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Mendocino County Today: Thursday, June 8, 2023

Interior Lightning | Round Bales | Carolyn Eigenman | OneTaste Stung | Madrone Leaf | Ed Notes | Westport Beach | Bradd Poem | Fourth Parade | BoonQuiz | Upskirt Jailtime | Biased Jury | Jailhouse Beefs | Yesterday's Catch | Navidad | Canada Burning | Galaxy Radio | First Impression | Copper Wire | Christ Moon | NBA Finals | Potluck Repellent | LSD Brothel | Catholic Motivation

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LIGHTNING struck 137 times Tuesday night around Lake County, southeastern Mendocino County and northern Sonoma County, the National Weather Service reported. The strikes, which hit from about 8 to 11 p.m., did not spark any fires so far as is known.

AFTERNOON AND EVENING THUNDERSTORM coverage across interior portions of Northwest California will trend downward through Friday, and then increase this weekend into early next week. Otherwise, temperatures will generally be near seasonal normals during the next seven days. (NWS)

STEPHEN DUNLAP (Fort Bragg): Another warm 56F under foggy skies this Thursday morning on the coast. Mostly cloudy thru the weekend with a couple hints of showers early next week. In other the words, the "stratus quo" continues.

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Round Bales off Highway One (Randy Burke)

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CAROLYN JANICE EIGENMAN “Caroline” October 1934 – May 2023 

Our beautiful mama passed peacefully on May 24th, 2023, of natural causes. To us, she is a legend. She is the very definition of a matriarch. Family meant everything to her.  She was a fiercely independent woman and way ahead of her time. She wanted everyone to feel empowered. She gave us such great advice and was full of wisdom. She was a resident of the Valley for forty-seven years and was known for her huge smile, quick wit, and charm. Full of spunk and sass she came to California from Oklahoma alone at the age of eighteen. She had many adventures and lived many lives in her eighty-eight years.

She is survived by her son Nathan Butler, his wife Diana Brown Butler, and daughter Jennifer Butler. Grandchildren Tysun Butler, Skyler Butler, and Natalia Chamaki; her great-grandchildren Blake Butler, Melanie Butler, and Luca Butler; her love of forty-plus years, Clayton Hobbs, and her best friend of fifty-seven years, Charlotte Hickenlooper. We think of her as passionate, honest, hard-working, wise, spunky, intelligent, and exceedingly funny.  She did many exciting things in her life, including owning her own bookkeeping business and working with the AV Ambulance service. She did barrel racing, built stagecoaches, worked as a girl Friday in hospitals, owned a bar and restaurant in Nevada City, and traveled the world. She treated EVERYONE equally and with respect; you earned her disrespect.  Most important, though, was the way she held her family close! There are no words to fully describe our sweet Caroline; she is already deeply missed. 

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Nicole Daedone of OneTaste accused, along with ex-head of sales Rachel Cherwitz, of running years-long cult-like conspiracy

The founder of OneTaste, a sexual wellness company that claims to teach “orgasmic meditation”, has been charged with running a cult-like conspiracy involving forced labor, federal prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Nicole Daedone, the founder who served as chief executive until 2017, and Rachel Cherwitz, the company’s former head of sales, were accused of inducing volunteers, contractors and employees to incur debt to take courses that they claimed could heal sexual trauma and dysfunction.

Rachel Cherwitz and Nicole Daedone

“The defendants advertised their company as being able to help individuals recover from past trauma,” said Michael Driscoll, the FBI assistant director-in-charge. “In reality, they allegedly targeted their victims in order to manipulate them not only into debt but to limit their independence and create a reliance on OneTaste for basic needs.”

Prosecutors with the US attorney’s office said the defendants also subjected OneTaste members to surveillance in communal homes, instructed them to engage in sex acts for “freedom and enlightenment” and failed to pay promised wages.

Daedone and Cherwitz’s “years-long scheme” subjected members to “economic, sexual, emotional and psychological abuse … indoctrination, and intimidation”, the US attorney’s office said in a statement announcing the charges.

“Under the guise of empowerment and wellness, the defendants are alleged to have sought complete control over their employees’ lives, including by driving them into debt and directing them to perform sexual acts while also withholding wages,” said Breon Peace, the US attorney.

The pair intentionally recruited people who had experienced prior trauma, the US attorney’s office said in a statement, and claimed OneTaste’s courses, which could cost up to tens of thousands of dollars, would heal them. Those who couldn’t afford OneTaste were induced by Daedone and Cherwitz to incur debt and the executives sometimes helped new members open credit cards to pay for the courses, the statement said.

Daedone and Cherwitz are also accused of recruiting and grooming members to “engage in sexual acts with OneTaste’s current and prospective investors, clients, employees and beneficiaries” for their financial benefit.

Daedone, 56, is at large, while Cherwitz, 43, was arrested on Tuesday and is expected to appear in a California federal court. They both face a maximum of 20 years in prison if convicted.

Founded in 2004, California-based OneTaste was the subject of last year’s Netflix documentary Orgasm Inc, which followed its rise and the emergence of “disturbing allegations” from members.

The company was initially hailed for its women-centered approach, but after a 2018 report from Bloomberg in which former members claimed OneTaste led them to “sexual servitude and five-figure debts”, the FBI began an investigation.


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Madrone Leaf (photo mk)

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HOW MANY COUNTRY LANES have seen two major FBI raids? Ray’s Road, Philo, got its second Tuesday (June 6) when an FBI-led strike force of ten black SUVs stuffed with G-men and women accompanied by a helicopter hovering overhead roared west on the sleepy, mile-long, haphazardly paved path to “The Land,” 160 settled acres on the far bank of the Navarro River, where a cultish group called One Taste sells what it calls “orgasmic meditation.” 

ONE TASTE’S customer base seemed primarily to be well-heeled sexual neurotics, and old fashioned voyeurs, who engaged in public sex sessions with comely tutors. One Taste has always angrily denied they were running high end whorehouses. 

THE FBI arrested Rachel Cherwitz, believed to be second in command to One Taste’s founder, Nicole Daedone. Ms. Daedone is being sought on charges of what amount to a lush variety of frauds. The group also has presences in New York, where it began, and in Texas, where guns remain the primary orgasmic meditations. 

THE PREVIOUS FBI appearance on Ray’s Road occurred in 1983. The federal target then was a pair of soon-to-be mass murderers, Leonard Lake and Charles Ng. The feds learned that the pair had assembled a large cache of weapons stolen from a Marine Corps armory in Honolulu, and had them stored in their rented property, a former group home, on Ray’s Road. Choosing not to shoot it out with an FBI swat team, the two were soon out of custody and began kidnapping and murdering young women, and an occasional man, mostly at a remote property in Calavaras County. Lake, incidentally, while in Anderson Valley, functioned as a volunteer fire fighter and the department’s recording secretary.

THE ONE TASTE saga is an international story today (Wednesday), being featured in the New York Times and the London Guardian, to name two media outlets with international reach.

THERE are interesting local angles to the One Taste saga, one being their association with the Adventist church who lent One Taste $2.4 million dollars to help buy the pricy Philo property, which One Taste, with its impressive cash flow, repaid in full.

ONE TASTE — One taste and you’ll be back for more! — also owns 160 acres at Ten Mile north of Fort Bragg, registered in the name of a One Taste associate where, much to the annoyance of neighbors, One Taste is operating a transient campground, with its attendant traffic and noise in an otherwise tranquil area much like Philo.

THE ONE TASTE property at the west end of Ray’s Road, now accessed by an all-weather bridge installed by internet mogul Jeff Skoll, was originally developed by the Newman Family who operated a popular summer camp on the property for many years. Then came a Findhorn-based collective of wealthy auslanders organized as Shenoa who built expensive homes and developed impressive summer gardens. As most collectives, Shenoa dissolved in a welter of lawsuits and recriminations.

AFTER SHENOA, a eBay executive bought the property, which was still linked to Ray’s Road by an old swinging foot bridge winter and summer, and difficult to impossible to traverse the raging Navarro in the winter months.

BILLIONAIRE SKOLL bought the property with the eBay multi-bucks with a view to establishing a retreat center for other hard-charging executives of Cyber-Land, among whom retreats are all the rage. Skoll sold to One Taste. 

WITH each purchase after the Newmans, the property became ever more grand, the houses larger, the facilities more lavish with a hotel-size commercial kitchen and the obligatory swimming pool.

AND WITH EACH SALE of the property, the asking price rose, reaching its present $10 mil. All offers considered.

THE FBI RAID probably spells the end of One Taste. You’re on your own with your orgasms.

NOTE: Ray’s Road was named after Ray Falleri, the owner of the modest resort now known as River’s Bend.

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View from Westport Beach at Howard Creek (Jeff Goll)

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“Who Knows Where Does the Time Go” 

Time runs to hide behind my cancer, showing up here. 

Peeking out from there.

Behind this Janus creature, time hides. It also peeks out.

It’s Wednesday the day after yesterday. 

When I shot the gap Between here and now. 

You forget that I once had a horse, Dinah. 

And we ran the township pastures chasing bad guys. 

I pretended to be Gene Autry. I called the horse 

Pat Buttrum when we alone. 

Pat had this magical power he was able to be there and be here 

Hiding with time behind a cancerous field stone wall that has no gaps. 

— Bill Bradd, 2023 

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School is out and it’s the second Thursday in the month this week so No Quiz this Thursday. In other words the whole Valley population can enjoy a day and evening of brain relaxation. We will return for the Quiz next week on the third Thursday, June 15th. That will be the last one in June as there is a 4th and 5th Thursday to follow when we don’t have a Quiz. You know it all makes sense. Cheers, Steve Sparks, Quiz Master

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Humboldt County defendant Joseph Michael Hale, age 66, of Eureka, was sentenced to 12 months of supervised probation Tuesday morning by Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Ann Moorman, sitting on special assignment as a Humboldt County Superior Court judge.

Joseph Hale

All bench officers of the Humboldt County Superior Court had recused themselves because of the defendant's prior employment as the Humboldt court's family law mediator.

Terms and conditions of defendant Hale’s supervised probation include, but are not limited to that he serve 280 days in the Humboldt County jail. It was also ordered that Hale must make his electronic devices (i.e., phone camera, etc.) available for search 24/7 during the next 12 months.

Based on a judicial finding that the defendant's crimes were a result of sexual compulsion or for purposes of sexual gratification, the court ordered the defendant to register annually for the next ten years as a sex offender with law enforcement wherever he may live.

The term "upskirting" refers to people using cell phones or any small camera to surreptitiously take pictures up women's skirts, which is a violation of California law.

As a professional courtesy and at the request of Humboldt County DA Stacey Eads, Mendocino County DA David Eyster authorized his assistant DA, Dale P. Trigg, to review the Humboldt County crime reports, make charging decisions, and handle the prosecution in Humboldt County of the defendant. The law enforcement agency that investigated the defendant’s crimes was the Humboldt County District Attorney’s in-house Bureau of Investigations. Finally, ADA Trigg sends his appreciation and thanks to the four victims who showed courage in coming forward, assisting law enforcement, and appearing in court to provide moving impact statements, actions that led to today's positive outcome.

(DA Presser)

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A cry for help to protect and restore our constitutional rights in the Mendocino County Jail! There are two major issues with treatment and punishment in the Mendocino County Jail. First is the laws that prohibit jail staff from the use of punishing a group for the actions of a single individual, also known as "group punishment." The reason it is against the law is obvious. It puts the person/persons in danger of retaliation from other inmates. This is an all too common trick used by deputies to "take care" of the thorn in their side, as they can not just go and slap them around themselves. So hey, manipulate other inmates to clean up for them. This low and illegal move is one of Lt. Siderakis's favorites. He calls it "modified programming." Yet all his subordinates as well as all inmates know what he is doing. Even his boss, Captain Spears, turns a blind eye to it.

Inmates try to use the jail's grievance process for help only to be brushed off. Why? The three-step process is controlled by those who are being grieved. So as an inmate what can we do? Nothing! The process is rigged so bad that the inmates are put in danger every day on purpose. All by the jailers who are supposed to protect them. Not by the rookie deputies, but by the highest of deputies. Even the captain of the whole jail.

We need help. We need lawyers, family, friends! Why? Because our voices and grievances are just wind. We are bullied by Lt. Siderakis and completely shut down. He abuses his power and answers to no one!

Now to the next major issue. Violation of law and our constitutional rights. Mendocino County jail has stopped mail and pictures via US Mail for contraband issues. That's fine. Now our loved ones must write to someplace in Maryland. There our mail is scanned and put on an computer application that we access on tablets provided by the jail. Pictures must also be sent this way.

This sounds great. But what becomes of our mail and pictures after being scanned? We were at one time allowed photos via an online provider, "" But for unknown reasons this was stopped as well. To me it feels like a monopoly on our mail as our families are charged 25¢ per picture.

Although the real issue is, the jail, as part of this "group punishment" took our tablets. Once the jail chose to use these tablets as our only source of mail and photos, it takes the "restricted use of tablets" out of their hands for a punishment as now our mail and photos are being used as punishments.

Again, we can grieve this but again the grievance is against Lt. Siderakis and Captain Spears. They are the level two and three respondents so we get nowhere.

My wife has called to confront Lt. Siderakis in the past asking if he was group punishing and he said, "Yep!" and he hung up on her. My wife is the complete opposite of me and has never been in trouble. This just goes to show the abuse of power and position of Lt. Siderakis! If you would like to get a hold of Captain Spears as a wife with issues, too bad. You have to go through Lt. Siderakis. And guess what? His professional response is to just hang up. After all, who is going to check them? He is the law! This is a common attitude among all jailers in power positions.

Our confronting of this issue has gotten Sergeant Johnston, Sergeant Grant and Sergeant Hardman to try to quiet us by saying they will print our mailbox but not our pictures! Why not our pictures? Pictures are the most important part of mail in my opinion! Not that it matters, all their promises are wind! No mail has been printed and I'm willing to bet none will.

I have grieved photos all the way up and Captain Spears said she would look into shutterfly being approved to provide photos. Six months later and still not a thing!

We could go on and on about the mental abuse from the jailers, the filth of the visiting area and units, lack of the jail following its own handbook and its own rules. But that's another day! Right now it is about a whole mod being punished as a group and being denied mail and pictures.

This letter is not just to expose use of powers by those who are sworn to protect and serve. Inmate or public, we are human and we have rights to be treated as such. On behalf of close to 30 inmates and their families who are having their rights violated and their mail and pictures withheld, please help! We need support. We need legal help and assistance so we can hold those accountable for breaking laws and violating our constitutional rights. We need prison advocates to help and assist us as we don't know what to file or to whom. This treatment is wrong and puts lives in danger. Without a care from the Mendocino County Sheriff's office!

Shayne Wrede A#2847

Mendocino County Jail

951 Low Gap Road

Ukiah CA 95482

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ALLEGED CASPAR MURDERER ARRESTED. Sheriff’s presser in reduced form: “On Thursday, December 24, 2020, shortly after 5:40 AM, officers with the California Highway Patrol were dispatched to a reported traffic collision causing injury in the 15000 block of Caspar Road near the Pacifica Drive intersection in Caspar.

Upon arrival the initial CHP officer discovered the traffic collision involved a 2003 Chevrolet pick-up truck driven by Shayne Wrede, 35, of Fort Bragg.

Additionally, a 1994 Honda 650 motorcycle was present in the roadway. It was determined the motorcycle had been operated by Mark Hutchinson of Willits who was dead at the scene.

Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched to the reported coroner's case. It was learned that Wrede (who was identified as also being on County Parole. Wrede reported being the victim of a shooting earlier that morning in Fort Bragg prior to the traffic collision.

FORT BRAGG POLICE had been dispatched to an apartment complex on South Street, Fort Bragg, where evidence was located that was consistent with a shooting.

FOLLOWING the shooting, Wrede pursued Hutchinson over a 4.5-mile southbound vehicle chase, their vehicles reaching speeds of at least 90 MPH through the city of Fort Bragg and the unincorporated southern portion of Fort Bragg before continuing south onto Caspar Road where the subsequent traffic collision occurred resulting in Hutchinson's death.

Following their scene investigation, speaking with eyewitnesses and reviewing surveillance video associated with the shooting and vehicle chase, Sheriff's Detectives developed probable cause to believe Wrede intentionally struck Hutchinson's motorcycle with his 2003 Chevrolet pick-up truck at a high rate of speed while on Caspar Road.

WREDE was arrested for Murder and Violation of Post Release Community Supervision and booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held in lieu of $500,000 bail.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Alvarez, Anderson, Clark, Hernandez

EDUARDO ALVAREZ, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol&drugs.

GRANT ANDERSON, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

NATHANIAL CLARK, Willits. Domestic battery.

RAVEN HERNANDEZ, Citrus Heights/Willits. Shoplifting, resisting.

Lewis, Lopes, Lopez, Moe


ANTHONY LOPES SR., Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, assault on peace officer, resisting. (Frequent Flyer)

VALEN LOPEZ, Ukiah. Domestic abuse, cruelty to child w/injury infliction.

JUSTIN MOE, Willits. Burglary.

Norgard, Schwank, Wood

BRETT NORGARD, Ukiah. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, concealed dirk-dagger, unlawful display of registration.

AUSTIN SCHWANK, Fort Bragg. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun.

TOBIAS WOOD, Ukiah. Controlled substance/narcotics for sale, violent felon with body armor, paraphernalia, felony while on bail, switchblade, felon with firearm, smuggling controlled substances into jail, resisting. 

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WILDFIRES are blazing across Canada, from British Columbia in the west to Ontario in the center of the country and Quebec to the east. An abnormally dry winter is a key factor. All 10 provinces are currently facing conditions termed abnormal dryness, moderate or severe drought, according to the Canadian government's drought tracker. Late last month, Canada experienced its hottest day ever when the town of Lytton, in British Columbia, hit 121 degrees Fahrenheit, smashing the previous record of 113 degrees. It tied California's Death Valley as the hottest place in North America that day. As a result, the wildfire season has begun incredibly early.

THE INTERNET erupted with memes shortly after the thick haze shrouded the famous Big Apple skyline - with the city briefly becoming the most polluted city in the world. Many were swift to point out the similarities between the bright orange smog and the landscape of Blade Runner 2049. The post-apocalyptic film looked similar to the scenes covering New York City, with many drawing parallels between the film and the dystopia. Others then joked that the skyline, which heavily influenced Gotham City in Batman, had turned into the city for real. Another joked that the smoke was a way for the Rat Czar to finally fulfill their promise of getting rid of all of the rats in the Big Apple. 


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JOHN REDDING: So I read today that scientists at the SETI project (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) have discovered radio signals from the heart of our galaxy and "suspect that the radio signals are not natural pulses from outer space, but could be signals from extraterrestrial life forms." And they think we should hurry up and get to them first. So, we can explain ourselves before they decide to destroy us? what? Anyway, here's a bit of a problem. The galaxy has a radius of 45,000 light years. Since nothing, including radio signals, travel faster than light, then this signal if it is one is 45,000 years old. One has to think that a civilization with radio technology can in 45,000 years either send spacecraft here or invent FTL drives. Or more likely find better things to do.

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by Douglas Sackman

His feet, broad and thickly soled through use, pressed down evenly on the pale stone of the city. He took short steps, sliding his feet along carefully, as he always did. Walking, he knew, is about finding the right way along the earth, the trail. Walking is living. His stories were about walking, about when he stepped along the trail. But here it was different, he could already sense. Walking was something the saltu did on the side. And they made night into day with their lights. This was a ghost world, and now he was stepping right into it.

After another packed day of work at the museum, anthropologist Alfred Kroeber sat at home across the city, waiting. He had been waiting for him a long time, dreaming about this man; before he ever saw him for himself, Kroeber believed in him and his people, telling the world about “a totally wild and independent tribe of Indians, without firearms, fleeing at the approach of the white man, hidden away for more than 40 years in one of the longest settled and most densely populated States of the West.” Doubters scoffed that this tribe was imaginary, nothing more than an Old West legend. But the young, bearded anthropologist insisted that they were real, that their existence was an “incontrovertible fact.”

Now the fact was on his way to him. What was this man experiencing?, he wondered. This was what Kroeber did, his profession: he studied man to discover his origins and nature, to find out what made him tick. The wild sensations of the scene seized him, a cacophony of sounds and expectations. The man’s first step into the city was a giant leap into the unknown; it was as if Kroeber himself “were to visit the moon,” he mused. Though he wasn't actually there to see the man arrive in the city, Kroeber recorded the momentous encounter, the last of its kind, for posterity: “There stepped off the ferry boat into the glare of electric lights, into the shouting of hotel runners, and the clanging of trolley cars on Market Street, San Francisco, Ishi, the last wild Indian in the United States.”

San Francisco was a place to behold in 1911. It was a modern and beautiful city, risen like Phoenix from the ashes of the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906. Five years earlier, at 5:12 in the morning of April 18, the San Andreas fault had ruptured, the earth rumbled. Brick and mortar shook, buildings fell or dropped into liquefied earth, streets twisted, and chasms wrenched open, swallowing debris and people. Gas lines broke and enormous fires erupted. There wasn’t enough water in the city to put them out. Desperately, firefighters dynamited buildings to create firebreaks. Unsuccessfully.

Thousands fled to the Ferry Building, which somehow withstood the shock, though rods buckled and rivets sheered off. In the days that followed, you could look out from the Ferry Building tower and behold the devastated city, smoldering, buildings bombed out and black along the city’s arteries; a half-dozen trolley cars that had survived were lined up on a section of intact track, the only order in a street scene strewn with horses, donkeys, and carts, a few of the new horseless carriages, two bicycles, and people, up and down and around the great Market Street, once the Champs Elysées of San Francisco, wearing their black bowler hats, trying to recover but moving about aimless and dazed like newcomers to Purgatory, or like men caught in a Magritte painting.

Kroeber was out in this crowd. After the shaking stopped that morning, he left his hotel apartment on Eddy Street in downtown San Francisco and looked for a trolley on Market Street. He had to get to the other side of the city, but trolleys were out of commission. He took a small step forward and resolved to walk. He passed upstream through the shell-shocked throngs wandering about the surreal scene, making his way over the rubble and buckled cobbles of the city, compelled on to Parnassus Heights, where his responsibilities lay. That was where the Museum of Anthropology, with its irreplaceable collection of art and artifacts from Greece and Egypt and the Indians of North America, stood. He hoped it still stood. It was just three miles, but the journey seemed immeasurably long.

When at last the museum came into view, he was relieved. A chimney had toppled, a front stoop was crooked, but the building had withstood the quake. Venturing inside, he heard a familiar sound that was strange now: the tapping of a typewriter. Upstairs he found the museum secretary, despite the uproar in the city at large, going about her work. Kroeber got to work, too. Cataloguing the damage, he found that the collections had come through well. A small quake months before had inspired him to use copper wire to secure shelving and artifacts. The precautions paid off, and he could write Phoebe Hearst, the patron of the museum, that “the damage sustained was very light under the circumstances.” He gave his report a silver lining: “We all feel that the outcome will be not only a greater San Francisco but a greater University.”

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by Benjamin Markovits

Until about a month ago, the consensus view in basketball circles was that Giannis Antetokounmpo, who plays for the Milwaukee Bucks, was the best basketball player in the world. But then the Miami Heat beat the Bucks in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, knocking them out in five games dominated by the Heat’s Jimmy Butler. That left the door open for the Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid to claim the title, until he was totally outplayed in the Eastern Conference semi-finals by the Boston Celtics’ Jayson Tatum. Which left the door open for the Celtics to revenge last year’s NBA Finals loss to the Golden State Warriors, until Tatum twisted his ankle in the Celtics’ seventh game against the Miami Heat, sending Butler and the Heat to the Finals against the Denver Nuggets. Their first game is tomorrow.

Every NBA Finals is an argument between competing ways of thinking about basketball. This year it’s a battle between analytics-driven and character-driven accounts of what it takes to win. The Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic is the darling of analytics, a super-efficient point centre who runs one of the best offences in the league. Apart from the fact that he’s seven feet tall and strong as hell with quick, deft hands, he doesn’t really look or move like a basketball player; he rarely dunks, he shoots flat-footed, he plays well below the rim. There were suggestions before this year’s playoffs that he was just another regular season stats guy because he’d never made it to the Finals. That was always a weak argument: even when Denver lost in the playoffs, Jokic put up big numbers. Still, there was a lingering sense that he might not have whatever human qualities it takes to push your team over the top, when the competition is fiercest and the stakes are highest. If Denver win the championship this year, Jokic will have become the best player in the world.

All they have to do is beat Jimmy Butler’s Miami. The Heat may be the worst ever regular season team to make it to the NBA Finals: the first eighth seed to get that far since the New York Knicks did it in 1999 (after a strike-shortened season), but that only tells part of the story. The Heat had a negative point differential until the playoffs started: they gave up more points than they scored. The only reason they won 44 (of 82) games is that they massively overperformed in ‘crunch’ time (games in which, with five minutes or less to go, neither team has a lead of more than five points). And Butler is a big part of that. A 6’6” shooting guard, who can’t really shoot that well and isn’t that explosive an athlete, he embodies the old broadcasting cliché that games are won by the team that ‘wants it more’. Butler really wants it, and he scores very high on ‘self-belief’ and the ability to seize moments. In a much-publicised row last season, his coach, Erik Spoelstra, could be heard shouting at him on the sidelines: ‘I always knew you were crazy.’ But he also credits Butler for much of their success. ‘You can’t quantify it,’ Spoelstra said of his influence. ‘There’s no analytic to it. Just the feeling of stability in the locker room.’

So what matters more, efficiency or ‘character’? Jokic; or Butler? We’ll find out in the next two weeks.

(London Review of Books)

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‘OPERATION MIDNIGHT CLIMAX’: The CIA Mixed LSD And Sex At This San Francisco Brothel

by Lester Black

San Francisco has never been afraid of the obscene. But the events unfolding inside a dimly lit apartment on Chestnut Street were some of the most shocking the city has ever seen.

A man was high on LSD and having sex with a sex worker on one side of the San Francisco apartment. Only a few feet away, a squat man with a face like “an extremely menacing bowling ball” observed the couple with a scientific curiosity as he sat on a toilet seat and drank a martini.

It was no scene out of a movie: For eight years, between 1955 and 1963, federal agents ran a hidden brothel in one of San Francisco’s poshest neighborhoods and tested LSD on unsuspecting Bay Area residents. The apartment building is still there, although it has been converted from a CIA brothel into a four-story mansion worth over $10 million.

At the center of this wildly unethical program was George Hunter White, a former San Francisco journalist-turned-cop who became one of the biggest crusaders of America’s early war on drugs. In public, he railed against drug use and ruthlessly investigated jazz legends like Billie Holiday. Privately, however, he drank martinis by the pitcher and even used drugs like LSD and marijuana.

White was the federal agent responsible for a top-secret CIA program called “Operation Midnight Climax.” The CIA thought it could use hallucinogenic drugs like LSD as weapons of war against its enemies. To find out, the agency got Bay Area residents high without their consent.

White outfitted rooms inside a Telegraph Hill apartment building, at 225 Chestnut St., into a safe house for testing LSD. He gave sex workers get-out-of-jail-free cards in exchange for luring unsuspecting johns to the apartment, where the men were dosed with acid while White watched from the other side of a one-way mirror.

Operation Midnight Climax is now an infamous example of government abuse, but in White’s opinion, according to a letter unearthed by John Marks in his 1979 book “The Search for the 'Manchurian Candidate,'“ it was nothing but “fun, fun, fun.”

“Where else could a red-blooded American boy lie, kill, cheat, steal, rape, and pillage with the sanction and blessing of the All-Highest?” White asked.

The drunk drug warrior

George White was never afraid to get his hands dirty. Before he was secretly getting people high on acid, he spent decades in a career that intertwined sex, drugs and war.

White was born in Los Angeles in 1908 and started his career as a journalist for the San Francisco Bulletin, according to a biography in the Online Archive of California. He then took jobs at the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and later the Office of Strategic Services, a precursor to the CIA, and embarked on a global career, commanding troops in India and busting drug rings in France, Italy and Turkey.

At the core of White’s work was a great hypocrisy: He was a fierce warrior against people who used or sold drugs, yet he was also a drug user himself.

This familiarity with both sides of the drug world made him a natural fit as a leader in the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, to which he returned after World War II to lead the bureau’s work in New York City.

He developed a notorious reputation for his heavy drinking — he was known to finish a bottle of gin in one sitting — and his willingness to bend the rules in order to achieve his objectives. He would spike women's drinks with drugs during his investigations, and he once gave a subordinate of Lucky Luciano, a famous mafia ringleader, a cigarette laced with concentrated marijuana in an attempt to have the man divulge mafia secrets.

His behavior earned him enemies. J. Edgar Hoover had personally blocked White's appointment to the CIA years earlier, according to Marks, but it also led him to one of the most infamous spy campaigns in U.S. history: Operation Midnight Climax.

The hunt for mind control

White’s work in the American drug war took a strange turn as the 1940s ended. Cannabis and opium prohibition was already in full swing, but Western society was only just rediscovering psychedelic drugs.

Between 1943 and 1956, European chemists investigating traditional medicines discovered LSD, psilocybin and DMT. This set off a frenzied era of research into psychedelics and how they affect humans.

For psychologists, these mind-warping drugs offered hope that they could be powerful tools to treat mental illnesses like schizophrenia and depression. But America’s spy agencies saw something different. They thought the drugs could be new weapons of war.

In 1953, the CIA created Project MKUltra to research how psychoactive drugs could be used against foreign enemies. Under the leadership of Sidney Gottlieb, an American chemist, the program experimented with a wide range of drugs, including mescaline, psilocybin, morphine and amphetamines.

Gottlieb preferred to give drugs to subjects without their knowledge or consent, often using prisoners, drug addicts and mental patients as test subjects. This ran against the basic ethics of medical research at the time, like the 1949 Nuremberg Code’s first rule: “The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential.”

White was working as a high-ranking agent in the Federal Bureau of Narcotics' New York office when he came to the attention of Gottlieb. The chemist was impressed by White’s earlier work giving mafia figures marijuana during interrogations, so he recruited White to set up a safe house in Greenwich Village to continue MKUltra’s drug studies.

White spent $4,000 outfitting the house (equivalent to over $45,000 today) and began luring people to the location while posing as an artist and seaman, attempting to use the neighborhood’s bohemian culture and the city’s large maritime community as cover, according to Marks’ research. White would secretly dose people with drugs and then see if he could get information out of them.

The operation almost ended abruptly a year later when Frank Olson, a high-ranking CIA chemist working on the MKUltra program, was found dead after he fell from a New York City building in November 1953. Gottlieb had secretly dosed Olson with LSD during a work trip 10 days before the fall. That left the doctor mentally unstable and threatening to divulge the CIA’s secrets, according to Marks’ book.

Gottlieb, worried that Olson’s death would expose the top-secret program, paused MKUltra activities. But the CIA was effective at covering up the situation. Olson’s death was kept secret until 1975, when the Washington Post ran a story exposing the secret LSD dose. Decades later, newly unearthed evidence left the Olson family believing the CIA had killed the researcher: A 1994 forensic analysis of Olson’s exhumed body found that his head had been struck multiple times before he fell to the ground.

With Olson’s death covered up, Gottlieb restarted Operation Midnight Climax. Two years later, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics transferred White back to his former home in San Francisco. Gottlieb decided White’s work should continue on the other side of the country.

A San Francisco drug house

In 1955, Gottlieb instructed White to set up another safe house, this time in San Francisco. White rented an apartment at 225 Chestnut St. on Telegraph Hill, according to Marks. The apartment had sweeping views of San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz and the Bay Bridge, which can still be seen from the property today.

With one of San Francisco’s most dramatic views outside, White went to work decorating the inside of the apartment. According to Marks, White hung French Toulouse-Lautrec posters and a picture of a cancan dancer and outfitted the apartment with hidden microphones. The narcotics agent then installed a room behind a one-way mirror, equipped with a refrigerator, frequently stocked with a pitcher of martinis, and a portable toilet so White wouldn’t need to move while watching the action unfold.

White and his men then went out and found sex workers, who would bring their clients back to the apartment. This arrangement avoided the risk of another death like Olson’s exposing the program. Prostitution’s illegality meant that neither sex workers nor their clients were likely to report anything to the police, and the johns wouldn’t be entirely shocked to be slipped a drug during one of these encounters.

White worked like a pimp, handing out “chits” that sex workers could use as get-out-of-jail-free cards or redeem for cash, according to Marks. And the sex workers brought back clients for White and his men to drug and observe.

The eight-year mission apparently produced almost nothing of value for the spy agency. The agents never discovered a mind control technique or truth serum they could use against America’s enemies. They did learn at least one lesson: It’s easier to get something out of a man after he had sex instead of before, according to Marks, who interviewed agents who had worked with White.

The agents were able to develop new methods for covertly poisoning people by venturing out of the safe house and into the city’s bars, where they would slip LSD into people’s drinks. There’s no record of which bars received these conniving agents. The agency also used the San Francisco operation as a way to test brand-new drugs. One former agent told Marks, “If we were scared enough of a drug not to try it out on ourselves, we sent it to San Francisco.”

The names of people who unwittingly took LSD during Operation Midnight Climax have been lost to history. Gottlieb told his subordinates to never write down details of what they were doing, and the CIA destroyed all known records of the MKUltra program in 1973, according to a 1977 congressional report, which described the program as offensive, unethical and illegal.

White’s free pass to run a drug-fueled brothel in San Francisco came to an end in 1963, when the CIA’s inspector general discovered MKUltra and “Operation Midnight Climax” and questioned their ethics. The agency’s leadership fought to keep the program running but officially closed the safe house in 1965, according to Marks.

White didn’t stick around San Francisco for very long. He retired from the federal government the same year and moved across the Golden Gate Bridge to Stinson Beach, where he became the chief of the local fire department, according to his autobiography. He died only a few years later, in 1975, from cirrhosis of the liver, ending the life of one of America’s strangest drug warriors.

With a location on Telegraph Hill, the CIA's top secret brothel was walking distance to some of San Francisco's most famous landmarks. 225 Chestnut Street is now a multimillion dollar mansion, but it was once home to a covert CIA program that mixed sex with hallucinogenic drugs.

However, the history of 225 Chestnut St. lives on — although the former brothel is now far chicer than when White was decorating it. The apartment building has been converted into a single 6,000-square-foot residence, with six bedrooms and an elevator. The home’s top floor has one of the best dining rooms in the city, with wall-to-wall windows revealing a stunning view of San Francisco Bay. It last sold in 2015 for over $10 million.

The real estate listing described the location as “delightfully quiet,” meaning the confused moans of White’s test subjects must not haunt this infamous street in San Francisco history.


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  1. Mike J June 8, 2023

    The background and reputations of “whistleblowers” (a misused term) David Grusch, Karl Nell and Jonathan Grey are such that journalists and Congressional staff are taking notice. We are just now starting to becoming aware of special access programs heavily guarded traditionally from the awareness and oversight of ANY elected officials, and housed in private corporations with very few Pentagon and IC personnel on the “bigot” list.

    At some point we will have adult conversations. Not yet though. We will try to continue to ignore this until no longer possible. Hilarious cartoons and childish imaginings will aid in creating a comforting distance from the subject.

    We’re not too far from facing what has been called High Strangeness, the Oz Factor, or “woo”. Here an academic charts the basic features of the aspects that will be most difficult to deal with:
    For now, we’re at the stage of enacting skits, like a recent SNL one, that make fun of this sort of experience.
    We are either at “childhood’s end”…or, the end of us in a collapsing biosphere.

    • Harvey Reading June 8, 2023

      We’re at the end of a kaputalist-inspired, militaristic orgy. Good riddance to us.

  2. Eric Sunswheat June 8, 2023

    RE: The eight-year mission… did learn at least one lesson: It’s easier to get something out of a man after he had sex instead of before…
    The agents were able to develop new methods for covertly poisoning people by venturing out of the safe house and into the city’s bars, where they would slip LSD into people’s drinks. (

    —> May 05, 2023
    Because sex can activate the brain’s reward pathway, abstinence’s most common outcomes involve more anxiety, stress, lower self-esteem and strained relationships…
    “One study found that sexual abstinence may lead to changes in the immune system, including an increase in pro-inflammatory cytokines, which can play a role in the development of chronic diseases,”…
    Also, orgasms spike estrogen levels. Estrogen is the hormone responsible for the normal functioning of skin and hair follicles. It also maintains skin hydration, improves wound healing, and increases collagen and hyaluronic acid production, …

    —> March 10, 2023
    While female orgasms generally last between three seconds and two minutes, they can take longer to achieve at an average of 14 minutes for partnered sex, whereas men typically orgasm in five to seven minutes…

    —> March 07, 2023
    Pelvic floor muscle strength is correlated with sexual function, suggested a 2021 study that focused on finding the connection between orgasms, sexual activity and pelvic floor muscle strength…
    This study also suggested that while the frequency of orgasms and sexual intercourse can decrease with aging, the connection between sexual activity and pelvic floor muscle strength is apparent…
    While there are studies that suggest connections between pelvic floor strength, orgasms and sexual function, there is a lack of research indicating Kegels are certain to directly improve your sex life…
    Rawlins said one Kegel repetition consists of a full pelvic floor muscle contraction, squeezing “up and in,” followed by a full and complete pelvic floor muscle relaxation. Contract, hold, relax and repeat.

  3. Sarah Kennedy Owen June 8, 2023

    MK Ultra also experimented on James “Whitey” Bulger when he was serving a prison sentence for bank robbery, and was still a young man. Apparently he was subjected to torture-like conditions under the influence of LSD (sleep deprivation and all-night bright electric lights) which caused lifelong PTSD and mental problems, and after being released, and becoming a career criminal in Boston, he exhibited some of these problems in the form of extortion, torture and murder. Then the FBI (illegally) released him on the public (after he had acquired the habit of murdering people), without informing the officials in the areas he habituated. Thanks a bunch for that.

  4. Marshall Newman June 8, 2023

    RE: Ray’s Road (in the Editor’s note on OneTaste). I believe Ray’s Road was named for Avon Ray, who founded Ray’s Resort (now River’s Bend Retreat Center) in the 1930s. Avon’s second wife was Leonore Falleri (previously married to Frank Falleri) which may be where the confusion started.

    Avon Ray’s first wife was Edna Van Zandt, whose brother Don Van Zandt founded Van Zandt’s Redwood View Resort, also off Ray’s Road.

    Bill Kimberlin should be able to shed light on this name issue.

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