THE DA has charged the dual County officials, Cubbison and Kennedy, of misappropriation of public funds, while the DA himself has hosted staff — a total of somewhere around 70 people — at annual January dinners at the Broiler Steak House, writing off the bibulous merriment as “training sessions,” nevermind that holiday parties are against County policy. The annual tax-paid merriment at the Broiler went on until Covid.
HADN'T been in court lately, but I made the trek over the hill Tuesday afternoon to witness the arraignment of Ms. Cubbison and Ms. Kennedy, which was put over until October 31st. I couldn't help but notice how disorderly Judge Shanahan's court appeared, with a dozen attorneys milling around slurping from water bottles and sleek containers, as was Her Honor. I always compare the courtrooms of the early seventies when two judges, O'Brien and Broaddus handled everything. Now, nine judges always seem to be running late, attorneys show up unprepared, continuances are granted for the asking, and the usual mystified defendants having to ask their lawyers, “Huh? What just happened?”
MS. CUBBISON looks quite formidable, angry even, not at all cowed by facing a felony prosecution for embezzlement and, today, as she waited for her arraignment on the charges, perhaps unaware that the five Mendocino County Supervisors had voted 5-0 to suspend her from her Auditor job without pay. She now faces paying large legal fees to defend herself with no job to pay them.
MS. KENNEDY, a woman of retirement age who looks like everyone's grandmother, said she had no attorney. While Cubbison was accompanied only by her husband, Ms. Kennedy seemed to have the support of a half-dozen women. For now, a public defender was appointed for her.
MIKE JAMISON WRITES: “Eyster opened up public comments at the BOS meeting last Tuesday and corrected widely spread impressions that he initiated an investigation on the county Auditor affair. The Sheriff Office, he reported, learned of a possible misdeed and began an investigation. They eventually referred the case to him and the DA office also did some additional investigation. He calmly denied retribution as a motive.
He also seemed to criticize public commenting related to this, similar thoughts expressed by others worried about jury pool tainting or perhaps some just want some of us to shut up for other reasons. He didn’t like discussions related to the facts and legal theories here and elsewhere. I disagree with this attempt to suppress discussion.
Mulheren moved to add this matter to the agenda today for “immediate action.” It should be noted they can’t fire Cubbison so that is a bit of a puzzle to me. The DA had just noted this process will play out in court.
ED: Doubt very much the Sheriff initiated the “investigation” of Cubbison. It almost certainly came from Eyster, the man with the Cubbison ax to grind, although he and his five gofers dysfunctioning as supervisors claim the investigation initiative came from the CEO’s office and then to the Sheriff,. Which I also doubt. Someone told the CEO’s office to make the complaint. “The CEO’S office” would have to have been Darcy Antle, chief CEO acting at the behest of either Supervisor Williams acting at the behest of DA Eyster, who has been after Cubbison going on three years. And we’ll see what that ‘investigation’ consists of during the Prelim.
JIM SHIELDS: At this morning’s BOS meeting (Tues 17 October) DA Eyster, leading off public comment, read a statement explaining the genesis of and his involvement in filing a felony criminal charges of misappropriation of public funds against Auditor-Controller/Treasurer-Tax Collector Chamise Cubbison and a former employee who evidently was terminated. Bottom line according to Eyster: It was Sheriff’s Office investigators who put the entire case together and forwarded it to him for his review and consideration of formal charges. Eyster stated a number of times that, contrary to numerous reports and public comments, he had nothing to do with the Sheriff’s Office investigation of Cubbison. The investigation “was not initiated by me or anyone else in the DA’s Office. It was initiated and conducted by the professionals in the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office.” He also said the Sheriff’s Office received “information” of the alleged crime from “outside the criminal justice system” alerting them to the alleged crime. Eyster explained that after the Sheriff’s crime report was received, his office conducted a supplemental investigation into the affair. He said his office annually receives approximately five thousand to seven thousand crime reports from County law enforcement agencies, and that they’re all processed in the same fashion. Eyster countered accusations that “he was out to get” Cubbison: “Neither my staff nor I have used or will use our positions to seek retribution or purported vendettas against any defendant, public sector or otherwise, here in Mendocino County.”
He urged “law-abiding citizens” to: “Not be influenced by the misinformation. Not to engage in non-factual speculation. Let the local courts do their job and resolve their matters.”
This brings to mind the case of Supervisor Tom Woodhouse from about 10 years ago. Woodhouse suffered a mental breakdown and then around Halloween was arrested on various charges related to him flipping out. The DA didn’t prosecute Woodhouse in return for his resignation as Supe. Wouldn’t be surprised if the same process is not underway now.
ED: Eyster has always had an ax to grind with Cubbison back to when she challenged his expense reimbursement claims. We’ll see what the Cubbison “investigation” consists of during the Prelim, and good luck getting accurate numbers out of anybody associated with the supervisors and their CEO's office
EYSTER’S appearance before the supervisors last week initiated a perfectly pre-orchestrated series of events, complete with a San Francisco attorney conveniently present to tell the Supervisors everything they were doing by suspending Cubbison and installing Sara Pierce in Cubbison's place on an interim basis was all perfectly legal. The Supervisors duly voted 5-0 to off Cubbison and install Deputy CEO Sara Pierce. To repeat: This was obviously all pre-arranged, Brown Act notwithstanding.
CARRIE SHATTUCK (Public Expression): “I think the board is really jumping the gun. Ms. Cubbison has not even been arraigned yet. Generally, a felony charge can be dropped to a misdemeanor or whatnot at your first court hearing. It's very obvious now that we know why there was a contingency plan for a Department of Finance.”
EXACTLY. The entire morning was pre-planned. Eyster had appeared before the Supes to whine that he's misunderstood without bothering to point out he doesn't talk to us or any other local media when we've asked to talk to him. The Supervisors, with an expensive SF lawyer on hand to ratify their actions, proceed to trash Cubbison's and Kennedy's due process and presumption of innocence. Quite a day's work for local government.
MARK SCARAMELLA: Government Code 27120 was cited by outside Attorney Jacob as the authority for the Board to suspend Cubbison and appoint an acting Auditor-Controller Treasurer Tax Collector after Cubbison was suspended without pay. Government Code section 27120: “Whenever an action based upon official misconduct is commenced against the county treasurer [sic], the board of supervisors may suspend him [sic] from office until the suit is determined. The board may appoint some person [sic] to fill the vacancy, who shall qualify [emphasis added] and give such bond as the board determines.”
DURING the abbreviated discussion of the suspension/appointment motion, no one, including the SF attorney Ms. Jacob, bothered to ask if Ms. Pierce is qualified for the job according to government code qualifications. The Code Section specifically says that the appointed person “shall qualify,” meaning “some person” must demonstrate proper qualifications for the position. Nor did anyone ask about any bond requirements.
THE APPOINTMENT of Ms. Pierce appears to be subject to retraction as failing to comport with the code section cited. We have filed a Brown Act complaint demanding that the appointment be corrected and cured in accordance with the Brown Act and government code cited.
GOOD QUESTION FROM ON-LINE COMMENTER: Who is Sara Pierce, the Deputy CEO who the board appointed to replace Cubbison? Does she meet the requirements of the government code for both Treasurer and Auditor? Will she be giving interviews? Why was there no quote from her in the county’s press release? Is she still an employee of the Executive Office, or did she resign? How will the ACTTC office remain independent if Ms. Pierce would ultimately return to the employment of the Executive Office? Will she be meeting with the School Districts and Special Districts for whom she will now be managing their treasury funds? Did she even accept the position? Will a CV be made public? Was she involved in the investigation, if so, what role did she play? Since the Executive Office has been unable for years to provide regular financial updates, what qualifies her to somehow turn all that around? Were other candidates considered?
TIMELY QUESTION from a former Mendocino County DA, Duncan James: “I’m curious about the legal basis in the Government Code granting the Board of Supervisors the authority to suspend an elected official. I seriously doubt being charged with a criminal offense makes it possible. If they can do it, beware Assessor and DA if they don’t like you.”
ON-LINE COMMENT RE THE CUBBISON AFFAIR: News reports say the DA brought charges, but no arraignment had occurred prior to the board of supervisors pushing out the elected auditor. CA Government Code (2406) allows the board to remove a county officer upon certification of felony conviction. The code provides for deputies to act for the county official in cases of vacancies (GC 2400). The board of supervisors does not have the authority to remove an elected official from office that is not convicted of a felony; and they don't have the authority to appoint a deputy for an elected officer.
A CLOSE READING of the government code that the outside attorney cited when advising the Board that they had the authority to suspend Ms. Cubbison (Section 27120) says that “Whenever an action based upon official misconduct is commenced…” Therefore, one can assume that the simple filing of charges against the Auditor is all they need to justify her suspension. If the objective is the obvious one — to get rid of an official they simply don’t like because she sees her job as something other than a rubberstamp for whatever the DA, the CEO or the Board want to do — it doesn’t matter what the outcome of the case is. The Board and the DA have already achieved their objective. Even if the DA were to drop the charges tomorrow, or the case was tossed at the prelim, or the defendant is ultimately exonerated, the most likely real purpose of Tuesday’s events is already history. (Mark Scaramella)
CARRIE SHATTUCK: “More knowledge left the County…If Sara Pierce, acting ACTTC is able to fill this position and do the work, then why has she not been providing reports from the CEO office to the BOS all along? Why has the CEO’s office not been providing department budget numbers to the BOS, which is their job? Is Pierce qualified to hold this position? What about Chamise’s seat on the Retirement Board? It’s so obvious now that this has been the plan all along. How do you circumvent an elected position to an appointed one? Just like this. The replacement for the remaining 3 years 2 months of Chamise’s term has now been hand-picked by the BOS. What if these charges are dropped to a misdemeanor or she is found not guilty? What kind of backlash will there be then?”
A READER WRITES: Mr. San Francisco, Herb Caen coined the term beatnik in 1958 and popularized hippie during San Francisco's 1967 Summer of Love. He popularized obscure, often playful, terms such as Frisbeetarianism, and ribbed nearby Berkeley as Berserkeley for its often-radical politics. I remember reading his column in the Chronicle growing up. He visited Chico while I was in college. He described Chico as so lacking in culture as to have Velveeta cheese in the gourmet food section of our stores.
THE LATE, GREAT ALEXANDER COCKBURN was always an adventure. One day, we walked into the little Palestinian market near my place in San Francisco to buy lottery tickets — yes, yes, I know — when the store's owner exclaimed, “The great Alexander Cockburn! The only friend to the Palestinian people in all the American media! I am honored, sir.” Cockburn laughed and said something like, “At your service.” The Palestinian refused to take our money for our Quick-Picks and, beaming, followed us out to the sidewalk, still showering Cockburn with gratitude for defending his beleaguered people.
OCTOBER 18, 2023 as UN Secretary-General Cuellar warned, the current Israeli-Hamas war menaces the entire globe with a cast of nuts and incompetents in the power slots — Biden, Netanyahu, the Ayatollahs. Like most lefty-wefties, I've always supported the Palestinians, but with zero sympathy for Hamas, a murderous gang of fanatics who imposed themselves on Gaza what? 15 years ago and have offed any Palestinian who dared oppose them ever since, holding hostage the entire 2.5 million Gazan population as the Israelis go about their usual disproportionate response to Hamas's provocations. It all raises the old argument, best articulated years ago in the Sartre-Camus debate: What justifies the murder of non-combatants, children? Sartre said that terrorism being the only weapon left to the oppressed, whatever the oppressed do to defend themselves is justified. Camus said no struggle justifies the murders of the innocent. This debate seems quaint these days as the bombs and rockets rain down indiscriminately.
IF YOU'RE WONDERING why the supervisors haul in an expensive lawyer from one of their preferred Frisco legal seraglios when the County of Mendocino employs 9 (count 'em) lawyers just down the hall from their bullet proof chambers, you're not alone. Old timers will recall when there was one county counsel — Tim Stoen. He handled everything from Boonville school board beefs to land use disputes at the same time the poor guy was running off hours legal errands for Jim Jones.
THE PRESENT BOARD of Supervisors is not a responsible public body, a fact of Mendo public life the Supes make obvious every time they convene. 1st District supervisor McGourty is a lame duck whose only triumph during his one term in office has been to help 5th District supervisor Williams and the DA engineer the illegal ouster of the elected Auditor. 2nd District's Ms. Mulheren has no idea what she's doing, simply following the 5-0 votes on all issues, looking to Williams for all her cues; 3rd District's Haschak occasionally shows some independent initiative but the bar is so low with this crew that, dim as he is, Haschak actually manages to seem, on rare occasions, more or less capable; 4th District supervisor Gjerde is also a lame duck who has been checked out now for the past two years. In a just world, Gjerde would get maybe a third of his pension; 5th District supervisor Williams, a devious little fellow so eager to please the next authority up on the ladder that he has now joined DA Eyster in the illegal removal of an elected official, both of them having Caesar tendencies. Williams calls the tune for this dim crew, and the tune he calls is one that has nothing to do with the welfare of the good ship Mendo.
I'VE OFTEN imagined elected people being subject to the same job performance scrutiny as, say, the Forty Niner football team, their every move replayed endlessly before millions of weekly critics. Take supervisor Gjerde, for handy instance. How many hours a week do you suppose he devotes to his elected duties? Apply NFL-level scrutiny to our supervisors and you would find them worth, on a good week, maybe ten percent of their lush pay and benefits.
BILL HATCH: Although I have been warned off by authorities from questioning the courage of a certain Middle Eastern country now invading the "outdoor prison" as the press puts it where the other race in the country lives, I hope I can still say that I am an American citizen, a descendant of a pre-Revolutionary family, and I do not support Israel anymore. Is that "hate speech"?
WHEN DA EYSTER and his gofer on the Board of Supervisors, Ted Williams, say that the criminal referral vs. illegally removed Chamise Cubbison from her elected Auditor-Controller position “came from the CEO's office,” as if that office is above and beyond possibility of partisan taint, the horse laughs can be heard clear over the hill in Boonville. As if anything as daring as a criminal complaint could possibly arise independently from this CEO's office is highly unlikely unto impossible. (With Angelo as CEO anything the DA wanted, the DA got.) Note the vague attribution as “the CEO's office.” Who in the CEO's office? Names! We won't get a name because that phony attribution was purely the work of Eyster-Williams.
EYSTER-WILLIAMS wanted Cubbison out, and he and Williams got her out, taking down Ms. Kennedy with Cubbison, as if the dynamic duo of Eyster and Williams hadn't made it clear for the past two years they wanted Cubbison out, Eyster because Cubbison had the temerity to challenge Eyster's reimbursements, doing her job in other words. Williams? A natural born serf, anxious to serve the next rung up on the power ladder.
ALSO BOGUS, in my opinion, is the double investigation of Cubbison and Kennedy. The “CEO's office” requested that the Sheriff investigate some allegedly fishy accounting between Cubbison and Kennedy. That first investigation apparently wasn't sufficiently damning enough for DA Eyster because, in my opinion, it probably found no evidence of fiscal wrongdoing. Well, harrumphed Mendocino County's top law enforcement officer, we can't have a finding of innocence here, goddammit, so I'll get my DA's investigators on this Get Cubbison job, and I'll betcha they'll ferret out the evidence I'm looking for. And whaddya know. The Boss Man's investigators found The Gotcha. The DA says. Cubbison’s defense says there’s no evidence indicting Cubbison. Bet the house on no evidence.
CUBBISON'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY, the formidable Chris Andrian, says he's seen “the evidence” and it's laughable. (My word). Andrian is, however, confident, and all of us are looking forward to the preliminary hearing where, if there's any justice left in the halls of Mendo justice this transparent use of legal authority to remove and ruin an elected official for guarding the public purse will be thrown out.
EYSTER'S the king of the County Courthouse. The entire apparatus fears him, from judges on down to the daily coffle of hapless defendants, living confirmation of our class system. When I heard Cubbison's co-defendant, Ms. Kennedy, ask Judge Shanahan for a public defender Tuesday afternoon, I felt like screaming.
MENDO'S Public Defenders are no match for DA Eyster. This poor woman, jobless and beleaguered in her retirement years, not to mention publicly insulted by the conjured charges against her, needs a stout defense, which she is not going to get from the Public Defender. Cubbison's attorney, Andrian, has said he may defend Kennedy, too. Why not? The charges against both women are inextricably linked.
THIS FOUL MATTER is beginning to get outside attention. The Press Democrat had a couple of young reporters present for Tuesday's arraignment whose report was pretty good, so far as it went. (Mike Geniella's account was Geniella at his finest, an old-line journalo-master pulling together a complicated event in about three hours.) The more outside attention, the better. Official Mendo has never liked the outside media riding in to have a look at their outback machinations.
FORMER SENIOR COUNTY AUDITOR STAFFER Norm Thurston writes:
The side-lining of Chamise Cubbison has left the County’s voters without their duly elected independent fiscal watchdog. Because the appointed substitute is an employee of the CEO’s office, there is a legitimate question of independence, especially with regards to matters related to that department. It is good that the State is auditing the County’s finances, but we do not know the scope of the audit. And when the audit is completed the auditors will issue their report and head home, while the results of the audit may or may not be used to make substantive changes. This all seems to me to create an environment where the County’s fiscal condition could spiral completely out of control, with no safeguards or safety rails. It seems this may be a good time to bring up the possibility of a State receivership to oversee the County’s finances until the situation is under control. I believe it would be the best way to ensure professional, independent oversight.
THIS STORY pops up a few times every year. “Newspaper Editors Study Ways To Regain Public Trust, Respect.” May I suggest mass suicide? But seriously, beginning with the basic fact of American life that the overwhelming majority of our fellow citizens get all their information about the rest of the world from television and their telephones because they prefer to have visual confirmation of the day’s catastrophes rather than conjure the grim images themselves as they try to decode columns of badly written, inaccurate, lazy, timid prose tossed to them by news businesses owned by people who don’t care what their readers think so long as it makes them money. Even here in Winetopia there are lots of good writers trying to do honest media work, but the purpose of the dominant media is to sell advertising just as it is the purpose of Taco Bell to sell negative food value items.
PLEASE. The idea of newspapers as extensions of Sunday school ignores the history of the genre. Newspapers arose as instruments of late 19th century cranks whose reporters were a collection of drunks and misfits who got paid for hanging out in bars with crooks, cops and corrupt politicians, phoning in their garbled reports to smart women on the rewrite desks who did the necessary prose alchemy. The people who owned papers occasionally hired real writers to report for them, thus enlivening their papers even more. These days, the nation’s papers read like they were all written by the same droning machine which, in a way they are, and likely will be when AI kicks in, but for now, given the influence of journalism schools where the great myth of objectivity reigns, well, son, trust but verify.
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT is a perfect example of why so many people abandoned print media for the internet and the illustrated thrills of corporate television, not to mention the blips and bleeps coming out of their telephones. Consider the case of the late Norm Vroman. The PD was mercilessly on his case his entire tenure. The popularly elected Mendocino County DA from 1999-2006, Vroman didn’t file income taxes for a four-year period from 1977 to 1981 when his wages were paid by the public as a prosecutor and a public defender. It’s not as if he paid no taxes because federal, state and local taxes were withheld from his paychecks; he didn’t pay the rest of his tax bill because Vroman, an otherwise savvy hombre, had been seduced by libertarian interpretations of the Constitution, parlaying a wacky libertarian contention that the Constitution didn’t say Americans had to pay taxes. A serious guy, Vroman took his losing contention all the way into a stint in federal prison. His tax bill of $23,400 became $1.2 million and, by the Press Democrat’s jubilant reckoning, became $3.4 mil. Do the math, folks, like the IRS does its math. Is it fair to grow $23,400 into $3.4 million in twenty years?
THE REAL STORY here was the extortionate interest calculated by the IRS against a guy who never made more than $50,000 a year during the disputed period. But the PD, harrumphing every few weeks about Vroman’s battles with the vindictive IRS bureaucracy, didn’t run any stories about legislation aimed at bringing the IRS into line with democratic tax collection procedures. In response to many thousands of complaints from ordinary Americans that the IRS had resorted to totalitarian practices in pursuit of relatively small amounts of tax money, the IRS has been legislatively corralled. More or less. The wealthy are hardly audited at all, of course. It’s the Vromans of the country the IRS goes after.
SO VROMAN was a tax crank. So what? We all have our eccentricities. Hell, this is the country where something like 75% of the population consults its astrological charts before climbing out of bed in the morning. And did you know that there are millions, millions I tell you, who think Biden is fully functioning and that Trump is fit to be president. And how about my old lawyer pal over there in Ukiah, Mr. Carter? He went into court to argue that regulatory interference with billionaires like Charles Hurwitz amounted to confiscation of their property! Delusion prevails, my friends.
(Mark Scaramella adds: Carter also successfully argued that Hurwitz and his minions at Pacific Lumber could legally lie to the government in official documents on grounds that the lying was “lobbying” and therefore perfectly legal. Look it up. It’s called the “Noerr-Pennington Doctrine.” Carter convinced a visiting Humco Judge (and likely political ally of Carter) that Noerr-Pennington applied to Pacific Lumber’s blatantly false logging applications.)
IN THIS WEEK’S MAILBAG comes a letter accompanying a Cannibal Club artifact. The Cannibal Club, for you readers unaware of the intricacies of Mendocino County’s historic power arrangements, used to be an annual barbecue for “the right kind” of white men, meaning liberals and members of ethnic minorities need not apply. But one didn’t apply for membership in the Cannibal Club, one was tapped for membership based on the perceptions of the primitive fat cats who oversaw the membership roster that you were their kind of guy.
Years ago, during the Larry Peoples bogus trial era, there was a small group calling itself People Against Racism. It was through my affiliation with PAR that I first heard of the Cannibal Club.
Came in as an anonymous tip from a relative of a member. I remember thinking to myself, ‘What year IS this?’ especially after confirmation. Geez Louise…
Several years ago I found the enclosed apron neatly folded amongst the heaps of clothes at the buck-a-bag tables at the hospice yard sale in Willits.
I about lost my footing when I shook it out and saw the little cannibal and cooking pot. No kidding; it was at the bottom of my buck bag before my face finished turning red. It has bided its time under my thermal socks ever since.
Sorry to admit I once saw a blue-with-mesh baseball cap at the Goodwill in Ukiah that had the same logo but included the words “Cannibal” as well. I was too flustered to buy it or we’d have a set.
Over the years I’ve toyed with the idea of sending it to Whoopee Goldberg as I’ve heard she collects racist tchotchkes, but a little voice held me back.
It should stay here, where it was found, an artifact. Like a pointy-headed robe would be or should be — in a museum or something — but local.
Then you printed the shameful name in your paper. Aha, I can be relieved. I can send it to you! Maybe you’ll know what to do with it.”
THE CANNIBAL CLUB’S apron is illustrated with the Club’s Little Black Sambo logo not seen in other parts of the country since 1965 or so. The apron was on display at the AVA’s office as one of several artifacts symbolic of the County’s reigning mentality, circa 1950-1980.
TREVOR MOCKEL, the vacuous candidate for First District Supervisor endorsed unquestioningly by all five supervisors last May before the filing deadline was even passed, has a habit of inflating his rhetoric in an amusing attempt to curry favor with everyone he meets on the campaign trail while at the same time saying absolutely nothing about local issues. We have compiled his on-line comments since his candidacy and endorsement and, like the Supervisors, find his exaggerated choice of words to be truly great, amazing, incredible, inspiring, insightful, enlightening and fantastic! (But, oddly, never “awesome.”)
“…an overwhelming sense of gratitude and excitement … dedicated to serving my community …work tirelessly to create a better future … public service has been the cornerstone … the honor of serving in various capacities, … the privilege of serving as a Field Representative for the California State Senate, … valuable experience working for First Five of Mendocino County … I believe in the power of our collective potential. …I believe that together, we can build a brighter future for Mendocino County. … a fantastic time Tuesday night at a networking event … a great group of professionals. …Yesterday was amazing! … It's incredible to see so many people working together … I am feeling grateful and inspired! … the outpouring of support … a dedicated and inspiring woman … a part of such an incredible community!
DESPITE a takeover of the defunct rail line by prominent Northcoast Democrats who easily arranged for millions of rail dollars out of the Demo-dominated state legislature to again run trains from Marin to Eureka, the revived rail fantasy collapsed, most of the old line magically became another Demo boondoggle called the Great Redwood Trail with railroad property in Ukiah becoming the site of a new County Courthouse no one wants, former Demo congressman Doug Bosco became the private owner of lucrative rail properties in Sonoma County.
FLOWERS OF THE KILLER MOON as reviewed by the New York Times: “It's a rightly apocalyptic image for this cruel and baroque American story of love, murder, greed and unspeakable betrayal in 1920s Indian Country, a true-crime epic that Scorsese — with grace, sorrow and sublime filmmaking clarity — has turned into a requiem for the country.”
SO, DOUBLE DUMB me pays $9.50 to see this epic of pure bullshit, doubly stupid for believing a review in the newspaper of record, a record of cheerleading every crime committed by this country over the past hundred years. The NYT should be doing a requiem for America on a daily basis, maybe two a day with Biden as president and Trump poised for a second round as chief of destruction.
I HAPPENED to have read the book by David Grann the movie is based on, a sordid tale of how white criminals married into Osage tribes in an oil-rich area of Oklahoma, murdered their Osage wives to inherit their oil wells, moving on into Omaha country clubs in time to preside over the all-time race massacre in that town. But when these murderous squaw men died, they were celebrated as savvy capitalists with respectful entries in Who's Who In America and respectful obits in the NYT.
I WAS CURIOUS how Grann's book would be movie-ized, and there being no honest movie reviewers left in America since Pauline Kael and Dwight Macdonald shuffled off, the only review I saw was the blurb cited above, which should have alerted me I was in for a rough three hours at the Fairfax Theater because any movie or book celebrated by the NYT is almost certainly as bogus as the review.
SURE 'NUFF. I lasted 45 minutes, although after five minutes there was no sign Flowers was going to get any better after the deluge of mawk and unconvincing scene-setting that kicked it off, complete with supposedly authentic Osage rituals conducted in Tonto-speak. All-in-all, Flowers is what you get when Hollywood libs make a movie about crimes against Indians. Hell, crimes against anybody.
A READER WRITES: “Why don’t you change places with the Fort Bragg Advocate? After all the AVA is the Advocate and the Advocate is the Advertiser.” Make me an offer. Since the Golden Horde descended on Boonville to convert what was once a peaceful little place of ball games and pot luck suppers to a combination wine tasting and tourist stop, Covelo looks even better.
AMONG the Bay Area’s tame and tepid free weekly newspapers — tiny bits of reporting strewn amidst a hundred pages of sex ads, restaurant reviews, and plugs for bad bands — a front page piece in the Express, “The East Bay’s Free Weekly” caught my eye. Darned if it wasn’t a long story about Lawrence Livermore’s Lookout Records called, “The Little Label that Could — Lookout Records in downtown Berkeley proves that subversive, anticapitalistic music can turn a buck — but robust cash flow is just the start of its problems.”
THE FOUNDING FATHER HIMSELF, and long-time friend of mine going back to Larry’s days on Spy Rock Road, had retreated to London on the millions he made from producing punk rock. I tried dancing to “Fuck You and Die” but I couldn’t stop punching myself in the face. Larry had come a long, long way from Spy Rock. When he departed, he turned over the business to a smart young guy from Garberville named Christopher Appelgren.
LIVERMORE began life as an multi-tasking entrepreneur in the hills of Laytonville where he published an inspirationally courageous ‘zine called the Lookout! in which he discussed local matters and reviewed the latest in young people’s music.
THE SOCIAL COMMENTARY Livermore turned out in those days quickly got him non-person status in Laytonville, got him physically attacked by the kind of rural tough guy who’s careful to make sure he’s punching someone smaller and weaker than himself (usually his wife or girlfriend but a 120-pound man will do in a pinch), and got him a reputation among people who can read as a very good writer. The whole package also got him out of Laytonville and into a lot of money. The thing newspaper accounts of off-beat success stories usually miss but smart people like Lar Livermore and this Applegren kid certainly don’t miss, is that capitalism will market anything that makes money, including faux subversion of the punk type.
ANOTHER PAPER asked Harvey Keitel, “Many of the characters you’ve portrayed over the years arrive on the screen from a position of strength. You have a quality that gives them a power that is very manly, both physically and psychologically. Yet they’re also able to exhibit deep pain. Does that ability come from doing a whole lot of living?” Keitel responded: “Hmm. It probably comes from a strong desire to suck my thumb.”
ON-LINE COMMENTS OF THE WEEK
 I think that a huge problem with human thinking now is that we are having a disconnect of culture. A traditional type of culture is humans who have more clearly defined boundaries and are more respecting of human limits. A narcissistic type of person hates boundaries. Old joke – why did the narcissist cross the road? It was a boundary.
 EARTHQUAKES: Just wait for the 9.0, because it’s coming. Let’s call this one a 5.0 for easy math. A 6.0 is 10 times stronger and a 7.0 is 100 times stronger than the 5.0 and so on. See what happens when we hit the nines? It’s logarithmic scale, and if you’re not a victim of the public school system you’ll get it. If you are, the residents of Japan, Alaska and Haiti can tell you all about it on your little glow screen.
 The same people who can do all of the things you can’t, such as get inside info. on when to sell stocks, move money around the world with no fees, commit fly to Davos on a private plane but tell you you need to install 200k worth of insulation on your house, and much, much more.
I suspect they can even print money when they run out of it.
 As what many have referred to as a “quiet Jew”- more spiritual than religious, I have been appalled by the actions on both side of this horrific situation. I believe there will never be peace in the Middle East until the rights of the Palestinian people as well the Israeli people are recognized and respected. I don’t believe that this is a fight for or against Jews and Israel- it is a fight for humanity. The United States should be taking a lead role in calling for a ceasefire and bringing the world community together in a call for peace.
 Maybe we’re in the process of giving birth to a new decentralized living arrangement here in the USA – without a federal government. Anyone who’s witnessed a mammal giving birth – be it a human, a cow, or a dog – will witness something harsh and a bit bloody. Our transition to a sane society will involve the very sad and embarrassing spectacle of most all of the crazy people passing away. In the broken down West, the future will belong to people who can build homes with hand tools, grow their own food, and who can ride bicycles and motorbikes.
 As an older child able to mow lawns for spending money in the late 50’s, I used loose silver coins in my pocket for buying gasoline, candy, and soft drinks for getting through a hot Saturday afternoon of mowing yards. One silver quarter in my pocket would purchase a gallon of gas. A penny would buy a big wad of double bubble chewing gum. I didn’t need a wallet for buying stuff at the gas station and a little store some blocks away but within walking distance. The change in my pocket would do. But that change was real silver not the fake plated silver money of today. Today just about everything around us is fake, phony, and mostly useless – like the fake plated coins in our pockets.