Showers | Westport Beach | Chili Cook-Off | AVHS Soccer | Football Playoffs | Mendo Landscape | Cancer Challenges | Youth Basketball | Ed Notes | Oak Silhouette | New Pup | Empty Lot | Retired Life | Yesterday's Catch | Overpopulation Issues | Lakota Indians | Golden Gate Suicides | Close Gate | Better Way | Ukraine | Civil Reunion | Sadistic Israeli | Gaza | Ceasefire Calls | Picasso Painting | JFK 007 | Terracotta Warriors | Amazing Sloth
SHOWERS CONTINUE with embedded cells appearing in convective lines this morning. Most of the heavy precipitation has passed with light activity expected to persist through Tuesday. Mild weather and clear skies are expected by Wednesday. (NWS)
STEPHEN DUNLAP (Fort Bragg): A MAJOR downpour for 20 minutes at 3:25am & .90" with of rainfall collected. A cloudy 59F this Monday morning on the coast. Scattered rains today then clearing thru Thursday. MUCH cooler overnight temps starting tomorrow. Next week could be really wet, we'll see.
RAINFALL (past 24 hours): Leggett 1.20" - Laytonville 0.72" - Covelo 0.44" - Boonville 0.43" - Willits 0.43" - Ukiah 0.42" - Yorkville 0.40" - Hopland 0.22"
SENIOR CENTER CHILI COOK-OFF — BIG SUCCESS:
Wow! The Chili Cook Off exceeded our expectations! Great turn out! Thank you to the contestants, AVSC Board, Bob V., SBMC crew: Violet, Ericha and Rhonda and of course everyone who came out to support! This may be a new annual event. Extra special thanks to Savings Bank of Mendocino County and Larry Liebig for their sponsorship!
— Renee Lee, Senior Center Director
NORTH COAST SOCCER: NCS Semifinals:
SF Waldorf 1 - Anderson Valley 0
It was a gritty, hard-fought battle that epitomized the essence of our soccer season. Facing off against San Francisco Waldorf, a formidable opponent from a larger population center, our team showed unwavering determination and the true spirit of AVHS as they fought to the bittersweet end of an amazing season.
The challenges were immense, but our players displayed unparalleled resilience. Each pass, each tackle, and every shot on goal was a testament to their unwavering commitment to excellence on the pitch. In the face of adversity, our team once again proved that they belong among the best.
Soccer at AVHS has become a symbol of our dedication and our unyielding pursuit of success. With a championship pedigree, we have not only etched our names into the history of the Northern Coast Section, but also fostered a culture of continuous improvement.
This season, we witnessed the rediscovery of that commitment to excellence, a blazing passion that never waned. It's not just about the wins; it's about the heart and soul our athletes pour into the game. They've shown that soccer is not just a sport at AVHS; it's a way of life, a symbol of our school's resilience, determination, and undying spirit.
Our team's performance at Tom Smith Field was more than just a soccer game; it was a reflection of the values and character of our school. The end of this season is not an end at all; it's the beginning of a new chapter in our journey towards greatness. Soccer continues to stand as one of the premiere athletic programs at AVHS, and the legacy it has built upon is a testament to the power of unity, hard work, and the pursuit of excellence.
PANTHER FOOTBALL: WE ARE IN!
AV football has earned its first postseason game since 2016 - and will be competing in its first playoff tournament since 2008. We will be heading once again to Crocket to take on John Swett this Friday at 7pm. Earlier this year, we travelled to Swett High School (Crockett) during the regular season and after sitting on the sideline for over two hours awaiting the refs, and being forced into playing ten minute quarters, we lost by just four points as time ran out on our final drive. Our Section Championship run begins NOW.
(Coach John Toohey)
Hi, everyone. For those who haven't seen my previous posts the past six months, I'm a stage 4 cancer patient (have other health concerns, but that's the main one), just receive benefits (which will be lowered next month as I'm being switched from MediCal to Medicare & they will take out a monthly premium), I'm currently in a local motel in Ukiah that my caseworker put me up in, I'm on the voucher wait list & looking for a room or other situation in the meantime.
I have four furbabies. Two kitties & two senior Chi mixes. The cats are currently being fostered. They're all ESA (emotional support animals). I have a letter from my oncologist. They've definitely been a great comfort & support. I'd like to get in a situation where we're all together again. Obviously a place that's just my own.
My health has been holding steady. Now I need to get my housing stable. I had planned to start going back to work next year. I was support staff for developmentally challenged adults. I really loved it & I miss it. The clients need staff that are consistent & dependable. I don't feel like I can be that right now.
I learned that with the vouchers, any landlord can accept them (even for houses), as long as they're agreeable & the place passes inspection. Besides looking for something for the interim, I'm hoping to find something for when I do have my voucher. If you or someone you know have a room, cottage, granny unit, converted garage or shed, etc that is currently available, please DM me. I've been in Ukiah for 12 years & since I'm still in maintenance, I'd prefer to stay in this area.
* * *
You can get the monthly premium waived by going to your local human services office and applying for the waiver; please do this as soon as you can
Make sure to have a copy of your award letter from social security. Also please call social security and ask them to enroll you extra for help !!! Extra help makes it so most of your medications are under $4 ($4.75 starting 2024 ) you can pm And I’m here to assist in any way with this. Also HDAP IS an amazing program to get into while you wait for benefits!! I’ve used their service. I was the first person in HDAP before it was even rolled out. Also if you can get into HDAP / because you are homeless and have cancer they can probably get you referred into the mainstream voucher which is specific to ppl who are disabled and homeless and applying for ssi/ssdi Mendocino County
WILDLIFE FIGHTS BACK. A Deepender told me about a hummingbird that attacked him so relentlessly over a period of days that he couldn’t sit on his porch without the bird hurling itself at him, eerily aiming at the guy’s eyes. Finally, in utter exasperation, as the darting bird hovered ominously outside that vic's door waiting for him to emerge so it could get at him again, the besieged deepender blasted his tormenter with his ten gauge from behind his screen door. “I had to buy a new door, but that damn thing was scary!”
FROM “A Boy’s Life” by JoAnn Wypijewski.
It’s about a lot more than the beating death of Matthew Shepard by a pair of Wyoming homophobes,” it gets right to the insane heart of male hetero American culture. As Wypijewski puts it, “It’s just possible that Matthew Shepard didn’t die because he was gay; he died because Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson are straight.” The author quotes an anonymous friend of McKinney she calls Brent Jones:
“If you’re telling your feelings, you’re kind of a wuss.” Brent Jones, a heterosexual who went to high school with McKinney and Henderson, was guiding me through the psychic terrain of a boy’s life.
“So what do you do when things hurt?”
“That’s why God created whiskey, don’t you think? You get drunker than a pig and hope it drains away — or you go home and cry.”
“Is that true for most guys, do you think?”
“Yeah, pretty much.”
“So secretly you’re all wusses, and you know you’re wusses, but you can’t let anyone know, even though you all know you know.”
“You could say that.”
“Can you talk to girls about this stuff?”
“Unless you know this is the one — like, you’re going to get married, and then you’re in so deep you can’t help yourself — but if not, if you think she might break up with you, then no, because she might tell someone, and then it gets around, and then everyone thinks you’re a wuss. And you don’t want people to think you’re a wuss, unless you are a wuss, and then you know you’re a wuss, and then it doesn’t matter.”
RECOMMENDED READING: A fine essay by Francine Prose on the substitution of pop psychology and social probs (with multicultural chasers) for literature in high school curricula is called, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Cannot Read.” The nut of her case is that the platitudinous prose of the Alice Walker, Harper Lee, Maya Angelou type has replaced the more complicated, or as they say in academe, “nuanced,” stories of Mark Twain or, say, James Baldwin. Prose calls the Walker-Angelou oeuvre “manipulative melodramas.” She had a hard time even finding out what passes for literature classes these days in the high schools because of what she describes as the “paranoia” with which her requests were met by the public school apparatus. But when she’d gathered up the data about what was being taught and not taught in the national English department, Ms. Prose discovered that literature was basically a sub-division of Multi-Culture Inc., with Angelou’s weepy simplemindedness dominating the reading list and Mark Twain, in those school districts where the old boy still makes the cut, is regarded as your basic retro White Man beyond all hope of rehabilitation from the “racist” state he’s fallen into. (Huckleberry Finn is banned by quite a number of school districts because of its “racism.” And the Kansas school declared that evolution is no longer a mandatory part of the jayhawk curricula because evolutionary processes are not visible and thus unverifiable. By that standard Kansas may as well toss history too; after all, who ever saw Plato? The idea that some literature is better than other literature, and the difference is both in the telling and the integrity of the tale, has been tossed in favor of talk-show morality tales of the To Kill A Mockingbird type.
I REMEMBER when a lit critic named Vince Passaro said that Hemingway was dumb and witless and that Rick Moody, Denis Johnson, David Foster Wallace, and Lorrie Moore were smart and witty. “His anti-intellectualism,” Passaro said about Hemingway, “perfectly American and perfectly tuned to the needs of an ever-less-educated reading public, meshed well with his own marked lack of intelligence.”
RICK MOODY is unreadable, Denis Johnson, who lived in Boonville for a short time, has his moments, David Foster Wallace's fiction is unreadable, his essays very good, and Lorrie Moore really is smart and funny. That these writers are even mentioned in the same breath as Hemingway, though, is blasphemous. Anybody who can read ‘The Snows of Kilimanjaro’ and say that the guy who wrote it is stupid, is, well, stupid.
OUR WARM FUZZY BALL OF CANINE FURY
by Tommy Wayne Kramer
Get a puppy they said. It’ll be fun they said.
So we did and so she is, though “fun” is but one of dozens of serviceable ways to describe the arrival of a warm fuzzy ball of canine fury into a home already sufficiently messy.
Introducing a puppy, or at least this puppy, transformed our once-slovenly house into a domicile officially labeled “Health Department Sanitation / Habitation Code Violation(s) 7:24c.” As if some kid outta county health knows “housebroken” better than me. And if it’s only a citation, why the 16-page supplemental attachment, with photos?
Today we live in a nonstop one-dog playground filled with (formerly) stuffed bunnies, ducks and bears the pup hauls into everything and under everywhere, down the stairs and into the kitchen, knocks over the refrigerator, jumps on the counter and disembowels a nice stuffed turtle that an hour ago was very cute and cost me $9000. (Per insurance claim.)
There’s an ongoing dispute about the dog’s name. Trophy favors “Sweet Pea” but to me she’s “Sweetie.” This illustrates cooperation and compromise working in tandem to sustain a healthy marriage, at least until we get to the Conservatorship part. And aside from the needle-sharp teeth and the puncture wounds they inflict she’s good-natured. But she does raise hell.
She also eats. She’s a world class eater and has a gift for gaining weight. All she requires to pack on the pounds is fall asleep or breathe or jump around like a dolphin on meth in her little blue plastic swimming pool.
We took Sweetie to the Ukiah Veterinary clinic on South State Street for vaccinations. When we checked in Sweetie weighed 28.3 lbs; when we left 15 minutes later she weighed 31.5 lbs. As of yesterday she was officially at 42 lbs.
Five months old? Forty two pounds? Let’s re-name her Seabiscuit.
But seriously, how can a dog get so big so soon? Especially when you consider her spindly back legs, no bigger around than my thumbs. Those long, skinny legs make us think she’s part Flamingo, but her tail suggests she’s half-Kangaroo.
Sweetie’s breeder has definitely got some explaining to do.
Still, dear Trophy thinks she’s the Best Dog in the Whole World and she’s welcome to her opinion. I think Sweetie might be the best dog in the house, but not by much.
On the plus side the li’l pup thinks I’m smart and good-looking. From the time she was no bigger than my shoe she’s forever thrilled to be in my presence. I can say the same about no other creature on earth. She falls apart when I leave the house, if only to wheel a garbage can to the street. She starts yipping and wailing and clawing the front door like she’d been abandoned at the orphanage.
From the front window she looks to see which way I’ve gone, then hurries to the side window to wail and scratch until she realizes I’m already back on the porch and opening the door. So she flops on her back and wiggles and rolls in relief: At long, long last I have finally returned.
Wish my kids had missed me so. Once, even.
Sweetie fetches bunnies, balls, rocks and branches whether you throw them or not. She loves water, especially running water, as when I fill the backyard swimming pool with the garden hose. She snap-snap-snaps at the stream, then pops up on back feet, leaping and snapping at the hose nozzle. Big fun.
She never risks being without me. When I leave a room she hustles ahead and is sitting, waiting for me when I get to the kitchen or back deck. Always wanting to be with me is another way of saying she’s always underfoot, except in bed when she lays on my feet.
But yeah, otherwise she’s underfoot. Last week I was yawning my way to the bathroom for a morning shower with Sweetie prancing alongside. I paused at the porcelain bowl to drain my lizard.
Standing next to me, eyes up, she gazed at the water-like stream, then snap-snapped at it. “Eek'! I shrieked, and that was before she spotted the hose itself. Rearing up, she snap-snap-snaps at the (quickly withdrawn) dangling hose. A short hose, but still.
The downstairs bathroom sustained only modest liquid damages to the floor and one wall, both quickly addressed, with limited structural damages (per the $11,000 home insurance claim).
Would now be a good time to vote in that “Best Dog in the World” contest?
ESCAPE FROM SOUTHERN HUMBOLDT
by Paul Modic
Why is life so boring in Garberville these days, so boring I’ve been desperately trying to get out of town and drive to Mexico. It’s not just me, a lot of people are bored and boring, to stave it off we do internet and TV and any other electronic distraction. (If anyone is aware of someone who is very interesting in the G'ville area please identify and tell why they are so, thanks.)
Life was way more exciting when the weed scene was happening: there was stuff to do, people to meet, trimmers, buyers, bundles of twenties to drool over, cops to look out for, weather to worry about, and bugs and mold to battle. There was a lot going on, sometimes too much, taking care of a plant from the moment a seed was dropped in water in March, or a clone stepped up, to the day the pound went out the door in October, or usually later.
Even “the life” became a different kind of boring, another year arrived and everything was repeated. Sometimes a girlfriend or lover became a trimmer, or (rarely for me) a trimmer turned into a lover. (Well, there was that nineteen year old trimmer and that bj back in ‘82, thanks again “Jenny.”) Others had way better luck, some launched long-term relationships with their trimmers, even marrying and having children.
The trimmers were from all over the world, often vivacious waitress and bartenders, the kind of women who could leave their regular jobs easily, then get another when the harvest season was over. They brightened up the area every October for decades, packing music venues and dancing wildly. Now they’re all gone and they’re never coming back, sigh…
There was a lot of stress with the weed scene, like dealing with the live-in trimmers (though I do miss the social contact), trying to sell the weed, and beating the rains at harvest time in the fall. Retirement is way more relaxing, but with less to do also more boring. A good novel is still the most fulfilling distraction, without which I’d be prisoner of the internet and TV. (When my laptop was killed recently and I didn’t have internet for a couple weeks I felt superior to all the sheep surfing in a haze of obsession, but then started feeling emptier than ever.) What I don’t miss from “the old days” is thinking about weed all the time. Every morning all winter I’d plan the coming year’s crop with my strong cuppa coffee at my side: what kind of seeds or clones, whether to start them in a green house or under lights, out in the country or in town. Yes, that’s the best thing about retirement, writing about anything, way more fun than just thinking about marijuana.
(Bonus joke, that old favorite: Why did the hippies come to Garberville? Because they heard there were no jobs.)
* * *
Mexico was my white whale, I had been trying to get back there for years, and had just burned cds of Moby Dick to listen to along the way, as well as twenty or thirty other novels on cd. After agonizing about whether to go, changing my mind every other day, seeking random advice from strangers on the street, I finally started packing and after a few days had an overflowing table full of too much of everything, which sat there for a couple weeks.
It felt strange packing all week for a road trip knowing I probably wouldn’t go. Not even sure which vehicle to take I cleaned out both thoroughly, and then wondered if it was time to unpack? Instead I loaded it all in my car where it sat for another week while I was gripped with indecision and confusion.
Early one May morning I was finally ready to take off, my neighbor happened by on his daily dog walk and said, “So you’re really going to do it?”
“I just feel I’d be happier if I stayed home,” I said. “This is just an experiment, I don’t really want to go. I’m going to take off and if it doesn’t feel good on the road I’ll just come back in a few hours or the next day.”
“But once you get out there…” he said.
“Yup, I’ll feel the freedom of the open road, I haven’t been anywhere in years.”
I made it to Willits, listening to a captivating Alice Hoffman book on cd and thinking about life, then bought a sandwich, a nasty muffin, and some serrano peppers at Mariposa Market. I headed across the mountains toward Williams and Interstate 5 south, I could still turn back I thought, but that idea filled me with revulsion, contemplating going back to my house and rut: I had escaped!
CATCH OF THE DAY, Sunday, November 5, 2023
JASINTO AGUILAR-ZEFERINO, Ukiah. DUI.
ERIK CISNEROS JR., Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs.
CHRISTAN FLORES, Ukiah. Vandalism, throwing substances at vehicles.
MICHELLE FOX, Philo. Domestic abuse.
JESUS HERRERA, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-under influence.
DAVID JOAQUIN SR., Covelo. DUI-alcohol&durgs, controlled substance, no license, probation revocation.
JORDYN JUNKER, Fort Bragg. Controlled substance disobeying court order, failure to appear, probation revocation.
ANTONIO LOPEZ JR., Hopland. Probation revocation.
IAN MORGAN, McKinleyville/Ukiah. DUI-drugs with priors, under influence, controlled substance, paraphernalia.
MATTHEW NUNLEY, Covelo. Hit&run with property damage, paraphernalia.
WILLIAM OWENS, Ukiah. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, parole violation.
MEGAN TAYLOR, McKinleyville/Fort Bragg. Domestic battery, failure to appear.
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
You can’t keep relentlessly adding to populations and expect everyone to remain peaceful. It begins to go against instincts to self-preservation. It dilutes the “rights” of all until nothing substantial’s left and the scraps are contested. “We should all be able to just get along” is just going to ring hollower and hollower from here on out, as bills of twentieth/early-twenty-first-century extravagance come due, peak industrial “quality of life” is passed and decay sets in.
WHAT THE GOLDEN GATE IS (FINALLY) DOING ABOUT SUICIDES
After years of pressure from victims’ families, the installation of $217 million in steel netting is almost complete.
by John Branch
It was May 27, 1937, the opening day for a stunning new suspension bridge across a gap in the California coastline known as the Golden Gate. Before cars were allowed on the crossing, an estimated 200,000 people celebrated between the bridge’s four-foot-high rails, more than 200 feet above the water.
Doris Madden, 11, was there with her parents. It was one of her favorite days of her childhood, a story she told until the end of her life.
About 78 years later, in 2015, Madden’s 15-year-old grandson, Jesse Madden-Fong, was dropped off at his high school in San Francisco.
Jesse did not go to class. An hour later, he was on the Golden Gate Bridge, walking alone. The family was told that Jesse had shrugged off his backpack and went over the rail. He left no explanation, no clues, for why he had jumped.
Jesse’s mother confirmed her son’s identity with the coroner through the boy’s new corduroy pants. An urn of Jesse’s ashes sits on the mantel of his family’s San Francisco home.
“My mother loved the bridge,” said Pat Madden, Jesse’s mother and Doris’s daughter. “I’m really glad she passed away two years before Jesse.”
His was one of 33 confirmed suicides from the bridge that year, a typical number.
For nearly 87 years, it was so easy.
‘It’s About Damn Time’
The Golden Gate Bridge is a rare blend of form and function, a massive structure that somehow adds to nature’s beauty instead of detracting from it.
It stands as one of the world’s engineering marvels and a symbol of Depression-era American muscle. It tickles with its delicate, sweeping lines and harp-string vertical cables, playing hide-and-seek with the ever-shifting light and fog.
Connecting a sophisticated city and an untamed beyond, it is less a gate than an aperture. Everyone views something different through it.
Some see endless possibilities. Some just see the end.
About 2,000 people are known to have died by jumping off the bridge. The count has never been precise, and the true tally is certainly higher, perhaps substantially so, since not all jumps are witnessed and not all bodies are found. At least three cases included a homicide; parents have tossed children over the rail and then jumped in after them.
Such tragedies, officials hope, are mostly in the past. Workers are nearly finished installing 3 ½ miles of stainless steel nets — creating what officials call a “suicide deterrent system” — strung on both sides of the bridge, end to end.
Construction cost $217 million and the system has taken longer to build than the bridge itself did.
The nets are nearly invisible from a distance, blending into the steelwork. They cannot be seen from the 40 million vehicles that cross the bridge each year.
But they are visible to anyone standing at the rail. They hang about 20 feet down and stretch about 20 feet out. They are stitched between 369 new struts, 50 feet apart, painted International Orange like the rest of the bridge.
These are not the soft, springy nets of a circus act. They are taut, marine-grade stainless steel nets meant to withstand the Golden Gate’s combination of rain, wind, salt and fog.
“We want the message to be that it’s going to hurt, and also jumping off the bridge is illegal,” Denis Mulligan, the general manager of the organization that oversees the bridge, said.
The nets have already shown themselves to be a deterrent, but not a perfect solution.
Several people have jumped into them. Some have been rescued from there, but “a handful” had “jumped into the net and then jumped to their death,” Mulligan said.
He declined to say how many. It will take a year or two of data to fully understand the system’s effectiveness, he said.
In the decade beginning in 2011, bridge officials said, there were 335 confirmed suicides, or an average of 33.5 per year. In 2022, as the first nets were being strung, there were 22. Through October this year, as more nets have been added, there were 13.
“If we save 30 lives a year, and not 31, it’s worth it for those 30 people who we saved,” Mulligan said. “And that’s every year. To greatly reduce the number of people dying in the community is a worthy goal. And to achieve that is success.”
The completion of the system, and the focused two-decade drive to get it done after decades of failed campaigns, has produced a range of emotions.
“It’s satisfying,” said Manuel Gamboa, who has been a persistent proponent of the nets since his 18-year-old son Kyle drove 100 miles to the bridge one school morning in 2013, stopped his truck in the middle of the bridge, turned on the flashers and leaped over the rail.
“Part of me is just exhausted that it took this long,” said Paul Muller, president and co-founder the Bridge Rail Foundation, a nonprofit founded in 2006 with a mission of ending suicides at the bridge.
“I’m glad I’m still alive to see it,” said Dr. Mel Blaustein, a San Francisco psychiatrist who helped push the mission to build a barrier 20 years ago, when he was in his 60s.
“I’m excited — it will be a good tool to have,” said Lt. Michael Bailey of the Bridge Patrol, which uses surveillance to spot potential jumpers, intervening close to 200 times per year, officials said.
“It’s about damn time,” said Ken Holmes, the former coroner in Marin County, across the bridge from San Francisco, whose office was responsible for examining the recovered bodies of jumpers.
“I am relieved,” said Pat Madden, the mother of Jesse. “You just want to spare other people from what you’re going through.”
A Low Railing
The first confirmed suicide from the Golden Gate Bridge happened about 10 weeks after its opening. Harold Wobber, a 47-year-old World War I veteran, reportedly said, “This is as far as I go,” and jumped.
More followed — dozens a year, hundreds a decade. The unique majesty that draws tourists from all over the world made the bridge a premier destination for death.
“There’s a certain magnetic appeal around a suicide site that draws other desperate souls to it,” said John Bateson, a longtime director of a Bay Area suicide prevention center and the author of “The Final Leap,” a 2012 book about suicides at the Golden Gate Bridge. “And the Golden Gate Bridge exerts a larger magnetic pull than anywhere else because of its natural beauty, because of its tragic history.”
Studies have shown that many people will drive across other bridges, like the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, to jump from the Golden Gate — but not the reverse.
Among other reasons that someone looking to jump might choose the bridge is a near guarantee of death (about 1 in 50 have survived) and a belief that loved ones will be spared the horror of discovering the body.
But there was always something more practical: The railing is just four feet high.
Almost anyone could get over it, whether after long consideration or in a moment of impulse. Some run and hurdle the rail. Others swing a leg up and over it. One elderly man brought a step stool.
“Fundamental to suicide prevention is restricting easy access to lethal means,” said Muller, the Bridge Rail Foundation co-founder. “And the Golden Gate Bridge has provided easy access.”
The bridge’s sidewalks have long been closed to pedestrians at night, so most jumps have happened during the day and are often witnessed by drivers, pedestrians and boaters.
Bridge lore has it that the original design called for the railing to be 5 ½ feet tall, but it was lowered either by the chief engineer, Joseph Strauss, (a short man whose statue stands near the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center and gift shop) or the architect Irving Morrow, whose credited contributions include many of the bridge’s hallmarks, such as its paint color and Art Deco flourishes.
Mulligan, the bridge general manager who spent a decade as its top engineer, said that he had never discovered such plans. But the California Highway Patrol first asked for a higher railing in 1939 to deter jumpers.
That it took so much time and heartache to seriously address the issue is a source of great debate and consternation.
Those in charge of most famous tall structures, from the Eiffel Tower to the Empire State Building, moved quickly to keep people from jumping from them, often after a few deaths. In New York in 2021, access to the Vessel, a 150-foot sculpture composed of spiraling stairs, was shut down after three suicides within one year. It reopened and closed again after a fourth later that year.
Not at the Golden Gate Bridge. Jumping off the bridge was always an option, even a dark joke.
“I grew up in San Francisco,” Mulligan said. “I grew up hearing people say, ‘Well, why don’t you just go jump off the bridge?’ That was what people said. They obviously didn’t understand suicide or mental health.”
Such nonchalance was reflected in the 19-member board of directors for the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District, which oversees the operation of the bridge and a regional bus and ferry system.
“One of the directors actually told me that the solution would be building a diving board on the bridge — to show the callousness I’ve seen people have,” said Dr. Blaustein, a former president of the Northern California Psychiatric Society and longtime medical director of a psychiatric unit a few miles from the bridge.
For decades, decision makers ducked behind concerns over aesthetics, costs and effectiveness.
The middle of the bridge is about 220 feet above the water. The fall takes four seconds, and only about 1 out of 50 have survived.
Clouding serious consideration were long-held misperceptions about suicide — mainly, that people prevented from jumping from the bridge would simply take their lives a different way.
A 1978 study by Richard Seiden, at the University of California, Berkeley, tracked 515 people who, between 1937 and 1971, had gone to the bridge intending to jump and had been persuaded not to. It found that 94 percent were still alive or had died of natural causes.
“Suicidal behavior is crisis-oriented and acute in nature,” Seiden concluded.
The Bridge Patrol is on the front lines of those crises. Created as an antiterrorism force after the Sept. 11 attacks, officers spend much of their energy preventing suicides. Using surveillance and roving patrols, and often assisted by ironworkers, painters and others doing work on the bridge, they try to spot the potential jumpers among millions of bridge visitors every year.
A planned jump is stopped every other day, on average, bridge officials said.
A large part of the Bridge Patrol’s role is to intervene in possible suicide attempts through surveillance and patrols. Such interventions happen every other day, on average, officials said. But not everyone can be stopped.
Lieutenant Bailey, a 14-year patrol veteran, does not count the lives he saves, because then he would have to count the jumps he witnessed and could not stop.
“It’s hard not to let it affect you,” he said. “We’re all humans out here, with normal feelings like anybody else.”
Holmes, the Marin County coroner, never knew the victims. He just examined the bodies.
He had worked for the county since 1975, but never appreciated the death toll from the bridge until the early 1990s, when the U.S. Coast Guard moved operations to Marin County from the San Francisco side of the strait. That meant that his office became responsible for examining the bodies of jumpers, mostly retrieved by the Coast Guard.
Holmes knew that a four-second fall is not a peaceful way to die. It shatters bones and rips apart organs. Those who somehow survive the impact usually drown.
It was not the bodies that moved him.
“It was the enormity of the numbers — oh, my God,” said Holmes, now retired. “It’s not one every few months or anything like that. It was two or three every single month. One year we had 44 — 44! Even my investigators at the time were saying, ‘Did you have any idea?’ And of course I didn’t.”
Holmes compiled statistics specifically for Golden Gate jumpers, something not done before. Over 15 years, he found that three-quarters of them were men. The average age was under 40. About 85 percent lived in the Bay Area, and more than 7 percent were from out of state. The most common occupation was student, followed by teacher.
Holmes began appearing regularly at bridge-district board meetings to plead that something be done, joining a small, shifting carousel of researchers, psychiatrists and grieving families.
A Movement Takes Shape
True momentum for the effort came in the early 2000s. A 2003 New Yorker story by Tad Friend, titled “Jumpers,” cast a bright light on the bridge’s dark history. The San Francisco Chronicle followed in 2005 with an unblinking, weeklong series called “Lethal Beauty.”
There were documentaries, including “The Bridge” in 2006, that controversially showed people plummeting into the water.
That same year, a man named David Hull turned his grief into a mission, cofounding the Bridge Rail Foundation. Hull’s 26-year-old daughter had driven two hours from Santa Cruz to jump from the bridge.
The Bridge Rail Foundation organized other families in a common effort. It wrote op-eds and monthly newsletters. It made short films to spread on social media. It created a traveling exhibit of hundreds of shoes worn by the jumpers, including World War I-era boots to represent Wobber, who died by the bridge’s first known suicide.
Adding the nets has taken seven years, three years longer than it took to build the bridge.
Part of the appeal of nets is that they do not change the aesthetic appeal of the bridge.
Mostly, the group focused not on cold data, but on the warmth of humanity and empathy.
“In the beginning, researchers felt that empirical evidence was strong enough that, naturally, it’s going to convince anybody to erect a barrier,” said Bateson, the author. “And, in fact, the emotion was missing from those early arguments.”
Growing numbers of families joined the fight. They crowded meetings. They held photographs of their lost loved ones. They carried the little bag of belongings returned by the coroner — phones, wallets and notes that had been discovered in pockets, left on the rail, found in abandoned cars.
In 2005, finally moved, the bridge board agreed to build a barrier if the money came from outside sources. So began the slow churn of American bureaucracy.
There were environmental studies and engineering tests to ensure that the bridge could withstand any structural changes.
After all the talk of raising the rails, along came an idea borrowed from a successful suicide prevention system at a tall cathedral in Bern, Switzerland.
The nets were a compromise. The Bridge Rail Foundation was so named because it envisioned a higher rail. But to appease opponents who thought that high rails or fencing would mar the bridge’s iconic look or block the views for everyone else, nets became the chosen prevention method in 2008.
Then began years of political wrangling for money. By 2014, with an estimated cost of $76 million for the project, money was committed. There was a call for construction bids. Estimates came in much higher than expected and soon rose again, toward $200 million.
Hopes ebbed and flowed. More families joined the push. More money was found.
“Every month it was delayed, more people were lost,” Madden said.
Manuel and Kymberlyrenee Gamboa showed up to nearly every bridge district meeting for 10 years, driving the same 100-mile route to the bridge that their son had traveled, to plead for faster action.
“I said, ‘I’m going to be here at every meeting until something is done,’” Manuel Gamboa said. “‘It’s not your fault that he chose this bridge. But it is your fault that you don’t have something in place to try to prevent these people from coming here.’”
The nets were expected to take four years to complete. It will be nearly seven. The bridge district is embroiled in legal squabbles with the contractor.
But they are nearly finished, and emotions are mixed. Exhaustion. Satisfaction. Peace.
“On the one hand, it’s been 20 years for me,” said Muller, the Bridge Rail Foundation president. “On the other hand, it’s been 87. Which is staggering.”
True costs are impossible to calculate, even beyond the 2,000 or more who have died. Left behind are family members and friends, all the bridge patrollers, the accidental witnesses, the emergency medical workers, the body retrievers, the coroners.
How many have been forever changed by suicides on the Golden Gate Bridge?
Pat Madden is just one. Her mother loved the bridge. Not only did 11-year-old Doris attend the opening in 1937, but 61-year-old Doris was there for the massive pedestrian celebration of the bridge’s 50th anniversary, in 1987.
Madden thought she loved the bridge, too. But since Jesse’s death, she has avoided crossing it or going places in the city where she knows it might come into view.
“I remember when my husband and I went to back-to-school night early in Jesse’s freshman year,” she said. “I remember being in his English classroom, and it was evening and the bridge was lit up. And I said to my husband, ‘Look, what a beautiful view the students have.’”
“It was in full view for Jesse that whole year,” she said.
Jesse, like so many others, was drawn to the bridge. There was nothing between life and death but a four-foot rail.
If you are having thoughts of suicide, call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources.
THE MACHINE MAY SEEM OMNIPOTENT, but it is not. Human bodies and human wit, active here, there, everywhere, united in purpose, independent in action, can still face that machine and stop it and take it apart and reassemble it - if we wish - on lines entirely new. There is, after all, a better way to live.
― Edward Abbey
UKRAINE, SUNDAY, 5TH NOVEMBER
Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, called for further US war funding – warning a Russian victory would spell war for US soldiers in Nato countries – and invited former US president Donald Trump to visit and see the conflict for himself, Reuters reports.
Zelenskiy said that if Russia were allowed to win the war in Ukraine it would not stop its aggression and become enboldened – and begin to attack Nato countries.
“If Russia will kill all of us, they will attack Nato countries and you will send your sons and daughters [to fight],” Zelenskiy said. Zelenskiy made the comments on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday.
Republicans in the US have become sceptical about further funding for Ukraine’s war effort. The US president, Joe Biden, has urged Congress to pass a $106bn supplemental spending bill for military spending. But Republicans in the House of Representatives instead passed a bill last week to provide $14.3bn in aid to Israel, but nothing new for Ukraine.
Trump, running again for president in 2024, has been critical of US support for Ukraine and claimed to be able to solve the war in 24 hours.
“If [Trump] can come here, I will need … 24 minutes to explain to President Trump that he can’t manage this war,” Zelenskiy said. “He can’t bring peace because of Putin.”
Meet Galit Distel Atbaryan, “Liberal” member of the Israeli Knesset.
An Israeli liberal Knesset member, Galit Distel Atbaryan, calls for genocide of the Palestinians, proving something I saw for myself in the months that I spent in Israel, Occupied Lebanon and in the West Bank and Gaza, that Israeli women are as capable of sadism as the men. Of course, we will not find sentiments like this, which represent most Israelis, even those opposed to Netanyahu, in the Zionist controlled US media.
Israeli airstrikes hit two refugee camps in the central Gaza Strip on Sunday, killing scores of people, health officials said. The strikes came as the U.S. keeps urging Israel to take a humanitarian pause from its relentless bombardment of Gaza and rising civilian deaths.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled to Ramallah in the West Bank for a previously unannounced meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Blinken later flew to Baghdad for talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani. On Saturday Blinken met with Arab foreign ministers in Jordan, after holding talks in Israel with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who insists there could be no temporary cease-fire until all hostages held by Hamas are released. President Joe Biden suggested that progress was being made on the humanitarian pause.
The Palestinian death toll in the Israel-Hamas war reached 9,700, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza. In the occupied West Bank, more than 140 Palestinians have been killed in violence and Israeli raids.
ISRAEL HITS CIVILIAN INFRASTRUCTURE AS CEASEFIRE CALLS GROW
The Israel Defense Forces have attacked multiple civilian targets in the last week — including refugee camps and an ambulance convoy — killing more than 200 Palestinians, according to government sources in Gaza, as Israel prosecutes its war against Hamas.…
FROM KENNEDY WITH LOVE
by Gus Russo
Just prior to the Bay of Pigs fiasco, the White House released a list of JFK’s favorite books. Number nine was Ian Fleming’s James Bond adventure “From Russia With Love,” a piece of fiction chock full of assassinations and womanizing. That Kennedy took such a hankering to Fleming’s work received wide coverage in the press. As it turned out, Kennedy’s passion for Fleming was shared by his friend and CIA Director, Allen Dulles, who wrote that he was first recommended to the Fleming books in 1957 by Jackie Kennedy. “She gave me ‘From Russia With Love’,” Dulles later recounted. From then on “President Kennedy and I often talked about James Bond.” What was not as well reported was that the previous spring Fleming had been Senator Kennedy’s houseguest at his Georgetown home (another guest was CIA agent and close friend of Allen Dulles, John Bross).
According to Fleming biographer John Pearson, while coffee was being served, Kennedy asked Fleming what James Bond would do if his superior “M” asked him to get rid of Castro. Fleming replied that the US was making too much fuss over the dictator, thereby inflating his importance in the eyes of his followers and the rest of the world. He then proceeded to regale the dinner guests with his proposals for “ridiculing” the Cuban leader. Claiming that there were only three things that mattered to Cubans — money, religion and sex — Fleming suggested the following three-pronged approach:
1. The United States should send planes to scatter Cuban money over Havana, accompanying it with leaflets showing that it came with compliments of the United States.
2. Using the Guantanamo base, the United States should conjure some religious manifestation in the sky (a cross of sorts), which would induce the Cubans to look constantly skyward.
3. The United States should send planes over Cuba dropping pamphlets, “compliments of the Soviet Union,” stating that the American A-Bomb tests had poisoned the atmosphere over the island; that radioactivity is held longest in beards; and that radioactivity makes men impotent. Consequently, the Cubans should shave off their beards, and, as the logic follows, without bearded Cubans, the revolution would collapse.
(The biographer’s source for this was Kennedy advisor/speechwriter Richard Goodwin.)
Ian Fleming died in 1964 and therefore did not live to read the report of the Church Committee in 1975 or the 1967 CIA “Inspector General’s Report” released in 1993. He would have been proud. All of his proposals were acted on by the CIA at the urging of the Kennedy’s Mongoose program (the Kennedy brothers/CIA program to assassinate Castro) coordinator, General Edward Lansdale. The CIA attempted to make Castro’s beard fall out, considered staging a “religious event” off the coast using Guantanamo-based submarines, and was involved in a plot to flood Cuba with counterfeit Cuban currency. Allen Dulles wrote that after he was turned on to the Bond books by the Kennedys, he met and became great friends with Bond’s creator, Fleming. “I kept in constant touch with him,” Dulles wrote after Fleming’s death. “I was always interested in the novel and secret ‘gadgetry’ Fleming described from time to time… They did get one to thinking and exploring, and that was worthwhile because sometimes you came up with other ideas that did work.”
The most unsavory aspect of the administration’s anti-Castro plotting, its use of the Mafia, also bore the Fleming stamp — but may in fact have been a case of Kennedy inspiring Fleming. It recalls what many consider Judy Campbell’s most controversial allegation: while she was John Kennedy’s lover, she passed Castro assassination plans from Kennedy to Chicago mob boss Sam Giancana. One year after Campbell says she performed this function, Fleming published “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (1963). In that novel, James Bond falls in love with the daughter of an organized crime syndicate leader. Bond proceeds to use his lover as a go-between with her father, and together they attempt to kill the sinister leader of an international terrorist organization.
(From ‘Live By The Sword: The Secret War Against Castro and the Death of JFK’ by Gus Russo, Bancroft Press)
THIS PHOTOGRAPH, captured in 1974, showcases the initial discovery of an extensive collection of Terracotta warriors in Xi'an, China. What makes this image remarkable is that it unveils the vivid original colors that were meticulously painted onto these life-sized clay warriors over 2,000 years ago by skilled artisans. Regrettably, when exposed to air and sunlight during the excavation, these ancient colors began to rapidly deteriorate and disappeared within minutes.
These Terracotta warriors were strategically placed to serve as guardians of the tomb belonging to the first emperor of unified China. As of today, the tomb remains unopened.
According to accounts from ancient historians, the tomb is believed to encompass an entire subterranean kingdom and palace, complete with ceilings adorned with pearls to simulate the night sky. The tomb is also said to house exceedingly rare artifacts and booby traps set with crossbows to deter any potential intruders. To safeguard the tomb's secrecy, the laborers who constructed it were supposedly buried with the emperor.
Sima Qian, a historian from the Han dynasty, mentioned that within the tomb, "mercury was used to fashion the hundred rivers, the Yellow river and the Yangtze river, and the seas in such a way that they flowed." Modern tests have indicated extraordinarily high levels of mercury in the surrounding soil.
Interestingly, historical records suggest that the emperor's demise was attributed to the ingestion of mercury pills, which were believed at the time to possess qualities of an elixir of immortality.