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Mendocino County Today: Monday, July 31, 2023

Sunshine | Gualala Beach | County Notes | Pudding Silhouette | AVUSD Updates | Art Walk | Hot Pot Lot | Rock Layers | Citizen Connect | Two Types | Mini Farms | Golden Grass | Lazy Afternoon | Hoek Residence | Happenin' Here | Always Unfulfilled | Garden Tour | Yesterday's Catch | Three Realities | Lewis Hine | Forgotten Victims | Babe & Yogi | Biden Lies | Fox Barbie | Prince Shows | Herb Caen | Ukraine | Great Poem

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DRY WEATHER and near normal temperatures are forecast to persist for the next several days across northwestern California. Coastal low clouds and patchy fog are expected each night and morning, followed by afternoon clearing and sunshine. (NWS)

STEPHEN DUNLAP (Fort Bragg): 49F under clear skies this Monday morning on the coast. It looks we are in for some overnight clouds the next couple nights which could give us some morning fog, otherwise our very summer like pattern continues.

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The sleepy town of Gualala awakens to another Sunday (Randy Burke)

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by Mark Scaramella

Item 4a on Tuesday, July 25, 2023’s Board Agenda: “Discussion and Possible Action to Direct Staff to Initiate Modernization of New Hire and Annual Employee Standards Including Position-Appropriate Physical, Psychological, Moral Character and Computer Literacy. (Sponsor: Supervisor Williams) 

Supervisor John Haschak didn’t like the implications of the item: “We all know the process is taking a long time to get qualified people into positions. We need to really look at that. This is a time when we cannot provide a COLA to our employees, when we are asking for increases in health care contributions from the employees, and we are having trouble filling a lot of the positions. It just seems like this agenda item is a slam at the physical, psychological and moral character of our applicants. I just don't see it as helpful at this point. If I were an employee, which I am an employee, I would be really taken aback by this. If we are going to do a pilot program I suggest that we apply these standards to the Board of Supervisors first and see who's left standing because if we look at it, just the way it's phrased, I think it will not do us good in negotiations. And I don't see it as helpful with morale.”

Supervisor Glenn McGourty: “In our system that we have right now with our eligibility lists and our scheduling interviews and getting back to employees is one of the things that I think is problematic and really needs to be addressed and worked on.”

CEO Darcie Antle: “We could bring back a draft in the fall. We could target October. We could work with HR [Human Resources] and the Golden Gate team. I believe HR has already begun some of this work. So we are moving forward.”

Supervisor Ted Williams: “I see setting higher standards as a benefit for labor. I'm more likely to work in an environment where there are high standards. When people come to Mendocino County and look at the way we work, the skill set, the tools we use, it's not only wages, it's also that we are living in the dark ages. Requiring that people already have learned computer skills or the county takes a role in actively training, maybe it's a two week training program upon joining the county. It's not the worst thing for society that the county takes on educating our workforce. Even if they don't stay with us it's a benefit overall. I disagree about it being a negative morale impact. I think it leaves the county in a stronger position to hire.”

Haschak: “Certainly we want people who are computer literate. But when you throw in these other things about physical, psychological and moral character of the applicants or the employees, that is sending a message that these things are not already being considered by our people hiring people. I think they are being considered. I think that every one of them — the people hiring in this county want the best applicants. It's just sending a message that is not positive. To say that we have a long history of paying settlements for employee misconduct, high health care premiums, paid administrative leave — do you have any data for that? Those are accusations and they just paint a picture of negativity instead of problem-solving.”

Williams: “County Counsel has warned me to keep my mouth shut as to specifics. We don't want claims. All I can point to is closed session. I've been here the same length as you, Supervisor Haschak. I have seen it. I have seen situations that could have been prevented with a simple background check.”

Supervisor Maureen Mulheren was chairing the meeting while Supervisor McGourty was home in semi-quarantine having been exposed to covid: “I don't want to do the back and forth. Each supervisor can work with the deputy CEO and direct their concerns and certainly Supervisor Haschak, if you feel that this is not a fit, I would love to see you be able to work with Deputy CEO to make sure the kind of guidance that you think are more appropriate are included. We are not going to get to an end-all be-all between everybody's opinions, but hopefully we are able to work over the next few months with all the departments and with the CEO and the team at the Executive Office to come up with something that will work for the board. I appreciate everybody's passion around this subject.”

The motion, including Williams’ idea of “including position-appropriate physical, psychological and moral character,” carried 4-1 with Haschak dissenting. As usual, no due dates were imposed, no key provisions were highlighted for staff. 

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We agree that the item as worded is insulting in the same casual manner as when Williams told the Mendocino Voice that nobody would notice if the employees went on strike. Williams also could have easily provided (or volunteered to provide) the “data” that Haschak requested about claim payouts without getting on the wrong side of County Counsel if that was his real concern. (Williams is big on assertions and demands, light on specifics and data.) There did seem to be some wishy-washy agreement that the hiring process takes too long, that some employees could use some computer training, and that the County should do better background checks (among many other things that Human Resources is failing to do as delineated in a recent Grand Jury report). But instead, all we have is the usual meandering, inconclusive discussion without any clear direction using mushy, clumsy phrases like “we need to look at that…” “we could bring back…” “needs to be worked on…” “some of these items…” “we are moving forward…” and “the next few months…” 

No wonder the employees are so pissed off they voted to authorize a strike. Even the Board’s own ill-thought out ideas seem to fall on deaf ears or disappear in a cloud of fuzziness, much less the union’s fairly mild proposals. With this kind of amorphous non-leadership, the Board is essentially baiting the employees, pushing them into the kind of corner that produced that nearly unanimous strike authorization vote this weekend.

PS. At present there are four former employee lawsuits pending against the County: Former Ag Commissioner Harinder Grewal, Former Public Health Director Barbara Howe, a former Board clerk, and former probation officer Amanda Carley. From what we know of these cases — all of which were initiated years ago now and have been discussed at length in these pages back when — none of them had anything to do with inadequate background checks and all of them should have been settled years ago for a lot less money than the County has paid out in outside lawyer fees.

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Pudding Creek Bridge, late Sunset (Jeff Goll)

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Hello Anderson Valley Community,

I just wanted to communicate where we are with the bond fund construction.

The elementary septic project is well underway. Tank delivery is the hold up at this point, but we can operate in tandem until installed.

The pipe work to restore classroom drainage at the elementary site starts this week. Guy, Dennis, and Manuel worked hard to clear that space of debris.

Plans are in DSA (State Architect) for the high school. We hit a bump with fire sprinkler requirements for the lab but we are working through that.

OPSC (Office of Public School Construction) appears to be funding 60 percent of elementary and high school septic. FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) is expected to be funding the remaining 40 percent of high school. Good news is I only have one bald spot on my head after this paperwork nightmare.

Our district painter, Miguel, is methodically working his way through the elementary site. He will remain there until the exteriors are completed. It looks GOOD!

A logo company is coming out in August to show us some branding opportunities to get Panther Pride on the buildings. I am excited about that.

Other news, if you are so minded, add a positive thought in your daily meditation for our CalTrans grant for the all-weather track and field. A super long shot, but I would be so grateful if it goes through for this community. We have had amazing Congressional support, but we will just see what happens.

August 24 is an important day. The Deputy Superintendent for the state and the Facilities/Transportation Director for the state are in town. Please be on your “A” game and advocate for our district and kids. 

CIF (California Interscholastic Federation): I am awaiting the final dispute resolution letter, but I understand CIF will be allowing small, rural, high poverty level school districts to request no cost tickets to play-off games. That is the right thing. I hope it comes true.

With deepest gratitude,

Louise Simson, Superintendent, Anderson Valley Unified School District

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by Jim Shields

Quick weather note

In case you’re wondering about our warm weather, you should know that since June 29th we’ve had 10 days at or above 100 degrees.

Global warming or just regular, old summer patterns?

Pot Chronicles

Have just a minor clarification to Mark Scaramella’s July 26, AVA BOS report:

“The Board spent the entire afternoon considering a proposed pot exclusion zone in Redwood Valley that would prohibit a relatively small existing legal grow site that’s been there for years. As is common with Mendo pot questions (but not with the many other more important fundamental issues), there were lots of comments for and against the exclusion zone — the non-pot-growing neighbors were mostly in favor of exclusion and the pot permit posse was against the exclusion. The Planning Commission had previously punted on the question, leaving it up to the Board to try to split the baby. Supervisor Mulheren’s sensible compromise suggestion to approve the exclusion zone but allow the existing grows (but no new ones) wasn’t acceptable to any of her colleagues.”

That “sensible compromise suggestion” was the recommendation I made during public comment on what is really a non-issue issue, as in much ado but nothing.

What I said was the Supervisors should approve the so-called “opt-out,” i.e., “exclusionary” application from the Redwood Valley neighborhood group, and for the Board to use their broad discretionary authority to grandfather in the three parcels under cultivation. It was, indeed, the most sensible thing to do, which is why it never went anywhere.

Later in the meeting, Mulheren “polled” her colleagues on at least three different alternative motions, including my proposal. When polled on my recommendation, District 1 Supe Glenn McGourty said the proposal would not be acceptable to the neighborhood group.

Early on, Mulheren went on the record opposing these “opt-out” zones, so she should be credited for polling her colleagues on the various options for an action motion.

In any event, that whole session was another monumental waste of time, as has been the case with the entire history of the Pot Chronicles.

Everyone knows that cannabis use is legal in California. However, cities and counties can prohibit cannabis cultivation, as well as businesses, like retail, manufacturing, and distribution. As a result, the state’s landscape is a patchwork where cannabis-related activities are either legal or prohibited.

I had always assumed that a majority of the state’s cities and counties allowed the full range of cannabis activities. I discovered that my assumption was far off the mark.

According to the state Department of Cannabis Control, two-thirds of cities and counties ban all things pot.

Here’s the breakdown:

• 69 percent cities and counties prohibit cultivation.

• 61 percent of cities and counties do not allow any retail cannabis business.

• 66 percent of cities and counties prohibit manufacturing.

• 66 percent of cities and counties prohibit distribution.

“Catch and Release”

Still receiving lots of responses to my recent series on “Crime and No Punishment” appears to be showing some results.

The phrase was even on the lips of two or three mental health providers who spoke at this week’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

By now, a lot of people know I’ve called for state and local governments to abandon the Pandemic-era failed experiment of emptying jails via “catch-and-release” policies that allow crooks and criminal misfits to avoid incarceration. It’s undeniable that some of these new laws and policies seriously undermine basic public safety.

Here’s a couple more insights received this week:

Scott Ward wrote, “The one party rule in the California legislature and in the governor’s office is responsible for the court’s inability to incarcerate criminals for a suitable length of time and hold them accountable for their actions. Elections have consequences.”

And Sheriff Kendall added this thought: “There is a new wrinkle in this chasm of change. The state prison system has been calculating credits in some strange fashion that when explained makes no sense. Our judges hand down a sentence based on the facts. Then the folks at CDCR are somehow allowed to change the sentence thus circumventing the orders of our judges. A gifted mathematician armed with a Texas Instruments calculator and the good old abacus wouldn’t know if he was on foot or horseback trying to follow the logic on these releases. It’s pure alchemy. The confusion is truly a portion of how this is happening and it’s time for it to stop.”

For certain, people are starting to get involved and engaged with local government representatives in attempting to come up with solutions.

(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher,, the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District, and is also chairman of the Laytonville Area Municipal Advisory Council. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live:

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Whale watch point, Gualala, Sonoma County Regional Park (Randy Burke)

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I am hopeful everyone is using our citizen connect feature on the Sheriff’s Office website. (Go to Empowerment through education will help keep our communities safe.

We have been very busy over the past couple of weeks. Calls for service are increasing during the warm weather.

As property crimes continue to rise I ask our residents to be extremely aware and to secure their homes and vehicles.

One of the things we constantly struggle with is identifying stolen property when it is located. Many folks don’t write down the serial numbers of items such as chain saws, and other tools and electronics.

Please document these numbers, it’s as simple as snapping a photograph of the serial numbers. Also owner applied identifying markings are very helpful. Often thieves will remove serial numbers however can’t remove owner applied markings. Photographs are very helpful to identify items even when the serial numbers are removed.

Please use Citizen Connect to remain aware of what’s happening in your community. Let’s all work together to have a safe and happy summer. 

Thank you

Sheriff Matt Kendall


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We are dependent on outside food; our best food insurance is active mini-farms.

We ran Bountiful Gardens in this county for over 30 years and I have talked with countless young’uns in the same dilemma: “I don’t mind working for nothing to learn how to farm properly, but I need land.”

There have always been two choices: buy some large lot which is not enough, or mortgage your future to buy 20-plus acres of rural land, 18 acres which you don’t need. Finding country land in Mendocino County is difficult and relatively expensive.

In the last 10 years books and articles have been written describing commercially successful examples of small one- to two-acre farms (mini-farms).

Most farmers in Mendocino County have adopted some form of Ecology Action’s biointensive method. A biointensive farmer would be hard pressed to cultivate an acre biointensively.

What all our aspiring farmers need are small farms that are neither too big or too small, that are like Goldilocks’ ideal, “just the right size” for them to have success. 

We want to work within our zoning laws. Ten years ago Bob Whitney spear-headed an initiative to acquire 20 acres of land trust, then lease sub-plots of this land for commercial mini-farms. Bob’s untimely demise (RIP) ended that initiative back then, but we need it even more now.

We need 20 acres divided into 10 two-acre plots for aspiring mini-farmers to produce food. Possibly grant money could cover startup costs, and then this landowner collects 10 rents a year thereafter.

Distribution has doomed many farmers, but now we have Food Web that will connect you online, help plan and get orders and deliver your produce throughout our county.

Young farmers with a reasonable lease can get practical experience, no great investment, and can successfully farm.

Bill Bruneau 


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Late day Willits golden grasses (Jeff Goll)

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I know a place that’s quiet ‘cep’ for daisies running riot and no one passing by it to see. 2c. Think I’ll go outside and cop me some Vitamin D. My deck has mucho sol and no eyes. I sit on a swing chair with nothing between me and Sol, not a thread, so no one will take offense (not that they would anyway). With hearing aids, the perfect breeze makes a loudish, perfect white sound in the trees, the trees I should cut down so the house won’t burn down in this summer-and-fall’s fires. Should should should. I should get a weed eater. My 6’ 6” nephew says he’s visiting California (which means me) and he’ll have to stand on tiptoe to see me over the tall grass. Should should should. My medics say I should EXERCISE and I do, but it hurts. The blood circulation in my legs is pinched off behind plaque in my arteries. Ischemia. It hurts to use my legs. It’s not my fault. I eat healthy. Healthily. It’s probably genetic. I prolly got it from mommy and daddy. They gave me a damn good body, but it’s not perfect. Dunno. They both died at 45. Drownded. All’s I know from them is don’t inhale water. When I walk or even just stand, pain comes fast because there’s not enough bloody blood to clear my muscles of the tiny bit of lactic acid you get from taking only a few freakin steps, not to mention LOTS of freakin steps. Then your legs hurt enough you groan. When you stop and sit or lean on something, they hurt worse for a few moments, and you groan again.

Flight of birds flaps by. I hear their wings. Hearing aids. Couple dozen birds at least, mourning doves in a big hurry to get over this property with dogs and cats and back into the woods. Northeast to southwest they fly, past neighbor Jim’s elegant redwood. I would not cut it. You think of a redwood, you think of an exceptionally tall tree with a trunk so fat and mighty you can build an entire bank with just one. I spiked one near here once because loggers had marked it for cutting, one of the few big ones that remain here, tacked up little boards for a ladder, drove big spikes into the tree to wreck a chainsaw and climbed down, knocking out the little boards I climbed on, spray painting SPIKED on the bark. It’s still there, on land NOW OWNED BY THE PUBLIC! (Let’s hear it for conservation.) I came here partly to fight the oil and timber wars. We fought to an uneasy draw, a truce that followed much hassle, some injuries and a couple deaths. Everybody was serious, grimly serious.

But this redwood is immature, a mere gorgeous child <100’ tall, its stately feathered branches forming a catenary curve, cupping the sky, no trunk showing, too dense to see into the foliage. You can sleep under such a tree. Like the cedars here, its thickly needled limbs stop and hold raindrops. It has to rain pretty hard & long before enough rain makes it through all this greenery to bother your slumber much.

I face the woods, mentally cutting trees that are too close for comfort because storms make them fall on me and my house, and fire makes them burn everything up—probably not including me and Eleanor because the west side of the house is clear of forest, so there we’d stand, with dogs, cats, goldfish and whatever pictures of our lives & times we can grab on our way out, standing on Wheeler Street, feeling the radiant heat and watching the house burn down—all the deferred cleaning and tidying we won’t have to do, all the precious junk stored in boxes we don’t know the contents of and seem never to get to. (That’s why victims of house fires sometimes display odd crooked smiles: many put-off tasks eliminated. Get a new house with the insurance money, resume accumulation. I read my kids a fabulous book called “Kangaroo and Kangaroo,” their pouches serving as symbols of hoarding.) I’m a hoarder—most of us are, to one extent or another, not quite to the clinical degree, but approaching. I have boxes still packed from 1977.

It’s a 3-D revery, peering into the woods. Next sunbath, I’ll have binoculars to identify things like the bird-shape at the very top of a dead spruce, which I damn well will cut, if I ever get on top of this arterial failure. That’s a big “if.” I just had an angioplasty, and it did more harm than good. Angioplasties are supposed to fix ischemia, but this one crippled me instead. (How calmly I write that! In fact, I’m in permanent rage. What age has failed to take from me—age, cancer and ischemia—botched medical procedures have done for nicely. Curses. I’d planned to be among the few old geezers who still run the Bay-to-Breakers at age 90 and more ((sorta run)).)

I’m all D’d up. Time to do something worthwhile, like eat my 6 P.M. breakfast. A bird lights on top of the non-bird. By that I see the fake bird is smallish. I’ve been watching it for years. Now I know something else about it. The real bird flies away.

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The Hoek Residence, Ukiah (watercolor by Susan Blackwelder)

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by Tommy Wayne Kramer

Immigrants have been coming to California for centuries, enduring journeys of thousands of miles by walking months or years through dangers and deprivations you and I can scarcely comprehend.

“Americans” were living in a land later dubbed the Golden State centuries ago. There were Mexicans, Spaniards and Indians of various tribes. Probably few were aware of the arrival of Russians on western Sonoma soil where they planted a flag, built a fort and went home.

Two hundred years ago your ancestors left Ohio and Tennessee, hiked 2500 miles and arrived exhausted. Think of the Donner Party. No one gave much thought to welcoming the survivors or hosting a big parade. 

Mid-19th century, gold was unearthed in eastern California and created a wave of newcomers who toiled endlessly, got rich occasionally and in the process began building small towns and large cities. Those miners were rarely considered heroes.

In the 1930s, driven by weather disruptions, many farmers, workers and families from Arkansas and Oklahoma fled the aptly named Dust Bowl for (hopefully) better lives. Californians did not much welcome them. Read John Steinbeck.

In the 1970s, college educated immigrants came to California following an arduous four to five days travel in their V8 powered vehicles, pausing only long enough to dine at restaurants and sleep in motels. 

Unlike their predecessors the newcomers had little interest in quietly settling in, finding jobs and raising families. Far from it. The invaders were hippies. The goal was to pretend to be part of a vast agrarian network on a mission to cram love and harmony down the throats of locals everywhere from Lone Pine to Laytonville.

Following an entire summer and part of the next winter building flimsy shacks, growing stunted crops and eating brown rice, the hippies cut their hair, tossed aside the rainbow garb, bought button-down shirts and ties, while their “old ladies” found modest skirts and blouses, and together they snagged employment sinecures in Mendocino County schools and government offices.

Bye-bye to all that Back to the Land malarkey, Hello pensions and guaranteed raises. These hardy survivors today boast of their courage and perseverance and their fierce resistance to the Establishment. 

This is a long introduction to the ridiculous self-promoting nonsense now on display at the Grace Hudson Museum, dead in the middle of Ukiah. 

The program is “Something’s Happening Here” a reference to a song about noble protesters victimized by Blue Meanie soldiers from the Establishment. It celebrates the so-called Back to the Land fad, as if the hippies were returning to their farming roots. 

You know: harvesting glass from Toledo hillsides, planting rubber trees in the rich soils of northern Akron and knitting shoelaces in Portsmouth. Here in 2023 we are supposed to gather, gape and marvel at their accomplishments, which by my calculations add up to Zero.

The best thing about the exhibit? It’s small. You can easily be in and out in 10 minutes. It’s confined to one large room with a lot of paintings. A few of them are good. 

But I’d not allow a single one of these Adventures in Painting inside my home, though I might agree to a few nailed on an exterior wall of the garage. The rest might patch a roof. (Your tastes may differ.)

That’s about it. There’s a poem stenciled on a wall with no author credited, which I completely understand. In the middle of the room, a talent-free tailor has dressed a pair of mannequins in shabby costumes indistinguishable from rags left behind at a Sundays in the Park gathering, waiting for Monday cleanup crews to arrive. 

Go see Something’s Happening for yourself. Tell me I’m wrong.

Upon leaving the display head straight to your car. Avoid the dull, desolate mystery garden adjacent the museum, where the weeds are high, the stream bed dry, and visitors rarely inspect. This is Ukiah after all; there are lots of other vacant lots to stare at on the drive home.

Thinking back to the awesome displays of fabulous art, courageous deeds and world-shaping visions, we are puzzled at the absence of plaques dedicated to other immigrants from the era, all better known than any of the hippie relics honored by the museum.

Many newcomers of distinction arrived in Mendolalaland in the 1960s and ‘70s. But where are photos and narrative histories of Jim Jones and his murdered flock? 

Why no poems or descriptions of torture techniques authored by Leonard Lake and Charles Ng? What about the impact of Charlie Manson and his clan? Treefrog Johnson? Nothing about kidnapper/Palace Hotel night clerk Kenneth Parnell or his victims, two little kids named Timmy White and Steven Stayner?

Something’s Happening Here is just another vanity project assembled to the everlasting glory of an overly celebrated bunch of self-promoting narcissists, few deserving recognition beyond a short obituary.

(Tom Hine is a former stringy-haired, flea-bearing hippie who arrived in Ukiah in the 1970s to the regret of everyone involved. Among his crimes: Woodstock. Hitchhiking. Paisley. Headband. Marijuana. Bellbottoms.)

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"I HAVE TOO MUCH conscience injected in me to break customs without disastrous effects; I can only lean enviously against the boundary and hate, hate, hate the boys who can dispel sexual hunger freely, without misgiving, and be whole, while I drag out from date to date in soggy desire, always unfulfilled. The whole thing sickens me."

— Sylvia Plath

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by Bruce Anderson

One of my first memories is of a huge Victorian on McAllister Street near Fillmore in San Francisco where my family lived in 1944. The rambling old structure, which I believe had survived the Great '06 quake, had been hurriedly partitioned off into apartments for the influx of war workers, among them my father who had a job at Hunter’s Point loading submarines. He brought home C-rations complete with tissue paper amusements imprinted with tiny horses which he set off in a “race” to the other end of the paper by igniting the paper’s serrated lines with the end of his cigarette.

Next door to us was a lively family of rural Southerners whose junior members pounded on me whenever I toddled out the door unescorted, my first experience of random hostility. 

There was an old carriage house in the spacious backyard — a backyard large enough to qualify more grandly as estate grounds, perhaps — and someone still maintained the gardens. I liked the gardens best of all in this neighborhood we’d describe these days as being “in transition.” We soon transitioned out of there for the bland suburban precinct of Corte Madera, which is still semi-rural and small town-ish. 

A half century and countless random hostilities later, my sister treated me to a Sunday tour of five Ross gardens opened to the paying public to raise money for the “Fine Arts Program at Ross School.” The Ross School, someone on the tour told me, is the “highest achieving school in the state.” It’s also just about the richest. Why the town had to resort to fundraisers to buy trumpets wasn’t clear, but at $30 a pop for a look at five “secret gardens,” Ross’s lucky children should have enough instruments to last them the next ten generations. 

We waited in a long, amiable line at tour base camp, the Marin Art&Garden Center, while the tour drivers studied the route between the five stops. They were a hastily-assembled crew of several non-English-speaking immigrants from south of the border, two visibly deranged hippies, and several ordinary working people picking up extra dough as tour drivers. The two crazy drivers, I learned later, hurtled up wrong driveways and into dead-end lanes, cursing each navigational error, their passengers rattling around in the vans like bowling balls in a box car. 

As my wife and I boarded our less exciting van, we were each handed a neat little booklet whose first page warned us against smoking, or peeking in the windows of the bourgeois premises we would be visiting, or taking pictures, or slurping down food and drink while we strolled the garden paths. It was clearly worrisome to the owners of these gardens to have god knows who roaming through their backyards, but they could at least try to keep some basic order among the slobs unleashed on them for charitable purposes. I didn’t see much in the way of slob material, but I can tell you that there were plenty of acquisitive little eyes shooting hungry, magpie-like looks at all the costly stuff lying around these small but expensive homes and gardens. 

There was only one authentic garden on the tour, and it was the smallest but by far the best. The lady who owned the place obviously worked on it herself. It had the sequestered loveliness of a secret garden. The lady of the house had clearly invested many hours in her special place which, at first look, seemed to be a random collection of plants stuffed haphazardly onto every foot of ground, but when you stepped back to take her plan in as a whole, every plant seemed to be on exactly the right inch, the overall space arranged harmoniously in perfect plant rhymes. 

The other four gardens were the work of landscape architects who’d been handed a big wad of dough and a crew of Mexicans to get the terraces dug and the petunias in the pots however the designer wanted to do it. These gardens didn’t look as if anyone ever visited them, much less placed plants in a way pleasing to the eye. 

The tour pamphlet went on about how these latter day Gatsbys had “conceptualized the whole as a painting, composed of a series of soul-satisfying elements, well set in a dream of beauty.” 


But four of the five gardens were too new for a soul to have set in, and the dream of beauty seemed less like a dream of beauty than feckless efforts to outdo some other neighborhood titan of conspicuous consumption. 

One display promised “English charm, California style,” which put me on red alert, never having personally experienced the former and extremely wary of the latter. 

The fifth garden and the house in the middle of it was a sort of landscape metaphor for the times. Imagine Hearst Castle stuffed onto three-quarters of an acre. At the driveway entrance were two bush “bunnies,” the topiary equivalent of lawn trolls. Then there was a custom-made iron fence partially covered with a wisteria vine, nullifying the workmanship of the fence. Above the pool was the house, a smallish two-story job of no particular style which looked out on all the Bay Area. The library opened out on a swimming pool, but close up, peering through the huge glass sliding doors, I could see floor-to-ceiling shelves of books surrounding a pool table. A pool table. A pool table in a library. A pool table in a library opening onto a swimming pool. 

The three-quarters of the hilltop acre were precisely terraced and strewn with carefully tended rose bushes and an array of costly gewgaws placed everywhere but for no reason, it seemed, other than to demonstrate that Mr. Magic Money could afford them. There were top-dollar cast-iron and concrete carved benches placed to maximize the ten million dollar view, but without a single enhancing creature comfort like a cushion which might encourage one to linger. At one interval a tiny herb garden was precisely laid out, each newly-planted savory marked by a hand-crafted stake in the form of a rabbit, rabbits being the only recurring totem on the place, and one indicating nobody was home in all senses of the term. 

Nearby, a pleasant but wary middle-aged woman stood by a small aviary pointing to a nest where she said some finch eggs were about to hatch, as if only a fool would walk on by before the miracle of birth had occurred. In the entranceway of the house, a bad abstract painting was on display, complete with track lighting to bring out every ugly, tedious ripple in the thing. 

Abstracts intimidate us all into silence: if we say it’s the screaming shits, a millionaire like the guy who owned this one is likely to come right back with, “Well, of course it’s a Pollock.” Like he knows Pollock from a Polack. But he does know it’s good because it cost good. 

When I told a friend about the garden tour, and how sad it was to see people squandering a lot of money on space they obviously didn’t spend any time in, he told me a story from his Navy days in Japan in the early 50s. 

“My wife had just sold a travel book,” the friend remembered, “and so with some of the proceeds, we travelled to the remote rural studio of Hamada, perhaps the world’s preeminent potterer. Although we had come to buy, there was little for sale. Hamada had just had a showing and had sold most of his recent work. We bought a few items, but we were sorely disappointed. As we stood in front of his house, looking out over his extensive grounds, I was struck by one of the most beautiful Hamada pieces I’d ever seen. In terms of shape, it looked like a huge milk crock, the kind that took up a good part of the bottom of our farm’s ice box back in Oklahoma. But the colors of the ‘crock’ were something else. It was a magnificent storm of greens and browns that blended right in with the surrounding green and brown vegetation. It was half filled with water. Matter-of-factly I said to Hamada-san, ‘I think I’d like to buy that.’ He nodded appreciatively. Finally, I asked, ‘How much would you take?’ 

“He nodded agreeably again. ‘Oh, I can’t sell that.’ 

“I said something crass like, ‘I could give you a good price.’ 

Just at that point, one of his geese waddled over and took a drink from the beautiful artwork. 

“Hamada-san smiled. 

”I said, ‘You’re just using it for the geese to drink out of?’ 

“That’s why I can’t sell it,” he said. 

“But I just had to have this piece to take back to the States. But Hamada-san just had to have a yard, some geese, a drinking bowl, his house, his sky in complete harmony. And so we took our leave, knowing more than when we had arrived.” 

I took my leave of Ross’s garden tour, my prejudices confirmed.

* * *

CATCH OF THE DAY, Sunday, July 30, 2023

Alejandros, Avila, Cosman

JOSE ALEJANDRES-BRAVO, Willits. DUI, suspended license.

MICHAEL AVILA, Kelseyville/Fort Bragg. Protective order violation.

KELLI COSMAN, Ukiah. Perjury, falsifying documents to be used in evidence.

Cuevas, Leyva, Lopez

FRANCISCO CUEVAS-ONTINEROS, Modesto/Ukiah. DUI, suspended license, probation revocation.

VICTOR LEYVA-TORRES, Laytonville. DUI, controlled substance.

JOSE LOPEZ-GALVEZ, Talmage. Battery on peace officer, resisting, failure to appear, probation violation.

Malagon, McConnon, Pecheron

SERGIO MALAGON, Potter Valley. Battery, DUI.

PATRICK MCCONNON, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-drugs&alcohol.

ZAHIR PECHERON, Fort Bragg. Concealed dirk-dagger, contempt of court.

Pool, Ramirez, Whipple


JOSE RAMIREZ, Ukiah. Suspended license for DUI, no license, probation revocation.

LEONARD WHIPPLE, Covelo. Probation revocation.

* * *


Three realities of our time:

1) Infinite growth can’t go on forever in a finite world.

2) Humankind’s greatest shortcoming is its failure to understand the exponential function.

3) 1+1=3 (as soon as possible!).

* * *

LEWIS HINE, dead at 66, went undercover and took pictures of the working conditions of children. This led to a law that prohibited employing children under 16. Here is a photo that helped end child labor.

* * *


by Chris Hedges

MECHANIC FALLS, Maine – I am sitting in Eric Heimel’s barbershop in the center of Mechanic Falls. Russ Day, who was the owner for 52 years before he sold it to Eric, cut my hair as a boy. The shop looks the same. The mounted trout on the walls. The worn linoleum floor. The 1956 Emil J. Paidar barber chair. The two American flags on the wall flanking the oval mirror. The plaque that reads: “If a Man is Alone In the Woods, With No Woman to Hear Him, Is He Still Wrong?” Another plaque that reads: “Men have 3 hairstyles parted…unparted…and DEPARTED!” I can almost see my grandfather, with his thick gold masonic ring on his pinky finger smoking an unfiltered Camel cigarette, waiting for Russ to finish.

Eric charges $15 per cut. He wanted to be a welder, but the welding classes were full.

“Hair. Welding. Same fuckin’ thing,” he says, wearing a black T-shirt that reads “Toad Suck” and has a picture of a toad riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. On Eric’s hat is a homemade deer hair fly, known as a mouse, he uses for fly fishing. 

“Big bait. Big fish,” he says.

“There are 17,000 cars and trucks a day that go through that light,” he says, looking at the traffic light outside his shop. “I only need 10 or 20 of them a day to stop for a cut.”

The pandemic hit his barbershop hard. Clients, for months, disappeared. Eric did not get the Covid vaccine. He doesn’t trust pharmaceutical companies and is not convinced by government assurances that it is safe and effective. Then, on top of Covid, there was an issue of the sign over the shop that read: “Russ Day’s Barbershop.”

Russ wanted it back.

“When I bought the shop I bought the sign,” Eric says.

One night the sign was stolen.

“It wasn’t Russ,” he says. “He’s in his eighties. It must have been his son-in-law.”

“Did you call the police?” I ask.

“How are you going to win in court against an 82-year-old guy?” he answers. “Besides, I’ve never called the police on anyone.”

Russ informed Eric he wanted his mounted trout.

“I already gave him his salmon,” Eric says. “It’s not Russ’s trout anymore. It’s Eric’s trout.”

We discuss local news, including the man who last fall put his credit card in the Citgo gas pump, poured gas over his head and lit himself on fire. He died. An intoxicated man in May fired several shots at another man on True Street. He missed. There was also a stabbing when two neighbors got in a fight. But serious crime is a rarity, although many people have small arsenals in their homes.

The former mill town of 3,107 people, like rural towns all across America, struggles to survive. There isn’t much work since the Marcal Paper Company mill — which operated three shifts a day and was located on the banks of the Little Androscoggin River that runs through the center of Mechanic Falls — closed in 1981. My aunt worked in the accounting department. By then the town’s glory days were long gone. The Evans Rifle Manufacturing Company, which made repeating rifles and, the brick and canned goods factories, shoe shops, the steam engine plant, W. Penney and Sons, one of the largest machine shops in the state, were already distant memories.   

The weed-choked foundations of the old factories lie on the outskirts of town, forgotten and neglected. The old paper mill was destroyed by fire in 2018. There are empty storefronts downtown and the ubiquitous problem with food insecurity — the regional high school has a year-round free breakfast and lunch program — and opiates and alcoholism. Within a small radius, are three or four marijuana dispensaries. The house where my grandparents lived, two blocks from the center of town, burned down. So did the church across the street. Its charred remains have never been razed. On Sunday mornings I could hear the congregation singing hymns. The bank in the center of town closed. It is now a photographer’s studio and a hair salon. There is a casino in the town of Oxford which, like lottery tickets, functions as a stealth tax on the poor. The day I visit, a fundraiser is being held at an ice cream shop for an eight-year-old boy who needs a kidney transplant.

The town is 97 percent white. The average age is 40. The median household income is $34,864. Trump won Androscoggin County, where Mechanic Falls is located, with 49.9 percent of the vote in the last election. Biden received 47 percent. Republicans like Trump never had much appeal in the past. Franklin D. Roosevelt carried the county in the 1932 election. In 1972 the county voted for George McGovern. Jimmy Carter won the county in his two presidential elections. But, as in tens of thousands of rural enclaves across the country, once the jobs left and Democrats abandoned working men and women, people became desperate. Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, after the mill closed with the loss of over 200 jobs, won the county, as they did the state. But things have not improved. 

Across the street from the barbershop is Bamboo Garden, a restaurant run by the only Chinese family in town. Eric says the owners won it from another Chinese couple in a poker game. What was their experience like? How did their daughter cope with being the only Chinese girl in the school? Were they accepted and integrated into the community? I talk to the owner, Layla Wang. I ask her if she experiences racism. “Very nice people,” she says. I ask if her daughter — who is now 26 and lives in Boston — had a hard time in school. “Very nice people.” I ask about her neighbors. “Very nice people,” she says.

It must have been hell.

My grandfather had little use for Blacks, Jews, Catholics, homosexuals, communists, foreigners or anyone from Boston. If you weren't white, Protestant and from Mechanic Falls, you were far down on the racial and social ladder. I cannot imagine him inviting the Wangs over for dinner.

Outside of town is Top Gun of Maine which sells firearms and has a shooting range. There is a red flag with the stars and bars on the wall which reads: “Trump Nation.” The owner periodically puts messages on a board in front of the shop such as “Biden is Going to Take Your Guns” and “Let's Go Brandon.”

I meet Nancy Petersons, the town librarian, and her husband, Eriks, who runs the town historical society in the town library. The library is located in what was the old high school’s home economics room. My mother and aunt took home economics classes here. High school students now go to a magnet school in the neighboring town of  Poland. The building that used to house the town library when I was a boy was sold. 

On one of the walls on the first floor, where the town office is located, is a sepia photograph of Maine’s 103rd Infantry Regiment. My grandfather, a sergeant, is seated on the right at the end of the first row. My uncle Maurice is standing in the back row. My grandfather was sent to Texas during World War II to train recruits. Maurice went with the regiment to the South Pacific, fighting in Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, the Russell Islands, New Georgia Islands, New Guinea and Luzon in the Philippines. He was wounded. He returned to Mechanic Falls physically and psychologically broken. He worked in my uncle’s lumber mill, but often disappeared for days. He never spoke about the war. He lived in a trailer and drank himself to death.

With the mill gone, people had to find work out of town. Bath Iron Works, Maine’s largest military ship builder, used to send vans to pick up workers early in the morning and bring them back at night. It is a 90-minute drive to Bath.

Maine breeds eccentrics. Nancy and Eriks tell me about Mesannie Wilkins, buried in the town cemetery, who in 1955, five weeks before her 63rd birthday, was told she had two to four years to live. The bank was poised to foreclose on her home. She decided, if life was to be that short and she was homeless, to ride horseback from Maine to California. She left town with $ 32 in her pocket. She rode a horse named King. Depeche Toi, her dog, rode a rusty black horse named Tarzan. Mesannie, who made the seven-thousand-mile journey in 16 months dressed in a hunting cap with earflaps and lumberman’s felt boots, lived for another 25 years. Jackass Annie Road in Minot is named after her. And then there was Bill Dunlop, a Navy veteran and truck driver, who sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in a nine-foot fiberglass boat called Wind’s Will. He used a $16 sextant for navigation. He made it into The Guinness Book of World Records for the smallest vessel to cross the Atlantic. He then set out in his tiny craft to circumnavigate the globe, a trip expected to take two-and-a-half to three years. He passed through the Panama Canal and halfway across the Pacific Ocean but in 1984 disappeared between the vast expanse of water separating the Cook Islands and Australia.

It is late afternoon. I am at a table at The American Legion Post 150 on Elm Street with Rogene LaBelle, who was a waitress for fifty years and her friend Linda Record. It is burger night. Members can buy a burger and fries for $5.00. The hall is crowded. The bar is busy. There are American flags on the wall and a picture of the National World War II Memorial.

The women remember the town before the mill closed.

“Whole families worked there, husbands and wives,” Rogene says. “And when the mill went, local businesses went with it. Now most everyone works out of town.”

She lists numerous restaurants she waitressed at over the years that closed or burned down.

“This legion hall used to be a movie theater,” she says. “I walked down the movie aisle and right up on the stage when I was in 8th grade to get my diploma.”

Colleen Starbird, wearing a gray tank-top and jeans, sat with a friend, Richard Tibbets — who did two tours in the Marine Corps in Vietnam — on the porch. Colleen’s husband, Charles, did three tours as a Marine Corp gunner on Huey helicopters in Vietnam. He died 17 years ago of lung and bone cancer, which Colleen believes was caused by Agent Orange. The couple owned the old paper mill, which they were turning into apartments, when it burned down. They did not have insurance.

“He saw bad stuff,” she says. “They would interrogate Vietcong and throw them alive out of the helicopters. He had flashbacks. He would re-enact events. One night he forced me to crawl under the jeep yelling ‘They’re here! They’re here!’ He really believed in this country. He didn’t want to know he went to war for nothing.”

Colleen has pink toenails, long amber sparkle dip nails and heavily tattooed arms. The tattoo she got when she was married reads: “I have found the one my soul belongs to.” She got another when her husband died. It reads: “Forever in My Heart.”

We cannot dismiss and demonize rural white Americans. The class war waged by corporations and the ruling oligarchs has devastated their lives and communities. They have been betrayed. They have every right to be angry. That anger can sometimes be expressed in inappropriate ways, but they are not the enemy. They too are victims. In my case, they are family. I come from here. Our fight for economic justice must include them. We will wrest back control of our nation together or not at all.


* * *

A YOUNG AND NERVOUS YOGI BERRA, in his first full season, finds the courage to ask Babe Ruth to pose for a photo in 1948. 

Babe passed away a few months later, and Yogi went on to an illustrious career. This is the only photo of the two legends together.

* * *

JOE BIDEN WALKS THE PATH OF IMPEACHMENT with Hunter’s sweetheart plea deal in jeopardy

by Michael Goodwin

An oft-cited Lily Tomlin line was made for the moment: “No matter how cynical you get, it’s impossible to keep up.” 

It fits our turbulent times for many reasons, including a White House promise that President Biden will not pardon his son. 

Cynics know that somewhere there’s small print saying there will be no pardon until Hunter Biden is convicted of a crime! 

After all, this is the same Joe Biden who denied for years that he ever talked with Hunter about the son’s business.

He repeated the lie despite numerous pictures of Joe with Hunter, his partners and foreign paymasters. 

Unsustainable now that the truth is clear, that lie has been shelved for a more narrow White House claim: the president was “never in business” with his son. 

But wait, he was the “big guy” in a China deal, so how long can that lie last? 

If it were up to Attorney General Merrick Garland, the Biden lies would last forever.

Thankfully, the bitter partisan hack didn’t get his way and now he’s lost control of the narrative. 

The collapse of the sweetheart deal Garland’s Department of Justice tried to give Hunter Biden marks a pivotal moment in the hunt for the truth about the family’s influence-peddling schemes. 

As Tomlin would appreciate, those who believed the deal was proof of favoritism were not cynical enough.

Not by a long shot. 

Sweetheart slap in face 

Not content to let Hunter skip jail on two serious tax charges and a gun charge that should have been treated as three felonies, Garland’s flunkies secretly tucked in a broad immunity gift as well. 

The blanket shield against any other charges based on past misconduct was so inappropriate that the only possible explanation is that the aim was to shut down the probe of the family permanently.

That way, Hunter could escape further scrutiny and the dirt on dear old dad would remain hidden, even under a Republican president. 

The discovery of that disgraceful sweetener by federal Judge Maryellen Noreika blew up the deal, but that must be only the start of the fallout. 

Because any agreement on such an important criminal case would have needed the approval of Garland or his top deputy, Lisa Monaco, neither can be trusted again to have the final word on the Biden investigation. 

The mistrust is underscored by an insider telling me with certainty the FBI was never shown the plea agreement before it was submitted to the court, a shocking break with usual practice.

The insider also said FBI leaders would have objected to the deal as far too lenient if they had seen it. 

That leaves just two acceptable paths forward. 

First, Garland must appoint a special prosecutor, taking the Biden case as far as possible out of his hands and away from his office. 

But given his dual sins of protecting the president and his family while unleashing a double-barreled legal assault against Donald Trump, anyone Garland appoints would be suspect — unless the AG seeks the advice of congressional Republicans. 

That would be a highly unorthodox move but there is no legal reason why it can’t be done.

Given the ocean of mistrust about the department under Garland, getting GOP buy-in for the choice of a new Biden investigator would give the public some confidence that rank partisans would no longer decide the outcome. 

Consider that a late June poll by Reuters/Ipsos found that 50% of respondents believed then that Hunter Biden was receiving favorable treatment because of his name, including 33% of Democrats and 42% of independents. 

Left running out of spin 

That number will almost certainly climb in coming polls because of the wide coverage the court meltdown got. 

Even The New York Times, which has protected the Bidens by ignoring evidence the president shared in the family’s illicit millions, made the plea collapse the top story on Thursday’s front page. 

Other leftist media also finally gave the case prominent play, and once the public digests the facts and implications, the Bidens will find themselves even more isolated among Democrats. 

The president’s sudden Friday announcement that he recognizes Hunter’s out-of-wedlock daughter as his grandchild was an act of desperation, not decency.

As I wrote recently, growing public awareness of the family’s corruption, along with his low approval ratings, likely will force Biden to announce he will not seek a second term. 

As for Garland, a Quinnipiac poll last month found that 62% of respondents believed the federal charges against Trump over withholding classified documents were motivated mostly by politics. 

Combined with the widespread belief Hunter got favored treatment, the findings show there is not enough public trust for Garland to retain control of politically-charged cases. 

If nothing else, a special prosecutor approved by House Republicans would take the Biden case away from David Weiss, the Delaware US attorney who had it for five years but ultimately defended the Bidens instead of prosecuting them.

The testimony of IRS and FBI whistleblowers that they were blocked from conducting an honest probe and Weiss’ dodgy answers to congress about his authority marks him as untrustworthy. 

The second possible path forward would come into play if Garland refuses to recognize and act on the disaster he created. 

In that case, the House should impeach him immediately. 

It would be a well-deserved and historic move, although conviction and removal by the Senate is unlikely. Garland earned the taint by caving into pressure from the White House and other Democrats to do their political bidding. 

Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene filed impeachment articles against him last May over Garland’s “weaponization” of the department and for creating a “two-tiered” justice system.

Greene, a wacky apostate in her own party, nevertheless happens to be on target this time. 

Additional articles would cover Garland’s handling of the Biden and Trump cases, based on the evidence provided by whistleblowers and documents gathered by congressional committees. 

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy would almost certainly be able to hold his slim majority together given the Biden scandal and the continuing legal onslaught against Trump. 

The prosecutor Garland picked for that case, Jack Smith, is a known headhunter, while the prosecutor he picked to investigate Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents has been so silent he must be in the witness protection program. 

Finally, the Biden impeachment inquiry McCarthy is planning is warranted, but the timing is crucial.

Rushing the process without wider public support would risk defeat, and give Democrats a victory that would be a vote for unfettered corruption. 

Next year’s election is far enough away that there still would be sufficient time to build an unassailable brick-by-brick case against Biden after Garland has been impeached. 

Only by gathering and revealing irrefutable evidence that the president is both corrupt and compromised will the public give the necessary support to such a dramatic move.


* * *

* * *

MOVE OVER, TAYLOR SWIFT: This is the hottest ticket in Bay Area concert history

by Peter Hartlaub

Prince fan Elizabeth Franklin of Hayward may have been deep into her ninth month of pregnancy, but having a baby due in a scant nine days didn’t stop her from camping overnight outside an Oakland record store to get tickets for the “Purple Rain” tour.

“Going to the restroom is a pain, let me tell you,” Franklin told The Chronicle.

Franklin was just one (legendary) participant in one of the wildest moments in Bay Area entertainment history — when Prince played six Cow Palace shows at the absolute height of his fame. With apologies to “The Last Waltz,” Wrestlemania and several great 49ers Super Bowl teams, it may have been the hottest ticket in Bay Area history.

The hype around Taylor Swift’s two white-hot Levi’s Stadium shows later this month proves that a concert from an artist at the peak of their powers can still capture the zeitgeist. But the hoopla from Swifties pales in comparison to the clamoring for Prince, whose concert and ticket sales fanfare made The Chronicle’s front page five times between Jan. 24, 1985, when tickets were announced, and March 4, 1985, when the last show was over.

Chronicle rock critic Joel Selvin had the scoop, announcing Prince’s arrival for six shows, then a record number for any Bay Area arena.

“The 26-year-old flagrantly sexy boy wonder has already made America virtually forget Michael Jackson,” Selvin wrote, adding that the immense success of the “Purple Rain” album and movie “guarantees that hordes of his fans will descend on box offices all over Northern California when tickets go on sale Sunday.”

Just four years earlier, Prince had played for 700 San Francisco fans at the indie club The Stone, but his popularity skyrocketed with the hit-filled “1999” and “Purple Rain” albums.

The “Purple Rain” soundtrack, released in July 1984, sold 10 million units, but the movie was arguably the bigger hype driver. The artist would sell 72,000 Cow Palace tickets (six sold-out concerts) in a frustratingly staggered and confusing rollout that fed the headlines. Based on the high resale prices and vocal fans who were shut out, he could have sold 200,000 more. 

Concert promoter Bill Graham took lessons from two Bruce Springsteen shows the previous year, where scalpers bought tickets in bulk and chaos reigned at a time when most tickets were purchased in person. For the Prince shows, sales started earlier at 8 a.m. on a Sunday using a numbered system, and Bill Graham Presents staffers were on site at most of the 63 Bay Area record stores selling tickets.

It was still mayhem.

Chronicle photos show lines of campers around the block and unruly clusters of fans in front of record stores. Most outlets sold out their available supply in minutes, and every ticket was gone in four hours. Fans who had been lined up since Friday got their passes. But there were reports of Prince fans waiting up to 18 hours and coming up empty.

“Many fans came dressed in Prince’s favorite color, purple, but some ended up seeing red instead,” Selvin reported the next day.

“It’s a big rip-off scam,” said 31-year-old Doug Navas, who waited more than 24 hours, only to receive tickets in the far reaches of the upper deck.

In some cases the rip-offs were literal. Chronicle reporter Mark Z. Barabak and photographer Fred Larson, assigned to cover the excitement outside Record Factory on Market Street, helped capture a man who allegedly stole four tickets from a customer walking out of the store — with both journalist/crime-fighters sprinting after him for several blocks.

“Police on the scene were under instructions not to leave their post, so the two Chronicle staffers, joined by a third man, began chasing the suspect,” The Chronicle reported.

Larson, a Chronicle legend for his 49ers photography and mystical photos of the city, managed to photograph the fleeing suspect before he gave chase and helped to catch the alleged thief.

After the Prince sales closed, the concert continued to make news, mostly for its skyrocketing resale prices. More than 150 ads for inflated tickets appeared in The Chronicle classifieds section the next day, with some $17.50 tickets selling for $600. (That’s $1,730 in 2023 dollars.)

Cash-strapped Prince fans were interviewed by The Chronicle as they struggled to balance their money woes against the desire to see their hero in person.

“I guess you could call me a scalper, but I knew I was going to make some money because there are people who don’t like to wait in lines,” said Michelle Butler, a San Francisco State University student and Prince superfan who decided to sell her tickets for $250 each to pay bills.

Prince’s management did little to quell the controversy. They initially announced $50 “Purple Circle” tickets with proceeds going to charity, then bumped the price to $200 when they saw demand. They also waited to release 12,000 more obstructed seats behind the stage, enraging Graham, who said it was unfair to the fans who waited and missed out the first time.

Prince arrived at the Daly City arena on Feb. 27, 1985, and somehow proved worthy of the hype. Fans lined up for the first concert, following instructions on the ticket to “wear something purple,” and the photos show a perfect representation of Bay Area demographics — young and old, of all races and backgrounds.

Prince played the hits with energy and found new arrangements for older songs, performing a set with a piano while his band the Revolution rested. His 2016 Piano & a Microphone tour would stretch that concept into a whole concert.

The artist was daily fodder for Chronicle columnist Herb Caen, who reported Prince walking through the streets of San Francisco between concerts bare-chested and wearing a cape, with an entourage big enough to fill 70 rooms at the Four Seasons Clift (before fans found out and mobbed the place, forcing everyone to switch hotels.)

Back at the Cow Palace, Prince was adding to his legend.

“Last night, in the first of six sold out Cow Palace shows, Prince delivered an explosive, power-packed performance that left no doubt about his unmatched prowess on stage,” Selvin wrote in his Chronicle review. “He threw more wicked moves in his first three songs than most performers learn in a lifetime.”


* * *

Herb Caen, 1986 (Gary Fong)

* * *


Russia said it brought down three Ukrainian drones trying to attack Moscow, the second reported attack on Russia's capital in a week. Russia also said it intercepted more than two dozen drones in Crimea, the peninsula it seized in 2014.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says the war is "gradually" being pushed back to Russian territory, as Ukraine's military ramps up efforts to break through Russian defenses.

President Vladimir Putin claimed Saturday that Russia hasn't rejected peace talks with Ukraine, saying it's hard to reach a ceasefire during Ukraine's counteroffensive. Kyiv has ruled out negotiations until Russia withdraws from its territory.

Poland's prime minister said Saturday that over 100 Wagner fighters are moving toward the Polish border and could pose as migrants to cross.

* * *

"LOVE THE EARTH and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem."

— Walt Whitman in Leaves of Grass


  1. George Hollister July 31, 2023


    I believe Supervisor John Haschak gets the essence of the county’s problem. The county is in a deep hole. The first thing to do, if you want to get out, is stop digging.

    High quality people don’t want to come to work here. And when high quality people are developed here, they leave. That is a symptom of a toxic, and possibly hostile work environment. The work environment of any organization is determined by management.

    What might be helpful, for those who fail to understand, is a review of what the BOS did to the Agricultural Commissioner’s office. Look at what the Board was directly responsible for with regard to Diane Curry, and those who came before and after her. What person in their right mind would come to Mendocino County to take the vacant Agricultural Commissioner’s position?
    Next look at Building, and Planning.

    Haschak is more right than he likely knows. The Board needs to start by looking at itself.

    • Rye N Flint July 31, 2023

      As a highly qualified former county employee that resigned, I completely agree with your assessment.

  2. Nathan Duffy July 31, 2023

    “There was never any more inception than there is now,
    Nor any more youth or age than there is now;
    And will never be any more perfection than there is now,
    Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.”
    -Whitman. leaves of grass

  3. George Hollister July 31, 2023

    JOE BIDEN WALKS THE PATH OF IMPEACHMENT with Hunter’s sweetheart plea deal in jeopardy

    by Michael Goodwin

    “First, Garland must appoint a special prosecutor, taking the Biden case as far as possible out of his hands and away from his office.”

    As I heard on Fox, unless charges are filed in a timely manner, the statute of limitations will run out, and HB will be off the hook. The appointment of a special prosecutor will likely facilitate that happening.

    • Bob A. July 31, 2023

      Nothing to see here. The NY Post’s Michael Goodwin and Fox are both pushing Rupert Murdoch’s narrative du jour. For context, Murdoch owns both outlets.

  4. chuck dunbar July 31, 2023

    Just woke this morning with a headache and, perusing the AVA, came to the “Great Poem” by Whitman, as well as his photo. Fine, historic words to energize and motivate a kind of grouchy old man.
    And–Great indeed, words and thoughts to guide and inspire all AVA comments of the day…

  5. Marshall Newman July 31, 2023

    Watching the GOP jump through hoops trying to build a sensible impeachment case against Joe Biden – all the while defending Donald Trump for clearly illegal acts – is fascinating.

  6. Adam Gaska July 31, 2023

    Item 4a didn’t sit well with me. I don’t understand why this item came to the board meeting. County management staff should be empowered to make whatever necessary changes to the hiring process to cover the bases and avoid issues from hiring what turns out to be a bad employee. Maybe one of the current lawsuits could have been prevented if they had just done a simple Google search of Harindar Grewal, they would have seen he was involved in a violent fracas at a Sikh temple. Maybe he could have explained it away, maybe not. In the end, it was really Carmel who handled his firing wrong. She should have went through the steps to document workplace grievances to rightfully fire him or gone to the BOS to request buying out his contract. That would have been much cheaper than the legal bills that have been racked up so far.

    The big one that stuck out was “moral character”. Who is the moral authority that is going to deem what disqualifies one from working for Mendocino County? I understand they recently had an employee get arrested, and subsequently fired, for possessing child pornography. Beyond a Livescan and background check, there’s nothing that would have caught him which in this case, I don’t think he had a prior record so it wouldn’t have.

    I do remember hiring cannabis director Nevedal saying at one of her reports that they had hired two planers that after hiring, they realized hat they didn’t have driver’s licenses so couldn’t go do inspections. That oversight is the fault of herself and county HR. There should be standard qualifications spelled out on the application and be a part of the employment contract. This is pretty standard, basic stuff.

    They need to streamline the hiring process. If they find qualified people, get them to work within 30 days of their application or the deadline for applying. 45 days tops.

    This is work that can be handled in county offices, it doesn’t need to come to the board meeting.

    • Linda Bailey July 31, 2023

      Perhaps this shouldn’t have come before the BOS. But once it did, Mo, acting’ as chair, in violation of the Brown Act, cut off discussion, aka deliberation, which the general public is entitled to hear, that might have clarified the inclusion of “moral character”, or, indeed, led to its elimination. Instead, any further input by individual Supervisors will be behind closed doors. This increases the likelihood of “serial meetings” with are prohibited by the Brown Act and very difficult to uncover.

      The county government needs to take the Brown Act seriously.

      Re amendment of CEO’s contract: Isn’t it standard practice when noticing an amendment to include what language is being changed or substituted? How else is the general public going to be informed of what is taking place?

      • Adam Gaska July 31, 2023

        I think Mo cutting off deliberation was wrong.

        I think the board should avoid getting down into the weeds to dictate what I see as basic hiring policies unless absolutely necessary. Maybe it is necessary because they don’t have an HR director but they should have policy already in place which seems like part of the problem. The County has depended on personalities instead of policies. Good policies can withstand the departure of individuals and help guide the process that is government to continue forward when personalities leave. If the situation is such that the board needs to intervene, that’s not a good sign.

        As for the amendment to the CEO’s contract, that was a separate agenda item and having it come to the board was appropriate.

    • Rye N Flint July 31, 2023

      Even if they did have Drivers licenses how can cannabis inspectors do inspections if they were never issued their own county vehicles?

      Why do you think they always had to ride along with Code enforcement?

      It’s never mentioned.

      • Adam Gaska July 31, 2023

        So they didn’t issue MCD cars to do inspections? First I have heard that. If they don’t have cars, then I guess they don’t need a license to drive. I assumed they were assigned cars. Still, have a CDL is a standard requirement on pretty much any job application to make sure you have the means to get to work.

        • Rye N Flint July 31, 2023

          The cannabis dept has had their hands tied from the very beginning. I really want to know, besides the millions spent on the failed duplicate track and trace system, where did all the money go? CDFW review fees?

          • peter boudoures July 31, 2023

            What have the employees been doing to deserve a wage? Nicolas Duncan had a county truck and was doing inspections. All other agencies did inspections as well.
            Now the cannabis department is supposed to review all the paperwork but they haven’t. So the only question is what the heck are the cannabis employees doing? Maybe Ted is right, all these county employees and worth a damn

            • Rye N Flint July 31, 2023

              Well, that’s news to me. Nicolas showed up at my partner’s property with Code enforcement on Jan 8, 2020. And in my 2 years at the county they never had their own county vehicles. I would love to know when they got a truck. I’m open to information disclosure. Saying all these county employees aren’t worth a damn, shows that you aren’t really paying attention to what happened with Kirsten Nevendal. and the accountability of previous management. Blaming the staff and letting the dept supervisors and managers slide is missing the point of how the govt structure operates.

              • peter boudoures July 31, 2023

                Maybe i wasn’t paying attention to some of the details you’re pointing out. I do understand Kirsten wasn’t a good fit and on a positive note i did read the letter to Ted glowing about the changes recently in the department.

  7. Quest July 31, 2023

    Golden Gate Team? What is that?

    • Rye N Flint July 31, 2023

      Another highly paid out-of-county 3rd party consultant. But… they don’t have money to re-staff and increase meager wages… Must not have been enough qualified applicants in HR according to Williams logic.

      • Ted Williams July 31, 2023

        Golden Gate is comprised of our existing employees.

        • Rye N Flint July 31, 2023

          Do they have a website or is there any information about the organization?

  8. Eric Sunswheat July 31, 2023

    The state prison system, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, (CDCR) protects informants early release data and inmate privacy, in accordance with state law, as rehabilitative services surface with Norway model breaking ground at San Quentin.

    RE: The state prison system has been calculating credits in some strange fashion that when explained makes no sense. Our judges hand down a sentence based on the facts. Then the folks at CDCR are somehow allowed to change the sentence thus circumventing the orders of our judges.
    — Mendocino Sheriff Mathew Kendall (courtesy of Jim Shields)

    —>. March 02, 2023
    …2016. That was the year voters passed Prop 57, which, among other things, gave CDCR broad authority to release inmates early with a variety of enhanced credits.

    Since then, tens of thousands of inmates have been released after serving a fraction of their sentence under Prop 57. CDCR refuses to disclose the credit calculations that lead to those early releases, citing inmate privacy…
    There are two ways out of prison early under Prop 57.

    The vast majority of inmates are released early as a result of Enhanced Credit-Earning Opportunities that CDCR developed following Prop 57. Most inmates now automatically receive at least 50% “credit towards their advanced release date.”

    Notably, even though this cuts most sentences in half, CDCR does not consider these “early releases” and the agency is not obligated to notify the DA or the public that an inmate has been released.

    Inmates may also be released early under the Nonviolent Offender Parole Review Process (NVPP), which was expanded to include violent and sex offenders. DAs and victims are notified ahead of a parole review and are afforded the opportunity to provide an opposition statement. They are also notified if someone is paroled anyway.

    • Eric Sunswheat July 31, 2023

      Correction: Matthew Kendall

    • Adam Gaska July 31, 2023

      The California Supreme Court voted unanimously to consider sex offenders as non violent which qualifies them for early release under prop 57.

      Since it was a voter approved initiative, it takes a 75% vote by the legislature to change.

  9. chuck dunbar July 31, 2023

    Sinead O’Connor—One Tribute Among Many

    Here’s a brief excerpt from one thank you to this brave woman:

    “On Wednesday, Ms. O’Connor’s body was found in a London apartment. She was 56. Impossible and yet so terribly believable. She had danced on the edge of the dark all her life.
    Auden wrote of Yeats, ‘Mad Ireland hurt you into poetry.’ Cruel Ireland hurt Ms. O’Connor into song. She called Ireland a theocracy. She was furious that in a country that had supposedly fought for and won its freedom, women and children were so silenced and disempowered. She understood and had experienced pain, neglect and injustice and sang for those who also knew these things…”

    Susan McKay, “What Sinead O’Connor Meant to Ireland.” NYT, 7/31/23

    • John Shultz July 31, 2023

      Yet so soon after her supposed “rebellion” against the protected pathology of the catholic church and its pontiff, there was Sinead begging the pope for forgiveness and taking back her criticisms of a pedophile nurturing institution =the catholic church, with Sinead doing a 180 degree turnaround in front of a bewildered public ,perhaps sadly proving the dictum “once a catholic allways a catholic…” If this very public persona had stuck to her guns she would deserve rightfull respect, but she didnt and caved into the catholic power structure.

      • chuck dunbar July 31, 2023

        One wonders, then, if what you assert is fact, why the great outpouring of love and gratitude in Ireland for her truth-telling about the abuse by the Catholic church of children and women there? Can you please provide a reference for your assertion, do not see it noted in several post-death pieces of journalism or in her obituaries?

        • Rye N Flint July 31, 2023

          Maybe the people of Ireland started reading all the stories confirming the abuse scandal inside the church and have changed their opinions… It happens. People do change over time.

    • Marshall Newman July 31, 2023

      “You just keep thinking Butch. That’s what you’re good at.”

    • chuck dunbar July 31, 2023

      That is kind of funny, if it’s true. Makes me laugh, as we all know that high school-age boys are the smartest, wisest, most sensible folks around…

    • Rye N Flint July 31, 2023

      What does it mean to be “Overwhelmingly conservative”?

      “Study of Bush’s psyche touches a nerve
      Julian Borger in Washington
      Tue 12 Aug 2003 21.33 EDT

      A study funded by the US government has concluded that conservatism can be explained psychologically as a set of neuroses rooted in “fear and aggression, dogmatism and the intolerance of ambiguity”.

      As if that was not enough to get Republican blood boiling, the report’s four authors linked Hitler, Mussolini, Ronald Reagan and the rightwing talkshow host, Rush Limbaugh, arguing they all suffered from the same affliction.

      All of them “preached a return to an idealised past and condoned inequality”.

      Republicans are demanding to know why the psychologists behind the report, Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition, received $1.2m in public funds for their research from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

      The authors also peer into the psyche of President George Bush, who turns out to be a textbook case. The telltale signs are his preference for moral certainty and frequently expressed dislike of nuance.

      “This intolerance of ambiguity can lead people to cling to the familiar, to arrive at premature conclusions, and to impose simplistic cliches and stereotypes,” the authors argue in the Psychological Bulletin.

      One of the psychologists behind the study, Jack Glaser, said the aversion to shades of grey and the need for “closure” could explain the fact that the Bush administration ignored intelligence that contradicted its beliefs about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.

      The authors, presumably aware of the outrage they were likely to trigger, added a disclaimer that their study “does not mean that conservatism is pathological or that conservative beliefs are necessarily false”.

      Another author, Arie Kruglanski, of the University of Maryland, said he had received hate mail since the article was published, but he insisted that the study “is not critical of conservatives at all”. “The variables we talk about are general human dimensions,” he said. “These are the same dimensions that contribute to loyalty and commitment to the group. Liberals might be less intolerant of ambiguity, but they may be less decisive, less committed, less loyal.”

      But what drives the psychologists? George Will, a Washington Post columnist who has long suffered from ingrained conservatism, noted, tartly: “The professors have ideas; the rest of us have emanations of our psychological needs and neuroses.””

  10. Rye N Flint July 31, 2023

    RE: Supervisor Glenn McGourty: “In our system that we have right now with our eligibility lists and our scheduling interviews and getting back to employees is one of the things that I think is problematic and really needs to be addressed and worked on.”

    I took 4 months for the county to hire me from the close date of the application. Good thing I really needed a full time job back in 2019.

    Also, Mendo county had one of the worst training and mentoring programs of my 25 Year career history. Nothing like Santa Cruz county or Sonoma County. It’s mainly because of the high turnover, busy supervisors that don’t have time for training, and complete lack of senior staff mentors that will stick around to pass down knowledge.

    “Today, an important concern facing many organizations, especially as “baby boomers” approach retirement, is the loss of knowledge. As employees, who may have been doing their job for many years, leave companies, they take with them knowledge which is critical to the performance of their job. Often, these team members have what is referred to as tacit knowledge — a form of knowledge which is more elusive, often unique to individuals, and not documented. It is knowledge which is gained by experience.

    It is crucial to implement good knowledge transfer – or continuity – practices in order to retain important knowledge. Knowledge transfer is the process of identifying, capturing, and transferring tacit knowledge which is critical to job performance. This type of knowledge is often operation specific, or concerning the reliability of systems, or how to perform a job safely.”

    • Ted Williams July 31, 2023

      I agree.

    • Betsy Cawn August 1, 2023

      In corporate business management the necessity to provide continuity of operations under predictable and unpredictable conditions was articulated in a manager’s performance evaluation criteria. Always having a “second” in command, either in training or on a “track” to prepare for the absence/loss of the department director or line supervisors, was standard.

      Fundamental “continuity of government” — responsive to the needs of the “whole community” — is supported by the FEMA programs and educational tools to assist local governments to develop crisis management response plans, but practical management standards would articulate this factor in every sector of county operational requirements:

      At this point, everything that I’ve read about Mendocino County’s “central” government dilemmas (thanks as always to the AVA) reminds me of David Mamet’s excruciating psychodrama, “American Buffalo.” (Not unlike the clearly insane federal authorities in Congress, the White House, and the Supreme Court, of course.)

  11. Rye N Flint July 31, 2023

    “What I said was the Supervisors should approve the so-called “opt-out,” i.e., “exclusionary” application from the Redwood Valley neighborhood group, and for the Board to use their broad discretionary authority to grandfather in the three parcels under cultivation. It was, indeed, the most sensible thing to do, which is why it never went anywhere.”

    Rumor mill has it that this was racially motivated, because the 3 farms were run by Latino folks. They didn’t want to grandfather any of them in, that wasn’t the point of the tiny little NIMBY redline exclusion zone in the first place.

  12. Rye N Flint July 31, 2023

    RE: Something’s Happening Here

    City Mouse / Country Mouse problems

    Not Hippie immigrant problems

  13. Bruce McEwen July 31, 2023

    Lovely benediction, vicar, on the one true church. Amelioration was the word Aristotle coined to name the miracle that things always improve….

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