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Ukiah Soundtrack: Howls & Roars

An out of town guest was visiting for a few days and while we were on the back deck dawdling over a sampler of Ritz crackers, Velveeta cheese and PopTart hors d’oeuvres, we discussed Ukiah’s robust homeless population. 

A chorus of big loud engines suddenly roared by in waves. 

“What the…?” he said, cocking his head to the side. Trophy the wife explained about the Fairgrounds, the Speedway and the weekly car races. 

He thought the reality of a town holding stock car races was so wild, so retro and so fascinating he planned to attend next week’s. 

The sky darkened and at precisely 8 p.m. came scattered calls from canine-type voices howling in the approximate style of coyotes and wolves. It startled our guest as much as the engines and screeching tires had jolted him a short while earlier. 

“They do it every night at 8 o’clock,” I said. “Been doing it for years, at first to honor workers in the Covid days. Now it’s just part of the west side soundtrack.” 

“Ukiah,” he said. “What a place.” 

* * * 


Local graffiti has long been confined to outlying areas of town where the residents are few and the blight is more obvious. 

No more. The scourge of gangsta graffiti has spread around the city and is conspicuous in places that had forever been off-limits. Whomever or whatever “MBZ” stands for, the brand is flourishing all over town. 

Todd Grove Park, forever a sanctuary and Ukiah’s most gracious and welcoming island, has been heavily MBZed. So has downtown. Those expensive, green custom-made City of Ukiah benches sprinkled along South School and sections of North State Streets have been defaced courtesy of the ubiquitous MBZ and other miscreants. 

City officials apparently don’t see it, and why would they? They also seem not to care, and I suppose we should ask the question again: Why Would They? 

Graffiti just grows, they must think, like weeds grow in the garden, like black rubber smudges grow on State Street bulbouts, like closed down shops, stores and buildings grow all over Ukiah. Things sprout; what can ya do? 

But if the city invested a small fraction of the money it spends on a Pumpkinfest or a seasonal ice rink, it could smite graffiti in a week. City officials could appeal to citizen volunteers that actually do care about how Ukiah looks, and organize a citywide paint-over. 

Maybe some cops or firefighters, with ex-Supervisor John McCowen leading, could volunteer to head anti-graffiti teams armed with rollers, spray guns and paint donated by Home Depot.

I suggest cops and fire guys because who thinks Ukiah’s imperial administrators would deign to join a mob of common citizens? 

What if someone were to ask Sage and Shannon if they really think they provide Ukiah with a half-million dollars of value every year? 

* * *


Threw my back out the other day, or should I say my back threw me out? 

There is pain among us humans, and then there is back pain. Consider the types: Toothaches, dog bites, broken heart, broken ribs and sunburn. 

All these add up to no more than a small percentage of the woes back pain brings us. 

We’ve all heard of the alleged pain of childbirth, but let me ask you this: How many women have (willingly, mostly) undergone multiple childbirths? And how many of us have agreed to even one extra dose of screaming lower back pain? 

Answer: Many and None. Case closed. 

My back pain came slow, steady and sure. When it struck it was like someone lit the fuse that ignited the Pain Control Center in my lower back. When it hit I laughed so hard I couldn’t get dressed. I still can’t put my socks on. 

Jumping forward, I don’t know how Aleve does it, but it does it well. When a spark of rebellion erupts down there in the lumbar vertebrae region I just take a couple Aleve. A couple bottles of Aleve, that is. If it didn’t have long-term (and short-term) side effects I’d run through a case a week. 

* * *


They’re at it again. They never stop. They can’t be stopped. 

Those relentless self-promoters that call themselves Back to the Landers are now taking stage, and probably liberties, telling and re-telling fabulous lies about the 1970s. At the Ukiah Playhouse, where else? 

If you get a chance to miss it, do so. You’ll always be able to marvel at their stories and triumphs and courage when they get a grant and turn it into a movie. 

Like the man said, “Ukiah. What a place.” 


  1. Lazarus November 14, 2023

    “Ritz crackers, Velveeta cheese and PopTart hors d’oeuvres”

    Some of my favorite snacks, and this from one who once penned the “Remcoids” and the “Willits Nit Wit Merchants…”
    Be well,

  2. Bob Dotage November 14, 2023

    And what about those damned clouds!!

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