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Mendocino County Today: Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Showers | Horizon Light | 3 Vandals | Urchin Culling | Arena Earthquake | Theater Classes | McGourty's Out | Farmers Markets | Community Choir | Ed Notes | Brewery Potluck | Indigenous Women | Lilac | Arena Housing | Haiku Festival | Opioid Grant | Purple Sky | Parrish Archives | Yesterday's Catch | Artist Albert | Hemingway's Miro | Armadillo Catching | Identify Registered | Potemkin Dinner | Moonshine Still | Ukraine | Pest Control | Mass Shootings | Trunk Arsenal | Hawaiian Bonefish | Immortality | Acknowledge Navy | Border Crisis | Mission Oil | Dust Storm | Enemy Within | Dummy Driving | Making/Doing | GOP Platform

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WET unsettled weather continues with cloudy overcast conditions prevailing. Thunderstorm activity is possible for Lake and Mendocino counties as cold air promoting steep lapse rates increases instability this afternoon. (NWS)

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Route 20 Sunset, West of Willits (Jeff Goll)

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THREE STUDENTS at Anderson Valley High School, rummaging around the campus some time Sunday night, broke a window in the shop building, destroyed two security cameras at the junior high quad and also managed to enter the locked gym. Quickly identified, the three marauders were cited and released to the custody of their parents.

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A MAGNITUDE 3.7 EARTHQUAKE rattled the Point Arena area Monday afternoon. Recorded at 4:13 about 2.5 miles southeast of Mendocino County's smallest incorporated town, the U.S Geological Survey said the tremor occurred on the San Andreas Fault.

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First District Supervisor Glenn McGourty announced Friday that he will not seek re-election at the end of his term. That leaves two seats that will be open to newcomers at the beginning of 2025, since Fourth District Supervisor Dan Gjerde has also declared that he will not seek another term.  (Val Muchowski, reigning empress, middle-of-the-road Democrats)

McGourty (r)

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The Fort Bragg Farmers Market hours are now 3-5:30 on Wednesdays, 400 Block of North Franklin.

The Mendocino Farmers Market Opens this FRIDAY May 5, 12-2:30, Howard and Main in Mendocino.

Eat Local, truly local, from the person who grew or produced your food by shopping at your local Certified Farmers Market! 

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JOAN BURROUGHS WRITES: After reading about the threats to the American Legion Building, now called Veteran's Hall, I decided to look up the information on it because a lot of kids attended school in that building. The housing for the bell tower is gone, it has some other strange stuff added on to it, but it is a neat part of Boonville history. 

The Vet building housed three grades first through third for a very long time; I spent my school years there. Bill Brazil's mother was a first-grade teacher for years. 

Your idea of the Community Service buying the Vet's Hall and leasing it back has some merit also a bit of history to review re a sale to a non-profit. 

While looking for information I came across a half-finished document I started awhile back about the Red Schoolhouse. I am sending it to you so you can use it anyway you want for information or whatever. 

ALTHOUGH HE'S MUCH IN DEMAND, so you'll be lucky to get him, but Taylor Balson has always been my go-to guy for property maintenance. Taylor can do it all, from weed-whacking to heavy lifting. He recently weed-whacked my overgrown acre where the weeds, thanks to the big rains of winter, were waist-high, making for a doubly formidable task on a hot day last week.

THOUGHT this comment on Redheaded Blackbelt hit the mark: “The plight of missing and murdered indigenous women is very real, but in too many cases friends and family members are covering up for the perpetrators, either out of fear or misplaced loyalty. Passing proclamations, lighting candles and marching are all fine but the awareness that needs to be raised is within and among each and every Anglo, Native and Hispanic family. Every child needs to be taught that no amount of violence is acceptable and every family member needs to be taught that silence is not acceptable. Women need to know that if he hits you once, he’ll hit you again. All the apologies and promises will mean nothing when he gets triggered the next time. And there will be a next time. Don’t stick around and wait for it to happen. The State needs to provide enough funding to guarantee that every woman leaving an abusive relationship has a safe place to live and financial resources to support her and her children.”

MIKE GENIELLA responds to the recent Maureen Dowd nostalgic piece about the demise of the American newsroom…

INK IN THE BLOOD. I am grateful my hometown newspaper decided to take a chance on a kid who started drinking in local bars with reporters and editors before he turned 21. 

The Appeal-Democrat, one of the oldest daily newspapers in California, became my School of Journalism. My first City Editor was a woman who graduated from Stanford University and then went on to obtain a master's degree from Columbia University. Dorothy Dodge ended up in Marysville because it was the only “news” job she could find. Most women were still confined to the food and society pages back in the day. Dorothy, along with seasoned reporters, editors, and owners at the Appeal-Democrat, took me under their wings and taught me a craft that I still cling to with passion. I remain friends with some of my earliest newsroom colleagues. I read this Maureen Dowd piece, and damn near wept as a flood of memories washed over me.

MARK SCARAMELLA NOTES: Another good description of those “old-school” newspaper days can be found in Roger Ebert’s autobiography, “Life Itself.” Before be became a movie reviewer, Ebert was a copy boy and cub reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times in its heyday.

MAY DAY! Dawned in the Anderson Valley un-May like, overcast, cool, windy. Used to be an important day of recognition for laboring people everywhere, and still is in many countries of the world. Not here. May Day is as forgotten as Arbor Day when, older old timers will recall, primary school students were given a tree seeding on that day that we took home to plant. It was last week, Arbor Day, passing unnoticed on 28 April.

MIKE GENIELLA SUGGESTS that Mendo supervisors note that the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors have moved to limit the pell mell conversion of vacation rental regulations by making it harder to convert single family homes to B&B’s. The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors “have voted to change vacation rental regulations, create caps and exclusion zones for vacation rentals and to define fractionally owned housing as timeshares. The first action involved creating a business license program that standardizes operating requirements for vacation rentals to protect neighbors from nuisances, while the second action placed caps and exclusion zones in specific neighborhoods in the first, fourth and fifth supervisoral districts to reduce over-concentration of vacation rentals in these areas.”

BUT WHEN DON SHANLEY of the Anderson Valley, silver star combat veteran of the Vietnam War, appeared before our Supervisors last week to ask for a crackdown on similar conversions here, our Supervisors, looking on as placidly as five cud-chewing cows, not only failed to address Shanley’s concerns, they failed to thank him for making the trip over the hill to appear before them. Shanley shouldn’t take the Supe’s rudeness personally. They do it to everyone. 

Don Shanley: “I have been a resident of the county for over 55 years. I don't understand this fear from real estate lobbyists about a use permits. The purpose of a use permit is to inform the neighborhood, addressing fire considerations, safety -- all the basic considerations you would expect from someone building something. So I don't get the fear about that. My wife and I are opposed to the appeal of the resolution from the Planning Commission. On November 21 of 2019 my wife and I presented a 25-page document to the Planning Commission hearing in opposition to the use permit for a short term rental on a private road passing through our property on Highway 128 in Navarro. Our neighbors and my wife and I devoted hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to oppose this use permit application that never should have been considered if the Planning Department had completed basic due diligence. Later it was determined and proved that it was already an illegal structure. There were three kitchens on the property and the application should never have come before the Planning Commission. So we got to spend five grand and get our neighbors together for the appeal. Every single person on our road opposed it. In the words of former County Counsel Terry Gross, A major use permit for a short-term rental application allows those individuals most affected, the neighbors, to voice their concerns about fire safety, invasion of privacy, liability, destruction of quality of life, nuisances, and not meeting the requirements of Mendocino County code. These were the specific reasons that the Planning Commissioners voted unanimously, 5-0, too deny the permit. We urge you to watch the November 21, 2019, hearing appeal to understand the details of our opposition. We are not suggesting short-term rentals never be approved. We keep hearing the shrill references: Oh my God! Property rights! They can't possibly have this! Please. They can still be approved in a residential neighborhood. We submit that individuals do not move to a rural zip code to wake up to a commercial hotel operation next door where perhaps there isn't even an owner or a manager on-site to attend to transient renters' needs and safety. One need only look at the real estate ads posted in office windows to understand that the proliferation of short-term rentals on private rural roads is a sales pitch to wannabe absentee owners who needn't even be present to manage the renters who are paying their mortgages. We appreciate local residents needing to supplement their incomes, but not at the expense of their neighbors. Thank you.”

AS USUAL, the Supervisors rudely ignored Shanley not even giving him the courtesy of a “thank you.” Then they proceeded to turn down the Planning Commission’s modest proposal unanimously. 

THE OLD PONZO-RONZO is looking kinda shaky these days, what with the San Francisco-based First Republic Bank being the third bank to collapse in the past two months after Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank went under in March. These three banks held a total of $532 billion in assets, which, according to the New York Times and when adjusted for inflation, is more than the $526 billion held by all the banks that collapsed in 2008 at the peak of the last financial crisis.

AMONG THE LA WRITER'S STRIKE is their stated fear that Artificial Intelligence could replace a lot of them. And the man who invented A.I., Geoffrey Hinton, 75, who lives in Toronto, says he's having second thoughts, that he now feels like the people who invented the atomic bomb. Hinton is credited with creating the technology that became the bedrock of A.I. systems like ChatGPT and Google Bard. He fears the systems may prompt the spread of more misinformation and could even start to replace people in the workforce. Jobs at risk he thought included “drudge” work as well as those who are paralegals, personal assistants and translators. He also revealed he has to tell himself excuses like: “If I didn't build it, someone else would have.”

BOONVILLE SCHOOL SUPE, the indefatigable Louise Simson, reports: “The district was notified today that we received a multi-year grant to build a high school after-school program that must include academic support in the amount of $112,000 annually. I will be looking for a program manager for this expansion.”

Ms. Simson also reports that “We've submitted the grant for the rehab of the track and field. We won’t hear back on that one until August.” 

(Old old timers will remember when the high school track and field was established under then Superintendent, Bob Mathias. It was a little jewel, fully irrigated and meticulously maintained. Mathias, incidentally, was superintendent of schools at Chowchilla during the infamous kidnapping of an entire bus load of children, ages 5-14, all of whom were recovered uninjured, largely because of the heroic calm of bus driver, Ed Ray, who, with the help of a 14-year-old student, dug himself out and went for help.)

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MENDOCINO COUNTY DAY OF AWARENESS For Missing And Murdered Indigenous Women And People, May 5, 2023

In recognition of the Mendocino County “Racial Equity and Justice Committee” (REAJC), our Mendocino County Tribal Partners, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office and all the organizations in Mendocino County that work to bring awareness to the lives of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People whose cases of sexual assault and violence are documented and undocumented in public records, Mendocino County proclaims May 5th, 2023, as Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People Day.

When Supervisor Mo Mulheren was approached by local tribal leaders she saw the Proclamation in front of the Board as an important opportunity to connect the County organization with our community to raise awareness about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People.

In solidarity with the victims and their families of these tragedies, she encourages Mendocino County employees and the community to wear red on May 5th, 2023, to raise awareness, and post to social media.

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photo by Michelle Hutchins

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The Point Arena City Council will conduct a special meeting focused on housing on Tuesday, May 9th at 5:00 PM. The event will be held both in-person and via Zoom. The agenda for the meeting includes the following:

* Presentation of the Annual Progress Report on the City's Housing Element

* City Council Study Session on Local Coastal Program (LCP) Amendments focusing on housing

+ Preview of the draft Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Toolkit

+ Council discussion on restrictions in the ADU Ordinance related to short-term rentals

+ Review of draft amendments to simplify and streamline permitting regulations

+ Briefing on the status of remaining Housing Update amendments

+ Review of the timeline for public hearings and Council action on LCP Amendments

The City of Point Arena is committed to addressing the pressing need for affordable and accessible housing within the community. Residents are encouraged to attend and contribute their insights and suggestions to the discussion.

What? Point Arena Community Housing Workshop

When? Tuesday, May 9th at 5:00 PM

Where? Point Arena City Hall & via Zoom

451 School Street

Point Arena, CA 95468

Zoom Link:

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On March 13, 2023, Fort Bragg Police Department was notified by California Department of Health Care Service they were successful in their grant application to the Youth Opioid Response program. This grant is in the amount of $345,363. While many entities were applying for a piece of the $12 million being offered, only thirty-four were successful and Fort Bragg PD was the only law enforcement agency. 

Mendocino County has an opioid overdose rate three times the state average and is the second highest county in the state. Individuals with a substance abuse disorder represent a disproportionately large cost to the criminal justice and public health systems. 

Captain Thomas O’Neal worked with Social Services Liaison Janette Ornelas and local Success Coach Bethany Brewer on a new way of attacking the problem. What began as an idea to get those just arrested into rehabilitation, grew to an idea that involved kids, education, and prevention. 

The newly formed Project Right Now (PRN) will be part of the Care Response Unit (CRU), already operating with high success as part of the Fort Bragg Police Department. Referrals to PRN will come from police officers, teachers, family, and friends among others. The focus of the grant is on ages 12 – 24, but all ages will be served. When a person with a substance abuse disorder is referred to PRN, Social Services Liaisons will immediately begin accessing them for extent of the problem, barriers, insurance, and rehabilitation options. They will ensure proper transportation to the rehabilitation facility if that is the issue. 

Then, Bethany Brewer and her team of Success Coaches will follow up regularly before, during and after rehabilitation to assist the client with challenges and barriers that often lead to relapse. The Success Coaches will be contract employees with the Police Department to ensure proper background investigations are completed. Success Coaches will form youth advisory councils to better understand what the youth need to better respond to youth clients. Research has shown it is this follow-up care that generates the highest level of success. 

Another major component of the program is education. Training middle school and high school youth, as well as their parents, about the dangers of opiates and how to get help. The intent is to prevent more youth from ever using the first time and keeping them from becoming addicted to the substance. With the proliferation of fentanyl, more youth are dying from unintentional overdoses as most street drugs have no quality or quantity control. 

Youth, adults, and school staff will be trained on the use of Narcan, which is easy to administer and has very little risk. However, not using Narcan during an overdose can be deadly. 

Chief Neil Cervenka said, “This is a full-circle approach to the danger opiates present in our community. We are not going to arrest our way out of the problem and a more holistic approach is needed. Project Right Now fills in the gaps and will save lives. Our police officers are finding and arresting the dealers, while referring the users to help. The officers will deal with the supply, PRN will deal with the demand.” 

Mendocino Coast Clinics also received a grant from US Department of Health and Human Services for $2.5 million for the expanded medication assisted treatment of opioid addiction. FBPD is working closely with them to avoid overlapping services and provide better assistance to our community. 

“We look forward to a strong partnership with MCBH and all the other organizations involved. We are building a very strong team, who present innovative ideas to best serve our community,” said Chief Cervenka. 

The grant will fully fund one Social Services Liaison, fund the hourly rate for the contract Success Coaches, and cover educational expenses. 

This information is being released by Chief Neil Cervenka. All media inquiries should contact him at 

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Glass Beach Sunset (Jeff Goll)

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I ventured this morning to call Mr. Norman de Vall over on the Coast, in pursuit of obscure historical information about our shared “cultural” histories (Mendo and Lake Counties). Mr. de Vall of course is well versed in the long-term issues besetting our battered watersheds, and I mentioned that Will Parrish had written extensively about our ecosystem issues back in 2014. 

I’m writing today to thank you for archiving all of the works of your contributors, and especially for Will’s wonderful efforts. In this case, the 2014 essays comprise three of the most valuable explanations of global, regional, and local “impacts” of our collective bull-headedness, illuminated through the lens of poor old Clear Lake.

October 8, 2014: Clear Lake’s (and the World’s) Algae Problem:

October 15, 2014: California’s North Coast Water Relics 

November 5, 2014: Who Impairs Clear Lake? 

As always, I am profoundly grateful to you and your beloved crew for enduring and never yielding to the muck and madness, providing an exceptional public service, and giving all of us the opportunity to “express” our concerns or opinions in return. 

Love from Upper Lake,

Betsy Cawn


CATCH OF THE DAY, Monday, May 1, 2023

Cook, Diaz, Esquivel

THOMAS COOK, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol. (Frequent flyer.)

MARISSA DIAZ, Talmage. DUI with priors, suspended license, failure to appear.

MIA ESQUIVEL, Redwood Valley. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

Fuentes, Hanas, Kotila, Langley

LLUAN FUENTES, Ukiah. DUI, no license. 

JOSEPH HANAS III, Los Angeles/Laytonville. Marijuana sales, obstruction of justice.

ERIC KOTILA, Fort Bragg. Petty theft, vandalism.

MICHAEL LANGLEY, Ukiah. Probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)

Obrion, Penngales, Ponce

NICOLE OBRION, Ukiah. Petty theft, paraphernalia, conspiracy, resisting, bringing controlled substance into jail.

CORTAES PENNGALES, Grove City, Ohio/Laytonville. Marijuana sales, obstruction of justice.

DAVID PONCE, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. Failure to appear.

Rudzitis, Sallis, Sanders

ERIK RUDZITIS, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

KAYLA SALLIS, Ukiah. Failure to appear.

JASON SANDERS, Willits. Failure to appear.

Scott, Spurling, Trent-Young

HANNAH SCOTT, Lakeport/Ukiah. Failure to appear.

MICHAL SPURLING, Ukiah. Contributing to delinquency of minor, sending harmful matter of minor with sexual intent to minor, annoy-molest minor, child cruelty-infliction of injury.

CAMERON TRENT-YOUNG, Dayton, Ohio/Ukiah. Marijuana sales, conspiracy.

Treppa, Velasco, Walters

PATRICIA TREPPA, Redwood Valley. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, battery on peace officer.

LUIS VELASCO, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

DAVID WALTERS, Ukiah. Santa Rosa/Ukiah. Failure to appear.

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NOT THE LAST WHITE MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO: A Conversation With Artist Charles Albert

by Jonah Raskin

Charles Albert is not the last white man in San Francisco. Not by a long shot. 43% of the population identifies as white. 49% are female. Hordes of white men live and work in The City: from Russian Hill—where Albert shares his apartment with a parrot named “Bird”— to the Financial District, where he holds up in a space not much bigger than a bird cage.

In a city where world weary reporters and editors lament the decline of local art, Bay Area literary communities and what’s known as “culture,” individual artists are producing innovative work in the very heart of corporate capitalism. Joan Brown did it in her time and so did Diego Rivera and Freda Kahlo who arrived from Mexico and stormed the San Francisco art world. Charles Albert has been on a roll since January 1, 2023 and hasn’t slowed down since then.

The walls of his sun-lit apartment explode with paintings and sketches he has created in a variety of styles over the last four months. Some are abstract, others are figurative and made with a few simple lines. Perhaps the one that stands out more than any other has the working title, “White Man Walking.”

The colors are black and white. The medium is compressed charcoal. The anonymous white man walks toward the viewer. That much is clear from the angle of his legs and the movement of his feet. Curiously, or perhaps not, his face is not visible.

In fact, he doesn’t have a face or a head, either, though a black hat—a kind of halo— hovers above the space where his head ought to be. He might be a twenty-first century Everyman. Feather-like black lines radiate from around him— above, below and on both sides—and suggest that he’s at the center of a field of magnetic energy.

Albert’s sketch prompted me to think about white men I have known such as Abbie Hoffman and Tom Hayden. It also prompted me to think of myself as a writer who has written not only about white men, including Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, but also about women and people of color like Alice Walker and Frederick Douglass. I wondered what Albert was thinking about whiteness and maleness. My questions and his answers follow.

You have a show coming up with a great many new works, but given the state of the world and the heightened awareness about ethnicity and gender it seems that viewers will be drawn to “White Man Walking.” Who is the white man in your sketch?

He’s me as a generic representative of my generation of white dudes, and a placeholder for me to explore how the world seems an odd place for us these days. Moving about each day, something’s changed, like the shoes I’ve worn for years suddenly don’t fit right. Something is off.

Why the title?

It’s a term from prison: condemned prisoners walking to the death chamber. Book by the same name written in the 1980s by Sister Helen Prejean; a movie followed. The title is a nod to the idea that the time of the white man is over. White men ruling is ending. We won’t be in control much longer.

You’re conscious of yourself as a white man?

Absolutely. As my grown-up kids—son, George, 21, and daughter, Iza, 23—point out, white dudes like me have been in charge for generations. And look at the mess we’re in! Perhaps because I’m white, male and almost 60, I’m now “the establishment,” though as an art school graduate, and therefore a little outside the norm, I never considered myself “establishment.” Security guards at Walgreens nod at me. Gen Zers aren’t shy about discussing what they see as the failings of my generation

As a white man, are you sure you’re not paranoid?

Ha! Probably a little. I don’t walk into every room with Gen Zers and feel their disdain. But understand this: they do look at us as responsible for the mess the world is in. As young adults, they see inequality, income disparity, race issues, and the relative lack of power they have to make money and affect change. I recently read that Gen Z is the first US generation not expected to surpass its parents in terms of income and quality of life.

You grew up in Baltimore in the 1960s and 1970s, and you’ve revisited the city, so to speak, by watching The Wire, the acclaimed series about your birthplace. How would you characterize Baltimore then and now?

“It’s funny, The Wire came out 20 years ago. I didn’t watch it then. It reminded me too much of home. The “Towers” where the drug dealing goes on was about one mile from my grandmother’s house. 20 years on, having lost most of my family, I find I’m watching The Wire because it reminds me of Home! It’s also a powerfully written and performed series.

What can you say about race in Baltimore? 

Racism is real everywhere but feels ever-present and in your face in Baltimore. My own kids tell me my generation has failed to eradicate racism. They are right, but I point out that the racial climate seems better today than it was when I was growing up in Baltimore in the 70’s. I’m glad that it’s making top headlines and helped to spawn movements. Our society needs to grapple with race to bring about real change.

How do you describe San Francisco, where you now live and work?

Economically and demographically, San Francisco and Baltimore are world’s apart. SF is arguably one of the most tolerant and diverse cities in the country. We’re also one of the most expensive cities in the country which I believe contributes to racial problems here. As I understand it, SF has a declining Black population. We rarely see Black people in many neighborhoods in SF, compared to Baltimore.

Look, I’m an artist, not a sociologist, but it seems to me that racism ends only after there is genuine understanding and empathy between each other. Maybe we need to get rid of the word and the concept of “The Other.”

I hate to use the word “hopeful.” It’s so abused and misused. But how do you see the future?

I’m optimistic. We’re in embattled times and we need to bring about needed change. I’m optimistic because of the values I see in younger generations. I’m happy to see that my kids have the focus and commitment they seem to have about eliminating inequality. They put their lifestyles, and career choices on the line in a way that I and many in my generation did not. Perhaps they will accelerate the transition to a more just, fair system. I’m ready to pitch in. I do that in part through my art.

What drives you to draw, paint, create? What’s the motivation?

I’m cranking out the work because the practice of making art is a meditation, helps me keep from going crazy, committing murder, or worse! The past year, I separated from my wife, lost my dad and moved my mom into assisted living. Making art for me is therapy, an exploration, and a lesson all at once, And you get something at the end of the process.

I’ve told friends the universe is giving me a crash course in middle age parenting. It’s been a stressful time. The variety of work I’ve been producing reflects the range of emotions I’ve been experiencing. To go from 20 years of very little drawing to one drawing a week for the past year….there’s a lot of energy grinding out the art.

You seem to get into a groove when you’re especially creative. Do you know why that happens?

It’s “Flow.” Athletes experience it, most creative people and anyone really into their work. To me flow is like listening to music. My music. We can hear music all the time, but when it’s your jam, your song, well, that’s different. Your music moves you, your mood, your emotions, your body. Something connects. You identify with it. When drawing, there is a dynamic between your intent and the marks you’re making in real time. You’re watching it happen, you’re making it happen, and you’re present for the event. It’s powerful.

Do you have an audience or viewers in mind when you draw?

No. I started drawing last year with the intent of learning. I’m specifically not trying to make a masterpiece, or even ‘Art.’ I’m in it for the experience, the learning. I’m looking more carefully now at What I want to make, what message/theme I want to work in. I do consider the message, and how it will be received. But the interest is in achieving clarity, not preaching or selling.

On the one hand you’ve done the compressed charcoal sketch in black and white of “white man walking” and on the other hand the colorful drawing of a chair in a corner of a room. You also have abstract geometric forms. What’s it like to go back and forth from those seemingly very different kinds of works of art?

Normal I suppose. I’ve a lot to learn. I’m wary of color, and my skills in general have a long way to go. So, I’ve been game to try pretty much whatever idea pops up. When you’re not making art with the intent of selling, you can be kinda fearless. Just say “Why not” and have at it. It also helps to have formal artistic training, resources, and time. Luxuries few young artists have. It helps to have bare walls, too. Sometimes I wonder if I draw to populate my apartment. Explains why I slow down when I’m out of wall space.

Do you go to SF museums like the de Young and to galleries to see paintings and sculpture?

Absolutely. Lane Myer, a friend, brilliant artist and instructor at Rhode Island School of Design, said, “We’re artists not because of what we make, but how we see.” Seeing is the artist’s lingua franca.

Every painting, every sculpture, tells a story of what the artist was thinking.

We ask, “why did she choose to create this piece”? “Why did she make the choices she made about the message, medium, scale, color, texture and more.

Seeing art is an opportunity to understand how another mind sees and how it thinks. Leaving the museum, or a good gallery, is like leaving a cocktail party where several conversations have set you on fire with ideas. The only real thing to do is to explore the ideas in your art.

How do you see your future as an artist?

I’m trying to keep the future simple! I enjoy the process of making art, the learning and the discovery. I hope to continue developing my skills. Perhaps to arrive at an idea, medium, style and theme that ‘clicks.’ When all of those elements come together just right, well, that’s the best. It’s the difference between hitting all the right notes, and making music. It’s a subtle, but undeniable shift. One worth striving towards.

To see Albert’s show at the Canessa Gallery in San Francisco contact him at and 415. 307. 2280

Jonah Raskin is the author of Beat Blues, San Francisco, 1955.

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Described as Hemingway`s most prized and beloved possession, at least after his boat Pilar - The Farm, painted by the Spanish artist Joan Miró (1921-1922). First piece of art that Hemingway bought, for 5 000 french francs. It was a birthday present for his wife, Hadley. He wrote in 1934 in the journal Cahiers d'art, “No one could look at it and not know it had been painted by a great painter. I would not trade it for any picture in the world.” Hemingway also described it by saying, “It has in it all that you feel about Spain when you are there and all that you feel when you are away and cannot go there. No one else has been able to paint these two very opposing things.”

Now in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, where it was given in 1987 by Mary Hemingway.

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If you have ever tried to catch an armadillo? You are in for a real chase. When I was a kid in Texas our entire track team tried to catch one in a football field. The armadillo won! Now a shotgun is not fair, nor a .22; just try to catch one bare handed. BTW: the way their shells work, you better wear welding gloves to pick them up.

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by Bill Ayers (May 03, 2017)

Fox News made the headlines last week when eleven current and former employees filed a class-action lawsuit against the network for racial discrimination. This was less than a week after the network ousted political commentator Bill O’Reilly for accusations of sexual harassment. Fellow commentator Tucker Carlson has since replaced him. In a time when Fox News is under scrutiny for its regressive and discriminatory conduct, it’s amazing to recall that some of the network’s stars once rubbed elbows years ago with Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn.

None other than Tucker Carlson entered an online fundraising auction for two items Ayers and Dohrn were donating: choice seats at a Cubs game and dinner for six cooked and hosted by Ayers and Dohrn. When Carlson won the dinner, outrage poured out on the blogosphere. Ayers was excited and saw it as an opportunity to open a dialog. Some friends of Ayers and Dohrn clamored to have a front-row seat to ‘dinner theater.’ Other friends and colleagues, however, argued that they should never comingle with the likes of Fox News commentators. Or they accused Ayers of being provocative and stupid, and faded into the background. But Ayers and Dohrn still made the preparations and welcomed their guests. Carlson brought along Jamie Weinstein, Andrew Breitbart, Matt Labash, Audrey Lowe, and Buckley Carlson. As the following passage from Public Enemy: Confessions of an American Dissident shows, no one could have predicted how the soirée would turn out.

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And then they arrived. Let the rumpus begin!

Spirited greetings and introductions all around, laughter at the improbability of the whole thing, a flurry of separate conversations as wine was poured and glasses lifted. I proposed a toast to Tucker, thanking him for his generous gift to the Public Square and reminding everyone that this was a dinner party, not an interview or a performance (of course, dinner is always a performance, and this one more than most). Then they were seated at the table, first course served.

Friends had warned us that they would try to create a gotcha moment, but not much happened. Tucker and Bernardine gazed out the windows for a time at the Chicago skyline and discovered a shared Swedish background (Christmas cookies!). Jamie Weinstein acted the intrepid cub reporter, notebook in hand, copying the titles of books from the vast bookshelves (Look, Solzhenitsyn! And Vargas Llosa!), questions flying from him in a steady stream, but perhaps his manic, in-your-face manner was the result of jet lag (“I’m just off the plane from Israel,” he said half a dozen times. “My third trip!”). Carlson and Breitbart had been on the primary campaign trail, and each expressed deep disdain for the Republican candidates seeking the presidency. When Jamie complained that none was a bona fide conservative, I asked him to define “conservative” for me.

“Small government,” he said.

“That’s it?” I asked.


It certainly makes thinking easier, if not completely beside the point. I pointed out that Somalia, to take an obvious example, was a small-government paradise.

Tucker told me at one point that his kids went to the same boarding school he’d attended, and asserted that the only difference between his kids’ school and a failing Chicago public school was that at the prep school they could fire the bad teachers. I laughed out loud, and he smiled weakly.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the table, Bernardine was saying that the United States should close all its foreign military bases immediately, begin to dismantle the Pentagon, the CIA, and NATO, and save a trillion dollars a year at least—a small-government proposal if ever there was one. The boys weren’t buying it at all, clamoring for invasions here, aggression there, violence (normalized, routine, and taken for granted) practically everywhere. Andrew Breitbart, humid and heating up, argued noisily for US military interventions in Iran and Syria and, then, egging himself on, in North Korea and China(!)—on humanitarian grounds, of course—while Bernardine, that notorious poster child for violence, steadfastly urged nuclear disarmament, withdrawal from occupations, peace on earth, goodwill toward all. It was utterly surreal.

I gave each guest a swag bag with candy kisses and one of my books, autographed. Tucker took my comic book about teaching, and I signed it “To my new best friend!” I had bought his book Politicians, Partisans, and Parasites, with an epigraph (returned to again and again in the text) from Larry King: “The trick is to care, but not too much. Give a shit—but not really.” I asked him to please autograph it for me. He wrote: “Thanks for the fantastic ribs! Please read every word of this— the truth lies herein.” Perhaps he was being ironic as well.

As they were leaving, Breitbart told Bernardine that he was thrilled to know her, and he noted that we had at least one thing in common: we were all convenient caricatures in the “lamestream” media.

It was all over in an hour and a half. Andrew Breitbart tweeted from the taxi ferrying them back to their hotel: Shorthand: Ayers, a gourmand charmer. Dohrn, hot at 70, best behavior. Potemkin dinner. Pampered by their coterie.

He elaborated in a long radio interview later that night from his hotel bar: “We were exposed to the two most sophisticated dinner party-throwers in the world… This was their battlefield and they couldn’t have been more charming… I think I’m going to try and reach out to Bill Ayers and try and figure out if I can maybe do a road trip across the country with him—him and me—and he can show me his America, and I can show him my America, and maybe we can film it and let people decide. Because I’ve got to be honest with you, I liked being in the room with him, talking with him.”

That road trip was a fun if unlikely prospect, but a few days after our dinner it became impossible—Andrew Breitbart collapsed and died outside his home at the age of forty-three, too young.

Life—short or long—always ends in the middle of things.

(William Ayers was Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is the founder of the Small Schools Workshop and the Center for Youth and Society, and the author of many books including Teaching Toward Freedom, A Kind and Just Parent, Fugitive Days, and Public Enemy.)

* * *

This photo of a moonshine still is thought to have been taken in about 1901. Ben Hadaller, the photo's original contributor, found it among his father Matt's possessions. Ben recalled traveling on more than one occasion with his father to a place in Onalaska called "Moonshine Alley" where many locals went to find their moonshine. How to tell if the moonshine is good? Hold a match about an inch-and-a-half above the jug, and if the flame is blue the moonshine is good. 

* * *


Ukrainian shelling killed four people in a village in Russia’s Bryansk region, the governor says. On Saturday, a suspected drone attack hit occupied Crimea and the Russian-controlled town of Nova Kakhovka came under "severe artillery fire."

In Ukraine, fresh Russian shelling has pounded cities near the northern front line, and a strike on an apartment building in central Ukraine Friday marked the deadliest attack on civilians in months.

Russia replaced its top logistics commander Sunday, shaking up a key role just as Ukraine signals its much-anticipated counteroffensive is nearing.

The head of the Wagner mercenary group threatened to leave Bakhmut if he doesn't receive more supplies from Moscow, signaling his latest public spat with the Kremlin. 


* * *

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Mass shootings, and individual shootings in general in our country continue happening each and every day. Over 11,500 people have been shot and killed since the beginning of 2023. 

Late last Friday five persons of the same family in Cleveland, Texas, a farming town 45 miles north of Houston, were shot and killed by their enraged neighbor, Francisco Oropeza, with his assault style AK-15 rifle. The 38-year-old illegal Honduran immigrant was asked to stop shooting in his backyard so a child could sleep. Response by Greg Abbott, Texas governor: “Condolences to their family, $50,000 reward for capture of the shooter,” and callously labeled the dead victims, “illegal immigrants.” 

The Garcia family lived there five years. 

Oropeza is still on the loose. Authorities are asking for the public to help apprehend him. He is considered, “armed and dangerous.” 

So far in 2023, according to the Gun Violence Archive (GVA), 184 American people are dead by mass shootings. Over the past three years, 2020-2022, in each year more than 600 persons have been murdered. We need a national leader who can cause a true change in our gun laws. 

Frank H. Baumgardner, III

Santa Rosa

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Bonnie & Clyde's Arsenal (from the trunk of their car) 1934

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by Denis Rouse

Dear O’io: You eluded us last year. Our esteemed guide, Captain Jeremy Inman of Oahu Flyfishing, caught the Covid, had to cancel. I wrote the story anyway because the occasion was my 80th birthday and wannabe writers never die, we keep writing. We were in Honolulu enjoying an interesting street week, report of which I felt equally germane to hooking up with you out there on the flats. I sent the story headlined “Uh Oh, No O’io” to Tail Magazine editor-in-chief Joe Ballarini, who liked it but judged it too fishless for the magazine. He lateraled it to Tail’s reader contribution blog, where it remains as preface to the foregoing, our return to Honolulu, which you know, evanescent quicksilver wraith of the reef, heartbreaker of many a fly caster, turned out to be a little bit fishier. 

* * *

This vast lagoon where you live, where we dubious terrestrials intrude with desperate desire to feel your power, is called Ke’ehi in the language of the people who got here first, they who fished and farmed here for centuries in a lifestyle that coexisted well with the fecundity of the sea and of the land. Much has changed. But not you, O’io. In A.J. McClane’s magisterial Standard Fishing Encyclopedia, he wrote “Bonefish live in a constant state of alarm.” Great writing because it is brisk truth. It takes a masterful guide with the vision of an osprey, and expert poling of his flatboat from his raised platform at the stern, to position an angler on the bow for a reasonable presentation of the shrimp fly he tied himself expertly that replicates what you want most, something to eat. “Thirty feet at one o’clock,” says Captain Jeremy. I cast the fly in accordance with his instruction, and miracle of miracles, it is apparently close enough. “Eat it, eat it!” I hear Jeremy imploring softly so as not to alarm you, but dammit, you do not, you either refuse the replicated morsel slowly, maddeningly, or you spook, which is to say you disappear with such suddenness as to give doubt you were ever there in the first place.

For hours, brother Rick and I alternately stepped up on the bow, without the balance we used to have, but with the fine instruments of our salt water 8-weight rods and reels, drags set perfectly for 10-pound tippet strengths, and cast as well as we could to where Captain Jeremy spotted you, you rumor of a fish, how many times? Thirty? Forty? It does not matter because you vexed us remorselessly. There was a moment in the blue water near the outer reef when we saw one reason why you are so preternaturally alert, as a big slab of an Ulua, a Trevally, Jeremy judged to be about forty pounds flashed by the boat. I asked him, “Do they eat bonefish?” He said, “They eat everything.” 

By now, it was time to pull up to a small island in the Ke’ehi for lunch -- great BLT sandwiches that replenished some of our dwindling elderly male reserves of energy for the forthcoming afternoon, nearly a mile of knee-deep wading the lagoon; stalking you, hunting you, needing you, wanting you as badly at this juncture as a lost love we knew too late was true. For more hours we followed the captain. He would spot you now and then with his seemingly x-ray vision, freeze to a halt, point, and whisper instruction to either Rick or me. “Just there, put it there, ten feet.” Usually our customary result, you impossible ghost of a fish, you either refused the fly, or you pulled your amazing vanishing act leaving us limp with disappointment for the umpteenth time. And once what did you do? Unseen until you were perhaps only a foot from Jeremy’s left knee you dramatically spooked and made a big hole in the water that startled the hell out of our usually unflappable leader.

Then, finally, some action we were all desperate for: Jeremy freezes and points. “Twenty feet, three o’clock,” he whispers. I see you clearly and put the fly as close to your table as I dared. Then wham, that lusty take, that power jerk that says fish on in every language. I could feel your energy bend the rod, zip up the line, and rocket up through my left arm into my grateful heart. “Let it run, let it run!” exhorts my captain who well knows your customary 40 mile an hour reel screaming speed run for life. God knows I am ready for your run, but instead I feel short bursts and when I coax you close, Jeremy says “You got a goatfish.” Am I disappointed? Hell no, the little guy of something near a pound fought like a trooper, and with black and white stripes at the tail, and bright red and yellow coloration forward, I thought he was one of the most beautiful denizens of the reef I had ever seen. “Hold him up for a shot,” I ask Jeremy and just as he does, the fish the Hawaiians call an Obake Weke, a Nightmare Goatfish, nomenclature meaning if you eat it you might wake up screaming, slips out of his hands into involuntary earlier than anticipated catch and release.

On the wade back to the boat, our captain consoles us needlessly because Rick and I loved the whole experience, including intimacy with the beauty and the Hawaiian history of the lagoon, as well of course with the mystery of you, O’io. “This is not a rare day,” Jeremy says, “These fish are extremely challenging and often frustrating. But what keeps clients coming back are those other not so rare days when they are very hungry and less wary, and we are rewarded several times with the wonderful A game of the sport and the pastime of fly fishing.”

Not to worry Captain Jeremy, you will hear from us again and soon.

* * *

Anyway, dear fish, before we left Honolulu, we drove over the Ko’olau Range, the beautiful mountains that are the spine of Oahu, to the windward side of the island, to the town of Kaneohe, to visit with Naoki Hayashi, a master of what has become the fine art of gyotaku. It began in the 19th Century when Japanese fishermen made ink prints of their catches simply for record keeping but it has evolved into highly prized artistry, and Naoki’s work is at the top. It has nothing to do of course with catch and release but Naoki is justifiably proud of his ethos, he utilizes non-toxic ink so that nothing goes to waste, all his subjects are appreciated on his dining table as well. For obvious reasons Rick and I were particularly interested in the O’io gyotaku in his gallery.

Thus it is, magnificent fish, your life has been rescued from time, you will live forever in our hearts and on our living room wall.

(Denis Rouse, 81, took fly-casting instruction 60 years ago from Bennett Mintz who is now 90. After the first lesson Rouse stowed his spinning and bait casting gear and inhaled the Orvis catalog. Their most recent outing together involved sea-run cutthroat trout on the Hood Canal in Washington State.)

* * *

I ADMIT THAT WHEN I WAS YOUNG I loved to blow my own trumpet. I loved to show off in front of people. I enjoyed the anecdotes that were told about me. But believe me, I wasn’t such a monster as to do it on account of immortality! When I realized one day that this was on the point of it all, I panicked. From that time on I must have told people a thousand times to leave my life alone. But the more I pleaded the worse it got. I moved to Cuba to get out of their sight. When I won the Nobel Prize I refused to go to Stockholm…

A man can take his own life. But he cannot take his own immortality.

— Hemingway

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Look, who knows what Hunter was aware of in the depths of his addiction. But at least, there's very good reason to doubt the explanation that he's put forward so far.

But if there's anything that the Washington press corp and the Democratic Party are good for - it's giving Joe and Hunter a pass.

They've known about Navy for some time and turned a blind eye. Most reporters didn't have anything to say when the Biden Family hung Christmas stockings in our White House, displaying all of our president's grandchildren -- except one.

It is all, sadly, very Maury Povich. Something one would expect from a trashy daytime television show and not the family residing in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

The gutting tragedy of all of this is that a sinless child is the victim. But instead the 53-year-old toddler that is Hunter Biden is the one who gets all the protection.

Why can't the president acknowledge her? Doesn't he know that America would embrace her with open arms?

You'd think that a Democratic party that claims to care for the most vulnerable among us would be outraged about a Democratic president denying the existence of a child.

But they're not.


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* * *

WHAT IF GEORGE W. BUSH WAS RIGHT? ‘Mission Accomplished,’ 20 Years Later

by Norman Solomon

Twenty years ago, President George W. Bush landed in a twin-engine Navy jet on an aircraft carrier, strode across the deck in a bulky flight suit and proceeded to give a televised victory speech under a huge red-white-and-blue banner announcing "Mission Accomplished." For Bush, the optics on May 1, 2003 could hardly have been more triumphant. From the USS Abraham Lincoln, 30 miles off the coast of San Diego, he delivered a stirring coda, proclaiming that "major combat operations in Iraq have ended" just six weeks after the United States led the invasion of that country.

But Bush's jubilant claim unraveled as combat escalated between Iraqi insurgents and occupying forces. During the next nine years, the American death toll went from 172, according to the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, to more than 4,400, while the deaths of Iraqi people surged into the hundreds of thousands. The physical wounds were even more numerous, the emotional injuries incalculable.

The "Mission Accomplished" banner and Bush's speech going with it have become notorious. But focusing only on his faulty claim that the war was over ignores other key untruths in the oratory.

"We have fought for the cause of liberty," Bush declared. He did not mention the cause of oil.

A few months before the invasion, a soft-spoken Iraqi man who was my driver in Baghdad waited until we were alone at a picnic table in a park before saying that he wished Iraq had no oil -- because then there would be no reason to fear an invasion. Years later, some U.S. authorities were candid about Iraq's massive oil reserves as an incentive for the war.

"I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil," former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan wrote in his 2007 memoir. That same year, a former head of the U.S. Central Command in Iraq, Gen. John Abizaid, had this to say: "Of course it's about oil, we can't really deny that." And Sen. Chuck Hagel, who later became Defense Secretary, commented: "People say we're not fighting for oil. Of course we are."

While it touted the war effort as entirely noble, Bush's "mission accomplished" speech credited the Pentagon's "new tactics and precision weapons" for avoiding "violence against civilians." The president underscored that "it is a great moral advance when the guilty have far more to fear from war than the innocent."

But such soothing words masked brutal realities. 

Civilian deaths accounted for 40 percent of "people killed directly in the violence of the U.S. post-9/11 wars," according to the Costs of War project at Brown University. In fact, a large majority of the casualties of those wars have been civilians. "Several times as many more have been killed as a reverberating effect of the wars -- because, for example, of water loss, sewage and other infrastructural issues, and war-related disease."

By dodging inconvenient truths about the impacts of U.S. warfare on "the innocent," Bush was reasserting the usual pretenses of presidents who elide the actual human toll of their wars while predicting successful outcomes.

On May 1, 2012, exactly nine years after Bush's speech on the aircraft carrier, President Barack Obama spoke to the American people from Bagram Air Base north of Kabul. With U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan near a peak of 100,000, Obama expressed confidence that "we will complete our mission and end the war in Afghanistan," which began more than a decade before. 

Both Bush and Obama would later be widely faulted for voicing undue optimism about fulfilling a war's "mission." But the critiques, however, have rarely devoted much attention to scrutinizing the assumptions that propelled initial support for the missions.

The U.S. government's inherent prerogative to intervene militarily in other countries has seldom been directly challenged by America's mainstream media. Instead, debates have routinely revolved around whether, where, when and how an intervention is prudent and likely to prevail.

But what if Bush had been correct in May 2003 and U.S. forces really were at the end of major combat operations in Iraq? What if Obama had been correct in May 2012 -- and U.S. forces were able to "complete our mission" in Afghanistan? 

Conventional wisdom would still have gauged success in terms of military victory, in each case, rather than such matters as adherence to international law or regard for human life.

So today it's a wonder to behold the fully justified denunciations of Russia's horrific invasion of Ukraine from some of the same U.S. government leaders who avidly supported the invasion of Iraq. The concept that might makes right obviously doesn't sound good, but in practice, it has repeatedly been the basis of U.S. policy. Wayne Morse, the Democratic senator from Oregon who opposed the Vietnam War from the outset, was cogent when he said: "I don't know why we think, just because we're mighty, that we have the right to try to substitute might for right."

George W. Bush's performance with the "Mission Accomplished" banner -- a rhetorical victory lap that came before the protracted bloodshed -- deserves all of its notoriety 20 years later. His claims of success for the Iraq war mission are now easy grounds for derision. But the more difficult truths to plow through have to do with why the mission should never have been attempted in the first place.


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The war industry, a state within a state, disembowels the nation, stumbles from one military fiasco to the next, strips us of civil liberties and pushes us towards suicidal wars with Russia and China.

by Chris Hedges

America is a stratocracy, a form of government dominated by the military. It is axiomatic among the two ruling parties that there must be a constant preparation for war. The war machine’s massive budgets are sacrosanct. Its billions of dollars in waste and fraud are ignored. Its military fiascos in Southeast Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East have disappeared into the vast cavern of historical amnesia. This amnesia, which means there is never accountability, licenses the war machine to economically disembowel the country and drive the Empire into one self-defeating conflict after another. The militarists win every election. They cannot lose. It is impossible to vote against them. The war state is a Götterdämmerung, as Dwight Macdonald writes, “without the gods.”

Since the end of the Second World War, the federal government has spent more than half its tax dollars on past, current and future military operations. It is the largest single sustaining activity of the government. Military systems are sold before they are produced with guarantees that huge cost overruns will be covered. Foreign aid is contingent on buying U.S. weapons. Egypt, which receives some $1.3 billion in foreign military financing, is required to devote it to buying and maintaining U.S. weapons systems. Israel has received $158 billion in bilateral assistance from the U.S. since 1949, almost all of it since 1971 in the form of military aid, with most of it going towards arms purchases from U.S. weapons manufacturers. The American public funds the research, development and building of weapons systems and then buys these same weapons systems on behalf of foreign governments. It is a circular system of corporate welfare. 

Between October 2021 and September 2022, the U.S. spent $877 billion on the military, that’s more than the next 10 countries, including China, Russia, Germany, France and the United Kingdom combined. These huge military expenditures, along with the rising costs of a for-profit healthcare system, have driven the U.S. national debt to over $31 trillion, nearly $5 trillion more than the U.S.’s entire Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This imbalance is not sustainable, especially once the dollar is no longer the world’s reserve currency. As of January 2023, the U.S. spent a record $213 billion servicing the interest on its national debt. 

The public, bombarded with war propaganda, cheers on their self-immolation. It revels in the despicable beauty of our military prowess. It speaks in the thought-terminating clichés spewed out by mass culture and mass media. It imbibes the illusion of omnipotence and wallows in self-adulation.

The intoxication of war is a plague. It imparts an emotional high that is impervious to logic, reason or fact. No nation is immune. The gravest mistake made by European socialists on the eve of the First World War was the belief that the working classes of France, Germany, Italy, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Russia and Great Britain would not be divided into antagonistic tribes because of disputes between imperialist governments. They would not, the socialists assured themselves, sign on for the suicidal slaughter of millions of working men in the trenches. Instead, nearly every socialist leader walked away from their anti-war platform to back their nation’s entry into the war. The handful who did not, such as Rosa Luxemburg, were sent to prison. 

A society dominated by militarists distorts its social, cultural, economic and political institutions to serve the interests of the war industry. The essence of the military is masked with subterfuges — using the military to carry out humanitarian relief missions, evacuating civilians in danger, as we see in the Sudan, defining military aggression as “humanitarian intervention” or a way to protect democracy and liberty, or lauding the military as carrying out a vital civic function by teaching leadership, responsibility, ethics and skills to young recruits. The true face of the military — industrial slaughter — is hidden.

The mantra of the militarized state is national security. If every discussion begins with a question of national security, every answer includes force or the threat of force. The preoccupation with internal and external threats divides the world into friend and foe, good and evil. Militarized societies are fertile ground for demagogues. Militarists, like demagogues, see other nations and cultures in their own image – threatening and aggressive. They seek only domination. 

It was not in our national interest to wage war for two decades across the Middle East. It is not in our national interest to go to war with Russia or China. But militarists need war the way a vampire needs blood.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev and later Vladimir Putin lobbied to be integrated into western economic and military alliances. An alliance that included Russia would have nullified the calls to expand NATO — which the U.S. had promised it  would not do beyond the borders of a unified Germany — and have made it impossible to convince countries in eastern and central Europe to spend billions on U.S. military hardware. Moscow's requests were rebuffed. Russia was made the enemy, whether it wanted to be or not. None of this made us more secure. Washington’s decision to interfere in Ukraine’s domestic affairs by backing a coup in 2014 triggered a civil war and Russia’s subsequent invasion. 

But for those who profit from war, antagonizing Russia, like antagonizing China, is a good business model. Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin saw their stock prices increase by 40 percent and 37 percent respectively as a result of the Ukraine conflict. 

A war with China, now an industrial giant, would disrupt the global supply chain with devastating effects on the U.S. and global economy. Apple produces 90 percent of its products in China. U.S. trade with China was $690.6 billion last year. In 2004, U.S. manufacturing output was more than twice China’s. China’s output is now nearly double that of the United States. China produces the largest number of ships, steel and smartphones in the world. It dominates the global production of chemicals, metals, heavy industrial equipment and electronics. It is the world’s largest rare earth mineral exporter, its greatest reserve holder and is responsible for 80 percent of its refining worldwide. Rare earth minerals are essential to the manufacture of computer chips, smartphones, television screens, medical equipment, fluorescent light bulbs, cars, wind turbines, smart bombs, fighter jets and satellite communications. 

War with China would result in massive shortages of a variety of goods and resources, some vital to the war industry, paralyzing U.S. businesses. Inflation and unemployment would rocket upwards. Rationing would be implemented. The global stock exchanges, at least in the short term, would be shut down. It would trigger a global depression. If the U.S. Navy was able to block oil shipments to China and disrupt its sea lanes, the conflict could potentially become nuclear.

In “NATO 2030: Unified for a New Era,” the military alliance sees the future as a battle for hegemony with rival states, especially China. It calls for the preparation of prolonged global conflict. In October 2022, Air Force General Mike Minihan, head of Air Mobility Command, presented his “Mobility Manifesto” to a packed military conference. During this unhinged fearmongering diatribe, Minihan argued that if the U.S. does not dramatically escalate its preparations for a war with China, America’s children will find themselves “subservient to a rules based order that benefits only one country [China].”

According to The New York Times, the Marine Corps is training units for beach assaults, where the Pentagon believes the first battles with China may occur, across “the first island chain” that includes, “Okinawa and Taiwan down to Malaysia as well as the South China Sea and disputed islands in the Spratlys and the Paracels.”

Militarists drain funds from social and infrastructure programs. They pour money into research and development of weapons systems and neglect renewable energy technologies. Bridges, roads, electrical grids and levees collapse. Schools decay. Domestic manufacturing declines. The public is impoverished. The harsh forms of control the militarists test and perfect abroad migrate back to the homeland. Militarized Police. Militarized drones. Surveillance. Vast prison complexes. Suspension of basic civil liberties. Censorship.

Those such as Julian Assange, who challenge the stratocracy, who expose its crimes and suicidal folly, are ruthlessly persecuted. But the war state harbors within it the seeds of its own destruction. It will cannibalize the nation until it collapses. Before then, it will lash out, like a blinded cyclops, seeking to restore its diminishing power through indiscriminate violence. The tragedy is not that the U.S. war state will self-destruct. The tragedy is that we will take down so many innocents with us.


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by James Kunstler

“Much of the social history of the Western world, over the past three decades, has been a history of replacing what worked with what sounded good.” — Thomas Sowell

Historians of the future, poaching ‘possum snouts in sorrel sauce over their campfires, will trace the fall of Western Civ in the 2020s to the dissolving hallucination that was called the financial economy. It was a phantom parasitical organism that thrived on the back of a real economy based on making-and-doing things derived from the natural world, turbo-charged by fossil fuels.

The orgy of making-and-doing went on for two-hundred-plus years. Even with cyclical “recessions,” the making-and-doing always increased in the aggregate, while its products got ever more plentiful, elaborate, and complex. The phantom financial parasite clinging to its back got used to this “growth” and it, too, developed ever more ingenious ways to suck the life out of its host organism, until it became a greater entity than the host itself, breaking its back.

The whole of this chapter in the long-running human project had strange effects on human minds that had not changed much since the late days of hunting and gathering. After the first hundred years of fossil fuel plentitude, humans had a hard time telling the difference between the host and the parasite. Both of them seemed to thrive equally. The real economy produced food and useful things and the financial economy produced money, which could buy food and useful things.

People made things incessantly, especially better and better tools and engines. That allowed people to grow more food and make more useful things that provided comfort and convenience. The financial economy made more and more money. It also produced myriad new ways for money to represent itself. At first, these things such as stocks and bonds (ownerships and loans-at-interest) were firmly attached to activities in the real economy — that is, they were sucked directly out of the host’s makings-and-doings.

Later on, the things which represented money became more numerous and more detached from real makings-and-doings, more abstract, more based on promises, hopes, and wishes than on things derived from nature. That is to say, these newer representations of money tended ever more to a realm of the unreal. After a while, it became very hard to tell the difference between money-things that were real and unreal. The financial economy furnished plenty of mystification to blend the two. This confusion prompted plenty of fraud, a brisk commerce in unreality that produced winners and losers.

Every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end, of course. As the fossil fuel supply drew closer to its end and further from the long, happy middle time of plenty, the business model for making-and-doing started to shudder and crack. It didn’t fall apart all at once, but it put many makers-and-doers out of business. They stopped making-and-doing. By then, the financial economy was a colossal phantom parasite that dwarfed its host. It was burdened with so much unreality, so many workings dissociated from nature, that it could no longer pretend to be anything but a phantom.

To keep the host alive, it upchucked some of what it had sucked out of the host, adulterated with money based on unreal promises, hopes, and dreams. This turned more and more into a spewage of money so debased by broken promises, hopes, and dreams that making-and-doing just about stopped altogether. That is when the phantom parasite of finance began to dissolve and humans began to regard it as an hallucination that had gone away, dissolved into mist. What remained were a lot of humans embedded in nature.

And that is the place where the humans of Western Civ find themselves in the 2020s. Western Civ was the first region of the world that tapped into the fossil fuel orgy and it is now the first region exiting this phase of history. Even when the financial hallucination melts into air there will be a lot of real things around that were made before the great age of making-and-doing stopped.

Humans are ingenious animals, enterprising and resilient, though there will surely be fewer of us around. These fewer humans will likely be healthier, working more directly in nature and no longer compromised by the pernicious by-products of all the bygone making-and-doing. We will figure out how to use the left-over useful things to get food out of nature and keep making other useful things. The new making-and-doing will happen at nothing like the former pitch or scale. It may represent a time-out from the lost experience of the old, ever more elaborate and complex makings-and-doings. After a while, humans may discover a new way to get more out of nature. Or maybe not.

In the meantime, lodged as we are in the present, in the moment of this epochal transition, anxiety besets many millions of minds. Not a few minds have grown disordered watching all this go on around them, dreading the journey from one disposition of things to the next. Some have made themselves obnoxious. Let them do what they will until they tire themselves out. Keep your own well-ordered minds on the tasks ahead, your own makings and doings within the bounds of what is real. Take some time out to make some music. There are still plenty of good instruments around, and you can always sing. Put a meal together with your friends and loved ones and sing out. It’s all right, Ma, Bob sang out long ago, It’s life and life only.


* * *


  1. Betsy Cawn May 2, 2023

    Could we just require that any text “created” by AI be so “bylined” or attributed like any other publication source?

  2. Chuck Dunbar May 2, 2023


    Prompted by today’s Ed Notes, I just read the very fine Maureen Dowd piece from yesterday’s AVA. She put her whole heart into it, a tribute to the good old days of in-person/in-office journalism, before the digital age upended so much.

    I loved these lines:

    “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 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.’ “

  3. Bruce McEwen May 2, 2023

    “Some have made themselves obnoxious.”

  4. Marmon May 2, 2023


    “It was probably a necessary step in our growth.”

    -Mike Brown on the Kings’ first round loss.


    • Marmon May 2, 2023

      “If you see a Harley Davidson fly by you bumping some Kane Brown music, that’s me.”

      -Mike Brown on how he plans to decompress over the summer


      • Marmon May 2, 2023

        Steph Curry in 2013: First playoff appearance, finished 11th in MVP voting, lost to 4x champ Tim Duncan.

        De’Aaron Fox in 2023: First playoff appearance, finished 11th in MVP voting, lost to 4x champ Steph Curry.


        • peter boudoures May 2, 2023

          Fox was the best player most games.

  5. Bruce McEwen May 2, 2023

    OK, ya’all, whistle a few bars of John Wesley Harding by Bob Dylan and sing along w/:

    James Howard Kunstler was a friend to the bored,
    He wrote with a pistol to his head.
    All along the blogosphere he opened many a mind
    But he was never known to have any sense of lead.

    It was up in Albany County, a time they’ll sing about, with no woman or tranny by his side, he took the proverbial stand, and soon the gender gestalt was all sorted out, for he was always known to predict the worst result.

    All across the comment page, calls for his censure could be read, but there was no phishers of men around, smart enough to pin him down, and so few of his critics even had a clue….

    Hey everyone: pitch in an help w/ a last verse, eh ?

  6. Craig Stehr May 2, 2023

    Just completed 2.5 hours of testing/imaging at Ukiah’s Adventist Health cardiovascular department. Taking all meds, with an evaluation appointment with the department head on May 15th. Zoom meeting May 17th (with a housing specialist in the room) in regard to getting a housing voucher; the next step to actually moving into an apartment. Continuing to play three lotteries twice weekly. Not identified with the body nor the “mental factory”, I am the Eternal Witness. Last night’s drop in at Applebee’s was terrific: two 22 oz. Eel River IPAs plus two shots of Maker’s Mark, which washed down the steak entree. Enjoyed the Sixers-Celtics game on the sports screens. Bought a Klondike ice cream bar at a gas station/food mart later, for the walk up Talmage Road to my spring bed at Building Bridges Homeless Resource Center. Am here right this instant at the Ukiah Public Library on computer #5 tap, tap tapping away. Breathing in and breathing out.
    Craig Louis Stehr
    1045 South State Street, Ukiah, CA 95482
    Telephone Messages: (707) 234-3270
    May 2, 2023 Anno Domini

    • Bruce McEwen May 2, 2023

      All down through the ages only the peasants and monks who had nothing of earthly value were left after the wars ended….Craig the immortal witness will watch it fall, chanting indifferent mantras, no doubt, through hell or high water, as the cliche goes…

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