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FOG has developed this morning in most of the low lying ares and valleys. A short period of high pressure will bring mild weather to the area until the next cold front arrives, Thursday. (NWS)
STEPHEN DUNLAP (Fort Bragg): 42F under clear skies the Wednesday morning on the coast. Other than a chance for a shower early Friday morning we are looking cool & fall like thru the weekend. It looks we are in for a lot of rain next week, we'll see.
COST SAVINGS VIA ENERGY SAVINGS
An Open Letter to the Mendocino County Supervisors -
Tomorrow, Tuesday November 7th, the Board is scheduled to discuss defunding the County’s energy conservation & decarbonization program.
The CEO’s budget report spotlights that utility and fuel costs are driving a more than 22% increase in County operation costs. The GrassRoots Institute has devoted extensive time and resources exploring options the County could take to cut ongoing energy costs and reduce carbon emissions. We concur with the WilDan energy consultant's recommendations to cut ongoing county costs through onetime energy conservation and decarbonization investments. Decades of research demonstrates investing in energy conservation, solar systems, replacing obsolete inefficient HVAC with heat pumps, converting to energy-efficient lighting, insulating and weatherizing to conserve HVAC use, and converting to a fuel-efficient vehicle fleet produce ongoing enterprise-wide savings that far exceed costs.
In 2021, the Board wisely chose to set aside one-time PG&E settlement monies in order to fund energy conservation and decarbonization measures that reduce County operational costs. Approximately half of those funds have been committed, and a plan by Supervisor Haschak and General Services has been developed to utilize the other half to further reduce ongoing energy and fuel costs.
You’ve recognized that responsible management of the County means wise investment in ongoing energy reduction isn’t a luxury, it is a necessity. Therefore the GrassRoots Institute urges you to stay the course that produces the best County outcomes. Reject the unwise recommendation to eliminate one-time funding for energy conservation and decarbonization initiatives that cut ongoing County operation costs. Using those funds for ongoing costs means that when they are spent, the County will just be deeper in red ink.
On Behalf of the GrassRoots Institute
THE CHICKEN COOP RESERVE FUND
by Mark Scaramella
On Tuesday First District Supervisor Candidate Carrie Shattuck asked the Board why their budget chart that shows there’s more than $20 million in the General Fund Reserve when the Board says there’s only a $10 million general fund reserve.
Supervisor Ted Williams (and CEO Antle) responded that they’d added a chart since that first chart was posted which shows that about $10 million of the General Fund Reserve was “dedicated” reserves and, added Antle, “not available for payroll purposes.”
We found the second chart in a hastily added board packet for the Tuesday meeting which indicated that some of the General Fund reserve was “dedicated.”
Williams said that the AVA has been saying that the General Fund Reserve is over $20 million and that’s wrong because, according to Williams and Antle, some of it is “dedicated.”
First, it’s not wrong. The $20 million is from their own chart with no indication of “dedicated” reserves until just recently.
Second, when we read the silly note about the newly added “dedicated” reserves, we see that “Designated Reserves involve over 30 different reserve accounts housed [sic] in the General Fund. These reserves are set aside, or designated, to a specific purpose. Two examples of the designated reserves in this reporting would be, the General Plan Update Reserve, that is money specifically set aside to fund a future General Plan update, or the Spay/Neuter Deposit Reserve, in support of the County’s Spay and Neuter programs… the general reserve may only be established, canceled, increased, or decreased at the time of adopting the budget as provided in Government Code Section 29088. The general reserve may be increased any time during the fiscal year by a four‐fifths vote of the board.”
So, saying that the mostly undefined (they only cite two of the 30 examples) “dedicated” reserve is “unusable for payroll purposes” is as if we at the AVA set up a Chicken Coop Reserve a few years ago but when the crunch hit for the last utility bill we couldn’t use the Chicken Coop Reserve for anything but a chicken coop.
The County puts out a chart showing the general fund reserves are over $20 million, but then, after it’s pointed out by us, sneaks in an explanatory chart at the last minute with weasel words that some of it is supposedly “dedicated” to obviously unneeded projects like the General Plan update and a spay/neuter reserve (which the County’s many animal organizations should and probably would pony up for). These examples are the ones they picked to highlight out of 30?) Then Williams declares that the AVA was wrong for reporting that their own General Fund Reserve chart says it’s over $20 million. Which it clearly is, “dedicated” or not, and is available for general fund expenses at the time of budget prep if the Board votes to use it.
Unfortunately, this minor example is typical of the way these self-serving and untrustworthy people handle even the mildest criticism and another reason the County needs a genuinely independent Auditor.
NEW BROOM SWEEPS CLEAN
The idea contained in the subject above - various iterations keep coming to mind, but this one seems to fit the current BOS and DA's office. True, it doesn't suggest what replaces as the “new broom sweeps” away. But if we want a county government that works, let's start with the sweep and seek out individuals we might encourage to be party to and become “new brooms.”
Wishing you well,
Gregory Sims (too old to be a contestant)
AV PANTHER BASKETBALL Season is upon us, and so is the Redwood Classic!
November 29 through December 2, 2023
Stay tuned for more updates soon!
FLOODGATE IS BACK!
Nostalgics are pleased to see the Floodgate restored to its original dimensions.
A LATE NORTH COAST CANNABIS HARVEST IS MADE UP FOR IN QUALITY, GROWERS SAY
Despite a delay, growers in Sonoma, Mendocino and Humboldt counties are saying cannabis plants are of exceptional quality this year.
by Susan Wood
It can be said that patience and tenacity are necessary virtues required for cannabis farmers.
Take Glentucky Family Farm grower Mike Benziger. The longtime Glen Ellen cultivator noticed the 2023 cannabis harvest experienced a growth spurt like no other he’s seen in almost a half century of farming.
“Once the (Sept. 22, 2023) fall equinox came, I saw something I’ve never seen before — an accelerated ripening in the last two weeks. It’s like holding down the spring. (Then), the plants got the signal (to blossom),” Benziger told a group assembled for a panel discussion about the 2023 Sonoma Valley Harvest at the Sparc dispensary in Sonoma Oct. 26.
“This was one of the coolest years in 44 years. Usually, we have 15 days above 100 degrees,” he said of the harvest that traditionally happens in September through most of October. The growing season tends to start in June.
Cooler weather means plants that aren’t stressed or sunburned, resulting “high quality pot,” plants that could fetch $500 a pound, Benziger said.
That wholesale rate is almost twice the amount of a few years ago, when the market bottomed out after facing a potential collapse from too much product and too few places to sell it. On the high end, some growers say they may get $800 a pound now.
But Benziger also noticed a clear benefit to the last-minute haul.
“The quality is off the charts,” he said, echoing a similar sentiment expressed throughout Northern and Central California.
Benziger should know. His La Bomba cannabis strain won a gold medal at the California State Fair last year.
The pros and cons of the harvest
“What we’re seeing with the farmers now is all hands-on deck. But there’s anxiety going beyond October because November has not been kind,” said Sam Rodriquez, policy director for Good Farmers, Great Neighbors, a statewide cannabis cultivation advocacy organization.
With what has blossomed in the last few weeks, the temptation exists for cultivators to get what they can.
“We’re seeing fewer plants but a higher quality,” he said. “We’ve lost half our farmers.”
Rodriguez was referring to turbulence in the industry from cannabis growers complaining about over taxation. In addition, many growers have left or failed in the marketplace.
California growers, who start the revenue chain, were making less on the crops and paying high tax dollars to the state while competing with the illicit market. The Golden State’s legal market is valued at $5.9 billion in retail sales, according to MJ Biz Daily.
At a national level, Head of Brand Experience David Downs of Leafly, a Seattle-based data research and publishing company, has quantified the U.S. cannabis farming wholesale value at $5 billion. At a local level, Sonoma County Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures — has not yet released its 2022 crop report, or provided recent cannabis numbers.
Nate Whittington is growing cannabis on three properties in Humboldt County in the heart of the Emerald Triangle. He said he lost up to 30% of his plants in this year’s harvest from botrytis mold in the Eel River Valley. The mold also showed up in some vineyards during harvest this year.
He set up humidifiers to do battle with the mold, which grows in a rust brown color on plants. If mold appears, contaminated plants are left alone to ensure the mold spores don’t spread to unaffected plants.
“That’s definitely going to make a dent (in profits). Part of it was harvest got off to a late start as last winter went so long,” he said of a phenomenal winter season in California that wiped drought conditions off the map.
Sonoma Valley and Anderson Valley growers indicated they didn’t have a mold problem with plants growing at higher elevations.
Neither did Whittington’s other property further inland, in Bridgeville, off Highway 36 with its drier microclimate.
“This harvest season, our farmers are very busy, hard at work addressing a somewhat challenging harvest due to early rain, and with it, some crop loss to mold,” said Genine Coleman, executive director and founder of Origins Council, a Ukiah-based cannabis advocacy organization that strongly supports legacy farmers.
“Most farmers have at least half, of their crop harvested now, reporting they’re pleased with how their crops have turned out overall,” she said.
Coleman also shared a bonus feature of this year’s harvest.
“There appears to be more diversity of genetics represented in the fall harvest than we’re seen in recent years,” she said. “(And) we’re all grateful for the rain and an absence of wildfires this year.”
(North Bay Business Journal)
ALBION ATTEMPTED MURDERERS ARRESTED (Two of them, anyway)
On Friday, December 3, 2021 at 1:06 A.M., Mendocino County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) Deputies were dispatched to a report of an assault with a firearm in the 28000 block of Albion Ridge Road, in Albion.
The reporting party was able to call 911 even though he had been shot by an unknown assailant(s) through his bedroom window. The reporting party also advised that he had returned fire with his own firearm after being shot.
Deputies responded to the area with lights and sirens. Prior to the Deputies' arrival, a family member of the victim called and stated that he was now with the victim and at least one suspect was observed fleeing on foot downhill into a wooded area.
Sheriff's Deputies from all areas of the county responded to Albion as there was a reported suspect, armed with a firearm, in the woods near the victim's residence.
Once there were sufficient Deputies on scene, an Adventist Health Mendocino Coast Ambulance responded to provide medical treatment to the victim. The victim was transported to the hospital where he was later transferred to an out of county hospital for treatment of a gunshot wound to the head.
The victim survived the incident with moderate to major injuries sustained.
Mendocino County Sheriff's Detectives responded to the scene and assumed the investigation, while patrol deputies continued their search efforts for the suspect(s).
At approximately 9:30 AM, Deputies located two male subjects hiding in the brush nearby. The subjects had no reasonable explanation as to why they were hiding in the brush near the shooting scene and they were found to be from out of county.
Deputies located a firearm, facemask and latex gloves also in the brush near where the suspects were located.
The two suspects, Roberto Chavez-Souza, 28, of Clearlake Oaks, and Jose Morfin-Aguilar, 31, of Santa Rosa, were ultimately booked into the Mendocino County Jail for attempted murder and Conspiracy.
Both suspects were ultimately released from custody pending additional investigation surrounding the incident.
In May of 2022, after additional investigations had been conducted surrounding the circumstances of this case, as well as receiving additional evidence that implicated suspect Jose Panduro-Rodriguez, felony arrest warrants were issued for all three suspects.
Roberto Chavez-Souza was arrested in July of 2023 and has been in custody at the Mendocino County Jail since that time.
Jose Morfin-Aguilar has an outstanding felony warrant for his arrest for this incident.
Jose Panduro-Rodriguez, was arrested at United States Port of Entry by the Customs and Border Patrol (San Diego) in October of 2023 on his warrant and unrelated federal charges. Panduro-Rodriguez was released from federal custody and subsequently booked into the Mendocino County Jail on October 31, 2023.
* * *
AVA, December 2021:
DA EYSTER said Tuesday that charges against the two men who shot and seriously wounded Chris Brown in Albion two weeks ago were not filed pending further investigation. The matter has been sent back to the Sheriff's Office for more information. “We couldn’t determine which guy did what,” Eyster said. “It’s not clear which guy shot the gun.” The DA said he couldn't hold someone “until you know who did what and why and I can’t charge a lesser crime because they might plead to it and get off on the less serious charge.” Eyster said neither of the men had criminal records, and that a third man might have been involved.
HMMM. Jose Aguilar and Roberto Chavez-Sousa show up at Chris Brown's house at 2am, shoot and wound him and are found hiding in the nearby woods a few hours later. They are booked into the County Jail on attempted murder charges with bail set at $750,000 but when they appear in court they are released without charges while the episode is investigated.
I DON'T GET IT. If two people show up at two in the morning, shoot and wound a man unknown to them when they wake him from his sleep, run off when their target returns fire but leave their vehicle in the victim's driveway, how is it possible that both Aguilar and Chavez aren't held as suspects to determine which of them fired at Mr. Brown? I thought under state law (and common sense) that whoever is with a shooter during an attempted murder that person is also assumed to be as guilty as the person who did the shooting. Something is very, very off in this one. I'm sure the perps will be available for further questioning.
I don’t know much about AI, however that’s one hell of a compliment, leaves me feeling good. I doubt my high school teachers would agree with your assessment of my literary prowess. You might want to look at my grammar a little closer but it certainly boosted my confidence a little and I thank you for that.
I often fear Bruce McCewen will take to handing me correction slips when I post something on this site. I always considered him to be a great when it came to the rules of literacy. When I was a much younger man, and assigned to investigations, Bruce wrote about cases being prosecuted in our Mendocino County Courts. I spent a lot of my younger life reading his work. Why you may ask? Because he provided a view into things I wasn’t previously aware of and it fascinated me.
I arrived home last night and had to complete my chores in the dark. I spent a short spell searching for an oil lamp. Something had interrupted the PGE service and my wife was working late. Therefore I had a little time to read.
I was seated in my chair awaiting her arrival home when I began reading the AVA on my cell phone. I was feeling quite fortunate that I had one little spot in the house which was getting enough cell service to connect and read the daily happenings. During that time I began reading about the Golden Gate Bridge improvements. Then I began reading the comments. That was what stirred me to weigh in on the conversation.
As far as my childhood dogma. Well honestly I had to look that one up. Dogma, in its broadest sense, is any belief held unquestioningly and with undefended certainty. I don’t think my statements would qualify under this definition however again, that’s my opinion not yours.
I did have a great childhood. My mother had a lot of faith. And my father always backed her play when raising my siblings and I. Great parents and siblings we had a lot of work in the summer. But it was good work. Hauling hay, moving irrigation lines, feeding cattle and things like that. The twins and I battled quite a bit but I think with brothers it’s to be expected. We grew out of it just about the time we should’ve. Covelo had a lot of freedom for kids with bicycles and eventually horses.
Speech writer? Teflon coated politician? I WISH!!!
Most who know me would find that statement pretty damn hilarious. I often have to remind folks many of the things coming out of my mouth, I am also hearing for the first time myself.
That being said when you work at something your entire adult life, you pick up what my Pop referred to as “a little sage brush wisdom”. Pop would remind my siblings and I that not all education comes from books. A lot comes from experience.
I only spoke of my experiences and the fact there are two sides to most things. We seem to be in a time when people refuse to acknowledge this. Folks would rather draw straight firm battle lines than have a reasonable conversation. Keyboard warriors often help draw these lines and many seem to fall into line behind them. I don’t believe that approach to be good for our country. I think we can do a little better.
Just my thoughts and nothing more.
GUNS. The gun nuts really ought to come up with better 2nd Amendment gun arguments than the idiot ones gun people always haul out about how cars kill a lot of people, too, and nobody wants to ban cars. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.
Blonk, clonk, glonk. It’s a lot easier and much more efficient to knock someone off with a gun than it is to run over him with a car. I’ve got five guns myself, I hasten to say, but I’ve never had the erotic relationship with weapons that most gun folks seem to enjoy with their firearms, fondling, caressing and gazing lovingly at them for hours at a time. The last time I slept with a gun was in the Marines and that relationship was mandatory, I assure you.
Try this argument, the honest one the gun people never bring up for fear, perhaps, of appearing more paranoid than they are. Ready? “We need guns because this country is falling apart, and if the disorder spreads, as is likely, I will need weapons to defend me and mine.”
THE COPS are in triage mode most of the time these days and often too busy to respond quickly to your 911 call when your son-in-law, on the fifth day of a crank binge, comes hurtling through your front door waving a machete. So it’s up to you to stop him before he wrecks your TV set. Just because a lot of nuts and crooks also have access to guns and commit occasional atrocities with them is no real reason to disarm the more stable nuts who don’t commit crimes with or without guns. Sure, the purple brigades will say that this Hobbsian perception of “our democracy,” is “inappropriate,” but it’s shared by all the Magas and a good slug of of Biden voters.
AMONG the lamest headlines culled from last week’s corporate catch, this one ,“STAR test: Top grades linked to language, economics.” Gee, do you mean that kids from intact, high income homes do better on standardized school tests than kids from low-income, single-parent arrangements?
AND these from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat: “Builders hammering away at Santa Rosa homes: hot sales keeping construction industry busy.” On another page, “Groups, officials push for closure of power project — Critics: Eel River fish can’t spawn.” There’s a looming shortage of water but Sonoma County keeps on building as if the dying Russian, and the overdrawn Eel, provide an eternally endless agua supply. Construction apace up and down the 101 corridor, most glaringly in southerly Santa Rosa and Healdsburg on both ends of that once coherent small town.
OF COURSE if the vineyards sucking up literal thousands of acre feet of water the length of the Russian River, Santa Rosa and doomed Healdsburg would have plenty of water.
MCN THE BACK STORY (from the AVA of August 1999):
Rennie Innis runs a lucrative private computer business sponsored, supplied, partially staffed, and partially funded by the Mendocino Unified School District. Innis calls his heavily tax-subsidized private enterprise the Mendocino Community Network, cleverly incorporating the two words, community and network, at whose mention Mendolib goes weak in the knees. But Innis’s version of a community network has as its primary beneficiary Innis and a couple of his buddies. The operation is located on Mendocino High School’s rent-free grounds, it is mostly equipped with high tech gear donated by major corporations and, while Innis takes in a lot of dough for himself using the donated gear and student labor doing private work for other private businesses, the whole show is passed off as computer classes. Which it is, of course, narrowly speaking. But the County’s other computer businesses don’t have the free rent, the free labor, the free gear, and the groovy-cool seaside biz location Innis magically enjoys at Mendo Unified.
OK, SO THE AVA knows Innis is operating a tax-supported private business on public premises, but who else knows? Nobody around here, it seems, but the Public Utilities Commission figured out Innis’s hustle without putting in a lot of OT to do it and has declared Innis’s Mendocino Community Network a “commercial service,” which henceforth is not entitled to Pac Bell’s non-profit discount telephone line rate.
CHECK MCN’s budget for fiscal year ‘98-99: $282,000 for the salaries for Innis, 5 other adults and a half-time aide and, among other nebulous outflows such as “other services and contracted work,” there’s $13,000 for travel and conferences.
PIANO & PUMPKIN PIE!
Dr. Konrad Binienda, 25th International Chopin Competition winner to visit the Mendocino Coast and Opus Chamber Music Series on Sunday November 12th at 3 PM, Preston Hall. Dr. Binienda will focus on works of F. Chopin and also present I. Paderewski and one of his own compositions. In his program, Dr. Binienda will present the historical background of F. Chopin’s works and discuss the impact of F. Chopin’s genius on the subsequent generations of musicians.
For tickets go to: symphonyoftheredwoods-bloom.kindful.com/e/konrad-binienda-pianist and to find out more about Dr. Binienda: konradbinienda.net
Pumkin pie, to keep with Opus tradition for our November concert, will be available before the concert and at intermission in addition to cookies, tea and coffee. Yum.
More information at symphonyoftheredwood.org 707-964-0898
ALTERNATE LAFCO PUBLIC MEMBER APPLICATIONS DUE NOV 17
Applications for Alternate Public Members of the LAFCO board are due November 17th. The announcement and application form is on our website: https://www.mendolafco.org/accepting-applications-for-alternate-public-member
Please help us spread the word and share the website link with anyone who might be interested.
Uma Hinman | Executive Officer
Mendocino Local Agency Formation Commission
200 S. School Street, Ukiah, CA 95482
Office: (707) 463-4470
MENDOCINO THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS THE SEAFARER
A Christmas Tale by Conor McPherson M Mendocino Theatre Company is proud to announce its upcoming production of The Seafarer by Irish playwright, Conor McPherson, directed by Betty Abramson. Opening November 16 and running through December 17, at 45200 Little Lake Street in Mendocino, The Seafarer is a rare holiday play that contains gravitas and redemption. An all-star cast of three seasoned Mendocino County actors (Bob Cohen, Dan Kozloff and Steve Worthen) and two newcomers (John Craven and Byron Green) top the bill for this magical holiday play. Designing sets is Diane Larson, with lighting design by Dave Gealey, costumes by Janice Culliford and sound design by Susan Juhl. Patricia Price is Stage Manager.
About The Play
The Seafarer is a chilling tale about the sea, Ireland, and the power of myth. The New York Times calls The Seafarer a "dark and enthralling Christmas fable of despair and redemption that tingles with the author's acute and authentic sense of what is knowable and unknowable in life. The Seafarer may just be the pick-me-up play of the season.” The Seafarer is “a midnight-black comedy, one that wrenches laughter out of the despair of frustrated men whose lives have come to naught and, no matter what you're expecting at the halfway mark, you won't feel cheated when the curtain falls.” (Wall Street Journal)
It’s Christmas Eve, and Sharky (Dan Kozloff) has returned to Dublin to look after his irascible, aging brother (Bob Cohen) who has recently gone blind. Old drinking buddies Ivan and Nicky (Byron Greene and Steve Worthen) are holed up at the house too, hoping to play some cards.
But with the arrival of a stranger from the distant past (John Craven), raises the stakes with impossible odds as Sharky may be playing for his very soul.
Like many of Conor McPherson’s plays, the setting is a little supernatural, somewhat dark at first, then soars to toward the light of redemption in the end. The vividly drawn characters are both memorable and humorous and, although the night is cold, windy, and stormy the dawn brings a Christmas morning that Sharky and his friends will not soon forget.
About The Cast
Appearing on the MTC stage for the very first time in the role of the menacing Mr. Lockhart, is award-winning Sonoma County actor, John Craven. John is known throughout the San Francisco Northbay for his many and varied leading roles, earning audience and critical praise for over thirty years. John was most recently the recipient of the 2019 San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Award for Outstanding Leading Actor for his role in Simon Stephen’s Heisenberg with Left Edge Theatre. John has also been featured in films including Burn Country (with James Franco, Melissa Leo and Rachel Brosnahan) and Freeland (with Lily Gladstone and Krisha Fairchild).
The multi-talented, Byron Greene, who plays the role of Nikki, Sharky’s rival, was last seen in Woody Guthrie’s American Song, his very first role on the MTC stage. Byron originally hails from Carmel, California but is now a resident of Ft. Bragg. He is a guitarist, singer, and architect who makes his debut dramatic appearance in The Seafarer.
This excellent cast is rounded out with three of MTC favorite actors. Dan Kozloff portrays Sharky, the protagonist of the story, a ne’re do well seaman who has recently stopped drinking, returned home to take care of his aging brother and mend the error of his past ways.
Bob Cohen, a stalwart and founding member of the MTC, takes on the role of Richard, Sharky’s blind irascible brother. As Richard, Cohen displays a complex combination of desperation and humor during the long Christmas evening and the day leading up to it. Steven Worthen, plays Ivan, Richard’s close friend and his “eyes” for the night-long poker game the guys play, lends a note of optimism and warmth to every scene. Nervous and a bit bumbling, Ivan is just a good Irish soul who we can all identify with. Bringing together this band of rag tag band of miscreants is MTC Co-Artistic Director, Betty Abramson, widely known as one of Mendocino’s most accomplished directors. Betty was instrumental in the proposing The Seafarer for MTC’s 2023 Season.
In A Nutshell
The Seafarer runs November 16 - December 17
Performances are Thursday - Saturday at 7:30PM and most Sundays at 2:00PM. There is no performance on the first Sunday. Tickets Price: $15 - $30
Please visit mendocinotheatre.org or telephone the Box Office at 707-937-4477 for more information and to purchase tickets. Tickets are on sale now. $15-$30. Group discount tickets are available for over 10 people. Mailing address: Mendocino Theatre Company PO Box 800 Mendocino, CA 95460 Office Telephone: 1-707-937-4477
IS DIANA ALIVE?
(Ed note: That would be Diana Vance, aka Farina Bangladesh. She is/was a daughter of Cyrus Vance, Secretary of State, I think, under Carter, I think.)
Marco McClean here. I was just thinking about the stories we all think we know about each other, and all the different idiosyncratic comfort levels of secrecy in canals of bullshit that slosh into each other and occasionally overflow. The story circulating at the time was that Diana Vance deliberately jumped, because of a disordered mental state. After all, instead, it was simple suction, and that's good to know, for safety, to watch out for. That was well after her feud with poet Bill Kovanda. She was with Fred Sternkopf, cartoonist of Dr. Doo for the AVA. Bill lived in the rustic cabin to the right from theirs in the plateau South Caspar trailer park, up on top, which I haven't been by in such a while it's probably been paved over for some tech wiz' or retired lawyer's mansion by now. Bill is long-dead. Anyway, one of them threw stinking dead fish in through the other's kitchen window and the other retaliated with a garden hose in through the other's window, or vice versa. There were shoutings and alarums and excursions. She ended up getting a restraining order. Bill was editor of of the poetry centerfold of my paper Memo, so I went to court to watch Bill try to get the order lifted. I wrote about the hearing, and about some of the other people there. At one of the rare birthday parties I ever went to, for, hmm, Deirdre, Beth Bosk, a little drunk, wobbled up to me and delivered a sweary tirade about how I was an asshole for mentioning her name on the same page as Bill's, because, she said, thirty years before that Bill stalked her (Beth). Having been hit in the face with a glass in my youth, the reason I wear the mustache, to hide the scar, I kept my eye on her drink and waited her out. I asked Bill what the deal was with Beth. He told me, but I forget. Really, I could make something up. It would be made-up, though.
What I was thinking about yesterday was about Jacques Helfer, even longer dead, including that I was in a used book store in Santa Rosa a month or more ago and saw a big coffee-table book of his beautiful drawings and sketches, but it was $11 and that's two pounds of FoodMaxx Polish dogs, enough for a month of spaghetti sauce. Everyone thought it was hilarious when his wife (also dead now) shot him in the butt with a pistol. It was the talk of the town, and everyone had a different idea as to the reason. Infidelity on his part? His right-wing political bullshit (which would be considered middle now, even left of middle, and quite sensible, not bullshit at all, just rude)? That's what I'm after, specifically: Does anyone know why Jacques Helfer's wife shot him in the butt? It would have been in the 1970s or very early 1980s. Go into detail and feel free to digress. I'll read it on the radio Friday night.
Marco McClean, firstname.lastname@example.org
BERKELEY REP’S ‘BULRUSHER,’ SET IN 1950s BOONVILLE, IS AN EVOCATIVE BUT SOMEWHAT JUMBLED FOLK TALE
Eisa Davis’ Pulitzer-winning play, written partly in the dying Boontling dialect of Anderson Valley, follows an 18-year-old girl with the power to tell fortunes though a town full of secrets.
by Emily S. Mendel
There are some beautiful scenes in Bulrusher, Eisa Davis’s lyrical coming-of-age story of life in 1955 in the remote-yet-storied California town of Boonville. That’s the settlement in Anderson Valley where the citizens speak Boontling, a dying dialect of more than 1,000 words. The program contains a glossary of Boontling words.
Yet, despite its poetics, Bulrusher is a bit jumbled because it is pulling in too many directions at once — it’s a folk tale, an exploration of the treatment of Native Americans and of race in the mid-1950s, a Tennessee Williams-ish account of a town full of secrets, a view of sexual awakening, belonging and genuine love, as well as a touch of logging industry economics. The jumbling diminishes but does not destroy what is an expressive and emotional work of art.
Bulrusher, excellently and sympathetically portrayed by Jordan Tyson, is an 18-year-old girl who was found as an infant floating in a basket on the nearby Navarro River. Perhaps because of her early relationship with water, she can tell one’s fortune by reading the water they have touched.
The character, Bulrusher, is an odd combination of naiveté and age-old wisdom, who knows she is at least partly Black because of her appearance. But aside from Logger (Jeorge Bennett Watson), she had never met another Black person (sneeble, in Boontling) until Logger’s niece Vera (Cyndii Johnson) comes to town from Birmingham, Alabama. And suddenly, Bulrusher is being courted by the guitar-playing Boy (Rob Kellogg), who used to make fun of her.
Bulrusher has been brought up by Schoolch (schoolteacher in Boontling), a silent, buttoned-up teacher (Jamie LaVerdiere) who hangs out at the local whorehouse, but never uses the services of the madges (prostitutes in Boontling). Its hard-hearted Madame (Shyla Lefner) keeps threatening to leave Boonville but never does. Perhaps something unspoken is keeping her in town. The story’s climax comes off as a bit heavy-handed as secrets are revealed too late to undo the damage they have caused.
Berkeley Rep is co-producing Bulrusher with McCarter Theatre Center at Princeton University. The first-rate cast, skilled director Nicole A. Watson, and imaginative scenic designer Lawrence E. Moten III ironed out whatever wrinkles there were during the New Jersey run earlier this year. The creative and effective set features running water and varying video projections (Katherine Freer) that mirror the shifting days and weather.
Playwright and Berkeley native Eisa Davis’s talents are exemplified by her varied career, which includes writing, music, and acting. She has performed as a singer-songwriter and appeared in film and TV, including The Wire, House of Cards, and Succession. Davis is the niece of activist and author Angela Davis.
Bulrusher first premiered in New York in 2006 to mixed reviews, But after the play was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, it received a well-earned second look. Here in Berkeley, the Shotgun Players produced Bulrusher in 2007. And now, Oakland’s West Edge Opera is presenting a world premiere production next year, written by Nathaniel Stookey and Eisa Davis.
Bulrusher runs through Dec. 3 at Berkeley Rep’s Peet’s Theatre, 2025 Addison St., Berkeley. It is approximately two hours and 45 minutes long, including one intermission. Masks are encouraged but optional for performances from Wednesday through Saturday. Mask-wearing is required in the theater on all Sundays (matinees and evenings) and Tuesdays. Post-show discussions and closed captioning are available at specific performances. Tickets $22.50–$134, subject to change, can be purchased online or by phone at 510-647-2949.
ON THIS DAY IN MENDOCINO HISTORY…
November 7, 1963 - Mendocino resident Jim O’Donnell, 74, thwarted a trio of scam artists who tried to take advantage of him.
About 2pm that afternoon, a station wagon pulled up at Jim’s home on the northwest corner of Williams and Covelo Streets. A man approached Jim's door with a story – he claimed to be a stove repairman from Sacramento who regularly made trips to the coast carrying parts for wood-burning stoves. He asked to inspect the stove in Jim’s kitchen, which Jim cautiously allowed.
The man examined the stove and offered to seal any cracks in the metal, assuring Jim that it would be as good as new. Jim told him that he did not want any work done without knowing the cost.
While Jim and the first man were engaged in conversation, a second man entered the kitchen, carrying a small can of wet fire clay. The two men then began smearing the clay around the fire box without Jim’s permission. The situation escalated quickly when a third man arrived at the scene. The trio demanded $148.50 from Jim. Jim told them that he had no money in the house and that he would not pay them for unauthorized work.
Undeterred, the men demanded that Jim write them a check for $120, but Jim told them the bank was closed. Next, they insisted he cash a check at Mendosa’s store and give them the money.
The men drove Jim down Little Lake Street and watched from outside as Jim approached cashier Isabel Sandbothe. As he was leaving the store, Jim spotted local realtor George Thompson in the grocery department. George agreed to contact Deputy Sheriff Sam Costa and meet up with Jim at George’s real estate office on Main Street.
When Jim got back in the car, he told the con men that he was unable to cash the check. They became very angry and asked what he was going to do about it. Jim assured them he would get the money elsewhere. He directed them to East Main street where he told them to stop when he saw the man he was looking for at Schlafer’s Garage.
It was Sam Costa’s day off, and he was in civilian clothes, but he readily got in the car with Jim. They drove to George Thompson’s office where Sam revealed that he was a Deputy Sheriff. Taking charge of the situation, he demanded their identification and ordered the scammers to leave the area, under threat of arrest should they return.
CATCH OF THE DAY, Tuesday, November 7, 2023
DEREK BLISS, Escondido/Ukiah. Domestic battery, assault with deadly weapon not a gun.
JOHNATHAN DRAUGHAN, Newton, North Carolina/Ukiah. Domestic battery, damaging communications device.
DANIEL KISLIUK, Fort Bragg. Resisting.
DENA MORRIS, Ukiah. Under influence, parole violation. (Frequent flyer.)
WILLIAM SCOTT III, Laytonville. Controlled substance, paraphernalia.
MICHAEL SHAW, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, controlled substance, paraphernalia, failure to appear. (Booking photo not available.)
JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, Ukiah. Paraphernalia, protective order violation.
TRISTIN WILEY, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.
DAVID WOOD JR., Fort Bragg. Domestic battery.
A FAILED EXPERIMENT
Sheldon H. Jacobson ignores the fact that abandoning twice a year time changes was tried in the mid-1970s, and people hated it. I remember being in class at Santa Rosa Junior College during that time. The experiment with permanent daylight saving time was to last from 1974 to 1975. It ended under public outcry to revert to clock switching since kids were endangered going to school and buses in pitch dark. Often sunrise wasn’t until 9 a.m. This experiment keeps coming up, and old-timers who experienced it need to speak up.
REIGN OF TERROR: Martin Scorsese’s Cinematic Take on the War Against the Osage
by Jonah Raskin
The Osage called the war that was waged against them in the 1920s a “Reign of Terror.” The terrorists were all white men—white settlers, white businessmen, white criminals, white cowboys and white lawmen— who committed heinous crimes to steal Indian money, land and property. When oil was discovered in Osage county in Oklahoma, the Indians suddenly became wealthy, and in many ways assimilated white values, without totally surrendering their own heritage and language. Both resistance and compliance went on at the same time.
Some Indians built mansions, hired servants and drove expensive cars. That’s all part of the historical record. In the eyes of many whites on the Oklahoma frontier in the 1920s, Indians with money were Indians who had no right to exist.
Hence the Reign of Terror which took the lives of dozens of Osage and perhaps far more than that number. No one kept an accurate record of the number of mostly Indian women who were shot to death, poisoned and blown to bits with dynamite. The whites lied, conspired and tried to cover-up their crimes.
Based on David Grann’s 2017 non-fiction narrative, Killers of the Flower Moon, Scorsese’ overly long (3 hrs 26 min) movie offers a somber tale of romance and murder that connects two star-crossed lovers: a greedy World War I vet named Ernest (Leonardo DiCaprio,) who craves money and lots of it; and Molly, a proud and dignified woman who belongs to the Osage nation, becomes Ernest’s wife and the mother of their children.
She loves him and he loves her, though under the thumb of an uncle he sets about trying to poison her and inherit her property.
Lily Gladstone, who is of Piegan Blackfeet, Nez Piece and European heritage, reprises to perfection the role of the Native American beauty once played by white actors in movies like The Searchers (1956) which stars John Wayne, Natalie Wood, and Henry Brandon as Chief Cicatriz.
Grann’s book—a bestseller translated into Spanish, French and more, is subtitled “The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI.” It has enough material for several movies. In Scorsese’s telling, the clean shaved G-Men—who work for a young J. Edgar Hoover and the Bureau of Investigation, a forerunner of the FBI—are heroic, though they aren’t glamorized. The G-Men solve the mystery of the brutal murders and help send the guilty parties to prison. That, too, is part of the historical record.
Given his long fascination with crime and criminals (Goodfellas, Casino, Gangs of New York and The Irishman) it’s not hard to understand why Scorsese was drawn to the story of gangland style multiple murders on the oil-rich prairies along with the bonus of good guys in law enforcement.
Perhaps Scorsese wanted to show that he has a social conscience and wanted to do right by the Indians. But if that were true, he might have placed the Indians, not the white men or the G-men from Washington, at the center of his drama. Molly, not Ernest, could have been the star of the show.
The title for the book and the movie comes from the Osage observation and saying that the first brightly colored flowers of Spring perished with the arrival, under a full moon, of taller and hardier plants that stole their light and water and so they perished until they were reborn the next year. Perhaps it’s a parable about the cycles of nature and human history.
I watched Scorsese’s movie in a Cineplex in November, “Native American Heritage Month,” though no sign, leaflet or poster identified it as such. I also attended in November a talk at Book Passage in San Francisco by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, the author of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, just reissued in a tenth anniversary edition. (Alas, there’s no mention of the Reign of Terror against the Osage in the new edition.)
Dunbar-Ortiz has identified herself from time to time as part Cherokee and part Cheyenne, though not long ago in an interview in The Progressive she noted that her father was a “foot soldier of empire,” and one of the “Scots Irish border settlers that were basically the main people on the front line of invading Indian villages and killing people and taking their crops and appropriating their land.” She added that her mother “never claimed to be Indian,” and that she (Dunbar) didn’t “grow up really with any native heritage.” From my point of view, she’s a bit of a cypher, an ex self-defined revolutionary who now says that the American Left devolved into factions. That's part of the story.
Somewhere in her political evolution, Dunbar-Ortiz seems to have carved out a Native American identity for herself, perhaps to justify her role as an historian of Indian life. At times, she seems hell bent on denouncing white settlers who invaded Indian villages, killed the inhabitants, took their crops and their land. They did participate in the expansion of the American Empire, but the real foot soldiers it seeems to me were the soldiers in the uniforms of the U.S..
Dee Brown, the author of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, didn’t present himself as an Indian, though some of his readers assumed he was. After all, why would a white man write sympathetically about red men and women? David Grann has never claimed to be an Osage or a member of any tribe, nor has Martin Scorsese, who’s as Italian as Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, the Italian born anarchists who died in the electric chair for a crime they didn't commit, or Vittorio De Sica, the famed director of Bicycle Thieves, Marriage Italian-Style and more.
After her somber presentation, a member of the audience who had not read her book, asked Dunbar-Ortiz, “Where did you get your information?” She never answered him, though she replied, “I’m an historian by training,” and “I have accumulated knowledge.” In fact, no original research went into her history. I know. I read the book when it was first published.
Dunbar-Ortiz also explained that she tried to back out of her contract with Beacon to write an indigenous peoples’ history. No go. She carried on for seven years, though she also tried to hand the project over to Susan Miller, a Native American historian and the author of Native Historians Write Back: Decolonizing American History. That didn’t fly either.
“I can imagine white nationalists appearing on the streets of San Francisco where I live,” Dunbar-Ortiz told the crowd that had assembled at Book Passage in the Ferry Building where the Ramaytush Ohlone once made their home. “The news doesn't make me cheerful,” she said. “In fact, I’m scared a lot.” When she wrote her history, she said she was hopeful. Not anymore.
Usually, at a public event in SF, someone on stage tells the audience, “We occupy the unceded Ancestral homeland of the Ramaytush Ohlone peoples, who are the original inhabitants of the San Francisco Peninsula.” That didn’t happen at Book Passage. Maybe someone just forgot.
Years ago, when I protested against the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the FBI, I wrote a fictionalized account of the life of Dennis Banks, a leader of the American Indian Movement (AIM), along with Russell Means and Leonard Peltier, who is still in prison after more than nearly 50 years behind bars. I gave my illustrated book to an AIM member hoping for an honest opinion. “Your story is awfully grim,” he said, “There’s no laughter. You know, Indians have a terrific sense of humor.”
Martin Scorsese doesn’t seem to know about Indian comedy, nor does Roxanne Dunbar–Ortiz. She seems to believe that oppressed and exploited people can't afford to laugh. Sherman Alexis, a member of the Spokane, does. Two of his books, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, have entertained readers for decades. His titles alone might provoke laughter.
Now, during Indigenous Peoples’ Month, we might remember that Indians laugh as well as cry, that they can be as wily as coyotes and as wonderful story tellers as the land, the sky, the rivers and the lakes themselves. Scorsese’s movie doesn’t conclude with laughter, but rather with a lyrical view from up above the earth, and with an accompanying soundtrack, of an Indian drumming circle. It’s a sweet, spiritual end to a grim film about the Reign of Terror waged by white men against the Osage who still live and follow tribal ways in Oklahoma.
(Jonah Raskin is the author of The Thief of Yellow Roses, 36 New Poems, available from Barnes and Noble, Amazon and elsewhere.)
Cement Mixer! Put-ti, Put-ti
Cement Mixer! Put-ti, Put-ti
Cement Mixer! Put-ti, Put-ti
A puddle o'vooty, puddle o'gooty, puddle o'scooty
Cement Mixer! Put-ti, Put-ti
Cement Mixer! Put-ti, Put-ti
Cement Mixer! Put-ti, Put-ti
A puddle o'veet! concrete
First you get some gravel, Pour it in the vout
To mix a mess o' mortar you add cement and water
See the mellow roony come out, slurp, slurp, slurp
Cement Mixer! Put-ti, Put-ti
Cement Mixer! Put-ti, Put-ti
Cement Mixer! Put-ti, Put-ti
Who wants a bucket of cement?
Cement Mixer! Put-ti, Put-ti
Cement Mixer! Put-ti, Put-ti
Cement Mixer! Put-ti, Put-ti
A puddle o'vooty, puddle o'gooty, puddle o'scooty
Cement Mixer! Put-ti, Put-ti
Cement Mixer! Put-ti, Put-ti
Cement Mixer! Put-ti, Put-ti
A puddle o'veet! concrete
First you get some gravel, Pour it in the vout
To mix a mess o' mortar you add cement and water
See the mellow roony come out, slurp, slurp, slurp
Cement Mixer! Put-ti, Put-ti
Cement Mixer! Put-ti, Put-ti
Cement Mixer! Put-ti, Put-ti
Who wants a bucket of cement?
— Song by Slim Gaillard
MUCHOWSKI'S MARAUDERS ON THE MOVE!
Democratic Endorsing Convention in Sacramento
Eight Democrats from Mendocino will attending the Democratic convention in Sacramento on November 17-19. Juan Orozco, Susan Savage, Val Muchowski, Tekla Broz, Michelle Hutchins, Phil Atkins, Lynne Atkins, and Karen Bower. Lynn Atkins of Gualala will lead the group.
The Nominating Convention will endorse Candidates for the Assembly and Senate as well as a candidate for the United States Senate. Katie Porter, Barbara Lee and Adam Schiff will speak and delegates may pick one to endorse for the March election.
Mendocino delegates will attend caucuses including Environmental, Rural and Progressive. Val Muchowski is Northern Vice Chair of the Senior Caucus.
DEMS TAKE TWO
Wins in Ohio and Kentucky bolster Democrats looking for signs for next year’s national election.
Democrats found cause for celebration on Tuesday, scoring victories in an Ohio ballot measure on abortion and in Kentucky’s governor race, two off-year elections that offer early signs that the party’s abortion-focused campaign playbook could continue to resonate in next year’s election.
In Ohio, voters backed a measure to enshrine a right to abortion in that state’s Constitution, the latest major victory for abortion-rights supporters more than a year after the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
In Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear, a popular Democrat, won re-election in his deep-red state, a possible indication that the political circumstances that helped his party in last year’s midterm elections still resonate with voters. Mr. Beshear ran on abortion rights and on having led his state through a dark period to a strong post-pandemic economy. Mr. Beshear’s Republican opponent lost his race despite an endorsement from former President Donald J. Trump, the front-runner in the party’s presidential primary.
The two races — among the most closely watched contests this year — offered reinforcement to Democrats as they look to develop a strategy for the 2024 presidential and congressional races.
Here’s a look at what else is happening:
In Philadelphia, Cherelle Parker, a Democrat and a former City Council member, has been elected Philadelphia’s mayor, according to The Associated Press. She will become the first woman to lead the city.
In Mississippi, Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, is being challenged by Brandon Presley, a Democratic public service commissioner.
In Virginia, Republicans are seeking full control of the legislature and could enact new abortion restrictions if they get it.
Voting appeared to go smoothly in most places, but some snags were reported. In Hinds County, Miss., home to Jackson, the state capital, and to a large number of Democratic voters, a number of precincts ran out of ballots. A judge extended voting hours in the county as a result. In Northampton County, Pa., machines incorrectly recorded some votes, and election officials had to help voters with workarounds as they addressed the problem. In Jefferson County, Ky., voters were unable to sign their names on electronic registration tablets at 17 precincts.
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
NARRATIVE: Everything is fine.
REALITY: 30,000 car repos per day, more home foreclosures, mass layoffs, higher inflation, increasing crime, more businesses closing, increasing bankruptcies, de-dollarization gaining steam, big cities collapsing, banks insolvent, hyperinflation on the horizon, etc
CORRUPTION AT HOME, aggression abroad to cover it up… Sentiment by the bucketful, patriotism by the imperial pint; the open hand at the public exchequer, the open door at the public house; dear food for the millions, cheap labor for the millionaire.
— Winston Churchill
WE ALWAYS USED TO THINK IT DIDN’T MATTER, that when you mined out one area, or farmed it out, or overgrazed it, you could move to new country beyond the hills, keep moving West. But there are no new places to go anymore. The land is full. We have to stay where we are, take care of what we have. There isn’t going to be anything else.
― Edward Abbey
PUTIN-LOVING BIGOTS MUST STOP WHINING ABOUT DEFENSE SPENDING AND THE ECONOMY
And other deep thoughts, from the New York Times op-ed page
by Matt Taibbi
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman writes:
Voters… seem to be growing more one-dimensional. To take one widely discussed example, views of the economy… have become wildly partisan. Right now, self-identified Republicans mostly believe that unemployment, which is near a 50-year low, is actually near a 50-year high, and assess current economic conditionsas being worse than they were in 1980, when both inflation and unemployment were much worse than they are now.
The U.S. Census Bureau’s Pulse Survey report, which is based on 72,839 responses to over a million questionnaires, just released estimates for Americans having trouble paying for basic household expenses in the previous seven days. The breakdown:
- A little difficult”: 65,966,799
- “Somewhat difficult”: 50,244,137
- “Very difficult”: 43,975,466
They must all be Republicans, buying QAnon tees instead of milk and bananas. Economic mystery solved! In seriousness: dismissing “economic anxiety” as right-wing fantasy is nothing new, but the infuriating new twist is calling economic complaints a treasonous offense to Fortress America. Like it or not, Krugman was once the columnist who most dependably argued that America could afford any amount of social spending. Now, as Covid-era assistance programs like SNAP benefits, child care tax credits, the CHAP housing assistance program wind down, his angle is we can afford more investment in “large-scale conventional warfare,” whose era “isn’t over after all.” From the author of The Conscience of a Liberal:
Do we have a hugely bloated military budget? No doubt the Pentagon, like any large organization, wastes a lot of money. But recent events have made the case for spending at least as much as we currently do, and perhaps more.
Those complaining about spending in Ukraine should pipe down, Krugman added, because military spending as a share of GDP is smaller than in Ike’s day, and saying we can’t afford war is “effectively giving Vladimir Putin victory.” He has similar gripes with those on the “far left” who think “merchants of death” in the arms business inspire interventionist foreign policy. Such irrationality is borne of analyses that are “generations out of date,” he says, and naysayers should see how wonderfully both Javelin anti-tank missiles and Lockheed’s HIMARS rocket launchers are performing in Ukraine before criticizing Pentagon “bloat.”
The “defense spending is really declining as a share of GDP” bit was not long ago a reviled rhetorical tactic in progressive circles. (At Rolling Stone I heard an activist group give a presentation on this “GOP talking point”). When Newt Gingrich said something similar in 2011, he earned a “Pants on Fire” rating from Politifact, which added, “A few Republican presidential candidates are even calling for increased military spending as they rally the base in anticipation of next year’s primaries.” The Iraq War was unpopular in media then and calls for defense hikes seen as red meat for GOP xenophobes.
Now, increased military spending is being repackaged as progressive conceit, and the hesitant are not just giving succor to Vladimir Putin, they’re extremist “horseshoe theory” bigots — including me, apparently:
Horseshoe thinking persists because there are still some ways in which it seems to match experience. There really are personality types who veer between extremes, denouncing Goldman Sachs as a vampire squid one year, then resurfacing as a political propagandist for Elon Musk later.
And the horseshoe theory has been given a big boost by recent events. As many have noted, the far left and the far right seem increasingly united in antisemitism. Funny how that always happens.
Is there anything that hasn’t been described as bigotry on the Times op-ed page by now? We’ve had Trump obviously, but also the “religion of whiteness,” Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders calling himself “the son of a Polish immigrant,” France, Abraham Lincoln, and a long list of other things. Now we’re adding opposition to defense spending? Saying you can’t afford groceries? How wide is the circle of deplorable opinions going to get?
A quick end note: having covered the 2008 crash and the ensuing presidential races, it was obvious resentments driving both the Trump and Sanders campaigns came in significant part from people tired of being told they hadn’t been screwed by Wall Street in the mortgage securities orgy. Similar slobbering editorial apologies for the politicians in both parties who bailed out the most culpable firms created clear additional political opportunities for populists. Because so few pundits have friends from truly broke-ass places, they didn’t believe that anger was out there, and were totally taken by surprise by the “burn it down” vote that showed up in 2016.
Instead of realizing the mistake, people like Krugman are again pretending things are rosy. You don’t need to live in the projects as a corrective, but at least read what’s out there. In May, the Fed put out its tenth Survey of Household Economics and Decision making (SHED) report, polling 11,000 adults last October. “The 2022 survey,” the Fed wrote, “found that self-reported financial well-being was among the lowest levels observed since 2016.” People who reported being worse off financially than the previous year rose to 35%, the highest in the history of the survey. The Fed’s Community Advisory Panel added that “expenses for the low wage workers that we care about are exceeding their income,” one in three families can’t afford diapers, and people increasingly eschew retail for “entities like Goodwill.”
According to the St. Louis Fed, however, there was good news. Americans under 35 increasingly avoid payday lenders. The small downside: they were selling plasma to compensate! Even the most recent Survey of Consumer Expectations from the New York Fed showed more households “reporting being worse off than a year ago.”
Whatever fluctuations you see in stats like GDP, the overall picture of large pluralities of Americans not being able to cover, say, an unexpected $400 cost — 37% at last check — has long been a societal anvil, and a major driver of political instability. Denying this obvious truth is bad enough, but adding the insult of calling people in this position traitors and Putin-lovers is a recipe for revolt. The Times might want to start handing out anti-pitchfork vests.
A MASSACRE BY ANY OTHER NAME: ISRAEL’S MILITARY IS PART OF THE U.S. WAR MACHINE
It's not too late to try to rein it in — but there is no evidence that Israel has any intent to listen.
by Norman Solomon
The governments of Israel and the United States now appear to be in disagreement over how many Palestinian civilians it’s acceptable to kill. Last week — as the death toll from massive Israeli bombardment of Gaza neared 10,000 people, including several thousand children — top U.S. officials began to worry about the rising horrified outcry at home and abroad. So, they went public with muted misgivings and calls for a “humanitarian pause.”
But Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made clear that he would have none of it, pushing back on Anthony Blinken during the U.S. secretary of state’s third trip to the region since the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks and vowing that Israel was “going with full steam ahead.”
Such minor tactical discord does little to chip away at the solid bedrock alliance between the two countries, which are most of the way through a 10-year deal that guarantees $38 billion in U.S. military aid to Israel. And now, as the carnage in Gaza continues, Washington is rushing to provide extra military assistance worth $14 billion.
Last week, In These Times reported that the Biden administration is seeking congressional permission “to unilaterally blanket-approve the future sale of military equipment and weapons — like ballistic missiles and artillery ammunition — to Israel without notifying Congress.” And so, “the Israeli government would be able to purchase up to $3.5 billion in military articles and services in complete secrecy.”
While Israeli forces were using weapons provided by the United States to slaughter Palestinian civilians, resupply flights were landing in Israel courtesy of U.S. taxpayers. Air & Space Forces Magazine published a photo showing “U.S. Air Force Airmen and Israeli military members unload cargo from a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III on a ramp at Nevatim Base, Israel.”
Pictures taken on Oct. 24 show that the military cargo went from Travis Air Force Base in California to Ramstein Air Base in Germany to Israel. Overall, the magazine reported, “the Air Force’s airlift fleet has been steadily working to deliver essential munitions, armored vehicles, and aid to Israel.”
The horrific atrocities committed by Hamas on Oct. 7 have opened the door to protracted horrific atrocities by Israel with key assistance from the United States.
Oxfam America has issued a briefing paper decrying the Pentagon’s plans to ship tens of thousands of 155mm artillery shells to the Israeli military. The organization noted that “Israel’s use of this munition in past conflicts demonstrates that its use would be virtually assured to be indiscriminate, unlawful, and devastating to civilians in Gaza.” Oxfam added: “There are no known scenarios in which 155mm artillery shells could be used in Israel’s ground operation in Gaza in compliance with international humanitarian law.”
During the last several weeks, “international humanitarian law” has been a common phrase coming from President Biden while expressing support for Israel’s military actions. It’s an Orwellian absurdity, as if saying the words is sufficient while constantly helping Israel to violate international humanitarian law in numerous ways.
“Israeli forces have used white phosphorus, a chemical that ignites when in contact with oxygen, causing horrific and severe burns, on densely populated neighborhoods,” Human Rights Watch senior legal adviser Clive Baldwin wrote in late October. “White phosphorus can burn down to the bone, and burns to 10 percent of the human body are often fatal.”
Baldwin added: “Israel has also engaged in the collective punishment of Gaza’s population through cutting off food, water, electricity, and fuel. This is a war crime, as is willfully blocking humanitarian relief from reaching civilians in need.”
At the end of last week, the Win Without War organization noted that “senior administration officials are increasingly alarmed by how the Israeli government is conducting its military operations in Gaza, as well as the reputational repercussions of the Biden administration’s support for a collective punishment strategy that clearly violates international law. Many worry that the U.S. will be blamed for the Israeli military’s indiscriminate attacks on civilians, particularly women and children.”
News reporting now tells us that Biden and Blinken want a bit of a course correction. For them, the steady large-scale killing of Palestinian civilians became concerning when it became a PR problem.
Dressed up in an inexhaustible supply of euphemistic rhetoric and double-talk, such immoral policies are stunning to see in real time. And, for many people in Gaza, literally breathtaking.
Now, guided by political calculus, the White House is trying to persuade Israel’s prime minister to titrate the lethal doses of bombing Gaza. But as Netanyahu has made clear in recent days, Israel is going to do whatever it wants, despite pleas from its patron.
While, in effect, it largely functions in the Middle East as part of the U.S. war machine, Israel has its own agenda. Yet the two governments are locked into shared, long-term, overarching strategic interests in the Middle East that have absolutely no use for human rights except as rhetorical window-dressing. Biden made that clear last year when he fist-bumped the de facto ruler of oil-rich Saudi Arabia, a dictatorship that — with major U.S. assistance — has led an eight-year war on Yemen that has so far cost nearly 400,000 lives.
The war machine needs constant oiling from the news media. That requires ongoing maintenance of the doublethink assumption that when Israel terrorizes and kills people from the air, the Israeli Defense Force is fighting “terrorism” without engaging in it.
Another helpful notion in recent weeks has been the presumption that — while Hamas puts out “propaganda” — Israel does not. And so, on Nov. 2, the PBS NewsHour’s foreign affairs correspondent Nick Schifrin reported on what he called “Hamas propaganda videos.” Fair enough. Except that it would be virtually impossible for mainstream U.S. news media to also matter-of-factly refer to public output from the Israeli government as “propaganda.” (I asked Schifrin for comment, but my several emails and texts went unanswered.)
On Sunday, CNN’s Fareed Zakaria informed viewers that “journalists embedded with the [Israeli Defense Forces] in Gaza operate under the observation of Israeli commanders in the field and are not permitted to move unaccompanied within the Gaza Strip.” He explained a process of censorship: “As a condition to enter Gaza under IDF escort, outlets have to submit all materials and footage to the Israeli military for review prior to publication.”
Whatever differences might surface from time to time, the United States and Israel remain enmeshed. To the power elite in Washington, the bilateral alliance is vastly more important than the lives of the Palestinian people. And it’s unlikely that the U.S. government will really confront Israel over its open-ended killing spree in Gaza.
Consider this: Just weeks before beginning her second stint as House speaker in January 2019, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was recorded on video at a forum sponsored by the Israeli American Council as she declared: “I have said to people when they ask me — if this Capitol crumbled to the ground, the one thing that would remain is our commitment to our aid, I don’t even call it aid — our cooperation — with Israel. That’s fundamental to who we are.”
Even making allowances for bizarre hyperbole, Pelosi’s statement is revealing of the kind of mentality that continues to hold sway in official Washington. It won’t change without a huge grassroots movement that refuses to go away.
(Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. He is the author of many books, including "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death." His latest book, "War Made Invisible: How America Hides the Human Toll of Its Military Machine," was published in June 2023.)
by Adam Shatz
On October 16 , Sabrina Tavernise, the host of the New York Times podcast ‘The Daily,’ spoke to two Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. “So, Abdallah,” Tavernise said to Abdallah Hasaneen, a resident of Rafah, near the Egyptian border, who was only able to get a signal from his balcony, “we've been talking about all of the air strikes that have been happening since last Saturday, and of course the thing that happened last Saturday as well was this very deadly attack by Hamas on Israel. How do you understand that attack? What did you think of that?”
“You cannot just put people into prison, deprive them of their fundamental rights, and then see nothing in response,” Hasaneen replied. “You cannot dehumanize people and expect nothing. I am not Hamas, and I was never a big fan of Hamas. But what’s happening here is not about Hamas at all.”
Tavernise (sheepishly): “What’s it about?”
Hasaneen: “It’s about ethnically cleansing Palestinian people, it’s about 2.3 million Palestinian people. That’s why Israel, the first thing that it did was cutting off water and cutting off electricity and cutting off food. So this is not, it’s never about Hamas. It’s about our mistake to be born Palestinians.”
Tavernise’s second guest was a woman called Wafa Elsaka who recently returned to Gaza after working as a teacher in Florida for 35 years. That weekend, Elsaka had fled from her family’s home, after Israel ordered the 1.1 million residents of northern Gaza to leave their homes and head south, warning of an impending ground invasion. Dozens of Palestinians were killed under bombardment while travelling along routes Israel told them would be safe. “We lived through 1948, and all we're asking is to have peace to raise our kids,” Elsaka said. “Why are we repeating history again? What do they want? They want Gaza? What are they going to do with us? What are they going to do with the people? I want these questions answered so we know. They want to throw us to the sea? Go ahead, do it, don’t keep us in pain! Just do it. Before, I used to say that Gaza is an open-air prison. Now I say Gaza is an open grave. You think people here are alive? They are zombies.” When Tavernise spoke to Hasaneen again the next day, he said that he and his entire family were huddling in the same room, so that they could at least die together.
The situation in Gaza has reached unspeakable extremes in recent days, but it is not new. In his 1956 story “Letter from Gaza,” Ghassan Kanafant describes it as “more cramped than the mind of a sleeper. In the throes of a fearful nightmare, with its narrow streets that had their peculiar smell, the smell of defeat and poverty.” The story’s protagonist, a teacher who has worked for years in Kuwait, has returned home after an Israeli bombing. As his niece comes to embrace him, he sees that her leg has been amputated: she was wounded while trying to shield her siblings from the bombs.
In the words of Amira Hass, an Israeli journalist who spent many years reporting from Gaza, “Gaza embodies the central contradiction of the state of Israel — democracy for some, dispossession for others; it is our exposed nerve.” Israelis don’t say “Go to hell,” they say “Go to Gaza.” The occupation authorities have always treated it as a frontier land, more like southern Lebanon than the West Bank, where different, and much harsher, rules apply. After the conquest of Gaza in 1967, Ariel Sharon, then the general responsible for Israel’s southern command, oversaw the execution without trial of dozens of Palestinians suspected of involvement in resistance (it’s unclear how many died), and the demolition of thousands of homes: this was called “pacification.” In 2005, Sharon presided over “disengagement”: Israel withdrew eight thousand settlers from Gaza, but it remained essentially under Israeli control, and since Hamas was elected in 2006 it has been under blockade, which the Egyptian government helps enforce. “Why don’t we abandon this Gaza and flee?” Kanafani’s narrator asked in 1956. Today, such musings would be a fantasy. The people of Gaza — it’s not accurate to call them Gazans, since two-thirds of them are the children and grandchildren of refugees from other parts of Palestine — are effectively captives in a territory that has been amputated from the rest of their homeland. They could leave Gaza only if the Israelis ordered them to take up residence in a “humanitarian corridor” in the Sinai, if Egypt were to submit to American pressure and open up the border.
The motives behind Al-Aqsa Flood, as Hamas called its offensive, were hardly mysterious: to reassert the primacy of the Palestinian struggle at a time when it seemed to be falling off the agenda of the international community; to secure the release of political prisoners; to scuttle an Israeli-Saudi rapprochement; to further humiliate the impotent Palestinian Authority; to protest against the wave of settler violence in the West Bank, as well as the provocative visits of religious Jews and Israeli officials to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem; and, not least, to send a message to the Israelis — that they are not invincible, that there is a price to pay for maintaining the status quo in Gaza. It achieved a grisly success: for the first time since 1948, it was Palestinian fighters, not Israeli soldiers, who occupied towns at the border and terrorized their inhabitants. Never has Israel looked less like a sanctuary for the Jewish people.
As Mahmoud Muna, the owner of a bookshop in Jerusalem, said, the impact of Hamas’s attack was “like shrinking the whole last hundred years into a week.” Yet this shattering of the status quo, this blow for a kind of morbid equality with Israel’s formidable war machine, has exacted a huge price.
The fighters of Hamas and Islamic Jihad — brigades of roughly 1500 commandos — killed more than a thousand civilians, including women, children and babies. It remains unclear why Hamas wasn't satisfied after achieving its initial objectives. The first phase of Al-Aqsa Flood was classic — and legitimate — guerrilla warfare against an occupying power: fighters broke through the Gaza border and fence, and attacked military outposts. The early images of this assault, along with reports that fighters from Gaza had moved into twenty Israeli towns, gave rise to understandable euphoria among Palestinians; so did the killing of hundreds of Israeli soldiers, and the taking of as many as 250 hostages. In the West, few remember that when Palestinians from Gaza protested at the border in 2018-19 during the Great March of Return, Israeli forces killed 223 demonstrators. But Palestinians do, and the killing of unarmed demonstrators has only added to the allure of armed struggle.
The second phase, however, was very different. Joined by residents of Gaza, many of them leaving for the first time in their lives, Hamas’s fighters went on a killing spree. They turned the Tribe of Nova rave into a blood-drenched bacchanalia, another Bataclan. They hunted down families in their homes in kibbutzes. They executed not only Jews but Bedouins and immigrant workers. (Several of the victims were Jews who were well known for their solidarity work with Palestinians, notably Vivian Silver, an Israeli-Canadian who is now a hostage in Gaza.)
As Vincent Lemire noted in Le Monde, it takes time to kill “civilians hidden in garages and parking lots or sheltering in safe rooms.” The diligence and patience of Hamas's fighters were chilling.
(London Review of Books)
UKRAINE, TUESDAY, 7TH NOVEMBER
It’s “irresponsible” to talk of holding elections in wartime, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Monday amid discussions on whether to hold a vote in March 2024.
“We all understand that now, in wartime, when there are so many challenges, it is absolutely irresponsible to throw the topic of elections into society in a lighthearted and playful way,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly address.
There has been some talk around whether Ukraine, which is operating under martial law, should hold a presidential vote next spring.
Kyiv wants to demonstrate its commitment to democratic processes as it looks to join the EU, but there are also deep concerns that a political distraction is the last thing Ukraine needs right now as its fight against Russia hangs in the balance, with little overall progress in retaking territory.
Ukraine has managed to rebuild 421 medical centers destroyed by Russia, health ministry says
Ukraine has managed to fully restore 421 health facilities damaged by Russian forces, the Ukrainian health ministry said in a statement, according to a Google translation.
Russia has damaged a total of 1,468 medical centers in Ukraine since its full-scale invasion in February 2022, while 193 have been totally destroyed, the ministry said.
The health ministry said it “is working on the reconstruction of Ukrainian hospitals and creating conditions so that [Ukraine’s] heroic doctors, despite the war, can fully work and provide the necessary medical care to every patient.”
— Hannah Ward-Glenton, CNBC
CUTTING TO THE CHASE… IN CHINA
by Denis Rouse
Edelweiss Bike Travel tourenfuhrer Werner Wachter wants to go to China. More exactly, he wants to market motorcycle tours in China. Are Edelweissers ready for China? Is China ready for Edelweissers?
To get answers, Wachter turns to Franki Yang in capitalism in-extremis Hong Kong. Franki rides a BMW Rll00GS. Franki distributes motorcycle parts and accessories. Franki chairs the Hong Kong Cruisers Motorcycle Club, a sizeable fraternity of young, successful Chinese guys, many of whom own ninety horsepower motorcycles and who have no place to ride, well, really ride, on the most densely developed island on earth.
To solve this problem for his friends, most of whom are also his customers, Franki, a native son of Qingdao, turned to his contacts on the Chinese mainland last year. In China, more than any other place in the world, it's who you know. Bingo, Hong Kong bikes are crated and shipped two thousand miles to Dalian, a major port on the Yellow Sea in northeast China, and the boys enjoy a wild couple of weeks riding the Shandong Peninsula like birds freed from a cage. Franki is pulling strings to do it again as Wachter enters the picture. Can Wachter tag along with his daughter Anne, 20, and one much older Rider ex-publisher? Do fish swim in the Yellow Sea?
As I board our China Air flight with the whole group for the three hour flight from Hong Kong to Dalian, I take note that the airplane is a Boeing 737. It lands safely. Ah, I think, an auspicious beginning.
* * *
I am riding a red BMW Rll00R way too fast in a deep rural artery of the Shandong Peninsula somewhere between Yantai and Weifang dodging paving stones and potholes and Chinese grain farmers and apple growers -- who are damn good given the green effulgence of their fields and their rows of bursting trees -- but who scare the bejeezus out of me by suddenly materializing in my crosshairs driving ancient one-lung diesel tractors hauling the most appalling loads. I'm trying to the keep the tight squadron of Hong Kong guys riding ahead of me in sight but they are wicking it up into a dangerous video game. I'm fading fast, grateful that Franki is considerately riding tail, because lost is one thing, lost in China is another. At a gas stop I ask Wachter, who indeed himself straggled for a while and required rescue, are these guys nuts or what? No, Mr. Rouse, he says in that good-natured Austrian daggertone of his, they ride better than you and know much you do not.
Point A on your China tour. Truth is a dog from hell.
Ok, here I am in the world's most populous country, one out of every four people on the planet is Chinese, and I'm having trouble pronouncing thank you in their language. Great, I'm the only American on the tour, and as my friend Hartmut Heiner put it to me so gently once in Berlin, I'm deaf and dumb. But not to worry. Lots of perfect english spoken here, especially Franki's. He was a commercial diver for an oil company in Southern California. He lived in Wilmington near the docks, where he tells me he observed social conditions more degraded, more violent than he has ever seen anywhere in China.
Point B on your China tour. When criticising Chinese human rights, get your head out of that place where the sun don't shine. Weifang. The City of The Kite. International Kite Festival held here annually. Amazing and often huge handmade creations displayed for sale, flying dragons everywhere. It's my third day in China and I'm so constipated I'm turning green. All the guys go out after dinner for massages; I go to bed with my constipation. Wonderful. You need jiangtianbinjucha, Franki says, a special herbal tea, I'll get you some. He does and it's a Chinese medical miracle from four thousand years of trial and error. It works.
The foyer of the hotel restaurant in Zibo where we have lunch hosted by members of a local riding club, friendly and generous people whose enthusiasts' hearts are much bigger than the small bore domestic machines they ride, is a terrarium. Several steel reinforced glass tanks each containing a cobra or two with something in Chinese on a small sign in front of each. That one, says Franki, is a one-stepper. He bites you and you take one step and die. Very expensive. Very tasty. Cool, but no snake today, just a reminder as we toast each other at the table (Gombei!) that riders are riders, and in China, just like everywhere else I've been, they're the best.
I'm between heaven and earth on the top of Taishan, the most revered Taoist peak in China. We have come up here to walk amidst ancient stone temples in the pewter light of a full moon, and get up early to watch the sun rise from a sea of clouds. In legend, in culture, in history, very Chinese, as are the two guys closest to me at dinner in the hotel that is our aerie here. Yin Yong Bo, a burly Manchurian Goldwing rider from Dalian, to my left, pours me a full water glass of Taishan Te Qui, a local 35% liquor called lighter fluid on the street. He expects me to down it. I take a few sips and start to feel stupid. Just then, to my right, Mr. Liu, the People's Republic of China police official who heads up the formidable security team accompanying us, in full uniform as usual, hands me a tie clip. Thinking it's a gift, I smile and clip it to my shirt. Seconds pass before I realize I've done the wrong thing. The American Secret Service presented the tie clip to Mr. Liu after he assisted guarding President Bill in Beijing recently. Mr. Liu treasures it. He merely wanted me to look at the emblem and hand it back to him, which I finally do, but not after feeling I've got ten pounds of sweet and sour pork hanging off my face.
Point C on your China tour. Stick to the beer.
Twenty five hundred years ago, Confucius dedicated his life to the belief the end of human suffering required government reform that would make its objective not the pleasure of the rulers but the happiness of their subjects. I am in Qufu in a courtyard of the great temple where the master lived and taught. I am with Wachter and his blond, blue-eyed daughter Anne, who I have come to see rides her bike, a BMW F650GS, far more judiciously than we do, and she is a lot prettier than we are, and the fact is I'd rather look at her than think of China's greatest man and unrealized dreams.
Lam Siu Kai rides a Honda GLl500SE. He's a principal in an engineering firm and in his spare time a prime mover for the Caring For Children Foundation, an orphanage and clinic in Hong Kong. He misses his dog, a much loved family pet that died. In our conversation over lunch that includes many Shandong specialties besides roasted silkworm larvae, subjects range from dog meat ("It's the best, only tiger is better") to Chinese government crackdowns on the Falun Gong ("Street demonstrators make their choices and take their chances; the kids I know don't have that luxury"). Lam knows Chinese medicine too. When a spasming back muscle threatens to destroy my joy on the bike, he applies a deep heat herbal balm with a few minutes of digital deftness, acupressure I think, that relieves my pain and sends electrical currents down to my fingertips. Lam warns me to ride with extreme caution in China and then runs his Goldwing into the left front fender of an oncoming Suzuki minivan while attempting a blind corner pass on the winding road that skirts coastal Qingdao. He's unhurt, thank God. But looking at the Wing lying there hemorrhaging coolant, I ask him, now what? Fix it, he says, like new, and sell it. I suspect frame damage. That can never be fixed.
Are you going to tell the buyer about the accident?, I ask. He looks at me with wide-eyed amazement. What, you think I'm stupid?
Wachter has his day on the down too, same day, same venue as Lam. He trades bikes with Art Zawodny, chief engineer for a Hong Kong camera manufacturer. Great trade. A BMW Rll50GS for an overloaded Yamaha SR500 burdened with everything Zawodny owns. This China thing he says is only a practice run for his dream tour to Vladivostok. Whatever. Wachter isn't on Zawodny's bike with its crushed suspension five minutes when he meets a moped that, surprise, dosen’t get out of his way. It’s the flaw in the Hong Kong riding style. Shit happens fast. Result: No human physical injury of which to speak, but one creamed moped, one slightly abraded Yamaha, one quietly pissed off Polish guy, and one very embarrassed Austrian.
Yang Zhong Sang, an ex dock worker from Dalian, rides a Honda CB400F. He manages shipping now, but despite the white collar promotion, retains a stevedore’s forearms. He is a very happy guy, horses around frequently, but quickly becomes the man when anyone needs a hand. As we have our usual group lunch fit for an emperor’s court, this one at a big round table in a first class hotel overlooking a spectacular Laoshan seascape, he wants to arm wrestle. We have an epic go at it, and in the process nearly send a twelve-course meal crashing to the floor. Yang and I and everyone laugh uproariously. Whoever advised, never stop acting like a kid, was probably Chinese and very wise.
Penglai, coastal castle town of legend, of gods crossing the sea; of violent naval history, a huge statue of a Sung Dynasty admiral in full armor gazing imperiously over the harbor to emphasize it; of fantastic mirages so detailed they seem more real than illusory; and of wharfside cafes with sloshing tubs of live ocean fare from which to choose (we take a pass on the sea slugs). After lunch, Wachter gets a rare ok from Franki to take off on our own, to ride old slow roads that link timeless Shandong farm villages of cottages and overgrown garden walls hewn of grey slate, of gravel paths well picked by chickens, of shaded squares where men sit on weathered wooden benches smoking cigarettes and sipping tea. Wachter, Anne and I, by gracious spontaneous invitation, find ourselves on a page right out of Pearl Buck, seated with a local family in their home, a home small but rich with life communing with The Good Earth, the land, enjoying tea, rice cakes and apples with them, talking with them (a granddaughter speaks English), exchanging gifts, and realizing again as I say goodbye without a dry eye that connection, human connection, is everything.
In the elevator in the Asia Hotel in Yantai, an upbeat voice says, Hey, are you Denis Rouse? He's longtime Rider reader Gene Arth, Goldwing rider, consultant to the Timken Company in Canton, Ohio. He's in town regularly since Timken has a factory here in joint venture with the Chinese government, one tiny spearhead of the market economy that's coming to China as ineluctably as the Taishan sunrise.
Gao Xu Xian owns a Mercedes Benz service and parts store in Dalian. He rides a black Honda Valkyrie very aggressively and very well. Gao says his mother makes the best dumplings in China, and to prove it, he brings two huge platters of them to our dinner party in a famous Manchurian restaurant where also an entire sheep and lamb and all relevant organs are brought to our tables, and we eat with relish. I don't care if the kidney has a little bit of that taste if you know what I mean, because Gao is driving me back to the hotel, a Holiday Inn by the way, and the Northern Bright Pearl Red Beer is so good I'm ready for Baa Baa's eyeballs.
Behind the bandstand in the lounge of said Holiday Inn where a duo of Filipino girls in miniskirts are doing Tina Turner proud, there is a large wall mural upon which likenesses of Bill and Monica are separated by an imposing image of the Statue of Liberty. Floating in the scene, Daliesque is a charred U.S. dollar bill, and bordering all this, in a final touch of surreal, are several Las Vegas gambling scenes. Note from D. Rouse to Beijing: Have a word with the hotel manager. The guys from America coming here soon to negotiate their deals aren't going to like this.
Taoist master Chuang Tzu (399 - 295 B.C.) said this: Because all beings and everything are fundamentally one, opposing opinions can arise only when people lose sight of the whole and regard their partial truths as absolute. They are then like a frog at the bottom of a well who takes the bit of brightness he sees as the whole sky. When you argue there are some things you are failing to see. In the greatest Tao (Way), nothing is named. In the greatest disputation, nothing is said. The greatest Tao is supreme acceptance.
Point D on your China tour. Confucius said mankind, womankind too, girls, is one big family. On a shrinking planet, we better start acting like it.