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Mendocino County Today: Friday, Nov. 24, 2023

Cold & Clear | Noyo Harbor | Native Observations | Holiday Pies | Paleface Problem | Grange Breakfast | Origin Confusions | Light Parade | Glutton Handel | Redwood Classic | Discord Myth | New Steps | Bad Logging | Health Partner | Palace Hazard | MacKerricher Tree | Cubbison Review | Ed Notes | Messiah Sing-Along | Comptche Past | Yesterday's Catch | Fight Pause | Pistache Berries | Niners Win | Getting Older | Tortola Cafe | Paine Memories | Ghapama | Composting Tips | Melville Poetry | Strawberry Rocks | Nineteen Nineties | Dear Captain

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COOL AND DRY conditions will prevail across the region through early next week, with the next chance of rain developing toward Wednesday. Otherwise, gusty north-northeast winds will impact area ridges this morning, and again Friday night into Saturday morning. (NWS)

STEPHEN DUNLAP (Fort Bragg): A crisp 40F with clear skies this post holiday Friday morning on the coast. Clear skies & cool temps rule the forecast thru Tuesday, then rain returns but it's looking a bit erratic at this point. We'll see?

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Noyo Harbor (Falcon)

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LAKE COUNTY TRIBES (Middletown & Big Valley) video on climate change

The Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians and the Middletown Rancheria of Pomo Indians discuss impacts of climate change. The Tribes speak about the impacts of climate change on their communities, families, resources, and lives.

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PIES BY ANGUS FRAZER whose mom, Saffron, deep into the true spirit of Thanksgiving, invited whomever wanted a turkey dinner and the camaraderie unique to her entertaining family to drop on in at The family's Rays Road home.

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by Mark Anthony Rolo

I always dread it when Thanksgiving comes around. It’s not because I can’t get over how stupid my ancestors were for falling for that starving Pilgrim act. The reason I dread this turkey-killing season interaction, I suffer through inane conversations with people who’ve got Indians on their minds.

Take my good but severely guilt-ridden friends who would like to believe that they would get back on the boat for Europe in a heartbeat to escape the painful past.

“I feel so bad about what we did to your people. Gosh, if I ever invent a time machine, what I wouldn’t do. More pie?”

And then there are those angry white folk who are sick and tired of bearing the blame for this country’s history of colonization.

“Listen, man. It was simply a matter of survival of the fittest. We had guns. You had spears. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist. Know what I mean? Pass the cranberry sauce, please.”

Apart from Indian gaming and treaty-rights news, we don’t get on the radar screen much. Most people in this country will never meet an Indian face-to-face. That is because there are not too many of us left. We make up less than 1% of the population. But do we ever stir the nation’s imagination!

Symbols and images about us litter America’s pop culture scene. You had the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians until recently, and Cherokee SUVs, the Atlanta Braves, the Apache helicopter, American Spirit cigarettes, and the mother of all offensive products, Crazy Horse Malt Liquor.

At Toys-R-Us you can still buy a set of plastic cowboys and Indians figurines. (Yes, the Indians come in red.) The chain store even sells a “Battle at Little Big Horn” play set. Of course, what is cool about this set is that kids can make General Custer the hero, if they choose.

It is quite socially acceptable for many white Americans to boast about having Indian blood in their family tree. Celebrities have been doing it for years. Johnny Depp, Cher, Johnny Cash, and yes, even our President Clinton staked an Indian Blood claim — Clinton has a grandmother who was part Cherokee.

But it’s only during Thanksgiving that American Indians come to the forefront of the national discourse.

“Ah yes, the Indian. Savage. Brave. Stoic. Mystical. Honey? Let’s got us one of those wooden Indians statues for the den.”

The whole thing gives me indigestion. 

(Mark Anthony Rolo, is a member of the Bad River Band of Ojibwe.)

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by Jim Hightower

Let’s talk Turkey!

No, not the Butterballs in Congress. I’m talking about the real thing, the big gobbler — 46 million of which we Americans will devour this Thanksgiving.

It was the Aztecs who first domesticated the gallopavo, but the invading Spanish conquerors “fouled-up” the bird’s origins. They declared it to be related to the peacock — Wrong! They also thought the peacock originated in Turkey — Wrong! And, they thought Turkey was located in Africa — well, you can see the Spanish were pretty confused.

Actually, even the origin of Thanksgiving Day in the US is confused. The popular assumption is that it was first celebrated by the Mayflower immigrants and the Wampanoag natives at Plymouth, Massachusetts, 1621. They feasted on venison, furkees (Wampanoag for gobblers), eels, mussels, corn, and beer. But wait, say Virginians, the first Thanksgiving Food-a-Palooza was not in Massachusetts — the feast originated down here in Jamestown colony, back in 1608.

Whoa there, pilgrims! Folks in El Paso, Texas, say it all began way out there in 1598, when Spanish settlers sat down with people of the Piro and Manso tribes, to give thanks, feasting on roasted duck, geese and fish.

“Ha!” says a Florida group, asserting the very, very first Thanksgiving happened in 1565 when the Spanish settlers of St. Augustine and friends from the Timucuan tribe chowed-down on “cocido” — a stew of salt pork, garbanzo beans and garlic — washing it all down with red wine.

Wherever it began, and whatever the purists claim is “official,” Thanksgiving today is as multicultural as America. So, let’s enjoy! Kick-back, give thanks we’re in a country with such ethnic richness, and dive into your turkey rellenos, moo-shu turkey, turkey falafel, barbecued turkey… and so on.

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by David Yearsley

For those with means, there is always too much food at Thanksgiving. Overproduction and overconsumption go hand in hand, or perhaps from hand into mouth. As Sir Thomas Malory, didn’t put it, Enough is as NOT as good as a feast at America’s self-defining dinner held on the last Thursday of November.

Leftovers are an essential feature of this long weekend celebration of American excess.

Unless you were to invite Handel.

True, he was dead just more than a century by the time Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in the midst of the Civil War in November of 1863, a feast to be celebrated in unison across the divided land.

Had Handel journeyed across the Atlantic Ocean to Boston in the North American Colonies in 1741 instead of only over the Irish Sea to Dublin to premiere what would become his most famous oratorio, he might have cadged an invitation to an ad hoc Thanksgiving table in the Land of the Pilgrims. After the feasting comes December. Nowadays that’s Messiah Time in North America. Handel’s Christian blockbuster is an outsized musical banquet to be gorged on in the run-up to more feasting come Christmas.

Invites in London might have been harder to come by, even though, as a German immigrant and lifelong bachelor with no family in England, he is just the kind of person who shouldn’t be left alone on this day of togetherness.

The problem was that his standing as a musician was shadowed by his reputation as a notorious glutton. One-time friends defamed his literally self-serving excess. The painter Joseph Goupy carved up his former pal in public a few years before Handel’s death, depicting the composer as a full-snouted, organ-playing swine surrounded by hanging fowl and bottles of booze, a gut-busting to-eat list spilling out of his jacket pocket. Handel appears as a beast to be carved up, in this case by public opinion, his calf bulging like behemoth sausages in white casing. Goupy titled the image “I am Myself Alone; or The Charming Brute.” The hedonist thinks only of himself, the kind of person who will swill the champagne in the backroom and leave the others to make do with the cheap stuff.

Along with this savaging image, vicious stories circulated claiming that when Handel hosted dinners at his house in London’s new and fashionable West End, now a supremely expensive shopping district, he would disappear in the midst of the evening to root around in a hamper in the kitchen and slug down the champagne alone. Handel was a binge-eater and a non-sharer—not ideal attributes in a Thanksgiving guest.

Handel’s own impressive infrastructure for feasting can now be seen London’s Handel and Hendrix House (actually two adjacent eighteenth-century houses: George and Jimi were “separated by a wall and 200 years,” as the museum’s tagline put it). Given the price of real estate in the neighborhood these days, the Handel House only acquired the ground floor of the composer’s residence a couple of years ago. It was here that Handel held musical rehearsals and dinner parties for as many as forty guests. The estate catalog shows an impressive food preparation and serving infrastructure, including “2 Standing Spitt racks and three spits / a Gridiron & 2 Trivetts / a Flesh Fork & Iron Scure.”

Surviving accounts from some of his many guests include reports of menus such as “rice soup with mutton in, petty patties, lamb’s ears, an eel pye” washed down with plenty of “French claret, rhenish wine, madeira.”

So aromatic was the gluttonous gossip wafting from Handel’s house on Brook Street that his first biographer John Mainwaring, who published his Memoirs of the Life of the Late George Frederic Handel in 1760, the year after the composer’s death, concludes the book with several pages defending the great man’s girth. The Anglican theologian Mainwaring was not an egalitarian: “Luxury and intemperance are relative ideas, and depend on other circumstances besides those of quantity and quality. It would be unreasonable to confine Handel to the fare and allowance of common men, as expect the merchant should live like a Swiss mechanic.” While the biographer was not quite willing to “absolve [Handel] from all blame on this article,” Mainwaring argued that “Nature had given him so vigorous a constitution, so exquisite a palate, and so craving an appetite; and that fortune enabled him to obey these calls.” Handel’s eating fed his art: “His incessant and intense application to the studies of his profession … rendered constant and large supplies of nourishment the more necessary to recruit his exhausted spirits.”

The parallel hunger for food and music continue to provide ample nourishment for generations of the ravenous.

In 1737 Handel suffered a stroke, though some now theorize that the quantities of continental wine, stabilized with traces of lead, lamed his right hand and arm. In response to this health crisis, he took the cure at Aix-la-Chapelle and enjoyed a recovery so speedy that, according to Mainwaring, the local nuns deemed it a miracle. His right hand back in action, Handel toweled off and went directly from the baths, where “his sweats were profuse beyond what well can be imagined,” to the chapel organ to demonstrate his art for all.

Thus recovered, Handel returned to London and, by all accounts, to nourishing his body and his art even more abundantly than before.

Handel treated his London audiences—and his twenty-first century admirers—to his most extravagant depiction of gluttony in 1744 in oratorio Belshazzar. The title character is the perfidious King of Babylon under whose boot the enslaved Jews suffer. During the Babylonian feast for the god Sesach, a drunken thanksgiving orgy, the king and his courtiers gorge and guzzle. Little do they know that, in spite of warnings from the king’s mother, Queen Nitocris, and the visions of the captive Jewish prophet Daniel that an invading force under the Persian King Cyrus will topple Belshazzar and free the People of Israel. The libretto for this tale of over-the-top feasting was prepared by Charles Jennens, who a few years earlier had assembled the text for Handel’s Messiah.

Jennens knew Handel to be notorious for his own appetite, so when he served up an aria text about gluttony he might have wondered how his musical collaborator might react to a vision that anticipates Goupy’s victualized caricature and other gossip that had Handel on his knees in his own kitchen while his bewildered guests wondered about his repeated absences in the dining room out front:

Behold the monstrous human beast

Wallowing in excessive feast!

No more his Maker’s image found:

But, self-degraded to a swine,

He fixes grov’ling on the ground

His portion of the breath Divine.

In the face of fat-shaming from his detractors and even some of devotees, undauntable Handel sharpened up his musical knives (a set of twelve was listed in his effects) and stuck his fork deep into the succulent dish served up by Jennens.

The aria is sung by the Assyrian nobleman Gobrias, who had secretly joined forces with a liberating the invading Persians. Gobrias watches the Babylonian revel with disgust, singing his appalled description of the King’s ongoing gorging and the lurching results of his guzzling. But in joining the ebulliently ravenous unisons of the strings, Gobrias can’t help but enact the very debauchery he condemns. He’s so good at decrying the glutton that becomes one in song.

We listeners can’t help but tuck into the feast too, gobbling up Handel’s greedy melismas on “wallowing” then descending to the bottom of the bass range on “Swine” to root around in wriggling, wringing figures “grov’ling on the ground.” Our own hands, forearms and even ears glisten with meat grease and mud. We can taste the music.

These revels are a festive mash-up of degradation and elation. The musico-culinary gourmet rides the knife-edge between disgust and pleasure. When he falls off that sharp edge, he lands in the deliciousness of his desire.

Handel becomes the monstrous beast: He is Himself, but not Alone. At this Thanksgiving table, we join the feast, laid out for merchants and maybe even a few mechanics.

(David Yearsley is a long-time contributor to CounterPunch and the Anderson Valley Advertiser. His latest book is Sex, Death, and Minuets: Anna Magdalena Bach and Her Musical Notebooks. He can be reached at

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by Matt Taibbi

Last night I tried to remember: have I had a bad Thanksgiving? For some reason I have a whole cerebral lobe full of bad Christmases: breakups, nasty arguments, a medical crisis, a nervous breakdown, and at least three family visits that went on too long. I remember one extraordinary Christmas in which a whole room full of ostensibly celebrating people suddenly became overwhelmed with shame and self-loathing at a pile of torn wrapping paper after the presents orgy, and retired to separate rooms to work out a group depression. Another ended with a girlfriend yelling, “No, fuck you,”and slamming the door so hard on the way out that a store-bought tree decoration shook.

But bad Thanksgivings? I had to have had some, but they don’t stand out. I was alone for one in New York, but found a diner, ordered a Western omelet and an egg cream, and reread Farewell My Lovely. Cue Ice Cube, because it was a good day. The news cliché says Americans today sit seething with irrepressible political grievances. The Washington Post this year published “the facts to help prepare you for your Thanksgiving arguments,” and Talking Points Memo had a special “One state/two state” edition for supposed Gaza-themed blowups, while last year’s “tough holiday conversations” effort from PBS News Hour featured a politically-correct-but-sad picture of an interracial couple frowning and staring in opposite directions, exhausted of patience. 

National public media seems to love the “Thanksgiving discord” angle — “How to keep conspiracy theories from ruining your time with family” is another recent PBS offering — but in my experience, people today mostly just pig out and sleep. If you can’t get through the day with nothing but that on the schedule, I’m guessing the holiday isn’t the problem. This day is for easy indulgence and remembering the good things, which in my case surely include readers of this site. Best to all of you and if you’ve got a moment later, let me know if you actually had an argument today. I bet the answer is no. Another myth for the list. 

America This Week is off for the holiday, but Walter and I will be back next week, which will be a very busy one. More on that later. In the meantime, stuff your faces, enjoy yourselves, and put away your AK. You won’t need it today. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

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New Stairs At Mendocino

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This is off Nash Mill road off 128. This really needs addressing due to many herbicides and chemicals as well as many other problems and needs to be on the KZYX environment show as they have been slipping a long involved legalese hiding what they are doing and there is a time element to stop this. My friend Keith Haycock has just told us about it. I am hopeful you know the environment show person and this can be addressed on KZYX. Cherrie Christianson <>

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SARAH SONGBIRD: Ukiah Valley Health Club. I am a member and LOVE IT! 2 pools. Free classes. Weight rooms. Spin rooms. Cardio rooms. Racquetball, etc. I am looking for somebody to join onto my ‘couples’ membership. It is 60 bucks a month with no activation fee. I have had a few other people sign on but then change their mind so I need at least a six month commitment in advance. It’s cheaper for me to continue this way, and it would be way cheaper for you. If this is something you think you could get into, drop me a line.

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SCOTT WARD: While I was the building official for the City of Healdsburg there were several unreinforced masonry building renovations in the downtown area. Much of the work to be done was above the public sidewalk. There are pedestrian protection requirements in the California Building Code that address this type of work. Installing scaffolding with pedestrian protection is a very common practice in the Bay Area. There are several companies that specialize in this area. The Ukiah building official is making the correct call here. In my view, the current owners of The Palace Hotel using the excuse that they cannot find anyone to meet the minimum life safety public protection requirements in the California Building Code with regards to scaffolding is just another example of kicking the can down the road and ignoring the imminent hazard the The Palace Hotel presents to the public.

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MacKerricher West Shore Tree (Jeff Goll)

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(A legal review of the Board’s Action to Suspend of Auditor-Controller/Treasurer-Tax Collector Chamise Cubbison)

It is accurate the Government Code states:

“Whenever an action based upon official misconduct is commenced against the county treasurer, the board of supervisors may suspend him from office until the suit is determined. The board may appoint some person to fill the vacancy, who shall qualify and give such bond as the board determines.” (Government Code § 27120.)

[Government Code Section 27120 is the government code cited by the County’s SF Lawyer which they relied on to suspend Chamise Cubbison based on “an action based upon official misconduct against the county treasurer.”]


“[F]orfeiture provisions are disfavored because they encroach on the fundamental right to hold office. “ ‘[T]he right to hold public office, either by election or appointment, is one of the valuable rights of citizenship ... The exercise of this right should not be declared prohibited or curtailed except by plain provisions of law. ...’ ” *266 (Helena Rubenstein Internat. v. Younger (1977) 71 Cal.App.3d 406, 418, 139 Cal.Rptr. 473, italics in original, quoting People v. Washington (1869) 36 Cal. 658, 662, 1869 WL 857; see also Carter v. Com. on Qualifications, Etc. (1939) 14 Cal.2d 179, 182, 93 P.2d 140.) Furthermore, the “law traditionally disfavors forfeitures and statutes imposing them are to be strictly construed.” (People ex rel. Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights v. Duque (2003) 105 Cal.App.4th 259, 265–266)

Appointments for a fixed term cannot be terminated except for cause (Welch v. Ware (1911) 161 Cal. 641, 643 [119 P. 1080, 1081]), in which case the officer is entitled to notice and the opportunity to be heard (Decker v. Board of Health Com'rs of City of Los Angeles (1935) 6 Cal.App.2d 334, 336 [44 P.2d 636, 637].)

“‘A public officer is not responsible for the acts or omissions of subordinates properly employed by or under him, if such subordinates are not in his private service, but are themselves servants of the government, unless he has directed such acts to be done, or has personally cooperated therein.’.” (O'Brien v. Olson (1941) 42 Cal.App.2d 449, 462 [109 P.2d 8, 17]. However, this rule is ‘limited to the liability of superior officers for damages for torts committed by subordinate officers engaged in the same public service.’” (O'Brien v. Olson, supra.)

The complaint on file herein alleges that Chamise Cubbison violated the law during a specified period of time which expired on August 22, 2022. During that time she was not the Treasurer-Tax-Collector, she was the Acting Auditor-Controller who was serving out the unexpired term of Lloyd Weer. That unexpired term has expired and she was elected by the People of Mendocino County to serve an entire term of a newly consolidated office as Mendocino County Auditor-Controller Treasurer-Tax Collector being sworn in to office for a term beginning January , 2023 

“In Smith v. Ling, 68 Cal. 324, 9 Pac. 171, it was held that a proceeding for the removal of an officer under [Penal Code] section 772, supra, could not be maintained after the accused had ceased to hold office. See, also, Woods v. Varnum, 85 Cal. 639, 24 Pac. 843. By parity of reasoning, an officer cannot, under the same section, be removed from office for a violation of his duties while serving in another office, or in another term of the same office. Each term of an office is an entity separate and distinct from all other terms of the same office. If defendant violated any duty imposed upon him as an incumbent of the office of sheriff during a former term, the law furnishes a mode or modes for his punishment, but to remove him from an office to which he has been subsequently elected is not the punishment for such violation of duty prescribed by any law of this state. There are other objections to the accusation or complaint, and the demurrer should have been sustained.” (Thurston v. Clark (1895) 107 Cal. 285, 287–288 [40 P. 435, 436].)

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A READER raises an interesting question re World War Two suspicion of immigrant Americans, sending along  a wire service history column that mentioned Dom DiMaggio’s testimony to a Congressional committee. The “Little Professor,” as the Red Sox center fielder was dubbed because he wore glasses, pointed out that large numbers of patriotic Italian-Americans were locked up as suspicious aliens during World War Two, many of them from NorCal. Many thousands of others were placed under a form of neighborhood arrest, restricted to their homes and the immediate area around their homes. 

THE DIMAGGIO BROTHER'S immigrant father, Giuseppe, despite living in the U.S. and San Francisco for 40 years, had his fishing boat confiscated, as did many Bay Area Italian fishermen, on the feeble rationale that they might somehow aid off shore Italian subversion. This 1942 decision came just six months after Joe Dimaggio had set the still-unbroken 56-game hitting streak.

WE ALL KNOW about the outrageous treatment of Japanese during World War Two, but virtually nothing is known of similarly arbitrary round-ups and persecutions of Italians. The Germans, by contrast, suffered very few sequestrations during the war, especially considering that thousands of them were organized into pro-fascist organizations and made no secret about where their sympathies lay. 

FASCIST SENTIMENT among Italian-Americans was much less prevalent than it was among Germans, and there was virtually no sympathy among first generation Japanese Americans for Hirohito. Most Japanese had emigrated to escape a stifling feudal social system in the mother country. Ditto for Italians. 

THE ONLY MENTION I’ve seen about Italian-American difficulties during the War here in Mendocino County was one of those “from 50 years ago” blurbs in one of the Coast papers about two Greenwood men being relieved of their rifles and jailed briefly because they’d allegedly been overheard making pro-Mussolini statements.

LIKE MANY PEOPLE, I suppose, I seldom give blood unless the blood bank is taking deposits in my immediate vicinity, which the area blood bank used to do on a regular basis, setting up its blood-letting apparatus on the stage of the high school gym.  I’ve always wondered why the blood bank couldn't be a mobile depository, one that could wheel right up to a donor’s home for a pint or two.

YEARS AGO, I tried to sell a pint of my precious bodily fluid at one of those cash for blood storefronts, this one in Eugene, Oregon. I was interested in writing about the process and, of course, I could use the 25 bucks. In the waiting room I was surrounded by an extraordinarily unhealthy-looking collection of obviously desperate donors, almost all of them men. But when it was my turn to give, the young woman told me, “Sorry, sir, you're too old.” I knew I was considerably past my sell-by date, but the rejection rankles still, especially given the precarious health of my fellow would-be donors.

SPEAKING of insults, remember when Jon Carroll wrote in the SF Chronicle: “We should just breathe deeply and think that it will not always be like this, but right now 90 percent of the truly amusing humans on the planet are north of Salinas and south of Boonville, and we should remember it and watch for artifacts of the accidental collaborations.”

I WROTE IN to Carroll that his geographic cut should have been south of Navarro and 15 miles east of Elk.

WAY BACK I had a very odd experience at SF City Hall — beneath City Hall to place the site exactly. I was instructed to see a man about a foster home rate for some City kids I was responsible for at the time. When I arrived for my appointment, I was directed to the basement elevator, and when I got to the basement I was told to descend another floor by stairs that were only slightly more negotiable than a rope ladder would have been. 

THERE, to one side of a dirt floor strewn with planks, was a plywood door. Mr. So and So had his name plate fixed to the door by an oversized nail that obliterated the middle of his name. I knocked. “Enter,” a male voice said. I didn’t know if I should or not. It was positively spooky down there, and it was obvious to me that I was probably a rare visitor. I pushed through the plywood to find a bright-eyed old boy staring back at me from a desk in the chaotic middle of mounds of  file folders, a beatific smile on his face. He looked wholly deranged, but was quite friendly and as garrulous as any topside outpatient. It was obvious I was his first visitor in many moons; maybe his first official visitor ever. We chatted for almost an hour about matters having nothing to do with my reason for being there. My host asked me if seagulls could talk. “I wouldn’t be surprised,” I replied. “I talked to a crow once.”  My host came right back with, “Oh yes, Crows are very talkative.” My open-mindedness on his zany comments seemed to please him, although I understood why the City kept him in the basement. Finally, I told this unique bureaucrat why I had come. He asked, “Well, what do you think is fair compensation for the wonderful work you’re doing?” he asked with no hint of irony. I named a figure. He said, “Surely you need more than that.” I knocked it up a couple of hundred bucks. “That’s all?” he asked. And that was it. I got the rate I asked for. That was the long and the short of the foster home rate-setting process for the City and County of San Francisco. It wasn’t until the late 1970s that the state stepped in to establish a more or less orderly rate-setting system; before that millions were allocated on the pick-a-number system, each county doling out the tax dollars any old way. And just as many millions were stolen, you can be sure of that.

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by Katy Tahja

Nannie Escola, one of the first chroniclers of Mendocino Coast lore, left the Kelley House notebooks full of newspaper clippings and her handwritten notes about local happenings. What follows are some tidbits of interest about Comptche, 12 miles inland, gleaned from those three-ring binders.

In the fall of 1884, Newman E. Hoak showed off a gloria mundi apple weighing 29 oz. and a pippin weighing 18 oz. Jense C. Ottoson had two bell flowers weighing 14 and 15 oz.

In 1941, a 256-acre ranch was sold by Miss Marian Battey to Eaton Grimes. The original owner, Newman E. Hoak, had claimed the land in 1862 and logged it for the Albion Lumber Company. The logs were hauled to the Albion River and, in the spring of the year under freshet conditions, the logs would float all the way to the Albion Mill. Hoak created a fine ranch of 320 acres and had the store and town post office there. The post office was established in 1879 with Hoak as the postmaster.

In September, 1884, it was reported the San Francisco and North Pacific Railway had completed a preliminary railroad survey to build up from Ackerman Creek in the Ukiah Valley to Low Gap, thence to Comptche and on to Mendocino City. It was hoped grade stakes would hit the ground and a corps of engineers would be forthcoming. It never happened, but it would have been grand if it had.

Dances in the town hall were a big event. The new hall was dedicated with a grand ball on May 17, 1913. As reported in the Beacon on May 24th, 350 people attended from Mendocino, Fort Bragg, Greenwood, Caspar, Little River, and Ten Mile. And Comptche, of course. An excursion train was run from Albion for the afternoon picnic and evening dance. The following day, Mrs. Charles Oppenlander’s large cake in the shape of the hall was awarded to Lew Tyson, the winner of the Saturday night raffle.

In January, 1919 it was reported that, despite severe weather, ten people came from the coast to take in a dance at the hall. All present had an enjoyable time as probably half the population of Comptche attended. A fine supper was served and dancing continued to 6:30 in the morning.

In November, 1919, John Ottoson [son of Jense Ottoson newly returned from infantry service in WWI, and a hunter and trapper of some local renown], killed a large wildcat. They are serious pests and take young pigs, lambs and kids [baby goats]. The cats have become bold and take fowl near the Ottoson home.

In March of 1932 an event long anticipated took place: Mr. Lawson of Fort Bragg brought his motion picture machine to the school, and teachers and students were treated to a program of motion pictures.

In September, 1958 a vote showed 70% of the people in Comptche gave County Sheriff Bartholomie a negative response on locating a prison camp in the area. The Board of Supervisors abandoned talks with Masonite, a local timber land owner, about the idea.

(The Kelley House Museum is open from 11am to 3pm, Thursday through Monday.)

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CATCH OF THE DAY, Thursday, November 23, 2023

Andrade, Bell, Evans, Herrera

CHRISTIAN ANDRADE-AYALA, Ukiah. DUI, no license, probation revocation.

JESSICA BELL, Willits. Failure to appear.

CURTIS EVANS, Ukiah. Failure to appear.

JESUS HERRERA, Ukiah. Protective order violation, disobeying court order.

Knight, McKay, Munson, Ousey


JOHNNY MCKAY, Ukiah. DUI, probation revocation.

ROBERT MUNSON, Willits. Assault with firearm on person, shooting at inhabited dwelling or vehicle.

KRISTO OUSEY, Ukiah. Paraphernalia, parole violation.

Silva, Smart, Suesse

DARWIN SILVA-ZUNIGA, Redwood Valley. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun.

SETH SMART, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

RHONDA SUESSE, Lakeport/Ukiah. Controlled substance, probation violation.

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NEW YORK TIMES: The Qatari government, which has brokered talks between Israel and Hamas, said a four-day pause in fighting would begin at 7 a.m. local time, with hostage and prisoner releases to follow.

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Chinese Pistache Tree, Willits (Jeff Goll)

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49ERS DOWNING THE SEAHAWKS sends message to NFC: Bring on the Eagles!

by Scott Ostler

Seattle’s Lumen Field is an exciting venue, loud and cold, and Thanksgiving night is a special time for football, but the San Francisco 49ers ruined it all Thursday. They spoiled a potentially perfectly good football game before most of the players could break a sweat, dominating the Seahawks early and late and waltzing to a 31-13 win.

By halftime, San Francisco led 24-3, and if the 49ers’ players weren’t already starting to think about Philadelphia, they had better powers of concentration than most of their fans, who had already slipped into “Bring on the Eagles!” mode.

The 49ers play the mighty Eagles (9-1) on December 3 in Philly, on a luxurious nine days’ rest, six more than the 49ers got to rest up for Seattle. The 49ers will take great pains to play up their level of concern and respect for the Eagles in the leadup to that game, and they should. But man, it’s possible that the 49ers have never looked more ready heading into a big game.

So withering was the 49ers’ attack in the first half, offense and defense, that Seahawks’ coach Pete Carroll, chomping up a storm on the sideline, might have been chewing up his playbook.

By halftime, the 49ers had outgained the Seahawks 225 yards to 56, and had 16 first downs to Seattle’s three. The Seahawks, dressed as lime popsicles, were melting in the heat of the 49ers fuego play on Turkey Day.

This being the NFL, and the Seahawks being the Seahawks, they made a game of it, outscoring the 49ers 10-0 in the third quarter to narrow the gap to 24-13. But the 49ers’ defense started pounding Seattle quarterback Geno Smith, and the 49ers’ offense did what it does.

Midway through the fourth quarter, the 49ers ground-pounded the Seahawks on four straight runs, then Brock Purdy put down the hammer with a 28-yard touchdown strike to Brandon Aiyuk. The Seahawks had to be thinking, “Et tu, Brandon?” Until that dart, Aiyuk, who ran amok the previous game, had caught only one pass.

The 49ers, one could argue, simply have more game-busting offensive weapons than any other team. Not only was Aiyuk a non-factor for three and a half quarters, so was another potential gamebuster, George Kittle, who had only three grabs, for 19 yards. This offense is Weapons R Us.

Purdy seems to agree. Referring to his touchdown pass to Aiyuk, Purdy said, “We had talked throughout the year and stuff, after practices and stuff, it’s like, ‘Man, we have an opportunity to do something real special right here,’ him and I, Deebo (Samuel), Christian (McCaffrey) and George (Kittle). I’m always talking to BA like, ‘Man, the time’s coming, man, I know you’re hungry for it, we could all tell. … It’s coming, it’s coming.’ ”

And it’s coming to Philly.

Until Aiyuk’s touchdown, most of the 49ers’ offensive action had gone to Christian McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel. The 49ers’ playmakers, the Seahawks learned, come at you in waves.

The win bumped the 49ers to 8-3, and gave them a 3-0 division record and a two-game lead over Seattle (6-5, 1-3).

The 49ers gave the Eagles plenty of food for thought, although the Eagles are riding their own confidence high behind the play of quarterback Jalen Hurts, the midseason leader in the NFL MVP derby.

But the case could be made that the 49ers are the most dangerous team in the league right now. The addition of edge rusher Chase Young seems to have sparked the defense, which racked up six sacks on Geno Smith, who was playing with an injury to his passing arm, and suffered a tweaked ankle during the game.

“Ever since we got Chance Young, things sort of flipped around, didn’t they?” said linebacker Fred Warner.

Nick Bosa was credited with two of the sacks, and Javon Hargrave with 1 ½, but most of the sacks were group jobs, with multiple 49ers involved. As the Eagles are surely noticing, the 49ers’ pass rush has officially become a problem to be dealt with, and the defensive secondary is looking effective.

Since the 49ers’ worrisome three-game losing streak that dropped them from 5-0 to 5-3, they seem to have cleaned up a lot of what was throwing them offstride.

And you know that the talk in Philly over the next week and a half is going to center around what the dynamic duo of Purdy and McCaffrey will bring to town a week from Sunday.

Purdy came into the game leading the league’s quarterbacks in passer rating at 115.1, ahead of Tua Tagovailoa’s 106.0. Purdy couldn’t come up to that lofty standard Thursday, putting up an 86.7 passer rating, a big fall-off from the previous game’s perfect 158.3, but he was efficient and effective, clever if not spectacular, and accurate on deep balls. Purdy threw a pick-six (on a deflection) in the third quarter, but overall it was another disappointing game for the Purdy Deniers, who are waiting for the kid to play down to his draft status.

As for McCaffrey, the Touchdown Machine rolled on. In the first half he busted one helmet and ripped open a bloody scrape on his left elbow. The TV shot of two technicians screwing in screws on the sides of his helmets became an instant meme. “I felt like Frankenstein,” McCaffrey said. But he shrugged it all off and forged ahead. For the game he had 19 rushes for 114 yards and two touchdowns, and caught five passes for 25 yards.

A nice pickup for the 49ers, McCaffrey. In 25 games, including three playoff games, he has scored 29 touchdowns for the 49ers, including runs of one and 8 yards Thursday.

Notice has been served to the Eagles, the 49ers will be flying East with a head of steam and an eye for greatness.


* * *


Younger Beacon

How do you know you're getting older, you look in the mirror you see a few more wrinkles, you've gained a little weight, and you know moving as fast as you did when you were in your 20s, is certainly don't go out as much, you're not hanging out in the local cocktail lounges or restaurants, although as you look around you know, less people and you remember that you've been over the years, way too many funerals, saying goodbye to your old buddies, as the dinner table shrinks from the places you used to eat, and the people you used to share food with, and beverages, as you look down the long table there are less shares in full, and less people you know, if you go out to dinner for Thanksgiving dinner and hope to run into some old friends, it doesn't happen it is a disappointment, for they were all taken off on winged flight, and left you behind to face the world, somebody told me the other day to make new friends, I've tried that the city people don't get it, they're too busy bragging about themselves and their accomplishments, or the big vacation they took to your, I have nothing in common with these folks moved into my neighborhood, and has a look down their noses, and we the country folks, I find I have less to talk to them about, for they think of us likes of people in the movie deliverance triggering a rehear the banjo in the background, as we all get a little older we all have the same experience, looking at an empty table was more food than we need an too much waste afterward, and frankly I'm a little lazy, in my old age, to get all dressed up to look good while going to a restaurant, many of his as we passed the 80-year-old Mark, have a hard time finding a date, to keep his company while we stumbled through our dinner, so I find it better, to eat the TV dinner and watch old movies, I consider my underwear not having to deal with the public, and can look at photo albums, but the dinners of yesterday, when I had a little more family, and we used to get rolling drunk, and fight among ourselves for the last piece of turkey, remembering the old days of Christmas the same way, although Christmases long ago, were interesting it best, my father did not believe much in the holiday, and he has he got older he would show up less for Christmas, I remember that I had a tree, I would decorate the house down at elk Creek, I would go out and cut a tree out in the woods, put in a bucket of dirt and water salute stayed green, then I go out and get blocks of wood that we would normally feed the fireplace, wrap it up was pretty Christmas paper and laid them under the tree, making it look like I had lots of presents, I would fill out the cards with names of people, that I knew, and when Christmas Day arrived I would take the packages and store them in the closet, covering them over so we can use them again, for next year I would find things that I've had for years and put them in my living room saying that I've gotten them for Christmas, although my dad would always remember my birthday, and many of those things I still have, from long ago, as we get ready to go through another holiday season, I will do all my visiting here at the bar, Fridays and Saturdays, but when we get close to 31 December, we will do three days Friday Saturday, and Sunday, rain or shine we will be here are planned is to serve some salami and cheese and maybe a few other snacks on the 31st my greatest gift to myself is to actually be here, outliving a few more good friends and far more enemy, and hoping for a better year in 2024.

* * *


Mr. Francis Scarpulla at Tortola Tamale Cafe

Located on Polk Street, the thoroughfare of San Francisco’s downtown, Tortola’s Spanish mystique lured customers in. No matter the level of adventure or risk a diner sought, Tortola offered something for everyone. Whether it was a classic chicken or steak entree or a quintessential pineapple and cottage cheese salad – presented in lime green jello and topped with cottage cheese on leaf lettuce – 

Tortola had all the American classics of the 1930s. Of course the draw of the cafe was in its name – the tamales served ranged from the Tortola Special, a tamale stuffed with pulled chicken and served in a classic corn husk, to the quintessential cup tamale. Unlike the rest, the cup tamale was a regional iteration found mainly in San Francisco during this time. Though the exact recipe of this regionally specific American tamale is difficult to place, recipes for similar tamale creations suggest that it was made of a thickened cornmeal dough filled with ground beef, then steamed in the shape of a cup, using the ubiquitous coffee cup to give it its form and name. Frequenters of similar San Franciscan “tamale parlors” recall a thick brown sauce that was served with such emblematic cup tamales, reminiscent of mole, a Mexican sauce made of a rich mixture of chilis and spices. Tamales could be ordered a la carte, with toppings such as cheese, or with the standard Mexican fare of rice and beans. Each order was also accompanied by either tortillas or rolls, though the menu warns customers of the “additional charge for Catsup” with their tamale orders. 

Though tamale parlors were on the rise by the late 1930s, having gained popularity and an increasing presence in San Francisco in the 20s, what set Tortola apart was their “tortolettes” – the three inch long mini cocktail tamales that were served as an appetizer with the purchase of an alcoholic beverage. These bite-sized tamales were not only served as bar food, but as an entree (4 tortolettes for just .30!) as well as a take home snack. The cocktail menu even boasts shipping them “to all parts of the United States”. By the mid-1940s, these tortolettes were upgraded into a neatly packaged tin, fitting twelve bundles of goodness, to “keep indefinitely in the freezer.”

* * *


by Chris Smith

Ruth Paine

Ruth Hyde Paine has an extraordinary and intensely personal connection to one of the most harrowing and disputed events of modern American history: the assassination in Dallas the week before Thanksgiving, 1963, of President John F. Kennedy.

Paine was 31 then. Today, she is 91 and she’s savored making Sonoma County her home for 17 years. She may have a question for you.

First, a bit of background: While living in the Dallas suburb of Irving as the married but separated mother of two preschoolers 60 years ago, Paine met and befriended a struggling, pregnant mom who’d emigrated from the Soviet Union and the woman’s underemployed American husband.

They were Marina Nikolayevna Oswald, then 21, and Lee Harvey Oswald, 23.

Paine, a lifelong Quaker and peace advocate, tells of being drawn to Marina because she spoke only Russian, a language Paine was practicing for the sake of citizen-to-citizen Cold War diplomacy. In September 1963, Paine took Marina and her first of two daughters, 15-month-old June Lee, into her home as Lee Oswald searched for work.

Paine would discover, abruptly, that Oswald, a New Orleans-born former Marine Corps marksman and budding assassin, repaid her kindness to his family by concealing in her garage his scope-mounted rifle. It’s generally accepted that he removed it, surreptitiously, just as north Texas prepared to welcome the president and first lady Jacqueline Kennedy.

Following the Nov. 22 murder of JFK and of Dallas police officer J.D. Tippit, and in short order the fatal shooting of Oswald by Jack Ruby, the shadowy proprietor of a local strip club, Paine fielded more questions than anyone else — more than 5,000 — from the Warren Commission, which concluded that Oswald and Ruby both were lone assassins.

A decade ago, Ruth Paine’s former house in Irving was memorialized as a museum.

Now to that question Paine frequently asks:

If, all these years after the shooting of President Kennedy, you doubt that Oswald was the killer and that he acted alone, what do you know of Edwin Anderson Walker?

It seems not many Americans recognize the name. There’d be no compelling reason to, but for this: One evening just seven months before the Kennedy murder, a rifle slug narrowly missed Walker, an ultraconservative, loose cannon of an ex-Army general and a virulent critic of JFK, as he sat in his Dallas home.

Ruth Paine would discover that her former friend and houseguest Marina Oswald had kept tucked away in her home a note, handwritten by her husband in Russian. That note persuaded Paine, and may have later helped to persuade the Warren Commission, that the sniper bullet that struck a windowsill near Walker and then passed within about an inch of the right-wing firebrand’s head was fired by Lee Harvey Oswald.

That would mean his killing of JFK and Officer Tippit were not his first attempts at high-profile murder.

* * *

Shooter’s Note To His Wife

Oswald and his wife and June Lee lived in April ’63 in a Dallas apartment. Marina’s friendship with Ruth Paine was two months old and deepening.

The night of April 10, Lee Oswald, a self-proclaimed communist, wrote a note to his wife and then headed out to shoot the bitterly anti-communist Walker.

The note advised Marina where the city jail was, in the event Oswald were “alive and taken prisoner.” He wrote also, “You can either throw away or give my clothing, etc., away … However, I prefer that you hold on to my personal papers (military, civil, etc.)”

The note advised Marina where to find their post office box, address book and various personal documents. Lee Oswald told also of having left his wife and daughter some cash.

That Oswald tried to kill Walker might have remained unknown forever had authorities not found the note in one of Marina’s books about a week after the Kennedy assassination. The police investigation into the failed shooting of Walker had turned cold earlier in ’63.

When confronted about the note, Marina Oswald admitted to keeping her husband’s dark secret. She revealed that when he finally came home that April night, “He was very pale … And he told me not to ask him any questions. He only told me he had shot at General Walker.”

Ruth Paine portrays that revelation as a smoking gun in Oswald’s role in the murder of Kennedy. She calls the attempted assassination of Walker just months earlier “one of the most vital pieces of information” in support of what she regards as the truth:

That Oswald was a lone, unbalanced, armed menace who’d tried to kill once before and who’d impetuously selected a second, even more prominent target when he sneaked his bolt-action rifle out of a rolled carpet in Paine’s garage and hours later fired three rapid-fire shots and killed the widely though not universally beloved 35th President of the United States.

For what it’s worth, said Paine, “I think it was a suicidal effort” that looks to have concluded largely as Oswald planned.

* * *

Remembrances At 60-Year Mark

Six decades later, Paine, a retired educator and school psychologist, flew from Santa Rosa to Texas for anniversary observances this week made more notable by the fact that so many of the people who were adults on the soul-crushing day Kennedy was slain are now gone or are elderly.

“I think I should be there,” Paine said before she left her Rincon Valley retirement community and headed off for greater Dallas.

“I will be glad to get it over with,” she said, “and will consider it my finale.”

On Monday, Paine appeared in a theater at the Irving Arts Center for a conversation with author Thomas Mallon, who interviewed her at length for his book, “Mrs. Paine’s Garage and the Murder of John F. Kennedy,” first published in 2002.

Tall, thoughtful and deliberate, Paine has never been on a crusade to draw people to her view that there were no conspiracies at play in the slaying of JFK. She has not gone in search of opportunities to persuade, but has accepted invitations to be interviewed or consulted.

“I try to make myself available to people seeking to decide,” she said. “I think people have the right to know and if I can offer something, I try to.”

In her ninth decade, Paine speaks of accepting that she won’t outlive widely held convictions that there were at least two active shooters in Dallas on that ghastly Friday in 1963, that the Central Intelligence Agency or other hawkish forces foreign and/or domestic egged Lee Oswald on or framed him as the patsy he would claim to be, and that the Warren Commission did not in fact investigate the truth of who killed Kennedy but concealed it.

* * *

Still-Unfolding Story

The commission was created by JFK’s successor as president, Lyndon Baines Johnson, and was chaired by Chief Justice and former California Gov. Earl Warren. Its seven members included congressman and future president Gerald Ford, former CIA chief Allen Dulles and John McCloy, ex-president of the World Bank.

The Warren Commission released its 888-page report in September 1964, but the government kept classified the vast cache of reports and reports made available to the panel and its advisers. The documents were to remain sealed until 2039. Then the JFK Records Act of 1992 directed that all assassination-related documents be assembled into a single collection and made available to the public by October 2017 — unless the president were to determine that the release would pose grave harm “to the military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or conduct of foreign relations.”

Since 2017, both presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden have released hundreds of thousands of commission records. But they kept some redacted, citing national security.

Among the voices calling for the release of all Warren Commission documents is that of author Gerald Posner, whose acclaimed 1993 book, “Case Closed,” took on conspiracy theories and declared that Oswald did indeed act alone, with no evidence of conspiracy.

Regarding the documents still being kept secret, Posner told Peter Baker of the New York Times last summer, “Many of us have made up our minds. Some of us have made up our minds that there was a conspiracy, and some of us have made up our minds that it was Oswald.

“But in the end, we all want to see these files.”

* * *

Friendship Betrayed

Allegations from students of the JFK assassination who believe there was a wider plot include this: That when Ruth Paine and her late husband, Michael, interacted with the Oswalds they did so as willing or manipulated proxies of the CIA. Ruth Paine acknowledges the optics aren’t good regarding some of the things that occurred during her nine-month association with the couple.

As examples: Not only did Lee Oswald keep his mail-ordered Italian Carcano infantry carbine in her garage, unbeknownst to her, but Paine helped Oswald find a job after a neighbor in Irving told her of an employment opportunity at the Dallas School Book Depository.

Thus assisted by Paine, Oswald began work at the book warehouse on Oct. 15 of ’63. Five days later, Marina gave birth to a second daughter, Audrey.

With Paine’s two-bedroom home occupied by herself and her children, Ruth, 4, and Christopher, 2, and by Marina and her two daughters, Lee Oswald stayed through the workweek in a rooming house in Dallas. After work on Fridays, he’d catch a ride back to Irving with the neighbor of Paine, Buell Frazier, then 19, who also worked at the depository.

It surprised Frazier when Oswald asked to return with him to Irving on a Thursday evening — Nov. 21. Oswald told Frazier he needed to retrieve from Irving some curtain rods.

At one point that night, Paine went into her small garage and noticed the light was on. She wondered in passing who’d gone in there. It had been Lee Oswald. His wife would soon acknowledge knowing that he kept his rifle there, rolled in a green and brown blanket.

Neighbor Frazier has recounted that at about 7:30 the following morning, the 22nd, as he and Oswald prepared to return to their jobs at the book warehouse, Oswald placed a paper-bagged package in the back seat of Frazier’s ‘54 Chevrolet. Having been told of Oswald’s need of curtain rods, Frazier paid the package no mind.

Five hours later, many investigators agree, as the presidential motorcade passed slowly by the book depository, Oswald the former Marine sharpshooter (he’d been given an “undesirable” discharge) loosed three rapid-fire gunshots from a sixth-floor corner window.

* * *

Witness To History

Ruth Paine maintains it is obvious that Lee Harvey Oswald planned the murder with no help or external prodding. But she’s well aware that remains an unpopular view in America.

“There have always been more people who believe it was a conspiracy than believe it was a lone gunman,” she noted.

A 2022 poll found that 50% of American voters believe others besides Oswald were involved in the assassination, while just 38% think Oswald acted alone. Among poll respondents dubious of the Warren Commission’s conclusion, 31% said they think the CIA was primarily responsible for planning the president’s murder.

Why the CIA? There’s a prominent line of thought that people high up in the spy agency resented Kennedy for forcing the resignation of CIA Director Dulles after the fiasco of the Cuban Bay of Pigs invasion of April, 1960, and for attempting to rein in the agency and a U.S. government-military-industrial complex chafing to wage wholesale war on communism.

This past May, Robert Kennedy Jr., a nephew of JFK on a longshot run for the White House, declared, “There is overwhelming evidence that the CIA was involved in his murder.”

The candidate suggests the CIA wanted President Kennedy dead because of his resistance to committing U.S. troops to Vietnam. Kennedy Jr. also floats the possibility that the CIA had a role, too, in the 1968 assassination of his father, Robert F. Kennedy, a brother of the slain president.

(For what it is worth, Robert Kennedy Jr.’s other publicly avowed beliefs, linking vaccines to autism, have been roundly debunked by scientists and denounced as dangerous by public health authorities.)

Some critics of the Oswald-acted-alone conclusion have included the Paines prominently in their allegations of deep conspiracy and betrayal of the American people. Among them, late Philadelphia attorney Vince Salandria, a pioneer critic of the findings of the Warren Commission.

“There’s no mystery here,” Salandria declares in “The Assassination and Mrs. Paine,” a 2022 documentary by Stanford graduate Max Good. “It’s all self-evident. It was a coup.”

Salandria adds, “You can’t close the circle without the Paines. There is no way they can be innocent. No way.” Others interviewed on camera by Good come down both for and against the Paines and the assertions that Oswald was a solitary killer.

Ruth Paine sees tragic irony in the excruciating reality that all these years after the very public slaying of President Kennedy, it’s become commonplace for American men, often young and presumably disturbed ones, to load combat rifles and go killing — yet there’s little or no accompanying talk of conspiracy. The nation seems satisfied that shootings like the one that ended 18 lives in Maine not a month ago are the work solely of individuals who seek to settle real or imagined scores, or to vent hatred, or to get their names in the news, to end their lives in what they may perceive as blazes of glory, or perhaps to experience how it feels, in an ever more detached and virtual world, to fire live bullets at live men, women and children.

For much of the past six decades, Paine has consistently declared that she knew of and participated in no murderous plot. And that everything she witnessed and knows of Lee Harvey Oswald enforces her estimation of him as a little man whose internal urgings drove him to kill a great one.

These days, Paine said, “It’s harder for me to remember and to organize things.” Among her stated beliefs: That at 91, she can continue to hope history will reach the same conclusion she has, but it’s time that she step back from the fray.

(Santa Rosa Press Democrat)

* * *


Anybody ever hear of a holiday Armenian dish called Ghapama? A coworker made for our potluck and I took half of it home! 

Will Lee: Ghapama is one of the most festive dishes of traditional Armenian cuisine. Prepared from a whole pumpkin, and traditionally baked in Fall and for, New Years, Easter, wedding and birthday celebrations. Ghapama is unique in the sense that the pumpkin serves both as a cooking and serving vessel, and its the star ingredient at the same time. Sweet, fragrant, colorful both outside and inside, it’s a dish made with a pumpkin stuffed with rice, butter, honey, raisins, nuts, dried fruits and other bounties of autumn.

* * *

NINE WAYS YOU’RE COMPOSTING WRONG, according to Bay Area experts

by Tara Duggan

Thanksgiving is a day of excess. It’s a time when a lot of food goes to waste — up to 1 pound per person, according to one study. Avoiding waste in the first place is best, but composting is another way to reduce the impact.

About one-third of what Californians throw into the garbage could be composted. Getting more food scraps and yard waste into the compost bin and out of landfills reduces potent climate-warming methane emissions and creates high-quality compost for local farms. It’s also required by California law as of last year.

The rule of thumb for compostables is to think about whether the item is made from something that once was alive. The main categories are food scraps, food-soiled paper and yard waste. During Thanksgiving, that might be potato peelings, apple cores, chestnut shells, turkey bones and whatever food your guests leave on their plates.

But within those main categories, people also toss other things into the compost bin that do not belong there. They get in the way of compost processing and ultimately end up in the landfill anyway.

Specific rules vary depending on where you live, but here are some guidelines as you cook (or eat takeout meals) over Thanksgiving, the winter holidays and beyond.

Avoid plastic liner bags. Don’t put food scraps into plastic bags, which can clog up processing equipment at composting facilities.   

Instead, Robert Reed, public relations manager at Recology San Francisco, suggests placing a used paper towel or napkin in the bottom of your compost pail to absorb moisture and odors. Then, it’s best to empty the pail into the curbside bin every day to keep things fresh.

Bin liners that are compostable are allowed in some cities (including San Francisco) but not others; check with your local provider.

Remove produce accessoriesfirst. Throw away rubber bands, twist ties and tiny stickers from carrot stems or apple peels before composting. 

Parchment paper is a no-go. Often used during holiday baking, this pan liner is coated in silicone, making it unsuitable for the compost or even recycling bin. Waxed paper, however, can be composted.

Put the milk cartons and clean cardboard in the recycling instead. Cardboard is valuable, so empty milk cartons and place them in the blue rather than the green bin. Same goes for unstained egg cartons; but if they’re dirty, put them in the compost along with greasy pizza boxes and used (but unlined) paper plates.

Check labels on compostable food containers and utensils. Many new food containers and utensils that are labeled biodegradable aren’t actually compostable at local facilities or accepted in the green bin. Though they are allowed in San Francisco, to-go containers, bags and cups labeled BPI Certified Compostable aren’t allowed in the green bin in Oakland and some other cities because they can make the final compost product not qualify for organic certification. Check your local recycling center for guidance.  

Remove packaging from expired food. If you don’t get around to eating that shrink-wrapped ham before it goes bad, don’t forget to discard all the packaging before placing the food in the compost.

No glass, foil or Styrofoam. These items often end up in the green bin, according to Recology, so keep an eye out for them.

Not all yard waste qualifies. Soil; rocks; branches or stumps over 4 feet long and 4 inches wide; lumber; and painted or treated wood don’t belong in the green bin.

Dog poop bags, kitty litter or diapers are a definite no. Compost facilities aren’t licensed to receive such waste, and dog poop bags often end up having to get sorted out of other compostable items. (And, though they fall into the category of “once alive,” dead animals also do not go in the bin, says Alameda County’s Stop Waste.)

Everything collected in green bins in San Francisco, and many other Bay Area cities, gets transported to Recology’s Blossom Valley Organics North composting facility in Vernalis (San Joaquin County). There, it gets put into piles and allowed to break down for 60 days. Warm temperatures created in the process can break down things as hard as mussel shells. The resulting compost is then run through a screen that filters out anything larger than ¼ inch. 

Sometimes what’s left are food service items like to-go containers or utensils that are labeled biodegradable but that don’t break down as well or at all, said Reed. (Not to mention dog poop bags.)  

The finished compost that does result is considered high quality because of the diversity of items that go into it, from meat to egg shells to broccoli stems, said Johnny White, operations supervisor at Pina Vineyard Management. 

White has had the compost lab-tested for quality and uses at least 2,500 tons of it per year on 50 vineyards in the Napa Valley, such as Vine Cliff Winery off the Silverado Trail.  

“I love Recology’s compost because of all the food waste that is in it,” he said. “It’s a more nutrient-rich compost than something that has a lot of wood and landscape materials.” 

* * *

HAVING READ HERMAN MELVILLE for most of my life, I am always intrigued by the poignant end of his life when, thinking himself having failed to sustain his early success, he turned back to poetry. (In England, Thomas Hardy did the same thing). I find his poetry quite strong -- even if not all of it has the 'gold' of his novels. As a poet, I am always interested in those American novelists who turn to, or integrate poetry as a part of their writing. In today's contemporary literature, the idea of 'hybrid' genres has become commonplace. But I find that few writers can really be excellent at both at the same time. I think Melville did.

In reading his 'Apparition', I find it pertains to so much of what is going on today during a time of war -- and yet, it is more than war that he speaks of here:

The Apparition (A Retrospect)

Convulsions came; and, where the field

Long slept in pastoral green,

A goblin-mountain was upheaved

(Sure the scared sense was all deceived),

Marl-glen and slag-ravine.

The unreserve of Ill was there,

The clinkers in her last retreat;

But, ere the eye could take it in,

Or mind could comprehension win,

It sunk!—and at our feet.

So, then, Solidity’s a crust—

The core of fire below;

all may go well for many a year,

But who can think without a fear

Of horrors that happen so?

* * *

* * *

DRUGS usually enhance or strengthen my perceptions and reactions, for good or ill. They've given me the resilience to withstand repeated socks to my innocence gland. The brutal reality of the politics alone would probably be intolerable without drugs. They've given me the strength to deal with those shocking realities guaranteed to shatter anyone's beliefs in the higher idealistic shibboleths of our time and the “American Century.” Anyone who covers his beat for twenty years, and that beat is “The Death of the American Dream,” needs every goddamned crutch he can find.

Besides, I enjoy drugs. The only trouble they've given me is the people who try to keep me from using them. Res ipsa loquitur. I was, after all, a literary lion last year. [A reference to an honor from the New York Public Library.]

The media perception of me has always been pretty broad. As broad as the media itself. As a journalist, I somehow managed to break most of the rules and still succeed. It’s a hard thing for most of today’s journeyman journalists to understand, but only because they can’t do it. The smart ones understood immediately. The best people in journalism I’ve never had any quarrel with. I am a journalist and I've never met, as a group, any tribe I'd rather be a part of or that are more fun to be with—in spite of the various punks and sycophants of the press. I’m proud to be a part of the tribe.

It hasn't helped a lot to be a savage comic-book character for the last 15 years—a drunken screwball who should've been castrated a long time ago. The smart people in the media knew it was a weird exaggeration. The dumb ones took it seriously and warned their children to stay away from me at all costs. The really smart ones understood it was only a censored, kind of toned-down children’s-book version of the real thing.

Now we are being herded into the nineties, which looks like it is going to be a true generation of swine, a decade run by cops with no humor, with dead heroes and diminished expectations, a decade that will go down in history as The Gray Area. At the end of the decade no one will be sure of anything except that you must obey the rules. Sex will kill you, politicians lie, rain is poison, and the world is run by whores. These are terrible things to have to know in your life, even if you’re rich.

Since that’s become the mode, that sort of thinking has taken over the media as it has business and politics: “I’m going to turn you in, son—not only for your own good but because you were the bastard who turned me in last year.”

The vilification by Nazi elements within the media has not only given me a fierce joy to continue my work—more and more alone out here, as darkness falls on the barricades—but has also made me profoundly orgasmic, mysteriously rich, and constantly at war with those vengeful retro-fascist elements of the Establishment that have hounded me all my life. It has also made me wise, shrewd, and crazy on a level that can only be known by those who have been there.

— Hunter S. Thompson, March, 1990

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  1. George Hollister November 24, 2023

    “WE ALL KNOW about the outrageous treatment of Japanese during World War Two”

    The biggest outrage was not the internment of people with a Japanese heritage, but the loss of private property these people suffered. No provisions were made to pay property taxes, or maintain businesses until the end of war. These forcibly delinquent properties were scooped up by others at below market value. It is a tribute to the strength of Japanese culture, that most of the interred bounced back after the war, and went on to have successful lives.

    • Bruce McEwen November 24, 2023

      George, if you read Pablo Neruda’s Memoirs you’ll see how there actually were a lot of Japanese saboteurs in the Bay Area and how Neruda helped them escape on a freighter he sent from his post at the Chilean embassy in Mexico City— he hated Americans for what the Anaconda and Kennecott copper corporations did to his country!

  2. Katy Tahja November 24, 2023

    While it is an interesting photo (which II did not supply) I do not think it is from the opening of the Comptche Hall due to the length of the woman’s skirt…that would have been scandalous in 1913…

    • Marilyn Davin November 25, 2023

      The photo goes with a feature I wrote on a Holocaust survivor.

    • Iggy November 25, 2023

      I believe it was you that mentioned the East Broad Top RR a few months back. The missus and I took the Capital Limited to Harpers Ferry last month (a very pleasant run from Chicago which we have made many times) to visit old friends. I discovered we were less than two hours from the narrow gauge. We stayed in the house of the former superintendent , now a modest B&B, and rode in the cupola (waycar/caboose) the following day. I doubt that we will ever meet for coffee, so thanks for the recommendation. Sincerely, Iggy

  3. Steve Heilig November 24, 2023

    “If the CIA or FBI wanted JFK dead, they would have accomplished that quietly in a private place, not out in public in front of countless people and TV cameras using a screwball who could have easily botched it. The Republicans wouldn’t do it as it just meant LBJ would be in, and he was a tougher bastard than JFK would ever be. And yes you or I could have made that shot easily, unless I failed at your training. People who think it was a big conspiracy plot have been watching too much bad TV.”
    – my dad, military marksman, arms merchant CEO, engineer, pal to generals, president of the Navy League, GOP stalwart.

    • Sarah Kennedy Owen November 24, 2023

      My father, an electronics engineer, might have said the same thing as your dad regarding the JFK assassination. We had polite arguments over solar energy in the 70’s. He said it would not work because it is too expensive to buy and install. He was not altogether wrong.
      However, as for the assassination of JFK, the horror of that event outweighs skepticism, in my view. Johnson may have been tough, but he caved 100% to the pressure to wage war in Vietnam.
      Also, why bother to hide the assassination “in private” (i.e. staging it other than in Dallas) when the “investigation” (Warren Commission) involved some of the very suspects who may have been behind it? You also must be aware that our mainstream news is not up to the task of revealing any real “news” of much value. Therefore, all the better to have it very public, then twist the truth any way you want without obstruction.
      Sorry to say, Americans have been making uncountable, ineffable amounts of money off of war for over a century. It has become a serious addiction. JFK was getting in the way of the infusion of war money that was not only expected but thought of as due to the highly entitled. It is such a sad story we all want to turn away and forget about it, but it is still there, and “we” (they) still need that shot in the arm. Unless “we” (they) can sober up we (everyone) may perish. JFK not only knew this, he was responsible to keep it from happening, at a very critical time.

  4. Word November 24, 2023


    REPORT COMING IN FROM KMUD HUMBOLDT COUNTY (she said all of Northern California?)


    YOU MAY TEXT 911, or
    at 707-441-4060
    at 707-445-7521

    • Bob A. November 24, 2023

      AT&T broadband is down in Boonville, too. Could it be a backbone fiber optic cable cut somewhere in NorCal? AT&T says that service is to be restored by 9PM tonight.

      • Word November 24, 2023

        Nine cell towers are affected in Mendocino County.
        Person at USCellular said 911 disconnect may have brought down the Internet.
        Internet is now back on.

        • Bob A. November 24, 2023

          Internet, voice, 911, and cell, it’s all just ATM (Asynchronous Transport Mode) packets running over the same fiber transport. In heavily populated areas, there are many fiber paths an ATM packet can follow. That’s redundancy. But here in the boonies, there are few if any redundant paths. Run a backhoe through the wrong fiber and many, many things go down. Some of them are essential, like 911.

          I believe our emergency communications here in NorCal are extremely fragile. I also think that few or none of the people in a position to do something about it have an understanding of how fragile they are.

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