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LINGERING SHOWERS and a slight chance for thunderstorms are expected again this afternoon across the interior. Dry weather is forecast to return by Sunday and will continue into next week. Breezy north winds are forecast along the coast for the weekend. Temperatures will be near normal through the weekend, with warmer conditions next week. (NWS)
STEPHEN DUNLAP (Fort Bragg): A cloudy 55F on the coast this Saturday morning. Some heavy drizzle got me .02" of wetness. Generally clear, cool & breezy this weekend. Mostly clear skies next week.
MIKE OWENS MEMORIAL TODAY
Jesse Owens: My father Mike Owens’ memorial service will be this Saturday at the Senior Center in Boonville, September 30th, at 12pm. Potluck. Everyone is welcome.
WILLITS WOMAN GETS HER HYDRANT
On Wednesday, 09-27-23, at about 6:40 pm, an off-duty Willits Police Officer saw an obviously recently vandalized truck in the parking lot of a market at 180 North Main Street in Willits. Witnesses told the officer that they saw a man and woman in a heated argument around the vehicle just prior to his arrival, although the two were no longer there.
When an on-duty officer arrived, he was able to identify the involved parties but did not locate them anywhere in the vicinity.
At about 9:44 pm, 911 callers reported a truck had struck a fire hydrant on Bittenbender Lane, next to the same market as the earlier incident.
The officer arrived to discover the hydrant was sheared off at the base and water was forcefully spraying from the sheared hydrant in a geyser, with the previously damaged truck parked near it.
After contacting the female driver of the truck, the officer determined she caused the collision when she attempted to use the vehicle to hit the male from the earlier incident.
After an investigation, the officer arrested 43 year old Willits resident Renee Dominga Leggett for Assault With A Deadly Weapon and Driving Under The Influence.
(Willits PD Presser)
HELP WANTED. We have three picnic tables at the park that may be eligible for revival if the right volunteers are available to lead the charge! Are you experienced with building tables? - Do you have some available wood boards (and/or nuts and bolts) that may fit the job? - Would you like to be a part of the creative team to repaint the tables when reconstruction is finished? Would you like to donate $$$ to the project?
Please send your contact info to Elizabeth at firstname.lastname@example.org or text/call 415-713-3833.
It Takes A Valley!
THE AV PANTHER FOOTALL EIGHT-MAN TEAM plays Tomales today (Saturday) at home at the Fairgrounds, September 30, at 11am in the morning. It should be an interesting and competitive game. Temps should be moderate.
AV UNIFIED NEWS
Dear Anderson Valley Community,
Foremost: Don’t miss the football game tomorrow at 11:00 at the fairgrounds. Show some support for this amazing group Coach Toohey has inspired to rise up. rise up means great work ethic, great heart, great commitment, great perseverance. rise up.
Please thank your children for another amazing week. I thank our staff for their on-going dedication and support, even through challenges.
The septic system at the elementary system is “big, really big.” I read the construction plans, but even I was surprised at how big the tank was! I appreciate the work of Northwest Construction as they minimized the restricted area to ensure our kids had a place to play.
The State stepped up big with almost $1,000,000 granted in funding for our septic systems at both sites. That was due to your Letters Of Outrage and to Leigh and Angel jumping through more hoops than a Ringling Brothers lion. But, we got it done.
Our high school plans are through the Department of State Architect (DSA) and California Department of Education (CDE). No small feat. All of these agencies have been exceptionally pro-active due to your political outrage and the response from your elected officials. This district is going to go for full replacement for our domes, gym and shop. This doesn’t happen in other places, but we'll make it happen here because it needs to happen.
The high school will be in portables for a portion of next year. That will be inconvenient for three classrooms but worth it. Construction starts the day summer starts.
We had hoped to hear about the skatepark and track grant today, but I think with Senator Feinstein’s passing the news will be delayed. My heart tells me that the Skatepark/Community Park will be funded and that is good. I am a person of deep faith and hope that the track will also be funded to create educational equity for our kids that compete against districts that are disproportionately well-funded. I am a fierce believer that your education should not be defined by your zip code. But that is what happens routinely with wealthy communities having one standard and poor ones another and that equity divide has gotten worse and worse through the years. It’s not okay… Every student deserves the same facilities in every district. I don’t care if you have 400 kids or 2,000 kids. Everyone deserves the best. We will fight the fight.
Lots of shouting out this week. The elementary Back-to-School Night was joyous. Thank you to the staff. The fair frenzy with all of the potato booth, parking lot monitoring, and FFA entries were stellar. Sports are in full swing and our teams are hot. I dropped in on preschool and Miss Anita had the most civilized and amazing lunch going on for those kids. So cool…. Ms. Pearl and Ms. Perez at the elementary school are working together to reimagine what SPED can be. I also am deeply grateful to my esteemed colleague and good friend, retired teacher Joan Perry, for taking a week away from her life to come and support our special education program. Joan is on contract for case management at the high school, but came for a full week to support the elementary program through modeling and collaboration with Ms. Perez. We are grateful to both Ms. Perez and Ms. Perry for this amazing partnership.
So, I will end, I need some help for a Site Council meeting at the High School on Tuesday, October 3 at 3:30 at the high school if you can drop in for 30 minutes.
Finally, no excuses if your kid isn’t doing well in a Junior Senior High Class. Tutoring in all subjects is available with Ms. Tere on Tuesday after school, and math, Tuesday after school with Ms. Pantaja and Wednesday with Ms. Suarez. We believe and invest in your kids. Kids can request in the moment tutoring all day long in the library with ms. Malfavon and ms. Tompkins. Make it so. No F’s, D’s, or C-s please. We built the support mechanism.
Reminder next week is conference week with a full week of early dismissal. Do you know how cool it is that participation rates at both sites for conferences is almost 100 percent? That doesn’t happen in other districts. It is a testament that our families care.
Last thing, don’t go on vacation before the holiday break. Your kids need to be in school. It hurts them when you leave. Approved travel is December 16-January 7. Honor the dates please to make sure your kid is successful.
With deepest appreciation,
Louise Simson, Superintendent
AV Unified School District
FARM TO TABLE CLASS BOUNTY from Ms. Swehla!
Farm to Table harvest and prep today.
Eggs! So many eggs! Buy some eggs. We get a dozen and a half each day! They are so pretty!
Two big bowls of bell peppers and cucumbers that will go to the cafeteria.
Ancho peppers that will be used to make Chile Relleno casserole next week. We have lots of ancho peppers if you are interested.
Apple harvest is coming!
(Anderson Valley High School, Agriculture Dept.)
Last Monday, September 25, the power went out on Greenwood Road. I happened to be standing at my kitchen window, thank God, looking down my driveway, and saw a huge plume of smoke and within seconds the 100+ foot tall fir tree went up like a torch, with smaller trees erupting soon after. I called 911, and waited for the longest 15 minutes of my life for the trucks to come. With the gusty winds, the fire raced up toward my house, and came within yards of my property, which is full of oaks, firs, and redwoods, as is most of the land around me, all the way to Elk. This had the potential of becoming a major forest fire with my house being the first of many destroyed.
Our fabulous AV volunteers, and Cal Fire, four fire trucks, command trucks, a water tender, along with a helicopter dropping water, a couple of planes, one with retardant, and a bulldozer worked like a well choreographed team and kept the fire from spreading, then putting it out. It was not the drizzle that we got later that day, but the brave first responders and their quick reaction who kept this event from becoming something we all dread, but live with almost year round.
And so I am sending a huge THANK YOU to those brave folks who raced here, and worked so hard that day to save my house, and prevent any further destruction to my neighbors up the road. I also thank all my wonderful friends who texted me their concern and offers of housing or anything I needed as soon as they heard of this unfolding event. Country life is hard sometimes, especially living alone, but being in such a wonderful community far outweighs any negatives. I am beyond grateful.
On a final note, I have learned that the engineers who make the decisions for PG&E regarding the installation of the new and highly effective devices that cut power instantly if anything touches the line in order to prevent fires (epss) do not deem this area a high fire risk. Really?!!? This is a FOREST, with many homes, as well as a State Park close by.
UKIAH CONSTRUCTION UPDATES FOR THE WEEK OF OCTOBER 2
On the south side (Mill to Gobbi), crews will continue installing the new water infrastructure. The “services” or “laterals” will be going in, including the infrastructure for fire hydrants. These are the perpendicular lines that bring water from the main line to each of the buildings/hydrants. Work will continue to proceed northbound from Gobbi to Mill. No interruptions to utility service are planned next week; however, some—not all—of the properties in this area will have temporary interruptions to their water service during the following week of 10/9. Those property/business owners will be individually contacted at least 72 hours in advance. Access to all properties will be maintained.
On the north side (Norton to Henry), construction crews will continue work on the “joint trench,” which will hold the new underground electric lines, as well as phone and cable lines. This part of the project is moving from south (near Henry) to north (to Norton). Immediately upon the completion of work in each section, steel plates will be placed across the trench to allow vehicular access.
Looking ahead (North): Starting around October 9th, sidewalk demolition is scheduled to begin on the southeast side of State (near the intersection of Henry/State). The first thing that will occur is the removal of the existing street trees. We know this seems drastic, but just look how the trees in Phase One are thriving! By planting them in larger tree wells with irrigation, they grow faster and healthier, and are less likely to later damage sidewalks and buildings. After the tree removal, the removal of the old sidewalks will begin. As with Phase One, temporary, ADA-compliant sidewalks will be installed with base rock immediately following demolition. Also, we are committed to not demolishing any sections that can’t be replaced with new in a reasonable period of time.
Shannon Riley, Deputy City Manager, City of Ukiah, (707) 467-5793
FORT BRAGG’S DISRESPECTFUL FOREVER CROWD
The highlight of Fort Bragg’s Labor Day parade is the Lumberjack marching band. Unfortunately, this year, their performance was marred by the disrespectful yahoos circling them with motorcycles and a siren. The “Fort Bragg Forever” crowd did not represent themselves well. What to do about the significant element of our population who consider disrespect to be a strong point?
BILL KIMBERLIN: You may have noticed the painting on the left on display at Mosswood Market in downtown Boonville. I did, and I would have bought it but it was not for sale. Note the way the neck attaches to the body in both. On the right is the original, "Portrait of Juan Gris by Amedeo Modigliani."
NORTH-STATE FIRES DAMPENED, BUT STILL BURNING
by Sage Alexander
A storm complex that meant rainfall on fires burning in Northern California also blocked firefighters from accessing the blazes, which are largely burning in rugged terrain. The Smith River Complex, the largest of a group of fires sparked by dry lightning over a month ago, is now burning at over 94,000 acres.
As for the rain, “It definitely has helped the area. We just don’t want too much, where it’s going to cause other problems,” said Joe Menton, a public information officer for the Smith River Complex.
Monday, the ridge tops of the fires especially felt the water, with some ridges seeing around four inches. The rain also loosened up soil in burns and caused some little rockslides, including over U.S. Highway 199. Caltrans crews cleared up the debris quickly.
“Basically, we’re in a smoldering stage right now,” said Menton, noting that crews are generally pulled off during heavy rain because of the risk. Secondary fire effects like damaged trees, root systems and falling rocks coupled with erosion from water can be a risk to firefighters. Over a thousand personnel are on the complex.
Firefighting efforts have found serious progress, recently reaching 85% containment. Menton said while the team feels comfortable with that today, more work is to be done, and conditions change daily. As for Tuesday, high humidity and some small showers are expected, with more coming later in the week as part of an atmospheric river.
The Del Norte Sheriff’s Department has opened up all of the county roads and lifted all evacuation orders; however, forest closures, including roads, have stayed in place. The Six Rivers National Forest, where many of the fires burn through, is notorious for rough terrain and hard to access fires.
Another set of wildfires, the lightning complex in Six Rivers National Forest and Redwood National and State Parks, is faring a bit differently.
Though smoke cover has prevented infrared flights to update the size, the acreage was last measured at 42,517 acres with a containment of 8%.
Firefighters ended a Sunday night shift early due to the risk that comes with rainfall on recent burn areas. According to a U.S. Forest Service release on the complex, fire activity was subdued thanks to this rainfall, calling it a season slowing event for fire activity.
“The weather conditions also increased the potential hazards of fire weakened trees falling without warning on all parts of the fires due to winds and wet soil conditions. The possibility of additional rocks and debris falling from steep slopes on to the roadways remains a concern,” the release noted. The road systems, often decrepit logging roads and unmaintained paths, also posed a challenge on these fires.
“It may not be possible to get engines and equipment into certain areas until some drying conditions occur,” the release noted. Over 600 personnel are on the complex.
Crews reportedly saw minimal fire activity on the Pearch Fire, burning around 11,000 acres at last recording and 6% contained. The Pearch is near the community of Orleans. Debris on nearby highway 96 is expected to continue falling, and the release advises caution and alternate routes. An evacuation warning is in place for one area in Siskiyou County east of the Perch fire.
Another fire in the complex, multiple fires called the Mosquito is at over 29,000 acres at 6% containment, with increased fire activity on Sunday reduced with rainfall. The wildfires are burning in remote areas.
“As the winds and rain started most of the crews and equipment staged at the Base Camp due to muddy and unstable road conditions,” the release noted.
A Caltrans video describes efforts to repair damage on U.S. 199, which is currently closed twice a day.
For more information about wildfires, including updated evacuation warnings, visit https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/ or follow your county’s office of emergency services on social media.
(Ukiah Daily Journal/Eureka Times-Standard)
BOOK EVENT DATE CHANGE
Dear Friends and friends of The Mendocino Book Company,
Please note the date change for the book event with Joel Eis has been rescheduled to Friday, October 20th, at 5:30pm. Details coming soon here on my page. I'll also be sharing this news at other places I had posted about the event. L.S.
REGULAR MEETING OF THE BOONVILLE WATER PROJECTS COMMITTEE
Anderson Valley Community Services District
To be held via teleconference Phone # 669 900 6833 Zoom Meeting ID 845 5084 3330 Password 048078
Public comments must be submitted by 10:00am on October 5th, 2023 electronically to email@example.com
Thursday October 5th, 2023 at 10:30am at the Boonville Firehouse.
Call To Order And Roll Call:
Recognition Of Guests And Hearing Of Public:
Consent Calendar: Minutes From September, 2023
Changes Or Modification To This Agenda:
Report On Drinking Water Project:
Report On Wastewater Project:
Concerns Of Members
* * *
August Meeting’s Water Projects Committee Minutes:
Report On Clean Water (Waste) Project: Val Hanelt reported that the Soils analyses have been received by David Coleman, Brelje and Race Clean Water engineers. The data showed the [Boonville] site was going to work out and Mr. Coleman is now working on the final treatment plant plans. Ms. Hanelt pointed out that a full 20 acres was eligible for purchase and when the treatment plant was installed the only visible feature would be the 50’x100’ building. Morgan Baynham asked about the status of the purchase and Ms. Hanelt shared that the owners had agreed to the purchase amount and were aware that it would take a couple more years to settle because we had to be awarded the construction grant to have funds to pay them.
Drinking Water: The District’s attorney gave a status update on the easement negotiations. All negotiations are proceeding with final items. The last negotiation that is starting is with Meadow Estates and the District is waiting for feedback from them. The previous day the District got an email from our DWSRF (Drinking Water State Revolving Fund – Division of Financial Assistance) project manager, Henry Wijaya, that was disturbing. A “senior” in DFA funding thinks that the commercials (parcels without a residence) should be liable for their installation from the main pipe instead of the lateral from the meter box as we have always informed everyone. Ms. Hanelt shared our database (without private personal information) showing that this affects nine parcels). A photo of one other parcel was shared that is a commercial business (realty office) in an actual residence so a decision will have to be made about its status. The ensuing discussion touched on these points – already made by the attorney in his strong response to our project manager: The District has planned on “one meter for one parcel” – this has never been contested before. The District has always been working on the assumption that the Commercials are responsible for their laterals from the meter box (owned by the CSD) to their business – not from the main line. The Commercials are aware of this. We have been working on the assumption that the DFA is funding “consolidation” of Public Water Systems. Commercial hotels and restaurants are in this category. If the Commercials have the expense (approximately $10,000) of connecting to the main [pipe in the street] instead of just the meter box, how would that be financed? If out of pocket would there be loans available for this? Who would take out the loan? How many would decline to participate? How does that affect our consolidation efforts?
Zach Rounds suggested that we research any earlier communications from DFA supporting our understandings. Ms. Hanelt and Ms. McKenna will do a search. The attorney gave a status update on the easement negotiations. All negotiations are proceeding with final items. The last negotiation that is starting is with Meadow Estates and the District is waiting for feedback from them.
In addition, DFA has requested that our rate study includes versions that rely on loans as well as being 100% grant funded. We are not sure what this means, but it is counter to any earlier understanding. Our fully funded project is dependent on our “severely economically disadvantaged” status derived from our median household average. Does this refer to the approximately $90,000 extra to be in a loan amount to pay for the commercials getting hooked up? The District’s attorney has conveyed to the DFA that if this requirement refers to other loans, then the project will likely be doomed.
Once these concerning issues are resolved, the attorney will develop the Rate Study which will allow us to proceed with the Proposition 218 letter to the “Yes and Maybe” parcels. Brent explained that the Prop 218 letter only goes to the parcel owners that are affected by the outcome. Jim Lutticken suggested that a letter also go to the “No” parcels so that everyone was aware of the progress of the project, the outcome of the survey, and the rate that was going to be charged. The “No” parcels would not have a vote, but they would see the actual rate that was planned. For some, this might result in deciding to join the system. Mr. Lutticken has consented to read and edit the draft of this letter before we send it out. The District thanks him for this excellent suggestion.
Sarah Kennedy Owen:
Re Kennedy assassination: In experiments to see if expert shooters would be able to get three shots in the time needed, many were able: that is true, however, there were also quite a few experts who failed. Since Oswald was not available to test his ability, it is really impossible to know whether he had that kind of ability. I am sure the experts who were chosen to perform this experiment were chosen for their skill in that area. If Oswald was not very confident he could do it in the seconds needed, he might have used an open sight to decrease the time the gun took to get the three shots (this was the hypothesis quoted on Wikipedia) which would have decreased the accuracy of an already iffy gun at that distance and the difficulty of the angle from the sixth story. The gun used was apparently a very cheap model (see advertisement pictured on Wikipedia showing it sold for less than any of the other models on the page of the 1963 newspaper). I’m really talking way over my head now, since I am not familiar with guns, but it seems the proof one way or the other narrows down to a few things, the gun and Oswald’s ability being foremost among them.
ED REPLY: AN FBI sharpshooter, among others, got off the three shots from the same model rifle even faster than Oswald had. The three bullets came from Oswald’s gun, as established by ballistics tests, which are considered irrefutable evidence for murder in any court. (And that's it from The Grassy Knoll today.)
AT $20 PER HOUR, California's new minimum wage for fast food workers, a full-time fast food worker could earn a gross annual pay of almost $42,000 per year if they work full time. Subtracting maybe 25% for taxes and deductions leaves maybe $31,000 net per year. If that worker pays $2,000 a month for rent, that's $24,000 per year, leaving about $7,000 for such basics as car/gas, utilities, food, cellphone, etc. And that's for full-time employment, which a lot of fast-food workers don't have. They typically assemble two or three jobs to get full time employment. It's better than $15 per hour, but California is still too expensive for a conventional $20 an hour earner to live in if they want the bare minimum of the "American Dream." And never forget that every dollar a low wage worker receives goes directly into the economy, not hoarded or invested in tax-avoiding corporate bonds and schemes. (With math assistance from The Major)2
BECOMING FRIDA KAHLO, a three-parter on PBS, despite its oozingly pious intro, is absorbing. A truly great artist in her own right but inevitably associated with her famous artist husband, ol' whatshisface, Kahlo was a liberated woman way ahead of her time and place. She was also a communist, as was the love of her life, Diego Rivera, a fact the doc, in typically nambo pambo PBS fashion, plays down while playing up Rivera's left convictions. Also in typical nambo-pambo PBS style, Kahlo's most vivid paintings are partially covered, reducing their power, although the viewer can discern the impact of them despite the lib-lab interference, which is especially annoying given that Kahlo wasn't the hustling shlock merchants dominating, for instance, SF MOMA. I kept wondering, “Where's Frida's most famous boyfriend, the great Trotsky?” He enters part three of the film; I'll be interested to see how the filmmakers present him.
YEAH, I CHECK Fox News once a week or so just to see what the fascisti are currently hysterical about. (News Max is for people who've gone all the way goose step). This morning, Fox's Ken and Barb were aghast at several Border agents cutting back razor wire to free several people with small children impaled on the evil barrier. Good for the agents behaving humanly in an inhumane context.
A NETFLIX DOC called Ice Cold presents an interesting glimpse of contemporary Indonesia via a murder trial of a young woman accused of poisoning her best friend at an up-market coffee shop, poisoning her with cyanide, of all methods. I suppose cyanide is available from nefarious Dark Web sources, but the last time I heard of anyone using it to kill was former Anderson Valley volunteer fireman, Leonard Lake, who popped a cyanide pill as he was being questioned by police.
THE INDONESIAN judges and prosecutors — no juries in Indonesia — aren't what anyone might confuse with Solomon, but the Indo defense attorney is quite good. Expert witnesses for the prosecution include an old man whose expertise was founded on phrenology, which he'd mastered by studying photographs of American movie stars. The defense's experts included an Australian forensic chemist, a Chinese, who the prosecution and the judges simply had deported! (Chinese have historically been persecuted throughout Indonesia and Malaysia.)
THE CASE riveted the attentions of Indonesia's vast public spread out over something like 18,000 islands, proof that cyber-saturation has penetrated even the most remote global populations. There is literally no evidence and even less evidence of motive against the young defendant, but popular opinion, whipped up by televised demagogues (kinda like here, actually) was at first unanimous in the girl's guilt until her noble defense attorney, almost singlehandedly, using that same omni-present media, managed to convince a good part of the population that his client was innocent, a heartening turnaround translating to Mr. Pollyanna that if complete evidence is allowed, people will make rational decisions. No jury here, though, and the kid got twenty years. The defense attorney, on his deathbed, declared that justice is for sale in Indonesia, as it often is here.
UPDATED WATER RIGHTS FORMS NOW AVAILABLE
Updated Forms for Water Rights Ownership, Contact Information Update and Supplemental Statement for Change are now available.
On January 4, 2023, the State Water Board adopted a regulation regarding how water right owners or diverters must notify the Board about ownership and contact information changes associated with their water rights. The forms for notifying the Board of these changes have been updated to reflect the new regulation and are now available on our website.
Information About the New Regulation
The regulation requires either the previous owner/diverter or new owner/diverter to notify the Board within 30 days of a change of ownership or transfer of right. If the required form is not submitted within 30 days, the new owner/diverter may be in violation of the law and subject to fines of up to five hundred dollars ($500) for each day in which the violation occurs.
The regulation also requires owners/diverters to notify the Board within 30 days of a change in contact information. Failure to submit within 30 days may subject the diverter to a civil liability of up to five hundred dollars ($500) for each day in which the violation occurs.
Additionally, the new regulation aligns the water use reporting dates to match the reporting period and deadlines in Senate Bill 155 (2021). All water right holdersÂ must report their water use based on the water year (October 1-September 30).
Reporting for the 2022-23 water year begins on October 1, 2023. The reports must be submitted electronically before February 1, 2024. A reminder notice with instructions, user IDs, and passwords will be mailed to owners and agents in mid-October.
The Mendocino Superior Court judges have elected Judge Keith Faulder as the new Presiding Judge and Judge Carly Dolan as the new Assistant Presiding Judge for the two-year leadership cycle beginning January 1, 2024.
Judge Faulder was elected to the bench in 2016 and has presided over criminal cases since joining the bench. He has a strong legal background in criminal law, having served in both the district attorney’s and public defender’s offices from 1998 to 2007. He was then in private practice, handling criminal, juvenile, civil and family law matters until he was elected to the bench.
Judge Dolan was appointed to the bench in 2017 by Governor Brown and has presided over criminal misdemeanors and felonies, as well as family law. She attended University of San Francisco School of Law, graduating cum laude in 2001 with her juris doctorate. She served in the public defender’s office for sixteen years, with four years as the Assistant Public Defender.
Presiding Judge Jeanine Nadel, who has served in this capacity at the Court in 2022 and 2023 was pleased with the outcome of the election. She said, “I know the court will be in good hands with our new leadership. Judges Faulder and Dolan have strong ties to the community and will serve the court and its public with a focus on fair and impartial justice. These judges will also lead our efforts to design and build a new, modern courthouse in Ukiah, with an eye toward ensuring a safe and welcoming environment for all Mendocino residents.”
REDBUD TO PERFORM AT GRACE HUDSON MUSEUM
Redbud will be performing at First Friday Art Walk on Friday, Oct. 6 from 5-7 p.m. at Grace Hudson Museum and Sun House, 431 S. Main St.
Redbud plays original, danceable, rock-reggae-blues-psychedelic-punk. This is a free event as part of the First Friday Art Walk.
For more information, call (707) 467-2836.
DOWNWARD COASTAL PATTERN
The community officially now has what can be considered a pattern of behavior. Services that previously existed are now being denied/withdrawn from us on a consistent and regular basis. It started with College of the Redwoods leaving Fort Bragg, resulting in another community college promising to provide the level of service provided by CR. When I started CR in 1990 it was a vibrant institution of higher learning. Sadly, it has the air of a ghost town.
Next, was the withdrawal of emergency veterinary care after hours on the Coast. And, it gets better! Today, hundreds of Coast residents have to travel to Willits, Santa Rosa, Petaluma to get urgently needed veterinary care, not only after hours, but during vet hours, as well. And, if you dont have the ability to travel over the hill…you get to watch your pet suffer and/or die.
Then, and even more importantly, a new hospital medical provider took over the Mendocino Coast District Hospital which, as of this writing, has proven that they are failing to provide adequate medical care to this community. They’ve eliminated the opportunity for women to give birth here on the Coast. They are unable to provide primary care providers, as well as, any specialists to meet our medical needs. They opened an immediate care center that was supposed to treat illness’ that needed prompt attention. Now, you need to make an appointment! And, have you ever tried calling the office to make one?
MIKE GENIELLA RE FEINSTEIN: As a reporter I can say one thing about her. She personally returned every call I made to her, was direct, and seldom evasive even in the face of tough questions. I remember asking her directly what she thought about Hurwitz. “I have wondered why I am dealing with a Texas wheeler and dealer about old trees.”
He just doesn’t fit into the traditional image of Pacific Lumber, an iconic California company, does he?’ She asked with a throaty chuckle.
I also recall her walking into the Fort Bragg hearing on offshore oil. She was resplendent in a dark lavender suit, thick hair, and her then regal bearing. “Oh my,” exclaimed a woman near me. “She is a force to be reckoned with.”
CATCH OF THE DAY, Friday, September 28, 2023
DUSTIN BRUCE, Willits. Under influence, of silencer, ammo possession by prohibited person.
CAMERON HINCKLEY, Palo Alto/Fort Bragg. Shoplifting, resisting.
TRISTAN RAND, Nice/Ukiah. Evasion.
KELANI RICHARDS, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. Domestic abuse, controlled substance.
KAYLA SALLIS. Ukiah. Suspended license for DUI, failure to appear.
JASON SANDERS, Willits. Failure to appear.
CESAR SILVA-SALDANA, Ukiah. DUI.
GUILLERMO TORRES, Sacramento/Leggett. DUI.
Warmest spiritual greetings, As the American government shutdown looms 'round midnight, and we rejoice in the certainty that Social Security, Medicare, and Food Stamps will not be affected in the foreseeable future, that there are available beds in homeless shelters, and that the weather is going to be relatively mild this autumn, just kick back, and using your own innate will power, anchor your mind at its Divine Absolute source. OM Shanthi
Craig Louis Stehr
c/o Building Bridges Homeless Resource Center
1045 South State Street, Ukiah, CA 95482
THE BURL BROTHERS from Orick, California are pictured with a massive redwood burl that was uncovered at Big Lagoon in 1977 (up on LP).
The burl had a circumference of 117 feet. Back then, it was touted as the biggest burl in the world. Most slabs were sent to Italy. Sure would have loved a nice slab of this burl…imaging the beautiful live-edge! I’ve always wondered how they did financially with this contract.
(via Everett Liljeberg)
MEMO OF THE AIR: Good Night Radio show is on all night tonight!
Soft deadline to email your writing for tonight's (Friday night's) MOTA show is 6 or 7pm. If you can't make that, send it whenever it's done and I'll read it on the radio next week.
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Furthermore, you can always go to https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com and hear last week's MOTA show. By Saturday night I'll put up the recording of tonight's show. And you'll find scads of fascinating educational opportunities to avail yourself of until showtime, or any time, such as:
The blood collages of John Bingley Garland.
The story of the gay pirate plate. (via Tacky Raccoons)
And How Deep Is Your Love`, performed by BikoStar, Manna and Mfundo. Pretty darn nice. With bonus flipper dance.
Marco McClean, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com
The vibes weren’t good before the Giants fired Gabe Kapler, and now they’re even worse.
by Sami Higgins
Good morning, baseball fans.
Yesterday I wrote a very nice, well thought out, well reasoned, and lengthy post for this morning about why I didn’t really understand the sudden increase in the intensity of the rumors about Gabe Kapler potentially being fired. And how it almost felt like the media’s incessant rumoring and questioning about it was manifesting it into happening.
Not even an hour later, it did.
What galls me, though, is that the problems with the San Francisco Giants over the last two seasons neither start or end with Gabe Kapler. Yet now he’s the scapegoat for them. The man was handed two starting pitchers and six squirrels in a trench coat to make a rotation out of, and a roster made up of sock puppets and wacky waving inflatable arm tube men. But it’s somehow his fault that they weren’t more successful.
I don’t say any of this to defend Gabe Kapler. There’s definitely a case to be made for him to have been included in any kind of offseason overhaul that may or may not still take place. But it seems like an incredibly odd and off-putting place, and time, to start.
It is of course too early to judge whatever the Giants may or may not still do to try to turn things around before next season. However, given their recent history of...well...nothing, it’s hard to blame anyone that thinks that the front office and owners will essentially say “See, that was the whole problem and we fixed it. Leave us alone.” then go back to business as usual, trying to slash payroll. And raise ticket prices.
Am I being incredibly unfair? Maybe. But the organization has not earned much goodwill recently. And that’s not Gabe Kapler’s fault. It’s not Farhan Zaidi or the front office’s fault either. They have their orders too.
In my opinion, the problem is higher than that. When the owners prove that they’re willing to actually spend considerable money to improve the team considerably, maybe I’ll consider cutting them some slack.
But when “improvements” start with firing the guy that had nothing to do with assembling the team? That’s a weird, reactionary place to start. And not exactly the best way to start rebuilding goodwill with the fans; fans who recognize this for exactly the scapegoating that it is.
NEARLY ONE-THIRD of California’s wildfire fighting force is made of incarcerated people, more and more of them women, who put their lives on the line to save forests, people, homes, businesses and entire communities across the state. They got paid less than $5 a day for this dangerous work and found that upon their release from prison, they were prohibited from becoming firefighters.
— Jeffrey St. Clair
THEY HAVEN'T PAVED IT YET, BUT THEY SURE CREATED A PARKING LOT
Letter to the Editor:
Moving to Reno in January 1967, I was fortunate to make the acquaintance of some of the local guys who showed me one of the great unique experiences of the area. The Gerlach hot springs consisted of three pools the first of which was literally lethally hot and humanly unusable. The second had a diving board and an adjacent trio of wooden saunas situated over natural steaming fissures in the ground with a buoyant water temperature of a hot tub. The third was more of a warm wading pool of mineral water. This was a place where one could stay all night and never see another person or vehicle while enjoying this invigorating oasis. It was pristine. Now this area is fenced off to the public because of abuse and liability. the location is just a few miles south on the Black Rock Desert site of the bacchanal that is known as "The Burning Man". I wonder if it is justifiable to give up a piece of paradise just so many others could tromp there.
by Marshall Newman
Travel broadens one’s horizons (it also shrinks one’s wallet, but that is a discussion for another day). During the pandemic years, my travel was limited to car trips. However, broad acceptance of the Covid vaccine over the last two years encouraged me to return to air travel recently, though to a definitely “un-touristy” destination: Billings, Montana.
Why Billings? Family, of course. My older sister moved there a few years back and I had never visited. A quick five-day trip seemed in order.
Though served by at least three airlines, Billings is not a major destination. Getting there requires a connecting flight from Seattle, Denver or Salt Lake City and a major investment in time.
The first surprise of the trip came before I got to San Francisco International Airport. Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) has been disparaged much in the news lately, but BART to (and from) the airport was great; a clean, relatively new train, plenty of room, fast and cheap.
There have been plenty of travel horror stories this summer, but my flights weren’t among them. While not precisely on time, they were close enough to allow lunch in the Seattle-Tacoma Airport before lining up to catch the connecting flights. All four planes were full, but both my luggage and I made the trips both ways without incident.
A few words about Billings. It is situated along the Yellowstone River between two bluffs (except for one neighborhood atop the northern bluff). Like much of Montana, Billings is growing, with new housing developments, new business parks and new malls being developed in every direction (though primarily to the west).
Billings has one very odd feature: ditches in random locations throughout town. Apparently built for irrigation at the beginning of the 20th century, they stayed even as Billings grew around them. They remain today; flanked by backyards, crossed by city streets and occasionally meandering into parks. Though southern Montana had a relatively dry winter, they were full of water in early September.
With more than 100,000 residents, Billings is the most populous city in Montana. Nevertheless, it is a mix of big city and not-so-big city. On the big city side, there are the requisite museums, colleges, a zoo, a hospital and a concert hall. There also is Scheels, a huge outdoors/housewares store that sports a walk-through indoor aquarium and an indoor Ferris wheel. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the ticket counters at the airport close when no flights are pending and the Alaska Air ticket agent also doubles as the gate agent when there is a departing flight.
My three full days in Montana (and Wyoming) proved to be a quick tour of the state’s southern reaches. We visited Pompey’s Pillar, east of Billings, where William Clark scratched his name into the sandstone on the return leg of Lewis and Clark’s Journey of Discovery. We walked downtown Billings. We drove south and west on Highway 212 into Yellowstone National Park to see Bison, geysers and hot springs. We spent a night at Chico Hot Springs, a 100-year-old resort with a fine restaurant, rustic cabins (featuring the second surprise of the trip: a glow-in-the-dark toilet seat) and a great pool – fed by the natural hot springs - for soaking. And we did a driving tour of quaint downtown Livingston, where a surprisingly large number of nationally known authors live.
A few observations regarding Montana from my California perspective.
Montana is called Big Sky Country for good reason. The views are expansive in every direction in the southern portion of the state and I imagine them to be equally expansive in northern locations like Whitefish, Missoula, Helena and Glacier National Park. Sadly, the views in rural areas often are marred by someone’s house or cabin. Even sadder, those who own those houses and cabins probably only live in them six months of the year; fleeing to warmer climes like Mexico or Hawaii as soon as Montana’s cold, snowy winter arrives.
The number of distinctive license plates on Montana cars is ridiculous. It is as if every Montana car had a different specialty license plate. Actually, that isn’t far from the truth; there are approximately 266(!) specialty license plates available in Montana. Apparently any organization can petition for a license design of its own and many have.
Religion is big in Montana. Every Christian and Mormon domination is represented. There are churches everywhere, from huge mega-churches that look like shopping centers to tiny store front houses of worship that maybe hold 20 people.
Casinos also are big in Montana. These aren’t the corporate casinos of Nevada or even the Indian casinos of California; they are altogether smaller and far less glitzy. They also are everywhere, and I mean everywhere. On my travels, I passed a small strip mall with four storefronts, and two of them were casinos. Bizarre.
Visitors to Yellowstone National Park sometimes behave like idiots. Despite several news stories every year, details on the dangers in material every visitor receives on entering the park and abundant signage, people still do dumb things. Like leaving their cars to get “up close and personal” with bison. Bison are wild animals so big and strong they can flip a car on its side. Walking anywhere near them is tempting fate. Or getting off the boardwalks to look at thermal features. The ground around those features is fragile, the soil can collapse under a person’s weight, and they are called hot springs for a reason.
Highway 212 into Yellowstone National Park is a singular experience. After leaving the town of Red Lodge, elevation 5,588 feet, the road climbs a seemingly endless series of switchbacks before topping out at Beartooth Pass, elevation 10,947 feet. There is no shoulder and few turnouts. Even though the road only is open from late spring to early autumn, a ski lift drops down the slope from the very top of the pass, to enable people to enjoy summer skiing.
Yes, it was a fun trip; an opportunity to reconnect with family, and to see a different landscape and experience a different – though not too different – culture. I think my visit touched on only a few of the things to see and experience in Montana. A longer visit may well be in my future.
LLOYD AUSTIN THE THIRD THE PENTAGON
Dear AVA Editor,
In today’s The New York Times in a very tiny blurb one sentence long it says how right-wing republicans voted to reduce the Defense Secretary’s salary to $1. So I being of curious mind sent him a buck to reassure him these zealots only want a tantrum and are temporary.
It bothers me their abuse of authority and power, I’d like it to cease, but given the republicans’ stance that’s not likely.
DAVID BRANCACCIO: There's a little sweet moment, I've got to say, in a very intense book -- your latest -- in which you're heading out the door and your wife says what are you doing? I think you say -- I'm getting -- I'm going to buy an envelope.
Kurt Vonnegut: Yeah.
David Brancaccio: What happens then?
Kurt Vonnegut: Oh, she says well, you're not a poor man. You know, why don't you go online and buy a hundred envelopes and put them in the closet? And so I pretend not to hear her. And go out to get an envelope because I'm going to have a hell of a good time in the process of buying one envelope.
I meet a lot of people. And, see some great looking babes. And a fire engine goes by. And I give them the thumbs up. And, and ask a woman what kind of dog that is. And, and I don't know. The moral of the story is, is we're here on Earth to fart around.
And, of course, the computers will do us out of that. And, what the computer people don't realize, or they don't care, is we're dancing animals. You know, we love to move around. And, we're not supposed to dance at all anymore. ~Kurt Vonnegut
(Source: NOW on PBS, David Brancaccio interviews Kurt Vonnegut discussing his then newly published Book: ‘A Man Without a Country’)
LISA MONTGOMERY: Note to pervs everywhere: There's a new series on HBO (or 'Max' as it has pointlessly been re-branded) masquerading as a radical dating show that's really just a vehicle for gawking at strangers' wangs, boobies and wobbly bits — uncensored. Now, don't get me wrong: I like nudity. I like being naked. I like seeing my sculpted-veteran boyfriend naked. And I'll happily admit I'm partial to a smattering of on-screen smut. Who isn't? But as soon as I started watching this fetish freak show, titled Naked Attraction, I felt sicker than when I opened a can of warm sardines after a new year's bender. Here's the “premise” of this tawdry porn-fest: One unlucky-in-love guy or gal goes, as the trailer teases, “back to basics, [starting] where a good date often ends: naked.” Like the fat kid in a candy store, the contestant stands (at this point clothed themselves) wide-eyed before an array of colorful pods which open incrementally to reveal six figures, all totally starkers, in various sizes and states of shavery. First, screens rise to waist level, exposing a lineup of kitties or c**ks. Next it’s chesticles and pecs. Before finally we're allowed to see that largely irrelevant part of the human anatomy: You know: the face.
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Without significant reforms to reign in the donor class it is hard to see much of a future for the American political system. Americans will do fine, working around their corrupt government. The government system, however, will likely implode like that private submersible, from the unsustainable pressure of so much grift.
UKRAINE, FRIDAY, 29 SEPTEMBER
Fall conscription: Fall conscription will begin from October 1 in all parts of the Russian Federation, including in the illegally annexed regions of Ukraine, Russia's defense ministry announced Friday. In some regions of the Far North, the conscription will begin on November 1 due to the climate differences.
Putin meeting: Putin met with former Wagner commander Troshev, the Kremlin has said. The Russian leader said that he wanted to discuss “social guarantees” for anyone who had fought to “defend the fatherland,” according to a partial transcript of the meeting.
Military aid: France is stepping up its support to Ukraine by setting up industrial partnerships between the two countries. French defence minister Sebastian Lecornu said France would “offer innovative solutions to the Ukrainian army and increasingly be in a position to make fewer transfers, but rather direct acquisitions, sometimes under French subsidy, for the Ukrainian army.”
China visit: Putin will discuss important strategic issues with Chinese President Xi Jinping during his upcoming visit to China, Beijing's ambassador to Moscow told Russian state news agency TASS on Friday. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the dates for Putin's visit to China have been set but have not been announced.
Kursk attack: Ukraine’s Security Service has confirmed that it was behind the attack on an electrical substation in Russia's Kursk region on Friday, according to sources. The security service said the substation was struck because it provided electricity to important Russian military facilities, sources said.
Mykolaiv missile strike: A Russian missile attack struck an infrastructure facility on the outskirts of Mykolaiv early Friday, the southern Ukrainian city's mayor said. "Dry grass went on fire there, the fire was extinguished," Mykolaiv mayor Oleksandr Sienkevych said in a post on Telegram.
Trafficked children appeal: Ukrainian authorities are calling on ordinary Russians to oppose the forced deportation of children to Russia and help bring them home to Ukraine. The mass deportations of Ukrainian children to Russia or Russian-occupied territories over the course of the war have resulted in the International Criminal Court issuing arrest warrants for Russia’s Children’s Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova and Putin.
The journey took four days. It was not uncomfortable. There was heavy rain half the time and the temperature was never insupportable. I had a cabin to myself, and I fought boredom, and to some extent overcame it, by the desperate expedient of writing — it was there, in fact, that I ground out the first two chapters of my book ‘Travels.’
The Prince Leopold was a large paddle-steamer, twice the size of the Rusinga, with half the staff. The captain and a Greek steward seemed to do all the work; the former young and neurotic, the latter middle-aged and imperturbable, both very grubby. It was a great contrast to all those dapper bachelors on Lake Victoria, with their white collars and changes of uniform. The captain had married quarters in the top story (one could only regard it as a floating house, not as a ship); his strip of deck was fringed with pots of fern and palm; below him was the European passengers’ deck, two rows of tiny cabins, an observation platform, and a bathroom; the ground floor was occupied by cargo and native passengers. We stopped two or three times a day at desolate little stations, where a crowd of natives and two sickly Belgian agents would come down to greet us. Sometimes there was a native village; usually nothing except a single shed and a pile of timber. We delivered mail, took up cargo, and occasionally effected some change of passengers. These were all Greek or Belgian; either traders or officials; except for the inevitable round of handshaking each morning there was very little intercourse. The Seventh Day Adventist became slightly ill; he attributed his discomfort to the weakness of the tea. The scenery was utterly dreary. Flat papyrus-swamps on either side were broken by rare belts of palm. The captain employed his time inflicting slight wounds on passing antelope with a miniature rifle. Occasionally he would be convinced that he had killed something; the boat would stop and all the native passengers would disembark and scramble up the side with loud whoops and yodels. There was difficulty in getting them back. The captain would watch them, through binoculars, plunging and gamboling about in the high grass; at first he would take an interest in the quest, shouting directions to them; then he would grow impatient and summon them back; they would disappear further and further, thoroughly enjoying their romp. He would have the siren sounded for them — blast after blast. Eventually they would come back, jolly, chattering, and invariably empty-handed.
We were due to arrive at Bukama on Sunday (February 8th). The train for Port Francqui did not leave until the following Tuesday night. It was customary for passengers to wait on board, an arrangement that was profitable to the company and comparatively comfortable for them. I was prevented from doing this by a violent and inglorious altercation with the captain, which occurred quite unexpectedly on the last afternoon of the journey.
I was sitting in my cabin, engrossed in the affairs of Abyssinia, when the captain popped in and, with wild eye and confused speech, demanded to be shown the ticket for my motor-bicycle. I am convinced that he was sober, but I am less sure of his sanity. I replied that I had no motor-bicycle. “What? No motor-bicycle?” “No, no motor-bicycle.” He shook his head, clicked his tongue and popped out again. I went on writing.
In half an hour he was back again; this time with a fellow passenger who spoke English.
“The captain wishes me to tell you that he must see the ticket for your motor-bicycle.”
“But I have already told the captain that I have no motor-bicycle.”
“You do not understand. It is necessary to have a ticket for a motor-bicycle.”
“I have no motor-bicycle.”
They left me again.
Ten minutes later the captain was back. “Will you kindly show me your motor-bicycle.”
“I have no motor-bicycle.”
“It is on my list that you have a motor-bicycle. Will you kindly show it to me.”
“I have no motor-bicycle.”
“But it is on my list.”
“I am sorry. I have no motor-bicycle.”
Again he went away; again he returned; now, beyond question, stark crazy. “The motor-bicycle! The motor-bicycle! I must see the motor-bicycle.”
“I have no motor-bicycle.”
It is idle to pretend that I maintained a dignified calm. I was in a tearing rage, too. After all, we were in the heart of the tropics where tempers are notoriously volatile.
“Very well, I will search your luggage. Show it to me.”
‘It is in this cabin. Two suitcases under the bunk; one bag on the rack.”
“Show it to me.”
“Look for it yourself.” As I say, an inglorious schoolboy brawl.
“I am the captain of this ship. Do you expect me to move luggage?”
“I am a passenger. Do you expect me to?”
He went to the door and roared for a boy. No one came. With a trembling hand I attempted to write. He roared again. Again. At last a sleepy boy ambled up. “Take those suitcases from under the bunk.”
I pretended to be writing. I could hear the captain puffing just behind me. (It was a very small cabin.)
“Well,” I said, “have you found a motor-bicycle?”
“Sir, that is my affair,” said the captain.
He went away. I thought I had heard the last of the incident. In half an hour he was back. “Pack your bag. Pack your bag instantly.”
“But I am staying on board until Tuesday.”
“You are leaving at once. I am the captain. I will not allow people of your kind to stay here another hour.”
In this way I found myself stranded on the wharf at Bukama with two days to wait for my train. A humiliating situation, embittered by the Seventh Day Adventist, who came to offer his sympathy. “It doesn’t do to argue,” he said, “unless you understand the language.” Damn him.
— Evelyn Waugh, ‘Travels’
THOSE WERE THE DAYS
Boy, the way Glen Miller played.
Songs that made the Hit Parade.
Guys like us, we had it made.
Those were the days
Didn't need no welfare state.
Everybody pulled his weight
Gee, our old LaSalle ran great.
Those were the days
And you knew where you were then
Girls were girls and men were men.
Mister, we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again.
People seemed to be content.
Fifty dollars paid the rent.
Freaks were in a circus tent.
Those were the days
Take a little Sunday spin,
Go to watch the Dodgers win.
Have yourself a dandy day
That cost you under a fin.
Hair was short and skirts were long.
Kate Smith really sold a song.
I don't know just what went wrong
(lyrics by Lee Adams)
MUSINGS ON COMMUNISM & ANTI-COMMUNISM
by Jonah Raskin
“I am not now, nor have I ever been…”
If you grew up in the 1950s, as I did in a lefty American family, the name Joseph McCarthy elicited as much loathing as that of John Wilkes Booth and Benito Mussolini. The zeitgeist of the late 1940s and early 1950s—fueled by the Cold War—were, as troubadour Peter Seeger sang, while he strummed the banjo, “a terrible time,” though it was also, he added, “a wonderful time.” A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens’s novel of the French Revolution, begins on a similar note: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
I remember the best and the worst: the resilience and the fear. The era left its mark on me and many of my contemporaries who also grew up in lefty families. It lasted decades. In a way, those times have never really ended. The culture of the American left, which I imbibed from my parents, was deeply rooted. The personal was political and the personal was political. Radicalism was entwined with family.
Donald Trump carries on the anti-communist legacy—the demonizing, the polarizing and the self-aggrandizing—which he learned from Roy Cohn, Joseph McCarthy’s noxious sidekick. If Trump returns to the White House, “witch hunts” will likely return in force, though name-calling has already begun. Maybe if Trump returns to the White House, I’ll describe myself as a communist with a small letter c.
March 2024 will be the seventieth anniversary of Edward R. Murrow’s 1954 See It Now program that kicked McCarthy’s butt all over the TV screen. Murrow ended with these words: “The actions of the junior Senator from Wisconsin have caused alarm and dismay amongst our allies abroad and given considerable comfort to our enemies. And whose fault is that? Not really his. He didn’t create this situation of fear; he merely exploited it – and rather successfully.”
My father woke me that evening—I was 12—to tell me about Murrow’s blast and to predict McCarthy’s downfall. He would indeed be censored by his colleagues in the US Senate, but “McCarthyism” and anti-communism survived and even thrived all through the 1960s. They followed me and millions of other Americans.
Not long ago, at the annual banquet of the Jack London Foundation, Stuart Hume, one of the docents at Jack London State Historic Park, glared at me and said, “You can’t sit here. You’re a communist.” My friend, Jeff Dunn, a Jack London maven, invited Hume to step outside and “duke it out.” I put my body between theirs and asked them to please calm down and enjoy the tributes to London.
Later, I asked Gaye LeBaron, a columnist for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, the local paper, why she thought that Hume chose to call me a communist. She said, “Communist is an all-purpose dirty word and a red flag.” Indeed, it has been ever since the publication in 1848 of The Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels and and still a marvel of prose and politics. Chris Smith, another PD columnist thought it was ironic that I was called a communist at the Jack London banquet. After all, he pointed out, London was a socialist.
Yes, London defended the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), when they were arrested and went on trial, but he also condemned anarchists and anarchism. He resigned from the Socialist Party in 1916, shortly before he died, in part because socialists called World War I an “imperialist war.” London wanted the US to join the campaign against Germany and support the Brits. His prophetic novel, The Iron Heel, traces the rise of an oligarchy and a dictatorship in the US. It wasn’t revolution but rather counterrevolution that inspired him.
My maternal grandfather, Aaron Quitkin— who was born in Ukraine, and who ran from the Czar’s army— called himself a socialist, voted for Eugene Victor Debs, and condemned communists, including his daughter Millie, my mother, because she advocated for violence to overthrow capitalism and create a socialist society.
In fact, I have never belonged to the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA), but I have always felt rather thin-skinned whenever I have been accused of being a communist, as Stuart Hume did at the London banquet. My parents were members of the CPUSA from about 1938 to 1948, though they kept their membership a secret from me until 1972, long after Khrushchev famously denounced Stalin and shook the communist world in 1956 and for years afterward.
I grew up in a middle-class secular Jewish family with Russian, Ukrainian and Romanian grandparents who came to the USA about 1900. The slogan, “Go back to Russia,” which I heard at school, rankled me. My parents supported the Soviet Union during WWII, heralded the defeat of the fascists at Stalingrad, identified with the working class and expressed a fierce antipathy to racism.
As a boy, the CPUSA struck me as a patriotic American organization. Earl Browder would have wanted it that way. “Communism is twentieth-century Americanism,” he famously declared. Beginning in grade school, my heroes were Thomas Jefferson and Tom Paine, Ella Reeve “Mother” Bloor, and Paul Robeson, the All-American football star, whom I heard at Carnegie Hall. My sentiments came from Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger; from folk music and the blues. When my father joined the CP, he told me, the leadership urged him to join the Democratic Party and “move it to the left.” He advocated for public ownership of utilities. How radical was that? In 1948, he took me to my first political rally, for Henry Wallace, FDR’s vice president in the early 1940s and later the Progressive Party’s candidate for the Presidency who was walloped by Harry Truman.
I am to this day a child of the Red Scare and the “witch hunts,” which scared the pants off kids like me. Nothing scared me more than the execution in June 1953 of two New York Jews, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, who seemed to be spitting images, culturally and ethnically speaking, of my own parents. With my Brooklyn aunts and uncles, some of whom were investigated as communists, I watched the Army-McCarthy hearings on TV.
One summer, I vacationed with my parents and my brothers at a resort run by the International Fur and Leather Workers Union, which was accused of being “communist-led.” I met folk singer Leon Bibb, progressive politico, Bella Abzug and Martha Schlemme, a Viennese Jew who sang in German—all of them talented in one way or another. My father registered at the resort under the alias “Samuels,” which he thought I could easily remember since his first name was Samuel. Early on, I learned the importance of keeping secrets, underground activities, aliases, and the viability of political strategies like “the popular front” and “the united front” which brought together people from different parties and causes.
At Columbia College, along with half a dozen other sons of CP parents, including Eric Foner—who went on to become a stellar teacher and writer— I created a campus political party called “Action,” which was meant to eradicate apathy and persuade undergraduates to come out of their shells and call for the end of nuclear testing, support for the integration movement and the abolition of the House UnAmerican Activities Committee (HUAC).
We brought Peter Seeger to Columbia and provided a stage for the Black CP leader Benjamin Davis after the City College of New York banned him from speaking. We carried on the legacy of our lefty parents. McCarthy would have called us “Reds” or at least “pinkos.”
As a junior, I was interviewed by Daniel Bell, the author of The End of Ideology, (that was wishful thinking), who asked me “Do you know any communists?” Of course, I did. Shocked and alarmed, I “took the Fifth,” refused to answer his question, stormed out of the conference room and immediately reported the incident to my friends in Action who were no less outraged than I was. Columbia University was no ivory tower, though our professors liked to think of it as a “House of Intellect,” as the Provost, Jacques Barzun, called it in a book we were required to read.
For three years, from 1964 to 1967, I studied at the University of Manchester, in large part because I felt I would have more academic freedom in England than at Columbia and could research and write a thesis about the British novel and British imperialism. I met and befriended British Marxists and British Communist Party members including Arnold Kettle in Leeds and E. J. Hobsbawm in London who taught at English universities and didn’t hide their political affiliations. England was freer than the States; my adviser, Frank Kermode, resigned from his position at Encounter magazine when he learned it was financed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
When I spoke to Communist Party members in Manchester, where I lived, I usually emphasized race and racism, the Third World and anti-colonial insurrections. I was often asked, “What about the workers?” I did indeed downplay class, class consciousness and class conflicts. British labor organizers in Manchester aimed to prevent Pakistanis from trade unions and keep them white.
Back in the US, I protested against the War in Vietnam, and the assassinations of two members of the Black Panther Party, Fred Hampton and Mark Clark. In December 1969 I rioted in midtown Manhattan, along with a thousand or so demonstrators. I was arrested, beaten on the street and tortured by the police in the 19th precinct. Detective John Finnegan, who headed up “The Red Squad”— originally founded to keep tabs on Reds— fingered me and gave officers the green light to teach me a lesson. “If you want war, we’ll give you war,” one of them said and beat me over the head with his truncheon.
In court, I was charged with “criminal anarchy” and attempted murder of two police officers. The Village Voice ran a story about the riot and the beating/torture, which my ACLU lawyer, Paul Chevigny, called “the worst” he had ever seen in decades. The Voice might have called me a Red. Instead, the paper called me a “Moratorium Man.” By then I identified as a Yippie and ran in the streets with Abbie Hoffman and Ed Sanders.
At a press conference in the Diplomat Hotel called to denounce police brutality, a member of the CP denounced me as “an agent provocateur.” How ironic I thought. For much of my life, I had aimed to avoid overt connections to communism and communists. Now, a Communist Party member accused me of working in tandem with the police to discredit the anti-war and peace movements.
In 1995, I wandered about Vietnam, witnessed the ways that the Vietnamese Communist Party ran a capitalist economy and listened to idealistic Communists denounce the betrayal of communist values. They insisted I not use their real names in any report I wrote for fear of reprisals. On the street where I stayed in a hotel—and met men who had fought against the French in the 1950s—a loudspeaker broadcast the International every morning to wake citizens and prompt them to go to work.
A decade later, in France to promote the publication in French of my book about marijuana, French anarchists were the only lefties to host me and to help publicize Marijuanaland: Dispatches from an American War. French cops sat in a car parked outside an anarchist bookstore that featured my books and kept tabs on everyone who came and went. The anarchists ignored them and went about their daily activities.
The host of an anarchist radio show, who had invited me to be on the air, insisted I meet him at a stop on the Paris Metro and then walk to the studio to make sure we weren’t tailed. I was reminded of the New York Red Squad and the FBI agents who monitored my activities all through the 1960s and 1970s, and compiled a file on me, which I obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Much of it was redacted, though agents seemed to think I was a communist. J. Edgar Hoover would insist that New Left organizations were funded and directed from Moscow.
In Bordeaux in 2010, French anarchists took me to the four-story house and headquarters which they inherited from Spanish anarchists who had fled from Franco and fascists in the late 1930s. I was in good company; fed and housed and welcomed as a comrade. As a lefty and an internationalist, I had been embraced by lefties in Italy in the 1960s.
“Anarchism,” one of my hosts explained, “means community control, by, of and for the people of power, money, politics, cultural activities, the police and tourism.” I remember that as a boy, my father liked to quote Marx, who said that the communist society of the future would be guided by a slogan I can still live by, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”