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INTERIOR TEMPERATURES will be near to slightly below normal through mid week, and then warm to at or above normal values by late week. In addition, interior mountain thunderstorm development appears increasingly probable this Saturday and Sunday. (NWS)
STEPHEN DUNLAP (Fort Bragg): A return to the morning fog show gets underway this Tuesday on the coast with 55F. And so it will be for a while. The usual clearing then back & forth, you know the routine.
SONOMA, MENDOCINO COUNTY WATER MANAGERS PROPOSE PATHWAY FOR CONTINUED EEL RIVER DIVERSIONS
by Mary Callahan
Water managers in Sonoma and Mendocino counties have submitted a conceptual proposal to PG&E to buy and maintain portions of the utility’s defunct Potter Valley power plant to enable future water transfers.
The move would be a critical step toward preserving seasonal diversions of Eel River water to supplement supplies in Lake Mendocino and the Russian River.
Working with the Mendocino County Inland Water and Power Commission and the Round Valley Indian Tribes, the Sonoma County Water Agency is seeking to preserve elements of the power plant through which water is channeled from the Eel River to the East Fork Russian River. No electricity would be generated as a part of the plan.
Pacific Gas & Electric has planned to surrender its license for the 1908 plant with the intent of decommissioning it. Without a proposal to save it, the diversion infrastructure would eventually be removed, leaving upper Russian River communities and agriculture users without sufficient water.
Studies using 110 years of hydrologic data show Lake Mendocino would go dry in roughly two of every 10 years without continued Eel River contributions, Assistant Sonoma Water General Manager Mike Thompson said. In eight out of 10, the reservoir would be unable to satisfy demands on it.
There has long been tension over the diversion of Eel River water, given declining fish stocks and existing water needs in Humboldt County. Fishery interests say Scott Dam, which impounds Lake Pillsbury, is a particular impediment to fish recovery, preventing access to what the California Trout conservation organization calls “prime habitat in the headwaters of the Eel.”
A coalition of fisheries groups — Friends of the Eel River, Pacific coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, the Institute for Fisheries Resources, California Trout, and Trout Unlimited — has a federal lawsuit pending against PG&E, saying its operation of the project and the dams violate the Endangered Species Act.
And they greeted Monday’s announced proposal skeptically.
Fisheries groups, said Alicia Hamann, executive director of the Friends of the Eel River, were excluded from the proposal’s development. But “more importantly, the needs of the Eel River fish were excluded,” in that they still bear the burden of diversions if something goes wrong, she said.
“It’s good to see these parties put forward a proposal, but it remains to be seen how much it actually changes anything,” said Matt Clifford, California Director of Law and Policy for Trout Unlimited. “The high-level goals — ensuring unobstructed fish passage past the former dam sites while allowing for continued water diversion at levels consistent with fish recovery on the Eel — are things we have supported for years.
“The hard part has always been coming to agreement on the specifics — how much water will be diverted, and when, and using what infrastructure, and who pays for it. This proposal punts resolution of those issues to the future.”
Scott Dam also has been deemed to be at greater seismic risk than previously believed, so PG&E has opened the gates to the dam permanently, preventing the lake from holding as much water as it used to. The utility said the dam eventually will come down as the plant is decommissioned.
Sonoma Water officials say the new proposal would still allow for removal of Scott and Cape Horn dams, leaving only the infrastructure necessary to funnel river water through the mile-long tunnel that leads to the East Fork Russian River.
Additional infrastructure would be added to improve fish passage and aid restoration of salmon and steelhead trout populations in the Eel River, as sought by tribes and conservation groups, while still channeling water into the diversion tunnel, Sonoma Water officials said.
“Our goals are to restore the Eel River watershed from its degraded condition and to restore our salmon fishery to sustainable and harvestable populations,” Round Valley Indian Tribes Tribal Council President Bill Whipple said in a news release. “We join this proposal because it is one pathway to achieving these goals.”
The diversion of Eel River water through what’s being called the New Eel-Russian Facility also would occur only during wet months, when flows are sufficiently high to support salmon and steelhead trout in the Eel while still contributing to Russian River water supplies on which thousands of consumers depend.
“We are going to dramatically reduce the window in which water can be diverted off the Eel River to times it’s very available and won’t do harm,” Sonoma Water General Manager Grant Davis said. “We really want to see both river basins come out better as a result of this solution.”
But conservation efforts over the last decade show consumers can get by with less water, officials said.
Sonoma Water, for instance, provided its contractors with 66,000 acre-feet of water in 2004. Last year, it sold 36,000 acre-feet, Thompson said.
Proponents of the new plan include the county of Mendocino, the city of Ukiah, the Redwood Valley County Water District, the Potter Valley Irrigation District and the Mendocino County Flood Control and Water Conservation Improvement District — all members of the Mendocino County Inland Water and Power Commission.
Commission Chairwoman Janet Pauli said those dependent on Lake Mendocino water — and who will bear the brunt of financing the project — have become increasingly aware of their reliance on contributions from the Eel River in recent years, owing in large part to the uncertainty created by Pacific Gas & Electric’s deliberations over re-licensing the power plant, which is more than a century old.
Sonoma and Mendocino County water providers, as well as stakeholders from Humboldt County and California Trout, initially had hoped to acquire the power plant license to ensure diversions continued.
Continued conversations resulted in the recent proposal, which was submitted in time to meet a July 31 deadline set by Pacific Gas & Electric to review and consider including it as part of the company’s plan for surrendering its license for the aging Potter Valley project.
PG&E plans to issue a draft surrender plan in November, so stakeholders and interested parties can review and comment on it. A final surrender plan is to be submitted in May to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which must approve it.
The entities behind the proposal also must create a regional entity in short order, likely a joint powers authority, to govern and finance the project, which would require stakeholders to cover operating costs.
“There’s a lot more work that will need to be done moving forward,” Pauli said. “We have a pretty aggressive timeline for attaining goals in this effort.”
“We look forward to working with our partners in both the Eel River watershed and Russian River watershed and the environmental community to ensure that the decommissioning plan fully protects our Eel River fish and respects our federal fishing rights and water rights,” Whipple said.
A READER COMMENTS:
The story, like many in the past, neglects to mention that Lake Pillsbury and its dam are in LAKE COUNTY and that county's Board of Supervisors opposes removal of the dam and, thus, the end of Lake Pillsbury, which is a popular recreation area.
COUNTY OF MENDOCINO REVIEWING THE $22 MILLION Spent on Mental Health Care Provider Contracts
by Sarah Reith
Earlier this month, during a discussion about $22 million in contracts for mental health services, the Board decided that the county should take over the financial oversight of specialty mental healthcare. Previously, Redwood Quality Management Company, or RQMC, had that responsibility, as County Counsel Christian Curtis described on July 11.…
TOM & ED VS. STAR THISTLE
Navarro Point Preserve thistle removing this Thursday, 10am-noon.
Mendocino Land Trust staffer Ed Welter and I invite you to join us and other volunteers as we remove the ever-dwindling stock of thistles at the beautiful Navarro Point Preserve this Thursday, 8/10, from 10am til noon. We hope to see you there!
Navarro Point Preserve, 1 & 3/4 miles south of Albion village on Hwy 1, is owned and managed by Mendocino Land Trust. We rely on volunteer stewardship workdays to maintain our network of public access trails and beaches. Volunteers spend 2 hours removing invasive plant species, picking up trash, maintaining the trail, and taking in the beautiful scenery. Stewardship workdays are scheduled for the 2nd Thursday of each month and are open to all ages and experience levels. Bring a spade and hand clippers if you can.
When: 2nd Thursday of each month
Time: 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon
Where: Navarro Point
Tom Wodetzki <email@example.com>
VACANCY on the Mendocino Coast Health Care District Board!
We seek a community-minded, solution-oriented, collaborative individual with an interest in health care to join us who is a registered voter and a resident of the health care district. We are particularly interested in participation by members of our growing African American, Latino, and Native American communities. But anyone interested in serving our community by joining the MCHCD Board of Directors is encouraged to apply. Contact Chair Lee Finney at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info and to apply.
JOHN REDDING: Access to healthcare here on the Mendocino coast, if not elsewhere, has shrunk to the point you could be dead before being treated. With little choice but with the anticipation that comes from taking on a new challenge, I am going to just take care of myself like generations before did.
No more medications. I am going to use natural remedies such as drinking grapefruit juice instead of taking a statin. I am going to keep up my running/walking and try to do better at stretching.
I wrenched my back a few days ago. A massage helped but it is still grouchy. No chiropractor can see me until next week or the week after. So, I am going to do what my old coach used to say -- Redding, just play through it. I am out the door to run and God willing that will fix this stupid back problem. If you don’t hear from me again, well...
Dear Anderson Valley Community,
Thank you for participating in the Sports Dinner tonight. A huge thank you to John Toohey, Palma Toohey, and Ruby Suarez. A tasty meal was prepared by Terri and Steve Rhoades. My apologies, as the schools warming ovens were problematic tonight, resulting in a delay in dinner service, but Coach Toohey did a great job rearranging the program substituting AV Cheer under the direction of Yesenia Pena, followed by coaches introductions until dinner was ready to serve. We appreciate your patience with that blip.
Most importantly, it is GOOD TO BREAK BREAD AND HAVE TIME TOGETHER WITH OUR FAMILIES. We need your help to create great opportunities for your kids AND 20 OF YOU SIGNED UP TO BE FINGERPRINTED AND DRIVE TO GAMES. This is STELLAR. We also just bought two new Toyota Siennas which are a little less intimidating to drive. I’ll be flat out honest, I hate to drive as my late husband, Bob, drove everywhere, but these Toyota vans feel less intimidating. To the folks that stepped up THANK YOU. To anyone that wants to do it, please let me know. We are trying to run Volleyball, Boy’s Soccer, and Football/Cheer and College Courses all at once with no night bus drivers. We need some help! Thank you!
It was great to have the county folks out to talk about CalFresh, Medical and those EBT Cards that will hit your mailbox in September. THOSE HAVE CASH VALUE FOR YOUR KID. Look for it.
To those of you who said you would help Shauna Espinoza with a few hours of SNACK SHACK help THANK YOU.
Historically, AV ran high school sports programs that were HUGELY PARENT SUPPORTED in volunteer hours. I don’t know what happened…Was it Covid or what, but the volunteers went away. We are this TINY LITTLE DISTRICT AND WE NEED AND VALUE YOU. THANK YOU FOR SAYING YES. ONE HOUR, TWO HOURS, FIVE HOURS, EIGHT HOURS IS HUGE FOR OUR KIDS. REMEMBER OUR GATE IS FREE. JUST COMING TO A GAME MATTERS.
On cell phone and grade expectations, just hang with me please. It will make a difference for your kid. I watched a coach (she will remain unnamed but I spoke to her privately), just held up a pocket chart and every one of her athletes without protest pocketed their phone AND they had the most focused practice ever.
I will be totally honest with you folks. We have had some AMAZING coaches and kids over the past seven years or so, but the progressive dopamine addiction with technology has not let these kids be all they can be. I am the worst offender. I carry two phones, one for business and one for personal use. I will put mine away around students too. Let's see what we can do for our kids.
Can you imagine the advantage your kids will have over other students that aren’t engaging fully because they are dependent and distracted? Huge…
Thanks again to everyone who came. It was fun to put the historic trophies out on the tables. Quite a legacy of achievement to continue…YOUR PARTICIPATION IS VALUED AND IMPORTANT.
Louise Simson, Superintendent
JIM SHIELDS: Just a few quick comments on a couple of things that I haven’t had time to address because for the past couple of months I’ve been buried under a blizzard of totally meaningless paperwork generated mostly by the state Water Board. To continue my bitch for just a second longer, notwithstanding their repetitious flacking of emergency drought measures, constant chatter about “water resiliency” planning, and new procedures for reporting water production, usage, etc., there’s little or no sense urgency on behalf of either the state or this county to actually getting something done. Example? For over a year now, a well-drilling/water hauling ordinance drafted by a committee (that I served on, that actually did its work and accomplished the objective assigned to it) has been gathering dust in the County Counsel’s office. Last summer, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved/accepted the committee’s draft ordinance and directed that it be sent to the Planning Commission. Instead, it was re-routed to CoCo where it remains short-stopped. In the intervening moths, both yours truly and Supe Haschak have inquired at several BOS meetings as to the status of the MIA draft ordinance. Initially, we were told CoCo would have the review finished by February. Well, February’s come and gone several times now, and still no word on its status.
Sunday’s Ukiah Daily Journal’s opinion page featured pieces that spotlighted three FUBARing issues that are clearly high on citizen lists of public concerns.
• UDJ editorial by K.C. Meadows on the ever-worsening homelessness/mental health crisis/addiction/crime;
• Tom Hines column dealing with local government ignoring graffiti, “minor crimes”, and abandoned buildings; and
• Another installment of my series on “Catch and Release” criminal justice enforcement/sentencing policies.
What appears to be high on County lists of concerns? One item for sure is the creation of a Department of Finance. Everyone is familiar with the background on this non-issue, issue, so I’m not going to re-flog it. There’s two bottom lines to this “concern.”
• There’s no indication that this idea any traction at all with the public. It’s wholly created by the BOS (Haschak excepted).
• There’s every indication to believe that the overwhelming majority of citizens would never entrust the responsibility of financial control to the Board of Supervisors, or any creature office or department under its influence. If this proposal would ever go to the ballot, it would a wipeout.
Just goes to show, there’s priorities and then there’s priorities.
A defendant convicted of being involved in a criminal conspiracy to poach abalone was sentenced Monday morning in the Ten Mile Division of the Mendocino County Superior Court to 24 months in state prison.
Defendant Leroy Nicholas Robles, Jr., age 58, generally of Fort Bragg and Santa Barbara, had appeared before the court convicted by felony plea to being involved last April in a criminal conspiracy to harvest and sell abalone on the black market.
He also stood convicted of a separate and distinct abalone violation of the Fish and Game Code, as well as possession of fentanyl, both as misdemeanors occurring in March.
During March 2023 the defendant was caught with thirty-one abalone and over fifteen grams of fentanyl.
While released from custody on that March arrest, the defendant was again arrested in April, this time with his brother, with fifteen more abalone.
Both admitted harvesting abalone to sell on the black market for up to $40 apiece. Defendant Robles admitted he has been poaching and selling abalone as his primary source of income since 2020.
The defendant has an overall criminal record now of six felony convictions, along with eleven misdemeanor convictions.
The law enforcement agencies that developed the evidence underlying the defendant’s most recent convictions were the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) and the Department of Justice crime laboratory.
The coastal prosecutor who charged and handled this case through conviction and sentencing was Senior Deputy District Attorney Eloise Kelsey.
As a historical aside, using a conspiracy legal theory to establish criminal culpability and to elevate poaching misconduct to the felony-level in factually-appropriate cases originated here in Mendocino County.
Over thirty years ago, a defendant from Lincoln, California, Darrell Tatman, had his fishing boat forfeited in 1989 as he was being sent to state prison for three years for his involvement in a felony conspiracy to violate Fish and Game misdemeanors.
Pretending to be harvesting urchins as a cover, Tatman and a Santa Barbara hookah diver instead had poached 196 abalone.
Those with a long-ish memory may remember that during the Tatman trial in Ukiah the prosecutor had the defendant's "urchin" boat trailered to town from the coast for a "jury view."
The large fishing boat was parked across the street from the courthouse so that the members of the jury could climb aboard and view first-hand the many hidden compartments where the shucked abalone meats had been bagged and hidden, and then uncovered by the DFW wardens during a harbor inspection.
Defendant Tatman’s case was the first time in California criminal justice history that a criminal defendant was convicted of a felony conspiracy to violate Fish and Game misdemeanors. It was also the first time a wildlife poacher was sentenced to state prison.
The young prosecutor who pioneered the use of conspiracy jurisprudence in the 80's to deter poachers and safeguard the public’s natural resources was David Eyster, Mendocino County’s current District Attorney.
SONOMA COURT REJECTS GUALALA RIVER LOGGING PLAN
In a legal victory for the Gualala River watershed, Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Bradford DeMeo has ordered the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) to annul and set aside its approval of logging hundreds of acres of critical redwood and fir forest along the South Fork of the Gualala River. The controversial “Bootleg” timber harvest plan (THP) submitted by Richardson Ranch LLC has been opposed by local residents and conservationists through public comments and litigation since first proposed in December, 2020.
Judge DeMeo concluded in his final ruling that the logging plan failed to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the state’s highest standard of environmental protection. The Court agreed with the plaintiff, Friends of the South Fork Gualala (FoSFG), finding that the plan lacked any meaningful analysis or discussion about impacts on sedimentation, on biological resources, on cultural resources, the cumulative impacts from previous logging in the area, and in its analysis of alternatives.
In a blow to CAL FIRE, the Court also ruled that the timber harvest review process cannot defer to the Forest Practice Act (FPA) and Forest Practice Rules (FPR) alone when considering significant impacts to the environment: “Nothing indicates that compliance with the FPR automatically means, for example, that a THP will not cause significant environmental effects... a THP such as this must also satisfy CEQA. It must provide the level of substantial evidence and analysis which CEQA requires [and] comply with the higher standards of CEQA.”
The ruling is considered a major win by environmentalists, who see this particular issue as an ongoing fundamental problem with CAL FIRE timber harvest plan reviews. Traditionally, review teams cite compliance with the FPA and FPR as the primary reason for approving a logging plan, virtually ignoring the requirements of CEQA.
“This ruling is what California needs right now,” said Ethan Arutunian, co-director of FoSFG. “CAL FIRE has been hiding behind the Forest Practice Rules to circumvent CEQA for years. They approve nearly every logging plan without proper consideration of the cumulative impacts that are occurring on the local environment.”
The Middle South Fork Gualala watershed is almost entirely owned by Richardson Ranch LLC and consists of under 6,500 acres of forestland along the South Fork of the Gualala River. In the past 10 years, over 35% of that forestland has been heavily logged, significantly more than any other watershed in Sonoma County. Commercial logging operations at the Ranch are run by Falk Forestry LLC, who also operates a mill on the property.
“The Court has performed an extraordinarily thorough examination of the THP, and like most THPs, found a profound absence of analysis and abundant circular reasoning common to CAL FIRE approval processes”, said Prof. Peter Schmidt, an archaeologist who joined the plaintiffs.
FoSFG successfully argued that CEQA requires that a plan contain enough information for the public to understand why they are approved. In other words, in approving the project, how did the agency consider the provided evidence to come up with its decisions? Did the agency provide enough information for the public to understand how they reached their conclusions?
The Court applied those questions to the environmental impacts inevitably generated by such a project: sedimentation, biological resources, cultural resources, and cumulative effects. In all cases, the Court found that the THP failed to provide sufficient information about how the agency reached its decision that impacts from the proposal would not be significant.
On the issue of sedimentation, the Court found “discussion is generalized and conclusory and appears to be based on assumptions...” In its analysis of impacts on biological resources, the Court said “Once again, there is no analytical route between the information and the conclusion.” And regarding cumulative impacts, the judge ruled that the plan addresses the issue in “an exceedingly unclear manner” and “this discussion misses the point entirely.”
“Judge DeMeo’s ruling is groundbreaking in applying a rigorous reading of CEQA case law and the THP itself, in marked contrast with similar THP litigation over the last decade.” said local botanist and conservationist Peter Baye, PhD. “It’s a breath of fresh air.”
This hallmark decision validates FoSFG’s attempts to reform CAL FIRE’s timber harvest plan procedures, requirements, and approval process, in order to ensure that its protocols actually function as the equivalent of an Environmental Impact Report, or EIR, under CEQA. The ruling by the Superior Court of Sonoma County has deep positive implications, making plain that the precious few remaining Redwood forests of northern California need not fall prey to deficient procedures that work against the environment and against the interests of everyone’s well-being into future generations.
(Friends of the Gualala River, FOGR)
SHOUT OUT TO OUR AV SENIOR CENTER VOLUNTEERS!
We are so grateful to have Margaret Pickens who has volunteered on Tuesdays for the past year. We definitely notice the difference when she isn’t here on Thursdays!
Also, special thanks to board members, Philip Thomas, Elizabeth Wyant and Gwyn Smith who fill in all kinds of gaps on a regular basis. Ever wonder why our decor is always festive and changes themes from month to month? That’s all Elizabeth’s work!
Welcome student chef and new volunteer, Alan Ford! Alan is a local student and has expressed special interest in the culinary arts so he will be volunteering at AVSC this summer!
Our dining room is open and our crowd is slowly growing again. If you would like to dine in, please bring in your vaccine card (one time only) and join us!
Lunch is served at 12 pm sharp.
Special note: if you would like to pick up a lunch, please call 895-3609 to order it with as much notice as possible—you can even leave a message on our machine the night before! Pick up between 11:30-12 so it doesn’t interfere while we are putting together our deliveries.
Whether you’re dining in, picking up or getting meals delivered, do us a favor and give us a call so we have good idea on how many folks we need to plan for. This ensures we have enough food for everyone and takes a lot of stress off of our staff member. We really appreciate you and all of the support given to AVSC!
MENDOCINO COUNTY MAN Suspected of Kidnapping and Murdering Nevada’s Naomi Irions Commits Suicide In His Cell
by Matt LaFever
Born and raised in Mendocino County, Troy Driver was the lead suspect of the March 2022 kidnapping and murder of 18-year-old Nevada woman Naomi Irion. Authorities in Nevada are reporting that he is dead after committing suicide via asphyxiation.…
COUNTRY LEGEND KRIS KRISTOFFERSON'S NORTHERN CALIFORNIA RANCH is up for sale, a home that he has said "has always been a place of creativity and inspiration."
The 550-acre ranch features 300 acres of pasture, a mile of oceanfront property, and is valued at $17.2 million, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The ranch is close to Elk, a community which is a roughly three-hour drive from San Francisco in the sparsely populated Mendocino County.
Kristofferson and his wife, Lisa, have been leasing a portion of the ranch for cattle grazing.
A MATTER OF BALANCE
This much-needed class is offered by our very own, Evette LaPaille-Thomas and Philip Thomas! A Matter Of Balance: Managing Concerns about Falling. A no cost class for balance awareness and exercises for Elders. This is not an exercise class, but a course that approaches how to improve your balance and ways to make your life safer from falls. It will share a series of exercises which can improve your strength and balance.
To register: call Philip at 707-972-5620; email@example.com
Sign up now: Local Matter of Balance Class
*Space is limited to 15 people, pre-registration required.
It includes 6, 1.5-hour classes
Thursdays, Sept 7th - Oct 12th, 10:00 am - 11:30 AM
At the Anderson Valley Senior Center
THE GREATEST ongoing swindle on the Northcoast, a swindle-friendly jurisdiction since its murderous political formation at the time of the Gold Rush, is how the Northwestern Pacific Railroad became The Great Redwood Trail, the magic transformation having been brought off by the Democrats.
RATS, in the moldy metaphor, usually desert the sinking ship just before the enterprise goes down for the last time. But the rodents who brought off this swindle, led by former congressman Doug Bosco, managed to loot the old rail line before abandoning all but the cash-generating southern tracks, which magically wound up the personal property of Bosco.
DAN HAUSER was a Northcoast assemblyman out of Arcata of zero distinction. When he was mercifully termed-out of office, the Democrats handed the otherwise unemployable politico a make-work appointment as boss of the Northwestern Pacific Railroad, soon to be a public entity called the North Coast Railroad Authority and, these days, The Great Redwood Trail, the last so far consisting of an arid multi-million dollar stretch of pavement running through industrial Ukiah east of State Street.
UNDER HAUSER, a few freight cars still rolled every week between Willits to Schellville in Marin until Chris Neary, the Willits lawyer who functioned as the line’s legal advisor, accompanied Hauser to the resignation booth. Emily Rowe, the railroad’s chief financial officer oversaw the $125 left in the bank then also hit the road, and not by rail.
THE NORTHWESTERN PACIFIC ran more or less on time until the mid-1960s when Southern Pacific stopped putting sufficient money into maintenance to keep it going at an always slim profit. The old train chugged along its 287 miles of track between San Rafael and Eureka, often closing down altogether for months at a time because the Eel River Canyon north of Willits through which the train must pass to reach Humboldt County, is impassable every winter for varying periods of time. When the rains come great seas of mud bury the track in the Canyon. When the sun comes out in the spring, crews would shovel the muck off the tracks, nicely positioning the line for the next winter’s slides. This annually Sisyphean approach to track maintenance became unsustainably costly by the early 1970s.
THE DEMOCRATS faked that they could come up with the many millions of public dollars to properly shore up the collapsing banks of the Eel so the train could run through the Eel River Canyon in the winter time. That money would never be available for either a train or even the later-day Great Redwood Trail.
BUT THE NORTHCOAST Demo shot callers and miscellaneous entrepreneurs managed to sell the public a fanciful bill of goods that the line could become a public entity upon whose existence depended on a wholly illusory trade generated by the revival of deep water shipping in and out of the moribund port of Eureka.
ADDITIONALLY, the Democrats promised, there were millions to be made shipping lumber south out of Humboldt County by rail and perhaps comparably attractive amounts of money would be generated by shipping Humboldt County’s trash south by train.
HAUSER was appointed to run the dying railroad. Why Hauser? In theory, he had access to the political levers at the public money spigots.
IN PRACTICE, the Hauser-led railroad couldn’t even get past Cal Trans. Big Orange objected to the barely revived line’s non-existent bookkeeping practices. Caltrans has say-so over California transportation funding, including rail funding.
MAKING a bad situation worse with a lot of lies about the deep water trade out of Eureka if only the railroad was running as everybody associated with the make believe venture ignored the topographical fact of the Eel River Canyon, where the track was now covered in mud in late summer from the winter’s rains.
THE TRAIN HADN’T run through the Canyon since ‘97, and even on its last gasps the track was so precarious that the few cars that did huff and puff through once a day south and once a day north, traveled at 10mph.
THE SCAMMERS attempted to scare up more public money for what was a great big barrel of pork for a couple of Humboldt County lumber companies and one rock-hauling outfit. Mike Thompson and Virginia Strom-Martin were dispatched to lobby on behalf of the fantasy that year-round rail service between Marin and Eureka could be made a reality.
BUT THE FEDS wisely held up repair reimbursements from two years of storms because (1) the NWP’s accounting was loose-to-unintelligible and (2) there was hard evidence of bills submitted for work that was never done.
WHAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN DONE was suggested by then-Mendo supervisor John Pinches, whose ranch at Island Mountain sits above one of the more precarious of several precarious stretches of track that run through Pinches’ viewshed. He grew up in the wilds of the Eel River back country, and remains a reliable historian of the remote vastness stretching from Dos Rios to the south, Alderpoint to the north. Pinches suggested that the train run north from Marin to Willits or maybe as far as Longvale where what was viable of the path that used to be train track would become Rails-To-Trails, capitalizing on the beauty of the Eel River Canyon and areas of the remote Mendo-Humboldt-Trinity outback to attract thousands of annual bikers and hikers and their money, which seems to be where Mike McGuire got the idea for The Great Redwood Trail.
AND HERE WE ARE a quarter century later with the rail track from Dos Rios north to Alderpoint — roughly sixty miles — pretty much disappeared beneath years of slides and collapsed tunnels. There will never be enough money to make a trail through the Canyon, and if two miles of paved trail through Ukiah cost over $4 mil, well, do the math for 300 miles of hiking and biking from Marin to Humboldt.
PS. I always laugh at the premature fears of property owners that bums will menace them when the trail is completed. Drink and drug people are unlikely to foot it far from liquor stores and their dealers. I’ve walked the unappealing Ukiah stretch of The Trail. Both times I saw nobody else. The walk was un-scenic apart from a few trees around the Grace Hudson Museum.
* * *
MARK SCARAMELLA ADDS: Given the lameness of the Democrats and the bureaucratic self-strangulation involved in constructing anything in California, and the piecemeal funding that will dribble out of Sacramento, and the various physical and geological and environmental obstacles that are sure to crop up, the most likely result is that the Dems will get an overpriced disconnected patchwork of macadam in and around a few cities along the tracks built which will simply stop in mid-trail here and there but which will be a convenient routes to semi-rural campsites for bums who will indeed present a problem to both neighboring land owners and law enforcement. Meanwhile the Trail Dems will continue to claim that it’s a work in progress and everything will be fine someday as long as the money for them keeps flowing.
MENDO DESERVES BETTER
It is certainly not my wish to continually rehash the ugly events that occurred during my 2018 bid for Mendocino County 5th District Supervisor seat, except where those events are instructive to the County’s current dysfunction. Thus I find this Lee Edmundson a fascinating character. To briefly review; I had attacked Williams who is independently wealthy, having bragged during his 2018 campaign that he did not need a Supervisor’s salary. He is now keeping every dollar and benefit of the position while the County stands on the brink of an SEIU strike. And Edmundson jumped to Ted’s defense closing his screed with this tasty morsel: “As for Chris Skyhawk, he should never forget, and forever remind himself of the fact that he scuttled his own campaign for Supervisor in 2018 by his own actions, he knows what they were; so do others,” referring to the fact that I had taken Ecstacy (for therapeutic purposes) on the day of my stroke.
I think unpacking Lee’s disgusting comment is instructive about Williams and his uncaring attitude toward the county he ostensibly is supposed to be serving. The moral depravity and emotional callousness of Lee’s comments are, I think, transparently obvious. Further: I think the comment is revealing of a man who is in possession of a very sick psyche and a very diseased soul. I believe this analysis needs no further explication. And they track closely with Ted’s recent remark to Mendocino Voice reporter Dave Brooksher that the public probably wouldn’t notice a strike!
The massive insensitivity of such a remark is difficult to get my brain damaged mind to wrap itself around! And it begs the question, If Ted sees county services as irrelevant to the public, what the actual F! is he doing in this job?
As for Edmundson, as the County faces what will be upcoming turbulence I hope his voice will not be seriously considered by those actually seeking to solve our problems since, outside of being Ted’s campaign manager and ongoing apologist, he has not been politically relevant for years. And though he feels comfortable dispensing thinly veiled moral advice to me and the county, while aggravating his COPD with daily cigarettes, unable to control his personal addiction, I would not recommend we accept advice from a man with a death wish.
I have stated about Ted: “beware this man.” I’ve had a front row seat to much of Ted’s career first as an ally on our Fire District in Albion where we accomplished many things together. Later as opponents for the same seat. I have learned there is something quite wrong with Ted. He is very cunning and skilled at showing different faces to different people at different times. He hides behind the various faces he constructs and then trusts that no-one will track him over time, that they will just stay satisfied with the face he just showed them, and not track his contradictions, outright lies, or his record of abysmal failure, or his acts of callousness.
Politics should not be a blood sport. It is apparent to see how moral midgets like Ted and Lee deserve each other but Mendocino County deserves neither!
PS. I want everyone to know that although I struggle with physical limitations, and while I accept people’s good hearted concerns, no one need feel sorry for me. My life is filled with love and beauty. I might write more at another time, but my stroke has been an extraordinary and illuminating experience that is still unfolding. Thank you.
LET’S SEE YOUR ART, TWK
Letter to Editor
I see the Carolina Carbuncle is back at work, leaking his purulent crap on the Grace Hudson Museum’s exhibit of what Tommy Wayne Kramer/Tom Hine/P.J. O’Rourke-wannabe calls “the Back to the Land fad.” TWK clearly doesn’t know shit about the Back to Landers, a movement he claims was composed of East Coast elites driving 2500 miles to “pretend to be part of a vast agrarian network on a mission to cram love and harmony down the throats of locals.” (These elites — elites are “college educated” — are standard fare in Trumpian rhetoric, shoving them “woke” ideas down the throats of God-fearing ’Mericans.) In TWK’s view, the movement/fad lasted “an entire summer and part of the next winter,” or 5 to 8 months, depending on what they did in that missing autumn, besides “building flimsy shacks, growing stunted crops, and eating brown rice,” failing so ineptly that they soon cut their hair and took showers before “snagging employment sincecures in Mendocino County schools and government offices,” which neatly explains Mendo’s crummy schools and appalling administration.
So after his interminable five paragraph introduction to immigration, though it’s difficult to immigrate to a country you live in — more often called “moving” or “traveling” — and after blaming Mendo’s notorious travails on those educated but faint-hearted Back to Landers, TWK (Tweak as he’s known to both his fans), now turns his alleged attention to his museum visit, where, if only to display his amazing intellectual versatility, he adds “art critic” to his already demonstrated cultural punditry.
Tweak notes that the Hudson exhibit is confined to one small room mostly full of paintings. Here’s the entirety, in all its depth and detail, of his artist judgment: “Some of the paintings 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 “good ones,” a reader presumes.) “The rest might patch a roof.” And then he adds, parenthetically of course, (“Your tastes may differ.”)
But how would we know? No painting is described, no artist is mentioned. Tweak, like Trump and his Magat allies, is clearly a master of chickenshit criticism: no facts, all judgment.
However, in fairness, there was a rumor that Tweak was going to post photographs of the art work in his house, what his impeccable artistic judgment has led him to grace the very interior of his dwelling with, but the black velvet absorbed the flash and the large, luminous, teary eyes of the children washed all details into oblivion. And oblivion, one hopes, may prove the proper repository of such weak literary efforts like this latest attempt from Tweak.
PS. Maybe those “stunted plants” were actually squat hash plants from the Hindu Kush? That might explain the missing autumn. I have no idea how Tweak judges an accomplishment, since he gives the Back to the Landers an emphatic “zero,” but a horticultural innovation like sinsemilla, and the 40 years of economic survival it provided for the resource-raped northcoast, might be considered as something.
JUST IN FROM PINT ARENA
Hearing on August 22, 2023
Point Arena City Council
Mayor Barbara Burkey ~ Vice Mayor Anna Dobbins ~ Jim Koogle Jeff Hansen ~ Dan Doyle
Notice Of Public Hearing For Proposed Local Coastal Program (Lcp) Amendment Updating City Of Point Arena General Plan Policies And Zoning Code Regulations For Accessory Dwelling Units
Notice Is Hereby Given that the Point Arena City Council will conduct a public hearing at City Hall, 451 School Street, Point Arena, CA, and via Zoom on Tuesday, August 22, 2023 at 6:00 p.m., or as soon thereafter as possible, on the following:
Case: LCP #1-23; GP #2023-01; OA #2023-01
Applicant: City of Point Arena
Request: Consider proposed amendments to City of Point Arena Local Coastal Program to regulate Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) in compliance with recent State legislation codified in Gov. Code Section 65852.2. Recommended actions: (1) Adopt resolution withdrawing LCP Amendment application previously submitted to California Coastal Commission (LCP-1-PTA-21-0029-1), approving amendments to the Point Arena General Plan/Local Coastal Plan (GP #2023-01), and authorizing submittal of updated LCP Amendment application; and (2) Introduce by title only and waive full reading of the text, an ordinance amending the Point Arena Zoning Code (OA #2023-01) to update regulations for ADUs.
Location: Within the City of Point Arena boundaries (all of which is within the Coastal Zone).
Public Hearing Date: August 22, 2023
Environmental Determination: Statutory Exemption pursuant to Public Resources Code section 21080.17.
The Point Arena City Council is soliciting your input. All interested parties are invited to attend and be heard at this time. If you challenge the above matter(s) in court, you may be limited to raising only those issues you or someone else raised at the public hearing described in this notice, or in written correspondence delivered to the City Clerk at, or prior to, the public hearing. All documents are available for review in the City Clerk's Office. Should you desire to request notification of the City Council's decision you may do so in writing by providing a self-addressed stamped envelope to the City Clerk. For further information, contact the City of Point Arena:
Our mailing address is: City of Point Arena 451 School St. PO Box 67 Point Arena, CA 95468
MCOG Announces Public Meeting!
Feasibility Study Recommendations – Mobility Solutions for Rural Communities of Inland Mendocino County
The Mendocino Council of Governments (MCOG) is nearing completion of a study of transportation needs and solutions for the communities of Covelo, Laytonville, Brooktrails, Potter Valley and Hopland – five inland rural communities with little or no public transit services.
On Monday, August 14, 2023, at 1:30 p.m., the MCOG Board of Directors will receive a presentation from the project consultant on proposed rural mobility solutions that have emerged from this feasibility study. This hybrid meeting will be held both in-person at the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors’ Chambers, 501 Low Gap Road, Ukiah, and virtually via Zoom/teleconference. Please visit MCOG’s website at www.mendocinocog.org for agenda and meeting link information.
The public is encouraged to attend this meeting to hear the study’s results, including recommendations for potential life-line transportation services for these unserved rural communities.
For further information, contact project manager Loretta Ellard at firstname.lastname@example.org or 707-234-3434.
MUSIC IN THE GARDENS
Presented by Symphony of the Redwoods and Latino Coalition of the Mendocino Coast at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens Event Lawn
August 13, 2023, 12:00 and 2:30
Elena Casanova and Friends, 12:00
Mariachi Cantares de Mi Tierra, 2:30
On Sunday, August 13 at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, Symphony of the Redwoods and the Latino Coalition of the Mendocino Coast (La Coalicion Latina de la Costa de Mendocino) will present the annual Music in the Gardens Concert. This concert is special. At noon, Elena Casanova and Friends will perform chamber music for piano and strings. Pieces will include works by G. Faure’, W.A. Mozart, and J. Brahms with a delicate flavor of Cuban beats. Then at 2:30 pm, Mariachi Cantares de Mi Tierra, from the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts will perform a program celebrating the culture of Mariachi. The programs will be presented bi-lingually in English and Spanish. Music in the Gardens is a very friendly venue for all who attend. There will be opportunities to spread out on the grass and picnic while listening to this great music. Beverages and light snacks will also be available at concession tables. Wine will be available through the Anderson Valley Wine Growers Association. These concerts are presented free of charge by the Symphony of the Redwoods Organization in conjunction with Latino Coalition of the Mendocino Coast. A membership with the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens or a ticket to the Gardens for that day is required to enter the Gardens where the concerts will be held. (Botanical Gardens members free, $10-$20 for non-members. SNAP and WIC card holders, $2/person for up to 4 people - must show card)
Symphony of the Redwoods
NORTH COAST BREWERY PUB SUMMER LIVE MUSIC SERIES, WEEK #5
North Coast Brewing Company (NCBC) and Crosstie Productions’ summer live music series week five begins Thursday, August 10th featuring creative, musical musings of Corwin Zekley and Grace Kathryn Fellows, and the triumphant returns on Friday with Colby Lee, and Saturday with Aaron Ford. A full calendar for the series is available at northcoastbrewing.com/the-pub
NCBC is committed to delivering an enjoyable experience for its customers. We believe that live music of all genres ranging from rock to folk, jazz to blues, funk to R&B, country to Americana, and everything in between is vital to serving our community. We welcome you to join us to spread joy and magic through live music in our community!
Thursday, August 10th - Corwin Zekley and Grace Kathryn Fellows
Corwin has deep roots in music, having grown up in traditional & world music communities in Northern California. They’ve played violin for over 20 years in a myriad of styles from traditional Celtic music to Hot Club Jazz, to singing and playing classic love songs. Corwin has played over a thousand shows, appeared on dozens of records, and has published albums and books of their own songwriting and compositions. Since graduating from the Berklee College of Music in 2019, they’ve spent most of their time touring the U.S. and internationally with multiple bands, as well as playing solo shows and teaching music.
Three-hour show from 5:00 to 8:00 PM with a $10 cover.
Friday, August 11th - Colby Lee
Colby Lee is a self-taught singer, songwriter, and musician. Being highly versed in a wide variety of instruments, his compositions are packed with melodies that seem to have been basking in the sun somewhere on a salty beach. His voice is mellow and soulful, yet rich with warmth. His lyrics are full of dreamy sunset-colored imagery. His music is a mix of Folk, reggae, and soul, that is well-blended and refreshing to experience. Free - No cover
Saturday, August 12th - Aaron Ford
Aaron Ford is a singer, songwriter, and guitarist from the Mendocino coast whose musical style is rooted in folk, Americana, and the blues. His original songs are deeply soulful, his guitar distinctly recognizable and his voice rich and compelling. Influenced early on by bluesmen such as BB King, John Lee Hooker, and Albert King. He also credits The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Jimi Hendrix, and Led Zeppelin for shaping his ear and affecting his writing style. Free - No cover
MENDOCINO OBON FESTIVAL
Many Japanese people believe the spirits of ancestors and the departed loved ones are coming home in the middle of August every year. Obon is the period that we welcome their return and celebrate the time together. At the end of Obon, we send off them with respect and love until next August. Obon is the time to honor ancestral spirits, reunite with precious memories with the departed, and reconnect with family, friends, and community. The farewell dancing is the main part of Obon called Bon Odori, a circle dance with a few easy moves for everyone to join. Bon Odori is the gift dedicated by the living to the deceased.
We feel truly privileged to bring this beautiful Japanese Obon Festival to this wonderful community of Mendocino. We will have Stage Performances: Taiko, Shakuhachi, Koto, Shamisen, Aikido, and Japanese Dances. We also offer Hands-on Activity tables for you to try out Japanese crafts and arts. Of course, we have Japanese food for you to enjoy.
And, please join our circle dance (Bon Odori) at the end of the event. It will be a great workout!
This is a fundraising event for Mendocino Sister Cities Association (MSCA). The proceeds from Hands-on Activities, Food, Japanese crafts, MSCA merchandises, goes to MSCA. Your donation and participation will be greatly appreciated.
ABOUT TOM BELL
David Hiller: Does anyone know anything about Tom Bell Flat and Tom Bell creek, a tributary of the Albion River? Tom Bell was a Coast Yuki/Usal "Sinkyone" who worked in the woods along the coast before he married Sally Bell of Needle Rock/4 corners. A Tom Bell patent claimed nearby property in 1889, but I don’t know if Native Americans could claim land. There may have been a second Tom Bell, said to be a hunter, and a newspaper search turned up an account of a Tom Bell’s death at Westport (not Sally’s Tom who died in the 1930’s). Anyone have a clue?
Jack Saunders: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/28774962/thomas-bell is the Thomas "Tom" Bell that lived about 11 miles (give or take) out on the Mendocino-Comptche-Ukiah Road. He was born in England and patented 160 acres on 29 Jul 1889. A couple months later he caught pneumonia at his place and was taken to the Mendocino Hospital where he died on 5 Nov. The flat named for him is a bit south of his land and is a good-sized clearing on the south side of the road as you enter a left-hand turn. It would be about where the old railroad (labeled Albion Ridge Road in the photo) meets the road. Tom Bell Gulch and Tom Bell Creek are named for him as well.
CATCH OF THE DAY, Monday, August 7, 2023
BRITTNEY BOULEY, Willits. Domestic abuse.
ROBIN BUXTON, Ukiah. Grand theft, vandalism, conspiracy, probation revocation.
GERARDO HERRERA-CHAVEZ, Kelseyville/Ukiah. DUI, child endangerment, no license.
BRITTANY KOHLMANN, Ukiah. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun.
ZAHIR PECHCERON, Fort Bragg. Domestic abuse, paraphernalia.
ANDREW RAMIREZ, Patterson/Ukiah. DUI.
MARAUX ROUGIER, Seattle/Ukiah. DUI.
RANDY SAINE, Willits. Disobeying court order, failure to appear.
TY SIMPSON, Potter Valley. DUI-alcohol&drugs, controlled substance, paraphernalia.
ROBERT SOOY, Millville/Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
BRANDON WALKER, Boonville. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.
UKRAINE, MONDAY, 7TH AUGUST
Ukraine’s Security Service said Monday it had detained a Russian informant allegedly involved in a plot to assassinate Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a trip to the Mykolaiv region in July.
Russian shelling killed a woman and wounded several others in Ukraine’s southern Kherson city, officials said Monday. Moscow’s attacks on civilians come after Kyiv struck two key bridges linking Russian-occupied parts of Kherson to Crimea Sunday.
Ukraine is using unmanned vehicles to attack faraway Russian targets by air and by sea. Early Monday, Russian air defenses shot down a drone southwest of Moscow, a regional governor said.
Peace talks in Saudi Arabia over the weekend ended with goodwill statements but no concrete announcements. The meetings — which did not include Russian representatives — were mostly seen as a means for laying out future frameworks.
MARCH PHOTOGRAPHS - PAPELES PARA TODOS - PAPERS FOR EVERYONE!
by David Bacon
On Saturday, August 7, marchers left Petaluma on a three-day march to the Federal Building in San Francisco. A simultaneous march left San Jose bound for the same destination. These are part of national demonstrations to support a campaign popularly known as “Papeles para todos!” or “Papers for everyone.” The marchers called on Congress to pass H.R. 1511, the “Registry Bill,” which updates a 1929 law so that undocumented people can apply for legal permanent residency if they have lived in the country for at least seven years. It is estimated that approximately eight million of the approximately eleven million undocumented people in the U.S. would benefit under this new update of current law.
For a full set of photographs, click here
BEHIND ALL THE TALK, THIS IS WHAT BIG OIL IS ACTUALLY DOING
by Jason Bordoff
If you’ve been listening to the world’s major energy companies over the past few years, you probably think the clean energy transition is well on its way. But with fossil fuel use and emissions still rising, it is not moving nearly fast enough to address the climate crisis.
In June, Shell became the latest of the big oil companies to curb plans to cut oil output, announcing that it will no longer reduce annual oil and gas production through the end of the decade. The company also raised its dividend, diverting money that could be used to develop clean energy. BP’s share prices surged this year when the company walked back its plan to reduce oil and gas output.
The industry can point to efforts to reduce emissions and pursue green energy technologies. But those efforts pale in comparison with what they are doing to maintain and enhance oil and gas production. As the International Energy Agency put it, investment by the industry in clean fuels “is picking up” but “remains well short of where it needs to be.”
Overall, oil and gas companies are projected to spend more than $500 billion this year on identifying, extracting and producing new oil and gas supplies and even more on dividends to return record profits to shareholders, according to the I.E.A.
The industry has spent less than 5 percent of its production and exploration investments on low-emission energy sources in recent years, according to the I.E.A. Indeed, the fact that many companies (with some notable exceptions) seem to be prioritizing dividends, share buybacks and continued fossil fuel production over increasing their clean energy investments suggests they are unable or unwilling to power the transition forward.
Contrary to their rhetoric, the behavior of these companies suggests that they believe a low-carbon transition will not occur or they won’t be as profitable if it does.
Exxon Mobil recently noted in a regulatory filing that “it is highly unlikely that society would accept the degradation in global standard of living required” to achieve net-zero emissions. And while Shell claimed it was still committed to net zero by 2050, it made clear it also believed that achieving that goal was out of its hands: “If society is not net zero in 2050, as of today, there would be significant risk that Shell may not meet its target.”
This view may be understandable, given that the world is not on track to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Absent major policy changes, the I.E.A. projects that oil and gas use will continue rising through the end of the decade and then plateau. Rising prosperity in developing and emerging-market nations requires enormous increases in energy use, and there are real tensions between those aspirations and decarbonization.
And even governments strongly committed to slowing climate change, including the Biden administration, have nonetheless encouraged energy companies to produce more oil to keep gasoline prices in check.
As temperatures around the Northern Hemisphere this summer reach levels testing the limits of human survival, will society accept the consequences of continued business as usual? History suggests that climate action will proceed “gradually and then suddenly,” as a character in Ernest Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises” says of bankruptcy. That’s what happened in 1970 when chronic smog and polluted waters spurred one in 10 Americans to take to the streets on the first Earth Day and propelled the passage of America’s landmark environmental laws.
The fact that shareholders seem to prefer that oil profits be distributed as dividends rather than reinvested more in low-carbon energy solutions suggests they are also skeptical about the industry’s ability to be as profitable in clean energy. Their behavior suggests a preference for investing in other companies they believe have a competitive advantage in those technologies.
The world will still use oil for decades even if it accelerates climate action — and even a net-zero world would still use some oil and gas, with technology able to capture emissions. Even if oil use falls, some oil companies thus seem to be planning to be among the last producers standing.
One problem with this is that not every company can be the last standing. Another is that many companies are not even taking the steps necessary to reduce emissions from their own oil and gas operations, which today far exceed the emissions from all of the world’s cars combined.
The seven major publicly traded oil and gas companies, like Shell and BP, known as the supermajors, produce only 15 percent of the world’s oil and gas, but as the I.E.A. has noted, they have “an outsize influence on industry practices and direction.” They also have the technological and engineering prowess to advance clean energy.
Most of the world’s oil and gas is supplied by companies totally or partly owned by governments, and many of them are also falling short in their climate efforts, as evidenced last month when several of the largest-producing countries reportedly blocked a Group of 20 agreement to reduce fossil fuel use and triple renewable energy by 2030. This is especially troubling because nationally owned companies can take a longer-term view and look beyond quarterly shareholder pressures, though they also face demands to satisfy national budget needs.
A successful transition will be easier to achieve if the big energy companies play a larger part in it. Low-carbon technologies such as carbon capture and hydrogen are well suited to the oil industry’s skills and capital budgets.
Industry leaders face a stark choice: Either match their rhetoric with actions demonstrating convincingly that they are prepared to invest at scale in clean energy or acknowledge that their plan is to be among the last producers and bet on a slower transition.
Jason Bordoff (@JasonBordoff) is the founding director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, a former senior director on the staff of the U.S. National Security Council and a former special assistant to President Barack Obama.
DON’T CRY FOR MEGAN RAPINOE AND HUMILIATED USWNT – They’re A Bunch Of Unpatriotic Losers
by Piers Morgan
As the tears streamed down Megan Rapinoe’s face after USWNT’s humiliating early exit from the Women’s World Cup, she was asked if there was one memory that stood out from her entire career as an international footballer.
Was it a particular trophy, perhaps?
Or an especially memorable match?
Or an outstanding goal?
Or, as many others might have said, the sheer honor and pride of playing for her country?
Nope, none of those.
Ms. Rapinoe, who had earlier sparked outrage when she laughed after missing a crucial penalty kick, collected her thoughts for a few long seconds, then replied: “Probably equal pay chance. This team has always fought for so much more and that’s been the most rewarding part for me. Of course, playing in World Cups and European Championships, and doing all that… but to know we’ve used our really special talent to do something that’s really changed the world forever, that means the most to me.”
It was peak Rapinoe: Supremely arrogant, annoyingly self-aggrandizing, and all about the money…
Later, President Biden tweeted: “@USWNT, you’ve made your country proud. Congratulations on an incredible run. This team is something special and I’m looking forward to seeing how you continue to inspire Americans with your grit and determination – on and off the field.”
Not for the first time, I was left completely bemused by Biden’s words, which, like most of his public utterances these days, bore no relation to reality.
This team isn’t “something special.”
In fact, in terms of performance, it’s the worst USWNT team in history.
For the first time in all nine Women’s World Cups since the competition began in 1991, it crashed out in the Last 16 knock-out stage, and that was after it had become the first USWNT team to earn fewer than six points in the group stage.
So, Biden’s right that this team is “something special,” but only because it’s uniquely bad.
As for supposedly inspiring Americans with their “grit and determination,” I very much doubt a single American felt inspired to open a bag of chips after watching USWNT’s trainwreck World Cup campaign.
Frankly, I’ve seen grittier and more determined displays from the Kardashians on a red carpet trying to steal paparazzi attention from each other.
But it was Biden’s assertion that USWNT “made your country proud” that really stuck in my gullet.
Has there ever been a more disingenuous statement from this President other than his now demonstrably untrue insistence he never helped his son Hunter with his corrupt business dealings?
It’s hard to imagine an American sporting team that’s made the country feel less proud than this bunch of “activist” prima donnas.
Putting aside how poorly they played, the refusal by most of them to sing the National Anthem throughout the tournament, or place their hands over their hearts, was an absolute disgrace.
Each game, as the Star-Spangled Banner was played, they stood there like stuffed dummies at Madame Tussaud’s, only revealing they were humans when their pinched faces creased with undisguised dismay at having to show they give a damn about representing America on a world stage.
They may as well have flipped the bird while they were at it.
And I don’t believe for a minute that they were doing it to protest about racial injustice or police brutality, as Rapinoe and others have claimed.
They were doing it because they think being “activism warriors” is good for their brands.
Rapinoe’s the ringleader for all the unpatriotic garbage – she boasted in 2019 that she would probably never sing the anthem again – and her self-described status as a “walking protest” has made her very famous and very rich and earned her huge honors like the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which she received from Biden last year.
But the act doesn’t play when you lose as badly as this team just did.
Who wants to follow warriors who are so pathetically spineless in battle?
And at the heart of Rapinoe’s campaigning lies a blatant conceit.
She professes to be all about “equality.”
That’s her driving force, she says, to fight for equal rights for everyone.
But is it?
Several weeks ago, she launched a furious attack on moves to ban transgender women from competing in women’s sports.
“We as a country are trying to legislate away people’s full humanity,” she told Time magazine. “It’s particularly frustrating when women’s sports is weaponized. Oh, now we care about fairness? Now we care about women’s sports? That’s total bullshit. And show me all the trans people who are nefariously taking advantage of being trans in sports. It’s just not happening.”
This is a lie.
It’s happening in women’s sports all over the world, as biological males shamelessly and shamefully use their physical advantage to beat biological females.
Rapinoe’s not stupid, she knows this.
But she can’t bring herself to admit it because it would destroy her hard-fought reputation as the world’s No. 1 woke, virtue-signaling athlete.
In the same interview, Rapinoe said it’s “extremely transphobic” to suggest a trans woman “taking a ‘real’ woman’s place” and said she would welcome a transgender woman onto the USWNT.
“We’re putting this all through the lens of competition and winning,” she said. “But we’re talking about people’s lives. That’s where we have to start.”
No, it’s not.
Sport is about competition and winning — otherwise, why keep score?
And actually, we have to start with fairness.
It’s indisputably unfair that trans women compete in women’s sports.
As unfair as if they were taking performance-enhancing drugs.
Again, Rapinoe knows this, but she pretends to think otherwise.
And how convenient that she says she’d welcome a trans player onto the USWNT at the precise moment she’s retiring so it won’t be HER place that gets unfairly taken.
But hey, at least if they do replace the entire USWNT with trans women, they’ll get back to winning World Cups again!
by James Kunstler
“The West can’t do diplomacy in general, it can’t run its cities or countries except into the ground, its high-tech projects fail almost as a rule, its infrastructure is crumbling, its economies are crumbling, and all public policies seem to have a civilizational suicide as a final goal.” — Gaius Baltar
So-called Normies might be musing, this month of approved mental languor, whether the mighty efforts to suppress news of all kinds, about everything, have concealed the true tendings of our wayward country — leading them to wonder whether it is even possible to be a Normie in such an abnormal time and place.
What news is suppressed? That the USA is worse than dead broke. That the people were poisoned, apparently on-purpose. That the spectral “Joe Biden” sold out our country. That the war we started in Ukraine, on purpose, for no good reason, is about to be lost, and with it our standing around world. That there actually is such a criminal organism as the Blob at large in our government, responsible for the astounding abnormality immersing us. But never mind all that… for now, just go see Barbie. Have a clam roll, a dip in the ocean, another margarita…. September will be here soon enough.
Eventually, the official perversion of money — especially of borrowing an awesome lot of it with no intention of ever repaying — leads to the unhappy circumstance of money disappearing until nobody has any money. And by such, the broke-ness of the government transmogrifies to a whole land full of broke people. Many banks go broke as well. Even the high-fliers who hoarded things that purport to represent money go broke. Then, nobody has the means to buy anything. Businesses that can’t sell anything stop being businesses. After a while, no activity is meaningful except grubbing in the soil to grow some food, or stealing it from those who grubbed and grew it. By then, you can barely even call it a society.
By September, we’ll have some idea where all that is heading. The bond market is wobbling because the government can’t stop increasing its spending. America issues more and more bonds to borrow ever more money, but to the world’s bond-buyers (a.k.a. lenders), what used to be considered virtually risk-free now looks like a bad bet. So, the enticement to buy, which is called the interest rate, has to go up. But as it goes up, the cash value of existing bonds goes down (who wants the older bonds when the newer ones pay more?)
The holders of bonds are mainly big institutions: banks, pension funds, insurance companies, sovereign wealth funds (other countries). They put their large holdings into bonds because in normal times they are safe and dependable investments. But these are abnormal times. When the value of their bonds goes down a lot, the value of their reserves goes down. And when those reserves get reduced too much in relation to the institutions’ liabilities (what they owe), the institutions go bankrupt. When that happens, the people who are vested in those institutions lose their money, too, and end up having to sell stocks and other property to meet their obligations. This ends up looking like what we call “a crash.” It will get Normies’ attention.
How’s it going with the poisoning of America? Since Elon Musk bought Twitter (now “X”), the app has developed a beefed-up immune system against censorship aimed at it by the FBI, CIA, DHS, and the White House. Twitter is once again a popular medium of information exchange, where news flows pretty freely these days. Even news of previous censorship and cancellation is getting out — and with interesting possibilities for consequences.
The many brave doctors who questioned the “vaccine” story, are being heard now. Other entrepreneurial analysts on Twitter — e.g., Edward Dowd, The Unity Project, “The Ethical Skeptic,” “Chief Nerd”— regularly publish data and charts showing America and the rest of the world just how much damage the mRNA shots did to millions of people, how many have been disabled and killed by them. By September, the awareness of what has been done, and the psychopathic degree of official lying about it, could pass that threshold beyond which everybody knows and the great crime is revealed. Expect a major American political attitude adjustment.
There is surely enough publicly-seen evidence to make an impeachment case against “Joe Biden.” The process seems to move slowly, given the traditional lassitude of Congress, but momentum is building as all these other national fiascos careen toward criticality due to abysmal executive leadership. That evidence shows the Biden Family engaged in an international racketeering scheme to peddle “JB’s” influence when he was vice-president. That’s bribery and the very word is in the short passage of our Constitution describing the grounds for sacking a high official.
Rep. Comer’s House Oversight Committee has already dug up voluminous suspicious activity reports in Biden family bank accounts and has promised more, including information of offshore hidden accounts. Jim Jordan’s preliminary impeachment inquiry has drawn up its first witness list which includes the shadowy “JB” aide Michael Carpenter, and the slippery Trump impeachment “whistleblower,” CIA agent Eric Ciaramella — who essentially accused Mr. Trump of attempting to look into the very bribery crimes of the Biden family lately exposed, a pungent irony. When the impeachment process gets underway in earnest this fall, I expect “Joe Biden” will resign, leaving Ms. Harris to be managed by the shadow-president Barack Obama. That in itself will become a crisis of its own.
Our country has vested its prestige and treasure — but not our blood, at least yet — in the preposterous Ukraine proxy war, completely misjudging every element of it. The Russiaphobia of so many Blob officials was amplified by their own dishonest efforts to blame Russia for all the self-created ills of our own national life. The dirty secret of the Ukraine war is that we are no longer in control of events. The Russians are going to settle things there and that poor palooka of a country will be wrested back into their traditional sphere-of-influence, no more to be a troublemaker. I doubt that our puppet, Mr. Zelensky will be in power by Halloween. NATO will cease to exist and each nation of Europe will then struggle to settle its own sovereign hash without much of an industrial economy left. Expect governments to fall.
In the meantime, enjoy the clam rolls, the surf, the corn-dogs at the fair, and all the other blessings of languorous August. Rest up for what’s coming when Normies awake!
THE WILD STORY OF TRIUMPH AND TRAGEDY Behind Tony Bennett’s ‘I Left My Heart In San Francisco’
by Peter Hartlaub
“I Left My Heart in San Francisco” was written in Brooklyn by two young men — neither of whom was Tony Bennett.
It sat in storage in songwriters Douglass Cross and George Cory’s New York recording studio for more than seven years, with no buyers, before Bennett took it on a whim, because he wanted a song to perform as his tour swung through the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. “I Left My Heart …” was recorded as a B-side.
“A few weeks after it came out,” Bennett would tell The Chronicle decades later, “a Columbia rep called me up and said, ‘Turn the record over. “‘San Francisco” is really catching on’.”
With Tony Bennett’s death Friday at age 96, the soaring ballad is appearing in headlines and the first paragraph of obituaries, unquestionably his signature moment as a performer. But the song — and its evolution — have a complicated backstory. It includes triumph, tragedy and a notably cruel rejection by San Franciscans, all of which may have forged an even stronger bond between the performer and his adopted city.
San Francisco was just another tour stop when Bennett first recorded the song in 1961. It was written by Cory and Cross, who grew up in the Bay Area, met in the Army in 1948, and wrote “I Left My Heart …” in 1954 as a nod to their home. They had mixed feelings about the song from the beginning.
“Originally we called it ‘When I Return to San Francisco.’ We didn’t like that so we changed it to ‘When I Come Home’,” Cory told The Chronicle in 1966. “We didn’t like that either so we changed it to the present title. And I always thought that one was too corny.”
At first, the song was a complete failure.
“Everybody in the business said it wasn’t commercial,” Cross told The Chronicle. “They told us, ‘Who’s going to sing a song about San Francisco in Sioux Falls?’”
Record industry executive Mitch Miller suggested they self-publish the tune, print a couple thousand copies and sell it in San Francisco tourist traps. Cory and Cross had other hits with Billie Holiday (“I’ll Look Around”) and Mabel Mercer (“You Will Wear Velvet”) while “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” languished.
Seven years later, Bennett’s musical director, San Francisco native Ralph Sharon, reportedly asked the pair whether they had a song for Bennett’s upcoming residency at the Venetian Room at the Fairmont Hotel. “I Left my Heart in San Francisco” was in the bottom of a box filled with several inches of music.
Bennett said his band tried the song out in a small club during their tour through the American South. It went over well with the audience of one — a bartender who was cleaning up.
“He said, ‘If you record that song’,” Bennett told The Chronicle’s Sam Whiting in 2016, “ ‘I will be the first one to buy it.’ “
Herb Caen offered the first San Francisco review of the song, calling it “an innocuous ditty.” The songwriters initially were self-deprecating; George told Caen that homesickness didn’t inspire the lyrics, “we were sick for a little money.”
But to nearly everyone’s surprise, the 1962 record, a B-side to “Once Upon a Time,” was an enormous hit. The single sold 500,000 copies in the first few months and won Bennett his first Grammy. In the next year, it was recorded by 200 artists in eight languages, including German, Japanese and Czechoslovakian. The song was No. 1 in sheet music sales in 1963, and Cory and Cross were sharing $50,000 in annual royalties.
San Francisco supervisors in 1969 voted unanimously to make it the official song of San Francisco, but a backlash was building and for the next two decades, the song appeared to be cursed.
The pair moved back to California in the 1960s, and Cory set up a San Francisco studio on Brannan Street. Cross died in 1975 at age 54, and Cory died just three years later, reportedly taking an intentional overdose of painkillers. S.F. Weekly’s Bill Christine later reported that Cross and Cory were a romantic couple for most of their working years.
They didn’t live to see the lowest point for “I Left My Heart …”
In 1984 Chronicle columnist Warren Hinckle penned a vicious takedown headlined “Save Us From I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” which called the song “flatulent and dopey,” “a wheezy old goat of a song” and “barely suited for elevator music.”
“Voting for ‘I Left My Heart in San Francisco’ in 1969 is susceptible to the analogy of selling scrap metal to the Japanese in 1939,” Hinckle savagely wrote, later calling Bennett “an over-the-hill Italian croaker whose face is as familiar to San Franciscans as faded wallpaper in a North Beach flat.”
After Hinckle launched a campaign to replace the song with Jeanette MacDonald’s “San Francisco” from the 1936 musical of the same name, The Chronicle and city supervisors followed his lead. The newspaper commissioned an unscientific phone poll where more than 36,000 participated — logging 24 calls per minute — and 75% chose to jettison “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” to the curb.
Mayor Dianne Feinstein, a Bennett fan, threatened to veto any legislation that changed the status quo. But Bennett himself didn’t reply to the attacks and endorsed a compromise that made few happy: The supervisors voted to make “San Francisco” the city song, and leave Bennett’s tune as “the official city ballad,” a designation that still stands in 2023.
From there, it was a slow redemption for “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” as Bennett, who was in a career lull in the 1980s and early 1990s, seemed to double down on the song and his connection to the city that inspired it.
San Francisco Chief of Protocol Charlotte Shultz would later say that Bennett, who never lived full time in San Francisco, granted every request for charity events. He showed up to Feinstein’s 1980s rallies to save the cable cars, and performed for fundraisers through the 2000s and 2010s, including a 2012 appearance for heart research, and a 2016 performance for pediatric care at San Francisco General Hospital.
As Bennett’s career rebounded with an MTV Unplugged record in 1994 and duets with pop artists including Lady Gaga, he recognized the value of the song to San Francisco and was proud of his role as a tourism driver to the city. In 2020 Bennett led a citywide sing-along of the song to honor coronavirus frontline workers.
“They love it everywhere,” Bennett told The Chronicle’s Carl Nolte in 2012. “You’d be surprised how much they respect the city. I get in everywhere in the world. England, Paris, wherever I play. Internationally it is the most respected city in America.”
Even with Bennett gone, new generations will fall in love with the song. It continues to be played after every victory at San Francisco Giants home games, echoing into nearby neighborhoods. And in his final years, even as Bennett succumbed to memory loss, he clearly felt the city’s appreciation
“I’ve never been bored with singing ‘I Left My Heart in San Francisco’,” Bennett told The Chronicle in 2016. “I adore the song, and it’s the best thing that has ever happened to me.”
WARREN HINCKLE SPEAKS (Historical Essay)
This interview with legendary San Francisco journalist Warren Hinckle (d. 2016) was originally published in July 2010 on Babylon Falling and is included here with their permission.
On one of our very last days in San Francisco, Kensey and I spent the morning with legendary magazine publisher and award-winning journalist Warren Hinckle III at the Double Play down in the Mission. Walking in, loaded down with binders of magazines, camera equipment and with big smiles on our faces, we looked like a couple of lost tourists. I suspect that if I hadn’t slipped Warren’s name into my ginger ale order I might have been shown the door. But, as it was, the bartender poured the drink and happily pointed us in the direction of Warren’s booth, where we settled in. Arriving a few minutes later, and sensing that our presence already had the morning crowd a little restless, Warren quickly herded us to the back room.
I was there to share my collection of Ramparts and Scanlan’s to see if there was anything he wanted to scan for his book, the perennially delayed Who Killed Hunter S. Thompson: The story of the birth of Gonzo. Lavishly illustrated, the book is, at last count, clocking in at over 400 pages full of original material from many of Hunter’s friends and overflowing with ephemera…guaranteed to be a classic when it finally comes out.
As he thumbed through the magazines and showed us proofs of the book we talked about his friendship with Hunter; the roots of Gonzo journalism and the culture that spawned it; his tenure at the groundbreaking radical slick, Ramparts magazine, in the ‘60s; working with Hunter at his short-lived, but highly influential, muckraking monthly Scanlan’s; the Kennedy assassination; San Francisco’s favorite merchants of porn, The O’Farrell brothers; and much more. Enjoy!
What’s the genesis of Who Killed Hunter S. Thompson? I know it’s been delayed since 2005.
It started right after Hunter shot himself and, originally, was going to be a tribute to Hunter. I called all his friends, ones I was close to, and, you know, had to beat a few people into writing things who had never written before—like Bill Cardoso who hadn’t written a piece in 20 years and famously never gets anything completed and done. So we extracted a lot of manuscripts, and probably, within a year, kind of had a book, but it kept developing and we decided it was going to be a non-profit book. We said we’d give a prize—wouldn’t be any money, a Gonzo prize or something, god knows what the criterion for that would be. But we figured hey, we’d make a movie instead, get all these people together in a room at the Mitchell Brothers. I just kept finding stuff and thought there’s no rush because, you know, it’s [Ron] Turner’s place [Last Gasp] and he puts out art books mostly anyway, and there’s no rush on these things. And everybody’s doing other projects, and we didn’t have any staff, so we ended up producing the book, which took a lot longer. This was a massively complicated book, and so all of a sudden, we got in the middle of it and that added a year or so to it. Stuff just kept popping up, I mean really treasured stuff…underground cartoonists’ little home publications that were comic books with color covers but maybe they had a 1,500 run, little collectors run…fabulously interesting stuff about Hunter during the Mitchell Brothers period and other times. And so that became a section. Anyway, it just kept growing. And so Turner is always, “When’s it going to be done?” And I said, “Well eventually.”
We finally did a bunch of screwing around with this book. Turner will tell you that’s all I’ve been doing.
It sort of makes a little more sense now: we finally have [figured out] what the book’s about…I think. It’s all this Ramparts and Scanlan’s stuff, and it’s like, “What’s that got to do with Hunter?” We sort of fit everything under Gonzo journalism in the general sense—how that stuff all started. Hunter always said Ramparts was a Gonzo magazine, and I said, “Bullshit!” You know, it was just leftie bullshit wrapped up. And he says, “No, no, no, you broke all the rules, you smashed plates, you did everything, you drove everybody nuts, it was in your face, it was Gonzo.” [The book will also have] all his faxes, his personal stuff to people in the middle of the night. You know, he always would have crazy letterheads and wrote with a big heavy felt tip pen. Wild stuff.
Anyway, now we’re going with Who Killed Hunter S. Thompson: The story of the birth of Gonzo. It takes the edge off the title. That was Turner’s idea for the title, and originally Hunter’s fans were…some of them thought it was funny, some thought it was disrespectful, but now that we have the story of Gonzo and [the] colon, there’s a reason to have all this stuff. And it’s all Hunter centered and about Hunter, but its also about the period and how it all came together.
It sounds to me, and even just looking at some of the proofs here, that it will stand out. People who are fans of Hunter, these are the questions, the things we’re interested in.
Nobody’s done this stuff. Well, I mean, there’s this book about Ramparts now, and I did a memoir thing way back [If You Have a Lemon, Make Lemonade: An Essential Memoir of a Lunatic Decade], but all the artwork that’s in there, even up through S. Clay [Wilson], that stuff, when you see it all together you go, “Jesus, what is this stuff?”
I’ve seen Hunter’s name on the masthead of Ramparts—I think in late ‘67—and was wondering if he ever wrote any articles?
No. Erroneously it has been reported that he wrote for Ramparts but he never did. We pretty quickly became friends and started talking on the phone all the time, and he was in Chicago when that whole madness went down, the riots and everything. We were always talking about projects for him to do at Ramparts. We just never quite got around to figuring which ones or anything definitive. I remember we did the Kennedy assassination issue. He called me and said, “That’s it, I…” I’m trying to put this in context: when was the moon shot?
Maybe it was still Ramparts or maybe that was a Scanlan’s idea. I’m trying to remember now, because he was sure the moon shot was a fake, and he wanted to go to some place in Montana where he knew they had this fake landscape. I’d have to check the dates. Anyway, at the time, we were always mulling over projects and ideas, and then Scanlan’s started. And fortunately we had plenty of money, and Hunter likes money, and so immediately boom, boom, boom this stuff went on. But of course I stuck him on the masthead right away. We just never got around to getting anything done [together at Ramparts].
Hunter S. Thompson’s name first appears on the Ramparts masthead, November 1967. But he was a friend of yours during that time period in the late ‘60s at Ramparts?
Oh yeah. I never knew him before. He just walked into the office one night. He walks in my office says, “Yeah, I’m Hunter Thompson.” This is after the Hell’s Angels book, and I’d read it and it was terrific. So anyway, we had a couple of drinks; I know we walked up the street. This is when the Ramparts offices were on Broadway at the very end at the top of the strip. So we went up the street to have dinner and came back. I had a monkey at the time—named Henry Luce to piss off the guy at Time magazine, which did get him pissed off. (Luce found a reporter and asked him if it was true those people up there have a monkey called by my name? It made me happy.) Anyway, we get back (Hunter had thrown his knapsack on the couch in my office) and I hadn’t locked the [monkey’s] cage or something like that. The monkey had gotten out and gotten into Hunter’s knapsack. And it had a whole bunch, a lot of bottles of pills in there, and they were all over the floor but they were all empty. The monkey must have gobbled them all, well obviously he did, and he was berserk. He was just running. It was an old government building where they did scientific research (I’m sure poison gas), and they had these government-type windows on the side, and in the whole center of the space were these partitions, half wood and half glass you can’t see through. The monkey was running around the top of that thing and it had its leash on—the leash was flying! And it just turned into a completely vicious bastard. It was a sweet monkey before. It was up there for a day or so. No one was going to touch the goddamn thing; it wouldn’t stop running. And Hunter just sat there and said, “Goddamned monkey stole my pills.” It did steal his pills. I said, “Fuck you why didn’t you lock your knapsack?”
“Why should I lock my knapsack? You should have security around here.”
“Not from the monkey.”
There was the period when you were at Ramparts, and then there was Scanlan’s and Gonzo journalism and all of that stuff, but after that, in the ‘80s you were working at the Examiner with Hunter….
Oh yeah, that’s another big thing in this Hunter book. That whole Examiner period and the Mitchell Brothers period. The introduction, which is this thing I wrote, mentions everything. And it’s at least a third of the book; that’s where most of the illustrations come in, that history. But that includes the whole Mitchell Brothers period, which is not that very well-known. It’s kind of known he was the night manager of the Mitchell Brothers [O’Farrell] Theatre, but those stories are fabulous and the adventures extreme. And there’s a lot of art and photos from that period. It’s not about inside the sex business, it’s about this bizarre cultural part of San Francisco where these porn merchants were actually the Medicis of the fucking town. They were the ones really laying out money for artists and having this open place where even politicians would come to connive at night. It was like some great 19th century operation in this bizarre atmosphere of naked women running around, the shows, the constant fights with the authorities, and Diane Feinstein going crazy. It’s a wonderful period. And part of that was the Examiner at the time….
A Hearst paper…
It became a really interesting paper. It became extremely wild and crazy and liberal, and it didn’t have anything to lose because it was the second paper in a land-lock, JOA, joint operating deal where they got half the money. Anyway, the Chronicle became more and more conservative after my friend Scott Newhall, another madman—a genius—left, got kicked out because he saved the paper. So Will Hearst got it for a period of years. He became the publisher. He has a concentration span about as long as a straw, a very rapidly changing mind. Will, I know him quite well, he’s a good guy. He wanted to do the paper to have some fun, and that fit perfectly with the Mitchell Brothers cultural period, and Hunter being there and me being friends with these guys. I mean, you look back at the time and the Mitchell Brothers got very good treatment in the Examiner. Sunday Magazine spreads…”The Mitchell Brothers are home with all their kids and boxes of Wheaties.” They were friends, and the government was against them, so it was crass. It was a very funny period.
You were coming from working at the Chronicle, right?
I was then writing for the Chronicle and doing pretty well, and he [Will Hearst] stole me from them to go to the Examiner—because I didn’t care if I did stuff nationally or locally, it never made a difference to me. You’re doing journalism. Shaking up the town is just as much fun as shaking up the CIA, and I didn’t have to go out and raise $2 million a year. I got paid for a change; I didn’t have to worry about it. So naturally, I told Hunter, “Hunter, you gotta get in on this deal.”
So that whole period was extraordinarily funny, and the Hunter columns that appeared in the Examiner…it’s unthinkable that they would appear in a Hearst newspaper. They were so off the wall, so wild…getting his girlfriend a tattoo to get a column to beat the deadline, that sort of thing. “What the fuck am I going to write?” Extraordinarily funny stuff. And you know the Mitchell Brothers [O’Farrell Theatre] was his office and so was the paper, and so he’d be going back and forth. And the paper was, then, very lively.
And a good part of the period, when San Francisco was a much more interesting city than it is now, part of that blossoming of eccentricity was very 19th century almost. It was a crazy town in the 19th century, obviously, and journalism was nuts. Western journalism, in general, was nuts. And I guess you could say that western journalism was the first, some of the first, Gonzo-type journalism—all the way from people putting themselves in the stories to totally making things up to getting into gun fights. Mark Twain wrote some of the first science fiction. Hoax. Eastern newspapers did hoaxes too, moon hoaxes and stuff, but Mark Twain had one famous thing, it was in Territorial Enterprise. He had a story which everyone took to be true about a guy who walked across the desert in Nevada—got across the desert with an ice helmet. He created a helmet out of ice because it kept him from the heat and he still had water. Completely made up! And it was reported around the country in the eastern papers. But that was the type of stuff that we did. And that was the type of stuff they did then.
I always thought that what a lot of what these magazines did and a lot of what Hunter would do was a wonderful throwback to what the stuff should be. And it seems so lively and fresh because of the contemporary issues, obviously, and the contentious time in the culture. But it was visible and fun and participatory in the sense that they’d go, “What the hell!” And enjoyable and seeable, graphically and physically. The personalities involved were there on the set. They were a little outrageous, a little larger than life, but they were actually doing what they were writing about and that was true of the century before. And then there was this great desert period of American journalism and they put not only the muckraking magazines out of business, but sort of the life of the…the spirit of the publishing business then became this great centrism and boring and that sort of broke out in the ‘60s and ‘70s with these crazy magazines of Gonzo and that sort of stuff. That’s kind of petered out again now to a kind of mild version of that.
But America is all about its civilization. They’ll be teaching courses on Gonzo in journalism school—and you can’t learn how to do it. Anyway, that night manager period at the Mitchell Brothers is a serious part of the San Francisco cultural history because it takes in politics and art and crazy people and you know…it was fun to do and be there and it’s fun to read about.
At this point Warren goes to refresh his drink. When he comes back he starts to flip through the copies of Ramparts and Scanlan’s that I brought, comparing them to what he has in the proofs.
This one [Ramparts, February 1968] got the most shit. But it got these women…a bunch of them were in an uproar and there were a whole bunch of women in this issue that were left-wingers and they thought it was great. They might pose in, not fancy showing neckline clothes, but it was like a photo gallery of left-wing, hot looking left-wing, women who happened to be left-wing female leaders. And they all posed and they thought it was great. But our people, oh my god. Particularly the men, who were all pussy-whipped, you know, said, “Oh they’ve done a terrible thing,” and they’re saying this is the worst and I’m thinking, “What are you crazy? What do you think we cut the head off for? It’s a satirical point! Get it you guys!”
Warren flips through a few more issues and stops on the July 27, 1968 issue of Ramparts, which was dedicated to publishing Che Guevara’s Bolivian diaries.
Didn’t Evergreen run some of the diary six months later?
No, no they ran the CIA version—there was a little war over that. We were under restrictions. The goddamned Cubans let people in other countries publish it, but you couldn’t change a word or you couldn’t add anything, so all it is is the goddamned diaries from front to back and the illustrations that they had in the government edition of the diaries—that was it. But at the same time, the CIA got a version which they sold to an American publisher, Stein & Day, who kind of did some more pro-government, right-wing stuff, and that was a doctored version—the text was doctored for this and that propaganda point. So then it was a race to get the first one out, and the Cubans wouldn’t give copyright which was a battle because they don’t respect copyright, but I had to beat them up. I said, “No, no, you guys are gonna be fucked on this thing.” That was a lot of fun. Anyway, somehow it happened. Then it turned out they’d been lying the whole time; they said they didn’t respect copyright but they still remained a member of the goddamned International Copyright Commission. The bastards. That’s why you gotta like the Cubans.
They got style.
It doesn’t matter what kind of government…the Castro guys…I never thought they were that bad at all. It’s a trade winds country that was around a lot longer before America, and the root culture is permissive, loose, and commercial. People would stop there before they went on…and that goes way, way back. So that’s rooted in whatever that culture is. People don’t understand it’s not a garrison state because the culture wouldn’t allow that.
(Flipping through the proofs, Warren gets to the section on Scanlan’s.)
Thompson hated this guy [the illustrator Jim Nutt]. He hated him. He went absolutely crazy, you know. “Don’t ever illustrate a thing of mine again with that bugger…it’s the most disgusting thing.”
I remember reading about the fact that Pat Oliphant was going to be the original illustrator for the “Kentucky Derby” piece.
Hunter wanted him. Well, he was the guy from the Denver Post, but he couldn’t do it. Hunter woke him up at three in the morning and got him all pissed off…he ended up being nice about it, but he couldn’t do it. I mean, we didn’t decide to do it ‘til three or four days before, so what are you gonna do? [Ralph] Steadman popped into mind and, fortunately, he was in the United States trying to get some work. So it worked out great.
Even now this will fuck people up.
That was 1970 man. That’s black and white detail and that’s pretty…knocks you out.
I remember the first guy I talked to about printing: Laughton Kennedy. This old master printer/craftsman, he was saying he always wanted to design. He set everything by hand, short-run books of old California, people’s diaries, voyagers, you know, that stuff for the private collectors. Everything was all hand-set, perfectly done—he knew what made stuff look right. I learned a lot from that guy, but he always said what he wanted to design was a can of peas for a supermarket because he says, “I would do a simple black and white label and in Caslon it would say PEAS, and there would be a little black and white drawing of a pea.” And he says, “I tell ya, when you walk down the supermarket aisle the only can of peas you’d see would be that one.” [laughter]
Was that back in your college days that you met Laughton Kennedy?
Yeah. I got to know him, I forget how, historical society or something. And then he had a PR business for about a year, so he did all kinds of printing. Everything I ever did, he did. He was the guy who did that issue of Ramparts where [Edward] Keating went to interview Hugh Hefner. Keating was the publisher and he still had money then, and so it was, “Oh god what’s this going to be like?” And he was so fucking embarrassing. It was just idiotic drivel coming out of the mouths of both of them. This was before [Dugald] Stermer was there, so I’m saying, “But we have to print it,” because that was Hefner, this was the publisher. They were talking about great ideas—sex and western civilization—so I came up with this idea because I didn’t want anyone to read it. I came up to Laughton Kennedy and I said, “Laughton, here’s what I’d like you to do. I’d like you to set this stuff in that hand-set English antique type, and make it as illegible as possible. Find the hardest-to-read face you have.” So it looked great and you started reading and said, “Oh fuck, that’s too hard to read,” so you got over that embarrassing part. Then we put in a foldout of that stupid Hefner looking like an idiot. So it was sort of a satire on our own article and on the Playboy foldout idea. Not too many people got the joke, but at least our people did, so that’s what made me happy. And that Ramparts book came out [A Bomb in Every Issue: How the Short, Unruly Life of Ramparts Magazine Changed America by Peter Richardson] and they think Stermer did that—that was a long time before Stermer got there—and I was just trying to disguise an embarrassment.
[Ed. note: Author Peter Richardson points out: “The Hefner foldout Warren mentions in this interview appeared in the September 1965 issue. Dugald Stermer joined the magazine as art director in late 1964.”]
What did you think about the Richardson book?
The thing about that book is that the guy treats [David] Horowitz as a normal human being. He [Horowitz] is one of the biggest right-wing nut sheets in the country. Horowitz charmed the guy. All the Black Panther stuff came from Horowitz. I mean, it wasn’t that big a deal at the time at Ramparts. Anyway, we defended the Black Panthers because they had a perfect right by the Constitution to carry guns in the open, and the police were openly wiping them out and it was a good, goddamned ‘60s radical thing to do—and they had every right to do it. And it’s also true that later on too much drugs and too much money…
There was also COINTELPRO…
Yeah, they [the Black Panther Party] got infiltrated. The Panthers’ whole organization fell apart pretty rapidly. It was all within a period of two to three years that it all started to go down to hell in the very late ‘60s and the very bad stuff happened thereafter. But for those few years there—before Cleaver had to leave the country and he was writing the Soul On Ice letters and the Panthers were doing what they were doing—sure we defended them.
They scared the hell out of liberals, but you know they [the liberals] never had much of a backbone anyway for anything like that. The decaying Panthers of the early ‘70s—when they really went to hell—are somehow merged in history with how they started off and what they were trying to do. And you can spend a lot of time defending the Panthers, but somehow Horowitz talked him [Peter Richardson] into some goofy thing…
He just kind of missed the point there, but I don’t really want to talk shit about the guy. Oh no, Peter, hey I congratulated him. I said, man anybody that tackles that crazy operation, trying to pin down that merry-go-round for those four or five years from a distance in time is, hey, he did a pretty good job. He spent too much time with Horowitz, but other than that, the guy did a pretty good job overall.
I’m curious what the atmosphere was like in the Ramparts office. I know you famously worked way into the night on the issues….
Yeah, well you have to understand the thing didn’t have any money and it was growing enormously at the same time. I’ve read histories of Life magazine when it took off, and [Henry] Luce almost went under. He had Time going but Life got so successful—it got so big all of sudden—he had to get capitalization for it, to handle the growth and success. But he could go to protestant bankers (and god knows what). Ramparts (not that it became as big as Life magazine) had the same sort of explosion, and you know, all of a sudden, the publisher says, “I haven’t got any money anymore.” And we’d already started it—hired people, magazines were coming out and shipping, and we had to go off and try to raise money and didn’t know anything about raising money. I read a book about it with the guy who was the accountant: “This is how you raise money for a magazine.” We didn’t know shit. And it became a mad thing. Maybe two weeks out of four, sometimes almost three, we spent on running around the country, mostly to get just enough money to get the next issue out and keep the thing alive, keep it going.
So we decided on an issue, this is the cover, this and that, and you’d come back, and it’s four or five days before it has to go to press, and it wasn’t perfect and you’d say, “Fuck this. Ok, everybody here, we’re up all night. We’re gonna change this thing. It’s just not that good yet.” You know, and they’d be screaming. I mean, that’s true. I’m not apologizing for it, that’s just the way it was. What are you gonna do? I’m not going to put out some crappy issue. And if something came in at the last minute and we decided to change it at the last minute because it had more political impact or would sell better, I wasn’t going to wait a month and have somebody else get that story or twist it another way where it would have much less impact. So you know, we took shots. Those shots cost money, you know. We’d air freight issues to the newsstands. Good grief. It was reckless eccentric publishing, but it was a reckless eccentric publication in a reckless eccentric time. And you read all these guys and they’re judging it by the standards of some magazine that has Time/Life financing or something like that. We didn’t have 300 people working for us to calmly put it out and market it and sell it. Everything at once. It was nuts.
Ramparts, November 1966.
As we’re talking about this I’m thinking of the fake review of the imaginary book, Time of Assassins [by G.K. Leboeuf] in the big JFK assassination issue…
Everyone was knocking the Ramparts conspiracy things. [Robert] Scheer was never big on that stuff, having all these conspiracy guys around…
It was a whole army.
Oh yeah, they weren’t very happy because they had been working for a year on this perfect theory of the third bullet, and that sort of thing, and had it footnoted and everything. It was a huge cottage industry, and they were serious as hell. They all had their intramural feuds—it was great to watch this stuff. So this was supposed to be the big issue. Then I heard about this guy [William Penn Jones]—a little editor down in Texas who had found everybody, all these people who had died [that were] connected to the Warren Commission—and went down to see him and he was the genuine item. He had this stuff, you know. So I told Bill Turner—the FBI guy who was working for us and [who] became a good friend of mine (we did a couple books together in subsequent years)—I said lets just make sure all these motherfuckers are dead. And they were! And that really upset the spooks because that was supposed to be their issue and they were working all year on it. At the last minute I figured we’re gonna hold that stuff and we’re gonna put this wild cover on with that story.
It broke a lot of stuff open because Mark Lane had his books out and they weren’t treated in any way seriously—even though they made a lot of sales and got on lists. The New York Times, the networks, nobody would treat this stuff. Crazy people sell books, but that’s the category it was in. And that story, of all these people being dead connected to the Kennedy assassination, got the networks going and both networks got into it. Walter Cronkite got into it and he came out, [Chet] Huntley and [David] Brinkley were the big guys at NBC then, and they were out at Ramparts for two days. They all went to Texas, and, all of a sudden, it became a sort of mainstream discussion. Not that it wasn’t a national discussion before, but it broke it open to a much wider conversation, it was almost a conspiracy niche before, it wasn’t taken seriously. So it worked, but it pissed off the researchers.
Satirical review of the non-existent book, ‘Time of Assassins’ by G.K. Leboeuf, about the Kennedy Assassination.
So, of course, this satirical review came in and it was obviously a phony but it was very funny because it was making fun of the spooks. So I thought, lets put that in [the issue] so we don’t look too boring. God almighty, it was 70 pages of this stuff. It’s not that it wasn’t right or it wasn’t solid, it was just BORING. And [later] it was the Boston Globe that wrote a story knocking Ramparts for its endorsement of conspiracy theories of the Kennedy assassination. And that article said we [at Ramparts] are so crazy, “but on the other hand, there are some responsible critics, among them G.K. Leboeuf.” Who could believe that? The fucking Boston Globe.
No due diligence at all.
None! The only place that G.K. Leboeuf ever existed was a phony book review in Ramparts. They [the Boston Globe] said, “There are some responsible critics…” That was a great article. That did happen.
Ramparts, for all its so-called recklessness, never got sued, was always right, and never had to take anything back, never got caught in a hoax as such—except the hoaxes it pulled on itself, because sometimes you get a little too earnest in this business, and you gotta lay back and make fun of yourself. But we never got into trouble. We could’ve put our foot into it big, considering they were trying to make us put our foot into it big. It was just old fashioned, shoe leather journalistic practices applied to left-wing theory. The only magazine that ever came close to the overall interest was the New Masses in the ‘20s and ‘30s, which was a beautiful magazine. That was a great magazine. They were totally right on on the issues, but it was really a left-wing magazine written to a left-wing audience only. The thing that Ramparts did that was different, was that it went to the mainstream.
Can you talk a little about the PR guy, Marc Stone?
[He is] Izzy Stone and Judy Stone’s (my old friend from the [San Francisco] Chronicle) brother. Yeah, Marc, he was a sweetheart, a bundle of energy and nerves. I mean he’s a conservative leftie from the PM [Picture Magazine] period, which was a big left-wing daily in the ‘40s and ‘50s in New York. These old Reds are very conservative in their lifestyles and their approaches to things—they just are. Old lefties are conservative, so I was always driving him absolutely berserk. On the other hand, he was a very energetic and effective PR guy. He really worked hard, and he was extremely helpful; not all these stories just broke automatically in the [New York] Times or other papers. We pushed the stuff and Marc did a lot of the pushing and he did it well. He was like, “Ya reckless kids, crazy kids, you’re crazy.” The left just isn’t used to spending money either. They don’t understand that.
They get nervous around it.
Yeah, totally nervous. Culturally divided. Then there was the left divide, which is another stylistic divide. The moralism of some of the left guys just drove me nuts. I remember, I think Keating, Paul Jacobs, and myself were the only guys who signed and put up our houses and stuff like that for bail or right-of-return for Cleaver, when Eldridge wanted to come back to the country. And he had turned kinda goofy by then, he was off on his run, but the left was saying no let him rot, let him be arrested and thrown in jail. And I’m saying well wait a minute, we were backing these guys who were doing entirely legitimate things. It was government set-ups. Now, because the guy changes his politics, you wanna say fuck him and put him away? I couldn’t understand that sort of moralism.
There’s a great quote in your book about not trusting these missionaries who would boil the baby to cleanse the bathwater. You were describing why you were drawn to Jim Garrison specifically. He was a madman!
One of the reasons I bring up Jim Garrison is because as I read more about Garrison I see the parallels with Hunter. Then there were also a couple quotes about some of the people that were in your life, and it seems like there’s a similar vein that runs through….people like Conrad Lynn…. They’re Lunatics! You gotta love lunatics…lunatics who are right. Lunatics who are doing, in the general sense, god’s work, right? But they’re crazy people, all kinds of personal faults and excesses and they’re fine, and they’re fun….rabid, crazy fun. Why wouldn’t you like them?
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If you’ve made it to this point I’m convinced that you will love Warren Hinckle’s memoir, ‘If You Have a Lemon, Make Lemonade: An Essential Memoir of a Lunatic Decade.’ If you come across it, pick it up—you won’t be sorry.