Press "Enter" to skip to content

Mendocino County Today: Friday, Sept. 8, 2023

Sunny | Arch Bridge | Nominated Students | Panther Football | Student Vaccinations | Cactus Blooming | Albion Campground | Water Permit | Meet Madeline | Mendocino Tents | Morning Glories | Roofing Exemption | Skatepark Students | Ed Notes | Food Security | Pallet Bench | Trump Not | Woke Politics | Westport Cemetery | Playing Lotto | Yesterday's Catch | Virtual Meetings | Raskin Reading | Wine Shots | Commercial Time | Ma Bosa | Literarian Yamazaki | Herb 1953 | Farmworker Unions | Four Guys | RFK Jr Interview | Spirit Shot | Bumpy Ride | Great Antonio | Hippie Chicks | Autumn Day | Mescalero Apaches | Ukraine | Albatross | Warfare State | Learn Banjo

* * *

DRY WEATHER is expected for the next seven days. Near normal temperatures are expected through Saturday. Warmer temperatures are forecast for Sunday into early next week, particularly across the interior. (NWS)

STEPHEN DUNLAP (Fort Bragg): Hello 40's my old friend, autumn is on it's way again. A few passing high clouds & 49F on the coast this Friday morning. There is patchy fog in the forecast but I do not see any fog nearby? Next week is looking summer like.

* * *

Russian Gulch Bridge (Jeff Goll)

* * *


Congratulations to the following students!

Staff nominate a student for a variety of reasons, mostly reflecting great effort or improvement, kindness and attitude! The student received a letter of award home and a $6 Mosswood card! Congratulations!

Nominated Student, Nominating Teacher

Amalinalli Sanchez, Farber

Luis Mendoza, Malfavon

Jose Alvarez, Cook

Ashley Garibay, Suarez

Wyatt Marcum, Labowitz

Marcos Estrada Howard

Anthony Gonzalez, Kira Brennan

Miguel Marron, Hill

Kamila Suarez, Kira Brennan

DiegoTorales, Folz

Tricia Anguiano, Ewing

Mariluna Ramirez, Honegger

Kelly Crisman, Bublitz

* * *

SPORTS NOTE: Wednesday night, Anderson Valley Soccer made the nearly three hour trip up to South Fork High School and took a 7-0 victory over the Cubs! GO PANTHERS!


Make the trip up to Laytonville to see the new and improved AVHS football team take on the Laytonville Warriors! Game is at 6pm!

* * *


More than 500 California public schools are being audited by the state because they reported that more than 10% of their kindergarten or seventh-grade students were not fully vaccinated last school year. Schools that allow students to attend school without all their vaccinations are in jeopardy of losing funding.

The audit list, released by the California Department of Public Health, includes 450 schools serving kindergarten students and 176 schools serving seventh graders with low vaccination rates. Fifty-six of the schools serve both grade levels. Another 39 schools failed to file a vaccination report with the state.

“Schools found to have improperly admitted students who have (not) met immunization requirements may be subject to loss of average daily attendance payments for those children,” the California Department of Public Health said in an email.

Students who are overdue for their vaccinations or who have been admitted to schools conditionally while they catch up on vaccines are not fully vaccinated, according to the state. Students who are in special education or have a medical exemption are not required to be vaccinated.

Here are the schools in Mendocino county on the list:

SUPERINTENDENT of the Boonville schools, Louise Simson, responds: “We are diligently working to ensure all students are vaccinated and eligible to attend school. At the Junior/Senior high school, we only have two students who don't have the correct paperwork on file.”

* * *

(photo by Mary Pat Palmer)

* * *


2023 has been a pivotal year at Albion. There have been more visitors this year than at any time before. People travel to Albion campground to connect with nature, go fishing, and spend quality time with family and friends. It has been the objective of the Albion staff this year to help guests experience all that Albion has to offer. After many complaints about disruptive behavior by some guests that have disregard for others around them, Albion made a decision to enforce policies and rules that have been in place for many years. The enforcement was not received well by those that have their own agenda. They were angry, disrespectful and even resorted to writing vulgar graffiti on pillars under the bridge aimed at Albion staff. Only to be discovered by young children playing by the beach. Our goal is for all guests to enjoy their stay at Albion and we will continue to do our best to that end.

— Albion Staff

If anyone has questions regarding the rules and regulations they should contact the Albion office.

* * *


Notice of Water Right Permit Application in Mendocino County

Please be advised that John Serres has filed water right permit application A033348 with the State Water Resources Control Board, Division of Water Rights. The application proposes to appropriate 55 acre-feet of water per year. The water would be diverted from the South Fork Eel River watershed in Mendocino County.

The notice for the application can be viewed on the Division of Water Rights website at:

* * *

* * *


BOS Sept 12 - item 4c - TENTS

St. Anthony's Church Parish Hall, 10700 Lansing Street, Mendocino 

Discussion and Possible Action to Direct Staff to Deprioritize Enforcement of Restaurant Tents within Coastal Zoning for 1 Year and Facilitate Collaboration with Mendocino City Community Services District, Mendocino Historic Review Board, California Coastal Commission and State Water Resources Control Board for Tent Policy within the Mendocino Historic District; and Direction to Planning and Building Services to Inform the Mendocino Historic Review Board that the Board of Supervisors Supports Tents within the Historic District and Advises They Are Compatible with Historic District (Sponsor: Supervisor Williams)

Summary of Request: 

The County elected to allow tents for quasi-outdoor dining during the COVID-19 pandemic to increase social distancing. Many local residents and visitors grew fond of the experience, with a recent social media poll of 1,012 votes showing 96% in favor of keeping tents. Legitimate policy concerns exist regarding California Building Code compliance, environmental health compliance, and in the town of Mendocino, water consumption and historic review. Mendocino City Community Services District is responsible for groundwater management, yet its current ordinance uses square feet as an allocation metric as opposed to gallonage. Rather than send businesses down a path of surprises, it’s prudent to deprioritize enforcement and allow the various government entities to collaborate on a unified approach, protecting public safety while allowing business opportunities to flourish. It’s important that businesses understand the full scope of requirements.

MORGAN DANIEL, retired paramedic, guitar marker and musician, May 3, 2023:

For those opposed to the extended (post-pandemic) use of tents in Mendocino, a major concern seems to be one of aesthetics and historical integrity. I have always loved the feel of our town and have appreciated its historic nature, so I have been wondering why the tents don't bother me.

In fact, I really like the tents. It seems they bring something to the town that wasn't here before. What is it that the tents do for me?

Perhaps for me the tents are a sign that the town, old as it may be, is alive with activity. Maybe it feels festive in spite of the fog/rain/wind/pandemic. Or maybe it makes the town look like it truly values the historic nature of its buildings, so that rather than altering those buildings with "hard" expansions, it finds "soft" ways to accommodate the challenges of booming business.

In many historic places that I have been, from Nevada City to Paris, I have seen tents or awnings or other "soft" shelter expansions used tastefully to address everything from the sun and rain to smoking. As a tourist, I have never been offended by these applications.

It seems that as a resident (not of the historic district, but of the MCCSD) I am also not offended by tents. But that's just me. I realize this is all very subjective and that others do not share these feelings, so I am not presenting an argument, simply my own thoughts.

One additional consideration that I'll tag on here: Pandemics are hopefully temporary. Economic booms, such as the one we are now experiencing, at least among some restaurants, can be temporary too. We don't know what the post-pandemic era will bring as tourists start returning to Europe, etc. Buildings that have been expanded to accommodate a boom...and then get left half vacant...are not attractive. If for no other reason than this, it might be wise to allow the use of tents for flexing as the post-pandemic era plays out. - feeling thoughtful in Mendocino.

MEREDITH SMITH: Hoping everyone will show up to support the "Tentanistas of Mendocino" at the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors meeting at Saint Anthony's church on Lansing Street (across from the Hill House) at 9 AM on Tuesday, September 12th. We hope a big showing of support from our community will convince the county to over-ride other agencies and allow us to continue outdoor service in our local restaurants, which support more families than any other industry in this town. Also, covid. Also, Global Warming. Not to mention losses of tax revenue on all levels: considerable. We ask that for these and other logical reasons the tents stay aloft unless and until we can work cooperatively to create acceptable alternatives. We are all in this together, but many of us prefer to be in it OUTSIDE! 

* * *

Heavenly Blue Morning Glories (Elaine Kalantarian)

* * *

BOS Sept 12 - item 4f - RE-ROOFING LIBERTY

St. Anthony's Church Parish Hall, 10700 Lansing Street, Mendocino 

Discussion and Possible Action to Direct Planning & Building Services to Effectively Exempt like-for-like Re-Roofing Applications within Coastal Zone from Coastal Development Planning Review, Coordinating with California Coastal Commission on Best Approach, Whether Waiver, Immediate Local Coastal Plan Amendment, Urgency Ordinance or Alternative (Sponsors: Supervisor Williams and Supervisor Gjerde)

Summary Of Request: 

At present, Planning review can delay re-roofing projects by months. Re-roofing is categorically repair and maintenance. Where like-for-like materials are to be used, for example a composite roof replacement with composite, there is not a public policy benefit in delaying applicants. The county will ultimately always approve. We anticipate these projects being exempt under the LCP update. Until such time, we should not collect a fee or delay projects. The building permit serves as sufficient review.

* * *


Skateparks are having a moment in the local unincorporated communities, with Round Valley and Anderson Valley working to bring them to their neighborhoods.

(L to R) Noor Dawood, facilitator of the service learning team, students Aster Arbanovella, Kellie Crisman, Ananda Mayne, Onawa Kellner and Mariana Zavala-Camacho. Local parent Brennon Moore is on the end. [Picture by Sarah Reith]

Students of the Anderson Valley Service Learning Team, an after-school program at the junior and high schools, are tantalizingly close to finding out if they’ll have the money they need to build a skating venue on a plot of land next to the Community Park, which is right next to the airport and the health clinic. The group is operating under the auspices of the Community Services District, which bought the land from the school district for one dollar in May of this year.…

* * *


GROCERY OUTLET is coming to Fort Bragg. The Coastal Commission has denied the appeal to stop Grocery Outlet from opening a store on the premises of the former Social Services building on Franklin Street.

WHAT'S WRONG with this picture? If you guessed Trevor Mockel over four other viable choices, you guessed right. The cold, dead hand of the Northcoast Democrats has anointed Mockel as 1st District supervisor, nevermind Mockel's zero prior involvement in County politics. So here he is at the Democrat's annual Hell's Picnic inserting himself, Zelig-like, in a photo with four other middle-of-the-road extremists. Will the endorsement of Mockel by the Muchowski Gang ensure him a seat on the board over at least three other genuinely qualified candidates?

I LIKE CARRIE SHATTUCK and Adam Gaska in the 1st District, Carrie a little more than Adam because I admire her toughness, her no bullshit approach to County business. I think she's just what this allegedly non-partisan body needs. 

I'M SHARING IT. As a person whose script is barely legible, I'll concede I'm not the best person to wish that cursive was still taught in our fagged, fragged schools, but the death grips with which younger but adult people grasp their pens to create child-like, big bloc “writing” looks like they're grasping chisels to leave their messages in granite. 

ONE OF THE MORE HELLISH afflictions of old age is the passing of most of one's human ecology. My entire childhood cohort is gone, as is much of the peoplescape of the Anderson Valley I knew as my children were growing up here, one of those way back persons being the late Mike Owens, son of the legendary Billy Owens and Wanda Owens, a family I've known all of my days here in this vividly peopled community. My strongest memory of Mike is a windy afternoon at the old Point Arena Air Force Base, circa 1975. Point Arena, via an energetic fogbelt guy named Al Montgomery, who had fielded a little league team. The base on the distant ridge above PA was still functioning, its function being a radar station guarding us snoozing Americanos from foreign attack. The base was a self-contained village of 300-400 people, including Air Force families, consisting of a mini-sprawl of suburban housing, a swimming pool, a gym, and a ball field on which the Boonville junior nine took on Al Montgomery's nine. So there's Mike Owens in right field circling — staggering, actually — under a long fly ball, and me thinking no way Mike's going to make that catch. But darned if he didn't shoot a gloved hand into that wind-driven torment to make the play. There was a joyous tumult on the Boonville side at the pure improbability of Mike's catch. I saw Mike at AV Market the Thursday before he died. He told me a joke I can't repeat here — like his dad, Mike, at heart, was an entertainer, and a day or two later Mike was found dead, it's said, of congestive heart failure.


* * *


Food Bank and Earle Baum Center of the Blind Join Forces

Santa Rosa, CA – September 7, 2023 – Two leading nonprofit organizations in the Santa Rosa community, the Redwood Empire Food Bank and Earle Baum Center of the Blind are proud to announce their partnership in an effort to empower individuals with disabilities and address the critical issue of food insecurity in the community. This collaboration aims to bring forth positive change through the Food for Independence pilot program, an initiative designed to provide essential food resources and support to those facing unique challenges.

The Food for Independence pilot program, launched by the Redwood Empire Food Bank, acknowledges the hurdles that individuals with disabilities often encounter, particularly in securing employment opportunities. The resulting financial hardships contribute to a higher risk of food insecurity and hunger. Through this program, the Redwood Empire Food Bank aims to alleviate these burdens by offering tailored, nutritious groceries, allowing individuals to concentrate on personal growth and well-being.

“Our partnership with Earle Baum Center of the Blind is a significant step towards creating a more inclusive community where everyone, regardless of their abilities, has the opportunity to thrive,” said David Goodman, Hunger Relief Worker and CEO of the Redwood Empire Food Bank. “Our joint efforts underline the commitment to eradicating hunger and food insecurity resulting from barriers related to disabilities.” Earle Baum Center, a prominent nonprofit regional community center, has been serving individuals with low vision, sight loss and who are blind on its 17-acre campus in Santa Rosa for over two decades.

“This wonderful initiative not only fulfills the basic needs of individuals with disabilities who struggle with food insecurity but also extends EBC’s reach to many more deserving community members,” stated Bob Sonnenberg, CEO of the Earle Baum Center. Our collaboration with the Redwood Empire Food Bank is a remarkable way to serve and uplift the community, while showcasing the heartwarming dedication of staff and volunteers from both our organizations.”

The partnership, which began with a successful food distribution event at the Earle Baum Center in July 2023, will expand with regular visits from the Redwood Empire Food Bank starting in September. These visits will provide valuable opportunities for both organizations to gather insights from participants and fine-tune the Food for Independence pilot program to cater to the unique needs of the community. “We believe that by joining forces, we can make a significant impact on the lives of individuals with disabilities, ensuring everyone can have access to the resources they need to lead fulfilling and independent lives,” added Goodman.

To support this collaborative effort and contribute to the Food for Independence pilot program, community members are encouraged to share their ideas, offer financial assistance, and volunteer their time. Together, the Redwood Empire Food Bank and Earle Baum Center are determined to create a more compassionate and equitable future for all. For more information about the Redwood Empire Food Bank and Earle Baum Center, please visit their respective websites at and

About the Redwood Empire Food Bank

The Redwood Empire Food Bank is the largest hunger-relief organization serving Northern California. Since 1987, the Redwood Empire Food Bank has provided food and nourishment to those facing hunger—serving more than 100,000 children, families, and seniors in Sonoma, Lake, Mendocino, Humboldt, and Del Norte Counties. With over 350 direct service distributions and 150 partnerships with local human service organizations, all residents facing food insecurity have regular access to weekly and monthly food distribution sites across the five counties.

To learn more about the Redwood Empire Food Bank, please visit: Website:

* * *

(via Charles Artigues)

* * *



As a Republican and formerly very active in a Republican women’s organization, I can no longer support the party that continues to promote Donald Trump as the best we have to offer.

Dona Mitcham


* * *



Woke Politics — Turning my attention to the national political scene; polls indicate that support for Biden is drastically plunging with minority voters; well, it appears that “woke” politics only get Biden votes with white liberals; sorry I know some of my friends will be offended; please don’t take it personally, I’ll buy you a cup of coffee; but minority groups see through the pathetic attempt for what it is: Identity politics substituting for politics of substance; and an opportunity for white liberals to virtue signal!

Chris Skyhawk

Fort Bragg

* * *

Westport Cemetery (Jeff Goll)

* * *


Just Another Sunny Day on Planet Earth

The very warmest spiritual greetings,

Please know that there is one more ECHO test, to be followed by an evaluation three days later at Ukiah, California's Adventist Health Cardiology Department. This concludes a year and a half of medical/dental appointments, while having a bed at the Building Bridges Homeless Resource Center, eating meals at Plowshares Peace & Justice Center, plus living on the $829.07 combined social security disbursements. 

I have no idea whatsoever what is going to happen next. As ever, am identified with the Spiritual Absolute (whatever you wish to call that), and not the body and not the mind. I fully realize that this is the cause of many interesting situations, because we are not all here in exactly the same way. Hence, social interactions and postmodern situations are varied. 

Frequently feeling like a dead man walking, happy to be able to fall into the shelter bed at any time, (and the ICD is indeed delivering a sufficient charge), so as not to end up draped over a bench outside somewhere, it will be a day that makes sense when there is again an important purpose to being on the planet earth. Meanwhile, I am sending out these networking messages, and playing LOTTO. Prayers, mantrams, and positive affirmations continue. 

Craig Louis Stehr

* * *

CATCH OF THE DAY, Thursday, September 7, 2023

Fillion, Fuentes, Langley

HAZEL FILLION, Lakeport/Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-under influence, paraphernalia, resisting, failure to appear.

ANDREWS FUENTES-LUCERO, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

MICHAEL LANGLEY, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol. (Frequent Flyer)

CHRISTOPHER MORENO, Willits. Parole violation.

JAMES MORRISON, Santa Cruz/Ukiah. Trespassing, burglary tools, vandalism, controlled substance.

JAMES PELLEGRINE, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

BENJAMIN SCHNYDER, Branscomb. Shoplifting, shopping cart, paraphernalia.

Silva, Taylor, Valadez

MANUEL SILVA, Ukiah. Failure to register.

LINDSEY TAYLOR, Redwood Valley. Disorderly conduct-under influence, controlled substance, resisting.

ROBERT VALADEZ, Ukiah. Protective order violation, county parole violation.

* * *


Remote meeting attendees must publicly share and open up their address

by Katie Lauer

As in-person meetings return more than three-and-a-half years after COVID forced local city councils, commissions and boards to govern online, virtual options for participation have dwindled. 

Some California officials have been able to continue tuning into hybrid meetings or are getting accommodations to stay at home — a choice largely made in light of ongoing health concerns as the pandemic continues.

But there’s one problem: Due to Berkeley city officials’ reading of the Ralph M. Brown Act, a 1953 state law written to help ensure the public’s right to attend open meetings, the city’s appointed and elected officials who are approved to attend meetings over Zoom must publicly share the addresses where they will be participating — and allow residents who show up wanting to watch the meetings at their homes to do so, too.…

* * *

JONAH RASKIN AND FRIENDS read poetry at Black Bird Books, 4541 Irving Street, San Francisco, CA; Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023, 7 p.m. Free and open to the public. One and all welcome. For more information:

* * *

WHAT I'M READING (Chronicle wine writer Esther Mobley)

The French government plans to spend $216 million to destroy excess wine amid declining consumption, reports Business Insider's Lloyd Lee. Unsurprisingly, they're blaming younger generations as the main culprit. 

Forbes contributor Lela London digs into one of the most successful celebrity wine brands, Snoop Cali Red by Snoop Dogg. Knock it all you want, but one can't deny that it's doing more than most to solve wine's Millennial problem. 

As a former sports reporter, I loved this crossover of wine and sport by Tim Britton in the Athletic, a lovely tribute to the late Tom Seaver: famous pitcher and Napa vintner. 

* * *


As sales and profits dwindle, marketing is told to get with the program and boost them back up again. I’d really like to take the time to time one of the upcoming NFL or College games for commercial vs. content time, but I’m way too impatient. They even cut back to the game for 30 seconds or so in the middle of a big commercial block (usually with commercial fade-ins and fade-outs), just to cut right back out again for another 2 or 3 minutes. Absolutely maddening. I’d likely throw the remote through the damn TV, although that’s probably not such a bad idea either.

* * *


* * *


by John McMurtrie

Paul Yamazaki did not grow up loving books. As a teenager in the San Fernando Valley, he was directionless. “I was the despair of my parents,” he recalled. “I was an incredibly poor student and got incredibly poor grades.” Today, at age 74, Yamazaki is one of the literary world’s most respected and beloved book buyers. He has worked at the legendary City Lights bookstore in San Francisco for more than half a century — 53 of the store’s 70 years. The association runs so deep that Yamazaki, a childhood Dodgers fan, likens himself to the team’s late longtime manager. “I’m the Tommy Lasorda of City Lights,” he said with a laugh.

This fall, for all his achievements in championing books and reading, Yamazaki will receive the prestigious Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community, presented annually by the National Book Foundation.

Fittingly, Yamazaki’s life story is like something out of a sprawling, eventful novel, with chance encounters and strokes of good fortune guiding him toward a path of fulfillment.

In an interview at director Francis Ford Coppola’s Cafe Zoetrope — Yamazaki’s “home away from home,” just down the hill from City Lights in North Beach — Yamazaki reflected on his unlikely journey.

He describes his upbringing in Van Nuys as “very middle class.” His father, a pediatrician, was a decorated World War II veteran who had served in the same infantry division as Kurt Vonnegut; like the author, he was captured during the Battle of the Bulge and spent time in a German prison camp. Yamazaki’s mother was the daughter of a well-to-do wholesale produce broker.

Both his parents were Nisei — second-generation Japanese Americans — and both graduated from UCLA. Yamazaki’s family was not politically active, but unlike many suburbanites in Eisenhower’s America, his parents were progressives. “They voted for Adlai Stevenson,” Yamazaki said, “but they thought he was too moderate. And they voted for Jack Kennedy, but they thought he was far too conservative.”

What broke Yamazaki out of his sleepy childhood, he said, was music. Thanks to a local FM radio show, Yamazaki was introduced to Chicago blues. On Friday and Saturday nights, after his shift as a busboy ended at Ah Fong in Encino, Yamazaki would hop in his 1954 Chevy Bel Air and head to the Ash Grove, the celebrated roots music venue on Melrose Avenue, and take in such musicians as Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. “It was an incredible musical education,” Yamazaki said. It was also an awakening.

“I wanted to get out of the Valley,” Yamazaki said. So he set his sights on San Francisco, famous as a hotbed of postwar youth culture. Despite his less-than-stellar academic record, he was accepted by San Francisco State University. “The fact that I got in was kind of a miracle,” Yamazaki said, laughing.

The newcomer didn’t quickly fit in. Shortly after arriving in San Francisco in 1967, Yamazaki remembers, he took a stroll along Haight Street, then the city’s epicenter of hippie life. “Here’s this suburban kid wearing a yellow London Fog jacket and wingtips,” he recalled. “I couldn’t look more square!” Then one day, in Aquatic Park along San Francisco Bay, someone handed him a leaflet for a Black Panther Party benefit at the Surf Theatre. The event included a screening of the just-released political film “The Battle of Algiers.”

“I didn’t know what the Black Panthers were,” Yamazaki said. “I didn’t know what the Surf Theatre was. And I certainly didn’t know what ‘The Battle of Algiers’ was.” None of that mattered. “For whatever reason,” he said, “I decided to go.”

It was one of the times in his life when he was, as he put it, “really, really f— lucky.” The event planted a seed in him. It got him thinking more about the state of the world, about the war in Vietnam. Before long, he was attending Bay Area antiwar rallies and sit-ins — and getting arrested. He wound up in jail for months.

But then, in 1970, Yamazaki got lucky again. Francis Oka, a young activist he had befriended, worked at City Lights. Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the poet and World War II veteran-turned-pacifist who had co-founded the store with Peter Martin in 1953, had made it a haven for independent thinkers; its status was cemented in 1957 after Ferlinghetti and bookseller Shigeyoshi “Shig” Murao were tried — and acquitted — for publishing and selling the Beat poet Allen Ginsberg’s “obscene” epic “Howl.”

Oka told Ferlinghetti and company about Yamazaki’s situation: the protester from Southern California had been in jail for roughly 100 days, but if he secured a job, his six-month sentence would be cut short.

“They had no idea who the f— I was,” Yamazaki said. “All they knew was that Francis recommended me. It’s something that I fell into. I was hired while I was still in jail.”

Being behind bars opened Yamazaki’s eyes. This “sheltered Japanese American kid,” as he called himself, learned not to make “blanket judgments based on class, ethnicity or roles.” Working as a day laborer on the city’s docks also made him empathize with those who endured brutal working conditions. “You got the worst jobs, like in a hold of a ship unloading 50- to 100-pound pallets of stinking Argentine horse hides,” he recalled. “It was so bad that my roommates at the time — they made me disrobe at the bottom of the stairs and put my clothes in a plastic bag.”

He also developed a fondness for simple, humble clothes. For decades, Yamazaki has worn an affordable, largely black uniform: Dickies shirt (buttoned to the top), Dickies pants and thick-soled orthopedic shoes. Around his neck, below his silver hairline, is a lanyard from the Library of Congress that holds his keys. On it is a quote from Thomas Jefferson: “I cannot live without books.”

When Yamazaki started at City Lights, the job was far from glamorous. For a couple years he worked as a packer, sending off books from the store’s publishing arm, City Lights Publications, at nearby 1562 Grant Ave. But spending time with Oka broadened his horizons — and his reading.

“Even though he was only a couple years older than me, he became a real mentor,” Yamazaki said. “He was so clearly more mature and wise.” Oka turned his acolyte on to authors outside the Beat movement, including Frantz Fanon and Aimé Césaire — “the first crack in the door to this vast world of literature beyond what was produced here.”

Yamazaki and Oka became roommates, living on a houseboat across the Golden Gate Bridge in Sausalito. Yamazaki would hitchhike to work and back. “It was kind of a goofy thing to do,” he said about the living arrangement. It came to an end when Oka died in a motorcycle accident.

Distraught and at a loss, Yamazaki shacked up at City Lights’ Grant Avenue office for a few months, his sleeping bag on the floor. “I had no place to go,” he said. “Everybody was so generous.”

The 1970s were a heady time for City Lights, a bohemian hangout. Regular visitors included Ginsberg and fellow poets Amiri Baraka, Gregory Corso, Bob Kaufman and Gary Snyder. Because the Keystone Korner jazz club was close by, the likes of Max Roach and Cecil Taylor would come in to browse the shelves between sets. The bookstore was open until 2 a.m. on weekends, and occasionally a stray patron could get locked in overnight. (These days City Lights closes at 10 p.m., a loss for night owls who, pre-pandemic, could wander in until midnight.)

For more than a decade, as he put it, Yamazaki was “a part-time reader working in a bookstore.” It took a crisis, in 1982, for him to become the book buyer. “They had no choice,” he said of the store’s managers. “The business was literally at the point of failure.”

What few remember is that by that point City Lights was, in Yamazaki’s words, “an embarrassment,” having strayed from its roots due to a change in management. “We wouldn’t have, for example, any [Alain] Robbe-Grillet, but we’d have all these Garfield the cat books. It’s hard to describe how atrociously bad we were — and how disappointed people were.”

Yamazaki credits Nancy Peters, who became co-owner of the store in 1984, for righting the ship. “If it weren’t for Nancy,” he said, “City Lights would be this nice memory.” Today, it owns the building it occupies — a rarity in the book world, where many stores are beholden to landlords.

Yamazaki, too, has played a major part in reinvigorating City Lights, building on the mission Ferlinghetti established decades ago to make the store, as Yamazaki said, “a beacon of critical thought and the best of contemporary literature. … What we’re trying to do is bring more people into the full awareness of how deep and rich culture is.”

Elaine Katzenberger, the operation’s executive director and publisher, said, “City Lights owes its reputation as one of the most interesting and stimulating environments a reader can find to Paul Yamazaki.” Because of him, she added, the store “provides an environment for readers that is unmatched in its breadth, its rigor and its passionate advocacy.”

Among the books Yamazaki has been proud to draw attention to are Ruth Wilson Gilmore’s “Golden Gulag” and Karen Tei Yamashita’s novel “I Hotel.” He’s also fervently sung the praises of work published by small Bay Area presses, including Heyday, Transit Books and Two Lines Press.

Over the course of his career, Yamazaki has devoted himself to acquiring books one might not find in other shops. Much of the store’s 2,100 square feet of retail space — big enough to showcase 35,000 books on three floors, including a poetry room — is reserved for categories such as African history, class warfare, green politics, muckraking and people’s history.

The activist ethos extends to Ferlinghetti’s hand-painted signs, which hang throughout the store. “Printer’s ink is the greater explosive,” reads one. “Books not bombs,” says another. Taped to the window in Yamazaki’s second-floor office is a sheet of paper that reads, “Trans rights = human rights.”

Yamazaki is rarely at City Lights these days. Like others, he’s kept up his pandemic routine of working largely from home. But he still meets with publishers’ representatives, editors and co-workers at a favorite restaurant in his Ingleside neighborhood and at Vesuvio Cafe, Specs’ and Tosca Cafe, the three North Beach bars that have long hosted City Lights employees.

What Yamazaki values most in his work are conversations. A publisher’s catalog of forthcoming titles might give him a sense of a book, but a talk with an acquiring editor is far more valuable. For decades, he has cultivated such relationships, and many in the industry cherish time spent with the book buyer, his spirited conversation marked by his unrestrained laughter, his self-effacing manner, his gravelly voice and his liberal and gleeful use of profanity.

Approaching age 75, Yamazaki sees no reason to retire just yet. “Despite all the challenges we have in the business,” he said, “there’s so much to be excited about — starting with the emerging authors that we’re seeing, the emerging editors and publishing houses, the emerging booksellers.”

And there is the Nov. 15 ceremony in New York at which he will receive the Literarian Award. Only 18 people have been honored with the prize, including Maya Angelou and Dave Eggers. The first person to receive it was Ferlinghetti, in 2005. Ferlinghetti died in 2021 at age 101.

“I am really, really honored to follow in his footsteps,” Yamazaki said. “City Lights has been my university.”

(John McMurtrie is senior editor of the San Francisco-based literary journal Zyzzyva.)

* * *

Herb Caen riding on a San Francisco Cable Car (1953)

* * *


by David Bacon

We can’t talk about defending the human and labor rights of farm workers without talking about their history of organizing unions—and the efforts by the government to suppress them. Liberal mythology holds that farm worker unions didn’t exist until the creation of United Farm Workers in the ‘60s and that the farm worker unions and advocacy organizations of today appeared out of nowhere, with no history of struggle that went before. 

But in fact, during the 1930s Filipinos and other farm workers organized left-wing unions and huge strikes. According to Rick Baldoz, a professor at Oberlin College, “The burgeoning strike activity involving thousands of Filipinos in the mid-1930s occasioned a furious backlash from growers who worked closely with local law enforcement.”

The people who fought to organize unions in the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s on the West Coast were the same people who fought for Spain—in the same organizations, like the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, and especially ILWU Local 37. Of all the efforts to organize farm workers, the ones that were closest to the International Brigades were those of the Filipinos during those years. And the forces that later went after the Lincoln vets were the same as those that went after the farm worker unions, using the same tools: blacklisting and deportations.…

* * *

* * *


by David Remnick

In November, 2007, the junior senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, appeared on ABC News for one of those soft-focus get-to-know-the-candidate segments. Obama admitted that, after he was at Harvard Law School for a while and felt “comfortable” among his hyper-ambitious classmates, he allowed himself to think that maybe he’d run for President someday. “Did you think to yourself, Barack, what kind of hubris is this?” the broadcaster Charlie Gibson said.

“I think if you don’t have enough self-awareness to see the element of megalomania involved in thinking you can be President, then you probably shouldn’t be President,” Obama said. “There’s a slight madness to thinking that you should be the leader of the free world.”

I was thinking about that moment last week, after finishing a long interview with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., for The New Yorker Radio Hour. Kennedy is running for President as a Democrat. He is polling between eight and twenty-one per cent.

If there is a madness, slight or otherwise, in Kennedy’s bid, it is not confined to his hubris. He is roiling with conspiracy theories: S.S.R.I.s like Prozac might be the reason for school shootings, vaccines cause autism. There are many. To prepare for the conversation, I listened to some of Kennedy’s podcast sessions with the likes of Bari Weiss, Jordan Peterson, Russell Brand, and Joe Rogan. I watched his marathon announcement speech and tuned in to all the hosannas he was getting from a peculiar amen corner that includes Steve Bannon, Jack Dorsey, and Tucker Carlson. In his 2021 book “The Real Anthony Fauci,” Kennedy accuses Fauci, who was then the nation’s top infectious-disease doctor, of helping to carry out “2020’s historic coup d’état against Western democracy.” (The book has blurbs from Carlson, Naomi Wolf, Alan Dershowitz, and Oliver Stone.)

Kennedy’s habits of mind are maga-adjacent, but his manner differs from that of his Republican doppelgänger. Donald Trump is a bully—rude, swaggering, out to flatten his questioner under an avalanche of lies and volume. Kennedy is not rude. Rather, he is serenely convinced of his virtue and his interlocutor’s pitiful susceptibility to conventional wisdom. The experience of interviewing him and listening to his previous interviews, I found, was like settling in for a long train ride with a seemingly amiable stranger in the next seat. You ask a straightforward question and, an hour later, as you race by Thirtieth Street Station, in Philadelphia, he is still going on about the fraud of covid vaccines and how he was unfairly “deplatformed” for spouting conspiracy theories. By the time you’ve pulled into Wilmington, he might be talking about how drugs known as poppers helped cause the aids epidemic, or how “toxic chemicals” might contribute to “sexual dysphoria” in children. As you head south, he is talking about being “censored” by Instagram, the F.B.I., and the Biden White House. New technologies like 5G towers and digital currencies are totalitarian instruments that could “control our behavior.” Wi-Fi causes “leaky brain.” After a while, you begin to wonder why you bought a ticket. But it’s too late. You’re pinned into the window seat.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Kennedy has never run for public office, but, at sixty-nine years old, he says that he has “been involved in almost every Presidential election during the last sixty years.” He has had a career as a conservationist and, more recently, as a litigator, author, and public speaker. Recently, he appeared in videos stripped to the waist, doing pushups and straining at a bench press. The conspicuous display, it can be reasonably supposed, was intended to draw comparisons with the sitting President, whose greatest liability is his age. Kennedy is ripped, that is true, but, like Trump, he had no experience as an elected official before seeking the White House. I asked how his experience qualified him to hold what is arguably the most consequential job on the planet.

Kennedy: I’ve been around government and studying government since I was a little boy. I went to the 1960 convention. I’ve been to most of the conventions since. I was involved in the [1980] election with my uncle Edward Kennedy. I began writing about foreign policy when I was nineteen years old. My first article was for The Atlantic. I have a very, very strong vision and opinion about what our foreign policy should be. I’ve met with heads of state. I’ve been to a large portion of the countries. I’ve been to every country in Latin America. I’ve been to many of the countries in Africa and Asia.

Experience of attending conventions and being around politics is not the same as being involved in the making of policy, either as an executive or as a legislator or as a governor. Are you saying that that kind of experience is not necessary to be President of the United States? The one President I can think of who hasn’t had any experience at that level is Donald Trump.

Well, there’s nothing in the United States Constitution that says that you have to go to Congress first and then Senate second—or be a governor—before you’re elected to the Presidency of the United States.

Or even mayor of a small town. But you haven’t done any of it. Do you think that is irrelevant experience?

I think my life experience is absolutely relevant.

Among the obvious parallels between Kennedy and Trump is their disdain for “élites,” their suspicion of, in Trump’s words, the “deep state,” and their belief that traditional media and “cancel culture” threaten to silence them. With Kennedy, this is particularly curious. The Kennedys are the embodiment of dynastic power. Tens of thousands of books have been written about the family. It is impossible to imagine both the tragedy and the privilege Kennedy experienced as a child and adolescent. His uncle was murdered when he was nine. His father was murdered when he was fourteen. As a young man, he was kicked out of prep schools, got arrested for marijuana possession, was addicted to heroin, and still managed to graduate from Harvard. He now works as a lawyer, and his income last year was $7.8 million.

While Kennedy fashions himself as a warrior against the billionaire class, income inequality, and the corruption of institutions ranging from the intelligence agencies to the universities, he is a pure romantic about his own family. Camelot is his brand. As the polls appear to indicate, the Kennedy name still carries weight among Democratic voters.

You’re running as a Democrat for President, and I wonder, Who in the Democratic Party do you feel is kindred to you? Obviously not Joe Biden, but—A.O.C.? Or Joe Manchin? Or are you something new entirely? How would you define your ideology?

I’m something old. I’m a Kennedy Democrat. I believe in labor unions. I believe in a strong, robust middle class. I believe in racial justice, in policies that are going to actually help the lowest people on the totem pole.

I don’t think Joe Biden would disagree with any of that.

Well, then, why did he do the lockdowns? Lockdowns robbed four trillion [dollars] from the middle class and the poor in this country and transferred it to the super rich. We created five hundred new billionaires—a billionaire a day, every day. [Fact-checking Kennedy’s assertions is like chasing rabbits. This is a good example. The four-trillion dollar figure was likely an estimate for the price of the federal bailout. Many of the five hundred billionaires he seems to refer to rose up in other countries, especially China.]

Do you think he did lockdowns, or politicians did lockdowns, in order to enrich billionaires? That was the goal?

I think that, if they cared about the middle class in this country, they wouldn’t have done it. They wouldn’t have shut down 3.3 million businesses without due process, without just compensation.

Did they make mistakes, or were they carrying out some kind of perfidious plot?

No, I think that they made mistakes, which disqualifies them from continuing to do that job.

I’m finding it curious, and maybe even disturbing, that some of your early admirers include Trumpists like Steve Bannon, Michael Flynn, and Roger Stone. Do you welcome that, or do you think maybe—just maybe—someone like that is delighted that a strong Democratic opponent will wound Joe Biden and in the long run help Donald Trump?

I’m trying to unite the country, David. I’m not going to do what you do, which is to pick out people and say that they’re evil, they should be cancelled, or whatever. I’m a Democrat. I know what my values are. I’ve always spoken to Republicans my entire life. During all the years that I was a leader of the environmental movement, I was the only environmentalist who regularly went on Fox News. And, when Tucker Carlson recently did a special on endocrine disruptors, and he was condemned by the left, I thought that was crazy. I think what we ought to be doing is inviting people into our tent, without changing our values. I don’t change my values. I have the same values that my father had, that my uncle had, and that I have harbored and fought for since I was a kid. But that doesn’t mean I’m not willing to speak to people who don’t share those values. I think the kind of tribalism that you’re advocating is poisonous to our country. I think it’s toxic. It’s created a polarization, a division, in this country that is more dangerous than at any time since the American Civil War.

Isn’t there a difference between disagreement and—

What you’re trying to get me to do now is to lash out against other Americans. And what I’m saying is: I don’t agree with what those people represent in many parts of their lives. I don’t agree with it, and I don’t like it. But I’m still going to talk to them. I’m not going to cancel them. I’m going to invite them into my tent. If I can get them to support a vision of the idealistic America that I believe in—the same America that my father and my uncle believed in: an America without censorship; an America that fights for our Constitution; an America that is a moral authority around the world, that projects economic power around the globe rather than military violence—if I can get people to support that, I don’t care if they’re Republican or independent, or what they are. These are democratic values.

At what point do you say, with respect, that this is not about “tribalism” or “cancellation” or the terms that you’re using, but just an insistence on a certain level of decency and principle? Somebody like Alex Jones comes forward and he has nice things to say to you. At what point do you say, “You know what, Alex Jones, with all due respect, I don’t want your support”?

I’m not a cancel-culture guy.

That’s not cancel culture. That’s a principled insistence that he’s a bridge too far.

If you’re just saying you’re going to dismiss certain people because this human being is so irredeemable that I am going to exclude him or her from any future activity on the planet—I just don’t think that’s consistent with my spiritual beliefs. It’s not consistent with my political philosophy. I believe that we should invite our enemies into the tent with us to the extent that they want to break bread with us, that they may want to endorse some of the values that we hold dear.

Kennedy seemed to be talking not only about Steve Bannon or Alex Jones but about himself. “I believe in redemption,” he said. “I got an opportunity for redemption in my own life, and there’s plenty of people who had good excuses to write me off forever.”

Tell me about your own sense of redemption. I think you’re probably referring to problems with addiction.

I was a heroin addict for fourteen years. I’m lucky to be alive. People have plenty of reason to write me off forever because of the way I conducted my life during that fourteen-year period. And, when I was at Riverkeeper, I made a point of hiring people who were felons, who were convicted, who had served their time in prison. And that divided the organization. I believe in redemption. I don’t think we can dismiss human beings, no matter what they did earlier on in their lives. Everybody gets another chance. And what Jesus said is, Not only do you give them seven chances, but you give them seven times seven chances.

You suffered something that I think is just beyond imagination. When you were a small child, your uncle, the President of the United States, was murdered in full view of the world. Five years later, your own father, who was competing for the Democratic nomination for President, was murdered in full view of the world. I can’t quite imagine what effect that would have on a human being, a child who’s just growing up, and to live that life in the full view of the world. Later, you came to see both of those assassinations as conspiracies with the C.I.A. behind them. I want to know why you believe that when most do not, and how that has shaped your thinking in the rest of your life.

Are you saying that most Americans do not believe President Kennedy’s assassination was a conspiracy?

I want to know why you believe it. What leads you to believe it?

I don’t think anybody who has looked at my uncle’s murder seriously believes that the Warren Commission was correct. I’m a trial lawyer. I’ve tried hundreds of cases. I can guarantee you, looking at this case, that I could prove that my uncle’s death was caused by the C.I.A. I have enough evidence right now, without any depositions, to go to prove that my uncle’s death was the result of a conspiracy. And that the C.I.A. was involved—not only in the original conspiracy but in the sixty-year coverup—and continues to maintain the coverup.

What was the C.I.A.’s motivation?

They were angry at my uncle. Their initial anger came when he failed to invade the Bay of Pigs and provide air cover for [Cuban opponents of Fidel Castro], which they consider a betrayal. They had trained those men. Those men were dying on the beach. At that point, they believed that my uncle was a traitor to the United States. When my uncle and my father halted the raids on Cuba, after the missile crisis, they agreed as part of their agreement with Khrushchev during the missile crisis, to halt the raids from Miami by Alpha 66 and the other groups that were going into Cuba to halt them…

Kennedy believes that the evidence of C.I.A. involvement in “perpetrating my uncle’s death is overwhelming. The evidence of C.I.A. involvement with my father’s death is circumstantial, but very highly suggestive.” Talking about the murder of his father, Kennedy referred to a second gunman, stray bullets, and a mob lawyer whose body was later found “chopped up in a hundred pieces in an oil drum.” Kennedy visited Sirhan Sirhan, who was convicted of murdering his father, in prison, and supports his release.

I asked Kennedy if it was possible that his distrust of American institutions—regulatory agencies, the intelligence agencies, the medical establishment, the “mainstream media,” and more—was rooted in his view of the assassinations. “Not at all,” he said. It was only in the past decade or so, he said, that his interest was sparked by reading “JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why it Matters” by James W. Douglass, which Oliver Stone has called “the best account I have read of this tragedy and its significance.”

Now, we were talking about President Biden before. First, just a short yes or no answer: Did you vote for him in the last election?

Yes, I did.

So what about the Biden Presidency, which came out of the Trump Presidency, obviously, so severely disappoints you that it causes you to run for President?

No. 1, the policies on the war. I think it’s very clear that this has little to do with protecting the Ukraine. It’s more to do with the neocon ambition of deposing Vladimir Putin, which I think is very problematic. I think regime change is always problematic, but, in the case of a country that has nuclear weapons, I would characterize it as close to insane. And it’s clear from President Biden’s direct statements that that is why he believes we should be in Ukraine.

So, if you were President now, would you withdraw military aid to Ukraine?

I would end the war. I would negotiate a peace.

And what would that peace look like?

Well, you never know that until you negotiate.

Would you allow a peace that allowed much of eastern Ukraine and Crimea to remain in Russian hands?

I don’t know what I would negotiate. I know that the Russians had come to two different peace agreements, both of which were eminently reasonable. And so I don’t—

What I’m asking is: what would be a reasonable peace?

Well, you know what, the answer to that question is strategic ambiguity. If I intend to be President of the United States, I’m not going to tell my adversary what my final negotiating position would be.

What about the voter?

I’m not going to—I’m going to negotiate. You negotiate a treaty.

When there was a political campaign [in 1968], your father said exactly what he would’ve done vis-à-vis the United States and Vietnam. As did Eugene McCarthy. [Both Kennedy and McCarthy said they wanted an end to the war in Vietnam.] Why is it unreasonable for you to—

I’m telling you exactly what I would do. I consider the terms of the Minsk accords fair. And that’s what Russia already offered to sign. Now, you know, we have worsened our position in the debate clearly through these ill-advised policies of encouraging war, of refusing to negotiate, of refusing to even talk to our adversaries. And my uncle, President Kennedy, again and again, told the country, You’ve got to put yourself into the shoes of your adversary. And he did that with Khrushchev. He put in a hotline in our home in Massachusetts and in the White House, so that he could pick up the phone and call Moscow, because he was scared of provoking a nuclear response. And, today, Russia has more nuclear weapons than we do. We are toying with Armageddon here.

At a town hall, just recently, you said that you were “proud” that Donald Trump likes you. Why is that? Donald Trump—I think you’ve criticized him in the past. I think maybe we can agree that he’s a threat to democratic norms and the rule of law. Why would you be proud that he likes you?

I’d be proud if President Biden liked me, and—

They’re quite different figures, no?

Well, President Biden has also acted against our Constitution, in many, many areas. You know, this is the first Administration in our history that has colluded with the press to censor Americans—directly out of the White House, including me by name. And my purpose, my intention—

How are you being censored out of the White House?

The White House was ordering the social-media sites to censor me. And in fact—

You’re everywhere in the press. You’re in what you call mainstream media. You’re on Joe Rogan. Who censored you?

I am, since I declared for President. But before that I was deplatformed. I was deplatformed completely, from . . . eight hundred thousand followers were taken away from me on Instagram at the behest of the White House.

So you’re equating President Biden’s attitude toward the Constitution and the law with former President Trump.

What do you think is worse, David? What do you think is worse: the White House using the F.B.I. to censor political dissenters, or whatever Trump has done?

But why do you think Donald Trump admires you? Are you not suspicious of that?

You know what? My job is not to drive people apart. I think what you guys have decided that you’re going to do, in the press, is create this polarization and feed the anger and feed the hatred. And I don’t want to do that.

So polarization is a bad thing. I understand that. But you’re also critical—

You belong to a class of élite journalists who once were the guardians of the press and the protectors of American values and the American middle class, and you now consider those people to be deplorable.

I don’t consider anybody to be deplorable. That’s somebody else’s vocabulary. And let’s talk about the word “élite” for a second. You come from a highly privileged background, eclipsing mine by some order of magnitude. Isn’t it a little rich for you to be calling people élites?

When I use the word “élite,” I’m talking about the people who are inside the Beltway, the press figures who are supposed to be speaking truth to power, but instead have become propagandists for the government. Who view their jobs as quashing dissent, and quashing political criticism of the government that they’re supposed to be actually criticizing.

Do you really believe this, or do you think it plays well?

Of course I believe it. I mean, I don’t think—

Then what press do you read to be informed? Do you get up in the morning and read the New York Times? Or the L.A. Times?

I read everything I can get my hands on.

O.K. But what would that be? What’s your go-to way to find out what happened in the world today and yesterday?

I read everything that I can get my hands on. I read the Times. I read the L.A. Times, although not religiously. And I read a lot of alternative press sources, which are now, you know, oftentimes better sources for unvarnished truth than the mainstream media.

Like what?

On what subject?

Well, foreign policy. Domestic policy.

Well, if I want to know about what’s happening in Ukraine, I might read Doug Macgregor’s site, or a number of other just alternative sites. I have a podcast where I interview people, and I interview people on both sides.

Douglas Macgregor is a retired Army colonel. Trump had hoped to nominate Macgregor as ambassador to Germany until his comments about Muslim refugees as “unwanted invaders” were repeated in the press. After Putin’s invasion of Ukraine last year, Macgregor spoke repeatedly on Fox News in defense of the action, adding that Russia had been “too gentle” in the early days of the war. The former Republican congresswoman Liz Cheney has characterized Macgregor as representing “the Putin wing of the GOP.”

I think I’m going to surprise you with the next question because I really—I’ll be very honest with you, I don’t want to engage you in deep detail on the question of vaccinations and your belief, stated in the past, that vaccines are responsible for autism to some degree. I have a child with quite severe autism, and, while no one would want to know the cause of autism more than I do, I frankly think, with respect, that you’ve been slinging around a lot of theories over time that don’t have any great credibility among scientists. And they do a lot of harm to a lot of people. I want to ask you this question: Do you not have any second thoughts about this? You seem to be altering your rhetoric about this very recently, saying that you just want to see vaccines tested. You seem to be shifting on this, without quite saying so.

I’ve never shifted on it. I’ve said from the beginning that I got involved with this issue, that’s what I wanted. I’ve always said, I’m not anti-vaccine. I want good testing with the vaccines, and I want good science. I’ve written about the science. I’ve read—I’m one of the few people that actually have read the science. You say that scientists don’t believe that—

No, they don’t.

Well, you know, the scientists all, at one point, believed that the covid vaccine prevented transmission. And when I said, No, they don’t prevent transmission, because I read the monkey studies in May of 2020, and I saw that the amount of the concentration of the virus in the nasal pharynx of the vaccinated monkey was identical to the unvaccinated monkeys. And I said, These vaccines should be dead in the water. They won’t prevent transmission. [In fact, vaccines have proved highly effective against the worst outcomes of covid-19, including hospitalization and death. The C.D.C. has reported that widespread vaccination in a population reduces the spread of the virus.] And I was deplatformed for spouting conspiracy theories. And because all the scientists said they’re going to prevent transmission. So, you know, I don’t necessarily believe all the scientists, because I can read science myself. That’s what I do for a living. I read science critically. That’s how I win cases. And I’ve read the science on autism and I can tell you, if you want to know. David, you’ve got to answer this question: If it didn’t come from the vaccines, then where is it coming from? 

* * *

art by Brian Bolland

* * *


Noam Dworman clashes with Washington Post columnist Philip Bump, and the results aren't pretty

by Matt Taibbi

Last week Noam Dworman of Comedy Cellar USA, on his Live at the Table podcast, interviewed Washington Post columnist Philip Bump. It was a debate, with Bump invited because he’s “most associated with pouring cold water on the Hunter Biden story,” as Noam put it. 

The show went viral as Bump, semi-reprising the performance of Russiagate champion and Guardian reporter Luke Harding walking on an interview with Aaron Mate, left abruptly after conceding Hunter’s line, “unlike pop, I won’t make you give me half your salary” was evidence. To be fair the show had run long, but Bump insisted earlier that there was “no evidence” of wrongdoing on Joe Biden’s part, so it wasn’t a timely exit — not that I’m unfamiliar with interviews that go sideways.

I know Noam and my name got dragged into this somewhat absurdly (Bump said I had “an agenda,” as Noam brought up tapes between Petro Poroshenko and Joe Biden I’d referenced), but didn’t want to say anything. Then a subsequent show also went sideways, for much the same reason. More on that in a moment. Back to Bump v. Dworman:

Many exchanges in the podcast stand out, not in a good way. Bump repeatedly tells Noam his problem is that he’s not accepting his, Bump’s, versions of things. At about the 56-minute mark, Bump chides Noam for bringing up things that have been “debunked.” When Noam asks, “What’s been debunked?” Bump says, “I’ve written about this!” He adds, “It’s been debunked in the sense that I’ve already addressed this, and presented the counter-arguments to it.” 

At about 1:05 in the video above, Noam brings up “the issue of the press. The press actually bothers me more than Joe Biden…” To which Bump interjects [emphasis mine]: “But you don’t listen to the press. I’m sitting here and telling you you’re wrong about these things and you don’t listen.” About five minutes later Noam again brings up media, and Bump says, “But again, you’re attacking the press, because you refuse to listen to what we’re saying.”

Nearly an hour into the show Bump began complaining he’d been set up, and I know what he was thinking, having of course also been in the position of being invited to an interview with someone who perhaps wants to make an ass of you. I actually don’t think that’s Noam’s game, but even if it were, the answer isn’t to keep repeating, “How can we talk when you keep insisting I get down from this high horse I’m on?” 

Bump acts like he and his paper haven’t gotten all sorts of things wrong in recent years, implicitly rejecting the notion that people like Noam have reason to question anything “already addressed” by papers like the Post. If you need an explanation for declining ratings and circulation of mainstream press outlets, this vibe is it. 

The other episode involved professor and frequent media commentator Dan Drezner, who laughs hysterically and at great length the instant it registers that Noam plans on countering a claim that Trump was a bad president. 

I’m not sure I could classify Donald Trump as a good president. I’d feel extremely confident however in saying, for instance, that George W. Bush was a worse one, not just for the WMD lies and accompanying Iraq disaster (which Drezner supported, by the way), but because of his and Dick Cheney’s ambitious innovations in anti-democratic grotesqueries like state-sponsored kidnapping (i.e. rendition) and mass surveillance. Drezner is doing what Bump did, albeit with more humor: gagging in disbelief when a mainstream piety sent up the flagpole isn’t instantly saluted. 

I think a lot of people in the world I once inhabited, in center-left media and academia, don’t realize they’ve slipped into a deeply unattractive habit of substituting checklists of unquestioned assumptions for thought. In the blue bubble Trump’s limitless evil is an idea with such awesome gravitational pull that it makes nuanced discussion about almost anything impossible. It’s why no one in media could suggest even the possibility he hadn’t colluded with Russia. He’s become an anti-God, of a faith that requires constant worship. When do we get to go back to being atheists?

* * *


Antonio Barichievich born Antonio Barichievich and better known as The Great Antonio, was a Croatian-Canadian strongman, professional wrestler, and a Montreal eccentric artist. 

Barichievich was born in Zagreb, Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. 

Nothing is known about his early life and family aside that according to biographers he started to do menial work by the age of six and could uproot trees by age 12. 

During World War II, he spent time at the Bagnoli displaced persons camp. 

He arrived as refugee in Canada in 1945, and established himself in Montreal, Quebec. 

In the late 1940s, Barichievich made a name for himself with demonstrations of strength, and in 1952 he pulled a 433-ton train 19.8 meters, a feat featured in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Moving forward Barichievich would tour making demonstrations of strength and wrestled professionally. 

In 1960, he appeared for the second time in Guinness Book of World Records by pulling four city buses loaded with passengers. 

Barichievich wrestled until the late 1970s and did demonstrations of strength until the 1980s.

Until his death in 2003, Barichievich became a Montreal eccentric roaming the streets selling photomontage postcards of his past exploits. 

At the end of his life, his photomontages started to gain artistic recognition and are currently featured in museum exhibits.

Barichievich died in 2003 at the age of 77 of a heart attack while in a grocery store in Montreal.

* * *

* * *

WHEN I STARTED BLOGGING — about three blogs ago now — and well, these were different times, but I had a rule for myself that I wouldn’t quote from anything that I hadn’t read in its entirety. This is a pretty sound practice in general, still though, right? I don’t stick to it one hundred percent, but I do like to sit and sift through my beloved books and then actually type out the quotations or poems. It’s a way of inhabiting, for one thing. Learning. I think the practice has also made me a better writer, having done this for so many years. People who do this more religiously call the practice, “copywork.” It hearkens back to the days of the commonplace book. In a volume I love, Index Cards, by Moyra Davey, she resolves herself to: “Refrain from quoting authors I’ve only read secondhand.” 

And so that was a bit of a tangent, and maybe just a way of saying that there may be typos ahead, haha, but below you will find 4 poems that sort of fell into my hands as I perused some poetry from my home library this morning. Rather perfect for the first day of September. I hope you enjoy them! They’re about looking back at the huge and sudden summer, that land of green, and taking stock. It’s fitting also, to end up on the couch, or in my case the chaise longue, which is where I’m headed after writing this post, to just revel and remember and daydream a little about all that has happened and all that I loved.

Autumn Day 

by Rainer Maria Rilke

Lord: it is time. The huge summer has gone by.

Now overlap the sundials with your shadows,

and on the meadows let the wind go free.

Command the fruits to swell on tree and vine;

grant them a few more warm transparent days,

urge them on to fulfillment then, and press

the final sweetness into the heavy wine. 

Whoever has no house now, will never have one.

Whoever is alone will stay alone,

will sit, read, write long letters through the


and wander the boulevards, up and down,

restlessly, while the dry leaves are blowing.

(There are multiple other translations of this poem. The above is by Stephen Mitchell.)

(Shawna Lemay /

* * *

Two Young Mescalero Apache Men, 1888 (photo by A. Frank Randall)

THE MESCALERO APACHES were a semi-nomadic people who once roamed the area of New Mexico, West Texas, and Chihuahua. The word “Apache” means “enemy” in the Zuñi language, as they were feared by the pueblo tribes of northern New Mexico as well by the Spanish. The Gila and Chiricahua Apaches were to the west and the Lipan Apaches to the east, but the Mescaleros were once the largest and most powerful Apache nation among them.

The Mescaleros are documented archeologically as early as the thirteenth century. They began raiding local Spanish settlements and traveling caravans starting in the 1680s. Between 1778 and 1825 there was a large band of Mescaleros encamped on the future site of Duranguito and Downtown El Paso, peaking at about 1,000 men, women and children in the 1790s.

The Spanish, Mexicans and Americans all waged wars of extermination against this proud and fierce people. Today the remaining Mescaleros possess a small reservation in southern New Mexico.

* * *


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said new Defense Minister Rustem Umerov must build trust in procurement and decision-making. The change of leadership, in the middle of a critical counteroffensive, follows a number of corruption scandals involving the military.

A drone attack caused an explosion in the vicinity of Russia’s military headquarters in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don on Thursday, according to social media videos geolocated by CNN.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrapped up his visit to Kyiv after announcing $1 billion in new support for Ukraine.

Russia “has lost” and is “a diminished power,” Western officials said, arguing the war has strengthened global opposition to Moscow and failed in its primary goals — regardless of the ongoing battle for territory.

* * *

* * *


America's Response to 9/11 in the Lens of History

by Norman Solomon

[This is adapted from the introduction to my book War Made Invisible: How America Hides the Human Toll of Its Military Machine (The New Press, 2023).]

The day after the U.S. government began routinely bombing faraway places, the lead editorial in the New York Times expressed some gratification. Nearly four weeks had passed since 9/11, the newspaper noted, and America had finally stepped up its “counterattack against terrorism” by launching airstrikes on al-Qaeda training camps and Taliban military targets in Afghanistan. “It was a moment we have expected ever since September 11,” the editorial said. “The American people, despite their grief and anger, have been patient as they waited for action. Now that it has begun, they will support whatever efforts it takes to carry out this mission properly.”

As the United States continued to drop bombs in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s daily briefings catapulted him into a stratosphere of national adulation. As the Washington Post’s media reporter put it: “Everyone is genuflecting before the Pentagon powerhouse… America’s new rock star.” That winter, the host of NBC’s Meet the Press, Tim Russert, told Rumsfeld: “Sixty-nine years old and you’re America’s stud.”

The televised briefings that brought such adoration included claims of deep-seated decency in what was by then already known as the Global War on Terror. “The targeting capabilities, and the care that goes into targeting, to see that the precise targets are struck, and that other targets are not struck, is as impressive as anything anyone could see,” Rumsfeld asserted. And he added, “The weapons that are being used today have a degree of precision that no one ever dreamt of.”

Whatever their degree of precision, American weapons were, in fact, killing a lot of Afghan civilians. The Project on Defense Alternatives concluded that American air strikes had killed more than 1,000 civilians during the last three months of 2001. By mid-spring 2002, the Guardian reported, “as many as 20,000 Afghans may have lost their lives as an indirect consequence of the U.S. intervention.”

Eight weeks after the intensive bombing had begun, however, Rumsfeld dismissed any concerns about casualties: “We did not start this war. So understand, responsibility for every single casualty in this war, whether they’re innocent Afghans or innocent Americans, rests at the feet of al-Qaeda and the Taliban.” In the aftermath of 9/11, the process was fueling a kind of perpetual emotion machine without an off switch.

Under the “war on terror” rubric, open-ended warfare was well underway — “as if terror were a state and not a technique,” as Joan Didion wrote in 2003 (two months before the U.S. invasion of Iraq). “We had seen, most importantly, the insistent use of September 11 to justify the reconception of America’s correct role in the world as one of initiating and waging virtually perpetual war.”

In a single sentence, Didion had captured the essence of a quickly calcified set of assumptions that few mainstream journalists were willing to question. Those assumptions were catnip for the lions of the military-industrial-intelligence complex. After all, the budgets at “national security” agencies (both long-standing and newly created) had begun to soar with similar vast outlays going to military contractors. Worse yet, there was no end in sight as mission creep accelerated into a dash for cash.

For the White House, the Pentagon, and Congress, the war on terror offered a political license to kill and displace people on a large scale in at least eight countries. The resulting carnage often included civilians. The dead and maimed had no names or faces that reached those who signed the orders and appropriated the funds. And as the years went by, the point seemed to be not winning that multicontinental war but continuing to wage it, a means with no plausible end. Stopping, in fact, became essentially unthinkable. No wonder Americans couldn’t be heard wondering aloud when the “war on terror” would end. It wasn’t supposed to.

“I Mourn the Death of My Uncle…”

The first days after 9/11 foreshadowed what was to come. Media outlets kept amplifying rationales for an aggressive military response, while the traumatic events of September 11th were assumed to be just cause. When the voices of shock and anguish from those who had lost loved ones endorsed going to war, the message could be moving and motivating.

Meanwhile, President George W. Bush — with only a single congressional negative vote — fervently drove that war train, using religious symbolism to grease its wheels. On September 14th, declaring that “we come before God to pray for the missing and the dead, and for those who love them,” Bush delivered a speech at the Washington National Cathedral, claiming that “our responsibility to history is already clear: to answer these attacks and rid the world of evil. War has been waged against us by stealth and deceit and murder. This nation is peaceful, but fierce when stirred to anger. This conflict was begun on the timing and terms of others. It will end in a way, and at an hour, of our choosing.”

President Bush cited a story exemplifying “our national character”: “Inside the World Trade Center, one man who could have saved himself stayed until the end at the side of his quadriplegic friend.”

That man was Abe Zelmanowitz. Later that month, his nephew, Matthew Lasar, responded to the president’s tribute in a prophetic way:

“I mourn the death of my uncle, and I want his murderers brought to justice. But I am not making this statement to demand bloody vengeance… Afghanistan has more than a million homeless refugees. A U.S. military intervention could result in the starvation of tens of thousands of people. What I see coming are actions and policies that will cost many more innocent lives, and breed more terrorism, not less. I do not feel that my uncle’s compassionate, heroic sacrifice will be honored by what the U.S. appears poised to do.”

The president’s announced grandiose objectives were overwhelmingly backed by the media, elected officials, and the bulk of the public. Typical was this pledge Bush made to a joint session of Congress six days after his sermon at the National Cathedral: “Our war on terror begins with al-Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped, and defeated.”

Yet by late September, as the Pentagon’s assault plans became public knowledge, a few bereaved Americans began speaking out in opposition. Phyllis and Orlando Rodriguez, whose son Greg had died in the World Trade Center, offered this public appeal:

“We read enough of the news to sense that our government is heading in the direction of violent revenge, with the prospect of sons, daughters, parents, friends in distant lands dying, suffering, and nursing further grievances against us. It is not the way to go. It will not avenge our son’s death. Not in our son’s name. Our son died a victim of an inhuman ideology. Our actions should not serve the same purpose.”

Judy Keane, who lost her husband Richard at the World Trade Center, similarly told an interviewer: “Bombing Afghanistan is just going to create more widows, more homeless, fatherless children.”

And Iraq Came Next

While indescribable pain, rage, and fear set the U.S. cauldron to boil, national leaders promised that their alchemy would bring unalloyed security via a global war effort. It would become unceasing, one in which the deaths and bereavement of equally innocent people, thanks to U.S. military actions, would be utterly devalued.

In tandem with Washington’s top political leaders, the fourth estate was integral to sustaining the grief-fueled adrenaline rush that made launching a global war against terrorism seem like the only decent option, with Afghanistan initially in the country’s gunsights and news outlets filled with calls for retribution. Bush administration officials, however, didn’t encourage any focus whatsoever on U.S. petro-ally Saudi Arabia, the country from which 15 of the 19 September 11th hijackers came. (None were Afghans.)

By the time the United States began its invasion of Afghanistan, 26 days after 9/11, the assault could easily appear to be a fitting response to popular demand. Hours after the Pentagon’s missiles began to explode in that country, a Gallup poll found that “90 percent of Americans approve of the United States taking such military action, while just 5 percent are opposed, and another 5 percent are unsure.”

Such lopsided approval was a testament to how thoroughly the messaging for a “war on terror” had taken hold. It would have then been little short of heretical to predict that such retribution would cause many more innocent people to die than in the 9/11 mass murder. During the years to come, the foreseeable deaths of Afghan civilians would be downplayed, discounted, or simply ignored as incidental “collateral damage” (a term that Time magazine defined as “meaning dead or wounded civilians who should have picked a safer neighborhood”).

What had occurred on September 11th remained front and center. What began happening to Afghans that October 7th would be relegated to, at most, peripheral vision. Amid the righteous grief that had swallowed up the United States, few words would have been less welcome or more relevant than these from a poem by W.H. Auden: “Those to whom evil is done / Do evil in return.”

Even then, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was already in the Pentagon’s crosshairs. Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee in September 2002, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld didn’t miss a beat when Senator Mark Dayton questioned the need to attack Iraq, asking, “What is compelling us to now make a precipitous decision and take precipitous actions?”

Rumsfeld replied: “What’s different? What’s different is 3,000 people were killed.”

In other words, the humanity of those who died on 9/11 would loom so large that the fate of Iraqis would be rendered invisible.

In reality, Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Official claims about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction would similarly prove to be fabrications, part of a post-9/11 pattern of falsehoods used to justify aggression that made those who actually lived in Iraq distinctly beside the point. As I shuttled between San Francisco and Baghdad three times in the four months that preceded the March 2003 invasion, I felt I was traveling between two far-flung planets, one increasingly abuzz with debates about a coming war and the other just hoping to survive.

When the Bush administration and the American military machine finally launched that war, it would cause the deaths of perhaps 200,000 Iraqi civilians, while “several times as many more have been killed as a reverberating effect” of that conflict, according to the meticulous estimates of the Costs of War Project at Brown University. Unlike those killed on 9/11, the Iraqi dead were routinely off the American media radar screen, as were the psychological traumas suffered by Iraqis and the decimation of their country’s infrastructure. For U.S. soldiers and civilians on contractor payrolls, that war’s death toll would climb to 8,250, while back home, media attention to the ordeals of combat veterans and their families would turn out to be fleeting at best.

Still, for the industrial part of the military-industrial-congressional complex, the Iraq War would prove all too successful. That long conflagration gave huge boosts to profits for Pentagon contractors while, propelled by the normalization of endless war, Defense Department budgets kept spiking upward. And Iraq’s vast oil reserves, nationalized and off-limits to Western companies before the invasion, would end up in mega-corporate hands like those of Shell, BP, Chevron, and ExxonMobil. Several years after the invasion, some prominent Americans acknowledged that the war in Iraq was largely for oil, including the former head of U.S. Central Command in Iraq, General John Abizaid, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, and then-senator and future Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

The Never-Ending War on Terror

The “war on terror” spread to far corners of the globe. In September 2021, when President Biden told the U.N. General Assembly, “I stand here today, for the first time in 20 years, with the United States not at war,” the Costs of War Project reported that U.S. “counterterrorism operations” were still underway in 85 countries — including “air and drone strikes” and “on-the-ground combat,” as well as “so-called ‘Section 127e’ programs in which U.S. special operations forces plan and control partner force missions, military exercises in preparation for or as part of counterterrorism missions, and operations to train and assist foreign forces.”

Many of those expansive activities have been in Africa. As early as 2014, pathbreaking journalist Nick Turse reported for TomDispatch that the U.S. military was already averaging “far more than a mission a day on the continent, conducting operations with almost every African military force, in almost every African country, while building or building up camps, compounds, and ‘contingency security locations.’”

Since then, the U.S. government has expanded its often-secretive interventions on that continent. In late August 2023, Turse wrote that “at least 15 U.S.-supported officers have been involved in 12 coups in West Africa and the greater Sahel during the war on terror.” Despite claiming that it seeks to “promote regional security, stability, and prosperity,” the U.S. Africa Command is often focused on such destabilizing missions.

With far fewer troops on the ground in combat and more reliance on air power, the “war on terror” has evolved and diversified while rarely sparking discord in American media echo chambers or on Capitol Hill. What remains is the standard Manichean autopilot of American thought, operating in sync with the structural affinity for war that’s built into the military-industrial complex.

A pattern of regret — distinct from remorse — for the venture militarism that failed to triumph in Afghanistan and Iraq does exist, but there is little evidence that the underlying repetition-compulsion disorder has been exorcised from the country’s foreign-policy leadership or mass media, let alone its political economy. On the contrary, 22 years after 9/11, the forces that have dragged the United States into war in so many countries still retain enormous sway over foreign and military affairs. The warfare state continues to rule.

* * *


  1. Scott Ward September 8, 2023

    I support the use of tents in Mendocino Village. The California Building Code has provisions in section 108 and in Appendix Chapter 31 for permitting temporary membrane structures (tents). The building official can allow the use of temporary structures for up to 180 days, and grant extensions. The tent fabric covering must approved as being ignition resistant by the State Fire Marshal. As a retired building official, I recommend that the following items should be considered when approving the use of tents for commercial purposes:

    Will the tent location block or impede existing emergency exits and passageways serving the existing building?

    Is the tent accessible to persons with disabilities (ADA)?

    Any electrical or mechanical (heating, fans, etc.) installations must be code compliant.

    Emergency exit passageways from within the tent must remain open and unobstructed.

    Will the additional occupant load (number of folks using the tent) require an increase in the size of existing restrooms?

  2. Bob A. September 8, 2023


    Like everything else in this woe-begone timeline we inhabit, throwing the remote through a modern flat-screen TV provides nowhere near the satisfaction that planting a .38 slug in the old Magnavox did. Those suckers imploded. Just ask Elvis.

  3. Randy September 8, 2023

    Can you send a subscription of the AVA to Kennedy?

  4. Stephen Rosenthal September 8, 2023

    I like to think I could be fair and unbiased if chosen to be on a jury. However, if Robert Valadez was sitting in the defendant’s seat, I’d vote guilty regardless of the evidence. I’ll leave it to our gentle readers to figure out why.

  5. Jim Shields September 8, 2023

    Good Morning Mazie, et al,
    Here’s another chapter in the disgraceful and pathetic history of the unraveling of the last threads that held together mental health services in Mendocino County. The unwarranted closure of the PHF unit in 2001, opened the door back then by a capitulating BOS that led to the farming out of adult mental health services to the private sector. It’s a story that’s been well chronicled since by my colleagues at the Anderson Valley Advertiser, call it the Schrader Saga. As a degreed historian, I can tell you I don’t believe this stuff, and I’m the one who wrote it. Here it is:
    Suicides Confirm Big Problems At Mental Health Dept.
    By Jim Shields
    June 9, 2001

    Back in November of 1999, Mendocino County Mental Health Director Kristy Kelly appeared before the Board of Supervisors and informed them of a “crisis” at the Psychiatric Health Facility (PHF).
    The visibly distraught Kelley, who at that time had been in the director’s job six months, told the Supes that an emergency situation necessitated her seeking BOS approval to close the PHF unit immediately. The PHF, located at the county’s Low Gap Road complex, provides acute psychiatric care and other inpatient services to the seriously mentally ill, including those charged with crimes, or being treated against their will (so-called “5150” cases from the state Health & Safety Code section of the same number).
    Kelly told the BOS that “as of 3 p.m. today, we will not be able to maintain the minimum number of licensed staff on the unit required by our (state) license.” Kelly recommended that the Supes “affirm PHF operations should be suspended until staffing and other problems are resolved.”
    Kelley said that state-mandated staffing levels had fallen below legal standards in the last two weeks when “violent incidents” forced four staff members off the job with work-related injuries. Additionally, 11 PHF employees filed grievances “regarding working conditions due to concerns for their personal safety.” No details were provided about the violent incidents or the unsafe working conditions, but the Board approved the temporary closure.
    A year later, Kelley was once again before the Board seeking temporary closure of the PHF. The Mental Health Director cited ongoing staff burnout and job stress and asked for time to allow PHF employees to “reboot.” It should also be noted that closure request came on the heels of a patient committing suicide in the PHF unit. I’ll have more to say on that incident shortly. In any event, the Supes once again approved Kelley’s appeal to close the unit. The PHF shut its doors on December 5 of last year and has yet to reopen.
    Kelley has made no secret of the fact she wants the PHF closed on a permanent basis. The question is why? To date, there have been no good reasons offered to justify such an action. Closing the PHF would merely exacerbate an already grave, even deadly situation. Let’s take a look at two cases which illustrate the root of the problem.
    Last year on November 2, 42-year-old Jens Rasch attempted suicide in Ukiah by slashing his wrists. Following medical treatment at Ukiah Valley Medical Center, Rasch was taken by Ukiah police officers to the PHF unit. After admission, Rasch was placed in one of the unit’s rooms. Sometime later he hung himself with shoelaces, which were presumably his own. Barely alive, Rasch was first transported to UVMC for treatment, and then to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital where he died on November 7.
    According to the Sonoma County Coronor’s office, several weeks before his suicide, Rasch had been in a San Francisco mental health facility. Reportedly, Rasch was diagnosed as bi-polar. His parents, who live out-of-state, had recently come to California to stay with Rasch because he had “begun to behave strangely.”
    Evidently, PHF staff were aware of some of Rasch’s history because he had been scheduled to be transferred for care in a San Francisco facility. Approximately, 30 minutes before his transfer Rasch was found hanging in the PHF unit.
    The most disturbing, and as yet unanswered question, is why Rasch apparently was placed in a room, unattended and left with his shoelaces. Although the Ukiah Police Department and the Department of Mental Health conducted an internal review of the case, I have been unsuccessful to date in obtaining copies of their report. A UPD officer informed me late this week that an official records request must be made for such documents, but he did not indicate whether the investigative report would then be produced. I’m in the process of filing the request.
    I spoke to County Administrative Officer Jim Anderson about the Rasch case. Not only does Mental Health report to Anderson, but as CAO he was also “on call” after the incident occurred. When asked why the shoelaces were not taken from Rasch, Anderson responded, “It is my understanding that protocols were followed. There are protocols for the protection of the patient while attempting to also reserve the dignity of the patient. It’s my understanding that it was determined upon his evaluation, that further in-patient treatment was necessary. Mr. Rasch was awaiting transfer to a hospital facility (in San Francisco).”
    A law enforcement official, who declined to be identified for the record, stated, “The first thing you do with somebody who is suicidal is to take everything away from them they can use to harm themselves.”
    The long-time police officer, who was familiar with the Rasch case, also said, “Here’s a guy brought to the PHF straight from the hospital after receiving treatment for slashing his wrists. That’s about the strongest signal you can get that he’s suicidal. You take his belt away, you take his shoelaces away, along with anything else he has that can be used to further the attempt. The idea is to stop him, not help him, from committing suicide.”
    Last month a second suicide involving Mental Health occurred in the Willits area. The circumstances surrounding this tragedy defy belief.
    On May 10 at approximately 8:30 p.m., Sheriff’s deputies responded to a “man down” call at Summer Lake in Brooktrails. When the officers arrived on the scene, they found 21-year-old Joshua Field lying on wooden bridge. According to Sheriff Tony Craver, Field obviously was in need of help.
    “He was a ‘5150’ suicidal individual,” Craver said. “He wanted to be left alone to go out into the woods and die. He was saying things like, ‘I’m tired of living, I want to die.’ He said these kinds of things repeatedly.”
    Craver explained that police frequently encounter individuals who are not law breakers, but merely mentally ill. He outlined the three different elements of so-called ‘5150’ commitments by police where individuals are picked up and held for mental health observation and treatment. First, are those who are so gravely disabled mentally they cannot care for themselves. The second criteria for the 5150 process are individuals who are a danger to themselves or others. Finally, anyone who exhibits signs of suicide qualifies for a 5150 charge.
    “These people we pick up on a 5150 are not criminals,” Craver said. “They’re just mentally ill individuals who need professional help.”
    Joshua Field was one of those 5150 arrestees who needed professional help. The patrol deputies brought Field to the Willits Sheriff’s substation and placed a call to a Mental Health crisis worker in Ukiah. What happened next is unbelievable.
    The crisis worker talked to Field for a while, then spoke with the deputy who brought him in. He then dictates to the deputy a “behavior performance contract,” which he tells the deputy Field has agreed to sign. The deputy, fairly new on the job, assumed that such contracts are part of an agreed upon policy between the Sheriff’s Office and Mental Health. Essentially, the contract stated that Field promised he would not attempt suicide. In return for agreeing to the no-suicide pledge, Field was released from custody.
    Craver said he found out about the “contract” several days later.
    “When I found out, I went ballistic,” Craver said. “I let our people and Mental Health know that’s the last time we’ll ever do something like that again. Under no circumstances will we ever do that again.”
    Craver made it clear he did not blame the deputy for the “contract” episode.
    “He’s a great young guy,” Craver stated. “He’s a fine officer, but a little inexperienced. He didn’t know that we would never agree to that kind of policy. I can’t blame him since nobody in the Sheriff’s Office had ever heard of such a thing until it happened that one time.”
    The county’s legal beagles should also be a bit nervous about Mental Health’s “non-suicide contract” policy. It doesn’t take a constitutional scholar to opine there may be some liability attached to that kind of contract.
    Unfortunately, Mental Health’s non-suicide pact with Field didn’t work. On May 13, Field was found hanging in a carport in Brooktrails. One of the responding Sheriff’s officers administered CPR to Field, which revived him enough for transport to the Willits hospital, but his condition later worsened. Field was then flown to a Santa Rosa hospital where he died.
    “My responsibility as a police officer is this,” Craver explained, “If I believe a person is suicidal, then I’m going to take him face-to-face with a crisis worker. If the crisis workers, in their best judgment, determine that this suicidal person should not be hospitalized or given any further treatment, then so be it. But something needs to be done where we can get people who need help, the kind of treatment that’s needed and they’re entitled to. Everybody knows it’s not being done with the PHF being closed.”
    It appears it’s time to find somebody who can open the PHF’s doors. Whoever it is will probably require a big broom.

    • Marmon September 8, 2023

      A PHF only stabilizes a patient, it does not treat their mental illness. Once they’re stabilized, they’re back on the street. A PHF is the last thing Mendocino County needs. My opinion.


      • Marmon September 8, 2023

        It makes me sick to think about all those millions of dollars going towards a new PHF when we could be saving lives now, along as we don’t rely on the Shraeders to distribute it among themselves and friends. Completion of the new PHF is still 5 years out from now. And, who knows what the final cost will be.


        • Lazarus September 8, 2023

          The blame for nothing of substance currently happening with the PFH needy people lies with Measure B.
          The Howard/PHF scam was to dump ole Howard Hospital on the county. When Willits soundly rejected the PHF, Angelo moved to plan B.
          The PHF may never be operational.
          I have heard rumors that the neighbors of Whitmore Ln. do not want the PHF there either.
          Be well, and good luck.

          • Marmon September 8, 2023

            It’s important we keep the conversation going, I got kinda of burnt out for a while. I always respect your wisdom and street knowledge. Thanks Laz.


      • Marmon September 8, 2023

        Just my expert opinion, sorry


        • Lazarus September 8, 2023

          You lost me…
          Be well and good luck

      • Jim Shields September 8, 2023

        Mr. Marman, thank you for your comments as you have many years of experience, practical knowledge, and expertise in mental health matters. With the background I provided, what kind of processing and care should the two men who died by suicide have undergone.
        And secondly, your comments on former-Sheriff Tony Craver’s statement: “My responsibility as a police officer is this. If I believe a person is suicidal, then I’m going to take him face-to-face with a crisis worker. If the crisis workers, in their best judgment, determine that this suicidal person should not be hospitalized or given any further treatment, then so be it. But something needs to be done where we can get people who need help, the kind of treatment that’s needed and they’re entitled to. Everybody knows it’s not being done with the PHF being closed.”
        I can tell you that every sheriff from Jim Tuso to Tony Craver to Tom Allman to Matt Kendall, have all made similar assessments relative to the PHF and its role in providing “care” to certain populations of the mentally ill.
        Once again, appreciate your thoughts on these matters.

        • Marmon September 9, 2023

          Those good sheriffs you mentioned were the cause of the PHF’s closure.


          As Mendocino County”s Mental Health medical director back in 2000, Rosoff made news when he complained to county officials about jail inmates being sent to the county psychiatric health facility, the locked facility known as the PHF, or “puff,” where the mentally ill in crisis were sent for evaluation and stabilization. At the time, the PHF was having trouble staying open because of a shortage of qualified nurses to staff it.

          At the time, Rosoff said that sending inmates to the PHF meant that other patients were being sent out of county for care at great expense to the county.

          He also said that inmates were sometimes sent to the PHF unnecessarily and on the orders or advice of judges and defense attorneys, not mental health professionals – something that did not endear him to local defense attorneys. He complained of prisoners being cared for in the PHF for months while they awaited trial, an unnecessary situation he thought simply provided the inmates with more comfort.


  6. Jim Armstrong September 8, 2023

    Thanks for the Eel diversion application.
    The link you provided indicates a location on the South Fork and “The purpose of use for water is irrigation, incidental recreation, incidental fish and wildlife preservation and enhancement, and incidental fire protection.”

  7. Sarah Kennedy Owen September 8, 2023

    Hi Jim,
    What is it you don’t believe (“I don’t believe any of this stuff and I’m the one who wrote it.”)? Guess I’m out of the loop on this one, but I would like clarification, please.

    • Jim Shields September 8, 2023

      Hi Sarah,
      That comment was my failed attempt at humor.
      Believe me, unfortunately everything I wrote about and described actually happened.
      Thanks for your comments.

      • Sarah Kennedy Owen September 8, 2023

        Got it! Thanks.

  8. Marshall Newman September 8, 2023

    The Herb Caen photograph is by Fred Lyon.

  9. Kirk Vodopals September 8, 2023

    Dude, Skyhawk, you’re the epitome of white liberal mendo-style virtue signaling. Good luck sorting that out with the Albion Nation

  10. Jim Armstrong September 8, 2023

    Four marathon length (a quadathalon?) articles in one issue.
    I have to admit that my old eyes, senior brain and tired belief systems did not allow me to get very far into any of them.
    Price is right, though.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *