly considered the Harbor looks pretty much as it did when Cummings dominated it. He owned property up and down the Coast valued, some say, at perhaps as much as $25 to $50 million but, when all was settled, came in at about $10 million. In addition to his extremely valuable holdings at Noyo, Cummings owned most of Chapman Point overlooking the Mendocino Headlands, not to mention other parcels up and down the Coast. Some of the properties are under his given name of Boyle, some under Cummings, the name of his stepfather. Bob Peterson, the Fort Bragg attorney, was executor of the Cummings estate. A baby Brinks — an armored SUV-like vehicle — was needed to haul off Cummings' cash, gold coins, and various antiques from his modest, elevated (for high waters) home. A pair of accountants tabulated the treasure.

CUMMINGS was married several times, his last connubial contract being to a Brazilian immigrant he’d hired to assist him recuperate after an automobile accident near Yorkville. His wife was not with him on his last night; she lived at another address. Cummings has two teenage children from his marriage to a much younger Fort Bragg woman, Aura Johansen, a scandal of sorts at the time because Ms. Johansen was a teenager when Cummings took up with her.

MS. JOHANSEN and the two Cummings heirs made the national news a few years after Cummings death when mom, a recovering drug addict, was falsely arrested by the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department and charged with possession of black tar heroin. The black tar heroin turned out to be a batch of popcorn balls mom was making, prompting unkind community speculation about the abilities of police officers to distinguish dope from a jam sandwich. Ms. Johansen had been videotaped by her son allegedly in the act of doing drugs. The son went to the police with the claim that his surveillance showed that Mom was supplying drugs to her young daughter, all of which turned out to be untrue but provided much grist for the national talk show moralists for about a week. 

THE SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT, by the way, described Cummings’ accused killer as being “highly educated” because, in a stormy court case with his former wife, Vargas had deployed the word, “uxorious” to describe himself, presumably. The defendant is highly educated for sure given the quality of his correspondence, but probably not in the formal college sense, whatever "educated" means anymore, college or no college.

VARGAS has admitted that he went to Cummings home at Noyo shortly after midnight on a Wednesday of August 1997 where he tossed a small bomb up on Cummings deck to lure to lure the old man outside, then shot Cummings when Cummings appeared on his porch with a pistol. Vargas’ usufructuary plan seems to have worked in that he shot Cummings before Cummings could shoot him, dispatching Cummings with an odd handgun outfitted with a can't miss night scope.

FOLLOWING his father's death, Jim Jr., at the time only 17, soon alleged that his father's trust was being looted by its trustees. Junior spent several unhappy years in litigation with the managers of his late father’s bequest, finally settling with them and moving first to Texas with his wife, the former Amber Brown, also of Fort Bragg, and then to Bangor, Maine. (Cummings' trust managers hired past and present girl friends to perform nebulous to non-existent tasks, enjoyed expensive meals on the trust's tab and so on. Junior wasn't particularly wrong about that.)

IN 2009, Cummings Jr., 29, was shot to death by Amber, then 31, in the couple's home in Bangor, Maine; the couple's 9-year-old home-schooled daughter was present. Police attributed the shooting to "domestic violence," implying that Mrs. Cummings was defending herself when she shot her husband. She was described by neighbors and acquaintances as a "quiet" and "very pleasant lady." Jim Jr. was described as "a fat loud mouth with a Napoleon complex."

CUMMINGS JR. had earlier come to national attention when he was arrested in Bangor for possessing bomb-making materials, and threatening to blow up President Obama's inauguration.

THE BANGOR DAILY NEWS, in an account by Walter Griffin, says that Cummings bullied Amber, that she "cowered" in his presence. “It didn’t shock me at all when I heard about it,” said Mike Robbins, who spent a month painting and roofing the Cummings home last summer. “He was a very angry person and was verbally abusive to his wife all the time.” Robbins described Cummings as a heavyset man who liked to walk around his house wearing a cowboy hat and an ankle-length black leather coat. He said Cummings would often sit outside on a lawn chair and watch him work and make disparaging comments. He said Cummings had a mean streak and was particularly abusive toward his wife. Robbins said Cummings also spoke about how he “really liked the Nazis” and claimed to have a large collection of Nazi memorabilia, including pieces of Hitler’s silverware and place settings.

Cummings Jr.

ANOTHER CONTRACTOR who worked on the Cummings' Maine house had similar recollections. The man declined to be identified because he was preparing legal action against Cummings’ estate because of unpaid work. He said he and Cummings disagreed about the work he performed and that he decided to walk away without getting paid because of Cummings’ explosive personality. “Normally I’d go after payment, but in this case I walked away. He was absolutely the worst customer I ever had,” the unnamed man said. “I just perceived that the guy was dangerous and capable of real violence. I was afraid of the guy. He talked all the time about guns, one of those guys that would let you know he had guns.” He added that “this guy was a huge fan of Adolf Hitler; he had silverware and dinner sets Hitler used.” He described Cummings as “verbally abusive to his wife and just about everybody."

AMBER CUMMINGS plead guilty in 2010 to manslaughter for shooting Cummings Jr. and received an eight-year suspended sentence. The legal proceedings revealed that Amber and her now 10-year-old daughter, Claira, had been subjected to years of emotional and physical violence at the hands of James Cummings Jr. [Her story: No Way Out: The True Story of Amber Cummings] 

VARGAS wrote the following letter to the AVA in December of 2001:



I just returned to Ukiah from Napa State Hospital for a court hearing and this young man in the jail, Tai Abreu, who grew up in Noyo Harbor, shows me this story titled “Sgt. John Naulty the ideal street sergeant,” by Neil Boyle, which contained two paragraphs regarding Sgt. Naulty’s role in the July 1997 death of Jim Cummings. 

There was mention of officer Naulty having a “sixth sense.” First of all, a deputy sheriff arrived at Mr. Cummings’ residence minutes after the attack who testified at the preliminary hearing as to Mr. Cummings’ possessing a loaded .38-caliber revolver. My point being it’s doubtful Officer Naulty was the first to respond. 

Second, the fuse found on the front seat of my car was not left there by me, to my knowledge, nor was the cotton for bomb making found in my trunk later at the Sheriff’s station by Sheriff’s Detective Jay Miller put there by me. But I agree how officer Naulty deserved credit for this. 

Third, I was never hiding under the fuel dock watching them (the police) and I never dumped the gun in the river. I understand how Officer Naulty was, or could be, misinformed, but to assume I came out because he and his men made a scene about leaving is half-logical and false. The fact is that I was near the south end of the piers and, having decided to wait until daylight to emerge, fell asleep. At my trailer, I let Detective Miller inside to look, then agreed to drive up to the station with him, where I was detained and agreed to be questioned by him. 

Fourth, and for what it’s worth, I was never arrested by Sgt. Naulty. That can be checked in police records. My question and concern is why did such a good cop claim something which isn’t true? Or was it simply an exaggeration or honest mistake? I’m the one with the certified mental illness and delusional beliefs, after all. 

William Vargas


* * *

CATCH OF THE DAY, Saturday, April 29, 2023

Carlsen, Casey, Cea

CODY CARLSEN, Ukiah. Possession of over 600 obscene images of minor in sexual act.

HUNTER CASEY, Fort Bragg. Paraphernalia, county parole violation.

JOHN CEA, Shirley, New York/Ukiah. Proceedings.

Erkel, Hidalgo, Johnson, Lakeotes

CHELSIE ERKEL, Windsor/Ukiah. Shoplifting, concealed dirk-dagger, paraphernalia, resisting.

THOMAS HIDALGO, Ukiah. Parole violation.

SHAWN JOHNSON, Ukiah. Domestic battery, petty theft, vandalism, controlled substance, county parole violation.

AMANDA LAKEOTES, Orangeville/Mendocino. Domestic battery, resisting. 

Parker, Timberlake, Tupper

WILLIAM PARKER, Willits. Controlled substance, evidence destruction, appropriation of lost property, conspiracy, probation revocation, unspecified offense.

JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, Ukiah. Paraphernalia, protective order violation.

JACINTO TUPPER, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.

Vargas, Varas-Palomino, Verdot

WILLIAM VARGAS, Napa/Ukiah. Proceedings.


CHEYENNE VERDOT, Willits. Burglary, evidence destruction, stolen property, conspiracy.

* * *



The State Department issues warnings about unsafe conditions in various parts of the world, when here in gun-loving America, people are shot for mistakenly going down the wrong driveway or knocking on the wrong door. Heck, we get shot while grocery shopping, going to a concert, at school, worshipping, driving and everywhere in between.

My advice to friends around the world is, don’t come to the U.S. The situation is so bad that even Americans worry about going out in public. I never ever worried about such occurrences in the past, but I do now. Was that a car backfiring, or the start of a road-rage shootout? Was that loud rat-a-tat-tat a machine at work or an AR-15 rifle being sprayed at innocent shoppers?

Mental health, economic disparity and alienation are issues worldwide, but only here do these societal problems explode in a flurry of bullets. America is no longer the land of the free. We have become the land of the terrified, huddled in our homes to stay safe, ready to shoot anyone who may knock on our doors, or mistakenly go down our driveway. In a word, we have become a society that values guns over life.

Vic Auto


* * *

* * *


Letter to the Editor

I thought Jonah Raskin’s Vietnam article (AVA, 4/26/23) was very informative.

I’m a veteran (US Army 1968-1970) who refused to pick up a weapon when I was drafted. As far as I was concerned, the US had illegally invaded Vietnam.

Something hardly anyone knows is that the CIA was and probably still is one of the largest drug dealers in the world. I’m a member of Veterans For Peace (VFP). I heard from members of VFP that they guarded an amount of heroin so huge that it would have filled a football field. The CIA imported that into the US, fueling the heroin problems in the US in the decades after Vietnam.

Lindsay Moran, a one-time clandestine CIA officer, said, “The agency was elbow deep with drug traffickers.”

New York University professor Christian Parenti said, “The CIA is from its very beginning collaborating with mafiosas who are involved in the drug trade because these mafiosas will serve the larger agenda of fighting communism.”

“In my 30-year history in the Drug Enforcement Administration and related agencies, the major targets of my investigations almost invariably turned out to be working for the CIA.” — Dennis Dayle, former chief of an elite DEA enforcement unit. All these quotes are from the Institute for Policy Studies —

Then we have the problem of how horrid the Vietnam war experience was for military personnel who came back alive and couldn’t handle what they had seen and experienced there.

CBS’s 60 Minutes, Vietnam 101, 4 October, 1986, broadcast that more than 100,000 Vietnam veterans had committed suicide. In 1988, a network news anchor (CBS Reports: The Wall Within, 2 Jun, 1988) asserted that between 26,000 and 100,000 suicides had occurred among Vietnam veterans.

A member of my bicycle group was stationed on a Navy ship in the Gulf of Tonkin. This was where the so-called incident used by the US government to justify the invasion of sovereign Vietnam supposedly occurred. He said the Gulf of Tonkin incident never happened.

Other Veterans For Peace members told me they weren’t allowed to fire upon a known informer who guided the Vietcong where to aim their ordinance at US soldiers and installations. This was because he traveled through land owned by the Goodrich tire corporation.

US invasions to further economic interests and drug interests cannot be tolerated by We The People any longer.

Ed Oberweiser

Fort Bragg

* * *

* * *


The mass psychosis of the Communist System was able to persist for over 70 years in the Soviet Union only because the Russian communists were able to keep absolute control over what the people read and heard. And, if anyone reached a different conclusion about anything, then he was immediately censored and “Cancelled”. When I was growing up in the US, the only thing that got “Cancelled” were TV shows with poor viewer ratings lacking entertainment value.

* * *

JEFF BLANKFORT: I agree but what it says about the US left that Carlson has been the most outspoken critic of Washington's pursuit of a never ending war in Ukraine is not very complimentary for those on the left who claim to be antiwar and yet beat the drums for a Russian victory and who don't seem to give a damn about any of the lives that continue to be lost.

* * *

* * *


Here's the recording of last night's (2023-04-28) eight-hour-long Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg (CA) and

This particular show featured Derek, Frank, the death of Stan, Nicole, three kinds of Louis (loo-iss, loo-wee, loo-weess) and two Louises (say loo-weez-ez), Tom, Douglas, Bruce, Justine, Parker Posey, Notty, four Daves, two Bobs, Jack, Sharon, the other Sharon, Andrew called to read a story from his news website ( about the decades-ongoing nightmare of poverty, drugs, alcohol, gun violence and health-and-law-service neglect of Covelo; Del, Eleanor, Mitch, Ezekiel (and associated dachshund siblings Flaco and Lucky), Melody, Paul, Kent, Debra, Claire, Kathryn, Arie, Larry, Brian, Kaushik, Rupa, Dupa, Laney, yadda yadda, and so on. It could have been a big mess, but it kind of worked. Among the musical breaks, a few familiar revealing and stirring songs about lies and lying and liars. And the eight-hour show is rounded with a couple of short recorded pieces from the Offal project.

Email your written work and I'll read it on the very next Memo of the Air on KNYO.

Besides all that, at you'll find a fresh batch of dozens of links to not necessarily radio-useful but nonetheless worthwhile items I set aside for you while gathering the show together. Such as:

A real dream of books. It reminds me of a cartoon I saw almost forty years ago, where the plot was, the people in a kingdom discovered that their world and all their lives only existed in the dream of a peacefully sleeping man. So they used science to reach out into the real world, they found the man (!), stuffed him around with soft pillows, and played quiet music, and shooed bugs away, and disconnected his phone and turned off his alarm clock, to keep him asleep. But the inevitable end of the dream became chaotic, and all the books in their library turned into flamingoes. Millions of flamingos flapping around in a crazy cloud of them, the narrator repeating “Flamingoes! Flamingoes!” and the people and their world vanished, all washed white, as the man woke up and yawned. Now, what was that cartoon called? It was part of an animation festival of the 1980s. Help me out, here. (via Everlasting Blort)

“Liar, liar, pants on fire, your nose is longer than a telephone wire.” When I was a little boy and I first heard that, I thought it was the funniest thing in the world, that line in falsetto in a song on the radio. And the guitar gimmick twang was like a fishhook catching its tang in your brain.

And an hour-long special about Groucho Marx. Melinda used to play fiddle in an Irish band once or twice a week out in front when I worked in Brannons in the early 1980s. A little after that she got in a car wreck, I heard, and that was why she didn’t play fiddle anymore; it hurt her neck to play it. So she played mandolin in the little orchestra for all the Gloriana Opera Company musical theater shows, where Jack Leung played piano. I haven’t seen her for years. I hope she’s okay. I have a short scene printed on my memory in technicolor, of looking out from the kitchen in Brannan’s, and they’re playing Irish music in a circle in the dining room, hurdy-gurdy, accordions, long Chinese-Celtic ouds, flutes and tin whistles, etc., and there’s Melinda Marx, an animated elf on fire, the focus of the scene, playing this leaping, screaming violin reel, stamping one high-heel shoe, smiling her head off, her long waterfall of jet-black hair flipping this way and that in a windstorm from the other world.

Marco McClean,,

* * *

Poole was so far off Friday night that..

* * *

DYNASTY ON THE ROPES? Predictions, analysis ahead of Warriors-Kings Game 7

by Sporting Green Staff

Who is the biggest X-factor for Game 7, for either team?

C.J. Holmes, Warriors beat reporter: Stephen Curry. He’s been incredible throughout this series, but it’s going to take a master-class performance from No. 30 to overcome what Golden State will face on Sunday. It has to be him. 

Ann Killion, columnist: The dynastic trio, which has been in this situation and knows what to do. It needs to lead the way. Draymond Green, in particular, needs to play the way he did in Game 5, controlling pace on both ends of the floor.

Ron Kroichick, staff writer: Malik Monk. He’s averaging 26 points in Sacramento’s three wins and 12.7 in its three losses. Gary Payton II needs to spend more time shadowing Monk.

Connor Letourneau, staff writer: The Big Three. For the Warriors to go into a hostile road environment and keep their season alive, they need big-time performances from Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. 

Scott Ostler, columnist: Malik Monk. The W’s can’t let a guy come off the opponent’s bench and crush them, nightly. He brings momentum, energy and points, and the Warriors have to slow him. Jonathan Kuminga? 

What’s the most important adjustment the Warriors need to make?

Holmes: Bringing Draymond Green off the bench was a gamble that paid off in Games 4 and 5, but now the Warriors find themselves in a win-or-go-home situation. With Jordan Poole’s struggles in both of those games, its probably time to get Green back in the starting lineup. That way Golden State will have its five best players on the court from the opening tip. The starting lineup of Green, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins and Kevon Looney is still the best five-man combo in the league. Those five should be on the court as much as possible in Game 7. 

Killion: Pay attention to the mantra of Steve Kerr: take care of the ball, get the rebounds and ball movement. Hey, it’s only led to four championship rings. It just might work.

Kroichick: Start Draymond Green and limit Jordan Poole’s minutes. Poole was out of control in Game 6, as he has been most of the series. He still goes out of his way to seek contact on nearly every shot, making the shots infinitely more difficult, and then complains to the officials when he doesn’t get the call. And his defense is simply dreadful.

Letourneau: Move Draymond Green back into the starting lineup. Bringing him off the bench was well and good for a couple of games, but it clearly became a problem Friday. Without Green’s energy, the Warriors opened sluggishly, digging a quick 8-0 hole. It also didn’t help that Jordan Poole, the fill-in starter, was awful on both ends. 

Ostler: Pass the stupid ball. Twenty assists in Game 6, that will never get it done. Maybe Kerr will have to go all high school: “Four passes before you shoot.”

If the Warriors fail to close out the Kings, is the dynasty dead?

Holmes: It really depends on the Warriors’ ability to put productive pieces around Stephen Curry. Draymond Green has a player option this offseason. Does he stay? Klay Thompson will be entering extension talks in the near future. Can Golden State find a team-friendly deal that satisfies both parties? General manager Bob Myers — the man who helps make these important decisions — hasn’t gotten a new deal from owner Joe Lacob yet. In short, the Warriors could look a lot different soon from a personnel and front-office standpoint. How they manage the fallout will determine if they can continue to contend for championships. 

Killion: Not necessarily. This season has played out more the way most people thought last season would unfold, but instead the Warriors went and won another championship ahead of schedule. There’s always the possibility that Joe Lacob will be angry with a first-round exit and want to blow things up, but if Steph, Klay and Draymond stay together — and Lacob holds on to Bob Myers like all sane people believe he should — I think this team could make another run. They’ve learned a lot of humbling lessons in this erratic season. Never dismiss Steph Curry. 

Kroichick: “Dead” is too strong with Stephen Curry still doing Steph Curry things. And the dynasty did leap back to life in 2022, after two forgettable seasons. But it would land on life support with a first-round departure, especially in the wake of a pedestrian (and turbulent) regular season. 

Letourneau: Probably. The Warriors face two big questions this offseason: Does Draymond Green pick up his player option? And does general manager Bob Myers return? A first-round exit would up the odds of both Green and Myers moving on. And even if those two don’t, the Warriors would have a really hard time putting together a championship-caliber roster. Their core is just getting too old. 

Ostler: Yes. If the Kings light the beam, the Warriors’ soul will follow it and ascend to heaven.

What’s your boldest prediction for Game 7?

Holmes: The Warriors wasted a golden opportunity in Game 6 Friday night at Chase Center. Their season will end Sunday afternoon in Sacramento because of it. Even in Golden State’s Game 5 win in Sacramento, the team played about as well as it could and still barely escaped with a victory. Now the Kings believe in themselves, and they will have a ridiculous homecourt advantage. If the Warriors come out flat as they did in Game 6, it’s a wrap. 

Killion: Quiet Andrew Wiggins has been almost a forgotten man in all the chatter around this team. He will channel his inner 2022-playoff Wiggs and have a break-out game, quieting the Golden 1 crowd and leading the Warriors to victory. Maybe. 

Kroichick: Curry plays 45-plus minutes and takes 30-plus shots. If the Warriors are going down, they need to know they played their best card. 

Letourneau: Moses Moody is a difference-maker. After spending much of the regular season out of the Warriors’ rotation, he is getting meaningful minutes on a big stage. Moody’s nine-point, three-steal game in Game 6 should force Steve Kerr to bump him ahead of Poole on Sunday. 

Ostler: Kerr will ride with his aces. Curry, Thompson and Green will each play 40-minutes plus, Poole will be on a super-short leash. Strength in Numbers? Not in this game.


* * *

* * *


A suspected drone strike has sparked a huge fire at a fuel storage facility in the Russian-occupied Crimean port city of Sevastopol.

The Russian-backed governor of the city, Mikhail Razvozhaev, said four fuel tanks were hit but no one was injured.

Razvozhaev said the fire had been contained, adding it would not affect fuel supply in Sevastopol.

Without claiming responsibility, Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence called the fire “God’s punishment,” particularly for the civilians killed in the Ukrainian city of Uman, where a Russian strike Friday left at least 23 people dead.

“This punishment will be long-lasting,” Andrii Yusov told Ukrainian media Saturday.

Ukrainian soldiers at a check point at the border between Ukraine and Russian-occupied Crimea.

He also urged Crimean residents to stay away from military facilities.

Crimea was illegally annexed by Russia in 2014, and is internationally recognized as being part of Ukraine. 

An important port and a major naval base for Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, Sevastopol has endured multiple suspected Ukrainian attacks. On Monday, Razvozhaev said there was a drone attack on the city, one of which was destroyed, and the other exploded on its own.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has vowed to “liberate” all of the country’s territory including the occupied peninsula.

While clawing back Crimea from Russian control appears an unlikely feat, Ukraine has been making things difficult for the occupation with attacks, while the fight for their eastern front ensues. 


* * *

“IN THE WAR in Italy when I was a boy, I had much fear. In Spain I had no fear after a couple of weeks and was very happy. Yet for me not to understand fear in others or deny its existence would be bad writing. It is just that now I understand the whole thing better. The only thing about a war, once it has started, is to win it — and that is what we did not do. The hell with war for a while, I want to write.”

— Ernest Hemingway (from Letters of Hemingway, Carlos Baker edited)

* * *

SOME PEOPLE wonder why mental health conditions are so bad, while I marvel at the fact that they're not much worse. It's actually amazing anyone's functioning at all in a civilization that's ruled by exploiters and abusers who dominate the world using mass-scale psychological manipulation. It's a testament to human resilience that anyone is sane. When everyone's mind is always being pummeled with messaging that you're deficient if you can't thrive under our oppressive systems, that you're flawed if you don't look, think and act a certain way, that poverty is normal and acts of mass military slaughter are acceptable, it's a wonder we don't all snap.

When everyone's consciousness is being continually warped and twisted to suit the agendas of the powerful and keep us all thinking, speaking, working, shopping and voting in ways that advance their interests, it's surprising we're not seeing more suicides, more mass shootings, more substance abuse, more clinical depression and anxiety. In a totalitarian dystopia that's held together by mass-scale psychological abuse, it's entirely reasonable that people are finding themselves overwhelmed with despair, alienation, depression and anxiety.

Everything seems phony, meaningless and needlessly difficult because it is. This isn't a statement about human nature or life as it naturally exists, it's a statement about the artificially constructed systems we live under currently. Systems that were built by people and are being maintained by people. Systems which can be changed and restructured by people, too.

— Caitlin Johnstone

* * *

* * *


by Paul Kingsnorth

Is it possible to be at home in this world? The foundation stories of very different cultures, from very different times and places, seem to tell us that it was once, but that things are different now. In India, the Mahabharata tells a story of cyclical time, moving from a primal unity towards dissolution and collapse, after which the cycle begins again. The final era of the cycle, the Kali Yuga, is overseen by the dark goddess of disintegration, war, strife: humans move further and further away from the sacred centre where truth is to be found, deeper into their own small selves. The Kali Yuga, needless to say, is our time. 

Here in the West, the same tale is told as the story of four ages. The primal unity, in this case, is represented by the Golden Age, long in the past, in which humans lived in balance with the world. The subsequent degradation moves downward through Silver and Bronze ages to our own Iron Age, a time again of egoism and strife. This in turn is mirrored by the fulcrum-story of the Judaeo-Christian tradition, the myth of the Fall. Again, we hear of a time in which humans lived in deep communion with God and with Earth, in a garden no less. We could have stayed there for eternity, but there is something in us, some thorn, that will not grow that way. We wanted more, we wanted knowledge and power, we wanted to beat God at His own game. We were banished from the garden, and now we wander as exiles, torn between pleading to be let back in and defiantly building our own, better home here on Earth: a genetically-modifed smart garden, arranged entirely around our own self-love. 

Eden is fascinating to me. I think that this three millennia-old Biblical myth tells us more about ourselves than we would like to admit. In his novel Ishmael, Daniel Quinn frames the story of the Fall as a narrative of the human shift from hunting-gathering to agriculture. The primal garden, claims the narrator, is a fragmentary, mythologised version of the world before farming. The middle east - the 'fertile crescent' in which the Biblical peoples lived - was one of the first centres of agriculture on Earth, but agriculture can only flourish when roaming cultures are replaced by sedentary ones. This replacement usually happens by force, as tribal cultures are displaced, their lands seized and turned over to fields and livestock. Eden, in this telling, is not myth but prehistory: a dim memory of a time when humans really did live in some form of communion with the rest of nature, before farming transformed the non-human world into a product line, and we were exiled forever by our decision to choose control over acceptance.

During my time running the Dark Mountain Project, from 2009 to 2017, we were always on the lookout for writing from beyond the usual quarters, the usual quarters being the pens of middle-class Euro-American cultural outsiders like myself. Not that there's anything wrong with what flows from these pens, necessarily, but any publication will be limited by its own cultural milieu unless it tries to look beyond it, which is harder than it might sound. What interested me then, and still does, is a simple question: where can we find writers who could paint a picture of the world beyond our tired Occidental stories, whether the mainstream stories of progress'n'growth or the well-worn counter-cultural ruts of 'resistance', 'social justice' and a more egalitarian version of megacity machine living? And in particular, my ongoing question: are there any writers out there who can point the way back to the garden?

The more I thought about these questions, and the more we failed to find many people who could answer them, the more I began to realise that my founding assumptions were wrong. Going out into the world looking for 'uncivilised writing' is after all, as the more perceptive critics of our manifesto pointed out in the early days, something of a tautology. What's more civilised than writing? Written language, as I wrote (irony alert) in my recent book Savage Gods, is one of the supporting pillars of civilisation. Voices which really represent an alternative to the over-civilised way of seeing that is eating the Earth are unlikely to be written in globalised English prose, and may not be written down at all.

So where to find them? Are they to be found, and do they even want to be? Should they be? A few years back, the writer Amitav Ghosh, author of The Great Derangement, suggested to me that stories told by non-human voices are rarely if ever found in contemporary prose, especially in Western fiction, because it is simply unequipped for the job of representing much outside the individuated human mind. You can find those voices though, he said, in ancient Indian poetry. Reflecting on that, I thought of the fairytales of old Europe, in which the woods are alive with magic and witchcraft and unknown beasts and talking animals, and the boundary between the world of humans, the world of nature and the world of spirit is always thin if it exists at all. 

What is it that these old stories have that modern ones do not? What are we missing - or what do we need to let go of in order to hear? 

The best answer that I ever found came from a modest Indian man whose surname I still do not know, despite having corresponded with him, and published him, for years. I can't remember how we came across Narendra, or whether he came across us, but when I look back now I think that his writings were some of the most important that Dark Mountain ever published. 

All that I know about Narendra comes from his writing, and he gives little of his story away there. For years, he has been recording his impressions in a series of email 'dispatches', which he sends round to a handful of friends and acquaintances on an occasional basis. His dispatches record his long association with, and his impressions of, the Adivasi (tribal) communities of the Bastar region of the Indian state of Chhattisgarh. Our books were the first place his writings were published outside India; I'm not sure they had ever been published anywhere before. This is one reason, though not the only one, why I am excited that HarperCollins India has seen fit to publish two collections of his life's writings: Bastar Dispatches, and A Sense of Home. 

From 1980 until 2013, Narendra lived in and then visited the remote Abujhmad region of Bastar, one of the last bastions of traditional Adivasi people in India. When he first visited, the region was virtually untouched by the outside world. There were none of the intrusions of the modern state - schools, roads, sewage systems, taxes, ideologies and the rest. The dialect had no more than 500 words, and people still counted no higher than five. 'The more interior villages', writes Narendra, 'had not known the impact of the wheel.' The region had 'neither trade nor industry, commerce, occupation or other modern apparatus,' he explains. Perhaps not coincidentally, 'neither was there hunger, starvation, beggary or lingering disease.' The people lived in tiny bamboo and thatch huts, but their real home was the land itself. When Narendra asked one Adivasi why they didn't build bigger homes, given all the land available to them, he didn't understand the question. 'This is our home', he said, indicating the forest itself. 

Perhaps this is the first lesson. The Adivasis of Abujhmad did not live 'close to the land.' They were the land. The conceptual understanding of the world which Western people, whether imperious progressives or dreamy Romantics, might wish to impose on their life will inevitably be wrong, because there is no 'conceptual understanding', there is only being. The word that Narendra uses again and again to refer to the spirit of Abujhmad is 'inscrutable.' Even after four decades, he cannot get to the true heart of the Adivasi understanding of the world. There is a 'stalemate' in the language outsiders use about Adivasis, writes Narendra. 'Such dissonances occur when referants for an ancient community come from modern categories such as state, progress, democracy, development, economics, governance, market, equality, ecology and the rest. They have little or no echo in the Adivasi's experience and memory.'

This is the second lesson which Narendra's writing teaches: no matter how many questions an outsider asks, they will never receive a satisfactory answer, because the questions themselves come from a frame of reference which, to the Adivasi, makes no sense. Bastar Dispatches contains some profound and often very funny passages of dialogue in which Narendra, in anthropological mode, asks various Abujhmadias why they are doing something, only to receive a series of koans in reply. On one occasion he meets an Adivasi sitting in an empty shop during a festival. Surprised to see an Adivasi shopkeeper - commerce had not yet penetrated Bastar - he asks him if it is his shop. It turns out it is not his shop, he is not minding it, he has no idea whose shop it is or where they are, and he has no intention of buying anything from it. Then what are you doing here? asks Narendra. 'I just came and sat some time ago,' says the man. 

The problem with this kind of interrogation, Narendra realises, is not the confusing non-answers, but the questions themselves. 'I - as a modern man - have far too many questions seeking far too many answers ... When one does not have many questions, or seek many answers, one addresses life differently.'

This is probably the key to living in the garden: not asking questions. The simplicity, and the acceptance, of Abujhmad life is on beautiful display in these books. The religious festivals, the act of gathering water from the well, the bamboo huts, the tigers in the forests, the monsoons, the hermits, the aimless walks and conversations - all of it adds up to a picture of a place that just is. It is not going anywhere, it has no goals, nothing is wrong that must be fixed. This is the third lesson: living in any degree of harmony with the world requires acceptance: something which we Western people, surely, can never attain, our whole culture being built on a refusal to accept anything at all that we cannot change or explain or define in words. Limits, says Narendra, are the key to the deep peace of Abujhmad: 'the Abujhmadia's intent is to stay within such limits; not conquest and supremacy.' Once limits become borders to be broken through, rather than sacred boundaries to exist within, the cycle downwards has surely begun. 

To read these two books is to be immersed in a world whose values, whose understanding, whose way of living is so alien, because so ancient and primal, that the stories are both heartbreaking and inspirational. Inspirational because can see that a true human life is, after all, possible. Heartbreaking because it is so far from us, and because it is rapidly being destroyed by the forces of the Indian State, Maoist insurgents, Western NGOs, the World Bank and all the usual panoply of outsiders who, in their various ways, have nothing but contempt for the chosen limits of Adivasi life. 

What is that life? It is above all, an Adivasi from the village of Gond tells Narendra, 'being located in ones's landscape.' This is the 'primary ingredient for love, warmth, generosity, freedom and good governance.'  Abujhmad, says the Adivasi, in a moving passage, has always been a welcoming place: but now there are intruders who are not welcome, or welcoming in turn:

Since time immemorial, outsiders have come and settled here, adopting our ways of living and dying. We have shared our land, forest, water, home and hearth with them ... They belong to Bastar as much as we do. Now there is a large-scale intrusion of another kind, of outsiders attached to an axis of power. He extracts, controls and exports profits. He has come and yoked Bastar to the global corporate chain. For him, being located in a definite landscape, memory or its ethos and values is not the reference point wherefrom life and its measures are ascertained. He comes from an axis of dislocation and discontinuity. 

Lesson number five: it's not where you come from that matters, but how you live in a place. If there is a line to be drawn, it is not to be drawn between ethnicities, nations, religions or tribes, but between the dislocated and the located: between those who put down roots and nurture a place and its people, and those, whether Maoists or marketeers, activists or missionaries, who see a truly wild community as a product to be exploited, or a staging post on the road to utopia. 'Abujhmad is not in search of some utopia', writes Narendra. 'It never lost itself.' 

Narendra continues to write his dispatches, and send them round to his small circle of contacts. One pinged into my inbox just this morning. He insists, as he always has, that he has no expertise and nothing special to say about these people and their lands. His writing 'is of a meagre kind', he says, 'and would have negligible value or relevance in these times.' I disagree. I think his writing is some of the most important you could read, and that his own agenda-free modesty is one of the reasons for that. Narendra is not trying to sell you anything, or to push some worldview onto you. Until very recently, he has had no expectation of his work even being read by more than a few dozen people. He is simply trying to work his way to the heart of his inscrutable place, knowing that he, and not the Adivasi, is the one in need of help. 

'Without a home', he writes of the Adivasi in his tiny, sparse hut, 'he is at home - like the trees, hills and horizons. Man outside is the only one who is homeless, and cannot find one amidst societies, processes and institutions that were meant to secure it. He has lost the way home and even the sense of home. It is as if he has been affected by the Tarin Taan plant that causes temporary amnesia and illusion. If one grazes past, one remembers neither home nor hearth, nor the ways to reach them.', December 2020

* * *

* * *

THE CURRENT POLITICAL system is broken. The American Dream has turned into a Nightmare for many, and to free us from this nightmare, we need a new kind of leadership that is not at the mercy of special interests and corporate donors. I have spent my life fighting for justice and equality. I believe that my experience as an attorney and environmental activist has prepared me to tackle the challenges we face. My family’s legacy of public service has instilled in me a passion for justice. Both my father, Robert F Kennedy, and my uncles, President John Kennedy, and Senator Edward Kennedy, were champions of the underdog, fighters for what’s right, and tireless advocates for the voiceless. Their legacy inspires me every day, and it’s a great honor to carry on their work. We need to come together as a nation to tackle these challenges and to build a future that is fair and just for all. No democracy can survive without a thriving middle class. 

— Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.



  1. Norm Thurston April 30, 2023

    Mark – Your comments on the “water mafia” raise many good points. In fairness though, it is worth noting that only public agency in Mendocino County to financially participate in the construction of Coyote Dam was the Mendocino County Russian River Flood Control & Water Conservation Improvement District. That financial investment bought the District the rights to a certain amount of water stored in Lake Mendocino. The District is made up of farmlands adjoining the Russian River, downstream from Lake Mendocino. Those land owners issued bonds, which they paid off through debt service taxes over many years. For those folks, the term “free water” really does not apply.

    • Jim Armstrong April 30, 2023

      Norm: You are right, but the Major doesn’t deal with facts very well.
      His mathematical summation of grape production mixed numbers from above and below Lake Mendocino.
      When it comes to booze, he would begrudge the splash of branch water suggested for one’s single malt.

  2. Eric Sunswheat April 30, 2023

    RE: The Ukiah Walmart keeps its men’s underwear under lock and key. (ED NOTES)
    —> Try Windsor WalMart or shop Walmart online for surprising deals, free shipping or store pickup.

    RE: Safeway at the Red Hill Shopping Center (ED NOTES)
    —> Two grocery clerks were recently hired there, to replace the five fired last month, for a refund kickback scheme under investigation since last Fall, so security might improve.
    For wider items selection, fresher organic produce, and shorter checkout wait lines, perhaps try the oldest supermarket in Marin, the United Markets, in San Anselmo and San Rafael, with Senior Citizen (60+) monthly 10% discount on most items except alcohol and dairy, the first Thursday of every month. 7a-8p.
    —> April 14, 2023
    Last week, consumers filed a class action against Safeway and its parent company alleging that the grocer unlawfully inflates the regular retail price of products used in buy-one-get-one-free promotions, causing consumers to effectively still pay for the “seemingly” free product.
    For example, the complaint alleges that Safeway sold a product for $7.47 one day and for $10.99 the next day, as part of a BOGO offer.

  3. Kirk Vodopals April 30, 2023

    I really appreciated the part in Bobby’s speech where he said that God’s beauty is best defined in creation and that when we lose a species we are losing the that beauty forever. Great to hear a presidential candidate bring that to the fore.
    My favorite part, though, was when he said Trump got rolled by his bureaucrats when he submitted to the lockdowns. Way to come out swinging, Bobby.
    I hope he picks Marianne Williamson as his VP.

  4. Bruce McEwen April 30, 2023

    Glad to see the Mighty AVA endorse RFK for President, here’s to hoping he can wake the Finnegans from this absurd nightmare.

  5. Bruce McEwen April 30, 2023

    Congrats on the VA healthcare move, Maj.
    I’ve been enjoying the envy of all my friends and family who have civilian healthcare service and just hate to compare mine at the VA. Also, they have a nice facility in Yountville which I am applying for for when I can no longer look after myself, and, sure enough, the VA offers after death care and will provide a nice niche for my ashes at the Veterans Cemetery in Dixon…and you don’t have to take it as an insult when they thank you for your service every time you come and go. That ghoul Rummy Rumsfeld instituted that policy…

    • Jim Armstrong April 30, 2023

      I would enjoy comparing experiences of the Ukiah VA “Health” Clinic. with you.

  6. Sarah Kennedy Owen April 30, 2023

    I enjoyed Caitland Johnstone’s short article today. It is true that we are all creating the world that is abusing us, by tolerating greed and aggressiveness on the part of the “ruling class”, actually by having a “ruling class” at all in a country that is supposed to be ruled by the people. Our first president, George Washington refused to allow his residency in office to be “for life”, like a king, even though that was the model humanity had been living with for thousands of years. Thomas Jefferson lost most of his fortune and gave away his library in order to further his young country. In our times, who has shown this unselfish, modest inclination? Looking at that may give an indication of who is fit for office and who is not. As for our own sanity, realizing that we, humanity, are locked into a habit (kowtowing to money and fame) we constructed over many many generations, and which it is next to impossible to get out of, but, with some effort and some selflessness, we may get there over time. Until we do, we will keep seeing the tragedies unfold, like Vietnam and the CIA debacles (described in a letter to the editor here, also enjoyable, if painful to read).

  7. Lee Edmundson April 30, 2023

    Frank Hartzell has an in-depth article which illuminates the corporate buy-ups of coastal visitor serving facilities.

  8. Lazarus April 30, 2023

    Never bet against The Champion.
    Warriors 120, Kings 100. Curry scored 50…
    Go Warriors,

  9. Stephen Rosenthal April 30, 2023

    There’s no joy in Cowtown. The Chef was cooking today!

    • Marmon April 30, 2023

      The Kings are young, well-coached, and have all their picks due to not using any in the Sabonis deal.


      • Stephen Rosenthal May 1, 2023

        Light the Bridge!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *