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Mendocino County Today: Monday, May 1, 2023

Cloudy | Comptche Meadow | April Showers | Person Courtyard | Albion Church | Thistle Bee | Texan Donuts | Historical Society | Eel River | Water Mafia | Poison Trio | Best Sandwiches | Trillium | Mothersill Art | Powerful Place | Yesterday's Catch | Warriors Win | Fisher Out | Vaping Addictive | Newsroom Requiem | Seals Stadium | Messenger Focus | No Regrets | Madrid Air | Ukraine | Creepy Kid | Landless Workers | Petrified Forest | This Week | Lost All

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A GENERAL TROUGHING PATTERN will bring cloudy skies and wet weather to the area. A chance of thunderstorm activity increases Tuesday for Lake and Mendocino counties as cold air and instability arrive. (NWS)

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Comptche Meadow (photo by Nelson Lindley)

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MONTHLY RAINFALL TOTALS for the 2022-23 rain season (Oct-Sep):

Yorkville (64.24" total)

0.00" Oct
3.76" Nov
13.92" Dec

23.68" Jan
6.32" Feb
15.36" Mar
1.20" Apr

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THE EVERT PERSON COURTYARD at the Grace Hudson Museum is showing the glories of Spring.

Candace Horsley, former Ukiah city manager and Hudson museum volunteer extraordinaire snapped these beautiful photos of the work native landscaper Andrea Davis has done to nurture the Person Courtyard. Norma Person, the wife of the late publisher of The Press Democrat newspaper, funded the courtyard's development in honor of her husband. The Persons are major donors to the Hudson Museum. (Mike Geniella)

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Does anyone remember the name of the church located at the north edge of what is now the Albion Bridge?  It was torn down in the late 1930s to make way for the bridge. Little River Museum is trying to find out it's name as there seems to be no record of its existence except in the memories of the community elders, who are rapidly aging out. Any information about the church would be a very welcome to addition to our records. Possibly a photo of it exists somewhere? We scan photos and return originals to you for safe keeping.

— Ronnie James,

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Milk Thistle Bee, Lake Mendocino (Jeff Goll)

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TURN THIS FOOL IN: Sunday afternoon — All white Mazda 3 with Texas license plates whipping donuts on school property in front of the tennis courts as the Sunday soccer games were wrapping up.

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To the Editor:

The Historical Society of Mendocino County is seeking applicants for its Board of Directors. At present we have three openings.

The Society’s mission is the preservation of the history of Mendocino County at its modern Toney Archival Building at 100 South Dora Street in Ukiah. It also is tasked with ensuring that documents are available for research and study to present and future generations. In addition, the Board oversees the Held-Poage Memorial Home as it is in the process of being restored to its 1920’s glory.

Interested? Contact us at: (707) 462-6969. Or  Or visit our website

Sincerely yours,

Marvin Talso, Board President, Ukiah

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South Fork Of The Eel (photo by Nate Berg)

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NORM THURSTON: Mark Scaramella’s 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.

MS REPLIES: Fair enough. But 1) I didn’t say “free,” I said “cheap.” Supervisor Dan Gjerde pointed out this glaring tax giveaway to the Cheap Water Mafia rather effectively during last year’s discussion of the proposed Fire Protection sales tax increment. 

2) At the time those bonds were issued and paid off there was nowhere near the amount of grape acreage that there is today. In fact, they used the water to produce food (like pears and livestock), not intoxicants. 

3) “Those folks” who paid off those bonds are no longer with us. The new owners of most of that land are grape growers who bought (or inherited) the land with the riparian water rights that they now abuse. 

4) If the grape growers were paying fair market prices for their ag water they’d be able to accumulate a fund which could be used as seed money for increasing the capacity of Lake Mendocino, reducing their dependence on diminishing amounts of over-allocated inland water. 

PS. Supervisor Glenn McGourty continues his blatant conflict of interest as a Russian River grape grower who personally profits from the inland water policies he has positioned himself to oversee, yet he refuses to recuse himself from inland water policy setting organizations including the Board of Supervisors.

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by Tommy Wayne Kramer

I’ve always thought the fastest way to make a bunch of money is to steal a U.S. Mint printing press and start running off 20s in the garage. Not so sure anymore. 

A car wash on the south side of town charges 25¢ for every 15 seconds spent spraying water out a nozzle, occasionally with a quarter-teaspoon of soap added. That’s a dollar a minute. 

Fill the little coin box with eight quarters and it gives you just enough time to flick the switch to “On” and then reach in your pocket for another fistful of dollars. Then a few dollars more. 

The only vehicle I can afford to wash, wax and blow dry, perhaps followed by a light spritz of cologne, is my skateboard. 

Compared to owning a Ukiah carwash Taylor Swift is a wage slave and Exxon execs are performing community service. If I’d thought of opening a car wash when I was 30 years old I’d be a One Percenter by now. 

Ukiah’s Hidden Gem 

Per item per square foot there’s no more rewarding retail spot in all of Ukiah than the West Side Market up on Clay Street. 

It was once a candy store for Trinity School kids eager to get rid of whatever allowance or stolen money they’d accrued over the past few days. The neighborhood grew fashionable and the West Side Market turned into a gourmet-oriented shop, adding “Renaissance” to its name. 

It sold a few years later to more energetic owners and now it’s well worth a visit to pick up lunch, dinner or to browse among the oddball items lining crowded shelves, right across from the finest beer selection in town. Good wine too. 

It’s also got Ukiah’s best sandwiches and I’ve tried ’em all. (Second Place: Schat’s Bakery and Spiro’s Gyros on South State.) The deli counter has all kinds of homemade dishes, some you’ll be familiar with (hummus, a number of potato salads ravioli) and other more exotic and marvelous options. 

I seldom plug businesses in this column, never for gratuities; feel free to visit or not. But the old West Side Market gets a solid gold star or several. 

Do yourself a favor and stroll over. Or drive. Free parking. 

Death By Eating

Many things annoy me as I get older; if I were to pause and count them it would total almost as many as annoyed me when I was younger. 

Health conversations for instance. You can’t gather with even one old geezer for a half hour or until he dies, whichever comes first, and not hear about his or her knees, hips, esophagus, sacroiliac and rheumatism. Then on to more complicated procedures and maladies that I can’t recall because I don’t take notes. 

Add a couple more seniors to the conversation and obviously we are the most afflicted generation in history. No old guy’s ever had sore ankles, headaches and funny splotches on his arm before 2018. Or died. 

By the time everyone in the group has finished their whine it’s tomorrow. 

My impatience with people who can’t stop complaining about their health does not extend to me, however. To the delight of zero readers let me go on and on about my recent near-brush with ill health. If I don’t tell someone, who will feel sorry for me and send a Christmas card next December? 

Felt rotten not long after a Wednesday dinner so the first thing I did was google Covid symptoms. (Not true: the first thing I did was flush the toilet six or eight times.) Then we made an appointment for a Covid test at Rite Aid. 

Next we went to bed, me hot and sweaty and getting hotter and sweatier. In an hour the sheets were clammy and cold, It got worse. 

Between changing t-shirts, and hand-to-hand, cheek-to-cheek combat with the toilet the night passed without incident, although it took 20 hours. Breakfast came and I didn’t know if it was Saturday or June, but I did know I wasn’t hungry. 

Covid test results came back and it wasn’t Covid. That left a few hundred other possibilities and by process of elimination we voted for food poisoning. Food poisoning was an unlikely culprit since both Trophy and I had been dining from the same trough of leftovers, and I was the only one afflicted with reverse vacuum syndrome. 

I can demonstrate. We’ll pause at the bathroom and I’ll unleash whatever hasn’t voluntarily departed in the past four days. Like brain matter, appendix and lungs. Everything else is gone, leaving me sleepy, sicky, sad and sweaty, breathing like a horse, disoriented like Joe Biden, and throwing up whenever and however I don’t feel like it. 

Then it’s time to crawl out of bed, go downstairs and take a nap. Where were the Leave it to Beaver re-runs when I needed them? 

(TWK says it’s fun to be back in Ukiah as the flowers pop, the squirrels scamper and our non-transient population emerges from winter’s slumber to retake the sidewalks. Tom Hine is also thrilled, knowing that returning to North Carolina where there are only the flowers and squirrels will be disorienting.)

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Trillium (Nelson Lindley)

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The Artists’ Collective in Elk presents the art of Jane Casner Mothersill held over for the month of May!

Jane will be displaying her drawings and paintings, in oil, watercolor and pastel, which she refers to as “inspired realism.” They include seascapes, landscapes and still lifes.

After graduating from Georgetown University with a degree in humanities and international affairs, Jane moved to the Philippines where she began pursuing Chinese brush painting. She returned to the US, where she studied painting, drawing and sculpture full time at the Art Students League of New York and, subsequently, was awarded a full merit scholarship to attend the Graduate School of Figurative Art at the New York Academy - where she received an MFA in studio art in 1990. Her education has also included studying with a wide range of practicing artists in the US, France, Tokyo and Hong Kong. Jane has participated in over 35 exhibitions in the US, Japan, Hong Kong, France and the Philippines, including 10 solo shows, and she has received numerous awards for her work.

She currently resides at Sea Ranch, CA, but also spends summers painting in the Loire Valley in France, where she has maintained a home and studio for 30 years in a small village with a significant international artist population.

The Artists’ Collective is located at 6031 S. Hwy 1, Elk, CA, and is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm. (707) 877-1128.

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THE FOLLOWING LEGEND of the “Lover’s Leap” was read by Miss Fannie Lamar at Mrs. Poston’s Seminary August, 1878, as relayed by Ernie Branscomb to Redheaded Blackbelt:

Frog Woman Rock

“In the deep Cañada through which the Russian River comes cascading down with rollicking music from the mountains into the broad valley below, a great majestic rock towers several hundred feet perpendicularly from the bank of the river and slopes off to the westward upon a gentle incline. Passengers and tourists who travel the road which runs near its base, gaze with awe and admiration upon this great monument of Nature’s marvelous work, and listen attentively to a romantic legend familiar to those who dwell in its vicinity. 

The story, as related by a native Californian lady, Miss Chatta Feliz, who was reared near this great rock, and who was a cotemporary with the principal actors in the tragedy, runs nearly as follows: 

Before the conquest of this country by the United States, and when the old Catholic Missions retained much of their primitive glory and beneficent power, many of the Indians were gathered into their folds for religious instruction. With the holy inspiration of the Church, which these simple children of Nature imbibed, they developed a passionate fondness for the fashions and ornaments of civilization. About ten miles south of the great rock, near where now stands the beautiful village of Cloverdale, dwelt a tribe of Indians, among whom was a young chief, a sort of Prince Imperial, whose name was Cachow. He was a fine looking fellow of faultless physique, a mighty hunter, skilled in the use of the bow and arrow, renowned for his prowess and rich in the trophies of the chase, as well as in the plunder of the battle field. To all this hoard of wealth and personal accomplishments he had added the glamour acquired by a short sojourn at the mission of San Rafael, and many beads and other trinkets, the gifts of the kind padres of that once famous mission. Of course Cachow was, as well as a distinguished prince, and a hero among the braves, a great favorite with the dusky ladies of his own and the neighboring tribes. About six miles north of the great rock, on a beautiful plateau called Sanel, on the bank of the river, were the wigwams of the Sanelanos. The chief of these Indians had a handsome young daughter, named Sotuka, whose small feet and hands, wealth of dark hair, grace and comeliness, and, more than all her extraordinary skill in cooking venison and grasshoppers and making buckeye mush, made her as famous within the radius of her acquaintance as was the Queen of Sheba in her country.

“About the time of which I write, in the early autumn, when the golden harvest of the wild oats had been gathered into the great willow baskets, and the wild fruits were abundant, and the deer and the rabbits were still fat, and fish were plentiful in the streams and easily caught, Sotuka’s father made a feast and sent his heralds forth with hospitable greetings and invitations to his neighbors. Among the invited guests was the distinguished Cachow, who, with all his fame and manly beauty and gorgeous trappings, was the cynosure of all eyes, and at once became the idol of the royal Sotuka.

“The juiciest acorns were roasted and pounded with Sotuka’s own hands for Cachow, and the choicest delicacies of her basket were selected and prepared for him. In short, while Cachow had completely enthralled the heart of Sotuka, he was not insensible to her great beauty and personal accomplishments; and this, their first meeting, resulted in a betrothal. After an exchange of souvenirs, like lovers of other races, and the festivities being over, Cachow returned to his home with a promise to come back in two moons with a deer skin full of beads for Sotuka’s father and make the lovely daughter his bride. But Cachow, like many men who have gone before him and many who have succeeded him, was unfaithful to his promise, and before two moons had waned he wedded another. It happened in the course of events that Cachow and his new love, in making their bridal tour, built their camp fire at the eastern base of the great rock, underneath the precipice. Sotuka had already become apprised of the perfidy of her lover, and while busily meditating and planning revenge, was informed by one of her scouts of the camping place of the bridal party. When night came Sotuka left her wigwam and, alone, hastened through the darkness to the great rock and, ascending the western slope, approached the precipice and looked down, where, by the light of the little camp fire, she saw her faithless lover and his bride fast asleep.

“With the merciless vengeance of love to hatred turned, and the desperation of unrequited affection, she clasped in her arms a stone as large as she could lift and sprang off the fearful height upon her sleeping victims On the morrow, the Sanelanos and the tribe of Cachow held a grand imposing inquest over the dead trio, and, having built a great log heap, they placed upon it the three mangled bodies and lighted the funeral pyre Then, to the music of a solemn dirge, the wailings of the mourners and the roaring of the flames, the spirits of the departed, as the Indians say, rode upon a chariot of smoke to the happy hunting ground. Since this tragic scene the great rock has been known as ‘The Lover’s Leap.'“

Transcribed by Kathy Sedler.

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About that rock…

Thank you for the lovely story and for the tribute to the tribe as well as to the love leap.
There is also another story revolving around that powerful place. Are you familiar with the awful story of Jackie Ray Hovarter who is on death row (where he definitely belongs)? He left one of his victims near the rock after having brutally attacked, shot her, leaving her to die. After he left, that courageous woman removed the bullet and survived, made it to medical care and then found the courage to testify against Hovarter in court face to face. He was convicted and sentenced to death. She was not his first victim. To this day, each and every time we pass the rock in our travels, I pray for the woman that jumped and the woman that survived and for the tribe. Powerful place indeed. 

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CATCH OF THE DAY, Sunday, April 30, 2023

Gilbernabe, Haley, Jacoby



EVELYN JACOBY, Gualala. Domestic battery.

Kozeluh, Robles, Wagner

TIMOTHY KOZELUH, Willits. Domestic battery.

LANCE ROBLES, Fort Bragg. Commercial taking of abalone.

BRANDON WAGNER, Boonville. Disorderly conduct-alcohol. 

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WARRIORS CRUSH KINGS 120-100 as Steph Curry scores Game 7-record 50 points

by C.J. Holmes

SACRAMENTO – In Game 7 for the Golden State Warriors, Stephen Curry carried the scoring load, and the Sacramento Kings had no answer. In a hostile environment with the season on the line, the reigning NBA Finals MVP torched the nets for a playoff career-high 50 points, setting a new NBA record for the most points in a Game 7 in NBA history as the Warriors broke away for a 120-100 victory.

Curry’s historic performance, added to the Warriors' dominating effort on the offensive glass in the third quarter, completely flipped the game's momentum. It was enough to push them past the Kings and into the Western Conference semifinals, where they’ll face the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 on Tuesday at Chase Center.

Curry is the fifth Warriors to score at least 50 points in a playoff game, joining Wilt Chamberlain, Rick Barry, Sleepy Floyd and Kevin Durant.

The Kings could not keep Curry, who shot 13-of-20 from the field on two–point field goals, out the paint. Curry also added seven 3-pointers – tying his own record for made treys in a Game 7 – and scored 16 of his points in the fourth quarter, where the Warriors outscored Sacramento 29-19 and cruised to victory.

Curry's historic effort could not have come at a better time. Klay Thompson, Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins shot a combined 12-of-44 from the field.

The Kings made their first playoff appearance since 2006, and pushed the defending NBA champions to the brink of elimination. But Golden State’s experience won out in the end.

Head coach Steve Kerr made two simple asks of his team entering Game 7 on Sunday: Limit turnovers and rebound. Golden State finished with just seven giveaways and outrebounded Sacramento 55-49.

The Warriors turned a two-point deficit at halftime into a 10-point lead entering the fourth quarter thanks in large part to their effort on the offensive glass. Golden State had 13 offensive rebounds in the third quarter, the most it has had in any quarter in the last 20 seasons, regular season or playoffs. Kevon Looney, who finished with 21 rebounds (10 offensive), was responsible for seven of them in the period. It gave the Warriors extra possessions which led to easy second-chance points.


WARRIORS LEAN INTO THEIR CHAMPIONSHIP DNA, beat Kings behind ‘sublime’ Steph Curry

by Ann Killion

SACRAMENTO — Dynasties die hard. Dynasties built around the greatest shooter of all time are particularly hard to extinguish.

In the most stressful first-round playoff game they’ve ever played, the Golden State Warriors rode Stephen Curry’s 50-point performance in Game 7 to close out the talented Sacramento Kings, winning 120-100 in front of a once-hostile Golden 1 Center crowd that was silenced by greatness. In the second half, Championship DNA became a very real thing.

“When we got out there, our experience took over,” said Curry, who scored more points than any player ever has in a Game 7.

“We know what we’re made of,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “We know what it takes to win in these types of environments in these situations. And we leaned into it.”

“Sounds like championship DNA to me,” Golden State guard Klay Thompson said, shaking his head in amazement at the box score.

Those three core players heard Malik Monk call them old.  They knew Kings head coach Mike Brown said he wanted to “run, run, run, run, run, run, run.”  The reigning champions listened to the pundits say that it was the Memphis Grizzlies’ time, the Kings’ time.

Not yet.

“Stop trying to turn the page on us so fast,” Green said.

Until further notice, this is still the Warriors Invitational, to borrow Green’s amusingly cocky term. The Warriors now face the Lakers in a second-round matchup that stars proud aging lions and makes the NBA and its broadcasting partners swoon with delight. The Warriors will have homecourt advantage against the play-in Lakers in the series that starts Tuesday night.

Steph vs. LeBron, for the first time since the 2018 Finals. Lakers vs. Warriors in the postseason for the first time in more than 30 years. (That play-in game in 2021 doesn’t count.) A matchup featuring the two most popular players on the planet.

“This,” Green said, “is going to be epic.”

The Warriors had been erratic all season, sneaking into the playoffs as a sixth seed and without homecourt advantage in the first round. They brought with them their terrible road record, their slipshod defense, questions about their age and their future. After they seemed to find something in Game 5, all the concerns about their ability resurfaced after their atrocious Game 6 performance.

A first-round loss could have been a recipe for big changes for the franchise and perhaps the end of the dynasty’s era. Instead, operating on about 36 hours of rest, the Warriors came out and flipped on that DNA switch. Finally, their ace card — all that experience — was played.

“Game 7’s are difficult, everybody’s nervous,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerrs aid. “So there’s a need to have experience in Game 7’s. Our core guys have that.”

Kerr could see it in his team’s ability to take the game possession by possession. Trailing by two at the half, the Warriors came out and methodically, systematically took apart the Kings. Kevon Looney had 10 rebounds, including seven on the offensive glass, in the third quarter alone. Thompson ignored his poor shooting night to elevate his defense. Andrew Wiggins found a way to get to the line.

And Curry was spectacular. He scored 30 second-half points. He took 38 shots and had only one turnover. He had a game for the ages — Thompson called it “the Steph Curry game.” Kerr’s word for the performance was “sublime.”

“Game 7’s are rare situations,” Green said. “And rare players do rare things.”

At one point, as the seconds were ticking away, Curry pretended to push the giant button that lights the beam. There was no beam-lighting Sunday. Instead, Curry lit up all of Sacramento.

Afterward, the Warriors only had glowing things to say about the Kings and their young star De’Aaron Fox. They know how talented this team is. They know how good their coach is. They know the Kings will stand in their way in the future.
“We’ve been in a lot of playoff series and, if I’m honest, you leave with less respect for a lot of guys,” Green said. “There are some you gain respect for. Fox is one of those guys.”

The young Kings got an up-close look at a champion. They received a tutorial in how a champion operates.

“Not thinking about the outcomes, just thinking about the process and repeating and repeating and repeating,” Kerr said. “Staying locked in, staying focused.

“Our guys have learned to do that through a decade of these types of games.  The energy that it takes to fight off challengers year after year, to have to prepare to win big games and doing it over and over.  There’s a reason these guys are Hall of Famers. Champions.  They’ve done this for a decade and it’s incredible to watch.”

Game 7 was another incredible moment in a run laden with them.  Those moments are all stored away.

“You can always go into the memory bank for how you feel in these types of environments,” Curry said.

“We know who we are.”

Who are they? The reigning champions.



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Oakland Athletics buy land in Las Vegas: The A’s have said they’re done with Oakland. The city should learn from the Raiders debacle and kick the team out as soon as possible.

by Dieter Kurtenbach

The A’s — baseball’s worst team and the worst-run organization in professional sports — decided they could not build a new ballpark in Oakland, so they’re heading to a truck stop in Nevada.

Good riddance.

The news that the A’s had bought land in Las Vegas to build a new ballpark (that the A’s will ask someone else to pay for) is a gut punch to fans of the green and gold and the East Bay community as a whole. Only a few months ago, there was an optimism that things just might work out.

But squandering hope is all this A’s organization seems capable of doing.

And while it’s ridiculous that the East Bay will be left without a major professional sports team, it’s also ridiculous to pine for the A’s to stay.

Yes, there’s a great history here. There was a dynasty, Rickey Henderson, the Bash Brothers, the Big Three, the Streak, and 21 postseason berths. But anything worth remembering came under different leadership. The A’s that were worth saving — worth a fight — ceased to exist when John Fisher took over as the team’s full owner after the 2016 season.

Fisher has proven, time and time again, that he doesn’t care about Oakland, the East Bay, or the A’s. The team is merely a political pawn for real estate deals.

Under Fisher’s leadership, executed by team president/lackey Dave Kaval, the A’s have dismantled the goodwill between the fan base, the region, the city and the organization. He returned the A’s to the laughingstock status Charlie Finley achieved in Kansas City before moving the team to Oakland in 1968.

Fisher and Kaval are unserious people. They’re perfect fits for an unserious place like Las Vegas.

You need no more evidence of that than the duo’s plan to build a $1.5 billion retractable-roof stadium on the site of the Wild Wild West truck stop. It’s not so much on The Strip as it is “strip-adjacent.” And by that, I mean there are several seedy strip clubs in the neighborhood. It’s also catty-corner from Budget Suites motel — where you can surely rent by the hour.

It’s a far cry from the waterfront in Oakland. It makes the Coliseum area look classy.

But it’s cheap land and free money, and, truly, that’s what the A’s are all about. The Nevada Independent reported Wednesday that the Silver State will pay for the new ballpark on the wrong side of I-15.

Even with someone else’s cash, it’s a crapshoot if Fisher and Kaval can build something.

But, of course, while they fumble around with putting a shovel in the sand, they’ll consider the “unviable” Coliseum to be more than good enough.

The A’s say — hope? — their new stadium will be ready by 2027. Their lease at the Coliseum has one more year, expiring after the 2024 season.

So what happens in the meantime?

The city and Alameda County should learn from the Raiders’ exit. Even after the team had made its intentions clear, even after the NFL had ratified the move to Las Vegas, the Raiders were allowed to stay in the East Bay. They played at the Coliseum and practiced in Alameda for three more seasons. Oakland didn’t have enough self-respect to kick them out.

That can’t happen again. Not after the way the A’s played the East Bay community.

At the command of the silent Fisher, Kaval said anything and everything to make Oakland and the East Bay feel like they were the only place for the A’s. “Rooted in Oakland” was the slogan, even as Kaval took countless Southwest flights to Vegas. Frankly, the A’s incompetence was the only thing holding them back from making this move to the desert earlier.

So it behooves Oakland and Alameda County to kick the cheaters out of the house as soon as possible.

If that requires some lawsuits, so be it. If it means waiting until the lease expires in 2024, that’s how it is. At the very least, the city and county should match Fisher’s actions, at the very least, and jack up the rent when the Coliseum lease expires.

If the A’s are done with us — as they announced in the most passive-aggressive way on Wednesday night — then we should be done with them. It’s an act of dignity. Fisher and Kaval can reap what they have sown and go play at a Triple-A ballpark in the Vegas suburbs for a few years, a decade, or an eternity.

I want to say that the Oakland A’s died on Wednesday night, but the truth is that Fisher and Kaval killed them well before any land was bought in Nevada.

No, this moment — while regrettable — is one of liberation for Oakland and the East Bay.

A’s owner John Fisher addresses employees during the 2016 season.

Deep down, we know that even if Fisher had been given what he wanted here — free land and a whole bunch of free money — he would always build the minimum-viable ballpark (see: PayPal Park, home of Fisher’s San Jose Earthquakes) and field the cheapest possible team.

That’s his business model. It works for him and no one else.

Give Fisher what he wants or he takes the team away. The blackmail went on long enough. Oakland and the East Bay have deserved better than Fisher’s A’s for a long time now.

So if Las Vegas is naive enough to want to take on this mess, I say let them. But make sure they do it as soon as possible.

I want Las Vegas to find out that in order to be a big-league city, you have to have a real big-league team. And so long as John Fisher owns the team, it will always be a bush-league operation.


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by Maureen Dowd

I don’t want this to be one of those pieces that bangs on about how things used to be better, and they’ll never be as good again.

But when it comes to newsrooms, it happens to be true.

“What would a newspaper movie look like today?” wondered my New York Times colleague Jim Rutenberg. “A bunch of individuals at their apartments, surrounded by sad houseplants, using Slack?”

Mike Isikoff, an investigative reporter at Yahoo who worked with me at the Washington Star back in the 1970s, agreed: “Newsrooms were a crackling gaggle of gossip, jokes, anxiety and oddball hilarious characters. Now we sit at home alone staring at our computers. What a drag.”

As my friend Mark Leibovich, a writer at the Atlantic, noted, “I can’t think of a profession that relies more on osmosis, and just being around other people, than journalism. There’s a reason they made all those newspaper movies, All the President’s Men, Spotlight, The Paper.

“There’s a reason people get tours of newsrooms. You don’t want a tour of your local H&R Block office.”

Now, Leibovich said, he does most meetings from home. “At the end of a Zoom call, nobody says, ‘Hey, do you want to get a drink?’ There’s just a click at the end of the meetings. Nothing dribbles out afterward, and you can really learn things from the little meetings after the meetings.”

With journalists swarming around Washington for the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner and cascade of parties, it seems like a good time to write the final obituary for the American newspaper newsroom.

The legendary percussive soundtrack of a paper’s newsroom in the 1940s was best described by Times culture czar Arthur Gelb in his memoir, City Room: “There was an overwhelming sense of purpose, fire and life: the clacking rhythm of typewriters, the throbbing of great machines in the composing room on the floor above, reporters shouting for copy boys to pick up their stories.” There was also the pungent aroma of vice: a carpet of cigarette butts, clerks who were part-time bookies, dice games, brass spittoons and a glamorous movie star mistress wandering about. (The Times never went as far as Cary Grant’s editor did in His Girl Friday, putting a pickpocket on the payroll.)

Forty years later, when I began working in the Times newsroom, it was still electric and full of eccentric characters. The green eyeshades were gone, and nobody yelled, “Hat and coat!” to send you out on breaking news. And it was quieter as it computerised.

I had had a taste of the old louche glamour at the Washington Star. When I first started, I was a clerk on the 9pm shift; afterwards, we would go to the Tune Inn, the only bar on Capitol Hill that would serve Bloody Marys at dawn.

My job was to type up stories on my Royal typewriter, with carbon paper, dictated by reporters who called in from the field, including from the trial of the Watergate burglars; it could get rowdy – and not just because mice occasionally ran across our keyboards.

“Conversation and competition turned newsrooms into incubators of great ideas,” said my friend David Israel, who was already, at 25, a must-read sports columnist at the Star when I met him.

As I write this, I’m in a deserted newsroom in the Times’ Washington DC office. After working at home for two years during Covid-19, I was elated to get back so I could wander around and pick up the latest scoop.

But in the last year, there has been only a smattering of people whenever I’m here, with row upon row of empty desks. Sometimes a larger group gets lured in for a meeting with a platter of bagels.

Remote work is a major priority in contract negotiations for the Times union, which wants employees to have to come in to the office no more than two days a week this year and three days a week starting next year. Management, which says one thing it is worried about is that young people will stagnate and see the institution as an abstraction if they work remotely too often, has committed to a three-day-a-week policy this year but wants to reserve the right to expand that in the future.

I worry that the romance, the alchemy, is gone. Once people realised the completely stunning fact that they could put out a great newspaper from home, they decided, why not do so?

I appreciate the pleasures – and convenience – of working from home. I can light a fire, put on some Miles Davis and write at the dining room table while getting stuff done around the house. My former assistant Ashley Parker, who became a Pulitzer-Prize-winning star at the Washington Post, usually goes into the office – “On big news days, there’s nothing better” – but she also loves the flexibility of working from home (especially since she just had a baby, Nell).

“Let’s be honest,” she said. “Political reporters have always worked from wherever, whenever, as long as they are filing good stories.”

Newsrooms have been shrinking and disappearing for a long time, of course, due to shifting economics and the digital revolution.

But now I’m looking for proof of life on an eerie ghost ship. Once in a while, I hear reporters wheedling or hectoring some reluctant source on the phone, but even that is muted because many younger reporters prefer to text or email sources.

“A problem with this,” said the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer, who started with me at the Star, “is that if you interview someone in writing, they have time to consider and edit their responses to your questions, which means that spontaneous, unexpected, injudicious and entertaining quotes are dead.”

I’m mystified when I hear that so many of our twentysomething news assistants prefer to work from home. At that age, I would have had a hard time finding mentors or friends or boyfriends if I hadn’t been in the newsroom, and I never could have latched onto so many breaking stories if I hadn’t raised my hand and said, “I’ll go.”

Mary McGrory, the liberal lioness columnist, never would have got to know me at the Star, so I never would have got invitations from her years later like this one: “Let’s go see Yasser Arafat at the White House and go shopping!”

As Mayer recalled, when a big story broke at the Star, “You could see history happening. People would cluster over a reporter’s desk, pile into the boss’s office, and sometimes break into incredibly loud fights. There were weirdos in newsrooms, and fabulous role models occasionally, and the spirit of being part of a motley entourage. Now it’s just you and the little cursor on your screen.”


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1958 MARKED THE FIRST YEAR of MLB on the west coast. The Dodgers had relocated to L.A. and the Giants were in San Francisco playing at former PCL ballpark Seals Stadium. This photo was taken in June of '58. That's Willie Mays on first, Ray Jablonsky at the plate. (photo:

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Have you noticed that discussion of documents about U.S. activities in Ukraine is about the person who released them, not what was revealed? That’s because those who want clueless citizens don’t think you have the right to be informed. They hope you’ll focus on the “traitor” instead of their dangerous decisions. It’s also why most of the history of U.S. involvement in the region has been effectively banned.

This is how the war on Vietnam started — U.S. advisers on the ground when it was being billed as another country’s war. Americans didn’t even know it had started (the U.S. began funding the bulk of France’s war in the 1950s).

They want you to think they are the best and the brightest when, in fact, their track record is abysmal. If it hadn’t been for whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and a vigilant antiwar movement, we might not be alive today. Your government was considering the use of nuclear weapons and still considers them a viable option.

All this risk because U.S. corporations want access to markets, resources and economic control of the world, whether other countries want it or not. And on his death bed, Ellsberg is warning us again.

Susan Collier Lamont

Santa Rosa

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I COULD HARDLY RECOGNIZE THE COUNTRY as the same I knew in the summer and when I got off the train at night in Madrid snow was blowing outside the station. I had no overcoat and stayed in my room writing in bed or in the nearest cafe drinking coffee and Domccq brandy. It was too cold to go out for three days and then came the lovely spring weather. Madrid is a mountain city with a mountain climate. It has a high cloudless Spanish sky that makes the Italian sky seem sentimental and it has air that is actively pleasurable to breathe. The heat and the cold come and go quickly here. I have watched, on a July night when I could not sleep, the beggars burning newspaper in the street and crouching around the fire to keep warm. Two nights later it was too hot to sleep until the coolness that comes just before morning. 

— Ernest Hemingway, ‘Death in the Afternoon’

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said a counteroffensive “will happen,” declining to give details on when it'll start. Russia has already built up multiple layers of defense, satellite imagery shows.

The southern town of Nova Kakhova is under “severe artillery fire” by Ukrainian forces, according to Russian-installed local officials. 

Rescuers are done searching an apartment block where at least 23 people — including six children — were killed by a Russian strike Friday in the city of Uman, according to Ukrainian officials. Two missing residents are presumed dead, local police say.

Ukraine warned residents to stay away from military facilities in Crimea after a suspected drone strike caused a huge fire at a fuel depot in the port city of Sevastopol, according to the Russian-backed governor.


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IF YOU DON’T USE YOUR LAND, These Marxists May Take It

The Landless Workers Movement organizes Brazil’s poor to take land from the rich. It is perhaps the largest — and most polarizing — social movement in Latin America.

by Jack Nicas

They arrived just before midnight, carrying machetes and hoes, hammers and sickles, with plans to seize the land.

When the 200 activists and farm workers got there, the ranch was vacant, overgrown with weeds, and the farm headquarters empty, except for a stray cow.

Now, three months later, it is a bustling village. On a recent Sunday, children rode bicycles on new dirt paths, women tilled soil for gardens and men pulled tarps onto shelters. About 530 families live at the encampment in Itabela, a town in northeast Brazil, and they have already joined together to plow and plant the field with beans, corn and cassava.

The siblings who inherited the 370-acre ranch want the squatters gone. The new tenants say they aren’t going anywhere.

“Occupation is a process of struggle and confrontation,” said Alcione Manthay, 38, the effective leader of the encampment, who grew up on several like it. “And there is no settlement if there is no occupation.”

Ms. Manthay and the other uninvited settlers are part of the Landless Workers Movement, perhaps the world’s largest Marxist-inspired movement operating within a democracy and, after 40 years of sometimes bloody land occupations, a major political, social and cultural force in Brazil.

The movement, led by activists who call themselves militants, organizes hundreds of thousands of Brazil’s poor to take unused land from the rich, settle it and farm it, often as large collectives. They are reversing, they say, the deep inequality fed by Brazil’s historically uneven distribution of land.

While leftists embrace the cause — the movement’s red hats depicting a couple holding a machete aloft have become commonplace at hipster bars — many Brazilians view it as communist and criminal. That has created a dilemma for the new leftist president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a longtime movement supporter who is now trying to build bridges in Congress and the powerful agriculture industry.

Across Latin America, other movements inspired by the tenets of Marxism — workers rising up in a class struggle against capitalism — have sought to tackle systemic inequities, but none have ever approached the size, ambition or sophistication of Brazil’s landless movement.

Group organizers and outside researchers estimate that 460,000 families now live in encampments and settlements started by the movement, suggesting an informal membership approaching nearly two million people, or almost 1 percent of Brazil’s population. It is, by some measures, Latin America’s largest social movement.

Under Brazil’s former right-wing president, Jair Bolsonaro, the movement lost steam. Occupations largely stopped during the pandemic and then returned slowly in the face of opposition from Mr. Bolsonaro and farmers who became more heavily armed under his more permissive gun policies.

But now, emboldened by the election of Mr. Lula, a longtime political ally, the movement’s followers are ratcheting up their land seizures.

“We elected Lula, but that’s not enough,” João Pedro Stédile, a movement co-founder, said in a message broadcast to members on Easter Sunday, announcing a “Red April” push to invade new land.

There have been 33 occupations in less than four months of Mr. Lula’s presidency, including eight in one weekend this month. Under Mr. Bolsonaro, there were about 15 occupations a year, according to government statistics. (About two decades ago, when land was even less equally distributed, there were hundreds of invasions a year.)

Mr. Lula has said little about the new invasions, though two of his cabinet ministers have criticized them.

The new occupations have given rise to a countermovement: “Invasion Zero.” Thousands of farmers who say they do not trust the government to protect their land are organizing to confront squatters and remove them, though so far, there has been little violence.

“No one wants to go into battle, but no one wants to lose their property either,” said Everaldo Santos, 72, a cattle rancher who leads a local farmers’ union and owns a 1,000-acre ranch near the Itabela encampment. “You bought it, paid for it, have the documents, pay the taxes. So you don’t let people invade and leave it at that,” he said. “You defend what’s yours.”

Despite the landless movement’s aggressive tactics, the Brazilian courts and government have recognized thousands of settlements as legal under laws that say farmland must be productive.

The proliferation of legal settlements has turned the movement into a major food producer, selling hundreds of thousands of tons of milk, beans, coffee and other commodities each year, much of it organic after the movement pushed members to ditch pesticides and fertilizers years ago. The movement is now Latin America’s largest supplier of organic rice, according to a large rice producers’ union.

Still, opinion surveys have shown that many Brazilians oppose the movement’s land occupations. Some of the movement’s more militant members have invaded active farms run by large agribusinesses, destroyed crops and even briefly occupied the family farm of a former Brazilian president.

On the ground, the conflict pits hundreds of thousands of impoverished farm laborers and a network of leftist activists against wealthy families, large corporations and many small family farms.

Conservative lawmakers accused Mr. Stédile, the movement co-organizer, of inciting crimes with his call for new occupations, and have opened a congressional investigation.

The day after Mr. Stédile called for invasions, he joined Mr. Lula on a state visit to China. (The government brought representatives of several large food producers.)

Mr. Lula has long had close ties to the movement. Brazil’s first working-class president, he supported it in his first administration two decades ago. Later, while he was imprisoned on corruption charges that were later thrown out, movement activists camped outside the jailhouse for his entire 580-day incarceration.

The inequity over land ownership in Brazil is rooted in colonial-era land-distribution policies that consolidated land in the hands of powerful white men.

The government has sought to tilt the balance by essentially confiscating arable, unused land and giving it to people who need it. The landless movement has sought to force such reallocations by occupying unproductive land.

Bernardo Mançano Fernandes, a São Paulo State University professor who has studied the movement for decades, said the government has legalized about 60 percent of the movement’s occupations, a rate he attributed to organizers’ success at identifying unused land.

But critics say the government is encouraging invasions by rewarding squatters with land, instead of forcing them to get in line, like others who must go through bureaucratic channels to apply for property. Movement leaders say they seize land because the government does not act unless pressured.

That is what the people camped in Itabela are hoping for.

The encampment’s residents had varied paths but all shared the same goal: their own slice of land. A homeless man arrived with his belongings in a wheelbarrow. A middle-aged couple abandoned a shack on the farm where they worked, for a chance at their own. And newlyweds making minimum wage decided to squat because they thought they would never be able to afford to buy land.

“The city is not good for us,” said Marclésio Teles, 35, a coffee picker standing outside the shack he built for his family of five, his disabled daughter in a wheelchair beside him. “A place like this is a place of peace.”

That peace nearly ended a few weeks ago.

The siblings who inherited the land from their father in 2020 successfully petitioned a local judge to order the encampment dismantled. They argued that the land was productive and therefore should not be turned over to the occupiers. Movement activists admitted there were still some cattle on the land, which they were trying to keep away from their new crops.

The police went to evict the settlers, joined by dozens of angry farmers, and were met by about 60 encampment residents, some carrying farm tools.

Instead of a fight, however, the residents resisted by singing landless movement hymns, Ms. Manthay said. The police, worried about a clash, paused the eviction.

The movement’s lawyers have since appealed and asked for a permanent settlement on more than 2,000 acres the siblings own. A state agency has said the government should analyze the movement’s claims. The case is still pending.

“If they remove us, we’ll occupy again,” Mr. Teles said. “The struggle is constant.”

About 90 minutes down the road, there is a window into what the future could be: a 5,000-acre settlement that was ruled legal in 2016 after six years of occupation. The 227 families there each have 20 to 25 acres, spread across rolling hills of farmland and grazing cattle. They share tractors and plows, but otherwise farm their own parcel. Together they produce roughly two tons of food a month.

Daniel Alves, 54, used to work in someone else’s fields before he began squatting on this land in 2010. Now he grows 27 different crops on 20 acres, showing off bananas, peppercorns, bright pink dragon fruit and the Amazonian fruit cupuaçu — all organic. He sells the produce at local fairs.

He said he remained poor — his shack was lined with tarps — but was happy.

“This movement takes people out of misery,” he said.

His granddaughter, Esterfany Alves, 11, followed him around the farm, petting their donkey and picking ripe fruit. She attends a public school on the settlement partly run by the movement, one of roughly 2,000 movement schools across Brazil.

The schools make protests part of the curriculum and teach students about farming, land rights and inequality.

In other words, Esterfany said, the school had taught her “about the struggle.”


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Walter Kirn and Matt Taibbi discuss Tucker Carlson's Departure, and the Scandal of the Aspen Tabletop Exercise

Key excerpts:

Matt Taibbi: This week is, it’s difficult to talk about because obviously we have this phenomenon in America that I’ve written about a lot where online and in the media, they try to coat a character with a layer of ick so that you cannot associate with this person. You cannot be seen to be endorsing any of this person’s views. You cannot be seen to even acknowledge any of the true or positive things that the person says, or even talk about the logical reasons for the person’s success. I first noticed this phenomenon with Trump. You’re simply trying to diagnose why is he doing well? Why is he winning in the polls?

You discover that, writing about things like: he’s criticizing NATO, or saying NATO’s unpopular, or he’s saying the two parties don’t have a whole lot of difference between them, that Jeb Bush isn’t that different from Hillary Clinton — that these messages are scoring. You could say this at first, but you found as the campaign progressed that this was not something that you were allowed to say in media without a lot of blowback. Tucker Carlson embodies this same thing. With regard to this we had a remarkable incident involving the American Prospect, which I’m sure we’ll get into, but Carlson has become a huge media phenomenon especially during the Trump years. I think a lot of it is because he has taken very canny advantage of the failings and inconsistencies of media on both sides of the aisle — both the Fox model and the mainstream model. 

Cable ratings picture for March, 2023. Tucker Carlson was way ahead of Hannity and Laura Ingraham at Fox, and lapped MSNBC figures like Alex Wagner

He is let go from Fox, or taken off the air, and it creates a hole in the media landscape that is fascinating to even ponder from lots of different angles. But I’d be curious, Walter, what’s your first initial response to what happened?

Walter Kirn: Monday he finds out, and the world finds out, that he no longer has a television show. Everyone in media, especially television media, immediately is wondering what’s going on because it was not — as in the case of Don Lemon who was fired the same day — an instance of someone having a lot of problems attracting an audience. He’s got one of the biggest audiences in cable news.

Matt Taibbi: He was averaging 3.25 million viewers a week in March in primetime. MSNBC’s average daily total was 700,000 if I remember correctly. 

Walter Kirn:  So that’s 5x, as they say in finance. Tucker’s doing 5x what they are doing. It was funny. My first thought was everyone wanted to make Fox News and Tucker Carlson synonymous, but obviously Fox News didn’t feel they were synonymous. Obviously, Tucker’s form of heterodox journalism was bothering them in some fashion, as much as it bothered the people who didn’t like Fox News. So what was it that bothered them? That was the first question. Why did they do this? Why would a company chop off its lead personality summarily and without explanation in a way that causes huge confusion and anger among its audience? And we saw that during the week. I looked last night at ratings numbers for his time slot, and it had shrunk almost by two-thirds. 

We know how TV works. It’s all about gathering an audience and then funneling them into the next show and so on. So it was a big hole for Fox commercially. And also for journalism in general, because no matter what you think of Tucker Carlson, there was an ensemble of guests who don’t appear elsewhere in the media. Glenn Greenwald, for example, someone who was regularly on Tucker’s show and doesn’t have much of a presence on other network-style media. 

I was on his podcast once. It was an hour and a half long discussion about literature and the role of the artist in the currently repressive atmosphere. That was a conversation that he did not choreograph. I mean, he asked questions, but there was no sense that I could not say certain things. It was completely open-ended, which I appreciate. So as the week wore on, there were all kinds of theories and rumors about what had happened. One was, “There’s some kind of a harassment lawsuit going on involving an employee who claims a hostile work environment, as she was a booker on his show.” And maybe Fox was getting ahead of that. For me at least, who’s watched some of these scandals over the years, that seemed ridiculous, especially when, as we learned, the plaintiff had never met Tucker Carlson, who I happen to know from my own experience broadcasts remotely from home studios far from New York City. 

Since that one didn’t wash, I wondered if it was true as Vanity Fair reported, and a couple of other places picked up on that, his recent speeches to places like the Heritage Foundation in which he professed vividly some religious faith had somehow offended the powers that be. 

It’s bizarre enough to maybe be true that Rupert Murdoch had taken offense at Tucker’s religiosity and decided he shouldn’t be there. But at the same time, if you watch other Fox shows — and I don’t, often, to be candid — you do see professions of faith on the air. I think Laura Ingraham has a cross hanging conspicuously from her neck on her broadcasts, and others talk about their faith and publish faith-based books. So, I crossed that one off the list. 

What are we left with? One thing that we know is that he has not been released from his contract. The reporting on that seems solid. The guy is still being paid by Fox. He just doesn’t have a show. That seems almost punitive. You keep a person on the payroll, but you just take away their show. What could that be about? We can speculate, and I’ve heard various things from some sources, which would seem very good ones, uh, that there’s a relation to the Dominion lawsuit, which I think was probably the amateur hypothesis by many.

On what the relationship of Carlson’s release to the Dominion lawsuit might be:

Walter Kirn: It would seem to me at least that it has to do with this lawsuit, probably because that was the elephant in the room at the time. 

Matt Taibbi: Let’s put our cards on the table. The thing that makes sense is that Fox, if it had its druthers, isn’t going to part with Carlson because he’s probably almost the sole reason that they were so far ahead in the ratings. Also, this seemed to have come as a big surprise, at least to the Tucker side. But maybe also to Fox, too. So I wouldn’t be surprised if we find out that his leaving might have been a condition of the settlement.

Walter Kirn: My sources tell me that he was genuinely surprised, and I’ve seen that. I don’t think we’re going to find that there are compromising pictures or something like that. But into these mysteries goes an amount of speculation. And, it must be frustrating if you’re Tucker Carlson, and you’re still bound in some contractual way to your network, and yet you’re also the focus of endless speculation about what happened between you, to not be able to say. That’s the big time, I guess, that that’s what happens in the multimillion-dollar world of journalism.

Matt Taibbi: We can use this to segue into the reaction among other people in media. Obviously there was a huge amount of gloating and, “Ding, dong, the witch is dead!”- type coverage. I saw a fairly shocking article in The Hill that mostly just quoted members of the House, including one who said, “Now they just have to take out the rest of the trash.” I had that forwarded by somebody who was pointing out that that rhetoric reminded him of other rhetoric from — let’s say other groups. In the midst of this, there was the caricature version of Tucker Carlson that is allowable on some mainstream MSNBC-style media, CNN-style media, Daily Beast-style media, that Carlson is just another Republican bogeyman racist, and there’s nothing that differentiates him from any of the other people that they routinely go after. But that’s just not correct. The interesting thing about Carlson, and is the reason why he had a million more viewers on average than Sean Hannity, is because the product on that show was different than everything else on Fox. He was venturing into areas of commentary that probably you previously would say were forbidden on that channel. 

Walter Kirn: Not only on Fox, but on MSNBC and on CNN and every other place. I mean, here was a guy who was skeptical about the war and our activities in Ukraine, who was very overtly upset with the influence of pharmaceutical advertisers during the Covid Pandemic, who evinces a basically populist set of sympathies that were more aligned with the man on the street as it were, than the Washington establishment. 

You also had a guy — let’s just be human about it — who comes from the upper echelons of Washington journalistic and state department circles. He has a famous father who was involved with State Department and United States communications strategies around the world [editor’s noteDick Carlson was Director of VOA for six years during the Cold War and the USIA Documentary Film service]. 

He has some personal wealth, and was in some ways a kind of class traitor. He read as somebody who knew the types he was reporting on. He was speaking as if from the inside of the inner circle about its prejudices, about its tendencies and its blind spots. If there was anyone on cable news of any ideological description who was most likely to upset the powers that be, it was Tucker Carlson.

Matt Taibbi: Let’s add that he was very critical of the intelligence agencies. 

Walter Kirn:  He at one point accused them of spying on him. He reported that his text messages had been intercepted — very specific charges. He was a scalp that they were looking for.

Matt Taibbi: That sounds like a message that we’re familiar with, that’s been popular not just in this country, but around the world. Donald Trump was the big example of this. Why is that message resonant? Because a lot of things in it are true. The popular media is terrible. It is transparently no longer representative of the audience or adversarial towards government. Things are completely reversed. If you turn on any mainstream television broadcast, you’re going to see a string of government officials, in some cases reading the news. So the orientation of media, is openly presenting messaging from the government, or from the powers that be, at the population, who is expected to absorb and obey it.

The orientation of Carlson’s show — whether you believe it’s sincere or not — was one where you can come to hear the truth about the evildoers in Washington. As you say, he’s got experience in that regard. He knows a lot of these people. He knows how a lot of these things work. Trump had a lot of the same strategies. He also presented himself as a traitor from the Olympus. But he’s less of a polished communicator, although he’s good in his own right, in the role that he’s in. But certainly Carlson’s show is different from what you would find on a typical Fox News show. 

Walter Kirn: What’s not obscure is the delight of various factions and parties around his sudden disappearance from the airwaves. The Pentagon seems practically giddy that he’s gone. AOC says deplatforming works. 

Chuck Schumer, one of the guys who just scares the bejesus out of me — because whenever he puts the evil eye on someone, they seem to go away quickly — a couple of weeks ago, when Carlson was supposedly in possession of the January 6th tapes, promised to show them on his show, did so for one night, and Schumer came out and said, this is treasonous or something [Editor’s note: “One of the most shameful hours we have ever seen on television” was Schumer’s quote]. They never showed them again after that night. To be really simple about it, this guy was in the gun sights of the Democratic party, the Pentagon, the intelligence establishment, probably big pharma after some of the things he’d said. A lot of people wanted to see him gone, and were quite open about that. You could watch the news in the last few months and see people saying, “Tucker Carlson needs to go, it’s almost the duty of yours, Rupert Murdoch, to get rid of him.” And now he has gone. We don’t know which instrument of pressure might have been applied. But we do know that the pressure overall was great and has been great. 

Matt Taibbi: What are we left with…? We still have to wait for news of exactly how this happened, but I’m going to go ahead and assume that this didn’t happen because Fox News decided they voluntarily wanted to part with their number one act. There are misconceptions about what Carlson’s show was. The cloud around his name is so thick, and people have such deep-seated feelings about him, that they can’t recognize things that are even superficially true.

Walter Kirn:  As usual, the people who have the most deep-seated negative feelings are the people who don’t watch.

They’re the people who hear things. They are in a way influenced by second-order interpretations. They wouldn’t be caught dead watching the actual show. I mean, I remember that back with Rush Limbaugh. I do a lot of driving, so I do a lot of AM radio listening, and Rush would often be on, and I live in small-town America, where you take your car in to get your tires fixed, and he’s playing in the waiting area and so on. And what I’d hear about Rush in the media, and what I’d hear of Rush on the radio were vastly different things. So the people with the most intense opinions about Carlson are those who probably don’t know him except through his enemies. 

Matt Taibbi: I think there was an important moment in the history of both Fox News and the Democratic Party when, as Trump was coming along, Tucker made it a point to have a series of confrontations with people like Max Boot [who’d called him a “cheerleader for Russia”] and who represented the old guard of neoconservatism. 

He would blast them on air. They’re considered good Democrats now, the David Frums and Max Boots and Steve Schmidts of the world. They’re very welcome on MSNBC and in the Washington Post and places like that. When Carlson made that decision, it was like Fox News was shoving off from a piece of the Republican party that had been preeminent for quite a long time.

On the new revelations about the Aspen Institute’s “Burisma Incident” tabletop exercise, which were first reported by Michael Shellenberger in December. New details came out in a #TwitterFiles release by Andrew Lowenthal last week:

Walter Kirn:  Can we pause for a moment? Those revelations about that quote tabletop exercise, in which they handle a potential Hunter Biden scandal in advance of the one that actually happened, was one of the most nauseating insights into the mindset of our current press that I’ve ever seen. Here was why it was nauseating. You got to hear specifically how they talk among themselves when they think they’re safe, when, they think no one is listening, when they think they’re only among their own kind, out of earshot of their audience. 

And certainly to any critics or political opponents, it was so cozy, it was so insular, it was so clubby that it sent chills up my spine. To recap, it included the current editor of Rolling Stone — I hate in America how you can just buy and sell names to the point where the organization is no longer the actual organization that earned the title Rolling Stone, yet still calls itself that because you can sell brand names forever — and they’re just glorying in the warm-and-fuzzy of being among other information managers? Ugh. The whole thing just drove me nuts, man. 

Matt Taibbi: I think it’s worth actually reading a little bit of this stuff. Let’s find the worst one. So, Garrett Graff, who’s the director of Cyber Initiatives at Aspen Digital, the Aspen Institute. He was a contributing editor for Wired... But here’s the letter that he sends on Friday, August 7th, 2020, to a group of tech executives and other figures from Aspen Digital primarily:

(Reads) “All right, thanks for joining us this morning at 11:00 AM to help brainstorm the informal tabletop exercise, we want to put out our reporter-tech group through on a potential hack-and-leak for the fall election…

“We’re hoping that among us at 11 Eastern, we can iterate this, refine it, complicate it, and polish a scenario that that would help all of the group think through how they would respond to various twists and turns in a Burisma-focused leak incident this fallBring your most devious and cynical imaginations. Please keep this document confidential to yourselves for various reasons.” 

Then there are other communications. Here’s another one from Graff initially, and this time it’s got the reporters on the list, including people like David Sanger and David McCraw of the New York Times, Schactman [then of the Daily Beast], Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post, and Rick Davis at CNN [who retired shortly after]: 

(Reads) October 17th, 2020. This is after the actual Hunter Biden story breaks. Graff’s letter says, “We totally blew it on our Burisma tabletop this summer. We didn’t have Trump announcing ‘Lock him up!’ until day nine of the Burisma information operation, but he’s saying it by day three!” And then he links to the story. 

The Aspen Digital worksheet for a “Burisma Leak” tabletop exercise from August of 2020, months before the real story broke.

Then we get a letter back from Noah Shachtman saying, “LOL. Okay, off the record, what’s our working theory here of what happened?”

Walter Kirn: Dude, this is the part in the movie where someone gets a tape of the bedroom, of the allegedly adulterous person, and they put it into the VCR and they see the whole affair right before their very eyes. I mean, Holy Buckets, man! If you want evidence, here it is. Here are these humble-bragging heads of various news organizations who have gotten together in advance of a story they knew would break. And they’re not addressing the truth of this story at all. In fact, if you’re going to examine the assumptions behind this whole thing, they do know it’s true.

They’re acting as though it is. And they’re getting together in their jocular way, and they are war-gaming about how they’re going to collude in — not the reporting of a story, but the killing of one.

Matt Taibbi: I wrote to all the reporters that were on the list. I asked the obvious question: when this story broke, and the existence of the tabletop exercise became news, did you not break it because you were off the record? Why didn’t you break the story? Of course, no answer:

This episode tells you all the same things that the picture of the prepared question at the White House tells you, that these reporters are not in the business of conveying to their audiences the things that the audience wants to know, that they are not advocating for their readers or their viewers. They’re gatekeepers of information. They’re behind the rope-line, with the people they’re reporting on, which is always a danger. That’s the problem with this whole system.

Walter Kirn: I’d go further. They’re political operatives. They’re absolute political operatives, because remember, they’re doing this on the verge of a presidential election, and they’re doing it on behalf of one candidate. And they’re doing it to reduce the harm of a story pertaining to only one candidate. So they’re just flat-out political operatives, masquerading as journalists, and acting like members of a campaign, frankly, and they’re doing it to suppress truth or to at least massage truth. And they were in possession of the story before the people were.

Matt Taibbi: You know who else is on that chain - Yoel Roth [of Twitter] and Nathaniel Gleicher of Facebook. So, the two companies that stepped in to block the story were represented at this tabletop exercise. Add the fact that the story was blocked to the hot, flaming BS that came out of the Michael Morell letter subsequently… If you take all those elements, the thing that they talked about at the tabletop exercise, one it really happens, that’s already newsworthy. 

The story gets blocked by two of the attendees of the tabletop exercise, and that’s newsworthy. 

Then a clear lie about the story is furthered by intelligence services, and then repeated by the candidate in a debate. That’s a news story. 

None of these reporters felt like they could say anything about any of this, maybe because they were off the record at the conference. That’s possible, but it’s already problematic, because they do that too much.

On Hunter Thomspon attending a fictional “tabletop” conference: 

Walter Kirn: Let’s deal with the Rolling Stone mythos for a second.

Matt Taibbi: Okay.

Walter Kirn: Hunter Thompson actually lived in Aspen, but would he have been part of the Aspen tabletop exercise?

Matt Taibbi: Fuck no. Are you kidding me?

Walter Kirn: Can you imagine that? Now the screenwriter in me wants Hunter Thompson to sort of go in disguise and insinuate himself into the tabletop exercise. He doesn’t bring the cigarette holder, he leaves the pith helmet or whatever at home, and then in the middle he just explodes in a mescaline-fueled rant about the military-industrial complex.

Matt Taibbi: That’s half of Fear and Loathing On the Campaign Trail ‘72. It’s about the phoniness of the Democratic Party, and Larry O’Brien and Ed Muskie, and John Lindsay — well, he didn’t mind Lindsay quite as much, but Hube, every time he mentioned Hube, you could just feel the hatred oozing out of him. He had just as much venom for Nixon, but I don’t think it was significantly less for Hubert Humphrey or Muskie, you know, he hated them in a different way, as sellouts and craven non thinkers.

Walter Kirn: I’m gonna say something that’s gonna get me canceled, maybe even from our own podcast, which is that Hunter Thompson and Tucker Carlson were more alike than they were like the rest of the crew. I’m not saying that they were like each other, but they were both given to rhetorical flourishes. They were both given to exaggeration. They were both given to — how can I put it? Colorful, vivid, personal expression.

Matt Taibbi: Can we have a few minutes just to extend this show? Because there’s something that you just said — I have to get a prop for this.

Walter Kirn: Sure. 

Matt Taibbi: This is from… Fear Loathing On the Campaign trail ‘72:

Covering a presidential campaign is not a hell of a lot different from getting a long-term assignment to cover a newly elected District Attorney who made a campaign promise to “crack down on Organized Crime.” In both cases, you find unexpected friends on both sides, and in order to protect them—and to keep them as sources of private information—you wind up knowing a lot of things you can’t print, or which you can only say without even hinting at where they came from.

This was one of the traditional barriers I tried to ignore when I moved to Washington and began covering the ’72 presidential campaign. As far as I was concerned, there was no such thing as “off the record.” The most consistent and ultimately damaging failure of political journalism in America has its roots in the clubby/cocktail personal relationships that inevitably develop between politicians and journalists—in Washington or anywhere else where they meet on a day-to-day basis.

Look, I use off-the-record privileges all the time. I think it’s a way to get people to talk about things. It’s a tool, but you can go too far. 

Walter Kirn: They’re not protecting sources, they’re protecting one another.

* * *


  1. Stephen Dunlap May 1, 2023

    these amounts are 1 mile from the ocean in north Caspar :

    2022 Oct .18” Nov 3.55” Dec 9.23” 2023 Jan 10.58” Feb 4.41”
    March 11.75” April 2.10” YTD 41.80”

  2. Chuck Dunbar May 1, 2023


    Walter Kirn and Matt Taibbi ramble on, going further down the Tucker Carlson rabbit hole. Even managing to conjure up a lame defense of the now-deceased Rush Limbaugh, who was a gas-bag, not a journalist. Not worth the long-winded, way too speculative read.

  3. Harvey Reading May 1, 2023


    What’s a Mazda 3?

    • Chuck Dunbar May 1, 2023

      Smallish hatchback known for its good handling, as in this example.

      • Harvey Reading May 1, 2023


  4. Norm Thurston May 1, 2023

    MS – In regards to the “Water Mafia”:

    1) Sorry I quoted you as saying “free” water instead of “cheap”.
    2) At the time the bonds were issued, most farms in the District grew pears, grapes and prunes. Yes, it is well known that vineyards account for a much greater share of farmed lands now. Regardless, the bonds carried no requirements to use the water only for non-intoxicants.
    3) I referred to the folks that paid off the bonds. I should have included “and their successors” for clarity. But as people have come and gone, the properties remain in the District. The owners of those properties still enjoy the rights to some of the water stored in Lake Mendocino.
    4) The MCRRFC & WCID received a water right in exchange for their contribution to the construction of the dam, so they do not purchase water. As a governmental entity, they are allowed to sell their water at a rate that covers their reasonable cost (including overhead) of providing the water. Governments have historically been prohibited from making huge profits on the sale of utilities because such a practice is ripe for abuse. If the District and its constituents wanted to help pay to raise the dam in exchange for additional water rights, I think the process would be similar to the original construction. If, however, you are suggesting they pay into a sinking fund to help raise the dam, in order to maintain their existing rights, they may want to have a say in that. And it would be prudent to have some reasonable assurance that the inflows into Lake Mendocino will be adequate meet existing storage capacity, let alone the significantly increased capacity provided by raising the dam.

    My overall point is that these landowners stepped-up when no one else in Mendocino County would, and secured a right to a portion of water storage in Lake Mendocino. There is no guarantee that the Lake will always have enough water to meet that intended use, but the right remains whenever levels are adequate. It is not my intent to argue on behalf of farmers, who historically have gotten great deals on water purchases, regardless of the crop. Water usage and allocation is one of the major challenges facing us, and we should place peoples’ basic needs for water first on the list of priorities.

    • Jim Armstrong May 1, 2023

      “4) If the grape growers were paying fair market prices for their ag water they’d be able to accumulate a fund which could be used as seed money for increasing the capacity of Lake Mendocino, reducing their dependence on diminishing amounts of over-allocated inland water.”

      This would be a good place for Engineer Major to outline his plan for doing this, with elevations. capacities, etc.

  5. Eric Sunswheat May 1, 2023

    —> Rest assured, bets are on that Tucker Carlson will be back on air at Fox, after the second voting system lawsuit dust settles.

    He knew the truth, but manipulated for Fox ratings and cash flow. His fans are with him and so is Fox until FCC regulations over ‘fair use’ change to truth counter balance.

    —> The Ukiah car wash on south side of town, has accepted use of credit cards the past few years, a much easier experience except for paying off the credit card later on.

    The Ukiah Westside crew may wash their cars with a bucket brigade from their cozy bathroom showers, although now Ukiah Valley has water for garden hose use.

  6. Linda Bailey May 1, 2023

    The bond for Coyote Project waters was paid by all property owners within the Russian River valley in Mendocino County, not just the farm lands. (Except Redwood Valley property owners who had asked to be excluded from the District.) For many years (about 30) the District charged no one, neither individuals nor water districts, for any water diverted under its right. Also, for many years no elections were held for the governing board of the District; a board member would resign before his term was up and the board would appoint his successor.

  7. Marmon May 1, 2023


    CNN says Trump will participate in a CNN town hall next week, marking his first appearance on the news network in years. They need Trump for their ratings. It’s ironic that Fox News is making a left turn at the same time CNN is moving closer to the right while Newsmax plows on straight ahead. You got to love free market competition.


    • Bruce McEwen May 1, 2023

      John King will replace Tucker Carlson and Carlson can take King’s place at CNN… !?

      • Marmon May 1, 2023

        Trump pairing up with CNN to stop DeSantis was not on my Bingo card for 2023. But I will adjust my bets accordingly for 2024 after tracking Trump’s new strategy of pairing with and emulating the Left to stop DeSantis.


    • Harvey Reading May 1, 2023

      How very exciting. By the way, what’s a CNN town hall? A place to share lies and misinformation while idiots watch and listen?

    • peter boudoures May 1, 2023


      • Paul Modic May 1, 2023


  8. Marco McClean May 1, 2023

    I can’t see the Catch Of The Day pictures, or any pictures here, to appreciate them properly, because I’m on dialup just now, but my vote for best /name/ of the entire month’s reading goes to CUAUHTEMOC GILBERNABE. It suggests an Aztec/Goth Great Gildersleeve, complete with the musical voice.

    Also, backward, phonetically, it becomes Eban R. CometHawk, which is also striking, of another radio ouvre: a swashbuckler of space.

    • Paul Modic May 1, 2023


  9. Lazarus May 1, 2023

    “Rest assured, bets are on that Tucker Carlson will be back on air at Fox, after the second voting system lawsuit dust settles.”

    I read this also. It could be, but I would put it up there with RFK Jr. making the Democrat primary cut.
    A bit of a stretch but possible…
    Be well,

  10. Eric Sunswheat May 1, 2023

    Congressman Jared Huffman is scheduled to be live at 9AM Tuesday May 2 on KZYX radio webcast. Mendocino water and more.

    • Eric Sunswheat May 2, 2023

      Jared Huffman. Didn’t happen then.
      Not sure which wires crossed, and if still on tap.
      Power is now out to 10K homes on Mendo coast.

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