Hot | Thirsty Fox | Navarro Algae | Driftwood | Garbage Man | J Pups | Turtle Tip | Wildfire Causes | Creepy Internet | Mountain View | Bond Projects | Mexican Gothic | Ed Notes | Pomade | Variety Video | Ambria Aerial | Paul Dolan | Loudfoot | Kelley Flagpole | Yesterday's Catch | Corktop Bill | Early Farmers | Inflation | Cuban Eva | Beacon | Coffee | Drug War | Bear Hunter | Not Reincarnating | Big Birds | Marco Radio | Distracted Populace | Automobile Culture | Peter Lorre | Agribusiness Anxiety | Lenny Montana | Ukraine | Sonny Liston | Twain Chat | Slim Pickens
DRY, HOT WEATHER will prevail into early next week. Temperatures will slowly moderate into mid next week before a more significant drop occurs into late next week. (NWS)
STEPHEN DUNLAP (Fort Bragg): An overcast 51F on the coast this Sunday morning. I suspect it's the shallow wispy fog like we had yesterday early. I take visual observations at 4:30am daily so it can be hard to tell for sure. We should have sunny skies & another very nice day today. The morning fog then clearing routine gets underway again this week.
YESTERDAY'S HIGHS: Ukiah 108°, Yorkville 107°, Boonville 106°, Covelo 104°, Laytonville 104°, Fort Bragg 66°
The temperature in Ukiah remained over 100° from 12:40 to 7:35 pm.
MARK BOUDOURES, Philo: One of the locals visited again a few minutes ago
THE BATTERED NAVARRO RIVER
I'm confused about something and I'm hoping someone out there help me. Last year and several years before, we had very little precipitation and lower than normal flow in the Navarro River. Temperatures were much warmer than we've had this year. Surprisingly, we had very little algae and moss in the river., even In late summer. This year we had higher than average rainfall and temperatures have been unseasonably cool so far. Yet the river is already full of algae and moss. Can anyone help me to make sense out of this?
Actually, over the past few years the Navarro River has suffered greatly from high density alge blooms. This year, so far, I believe has been a fairly mild alge bloom, but an alge bloom just the same. Growing up on the Navarro River I had never witnessed such a thing as these alge blooms ever happening. After giving it much thought I have come to the conclusion that these alge blooms events started happening at the same time grape vineyards became the dominant agriculture in A.V. and the same time that massive tracts of land were being used for Marijuana cultivation. The high concentrations of nitrogen based fertilizers that both vineyards and Marijuana gardens use, along with the high water demands they impose on the water table, are the sole reason for the fish killing, water contaminating, disgusting algae blooms on the Navarro River we are seeing every year. Without intelligent oversight the illegal grows and the grape vineyards will eventually kill everything in or near the once beautiful Navarro River.
THE CASE OF THE APPEARING GARBAGE
by Colin Wilson
I had an interesting experience here in Yorkville over the last week relating to my garbage.
Most of my neighbors and I utilize the roadside garbage service available here in Mendocino County. In my case, I leave my container at the entrance to my driveway that also provides access to several other homes who use the roadside garbage service. Unfortunately for us, our common driveway entrance isn’t visible from any of our homes which leads to the problem of passersby dumping their garbage in our containers. When a small amount is dumped before pickup, we mostly don’t even know about it unless garbage is dumped into the recycling container which can lead to a $25 fine from the garbage company as happened to one of my neighbors.
A more annoying problem is people dumping garbage after the container has been emptied which is mostly just irritating but also reduces the space available for my own garbage over the next two weeks.
Usually, the amount dumped isn’t very much and falls more into the nuisance category but over the last several months my neighbors and I have more often found what appears to be whole large bags of household garbage.
When I picked up my container, after pickup this last week, I found one large bag that had been dumped in my container and two large bags that nearly filled my neighbor’s.
Thoroughly pissed off, I donned mask and gloves and went piece by piece through the bag and, amazingly, found an item with a name and post office box number on it.
I called the neighbor who had been similarly gifted and asked him to check the garbage left in his container. He did and found an item with the same name but no address.
After a few attempts to locate an address for the culprit I contacted the Sheriff’s Office and spoke to Deputy Meza who told me there was little he could do because the containers were in the public right-of-way. No crime had been committed. However, Deputy Meza did say that he had been able to “identify a person of interest” from the information I had provided.
I said that I wasn’t so much interested in pursuing a legal case as just getting the guy to stop using our garbage containers for his own use.
In the end Deputy Meza said he would attempt to contact the guy and see if anything could be done. Several minutes later he called back and told me had succeeded in making contact and that the individual had admitted to dumping the garbage and offered to do what he could to satisfy us.
Deputy Meza, having gotten permission from the guy, gave me the guy’s phone number. I called him and asked if he was the one who had dumped the garbage. He said that he was and apologized. I told him that we wanted him to come and take his garbage back. He agreed and we made arrangements for the pickup. I left all the garbage in my container by the road per the agreement. An hour later I checked and found the container empty of the by now VERY odiferous contents. About an hour later the guilty party called me back to say he had picked up the garbage and apologized again, assuring me he would not ever do that again.
Not sure what Deputy Meza said to Mr. Dumper but I kind of got the impression he made him an offer he couldn’t refuse, to borrow an expression (my quote not his).
The whole thing reminded me of the good old days when the Valley was fortunate enough to have Keith Squires for our resident deputy.
In the end, the whole thing was settled quickly and fairly with no long delays or bureaucratic bullshit. The punishment fit the crime
A big thanks to Deputy Meza who is solely responsibly for the quick and satisfying outcome. Additional thanks to the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department. We in Mendocino County are fortunate to have a law enforcement agency that has consistently risen above overwhelming challenges to provide us with the best possible law enforcement given today’s political and social realities.
UKIAH SHELTER PETS OF THE WEEK: PUPPIES, PUPPIES, PUPPIES!
We’re loaded with puppies at the Ukiah Shelter. These seven adorables were born May 18 at the shelter, very quickly after their Mom, June, entered the shelter. Like all puppies, these cuties are friendly and playful, and at 6 weeks they weigh 8-12 pounds. They would all love an active home with a family who will get them out and about (AFTER all their immunizations, of course!) Puppies need lots of attention and TLC to ensure that they mature into well adjusted, and thus, well-loved members of their families.
You can read more about the J pups, and check out Mama June’s webpage by heading to http://www.mendoanimalshelter.com/
If you see a dog or cat you think might be the ONE, you can begin the adoption process on-line. For information about adoptions, please call 707-467-6453. Our New facebook page is up and running--take a peek at: facebook.com/profile.php?id=100093510460862 and share, share, share our posts!
WHAT TO DO WITH A WANDERING TURTLE
Turtles on a walk-about…
Move it off the road and put it near the swampy area or near a pond, but don't put it in the water. This time of year turtles go on a 'walk-about' and are often seen at inappropriate places while out on their adventure.
Ronnie James <email@example.com>
MANY OF CANADA’S WILDFIRES were ignited by lightning. But in the US some 80% are thought to be caused not by an act of God but by the recklessness of humans. In an essay in the New York Times, Clare Frank, a former chief of fire protection in California, cites pyrotechnics at a gender-reveal party, the smoking out of wasp nests, and campers who decided to burn their excrement as precipitants of recent wildfires.
— Dhruv Khular (the New Yorker)
MS NOTES: Oddly, in that essay, Ms. Frank didn’t mention PG&E.
In the course of looking for updates on the search for Riley Hsieh, the fellow who went missing from Brooktrails three months ago, we happened upon this disturbing website: canarymission.org/individual/Riley_Hsieh
PETE BOUDOURES ASKS: How are the $7 million that the AV school district received managed? Are there board meetings that vote on where to spend? Is there an accountant at these meetings? More importantly is there a financial advisor available to the school district? I know none of the above are part of the county spending but with all the highly educated people in the school district are they operating at a responsible level?
* * *
SUPERINTENDENT LOUISE SIMSON REPLIES:
Thank you for your great question Mr. Boudoures!
Please see the link to our Bond page website where we routinely post documents about the bond projects. Please read our June updated prepared by our District Architect. The bond work and plan is regularly discussed at Board Meetings (one on yesterday evening). In addition, we have a Bond Oversight Committee that is required to meet at least annually. All bond expenditures are audited by an independent auditor annually and the reports are posted and available for the public. Please contact me with any questions or if you would like to take a tour and I will update you on the scope of works and the unique requirements of public school construction including DSA and prevailing wage requirements. We welcome your questions!
Louise Simson, Superintendent
Anderson Valley Unified School District
BACK WHEN TV segments on Anderson Valley were introduced by “Dueling Banjos,” the music meant,“We are now entering wild country where, if one strays from the pavement one risks an unthinkable foul fate at the hands of drooling rednecks.” In “The Wine Enthusiast,” an imaginative fellow called Steve Heimoff wrote, “Anderson Valley can only be reached by twisting roads through dark forests where bears and wildcats still prowl, where you’re as likely to meet a gun-toting, right-wing conspiracy buff as the child of a flower child committed to saving the redwoods. Of course most Mendocinoites fall somewhere between these extremes, but not by much.” These days it’s all about “the unhurried Napa Valley.” The flower children are long gone, but there are plenty of paranoids left, not that you’re likely to encounter one in a roadside wine bar.
ON THE SUBJECT of prose excess, in an ancient issue of Arts and Entertainment, a free publication produced by the Mendocino Art Center, Mendocino was described as, “The lovely village of Mendocino evolved (sic) back in 1852 because of the logging business right here on Big River — a business that continued on until the 1930s. After two decades of relative dormancy, our town’s renaissance began, largely because of Bill and Jennie Zacha starting the Mendocino Art Center in 1959. With their guidance and direction, over the ensuing years, it has become a very special educational, exhibition and resource center for the visual and performing arts, has gained a reputation that attracts an impressive selection of renowned faculty members, and has made Mendocino a haven for professional artists and all levels of art students from throughout the world.”
HMMM. Logging ended in the 1930s, Mendocino died, Zacha revived it and, thanks to him, the town is an international art center.
SO A NEUTRON goes into a bar and asks, “How much for a beer?” The bartender says, “For you, no charge.”
ALMOST THIRTY YEARS ago, then Fifth District supervisor Charles Peterson wanted his colleagues to appoint a “Blue Ribbon Panel” likely to double his pay because, he said, higher pay would attract “quality” candidates. The supes at the time got that $40,000 annually plus the full monte of benefits, double the average wage of most Mendo people at the time who likely as not, got no benefits unless they had a government job. Our supes now get 80-plus a year for two less meetings a month, and “quality” seems, uh, to have slipped a bit.
R. CRUMB, the great American artist whose brave work sends the pious reeling, has come up with one of the most intelligent defenses of irreverence I’ve seen in awhile: “Hey, in my own defense I am NOT a racist! But all of this stuff is deeply embedded in our culture and our collective subconscious, and you have to deal with it. It’s in me. It’s in everybody… Some people say that the way I play around with it is too rough. It hurts people’s feelings… A perverse part of me likes to take the heat for all that stuff. The people can hate me and feel righteously indignant about it, but meanwhile I’ve brought it out into the open.”
CRUMB is also quite reasonable in his defense against the knee-jerk accusations of sexism that his art has prompted over the years: “I’ve been trying to resolve the sex obsession with the art thing for my whole life, but my personal obsession for big women interferes with some people’s enjoyment of my work!”
THE AV GRANGE 30TH VARIETY SHOW IS UP on our very own youtube channel!
The youtube channel address is: AV Grange Variety Shows. Be sure it headlines "Random Acts of Variety". The current shows will probably be the first in line on the channel. They are very slightly edited versions of each whole show both Friday and Saturday, including of course Sarah and John's rendition of Anderson Valley Ho, it's the last act on Friday night.
To find your act or somebody else's you can scroll right along until you find it.
It's not like being there live believe me. The energy in the crowd in the moment really brings the show to life. We video the show for a record of it and so people can check out their own acts. We do not shoot it like a made for TV movie. But Mr Mark Weaver of Redwood Video fame, (he had a film featured at this years Mendocino Film Festival), has done wonders and hours and hours of work to bring the shows to youtube so everyone can can watch it for free. In the hopefully near future we intend to create a new channel with ALL 30 shows in order, whew. Also Chad, James and Guru of Emerald Triangle TV have pitched in with amazing technology that has added extra camera angles, audience shots and much more. It's a long way from our rather primitive single hand held Super 8 camera for the first shows. And next year IN MARCH we will be getting even better. So, think about an act, you'll be looking and sounding GREAT. take a look at this most recent youtube posting
* * *
THE BECOMING FAMOUS AV GRANGE 2nd Sunday of every month Pancake Breakfast
July 9th is this months 2nd Sunday. From 8:30 to 11:00 the Grangers will be giving out the secret recipe glorious griddlecakes at the AV Grange. You can count on bacon, eggs, coffee, orange juice with a variety of toppings featuring Derek's fabulous fruit combo. A great time to meet up with friends, neighbors and soon to be friends AND the price is right. Plus the added digestive compliment of the Deepend Woogies musically adding to a friendly ambience that frankly is not found elsewhere. Come on down, we'll be there for you.
IN LOVING MEMORY OF PAUL EGAN DOLAN III (July 16, 1950 - June 26, 2023)
Paul Egan Dolan III, a resident of Healdsburg, CA, passed away peacefully at his home on June 26, 2023, after a courageous battle with cancer. Paul, a man known for his generosity, allegorical speeches, constant pocket dials, and pride for those he loved, leaves behind a profound void in the hearts of his family, a wide circle of friends and colleagues who were touched by his journey, the winemaking and sustainable farming communities, the vibrant coffee shop scene in Ukiah and Healdsburg, and his faithful, four-legged companion and daily coffee shop partner, Don Julio.
Born on July 16, 1950, in Oakland, CA, Paul was the son of Yvonne Rossi and Paul Dolan II. Every summer, he spent joyful days in Asti, Sonoma County at his family's Asti Villa. Paul's great-grandfather Pietro Carlo Rossi and grandfather Edmund A. Rossi both served as President of The Italian Swiss Colony located near the villa in Asti, giving him a curious passion for the wine business. Fond memories of playing hide-and-seek in the winery and relishing the abundance of delicious food and wine brought a smile to his face decades later. In 1968, Paul graduated from Bishop O'Dowd High School before embarking on a journey to Santa Clara University. There, he pursued his passion for Business and Finance, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree while also being a part of the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC).
After welcoming his sons Jason and Heath with former spouse Lynne Calleri, Paul moved to Fresno, CA, where he earned a Master's Degree in Enology at California State University, Fresno, in 1977. The young family then settled in Redwood Valley, CA, where Paul commenced his career as a winemaker for Fetzer Vineyards, proudly continuing the legacy as a fourth-generation winemaker. In 1979, Paul and Lynne joyfully welcomed their daughter Nya from Korea, and later the family built a home winery and began a small distribution of wine under the Dolan Vineyards brand.
On July 26, 1986, Paul married Diana Fetzer, creating a union that blended Diana's love for gardening and nature with Paul's passion for farming and the environment. Together, they built a loving home. Their daughter, Sassicaia Rose, was born in 1996, bringing immeasurable joy to their lives.
Paul's journey led him to become the President of Fetzer Vineyards when the family winery was purchased by Brown-Forman in 1992. During his tenure at Fetzer, the business flourished, expanding from 25,000 cases to two million cases annually. His remarkable achievements included being named Winemaker of the Year by the LA Times in 1991, pioneering Bonterra Wines as the first national brand made from 100% organically grown grapes, and establishing Mendocino Cooperage in 1994. While Paul's passion for winemaking burned brightly, his true joy came from connecting with his employees, fostering their growth, and serving as an enthusiastic mentor. Some of his fondest memories were formed during winemaker summits, sales trips, unforgettable gatherings at the Big Dog Saloon, Fetzer Field days, and the shared harvest meals.
In 1998, Paul and his sons Jason and Heath ventured into a partnership, founding "Dolan & Sons" and acquiring what is now known as Dark Horse Vineyards, situated east of the Russian River north of Hopland. Over the next twenty-five years, the property became a labor of love for the family. Together, they revitalized the neglected ranch, replanting the entire 63-acre vineyard, creating a pond, introducing livestock, and transforming it into a thriving biodynamic property. Dark Horse became the picturesque backdrop for Paul's love of horseback riding with Caia and witnessing his grandchildren grow. Rodeos, summers spent in the barn, family participation in preparing vineyard fertilizer, and tending to the diverse animals at the ranch wove a tapestry of humility and passionate energy throughout Paul's family tree and the bonds it encompassed.
A devoted student of Rudolf Steiner, the father of the biodynamic movement, Paul wholeheartedly embraced Steiner's belief that every piece of land possesses its own unique expression. Through his collaboration with Mendocino Wine Company, Paul founded the Paul Dolan Wine brand in 2007, showcasing the remarkable potential of biodynamic farming in producing award-winning wines. In 2010, he established and hosted Biodynamic Camps at Dark Horse, imparting Rudolf Steiner's holistic farming principles to eager learners. Unfortunately, upon parting ways with Mendocino Wine Company in 2012, Paul was devastated to lose all rights and involvement with his namesake brand.
Later, Paul and Heath entered into a partnership with friend Mark DeMeulenaere and the Hurst family of Sonoma County, creating Truett-Hurst Winery, nestled on a picturesque piece of property along Dry Creek in Healdsburg. The Truett name holds historical significance as it harkens back to the Dolan family's first vineyard, which supplied grapes to the legendary Italian Swiss Colony brand. Together, they created a beautiful space for people to gather, celebrate, and revel in the joys of life. In fact, Paul's final public appearance was in early June, attending his nephew Ryan's wedding at Truett Hurst, where he radiated pride, love and happiness.
In recent years Paul became involved with the Regenerative Organic Alliance. ROA strives to establish the foundations of true organic farming, through programs that rehabilitate soils, respect animal welfare and improve the lives of farmers globally. ROA encourages us all to "farm like the world depends on it" and Paul embodied this every day through his work and his personal life.
Throughout his life, Paul Dolan cherished the company of his loved ones and embarked on countless adventures. His heart was most at ease when surrounded by his children, grandchildren, siblings, nieces, nephews, and extended family at the Asti Villa. Days spent taking leisurely walks to the river, engaging in lively ping pong matches with the kids, cooling off in the cold swimming pool, savoring cocktail hour on the front porch, and preparing late dinners filled with laughter and love accompanied by his own thoughtful toasts held a special place in his heart. Paul's love for lazy days in Asti was rivaled only by his passion for ski trips to Tahoe, Colorado, and Whistler with his family, even if those trips sometimes concluded with Paul seeking solace in the first aid shack. In recent years, Paul enjoyed perfecting his golf swing with Diana at the driving range and frequenting the many amazing restaurants around Healdsburg.
Paul's fierce commitment to leaving the world better than he found it inspired his children and grandchildren long before his passing. His unwavering dedication to preserving our planet manifested in actions such as refusing to cut his hair until certain politicians were voted out of office. As a farmer, Paul appreciated the profound mystery and cycle of life and death, finding solace in the knowledge that death is not an end but a gateway to renewed life.
Paul is survived by his devoted wife of 38 years, Diana Fetzer, and his children: Heath Dolan (Robin Dolan), Nya Dolan Kusakabe (Galen Kusakabe), Caia Dolan, and daughter-in-law Carly Dolan. He will forever be remembered by his beloved grandchildren: Megan, Emma, Sadie, Cash, Colin, and Clayton. Paul is preceded in passing by his father, Paul Dolan II, his mother, Yvonne Rossi, and his son, Jason Dolan.
A celebration of Paul's life will be held on Friday, August 4th at Dark Horse Vineyards (5341 Old River Road, Ukiah) from 1-5 pm. Dress however makes you feel comfortable as Paul would have done the same. Please kindly plan on carpooling, as parking is limited. As a tribute to Paul, a memorial cairn will be constructed in his honor. We kindly request that you bring a special rock to be included in this lasting monument. Further details will be shared on Paul's Facebook page.
To honor Paul, please enjoy wines that Paul devotedly had a hand in producing like the many wines that come from grapes grown at Dark Horse Vineyards (Campovida Grenache, Primitivo and Cabernet Sauvignon; Husch Cabernet Sauvignon; Navarro Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre; and Truett Hurst GPS (or any of the Truett Hurst/ VML wines).
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the organizations that Paul wholeheartedly championed throughout his life. Contributions to the following organizations will help carry forward his legacy:
Address: Presidio Bldg #1009, P.O. Box 29191,
San Francisco, CA 94129
Cancer Resource Centers of Mendocino County
Address: 510 Cypress St., B-200, Fort Bragg, CA
Regenerative Organic Alliance (please
reference "Paul Dolan Memorial Fund" in your
Address: PO Box 622, Graton, CA 95444-0622
If this obituary was combined with all of the articles written about Paul, one would get a good overview of his family and history in the wine business, his vision and passion for creating a better world, and all of his professional accomplishments. But most condolences shared have not led with those things but have been about the man Paul was, the kindness that emanated from him, how he inspired those around him and made their lives better, and the way he made people feel seen, supported, and loved. May his memory forever inspire us to embrace the beauty of life, cherish our loved ones, and strive to leave behind a legacy of love and sustainability.
(Ukiah Daily Journal)
KELLEY HOUSE MUSEUM:
In celebration of the Fourth of July…
(Excerpted from Mendocino Historical Review, Number 8, June 1981. Written by Beth Stebbins.)
Barbara Carpenter, although quite ill for eight years, had talked about having a flagpole at Kelley House. She wanted to give us her father’s large 5’x8’ flag. We could never afford a pole... but after Barbara’s death, memorial gifts came into MHR for her.
Michael MacDonald rescued the old bench, or at least what was left of it, that used to be in front of the old Kelley store building. Across its back at the top were the words “Behold the Sea”… Bill Lemos cut a 40’ redwood tree on his place and shaved and smoothed it while it dried for four or five months. Bob Collier had a round ball about 6” in diameter suitable for a newel post, but just right for the top of a flagpole. It was in his Mendocino Ornament Shop and I offered to buy it, but Bob insisted on donating it to Kelley House. With it under my arm I went to Bruce Sloan to have it gilded, at the same time I ordered a 22” x 24” plaque for the dedication of the pole in Barbara’s memory and her father’s flag in his memory.
The pole was finally painted by Karen Lowell, its halyards attached by Charlie Lambie and with much pulling and pushing it was ready for the flag on July 4th, 1979. With Jack Bishoff making the dedication speech, Don Carpenter raising the flag, the American Legion firing the gun salute, and cameras popping all around the scene, Barbara’s flagpole and her father’s flag were a high point of the day. The only disappointment was for the young Boy Scout who just could not bring his lips and bugle to work compatibly and after several tries he had to give up.
* * *
Celebrate the Fourth of July on the Kelley House lawn, offering the best parade viewing spots directly across from the judges' platform on Main Street! Enjoy dance music with DJ Dylan, munchies, margaritas, wine, and beer from North Coast Brewing Company, plus non-alcoholic options.
Bring a picnic basket or pick up a hot dog at Rotary Park just down the street, and bring it back to enjoy with your drinks. Thanks to our generous sponsors: North Coast Brewing Company, Old Gold Jewelry, and Harvest Market. 11am-3pm. 45007 Albion Street, Mendocino. Admission is FREE, though we appreciate all donations!
CATCH OF THE DAY, Saturday, July 1, 2023
EDUARDO ALVAREZ, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol&drugs.
SONO CARRIGG, Ukiah. Parole violation. (Frequent flyer.)
SHANNON HENSON, Willits. Domestic battery, stalking and threatening bodily injury, cruelty to child-infliction of injury, assault with deadly weapon not a gun, assault with deadly weapon with great bodily injury, brandishing firearm at daycare center, loaded firearm in public, suspended license, evidence tampering, criminal threats, ammo possession by prohibited person, felon-addict with firearm, evasion, probation revocation.
EDUARDO HIGAREDA, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol&drugs, probation revocation.
JORDYN JUNKER, Fort Bragg. Disobeying court order, probation revocation.
RYAN LOEWER, Ukiah. False ID, probation revocation.
ROBERT MINNIHAN, Redwood Valley. DUI, cruelty to child-infliction of injury.
FRANKLY MORRIS, Ukiah. Controlled substance for sale, maintaining a place for selling, giving or using drugs, ammo possession by prohibited person, offenses while on bail.
CHARLES NUTTER, Spokane/Fort Bragg. Attempted murder, assault with deadly weapon not a gun, fugitive from justice.
VERONICA OROZCO, Philo. Narcotics for sale, controlled substance, offenses while on bail.
JOSE PLASCENCIA, Fort Bragg. Loaded firearm in public, violation of restraining order by purchase of firearm, assembling firearm, failure to appear.
EDGAR RODRIGUEZ, Talmage. Disorderly conduct-alcohol&drugs, controlled substance, resisting.
ANDREA SANCHEZ, Los Angeles/Ukiah. DUI.
JOSE VARGAS-ENRIQUEZ, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.
MICHAEL WHITEHURST, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol&drugs, parole violation.
THOMPSON'S BILL LEAVES OUT FARMWORKERS
So our representative to the U.S. Congress, a vineyard owner, has submitted a bill to favor grape growers, a bill that includes no provisions for farmworkers whatsoever. Growers have to struggle with the hard decision of when to bill insurance for their smoke-tainted grapes, the article reports, the poor little rich things. They have a powerful lobby and Rep. Mike Thompson is one of them. Meanwhile, workers struggle to cover basic living costs when they are put out of work by rains or fires, and raise families on thin margins in the best of times. They suffer from smoke inhalation and, too often, poor working conditions. There are more workers than growers, but they are not as powerful. Self-serving conduct in Congress ought not be business as usual for Thompson or the Democratic Party.
The latest report on inflation has been released. The Biden administration has been taking credit for the inflation rate trending lower but, oops, it is still 4.6% (annual) instead of the goal of 2.0%.
Take a look at the annual inflation rates for the last decade.
Now think about this -- these are inflation rates not inflation itself. Inflation is just like a speeding car. Accelerate it and the overall speed keeps going up. (For those familiar with physics, acceleration is the change in velocity).
Cumulative inflation just like compounding interest gets to be very large quickly and just like a speeding car takes a lot of braking to bring slow back to normal. If inflation rates continue to be 4.3%, your money will lose half of its value in 5 years.
If you have any, that is.
Earlier this week I visited and stayed in Berkeley, with an old friend, Malcolm Feied and wife, Nieves, their youngest daughter, and their three dogs, the most extraordinary of which was a small dog who he named Eva and who he encountered on the streets of Havana, Cuba, more alive than dead, missing one eye and covered with ticks who he decided to bring back to the US. The picture he took of Eva as he found her is something out of a horror story but here is how she looked when I photographed her Wednesday night.
In watching a little television last night I was taken back by his car commercials mainly, enacted some way recreational pants or RVs, listening to the salesman on the television basically say, only $129,000 the amount of money rolled off his lips like it was absolutely nothing trying to sell an expensive vehicle that will put you definitely in the poor house aimed at the general public on television to wonder, our economies in such bad shape sure these recreational plans are a nice toy to have but in this economy who can afford it, several times a year is a landowner I run into these vehicles parked at one of my gateways or even intruding upon parts of my property, these people need to have a notice tied around their neck and a plaque inside the vehicle say you must get property owner's permission before entering, most of the people at all these recreational vehicles think that they neighborhood is wide open, to them in their fancy car one for the July about 20 years ago before we put a lot of Gateshead I found one of these vehicles up in the, the top side of property I held and when I tried to get them to leave a argued the point saying according to their map this was open area for campaign I tried to show them on another map it was private property, but they claim that is bought everything they had the right, I went and got a very large loading machine brought it back and told him it didn't leave out pack them off the property bag and baggage in the jaws of the spreadsheet only that made them leave, I heard through the grapevine later it was sought out a law enforcement officer friend have me arrested, for chasing them out of what they thought was a public area, apparently they were told they were on private property never to come back to this county again and probably told if they did they would probably end up, in jail which brings back another's partisan people who create the recreational maps to buy and store they fail to tell people that many of these roads are on private property, they need to print a little notice from the bottom that all roads are not public, this is the time of the year we landowners have to worry about intrusion, from the folks on the outside with their low slinging vehicles catalytic converters can set fires on the underside of the car without regard to private property owners, the other day I ran across somebody who is snooping on the property I explained about the no trespassing sign their comment was, we didn't think it meant us, I told the individual so if I show up in your yard and decide to go camping I should have the attitude it did mean they and I should help myself build a fire in your front yard and enjoy myself, their comment was they would have me arrested, my comment back was are we dealing with the same thing you're in my front yard it's bigger, and I have you arrested the left, run across this every summer, I put fences in a crawl across the top, but signs up and because you're educated they don't read the more they'll chop the post down cost to sign into the weeds, then you get the real smart type it take to saying something intelligent but it sounds like marbles all he out of their brain, they believe because of the coastal zoning act they have the right to Tromso crossed everybody's property but they don't read the fine print, that part that says if you want the property prior to the act they don't have access, and they can't climb into the middle of the street and less a very large boat and navigated, you need 12 feet of clearance between each side of the boat and the bank, and you need for foot of water underneath the rudder or keyhole of the boat to make it a navigable stream, and you must be able to do this all away from the ocean up at least 5 miles, as the part of the law they don't read over the years I've changed people out for dear hunting, and been shot at many times, I don't think they meant to hurt me but they were just screwing with me in their own way, I've always thought in Mendocino County we should put turnstile in the county line shake the money out of the people and send them all we could divide the dollars up, with all of business and people in the county and not have to deal with bad mannered people.
To the Editor,
America is at war right now and nobody is telling you about. Nobody is talking about the war on drugs anymore. So let's talk about it. Let's talk about conspiracies and tactics and just how far our nation will go to win this war and the drastic measures I believe they are taking right now.
Simply put, it blows my mind. I don't know why I'm the only one who sees it. But I am at least talking about it.
Whether or not this even makes it beyond you and me is entirely up to you. No one is going to listen to a convict like me. But sometimes we see what we want to see instead of what's right in front of us.
Hell, sometimes we can't see anything clearly at all. But occasionally the puzzle seems to come together and you get a glimpse of the big picture.
I think this is one of those times. You be the judge. I'm going to show you the gray areas. The shadows right in front of you and me. No matter how close I come to hitting the nail on the head and stating the truth, this is the real world where society believes the dreams that they've been fed.
But not me. Not today, and not anymore. I'm waking up and today I'm speaking out. I'm going to speak about the silent concerns of civilization and how we have been stepped on these last four decades. I will tell you how I see it and why I see it. You might see it too. From my perspective it couldn't be more obvious. I's going on right in front of us all. Smoke and mirrors, misdirection or blatant coverups and BS. To be honest I don't know what to call it. All I do know is to see through all of their camouflage I will have two start somewhere close to the beginning. To my beginning and why I see the things I do.
This is the story of the boy with the dragon tattoo.
Ronald Rhea #55985
Lake County Jail
4913 Helbush Drive,
Lakeport, CA 95453
A GREAT ANIMAL KILLED BY A HUMAN CREEP
BY THE WAY....
Warmest Spiritual Greetings,
Am this instant sitting at computer #3 at the Ukiah California Public Library, sharing this extraordinary offering from South India. Amidst the stupid circumstances of my being in Mendocino County, which includes 14 months in a homeless shelter after the marijuana trimmers put me out of the place I was living at in Redwood Valley, existing on social security and food stamps, it is relatively good news that on July 10th, I am being driven to St. Helena for a switch out of the Medtronic Pacemaker for an ICD. In addition, I have a Federal housing voucher which makes me attractive to landlords for getting a subsidized apartment. So far, I have viewed apartment units, submitted a stack of applications since March of 2022, and am still not noticeably closer to realizing housing today than I was 14 months ago.
I don't need to be living in Ukiah, Mendocino County in general, the State of California, or the United States of America! Already Self-Realized, I don't need anything at all. If you wish to actually do anything of any environmental/socio-political importance, feel free to make contact while we are all still embodied. By the way, I'm not reincarnating. Thank you for listening.
Craig Louis Stehr
MEMO OF THE AIR: THE DYBBUK.
"The Dybbuk-Attacker uses the beta voiceset of the Spider Tank from Tiberian Twilight. When selected: I won't bite. When ordered to move: The closer, the better. When ordered to attack: In for the kill!"
Here's the recording of last night's (2023-06-30) eight-hour-long Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg (CA) and KNYO.org: https://tinyurl.com/KNYO-MOTA-0547
Email your written work on any subject and I'll read it on the very next Memo of the Air.
Besides all that, at https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com you'll find a fresh batch of dozens of links to worthwhile items I set aside for you while gathering the show together, that don't really have anything to do with the show but arrested my attention, and I think you'll like them. Such as:
It gives me hope for the world that there are people this much smarter than I am. https://theawesomer.com/3d-rendering-camera-simulation/709074/
Things some talented people can do with their face. I used to have a thing I could do that a was a little like this, that used two pen-flashlights, one up each nostril. It has to be dark where you are. You gather the kids around, put the flashlight ends in (not too far), close your mouth and fully inflate and deflate your nose. It makes it flash like a police-car light, and the kids go crazy laughing and they all want to try it. https://boingboing.net/2023/06/30/watch-people-distort-their-faces-in-this-surreal-video.html
And a webcomic that I like a lot stopped updating for a distressing long time and then I got a message that the account was suspended, so I figured it was gone forever. Today I went there. It's back, it still hasn't updated in months, but here's the archive page of twenty full years of Wondermark, so enjoy the trove while you can, in case this hiccup is a harbinger of the end. https://wondermark.com/archive/
p.s. In Mendocino County, all types of fireworks, besides from tonight's professioally run shows, are illegal, and their use is punishable by law. Anyone possessing, transporting or using fireworks in Mendocino County is in violation of the law, and when your five-year-old child cripples himself for life by setting his plastic tennis shoe on fire with a sparkler, that'll be fun for you to think about for the rest of your, and his or her, sad life, won't it. Be the adult in the room, or the yard, or the parking lot, or the beach.
Marco McClean, firstname.lastname@example.org, https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com
WHEN A POPULATION BECOMES DISTRACTED BY TRIVIA, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience, and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; culture-death is a clear possibility.
— Neil Postman
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
I’m located in a rather unusual spot in this small town that gives me very easy bicycle acess to the town’s greenbelt/bicycle trail areas. I ride on some residential back streets for maybe 5 minutes and I’m there. These bike trails running around in undeveloped flood plain areas give me access to the main shopping areas. I go off trail at various convenient spots and ride on sidewalks and grassy areas behind stores and strip malls and I can shop without needing a car. I’ve got one of those bicycle trailers people use for hauling toddlers around. It can also haul a small dog or bulky groceries like paper towels and sacks of taters, tater chips, or even cheese doodles. If our towns and cities had been designed for both car and safe bicycle acesss – we wouldn’t be talking about a future transportation crisis. But people are too lazy, too out of shape, or too upset about being uncomfortable that such an arrangement seems impossible to them.
Compare us to Europe. I first learned to ride a bicycle in Germany, not here. Europe’s infrastructure is far more bicycle friendly than ours. Our culture for some reason is utterly obsessed with automobiles and we’ve burned ALL of our transportation bridges behind us. Unlike Europe, we have no passenger train service or convenient bus lines. Amtrak is a joke and not worth mentioning. Europe could still halfway function without automobiles. America, on the other hand, will disintegrate. Loss of the automobile culture will also mean the loss of most of the USA’s suburban lifestyle. Countless numbers of homes will become obsolete and cut up for scrap building materials. If you have no way to travel back and forth to work from these homes then all of that real estate will be abandoned.
JUNE 26: ACTOR PETER LORRE was born on this date in 1904.
Lorre caused an international sensation with his portrayal of a serial killer who preys on little girls in the German film M (1931). In enforced exile in Hollywood, he later became a featured player in many Hollywood crime and mystery films. The Maltese Falcon (1941), his first film with Humphrey Bogart and Sydney Greenstreet, was followed by Casablanca (1942). Lorre and Greenstreet appeared in a further seven films together. Frequently typecast as a sinister foreigner, his later career was erratic. Lorre was the first actor to play a James Bond villain as Le Chiffre in a TV version of Casino Royale (1954). Some of his last roles were in several horror films directed by Roger Corman.
THE ANXIETIES OF AGRIBUSINESS
World Grain and a Global population paradigm shift
by Susan Reidy
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI, US — For decades, the food and agriculture industries, governments and nonprofit organizations have warned, cautioned, prepared for a time when they would have to feed more people, with more money, with less land and fewer resources.
Upwards of a 70% increase in food production would be needed by 2050 to feed an additional 1.7 billion people, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
But what if the population didn’t continue to grow as expected?
Right now, the global population is growing at its slowest rate since 1950, falling under 1% in 2020, according to data from the United Nations. It is expected to grow to about 8.5 billion in 2030 and 9.7 billion in 2050, reaching a peak of about 10.4 billion during the 2080s and holding at that level until 2100.
More than 60 countries are seeing population drops, according to the United Nations, including China, which had its first population decline in 60 years, this year falling behind India as the most populous country.
There’s hardly a consensus on what direction the population will go and what that could mean for food production, said Chuck Penner, owner of LeftField Commodity Research based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
The areas of population growth are shifting to developing countries and regions such as Southeast Asia and Africa, where the UN said more than half of the global population growth will happen between now and 2050.
“We keep hearing these Malthusian predictions that we’re going to run out of food or land, but it’s based on the premise of a steadily growing population at a pretty sizable rate,” he said. “And we’re finding out now those forecasts of steady population growth are not holding. It seems to be changing even more quickly in the last five to 10 years. That’s not enough to build a long-term trend on, but some argue that once we start to see population declines, they’re almost irreversible.”
Still, global population is not going to hit a peak and then start a rapid decline, but likely stabilize, said Tanner Ehmke, CoBank lead economist, grain and oilseeds. “The concern is you’ve got some major agricultural consumption countries like China that are slowing or declining in their population,” he said. “So, the question is, where is the growth? That’s what everybody is interested in. If you want to grow your business, you’ve got to find the growth markets.”
The areas of population growth are shifting to developing countries and regions such as Southeast Asia and Africa, where the UN said more than half of the global population growth will happen between now and 2050.
“They all have their unique opportunities and challenges,” Ehmke said. “You can’t just hitch your wagon to those areas and grow those exports.”
To prepare for possible overproduction in the face of declining population, the agriculture industry will have to develop new markets in these higher-growth areas and also develop new uses for commodities, including further processing and more non-food uses. Growing incomes also could swallow some of the excess, as people demand more protein and dairy.
“Rising per capita GDP is going to be crucial to growth globally, biofuels are going to be crucial to growth,” Ehmke said. “I think those factors can play a big role in counterbalancing any decline in population we see in countries like China.”
Based on data from the United Nations, there are 61 countries or areas where the population is projected to decrease by 1% or more between 2022 and 2050. Of that 61, 26 could see a reduction of at least 10%.
The world’s population reached 8 billion people on Nov. 15, 2022. It took 12 years for the population to grow from 7 billion to 8 billion but will take about 15 years to reach 9 billion, according to the UN, a sign that the overall growth rate is slowing.
Some demographers are predicting the global population by the latter half of the century will enter a sustained decline for the first time, according to a New York Times article, “Long slide looms for world population, with sweeping ramifications.” Fertility rates will fall below replacement levels by 2100 in an estimated 183 countries and territories (out of 195 in the world).
Countries are trying to reverse the trend of lower fertility rates, but it’s not working, Penner said. Europe has offered incentives for having more children, and China reversed its one child policy.
Two-thirds of the global population lives in a country or area where lifetime fertility is below 2.1 births per woman, the level required for zero growth in the long run for a population with low mortality, according to the UN’s “World Population Prospects 2022.” Fertility in all European countries is below the level required for full replacement, and in many cases has been below that level for several decades.
“It’s not just a matter of not having four, three or two kids; younger people have decided not to have any kids at all,” Penner said. “It’s based a little bit on this idea of catastrophism — the planet is doomed or in terrible shape, and there’s not much future. There are also economic issues.”
For decades, Europe has tried to combat its population decline with more immigration.
The dropping fertility rate in some countries can be attributed to improved education and more access to birth control, giving women a choice to not have as many children.
“But even with more immigration, you’re really just shuffling the deck chairs; you’re not creating more population,” Penner said. “Countries that are seeing masses of out migration are trying to figure out how to keep their economies rolling along. There may even be restrictions on allowing people to emigrate. Who would blame them if they’re seeing young people with the greatest economic future ahead of them leaving the country? That’s a problem for them.”
The dropping fertility rate in some countries can be attributed to improved education and more access to birth control, giving women a choice to not have as many children.
The population is also aging, which means a change in eating habits, Penner said.
“Chances are the food consumption per capita would go down as well, so you’ve got fewer capitas and less food per capita being consumed,” he said.
Where the population is declining — and growing — will have a major impact on the agriculture industry, Penner said.
“If we think about where our largest markets are, and if those are the ones that see the changes in population, certainly that’s more of a worry,” Penner said. “If it’s happening in countries where we’re not doing a lot of trading, it’s not so much of an issue.”
For example, the two regions with the fastest declining populations (Asia and Europe) represent 43% of total US agriculture exports in 2021, according to SwineTex, a swine management consulting company based in Texas, US, serving the global pork industry. In comparison, the fastest growing populations (Middle East/North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa) represent only 6.2% of total US ag exports.
China is a top destination for agriculture commodities from the United States and several other countries, with $236 billion in agriculture imports in 2022. Its population also is dropping after peaking at 1.426 billion in 2022, with the UN estimating a population drop of 48 million between 2019 and 2050. It could fall to 730 million people by 2100.
Total caloric consumption also is expected to decline by 10% to 15% in the next 30 years, mostly due to population decline but also aging, according to SwineTex.
“When we are all agriculturally dependent on China to take our surplus goods, and if they don’t have as many people, what are we going to do?” said Stephen Nicholson, executive vice president, global sector strategist-grains and oilseeds, Rabobank. “So that’s a concern for export markets.”
In contrast, India is expected to keep growing from 1.429 billion people currently to 1.67 billion by 2050. It is among the eight countries expected to account for more than half of the projected increase in global population up to 2050. Other countries include the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and Tanzania.
Africa has the highest rate of population growth among major areas, the UN said. The population of sub-Saharan Africa is projected to double by 2050.
“Regardless of the uncertainty surrounding future trends in fertility in Africa, the large number of young people currently on the continent, who will reach adulthood in the coming years and have children of their own, ensures that the region will play a central role in shaping the size and distribution of the world’s population over the coming decades,” the UN said.
Agriculture impact, response
Commodity markets are geared toward ever-increasing production, and every year record corn, soybean and wheat crops are needed just to keep up with demand, Penner said.
“That’s a pretty well-established trend,” he said. “I don’t know if consumption will start dropping off relative to production, but it could just level off. What happens when we maybe don’t need record crops every year, but just the same as last year?”
Crop prices could start to suffer under heavy supply situations, Penner said. It would vary from year to year because there would be crop failures and also possible impacts on yields due to climate change.
“(Declining population) is something we can’t just ignore or hope will go away,” he said. “It’s something we need to keep an eye on and not just assume the narrative that it just keeps going higher forever. If we keep producing more and the food consumption part of it is not growing at the same rate, what do we do with that difference?”
If economies are still growing and incomes are rising, there likely also will be a shift in the types of foods consumed. More meat consumption in developing economies could offset less meat consumption in developed countries.
Penner said the agriculture industry can prepare by identifying where the trends are most significant toward decreasing population, such as Europe and Japan.
“Actually pencil out what that is going to mean,” he said. “What kind of products are we trading into there now and how will it affect them? What other things can we possibly add to the mix or substitute. Italy may not be eating pasta at the same rate as they used to, but maybe they’re going to be eating more beans. We need to parse out what the changes might be on a country or regional level and then focus efforts on those types of things.”
If economies are still growing and incomes are rising, there likely also will be a shift in the types of foods consumed. More meat consumption in developing economies could offset less meat consumption in developed countries.
“You might see more meat consumption, which requires more feed grain production,” Penner said. “That could maybe offset to some degree the fact that there are less mouths to feed.”
Another solution could be focusing more on further processing, such as the meal from canola and soybean crushing, rather than just pushing it out the door at the lowest price.
“Maybe it’s also looking at where production is most sustainable and where it is not sustainable,” Penner said.
Production will have to figure out how to be more efficient and what can be done from an input perspective to drive down the cost of production, said Rabobank’s Nicholson.
It’s possible the industry already has seen some cues about overproduction, Nicholson said, noting corn production in the early 2000s.
Faced with very large corn supplies, the production of ethanol started increasing. The same thing is happening now with vegetable oil, he said.
“Do we try to find more uses that aren’t necessarily food? I’m not saying it’s good or bad, but is that going to be needed in the future?” Penner said.
Biofuels per capita consumption is going to increase around the world, Ehmke said. It’s likely that whatever is lost in terms of food consumption in some declining regions like China will be replaced with biofuels.
“It’s hard for me to have a long-term bearish outlook when it comes to declining population because so much of the ag commodities that we are producing are going to fill growing biofuels demand,” he said.
Ethanol, renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel are going to continue to demand more commodities. As the world continues to grow economically, that means more transportation fuel demand, Ehmke said.
Packaging materials, such as biodegradable and compostable items, could be another new use, Nicholson said, along with biochemicals. Some of the operating wet corn mills are like small chemical complexes, using starch slurry to produce amino acids, enzymes and biochemicals, he said.
“The petrochemical industry is going to have a lot of pressure on it to be more environmentally friendly,” Nicholson said. “I think there’s an opportunity because corn is so versatile.
“We have to make sure that we find those new products that need our products from an agricultural point of view. We need to be willing to be more innovative and take that risk.”
There are pockets of growth in terms of population and per capita consumption, Ehmke said, but they present some significant challenges.
India has a diverse population that speaks many different languages and is still mostly rural, compared to China. It’s a democratic government, but it still has issues with corruption. The fertility rate at about two children per woman of childbearing age is much higher than China.
“It’s not a friendly business environment, and they are very protectionist, so it’s going to be harder to crack that market,” Ehmke said. “But there’s opportunity in India.”
He added that with a per capita GDP of $2,000 compared to China’s $12,000, there’s also room for economic growth.
“As per capita GDP increases, their caloric consumption increases so they demand more meat, dairy and eggs,” he said.
Similarly, Southeast Asia is a major growth spot, including the Philippines with a fertility rate of 2.7 and a per capita GDP of $3,500. Africa has similar potential but also has issues with corruption, and a lack of transparency and markets.
“I wouldn’t be too alarmist at this juncture about declining population,” Ehmke said. “There’s still growth both in terms of population and per capita GDP. The problem is trying to adapt to these extremely diverse regions of the world. China was so easy — over a billion people, most speak the same language and all under one government.
“Food companies are going to be focusing on a broad diversification away from China. You just simply can’t replace China with India. It’s going to be a multi-country, multi-region approach.”
ITALIAN AMERICAN ACTOR Lenny Montana got noticed in Hollywood after playing Luca Brasi in The Godfather. Here he is with Marlon Brando on the set of The Godfather.
Lenny was 6 feet 6 inches tall and a soldier in the Colombo Family for boss Joseph Colombo. Once Colombo heard that a director named Francis Ford Coppola was making a movie about La Cosa Nostra, he sent Lenny over to watch the set and make sure they portray wiseguys in respectful ways. Lenny kept an eye on everything and Coppola eventually decided to give him the role of Luca Brasi, but Lenny was so nervous about acting with Brando, and kept forgetting his lines as a result, which was later included as a character trait.
UKRAINE, SATURDAY, 1ST JULY
On the front lines: Russia killed at least 30 Ukrainian soldiers with missile strikes and has eliminated a Ukrainian foothold along the Dnipro River in southern Ukraine, a Russian-appointed leader said.
In eastern Ukraine, a Russian missile killed two civilians and wounded six others when it hit a school in the Donetsk region on Saturday, according to the Ukrainian military.
Diplomatic visits: CIA Director William Burns recently traveled to Ukraine and met with President Volodymyr Zelensky, according to a US official. Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is in Kyiv this weekend.
Wagner rebellion: Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin's whereabouts are still unknown after last week's short-lived insurrection, a White House official said, although Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said he arrived in Belarus on Tuesday.
FORMER WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION Sonny Liston cut up and stopped Chuck Wepner in his last ever fight #OnThisDay in 1970.
"I hope some promoter can get me Jerry Quarry next," Liston said after the fight. Within six months, Liston was dead.
AMERICA THIS WEEK: ‘THE MAN THAT CORRUPTED HADLEYBURG’
by Mark Twain
As usual, Racket publishes the short story discussion from “America this Week.” In this episode, Walter Kirn and I discuss “The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg,” by Mark Twain
Matt Taibbi: The story this week we’re going to do is one of the all-time great works of literature that’s been done in English fiction, certainly in America: “The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg.” There’s a lot to say about it, it’s relevance to the present, but also just how unbelievable it is as an artistic achievement. What’s your summation of this story by Mark Twain?
Walter Kirn: So, I’m a Twainiac, as Mark Twain fans call themselves sometimes. I love everything he wrote. He wrote far too much for any one person really to consume and meditate on in even a lifetime. But this has to be among the top five pieces of writing he ever did, for me. It’s a short story, but what I guess it really is, is a fable. It doesn’t attempt to realistically portray everyday life, it only attempts to realistically portray the human psyche and character. And so in this fable, there’s a small town, Hadleyburg, that is famed for its virtue, famed for its prudence, its honesty, its children of simple, rugged virtue. And it has a problem one day. A man who has come through earlier and had some kind of a bad experience in Hadleyburg decided to take revenge on it. We don’t know this at the beginning of the story. We don’t know that this prank that is pulled on the town is in fact revenge, but it turns out to be total revenge. The setup for this story, which is worked out with mathematical precision.
Matt Taibbi: I was going to say.
Walter Kirn: One of the beauties of this story is that it’s like a logical proof. It sets up a very simple situation and then it plays it out in its details to exquisite and precise imaginative precision, to use the word over again. Anyway. What happens is a letter arrives in this town along with a big bag of gold, saying that someone in the town once did a stranger a favor. And this stranger, who has since become rich, would like to thank that person by awarding them this gold bag.
But the way to claim this gold is that you have to come forward and remember this piece of advice. You have to remember verbatim this piece of advice you gave the stranger, which changed his life. And anyone who remembers that and can be presumed to have been the Samaritan who helped this person is entitled to this gold. And this letter and this bag of coins, or ingots, comes to the town and it’s announced that there is this kind of contest. And the result of this contest is that almost everyone in the town, anyone of any esteem, not the little people but the big people in town, become absolutely venal, deceptive and corrupt. It’s a trick and everyone falls for it. And the beauty of the story is that you see the rationalizations of people as they start to believe their own entitlement to something that they deep down know they’re not entitled to.
Because what the psychological process that this contest causes is for everyone who wants the money to think, “Maybe I was the one who helped this stranger. How might I have helped the stranger? How can I at least credibly pretend that I did it?” And we see, especially through the eyes and thoughts of one couple, how the process of convincing ourselves we’re virtuous when we know we’re not actually works.
Matt Taibbi: We’ll get into how it all played out. I want to start with something you talked about: the mathematical precision of the opening and the story in general. I think I once said that Hunter Thompson was the most instantly reliable narrator since Twain. Twain had this ability to grab you and be immediately trustworthy. You are with him all the way from sentence one. This story takes off like a rocket from the first sentence. Being a reader is like being the baton in the Jamaican 4x100 team. You are cruising through this tale that’s incredibly complicated and has all these layers to it, and jokes that are very sophisticated and very funny. And it’s all done at breakneck speed, in the most beautiful conceivable language. It doesn’t slip anywhere. In fiction, and I know this because I can’t do it, if you have one moment where the suspension of disbelief lessens for even a second, the whole edifice collapses and it doesn’t work anymore. He not only does it, he does it in the most gorgeous conceivable language. Like Nabokov, but he’s much better than Nabokov I think because he uses these words that are accessible to everybody, even though they’re unusual and idiosyncratic.
He starts off with the story and the first part of it that’s so amazing is that there are no characters that stand out. I remember once somebody criticized Dostoevsky by saying the only character that he ever created you would recognize if he walked into a room was Raskolnikov. There aren’t many characters in this story who are fleshed out in such a way that you would recognize them, the way that you would recognize Huck or Tom Sawyer or other famous Twain characters. That’s not what he’s up to in this story. But he does do that with the town.
The town of Hadleyburg has a personality he sketches out in the first paragraph. I’ll just read a couple of these sentences. It talks about how Hadleyburg was so proud of its virtue:
It was so proud of it and so anxious to ensure its perpetuation that it began to teach the principles of honest dealing to its babies in the cradle and made the like teachings the staple of their culture thenceforward through all the years devoted to their education. Also throughout their formative years, temptations were kept out of the way of the young people so that their honesty could have every chance to harden and solidify and become a part of their very bone.
He renders the virtue of Hadleyburg in a way that’s overdone just enough that you hate them instantly. And it reminds me of a story by Saki called The Storyteller, where a man on a train is telling a story to restless kids. And it starts off with this tale of a little girl who was incredibly virtuous, and they immediately start rolling their eyes. But he adds a little detail that she was “horribly good,” and that she had won medals for goodness that she wore everywhere and clicked together as she walked. The kids immediately pay attention because now they hated her for being good.
Matt Taibbi: Twain accomplishes the characterization of Hadleyburg in five sentences and it’s absolutely perfect. The rest of the story is a total rageful deconstruction of the facade of goodness in this town.
I don’t know, Walter. There are so many things I love about this story, but for me at the top of the list is just the mastery of the language and the velocity of the story. How many writers are capable of something like this? You and I were talking off camera about this. It feels like it was done in one sitting by somebody completely in the zone. I’m sure that’s not the case, but it feels like it, doesn’t it?
Walter Kirn: It sure does. And how many writers? None since. Maybe, weirdly, the kind of cynicism and programmatic skepticism about human nature that Twain shows here kind of happened again in America in the sixties. In a weird way, this is almost like a proto-Pynchon story. It’s very thoughtful and logically consistent and it moves through a lot of individual psyches with a strange philosophical knife, because it exposes all the machinations of human hypocrisy. It’s like the War and Peace of hypocrisy, this story. Time and time again, we have these characters trying to figure out how they can lie and get this money without sacrificing their self-image. Because the disease of Hadleyburg is that it wants to look good on the outside. And that’s the torture of this place. Twain even suggests that one of the reasons it’s so susceptible to corruption is because maybe it hasn’t allowed itself to be a little corrupt.
Mark Twain had one value, I think, above all, and that was mischief. It’s Huck’s mischievousness that makes him virtuous and able to see through the hypocrisy of his elders. It’s Tom Sawyer’s mischievousness that gets others to paint the fence for him. In his travelogues, it’s Mark Twain’s mischief that makes him able to see when he gets to the Holy Land that if you added up all the pieces of the true cross he’s been shown, you could build a cathedral. Mark Twain has a hypothesis about human nature, which is that we’re not all that good. We’re pretty bad. And that the worst thing about us is that we won’t admit it. Disaster comes from pretending that it’s not true, when it’s so manifestly true that to deny it means we are in the grips of the monster, rather than in control of it.
By the end of this story, you’ve seen pretty much everyone who matters in the town, but especially one couple goes through level after level of rationalization, hypocrisy, doublethink. He kind of invents doublethink in this story, frankly, because the people have to believe that they’re still good, but they want that damn money. And in order to do that, they have to tell stories to themselves about how they might have helped this mythical stranger in the past.
Matt Taibbi: God, there’s that one paragraph where he’s imagining rescuing the guy from drowning. And the paragraph goes on for a while. Then the last line is, “And then he remembered he couldn’t swim.”
Walter Kirn: Here’s my favorite line from the story. And it doesn’t sound like much on its own, but I’ll unpack it for a second. “Edward fell. That is, he sat still.” Meaning he fell morally by not announcing his guilt. Everyone in this story sins by omission. They’re all exposed ultimately, but they have a million chances to expose themselves first. And at every one of those junctures, things would go better for them if they did. If they just stopped wanting the money, if they stopped lying to themselves about what they might have done to help the stranger, if they just excused themselves from the big meeting at which the money is going to be awarded and leave. But they don’t. They sit there and it’s sort of the coverup is worse than the crime thing.
They sit there and let themselves appear to be that which they aren’t, and it gets worse and worse for them. And the couple at the center of the story ultimately dies. On the last page they die because their hypocrisy has become so complete that the man gets a sudden guilty conscience and starts confessing to things and having fears about plots against him that aren’t true. In other words, his hypocrisy tips over into paranoia because he thinks the world is as deceptive as he’s being and that other people are as deceptive as he has been.
Matt Taibbi: He has so many witticisms that are compact beyond the ability of a normal writer. They’re laugh-out-loud funny, but they’re done, again, at breakneck speed without stopping that sprinter’s pace. In one scene which I love, all the 19 families in the town have gotten a letter in the middle of the process that leads them to believe that they’re going to get the money. Basically, a stranger recollects that, “Oh, I think it was probably you who did the helping, and here’s what you said.” And so everybody who got this letter wakes up the next morning with a huge, relieved smile on his or her face. All the couples show up the next day and they all look happy suddenly after being troubled for three weeks.
Walter Kirn: Because each couple thinks they’re the only one who got the code word.
Matt Taibbi: Exactly. And he goes through this list of how each one of these people is described, their particular look of satisfaction, how it’s represented in their person. Just a couple examples: “When Halliday found the duplicate ecstasy in the face of Shadbelly Billson, he was sure some neighbor of Billson’s had broken his leg.” Then there’s a similar line: “The subdued ecstasy in Gregory Yates’s face could mean but one thing; he was a mother-in-law short.”
There was another character who I guess had started a builder’s or an architect’s business that was failing. But now he was suddenly getting requests because all these people thought they were going to be flush with money in a second. The line is, “He got 11 invitations that day. That night he wrote his daughter and broke off her match with her student. He said she could marry a mile higher than that.”
So it’s not just that they’re happy, but they’re immediately transitioning to other unkind thoughts in which they can now indulge because of the relief of getting the money. He’s so brilliant in the way that he characterizes these people in a snap.
Walter Kirn: It’s dramatically perfect, too. Because it starts in the consciousness of one particular couple who is vying for this reward, but it ends with the entire cast, the entire town in one room at an event where the prize will be announced. So if you were looking to stage this thing, it’s damn well perfect. It brings everybody into what’s called an obligatory scene where the resolution of every particular story is concluded.
Matt Taibbi: It’s like Othello. They all end up stabbed on the bed in the end.
Walter Kirn: Right.
Matt Taibbi: There’s a scene in the beginning that reminds me a lot of current America. And this is where, I believe it’s the Richards’s, right? And they’re talking about the Reverend Burgess and the husband says, “‘Mary, Burgess is not a bad man.’ His wife was certainly surprised. ‘Nonsense,’ she exclaimed. ‘He is not a bad man, I know.
The whole of his unpopularity had its foundation in that one thing, that thing that made so much noise.’” Now, they never tell you what that thing is. They just allude to the fact that there was some destructive rumor that caused people to hate a couple of different figures in the story.
This is very much like social media-driven America where we all silently participate in character assassination. And we’re guilty of it if we don’t speak up. A lot of people are and don’t seem troubled by it, until there are consequences. That is alluded to but not fleshed out in a way I think that’s perfect. If they had delved into exactly what happened, it would’ve detracted from the speed and mystery of the story.
Walter Kirn: I call this story a fable because a fable is usually explicitly allegorical, whereas a short story may be trying to just take a slice of life. Twain was always conscious that he was writing about this somewhat new nation, the United States of America, every time he portrayed a small town. He also was, I think, in this story, particularly aware that he was talking about the political class. Because we’re reminded over and over that these are the influencers in the town. These are the wealthy people. And at the end, not to give it away because it’s really too complex to recount, a politician comes forward. And the last act of corruption surrounds a political figure trying to influence a vote that will get a railway across his land. So in other words, if we’re looking at a pyramid of corruption in Hadleyburg, it goes from the bank clerk to the architect or whatever, and it ends with this rich political figure.
So Mark Twain was consciously writing a fable about corruption in America. And what did he have to say about it, getting away from the beautiful mechanics of the story? I think a couple of things. One, as I said before, our inability to accept our fallen nature is probably our greatest liability, because we are constantly attempting to portray virtue. And the more we do it, the more unrealistic and sort of desperate we become because we are basically engaged in a nonstop coverup of our true nature. Secondly, the people who are most prone to corruption are those who have something already. The little people in Hadleyburg all sit in the back. And they laugh and cheer as the burghers, as the leading citizens are exposed. They even start making up songs in the back of this big meeting room, parody songs to get the goats of the leading citizens who are being exposed. Mark Twain famously said, “There is only one, I think, native criminal class in America, and that is Congress.” He definitely believed that the bigger you get in America, the worse you get.
And as a guy who loved talking to after-dinner societies and really did hang out with power, he had a reason to know that. Mark Twain was not some little populist living out in the middle of nowhere. He ended up an extremely popular, lionized figure who was always getting medals and meeting with senators and helped write the memoirs of Ulysses Grant. And so he knew the American ruling class intimately. And yet he never spared them because I think the more he knew, the worse he thought of them. It comes from a kind of envy, because the other thing that secretly drives these people in this town is the desire to beat their neighbors. As the story goes on, we find more and more that they are all in competition with each other. They imagine making each other look bad. The only thing they like more than pretending to have virtue themselves is imagining the sins of their neighbors.
Matt Taibbi: This might be a good moment to talk about the real world context, which usually I don’t care at all about with a story, because it doesn’t matter. Whatever you read in the story is what you read.
Walter Kirn: Right.
Matt Taibbi: This is a really interesting thing though. Mark Twain gave a speech in Oberlin, Ohio, and had an incredibly bad experience and apparently never got over it. I think it happened 14 years before this story was written, but the background was that Oberlin had a reputation for being an incredibly enlightened, especially racially enlightened town. When he went to read Huck Finn there, there was all this tsk-tsking about things that he said, and there was another writer that he had come with who was more sentimental and milder and got a much better reception.
Twain read from The Tale of the FishWife. It’s a satire about “The Awful German Language,” and they didn’t respond to that well. There was a letter to the editor, which I think it’s worth reading because it reminds me of tweets that you might read that might get you upset:
Now that the people of the city have been so thoroughly humbugged, why not frankly own up and so possibly save other communities the mortification of being swindledâ¦ I like to laugh, but I’m provoked to think that so many laughed when there was nothing to laugh at.
This is somebody complaining that Twain even came, and describing it as being swindled that he showed up and read from Huck Finn.
Walter Kirn: Sounds like Taylor Lorenz or something.
Matt Taibbi: Exactly! This was a town, again, that was celebrated. It was actually celebrated even in Huck Finn, obliquely. There was a college town that was mentioned that was probably Oberlin. It was celebrated for its enlightened views on race, but it was very famous for its political virtue and its forward thinking. Its town motto was, “One person can change the world,” which sounds a lot like what people think today.
Walter Kirn: In Oberlin. Isn’t Oberlin the city where they had some lawsuit about a store in town that the self-righteous Oberlin types decided to boycott or do something against?
Walter Kirn: Oberlin, Ohio have to this day believed themselves to be pillars of right-thinking, enlightened American thought. Twain probably went there thinking that he was going to be welcome in this broad-minded town and was shocked to find that in fact, though racially sensitive or at least theoretically so, they didn’t like real life very much, and they didn’t like the foibles of individuals being explored and they didn’t like this uncompromising, somewhat cynical and pessimistic view of human nature, and they especially didn’t like the liveliness that Mark Twain brought because as we discussed last week, if Oberlin is kind of Puritanism in Ohio, liveliness is kryptonite.
It’s funny that he took revenge on this enlightened town. Sinclair Lewis or other people who make fun of the American small town usually pick some stuffy place out on the plains, Gopher Prairie, as in Main Street. But he based this on what was one of those little Athens of Ohio-type towns. There is an Athens, Ohio, but every college town likes to think of itself as the pure flower of Grecian virtue and so on. In other words, he didn’t pick the usual butt of these stories, which are stuffy middle brow places. He picked this place with a very fine and noble set of principles.
Matt Taibbi: Oberlin to this day, I think Lena Dunham went there, right?
Walter Kirn: Dunham went there, yeah.
Matt Taibbi: It’s a capital of a certain kind of progressive thinking that probably has mixed feelings about Twain to this day, I would imagine.
This story is basically taking the premise of a town that considers itself enlightened, the heralds of right-thinking in the future, which by the way was just America in general in the late 1800s. They were just awash in this idea that they were discovering not just new horizons and new worlds in the West, but also morally, scientifically and in all other ways. They were going to be leaders of everything in the world in that score.
Walter Kirn: It’s a lot like now, Matt. This humorless, uninflected, utopian, self-righteousness has come back around in remarkably similar form to the Victorian version.
Matt Taibbi: You can imagine what a town like that would be today in America. It might even be Oberlin, but I would imagine it would be more likely someplace in California that would represent this kind of thing.
But he takes this politically advanced, self-righteous, right-thinking place, and the whole thing is just this excoriating, you are full of shit story, but it’s not even an essay, it’s a gorgeous story where there’s not a letter out of place anywhere.
Everybody knows the famous Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses essay that he wrote about five years before this. Most people don’t know that there was a second version, probably not as good. But there was a little section of it where he analyzed something that Cooper wrote, and there was a little thing at the bottom that was something like words 320, necessary words 220. Twain had this infallible ear and mathematical sense of how much was needed. In this story, it’s words 300, words needed 300.
Walter Kirn: Was Mark Twain a liberal or a conservative?
Matt Taibbi: Impossible to say, isn’t it? I think that’s one of the things that’s greatest about him. I think on racial issues, he was enlightened for his time, right?
Walter Kirn: He did fight on the side of the Confederacy.
Matt Taibbi: Did he really? I didn’t even know that.
Walter Kirn: He joined a militia. He’s very funny about it, and he acts as though he got dragooned into it and didn’t know what the hell he was doing, but he did, technically. He was enlightened on racial issues, it seems, compared to most people in Missouri at least where he had grown up.
But at the same time, he might be considered a conservative in that he seemed to venerate a few things. One was British culture in particular. He loved London, he loved Britain, and he loved the certain heroic legends of Europe, Joan of Ark and so on.
Even though Twain was in some ways instrumental in America throwing off the romance of Europe, throwing off its inferiority complex to Europe, he did have an extremely deep affection for notions of heroism and so on. He was embittered that America, I think, was becoming a mercantile and imperial power rather than sticking to its own business. You might have called him an isolationist now. He really was. His most bitter essays were about our imperial adventures in the Philippines, for example. Insofar as isolationism is identified as a conservative streak, he might have been that.
The point of my rhetorical question is that it is hard to place him on this spectrum, and the fact that it is should show us that there’s something wrong with the spectrum, not Mark Twain, because he was as well-read, as fearless, and as gifted an American mind as there has ever been. That he didn’t come down in a way that we can identify shows probably that were there to be a new Mark Twain or someone of his caliber, they wouldn’t either. He could have been charged with MAGA and he could have been charged with being a communist, he could have been charged with all sorts of things, and there would’ve been evidence for all those charges in a small way. But he transcended them. I don’t think there’s any way better to unstick yourself from the framework that they’ve put us in now than to acquaint yourself with Mark Twain, and not just his fables like this, but with his essays and even his broadsides, because he became increasingly sharp in his criticism of the American government and the American society. Even many of those essays were not published in his lifetime, held back for later publication. There was a resurgence of Twain interest in the ’60s when all these things that his estate had kept down came back out in these collections that made him seem like a searing social critic right up there with the anti-war types.
Matt Taibbi: For somebody who wrote so much and wrote so much nonfiction and wrote so much periodical nonfiction, the way that it was hard to pin down what his politics were, and it still is, is remarkable. But I also think that’s a quality that’s common to great writers, especially when they’re doing their fiction, that you can’t exactly tell where they’re coming from always. He probably wouldn’t do well today. They would demand that he take a side on things.
Walter Kirn: Two things. Number one, Mark Twain had an unchanging message about the United States’ role in the world. It was that we had a pretty corrupt society, and how dare we go around the world trying to discipline and police others when we had done such a bad job of policing ourselves. He was unremitting in his criticism of the venal, money grubbing, and completely hypocritical American political establishment. He was appalled that we felt we had some moral position to lord it over others, whether they be the Chinese or the Filipinos or wherever.
I actually found the Oberlin story that I was alluding to earlier.
“Oberlin College to pay $36 million to bakery owners who claimed they were falsely accused of racism.” This payoff just happened in 2022, which people at the college boycotted because they said that the bakery had done something racist [Eds. note: the bakery accused a black student of shoplifting, which was later admitted]. The little bakery on Main Street or whatever proved it hadn’t, and now the college is paying $36 million. Kind of a weird reprise of The Man That Corrupted Hadleysburg, the good people got hoisted on their own petard.
The last thing I want to say about Twain, and I hope we come back to him in the future, is that, though he was, as I say, relentlessly critical of our corrupt and hypocritical establishment, he seemed to have such a deep affection for the country as a subject, and for its scoundrels and maybe for its more ordinary people, certainly for its youth, that it wasn’t just cynicism. It was a cry for us to live up to something sweet or innocent that we had buried. I think that’s the reason why Twain, even though he might look like the ultimate sourpuss, is continually appealing, because we know that his outrage is the result of a very disappointed affection. America is home. Even though he loved England and he spent a lot of time abroad and he went other places, his criticism was loyal in some fashion.
Matt Taibbi: In agreeing with that, I think that comes out in the way he imagines his relationship with the reader, who is also an American in his mind, I think. It’s this incredibly intimate trust that they’re going to know what he means. It’s a really genuine sharing in the humor of the jokes that he uses. He really delights in it, and I think he’s imagining his readers delighting in it. It doesn’t come off as a sourpuss writing, although later in life some of his stuff was incredibly dark. But in this story, this was him at his absolute most enthusiastic in terms of his love of what he did and how much he was imagining the people who would read it would share in that. I find it very upbeat, even if there’s a lot of darkness in what he’s saying.
Walter Kirn: Yeah. Mark Twain, like you say, he achieves instant credibility when he starts his stories, and he wins us over. One of the ways he does that, as you just suggested, is he says, “I have faith in you. You too see through the bullshit. You too aren’t impressed by the big shots.”
He enters into an immediate conspiracy with the readers against phoniness. American politicians work that angle as well. It’s kind of what Trump did, and in some ways it’s what RFK is doing, and then I think it’s what Bernie Sanders did. He immediately puts you on his level and says, “What are we going to do about these liars? What are we going to do about these greedy sons of bitches?” That note was struck by Twain most perfectly, and I think those politicians I at least find appealing to drop my veil, are those who strike it again. I don’t expect politicians to be great people. I do expect them to be in a compact with the truth and with reality and with our actual citizenry, and the normal experience of people. What was so great about Twain is he’s obviously a genius, but he treated you as a peer if you were his reader.
Matt Taibbi: Exactly. When you read Nabokov, he’s not imagining that you’re on his level. Which is sometimes charming, because he’s transparent about it, but at other times, not so much. Twain is the same kind of literary genius, absolute total command of an awesome vocabulary. But he played it off like he was a messenger for the common man, and it worked. It was beautiful.
Walter Kirn: It’s like, “This is what you’d say if you had the time to do this writing thing.” Or, “If you were in the rooms that I was in, this is what you’d observe.” Or if you’d met these people. Or maybe this is what you did think when you did meet them. That ability to be both an immortal literary mind and win the sense of fraternity and friendship from the reader was great. I think it elevated American culture. Mark Twain made America feel worthy of itself, like it didn’t have to be pseudo-British anymore. Our kind of common sense, our way of seeing through pretense and so on, he showed to be a valuable and fully worthy approach to life. He gave America, in a weird way, its cultural self-respect.
Matt Taibbi: Twain created so many things about the way Americans talked and thought. Anyway, we owe so much to them. But this story, if you haven’t read it for a while, we definitely recommend going back and looking at it. I was blown away reading it again this week at this advanced age, seeing how perfect it is. It’s been a pleasure, Walter, talking to you about it. I hope everybody else enjoys this story as much as we did, and look forward to seeing you all again next week.
Walter Kirn: We’ll see you then. Bye.