ABOVE NORMAL TEMPERATURES will continue into the middle of the week. Isolated, mostly dry thunderstorms are possible across portions of the interior early this week, with the best chances tomorrow and Tuesday. (NWS)
STEPHEN DUNLAP (Fort Bragg): I have clear skies & 54F this Sunday morning on the coast but I expect to see fog when I head out for breakfast soon as the fog is large & in charge. Our forecast is for "patchy fog, sunny, mostly cloudy, partly cloudy, mostly sunny", you get the picture....
TERRY LEE BOWERS
Terry Bowers, 68, passed away on Wednesday July 26th, 2023 at Howard Memorial Hospital Adventist Health in Willits. He was born January 5, 1955 in Fort Bragg to Alton Nathan (Chuck) Bowers and M. Janeal (Tyra) Bowers. He lived in Boonville until moving to Willits in 1971 where he excelled in basketball and graduated in 1973. He was a lifelong Mendocino County resident and worked for Safeway Stores Inc., holding many different positions, including produce manager and night-crew boss, in Ukiah, Willits and Fort Bragg. He retired from Safeway after 34 years. After retiring, he pursued many interests including home remodeling, tending his many pieces of property, hunting, attending the various activities of his children and grandchildren, visiting with family and friends, working on his 1955 Chevy Bel Air, rooting on his beloved 49ers and Golden State Warriors, and traveling the world with his wife Mary. He prided himself on his work ethic and honesty. He was most proud of his children and the adults they had become and took any opportunity to share their accomplishments with others. He was also their first call if they needed help or advice.
He did not let his 2019 diagnosis of Stage 4 metastatic prostate cancer sideline him from what he wanted to do. He continued to cut his own firewood until last year, and fought valiantly until the end.
He is preceded in death by his parents Alton and Janeal Bowers, and his brother Alton Wayne Bowers. Terry is survived by his wife Mary, his children, Christina (Adam), Tracey (George), Katherine (Charlie) James (Mahdu) and Nicholas (Reannon). His grandchildren Hope Marie, Brooke Leigh, Madison Janeal, Kirsten Mary, Hailey Elizabeth, Macy James, Harrmony Nicole, Braylyn Jordan, Nathan George and Cameron William. His brother Gary (Kathy), nephews, Bryan, Eric, Mark (Heather) Dan (Kim) and Todd. Great nieces and nephews Brad, Brett (Adrianna) Brittney, Whitney (Andrew) Alice, Luke and Carl. His great-great niece and nephew, Aiden and Bliss.
Terry is also survived by his sister-in-law Lee Ann Bowers, and brother-in-law, Joseph Stetz. His cousins, Linda (Warren), Norm (Margie), Mike (Betty), Steve (Jan) and Kevin (Dana). He also leaves behind his many friends and extended family, including Mrs. Kitty Robbins, Dr. Elaine Niggemann, Dennis (Lisa) Robbins, Matt Robbins and Amy (Dana) Zupke.
Our family would also like to thank Howard Memorial Hospital Adventist Health Willits for their compassion and unwavering support during this incredibly difficult time, especially Dr. Claudia Petruncio, nurses, Amy, Damen, Sarah and Caleb.
A service and celebration of life is being planned for August 27 2023 at Anker Lucier Mortuary at 11am followed by a Bbq at 24500 Sherwood Road Willits. Please come and share a story or memory of Terry.
A million words would not bring you back because I've tried. Neither would a million tears because I've cried.
My friend’s old cat is very sick. She has contacted the mobile vet in the past but never heard back. She will try again, but is concerned that there will be no response. She doesn’t know where else to turn. She lives miles out in a rural area and thinks trying to drive her cat to a vet (if she could find one that is in the office today) would be too traumatic and that alone would kill her cat.
Any suggestions for what resources might be available to her in this emergency situation?
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Anon Coast Resident:
Yokayo Vet in Ukiah has Saturday urgent care hours. There is no one on the coast. We are experiencing a veterinary crisis and not just on the coast. ER vets in Santa Rosa turn patients away due to lack of staff. One of our local vets has over 3,000 patients and every hour of every day of the year presents emergencies. Vets are overwhelmed and the suicide rate is higher than many professions. What can we do to attract vets to the coast? It dismays me that so many pets need homes. They also need vets. Best of luck to the cat and her person. Yokayo is good and might be the only option.
* * *
Thank you for helping folks understand how difficult it is finding vet care for our pets and why. The County ACS, our local MCHS, and our local vets are currently doing all they can to attract new vets to our area. Yokayo is an excellent option.
My heart goes out to the owner of this poor senior kitty and it’s important that she understands that a mobile vet might not be able to help a kitty who truly could not survive locate a community member who has fluids on hand.
If all else fails, perhaps a vet tech could be found to administer fluids and this might enable the kitty to make it to Ukiah. I would be glad to post a request for vet tech help and fluids on our SOS- Networking for Mendocino Coast Companion Animals facebook page.
Wishing the best to this senior kitty and its owner.
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It's no wonder the suicide rate is so high among veterinarians!
I've had outstanding vets in two cities and one college town and I shudder to know how much criticism they have received over their careers from wholly ungrateful animal owners who are too self-concerned to see the bigger picture.
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It's no wonder the suicide rate is so high among veterinarians!
I've had outstanding vets in two cities and one college town and I shudder to know how much criticism they have received over their careers from wholly ungrateful animal owners who are too self-concerned to see the bigger picture.
* * *
I’m really happy for you that you are not only able but more than willing to provide the best care possible for your fur babies and yes, I know lots of folks to can afford help for their pets and do not provide it. Please know that I understand what it costs to run a vet clinic or hospital and I would never criticize a vet for what they need to charge to keep their practice going.
There are 3 non-profits on the Coast that help low-income pet owners with vet costs beyond what an owner can afford to pay. My non-profit is one of them. We see folks who deny themselves food and other life necessities in order to feed their pets and we see homeless folks who drop coins in our donation box when we are out selling raffle tickets for our fundraisers. Often seniors on fixed income only have their pets to keep them company and would be totally isolated without their pets. Would it be right to deny fixed income seniors the right to have such companionship due to their inability to fully cover vet costs?
When I was in England someone asked what I do for a living and I shared that I was retired but that I ran a non-profit that helped low-income folks get their pets to the vet. They were surprised that such a service was needed and explained that is England there was socialized medicine for pets. Folks could take their pets to low cost/no cost clinics. Oh, wouldn’t that be lovely!
Seems like we need to further educate pet owners in the USA that pets are not expendable, they seem to have figured that out, for the most part, in England.
I agree that the owner should have noticed the pet going downhill earlier on but perhaps this person was in denial due to the fact there were no funds available to get the pet to the vet and was unaware there was help out there for folks in his/her position. We need to think twice for judging someone who is in pain due to fear of losing their pet and is, perhaps, beating themselves up for not doing something sooner. Not the best time to offer judgement but always a good time to offer assistance.
Once again, thank you for being a responsible and loving pet owner!
UKIAH SHELTER PET OF THE WEEK
Maria was adopted and returned recently, through no fault of her own or her guardians, who raved about how wonderful she was. Unfortunately, she did not do well with the other k9 in the home. We found out lots about her during her stay though! Here are some of the cool things we learned:
Maria does very well in a crate, and had zero accidents in the house; she was very good riding in the car; she knows sit (working on stay and leave it) and enjoys a good kong toy.
Maria is a 100% people-dog and loves to be close to her humans all the time.
Though Maria did not do well with the dog she was living with, she was awesome on leash in public settings around other dogs, people, bikes, strollers kids and cars.
Maria will need to be the only dog in her new home, and due to showing a little too much interest in the cat, would do best without cats. Maria is a Newfoundland/Lab X (maybe!), one year old and 73 absolutely adorable pounds.
For more about her, head to mendoanimalshelter.com
For information about adoptions, call 707-467-6453.
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ANDERSON VALLEY EVENTS
Free Entry to Hendy Woods State Park for local residents
Sun 08 / 13 / 2023 at 7:00 AM
Where: Hendy Woods State Park
AV Grange Pancake and Egg Breakfast
Sun 08 / 13 / 2023 at 8:30 AM
Where: Anderson Valley Grange , 9800 CA-128, Philo
The Anderson Valley Museum Open
Sun 08 / 13 / 2023 at 1:00 PM
Where: The Anderson Valley Museum , 12340 Highway 128, Boonville
A READER WRITES: I really really think you should not deprive yourself of the pleasures in Sixpence House, which a reader offered to send to you. He didn’t adequately describe it, but please thank him/her? for introducing me to this wonderfully enjoyable writer, Paul Collins. This is exactly the kind of book you want to recommend to AVA readers. It’s all about books, by a guy who loves them and is a true scholar of them. He’s now chair of the English Department at Portland State University and the literary history detective featured on NPR (which I never listen to anymore so never heard him).
He does write in the style of Bill Bryson: curious, chasing trivia tangents, funny, etc. Just a delight! He writes about how rare we are, we—those who love and buy books, and how no one reads newspapers anymore, and he takes jabs at nonsense like homeopathy and … on and on. Not about Wales really except to tell us about this curious odd town of 1,500 people and 40 bookstores!
I love it so much I’m going to give it to our library here so others will find it and I can always dip into it again. Accept the offer from your reader for his copy. And then you tell your readers about it!
DOBBY SUMMER: A bear has been coming into my house since April. Pulling the handle off of the refrigerator. Eating everything. Even biting soda cans and drinking them. Ten feet away behind a rickety door. He was by the refrigerator so long I called 911.
They came out 6.25 miles up the ridge and said they heard a very large animal run off into the woods. I am thinking the headlights scared him. Fish and Game kept calling me.
One guy said use an air horn, and lo and behold my neighbor walks in with an air horn because she was worried about me. So every night I hear the outside door fling open I reach over and blast the air horn and he goes out without opening the refrigerator. The air horn is my friend and I'm sure it would help your friends. Good luck to us all.
TALL BLACK FENCING Surrounds What Use To Be An Open Green Lawn Walking Up To The Ukiah High School (Danilla Sands)
BIKE LANES FOR WILLITS?
Caltrans Hosting An Open House On Proposed Changes To Willits Main Street Which Include Bike Lanes
We’re hosting an open house to get public input on the Willits Bicycle Safety Enhancement Project in Mendocino County.
Caltrans has secured funds to improve the safety of State Route (SR) 20 (Old Highway 101) from Oak Street to Manor Way in Willits. The project will implement a “road diet” by modifying the striping to add bike lanes.
The concept for the project is based on the 2017 Willits Main Street Corridor Enhancement Plan and allows for future enhancements. Staff will present information on the background and purpose of the project and receive questions and comments at the meeting. The in-person meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 16, at 6 p.m. in the Little Lake Fire District Conference Room (74 E. Commercial Street) in Willits.
Please submit any comments or questions before the meeting
Strike talk is in the air. County employees of SEIU 1021 took a preliminary strike vote and the outcome was very favorable to a strike. Both sides lose when a strike happens.
How did we get to this point? The County did use $7 million of one time only money to balance this year’s budget. The Board has not offered a Cost of Living Increase for this year and the rising cost of health benefits will take a bigger bite out of paychecks. There have been problems with getting timely, accurate financial reports and this has caused angst all around. The County is going to have to increase revenue and cut costs to achieve a balanced budget in future years.
Beyond these bread-and-butter issues, there have been a couple of agenda items put forth that have been, in my opinion, disrespectful to County workers. There were also comments reported in media that one Supervisor said that if County employees went on strike for a week, no one would notice. This is an insult to all public servants and the important work being done.
Instead of having productive conversations, these actions further provoke alienation and strike talk. The Board and staff need to find ways to work together to get the County back on track.
The CEO started restructuring departments which is called the Golden Gate Initiative. The Cannabis Department has done a remarkable turnaround and I look forward to greater streamlining which will save staff and client time and resources. Changes are happening in other departments such as Planning and Building, Animal Care, Social Services to create efficiencies and save resources.
I have been working on extending renewals for cannabis cultivation permits, increasing the minimum value taxation, and waiving building permit penalties. These improvements will cut costs and increase revenues las more people are brought into compliance with the County’s tax system. When we work together, we can get things done.
Another item to consider is the Transient Occupancy Tax for Short Term Rentals. Right now it is at 10%. Other counties charge more. Every percent increase will generate about $250,000. Most of these taxes are paid by people out of County who are staying in short term rentals. This change needs to be voted on by the residents of Mendocino County. An important Board discussion will include the County’s need to generate money for competitive wages, maintaining roads, and providing public safety.
These items will be coming to the Board on Sept. 12. Of course, these aren't quick fixes but will put us on a better footing in the long term. We need to be more efficient with tax dollars, respect the people doing public service, and avoid a lose-lose situation that a strike would bring.
I will not be doing a Talk with the Supervisor this month due to a planned surgery. I am available by email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 707-972-4214.
THE GARDEN CONCERTS, Sunday, August 13
Starts at 12pm: Elena Casanova on piano will bring her friends; Rachelle Berthelsen-Davis, violin; Beth Heid, viola and Gwyneth Davis, cello to the Mendocino Coast. Together they will perform works by G. Faure', W.A. Mozart, J. Brahms including lighter works perfectly fitted for a mid-day concert in the Gardens.
Starts at 2:30pm: Led by music instructor José Soto, the LBC Mariachi Ensemble is composed of up to thirty students, ages 10-17 coming from Santa Rosa and Cloverdale. Established in 2017, these talented students are focused on musicianship, technical skills, and stage presence while celebrating the culture of Mariachi. They have participated in master classes with professional musician Jeff Nevin and his Mariachi Champana as well as award-winning Voces de Jalisco. They have performed on the main stage at the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts to a full theater, performed at Fiesta de Independencia for over 4,000 people and have participated in numerous concerts throughout Sonoma County including the Sesquicentennial Celebration at Courthouse Square in 2018.
The Symphony of the Redwoods presents these concerts as a gift to the community and the concerts are free with garden admission. Light snacks, coffee, tea and wine will be available at the event.
Please visit symphonyoftheredwoods.org for more information.
HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF MENDOCINO COUNTY
It's time to mark your calendar for our September Membership Meeting in Gualala. Join us on September 24th for a behind the scenes look at the Gualala Pioneer Cemetery restoration project. Meet us at the cemetery (just off of Old Stage Road) at 10:30am for a self-guided tour (bring your cell phone).
The Membership Meeting will start at 1:00pm at the Del Mar Center (20600 Leeward Road) Sea Ranch, just a few miles south of cemetery. Admission to this membership meeting is free for members and non-members. Light refreshments will be served. Please RSVP by September 20th.
Last week we shared an update about the repair progress at the Held-Poage Memorial Home, and several people donated. A huge thank you to our past HSMC board president, Leonard Winter, who stopped by with a check for $1,000 - it really made our day!
We appreciate all of our membership support, you continue to blow us away. Many thanks to everyone!
On Instagram and TikTok this week, we've been talking about Montgomery Woods. This beautiful State Natural Reserve located west of Ukiah along Orr Springs Road is home to what was once believed to be the tallest tree in the world, this forest has served as a beloved spot for relaxation and recreation since the nineteenth century. Our summer intern, Lili, researched Montgomery Woods and put together a great video for you to enjoy.
If you haven't been to Montgomery Woods, I highly suggest adding this to your summer bucket list.
Until next week,
Executive Director, Historical Society of Mendocino County
CATCH OF THE DAY, Saturday, August 12, 2023
MELISSA BECK, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
JENNY GRIFFIN-STEVENS, Willits. DUI with blood-alcohol over 0.15% with prior.
JASON HARROLD JR., Marysville/Fort Bragg. Domestic battery.
BENJAMIN KEATOR, Willits. Controlled substance, county parole violation.
WESLEY MIDDLETON, San Francisco/Ukiah. DUI.
BOBBY MILLER, Fort Bragg. Failure to appear.
JENNIFER SCHMITT-FELIZ, Covelo. Controlled substance for sale.
THOMAS THORSON, Nice/Ukiah. Disoderly conduct-alcohol&drugs, county parole violation.
TRISTIN WILEY, Willits. Resisting, probation revocation.
THERE'S A NEW WOLF PACK IN CALIFORNIA, wildlife officials confirmed Friday
Native to California, gray wolves were eradicated from the state in the 1920s.
by Madilynne Medina
A new gray wolf pack has been confirmed in the southern Sierra Nevada, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said in a Friday press release, making the wolves the southernmost pack in the state.
These gray wolves are more than 200 miles away from the nearest known pack in northeastern California, the agency said. Native to California, gray wolves were eradicated from the state in the 1920s, so each rare wolf sighting is investigated by the CDFW.
The wolves were spotted in the Sequoia National Forest in Tulare County in July, the CDFW said. The sighting was reported to the agency and, upon investigation, the CDFW found wolf tracks and other indicators of wolves.
Wolf presence was confirmed using 12 scat and hair samples, which the agency was able to verify belonged to gray wolves via DNA analysis, the CDFW said.
The new pack includes at least five wolves that weren't previously identified in the state, including two male and two female offspring. Another adult wolf was identified as a descendant of the first wolf identified in recent history in California, named OR-7.
OR-7 was a male wolf that crossed into California from Oregon in 2011 and made the state part of his range after traveling back and forth between the two states, the agency said on its website.
The DNA samples indicated that the breeding male wolf of the four offspring came from the Lassen Pack, the CDFW said.
Gray wolves are protected under the California Endangered Species Act, which prohibits anyone from harming, killing or capturing them.
OKAY! 4:22 and I’m heading out. Laze ‘n’ gennamins, see how he strides dozens of feet across the yard! Will he pick up the new weed whacker, which he hasn’t yet wielded? It’s a gas model. Heavier’n an electric. Can he do it?
YES! It rises off the ground! He’s bearing the entire weight of the weed whacker! unassisted!
But can he sustain it? Can he hold if off the ground and wave it like a wand through this high grass? The man has no balance. It went the way of his teeth, when he had throat cancer. Will the side-to-side motion of the tool help him cope with the vertigo?!
Okay, okay, Maybe it's not a weed whacker. Or me. Who said it was?
ELEANOR COONEY: I'd like to emphasize: that old duffer in the pic is NOT your folk hero Mitch. Behold the actual Mitch, taken just a few days ago. Please contribute to the shirt fund.
US VS. THE NOBILITY
Columnist David Brooks describes a class war between professionals and workers, coastal elites versus “the rest of us.” What he misses is that this class war is being fought at the behest of the modern version of nobility, where wealth is passed from one generation to the next. Through their professional minions these families and billionaires write the rules that maintain their economic dominance.
Both Trumpian populists and progressive professionals do the bidding of the financial nobility. The last time the legal and political power of the uber wealthy was broadly challenged was the 1960s. The children of workers and professionals shared a common vision of a better world. Persons who were invisible because of skin color, sexual orientation, gender, age, ability and spiritual orientation began to have their voices heard, most for the first time.
The counterculture challenging the dominance of financial nobility was co-opted and cast as hippies, radicals, immoral, anti-American. Cultural transformation became an evermore sophisticated creation of markets and consumers. Children sharing the vision of a more just world reverted to their class to participate in maintaining the rule of the few over the many. Financial nobles continue to make the rules that generate tensions between populists and professionals.
Jeffrey J. Olson
This is my mother's 1951 Cadillac at our house in Kentfield about 1953. This had belonged to Bill Harrah of Reno casino fame. It was to be a present for his girlfriend but when that relationship didn't work out we bought it.
We took the train to Reno to pick it up. We had a sleeper cabin and I didn't want to take my nap. But when the porter opened the bunk bed hanging above our compartment with his special key, and set up the ladder to it... well I scrambled up like it was a tree house, without complaint.
THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE
To the Editor,
Interesting commentary by Jim Shields in the July 19 issue of the Advertiser entitled "Crime and No Punishment."
Mr. Shields found three people who conveniently share his lock ’em up and throw away the key mentality who he included in his article. Sadly he offers nor suggests a solution for the "crisis" he writes about.
This year's state budget allocated $12 billion for the California prison system. This is roughly 6% of the state's total budget, more than was allocated for the state's entire public school system.
This mentality has proven to be a disaster for the taxpayers of California and the prison system which has imploded due to the inhumane conditions caused by overcrowding which resulted in Governor Newsom completely shutting down several prisons with yet more on his hit list.
These new "catch and release" policies Mr. Shields refers to have done nothing to increase crime statistics across the board.
While I appreciate Mr. Shield's opinion, I would be more appreciative of a constructive opinion in which a solution to his grievance is offered.
Alan 'Sunny' Crowe
AFFIRMATIVE ACTION: THE HISTORY OF AN IDEA
by Jonah Raskin
I followed the rise and fall of affirmative action from the moment it took effect. After all, in the mid-1970s, I was a white male in search of a teaching position, and at that time universities sought women and people of color. The president of the university —where I was a part time lecturer hired semester by semester to teach one, two or three classes— told me in his office that I could not be hired in the English Department because English had to hire women and minorities. He added that I could be hired in the communication studies department, though I had no degree in communications or media and no experience in teaching media and communications. Go figure.
I did have a Ph.D. and years of experience as a teacher in the US and in Europe. For a brief time, I taught at an all-Black university in North Carolina and was accepted by the Black community, befriended and invited to the homes of Black people.
In the late 1980s, I was hired to teach media, and did so for decades, eventually becoming a tenured professor and the chair of the department, all of which made me very happy. I believe that I added a great deal to the curriculum because I had been out of academia for a decade and had worked for newspapers and magazines and had lived in Mexico. During the time I taught media, I saw that some unqualified whites were hired and became tenured; they twisted a lot of arms. Some qualified women who received tenure left the university and moved on to teaching positions elsewhere. The affirmative action program did not make durable changes. During the time I taught, no people of color were hired in communication studies or in English.
Was that racist? Race probably had something to do with that hiring practice, but it was not the only factor. Very few qualified people of color applied for jobs at Sonoma State University (SSU), where I was teaching, in part because SSU was a largely white institution and people of color understandably didn’t want to work at a largely white institution. For much the same reason, many students of color didn’t attend SSU, though they were admitted, because the student body was largely white and they didn’t want to feel like a minority in a sea of whites.
At the end of June 2023, the US Supreme Court ruled that the affirmative action programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina were unconstitutional and in violation of the law of the land. Supporters of affirmative action, which had allowed colleges to use race and ethnicity in their admissions policies, say they were not surprised by the 6-3 ruling. Indeed, the Supreme Court had been drifting slowly but surely toward conservative and right wing positions for much of the last decade, thanks in large part to Donald Trump’s appointments when he was president from 2016 to 2021.
The US is not the only country in the world to drift toward the right. One can point to other places where reactionary ideas and values have cropped up. Recently, a French police officer shot and killed a 17-year-old named Nahel. Shades of George Floyd, the Black man murdered by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2020. Floyd’s death led to widespread international protests and calls to defund and abolish the police, which had zero chance of happening. All societies, including the U.S. need the police.
All nine of the justices on the supreme court serve for life. They are supposed to be “above” politics, but that is not now the case. It has never been the case, ever since the creation of the court in the 18th century, soon after the War of Independence and the founding of the nation.
The Supreme Court was supposed to be the third branch of government in the “balance of powers” that includes the legislative branch (congress), whose members are elected and the president, who is also elected, and who is at the heart of the executive branch.
In 2022, in an historic decision, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade (1973). In that 1973 case the justices ruled 7-2 that a pregnant woman had the liberty to choose whether or not to have an abortion. Reporter Paul Blumenthal wrote in the Huffington Post that the most recent decision about affirmative action, “puts an end to most systems designed to help Black and Latino students access higher education after centuries of racial discrimination.” Blumenthal added, “colleges and universities will no longer be allowed to seek greater diversity of their student bodies.”
White people with money and social connections will find that the doors to higher education will be opened wider than they have been, ever since the 1960s, when affirmative action programs went into effect. The civil rights movement made affirmative action a reality.
In the latest 6-3 ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts said that “skills built” and “lessons learned” should determine who is admitted to colleges, not “the color of their skin.” President George W. Bush appointed Roberts in 2005, after he proved himself to be a reliable conservative.
The most immediate effect of the June 2023 ruling will most likely be a decrease in the number of Black and Brown students admitted to elite colleges like Harvard, where they had been rejected for decades precisely because of the color of their skin. For a brief time in the 1950s and 1960s, the “Warren Court,” as it was known, handed down liberal decisions, such as Brown v. Board of Education (1954), which stated that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal,” and that the laws that imposed them, violated the US constitution.
Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote the unanimous decision in Brown, which overturned Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), a landmark case which had affirmed the legality of segregation and separate schools, buses, bathrooms and drinking fountains for Blacks and whites. Separate was never equal. It benefited whites, but not Blacks who usually attended schools that were inferior academically speaking to white schools.
Over the course of its long history, the supreme court has mostly ruled in favor of white people, corporations, the wealthy and powerful. Those who think of the US as a democracy might remember that when the nation was founded only white men with property were allowed to vote, and that it wasn’t until decades later that Black people and women won the right to go to the polls and cast ballots. They won that right because they marched, sat-in and were arrested and jailed.
In the 1930s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had a devil of a time with the supreme court which aimed to block New Deal policies and programs that aimed to help the homeless, the hungry and the unemployed.
It seems to me that democracy is an ideal that has rarely been practiced in the U.S. In an imperfect world, there will never be perfect equality, but this nation of ours ought to aim for greater equality than now exists.
I found, during my teaching years, that students of color often expressed ideas and views that were insightful and valuable and that no white students expressed. Diversity in the classroom benefited everyone, including me. I learned from students, even when they said things that were false and misleading. Those students provided information about themselves and about their generation that I otherwise would not have learned on my own. In our imperfect world, colleges and universities are imperfect institutions.
Learning and teaching, which are not the same thing, are always in need of improvement.
Teachers teach. Students don’t always learn. It’s essential that teachers make learning primary, and that they shape their teaching methods so that students can and do learn. I had to learn that lesson for myself. No one taught it to me, not when I was an undergrad, not when I was in graduate school and not when I was first hired to teach at a college in 1967, when many students went to college to avoid the draft, escape combat and perhaps death in Vietnam.
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
My goats taught me the importance of mothering. I had one who was a great mother. She allowed me to help her kids when needed but was attentive and caring of them simultaneously. I obviously was co parenting in her estimation.
One day I watched when her kids went adventuring around a tree out of her sight. Another young doe took the opportunity to investigate the kids. Something she had not previously been allowed to do. One of the kids got nervous and made a bleat for Mom. Who came running with thundering hooves around the tree and chased the young doe off. It was funny to watch a post partum bellied mom run to the defense of her kids but I was full of admiration over the quality of mothering involved.
Attentive mothers in human society do not get the respect they should. While a kid can survive without a mom, even thrive, and certainly can suffer from a totally self involved mom, a good mother is a treasure in her society that deserves admiration beyond what they are given. Self sacrifice is baked into the job and tends to get taken for granted but both the kids and their society should be aware of the nature of it. Hooray for your banty and all good mothers of every stripe.
MEMO OF THE AIR: Shmuel of the Hunt (or) My chivalric fiasco.
Here's the recording of last night's (2023-08-11) nearly-seven-hour-long Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg (CA) and KNYO.org: https://tinyurl.com/KNYO-MOTA-0553
The Show: Expanded announcements. Poetry. Advice on reducing stress, avoiding a car crash, losing a sinister tail, choosing a cult, breeding royalty, etc. Items from Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s and the Comtesse DeSpair’s Morbid Fact Du Jour Newsletters. Lesser-known fairy tales.
Eleanor Cooney’s dream of squalor. Chris Skyhawk on the perfidy of his imagined nemeses, Lee and Ted. John Pilger on how propaganda works. Tommy Wayne Kramer on the late, lamented art of conversation. All about EmJay Wilson’s first bully. Stories by David Herstle Jones, Clifford Allen Sanders, Mitch Clogg, Paul Modic, K.C. Meados of the Ukiah Daily Journal, Mark (The Major) Scaramella, Kent Wallace, Maizie Malone, Alexander Cockburn, Tommy Wayne Kramer, Manuel Vicent (translated by Louis Bedrock), and Ezekiel Krahlin. I read George Saunders’ short story My Chivalric Fiasco from his award-winning collection Tenth of December. (Get your own copy.) And, at the end, a recorded first-person true story of an encounter with a Dero.
Email your written work on any subject and I'll read it on the very next Memo of the Air.
Besides all that, at https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com you'll find a fresh batch of dozens of links to worthwhile items I set aside for you while gathering the show together, such as:
Ink leaf boats. Try it. You need a ball-point pen, a leaf and a pan of water or milk.
Goodness gracious, great balls of fire, said the Queen, If I had them, I’d be King.
XKCD solar energy tip: “To maximize sun exposure, always orient your panels downward and install them on the surface of the sun.”
And Guido Stalin. Wassamatta you, Guido, hey? [SMECK!]
Marco McClean, email@example.com, https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com
LIVING THROUGH MAUI’S UNIMAGINABLE WILDFIRES
Hawaiians who survived Lahaina’s deadly fires described an inferno that blackened the sky and laid waste to entire neighborhoods.
by Carolyn Kormann
Lahaina was dry enough to burn, in part, because agriculture and development turned it into a tinderbox.
On Tuesday morning, an herbalist named Spice Prince was at his shop in Lahaina, Hawaii, preparing for the launch of a new perfume line, when gnarly winds started to topple trees and power lines in his neighborhood. After an exhausting few hours of damage control, he fell asleep on the floor with his dog. Then the smell of smoke woke him up.
Prince has lived on the island of Maui for thirty-five years, he said, since Lahaina had only one street light. He saw billowing dark clouds, but the power was out, so he couldn’t find out what was happening. He ran to Front Street, the main road, and was met with gridlock—no one was getting anywhere. He rushed back to get his computer, as the air started to darken. “It just started getting so black,” he told me. He knocked on his neighbor’s door, saying, “We’ve got to go!” But his neighbor had cats and didn’t want to leave. “He just shut the door in my face,” Prince recalled. Over the phone, I could hear him start to sob.
“I ran with my dog in my backpack, in my shorts and flip-flops,” Prince told me. The world was an inferno. “It wasn’t like a flame—it was just, like, dragon-breath orange.” He walked up a mountain road in the night, leaving behind all of his herbs, plants, elixirs, surfboards, and a collection of vintage hunting bows. “I’ve gathered medicines since I was six years old—I’ve lost it all,” he said. “It’s like I’m coming out of the womb, starting my life over with nothing.”
Lahaina is now almost completely gone. “It’s like a nuclear bomb went off,” Michiko Smith, who grew up in Lahaina and fled through the fires, told me, on Thursday. In just a few hours, the confluence of a high-pressure system to Maui’s north, and the low pressure linked to Hurricane Dora, five hundred miles to the south, created raging, dry downslope winds that fanned flames and blasted them into town. People fled through blaze after blaze—some were stuck in a traffic jam leading to Kahului, others were jumping in the ocean—all facing the real possibility of burning alive. Smith’s sister Ariana had to walk barefoot out of town as homes exploded around her.
At least fifty-five people were killed, and many more remain missing. On Thursday, in the early afternoon, President Joe Biden declared a major disaster in Hawaii, opening streams of federal aid and sending in the Coast Guard, the Navy, the National Guard, and the U.S. Army. On Thursday night, Governor Josh Green declared the Lahaina fire “likely the largest natural disaster in Hawaii’s state history.”
Was it natural? No one can yet say with certainty what sparked the first fires, although there is much discussion of the local electric company’s poorly maintained power lines and infrastructure. But what’s clear is why the blaze grew so colossal, so quickly. Lahaina was dry enough to burn, in part, because agriculture and development turned it into a tinderbox.
The island of Maui is shaped roughly like a turtle, and Lahaina, which means “cruel sun,” was once a riparian paradise on the south side of the turtle’s head. The West Maui Mountains above Lahaina contain one of the wettest places on the planet; Pu‘u Kukui, the highest peak, receives roughly three hundred and seventy-five inches of rain a year. In the late eighteenth century, a British captain called Lahaina the “Venice of the Pacific.” In the nineteenth century, Lahaina was the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii; Moku‘ula, the home of Hawaiian royalty, was situated on a tiny island in the middle of a pond. But, when colonizers razed native forests to make room for sugarcane, pineapple, and cattle, the area dried out. Water from the mountains flowed into concrete irrigation ditches, instead of natural streams and aquifers. The pond was paved over for a parking lot.
Foreigners also brought new plants, replacing native vegetation with invasive species like fountain and guinea grasses, which have evolved to burn. When the sugarcane industry declined, landowners made no effort to restore their vast lands, or to rebuild streams. Some sold to developers, who built resorts and new subdivisions. Water management and control remained largely in the hands of private companies, which have hoarded resources. Although residents have, at times, had to ration water, hotels pump it into lawns, golf courses, and pools. “Not only has the landscape been changed to not retain as much water as it used to,” Willy Carter, a graduate student studying brush fires in Maui, told me, “but it’s getting sucked and diverted in the wrong directions, away from these local population centers.”
At a news conference addressing the fires, Green said, “Climate change is here, and it’s affecting the islands.” While connecting the warming world to any single catastrophe is always a challenge, the climate crisis, in many places, is undoubtedly responsible for warmer, drier conditions, leading to extreme weather and tragedy. Rising global temperatures have amplified preëxisting fire seasons in the American West, often to devastating ends. In Hawaii, however, fires were never a regular feature of the landscape. Instead, Carter told me that fires in recent years, and this horrifying week, were fuelled, in part, by persistent drought, and even more by human pressures on the island’s ecology. “This is so far from a natural process,” he said.
When the fire jumped the highway in Lahaina, Maranda Schossow, a lithe twenty-nine-year-old who likes to dance, was driving back to her Front Street apartment to get her two cats, Clio and Gianna, and whatever else she could grab. Schossow has lived in Lahaina for ten years. “I thought there was gonna be a little more time,” she told me, on Thursday evening, from the shelter of a packed house in Napili. As she drove down the highway bypass, she saw house after house burst into flames: “It happened in, like, thirty minutes. The street was so congested. No one knew what to do.” She couldn’t see any cops or officials.
Schossow started driving on the other side of the street, around other cars. Huge glowing pieces of ash started falling, and palm trees were burning. “Everything around me started going completely black, like it was midnight,” she said. “I couldn’t see a thing. I was, like, ‘Oh, my God, I’m gonna be up in smoke soon.’ “ She drove a little farther, then parked on the sidewalk, unsure of whether to run or drive. If she got out of the car, she wondered, would she be able to breathe or would she pass out? Finally, fearing that her car would explode, she followed her instinct. “I told my car, ‘I love you,’ and I just started running down the street.”
A building in Schossow’s apartment complex, Lahaina Residential, was on fire, but hers wasn’t yet. “I said a prayer,” she said. “I was, like, ‘Just get the cats.’ I shoved them in one carrier. They’re both super fat, so I don’t even know how I could even carry them, but I think I just had extra-strength mode.” She ran as far as she could and then saw someone she knew, in a truck, who let her jump in the back. As they drove out, she saw people throwing themselves into the ocean. Parents were running, trying to shield their kids’ heads.
On Thursday evening, I reached Ke‘eaumoku Kapu, the sixty-year-old director of Nā ‘Aikāne o Maui Cultural Center, in Lahaina. He had just returned to the area as part of a supply convoy—stocked with water, food, diapers, hand wipes—for people who had not evacuated. “There’s a lot of stragglers,” he told me. “They’re like zombies right now.”
When we spoke, Kapu was standing on a hill near his home, looking for hot spots of lingering fire in the town below. At the time, some of his relatives were still missing. I asked him what he could see.
“Total devastation,” he said.
On Tuesday, after Kapu fled Lahaina, his son called him about the cultural center, which held stone artifacts, traditional drums, feather capes, and many sculptures by the wood carver Sam Kaha‘i Ka‘ai, whom the Hawaiian government has called a “living treasure.” In particular, the center housed two wooden sculptures that depicted a male and a female deity. Ka‘ai had carved them to grace the Hōkūleʻa, a traditional seagoing outrigger built in the seventies to revive the lost art of Polynesian voyaging.
“Dad, our cultural center burned to the ground,” his son told him.
Kapu had to call Ka‘ai and tell him the news. “He just went into tears,” Kapu told me, his voice catching. “We lost things that can’t ever be replaced.”
(The New Yorker)
by Ted Dace
When a wave passes through a flock of starlings, you'd swear some kind of force-field is coordinating their movements. Yet the effect comes from nothing more than each starling responding quickly to changes in the movements of its neighbors. In a process described mathematically by the science of complexity, flocking is a group-level phenomenon that emerges from the interactions of individual birds.
Tribal societies, on the other hand, operate primarily by collective intention. People get together and decide what they're going to do, be it gathering or hunting or tool-making or partying or migrating or whatever. According to Marc Slors, writing for the Review of Philosophy and Psychology, in complex societies economic activities tend to fragment into narrowly defined roles. Most of us have only the vaguest idea of how the tiny part we play combines with the roles performed by other people to produce the desired result. As with starlings flying in formation, global coordination emerges blindly from local interactions. Though complex societies originated in agriculture and the artificial selection of plant and animal traits, in the process we ourselves became subject to a higher-level form of natural selection. Over many millennia attitudes that contributed to beneficial group-level effects were selected over those that did not.
As Slors observes, “the psychological capacities and tendencies that underlie following tradition, favouring routines, being susceptible to conventions, etcetera, are selected for and passed on because they allowed stable role-divisions, norms and institutions to emerge as group-level phenomena, without any need for collective intentionality.” As a species we were selected for our ability to participate as equals in small bands. In a complex society our fitness is determined by our willingness to conform to the requirements of group-level phenomena outside human intentionality.
In the sense of the invisible hand of the free market, capitalism is the apotheosis of social organization on the basis of an emergent group-level phenomenon. So long as we all narrowly pursue our personal interests, the invisible hand — like the one that coordinates starlings in a flock — ensures that the sum total of individual self-serving decisions translates into an increase in the aggregate wealth of society. Funny, though, that the newly generated wealth tends to concentrate at the top. The only collective intentionality left in the economy is the class war directed by capitalists and their paid-for politicians to ensure that the invisible hand feeds them first and the rest of us later if at all.
But even those at the top, in the end, have no real power. The continued pursuit of private profit despite the resulting ecological destruction and climate destabilization — which threaten to sink the ship and everyone aboard — demonstrates that the cancerous growth imperative of the emergent phenomenon has overcome even the elites who think they're in control.
The current worldwide crisis brings to mind the many civilizations of antiquity that ultimately failed after having generated vast wealth through division of labor and large-scale infrastructure projects like irrigation and transportation and public buildings. As society complexifies, it requires increasingly elaborate and extensive bureaucracy to keep it all running properly. Ancient empires became vulnerable to collapse because the benefits of complexity wane over time until it becomes a burden. When society has been given over to an emergent phenomenon without the capacities for reason or intention, the only conceivable response to the crisis of over-complexity is to continue growing and complexifying. This universal tendency is well illustrated by the collapse of the Western Roman Empire as described by the archeologist Joseph Tainter.
Though we call it the Dark Ages, the medieval period saw the restoration of human-scale intentional living until increased trade triggered a shift from an economy of mutual cooperation to a system based on money, the lifeblood of the emergent phenomenon that once again became ascendant. True, millions were liberated from servitude to warmongering aristocrats, but the loss of stability and genuine community most likely played a key role in the defining event of early modernity, the 200-year long witch mania, a collective fever that finally broke in the late 17th century.
What's really creepy is how easily we lose sight of the influence wielded by the emergent phenomenon over our thoughts. Like a parasite that injects a numbing agent along with its offspring into a host, the phenomenon conceals its effect so we don't know we're being hijacked, reprogrammed to propagate its values in place of human values. Natural selection — or perhaps in this case unnatural selection — favors emergent phenomena that distract their hosts either by numbing us through mindless entertainment or diverting our attention to a designated enemy. It could be marginalized women demonized as witches and blamed for calamities or communists demonized as subversives bent on destroying our freedom. The latest iteration is Russians trying to undermine our alleged democracy in cahoots with MAGA Republicans.
Since group-level phenomena emerge from the interactions of individuals, it makes sense that there's been a resurgence of collective irrationalism in the age of (anti)social media, which enable people to interact exclusively with like-minded individuals, reinforcing each other's beliefs while filtering out opposing points of view. The Democratic-aligned organization Daily Kos nicely encapsulates this development.
On July 24, a Daily Kos member going by the name of Dartagnan posted an article under the headline, “Trump and Putin need each other more than ever. It's a matter of survival for both.” Four years after the Mueller investigation failed to find evidence that Trump coordinated with the Russian government to prevent Hillary Clinton from winning the 2016 election, Daily Kos remains committed to this notorious conspiracy theory. According to Dartagnan, Trump “vigorously pushed his insistence that the Mueller investigation found 'no collusion' between the Trump campaign and Russia, neatly sidestepping the fact that determining 'collusion' (not a legal term) was never the subject of that investigation.”
I followed the link contained in the phrase, “never the subject,” to a 2019 article in Politico. The key passage is the following:
“We did not address ‘collusion,’ which is not a legal term,” Mueller added. “Rather, we focused on whether the evidence was sufficient to charge any member of the campaign with taking part in a criminal conspiracy. It was not.”
In other words, Mueller did indeed investigate collusion between Trump and the Russian government but simply noted that the legal term for collusion is “criminal conspiracy.” The fact that Mueller failed to find evidence for criminal conspiracy, i.e. collusion, effectively exonerated Trump of the charge. Dartagnan's claim was clearly disingenuous.
When I came across it, the article had 226 recommendations and 55 comments, all of them uncritically supportive. So I registered with Daily Kos and posted a comment. Since Dartagnan's twisting of the facts could not have been more blatant, I wondered what kind of response my post would evoke.
I got my answer from TrueBlueMajority: Mueller did not exonerate Trump, you see, because a true exoneration would mean we know for a fact that Trump did not collude with the Russians. Needless to say, a negative is hard to prove. Like any conspiracy theory, this one has a built-in device that renders it impervious to refutation. Not only is no evidence necessary to establish its truth but no amount of evidence to the contrary is sufficient to refute it. The Mueller investigation had all the time, money and dedicated personnel to bring to light whatever evidence of conspiracy was out there. Yet the true believers weren't swayed in the least by its failure to find anything.
When I tried to post a reply, I discovered that I had been banned. It seems that my comment was worse than merely wrong. It was abhorrent. “Right wing talking points,” according to TrueBlueMajority, “are not allowed here.” So even if what you say is correct, if you touch the taboo of “right wing talking points,” you're vaporized. I also noticed that my post had been flagged, and when I checked the thread two days later, it was gone. Apparently an administrator determined that my comment was a danger to the uniformity of thought on Daily Kos and had to be scrubbed. That TrueBlueMajority's response also got scrubbed was a regrettable but unavoidable consequence.
A new comment replaced our brief exchange:
What??? Reelect Trump to help our enemy Putin ??? He must we are Stupid ???
You'd think a robot wrote that, and in a sense you'd be right. There's no protest on Daily Kos against its censorship of dissident voices. In fact the mainstream left, as Glenn Greenwald frequently points out, is totally committed to online censorship and has no problem with FBI or State Department officials pressuring Big Tech companies to ban accounts that peddle “disinformation,” which often means accurate information that contradicts the disinformation flooding the mass media. Hasn't liberalism always been wedded to free speech rights? How can liberals not only tolerate but insist on systematic state-imposed censorship unless their thoughts are no longer their own? The mass hysteria that set in within days of the 2016 election of Trump has robbed liberal America of all sense and reason. Elites in the Democratic Party, the corporate media and the national security state are more than happy to keep fanning the flames of fear. All that's required beyond this intentional act is a slew of websites where liberals can interact so as to reinforce the delusion that the Orange Monster is so dangerous that any statement at odds with the party line, even a true statement, must be deleted and flushed down the memory hole.
In the simpleminded world of the emergent phenomenon, every issue reduces to black and white. You're either on our side or Trump's — and, by extension, Putin's. Greenwald reports that when Senator Rand Paul, in the first year of the war, tried to impose basic oversight and auditing procedures on the billions of dollars spent to arm Ukraine, he was denounced by not only Chuck Schumer but fellow Republican Mitch McConnell as a Kremlin asset. There cannot be any wavering in our commitment to Ukraine or any questioning of our ultimate victory over the evil Putin regime. Where Dartagnan says the war is going very badly for Putin, I'm reminded of the steady stream of reports from Vietnam declaring that “victory is just around the corner.” You can't reflect on the messy business of why a war is happening in the first place when you're fixated on victory for “our side.”
You know you're dealing with a belief that emerged blindly from the matrix of human interactions when the people promoting that belief never engage in honest argumentation but rely instead on a mishmash of vacuous catchphrases, personal attacks, deflection, guilt by association, etc. The only way out of the maze is reason. If Putin attacked Ukraine to restore Russian imperialism, why did he wait until NATO had built up Ukraine's defenses? Why not do it years earlier when Ukraine was weak? The only reasonable explanation is that he saw NATO infiltration of Ukraine as a threat to Russia's security and sought to beat back that threat. In fact, US leaders have known since the 90s that the entire spectrum of Russian leadership regarded NATO expansion as an existential threat, particularly if it included Ukraine. Luring Russia into an expensive war so as to weaken and perhaps even topple Putin appears to have been the collective intent of US-NATO elites.
Not Russian but US imperialism is at the root of the war in Ukraine. Russia was targeted because its growing trade with western Europe, particularly Germany, threatened to loosen the ties that bind the former imperial powers to the US, a key element of its continued global dominance.
Driving US policy is a group-level phenomenon that emerged all the way back in colonial times. From day one this country has been devoted to expansion and growth, in the words of historian William Appleman Williams, “as a way of avoiding the fundamental challenge of creating a humane and equitable community or culture.” Williams quotes Wisconsin Senator James Doolittle, who predicted that free land in the West “will postpone for centuries, if not forever, all serious conflict between capital and labor.” Empire, first in North America and then overseas, became a way of life for Americans because the alternative is the hard work of building an egalitarian cooperative society. Unlike empires of old that sought to carve out an exclusive sphere of influence, the US went everywhere and anywhere to ensure that markets stayed open for American-made goods and, more recently, American-built factories manned by poorly paid locals. The side effect of this enterprise has included dozens of coups to remove governments that resisted the flood of cheap US products in favor of domestic production. From the brutal years-long subjugation of the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century to Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, millions have died in wars instigated by the US so as to beat back the socialist threat, show the world who's boss, keep the money flowing and avoid having to think and live intentionally.
We sold our soul to the phenomenon. With the unstoppable rise of China and its tightening alliance with Putin's Russia, US elites — liberals as much as conservatives — are awakening in a cold sweat to the inevitable outcome of that sale.
BE REGULAR AND ORDERLY in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.
— Gustav Flaubert
UKRAINE, SATURDAY, AUGUST 12TH
Russian officials claim that Ukraine unsuccessfully attempted to strike the Crimea bridge with rockets on two occasions.
A Su-30 fighter jet crashed during a training flight in Russia’s Kaliningrad region, killing the two pilots on board.
Ukrainian officials reported that an elderly woman and a police officer were killed by Russian shellings in the Kharkiv region in eastern Ukraine and in Zaporizhia in the south.
Moscow said 20 Ukrainian drones were shot down and electronically suppressed in an early morning attack over Crimea.
— Al Jazeera
BACK TO MAIN STREET
by Alexander Cockburn (Fall, 1998)
Fall is always the best time to meander around the country. Across the Midwest the corn is being harvested. The browns and golds of stubble and still-standing stalks warm those vast flat or slightly undulating vistas.
In Chicago, in Danny Postell's and Tom Petratis' nice apartment in Rodgers Park — $600 a month, a pleasant mixed ethnic neighborhood, small lakeside park and public beach available for dips in Lake Michigan, which I took. We looked at the map. The decision, as always, is whether to head southwest along old 66, or straight west through Iowa and Nebraska, or take the northerly routes through the Dakotas. This time we aim to go along upper Missouri, right under the Canadian border, maybe go through Glacier National Park. The old Lewis and Clark route, more or less. (One of the local papers had a story about new efforts to find their camp sites. It seems that some of the men on the Lewis and Clark expedition had syphilis, which they treated with mercury. The mercury hangs around in the soil, and so now the researchers run around with sensors and locate the sites.)
About 100 miles along 94 from Minneapolis we came to Sauk Center, and espied a sign for the Sinclair Lewis Interpretive Center. Lewis was born in Sauk Center, which he offered to the world as Gopher Prairie in Main Street, the novel published in 1920 that made his name.
Fortunately the Info Center has not yet found the money to transform itself into an interactive learning experience in the modern manner, replete with audio-visual aids and the indispensable computers. In fact, the “center” is an old-fashioned small museum with fading photographs and photostats of Lewis's working manuscripts. Some of these were detailed plans Lewis drew of his fictional towns, plus his real estate maps of the inhabitants' precise locations and their family histories. Every time he visited a graveyard, he'd take down names for future use.
The Center, unsurprisingly, presented Lewis as a Man of Letters, gravely posed in tweeds. The only indication that he might have been somewhat of a rip-snorter was a photograph of Marcella Powers, the young aspiring actress with whom Lewis began a five-year relationship in 1939, when she was 18 and he was 54 and still married to Dorothy Thompson. From her later letters, Marcella, who died in 1975, seems to have been a lively and intelligent person. My father, who met Lewis in Berlin in the late 1920s, recalled “Red” Lewis as a boozer of formidable proportions.
I'd forgotten how good a writer Lewis was. “This is America,” he wrote in the epigraph to Main Street. “Main Street is the climax of civilization. That this Ford car might stand in front of the Bon Ton Store, Hannibal invaded Rome and Erasmus wrote in Oxford cloisters. What Ole Jenson the grocer says to Ezra Stowbody the banker is the new law for London, Prague, and the unprofitable isles of the sea; whatsoever Ezra does not know and sanction, that thing is heresy, worthless for knowing and wicked to consider.”
To give some longer sense of perspective, the interpretive Center also has an interesting photograph of a Viking Altar stone into which Norsemen, wandering across the prairie, drilled four holes to support a canopy under which a priest had celebrated mass in 1362. Bishop George Spettz rededicated the stone in 1975.
We left the Interpretive Center and headed for Sauk Center's greatest pride, Main St., though the citizens were naturally furious when the novel was first published. Now the banner on Main St. says, “A View of the Past, A Vision of the Future.”
What stores now line the prime block of what Lewis called the “climax of civilization”? On the east side, going from south to north are: Sauk Center Eye Clinic; P's and C's Computing; John W. Meyer, Attorney at Law; Hidden Treasures Christian Books and Gifts, with a pretty young woman presiding over appalling kitsch including a brown t-shirt with JPS on the front and the slogan Jesus Delivers; the Heartland Gallery, more kitsch, and upstairs Sherry Olsen's Therapeutic Massage; empty store and an old sign with the false promise “coming soon”; Blue Sky Satellite; Main Street Cinema featuring Wesley Snipes in Blade; bakery with empty trays in window; J&J Custom Printing, with more kitsch; Main Street Video; Real Estate Income Tax Preparation; State Farm Agency; Evelyn's Beauty Salon; Main Street Cafe; Hair and Body Connection.
On the west side of Main Street, going north to south: Photo X-Press; dentist; Mead's Department Store; Jimmy's Pizza; Martin's Jewelry; vacant; Larson, Optometrist; Center Floral, desolate kitsch; Treonne's Clothes; Ben Franklin Drug; Cobblestone Gift Shop, a holocaust of kitsch, small carved wooden things and everywhere the stench of scented lamp oil and potpourri; Legend Insurance.
Lewis's eyes would have surely gleamed more happily at the signage along Sinclair Lewis Ave., running west from Main St., starting with the handsome Palmer House, where he once worked as a night clerk. On the north side of the street, the Red Carpet Bar and Grill; Unger Furniture; Sportsmen's Lights, a saloon; Beste's Bar. On the south side, the TicToc Bar and the Mustang Bar.
So much for Main Street today, and as Lewis wrote of Main Street back then, you will find the same shops and stores from Ohio to the Carolina Hills, plus the WalMart is never far away. There too they were all enjoying themselves over the Lewinsky scandal. Lewis would surely have found that heartening.
THE PROTESTANT ETHIC AND THE SPIRIT OF WOKENESS