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Valley People (June 24, 2015)

LORETTA HOUCK still faces a long, long road to recovery from the terrible brain injury she suffered when she fell and struck her head. Loretta and her husband Dan being a long-time and very popular local couple, lots of locals have stepped up to help however they can, most efficiently via https://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/kfp8/loretta-jean-houck-s-medical-expenses where there are also periodic updates on Loretta's condition.

LIZ DUSENBERRY reminds us that the Anderson Valley Lending Library will reopen this Saturday June 27th, from 2-4pm. "We will also have our Book Sale for the month of July. We will not accept any more book donations for now, as we will be getting ready to close in August."

FRANKLIN GRAHAM WRITES from Beyond the Deep End (Navarro): "If ever there was one more reason to avoid buying anything imported from China, this takes the cake. In Yulin, southern China, there is a Dog-meat festival every summer. I am sure that some will argue that there are simply too many dogs bred, given the pet market. Discouraging overbreeding from "puppy mills" can help solve that part of the problem. But the practice does not rely on breeders alone. It is reported that many of the dogs destined for the "chopping block" are stolen pets. Makes one's skin crawl.

"So, my wife and I are doubly determined to avoid buying any import from China. What with Costco and Walmart, any retailer, this is no easy task. Near impossible, one might insist. Still, one must try. If we could, we would ask every American to think twice before buying anything Chinese. We are not suggesting that China-bashing is a good thing in itself. But, if the Chinese government was to realize that resistance to their exports, a broad spectrum of them, might depress their markets, so much the better. Who knows, they might decide not to eat dog."

BETSY TAYLOR is the long-time and now retired junior high school English teacher at AV Unified. The multi-talented Ms. Taylor is also the founder and director of the Anderson Valley Chorus and a violinist with the Symphony of the Redwoods. She is moving to Michigan to be closer to her son and grandson. Betsy's absence will put a big hole in the cultural life of this county.

POPPED in on the World Music Festival early Sunday afternoon and thought to myself, “Holy Moly! The world has ended and I missed the biggest story ever because I was up in my office!” Hey, this is Boonville, and the rasta scene is, well, startling in the Boonville context. Don't tell the cops, but I'm pretty sure I smelled marijuana! Which is supposed to be a joke, but there was enough of it for this old boozer to think about a contact high. The sedate and sedated ganja-gaudy crowd bopped in place to the exhortatory messages set to single rhythms energetically booming off the stage. There were lots of half-clad, handsome women, plenty of grungy men, people selling rastafarian gear all over the Fairgrounds, and lots of good food. I kept an eye out for Sister Yasmin, pretty sure that I could outrun her if she accosted me with her uniquely lethal message of “peace, love and good vibrations.” Lots of children, which prompted “appropriateness” concerns in old grandpap who would not have permitted his children to attend, but the times have done changed on all us old grandpaps, and one sails on with the flow or checks out early from apoplexy.

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DEPUTY WALKER said Sunday there were a few arrests of young men selling dope of the harder type — one guy was peddling cocaine — but considering that the festival runs on dope there weren't even many of those, the crowd being the usual peaceful one.

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A PLEASANT young man manned the Lambert Lane checkpoint. He said he usually worked as an emergency room nurse in Oakland, meaning nothing he saw in Boonville was likely to discombobulate him. Lambert residents are still fuming that their neighborhood was cordoned off for the weekend with them being required to show the emergency room nurse proof that they lived there. The festival organizers also control parking for the event, and Lambert Lane is one of the primary access points to Fairgrounds parking, hence Checkpoint Rasta.

Jimmy Cliff, B.B. Seaton, Tired Staffer
Jimmy Cliff, B.B. Seaton, Tired Staffer

LATE MONDAY AFTERNOON, it was as if the many thousands of world music fans hadn't been here. A red, yellow and green tsunami had rolled in and rolled out, and Boonville was back asleep.

AFTER BEING CLOSED most of the winter, the Hendy Woods State Park Day Use Area will reopen at a special celebration on Sunday, June 28 from 1-4 PM. Day use entry will be free for the afternoon. Everyone is welcome to celebrate with appetizers, dessert, and drinks supplied by the Hendy Woods Community. Bring your own picnic. Sarah Larkin and Friends will provide music, and new park interpreter Steve Jahelka will lead a sing along. Funding for the renovation was provided by Hendy Woods Community, Save the Redwoods League, and the California Department of Parks and Recreation. Representatives from the organizations will be on hand to provide information about their programs.

HENDY UPGRADES include a new bathroom, two shade structures with new BBQs and tables, new walkways and new interpretive panels, all of which have been constructed to the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This continues the tradition of ADA compliant facilities at Hendy Woods begun by the Unity Club with the Gentle Giants All Access Trail. The parking area has also been reconfigured and repaved. Expect a bit of dust until rainfall allows re-vegetation later in the year.

“THIS HAS BEEN a very encouraging cooperative effort,” said Hendy Woods Chairperson Kathy Bailey. “Communication was good throughout the process. Parks Department staffers went out of their way to make sure we knew what was happening and kept the many pieces of the project moving forward. Working together with the knowledgeable staff of Save the Redwoods League ensured a good outcome. We’re very pleased.”

AGROKTIMA FRESKO is a farm-to-table celebration of Anderson Valley food and wine, Greek style. Enjoy 5 courses of culinary delights including local lamb, pork, and produce all to benefit the Boonville Farmers Market food stamp match fund. Help strengthen the local food economy while sipping fine wines from Roederer Estate And Goldeneye Vineyards. Champagne reception starts at 6 at Roederer Estate in Philo, dinner at 7 on Saturday June 27th. Tickets are $100, all proceeds go to the Food Stamp Match Fund. Call 707-318-6166 for tickets, or email valerie.h.kim@gmail.com for information.

THE FOOD STAMP Match Fund allows shoppers using food stamps to double their purchasing power at the farmers' market, while also increasing revenue to local farmers and thereby strengthening the local food economy. Shoppers can spend $15 of their food stamps, which is doubled by the Match Fund such that they actually have $30 to spend at market.

IS THERE ANY MORE reassuring sight than a hearty fog bank at the Navarro end of the Anderson Valley? Never is the color grey more beautiful than it is from summer time Boonville after a run of hundred degree days.

AS REPORTED HERE two weeks ago, Ted Hall, proprietor of the Long Meadow Ranch in Rutherford, has bought the 145-acre Corby Vineyard, Philo, paying about more than $100,000 per planted acre, which is what Anderson Valley vineyards are going for these days, as old timers scratch their heads and remember when bare land went for a hundred an acre, if that. (The Corbys have relocated to Florida.) Hall farms his Napa County holdings organically, which is the good news for us in a valley heavy on industrial grape growing.

STEPHANE VIVIER, a native of France, will be Hall's winemaker at Corby, Paul Ardzrooni of Ardzrooni Vineyard Management in Philo will oversee the vineyard.

IN THE PRESS DEMOCRAT'S breathless prose announcing the Hall family's purchase of Philo's Corby Vineyards, appears this annoying passage: "The area has seen a little controversy lately as one community resident filed a lawsuit claiming that wind machines used to stave off frost in the vineyards regularly violate the county’s noise ordinance, which limits noise to 40 decibels at night. Residents want to preserve their quality of life in the hamlet and are wary of tourism growth and events that are commonplace in Sonoma and Napa counties…"

THE COUNTY could have avoided the "little controversy" simply by enforcing its own rules, thus sparing that "one community resident" the expense of a lawsuit, a suit the "one community resident" would drop if his neighbors agree to quiet their frost fans.

THE ANDERSON VALLEY has already been overwhelmed by the forces of high end booze, and the only obstacle that prevents us from becoming the twin horrors of the Napa and Sonoma valleys, is our "lack of infrastructure." Long may it lack!

DEPUTY WALKER also said Sunday that he has been unable to confirm that widely rumored armed robbery, alleged to have occurred in Boonville a few weeks ago. The Deputy was similarly nonplussed by another prevalent rumor that three locals, two women and a man, had been drugged, apparently, they thought, by a date rape-like substance slipped into their drinks. The Deputy says he has no reason to disbelieve the unfortunate trio but he is unable to confirm that it happened.

IN THE COURSE of writing up the sad ripoff saga of the two old ladies in Willits, one of the ladies complained that she couldn't get a deputy to even note that someone was now trying to creep her out at night by periodically sitting at the foot of her driveway. She wasn't asking for regular drive-bys or any other attention deputies seldom have time for, all she wanted was for the police to know this was happening to her. I think she got the wrong deputy. Our deputy here in Boonville, Craig Walker, notes everything, and is famous and famously appreciated for following up on every call no matter how trivial or downright wacky. And I understand that both the Ukiah and the Willits police departments are equivalently conscientious.

I WAS SENT to the market late last Wednesday afternoon to buy an onion. Count 'em. One onion. There's a Whole Foods-like store not too far away, but as a progressive, whatever that means anymore, I headed for a union shop, in this case Safeway in the Red Hill Shopping Center, San Anselmo. One of the biggest stores in the Center is a pet emporium, a sure sign of majorly skewed priorities. I always get a strong end-of-the-world vibe at the place, a kind of slo-bake decadence, but the Whole Foods-like store is even unhappier on the Deca-Meter. Not wanting to walk out of the place with an onion — "Look at that poor old guy, the senile one over there with the onion" — I also bought the little lady a bundle of red gladiolas. In the parking lot, a woman of about 50, but dressed in shorts, cowboy boots and a halter top, walks up and says, "Glads and an onion. That's an odd purchase." So I, thinking quickly for the first time on the day, replied, "Not if you're a gardener. I'm going to plant the onion and in a couple of months I'll have twenty glads." The cowgirl did an abrupt walkaway. It occurred to me that she thought I was a nut, which was ironic because I'd assumed she was one. I think my analysis was the more correct of the two. She was obviously at least mildly cuckoo given her outfit and bold approach to a stranger, albeit a stranger with a plump puss that radiates harmlessness. Nuts either don't get it because things stopped being funny for them many years ago, or they still don't get it but dissolve in laughter out of all proportion to the joke.

BIG DAY FRIDAY in the Bay Area, what with the Warrior rally in Oakland and the President swooping in on The People's jumbo jet to swap cliches with a conference of mayors before stopping in on a couple of billionaires to shake them down for the noble cause of electing Him. The President's motorcade, complete with the identical limo containing a guy who looks vaguely like El Presidente to confuse potential assassins. If Obama rode a bike from the Ferry Building to the billionaire's aerie in Sea Cliff it would probably be just as safe for him as his traffic-snarling motorcade and would certainly be a visual more consistent with what's left of democratic principles than these 500 uniformed and un-uniformed gun boys he travels with like some kind of hot country dictator.

Iguodala accepts MVP trophy from NBA great Bill Russell
Iguodala accepts MVP trophy from NBA great Bill Russell

“THAT WAS A BRILLIANT DECISION by Coach Kerr to put me back in the starting line-up for the finals!,” joked NBA Finals MVP Andre Iguodala after the Warriors broke a 40-year championship drought last Tuesday night by holding off the tenacious Cleveland Cavaliers to win the 2015 NBA Championship to win game six 105-97. Major Scaramella was happy, of course, but said the long overdue victory was bittersweet because his brother Hugh, a lifelong Warriors fan, died last summer and never got to see his favorite team— which had disappointed its fans season after season for so long — win the big one. “I know it’s just a basketball game,” said The Major, “but somehow these things become part of who you are — they certainly were part of my brother’s existence for the last half of his life. But not being able to enjoy a winning season with him makes the Warriors long-overdue success just one season too late for him and for me.”

THE WARRIORS celebratory event was ok as these things go. A million people turned out for it and seemed to have a good time, and who's to deny people the opportunity to feel good about something even if it's only a game? Oakland's yuppo mayor went on too long and the president of the Oakland City Council went on even longer, so long that thousands of people began yelling at him to get off so basketball's champs could get on. This late in late capitalism these elected smiley faces have no idea how estranged every day people are from them.

PERSONAL REMINISCE: So many years ago that I feel more like Rip Van Winkle every day, I, as a high school jock, got into a couple of pick-up basketball games with Tom Meschery, already a legend as one of the best basketball players to come out of San Francisco. It was Meschery and Fred LaCour who were revered by would be younger athletes all over Northern California. Last Friday, Meschery was sitting next to Rick Barry on the platform in Oakland at the big celebration. After basketball, where he was an NBA star with the Warriors, Meschery opened a bookstore in Truckee and became pretty well known as a poet. He must be pushing 80 by now but I always feel good on those rare occasions he pops into public view.

WAY, WAY BACK there was a kind of every man's country club in Fairfax called the Marin Town and Country Club. The swells of course had their own private spas and golf courses, but any old body could pay fifty cents and swim all day or play basketball on the outdoor courts at Fairfax. Families could rent cabins at reasonable prices or just enjoy a day's picnic on the dozen or so tree-shaded acres. The developments wolves have slavered over the property for years, but it's still there undeveloped, a ghost of what it was but at least not covered with condos and the wild-eyed consumers driving vehicles as wide as the old bridge at the entrance that you see all over Marin County. The cabins are still there and pretty much stuffed with old hippies, although the pools and the outdoor basketball haven't seen action since, I don't know, 1960?

MESCHERY and some of the best high school and college basketball players often spent whole summer days on the courts at Marin Town and Country, which would have been 1954-55. If these great players happened to be short a guy they'd pick up one of us, ah, slo-mo punks from the slo-mo court to fill out a team. I got to play with the big boys a couple of times, although all I got to do was in-bounds the ball maybe once and pass it off if it happened to carom into my hands. It was a simpler time, certainly, and I was usually working and wasn't able to lounge around in Fairfax very often. But there were days when the place was pure hoops magic at a time when basketball was going to a whole new level. And now that it has, well, I'll bet Meschery never had as much fun doing it as he did on those long ago summer days at the Marin Town and Country Club.

Tom Meschery, Then/Now
Tom Meschery, Then/Now

NICKI AUSCHNITT of Petit Teton Farms writes: "We just did our first Agro-Tourism event. At the beginning of the year we received an email out of the blue from a young man in the SF tech department of Airbnb requesting a farm visit to shave a yak. When we stopped giggling, we replied that his office was welcome to visit and cut some yak hair, but that no self respecting yak would allow him/herself to be shaved — and they have horns to keep it from happening. The expression "shaving a yak" seems not to be unique to their office; other techies use it. Since it means solving one problem which leads to another, we're shaving yaks daily here on the farm. But where did the expression come from? Life is shaving a yak. Anyway, after much back and forth, a group of 20 or so young men (yes, all of them guys between the ages of 28-35 from every country imaginable) came out from downtown SF in a gigantic bus, so big it couldn't navigate our steep driveway. We toured 10 fellows around the farm and shaved yak hair (poor Kayak did hard duty tied up for a few hours while people wielding scissors cut hairs off her back and skirt) and the other 10 were driven up to Wynne's tour of the aquaponic system in the back of our '51 Chevy pickup market truck. Then we switched. Everyone loved it and many photos were taken. After the touring and hair cutting, we all (30 of us with our farm crew of 10) sat down to a great lunch in the front garden provided by Yorkville Market. It was a beautiful day and a very good time. Now we just need to have them send us some of their photos."

GREG KROUSE WRITES: One of my favorite events for Grangers is in the works; writing resolutions for the State Convention. It is hardly a superfluous event. Grangers through their conviction, resolutions and conventions have brought you rural power, phones and more recently, mud flaps for trucks and a strong conviction to get GMOs labelled and fight seed distribution laws like the foolish one that keeps us from distributing hand picked seeds beyond three miles. It is obvious who pushed that controlling law in our legislature. Big Seed! If you are a granger or a wanna be, come to the next meeting with ideas. You can contact me for format. Last year I put through 4 which all but one was accepted at State level; Grange Broad band, support of post offices and federal lobbyist for Calif state. Don't forget to come hear Tom McDermott, New Orleans pianist in the next Dancing on Ivories piano series July 18th at 7:30. McDermott is a musician's musician but also quite amazing. He blends ragtime, Big easy jazz and Brazilian Choros with great dynamics, cool bass run transitions and percussive transitions. We snagged him after hearing him many years back on the coast.

BOONVILLE LADY Assesses Rasta Fest: It wasn’t as bad this year as it has been in the past. The music didn’t seem as loud. I think it was as smaller crowd than usual too. Booster Club pancake breakfast was really slow on Saturday. Busier on Sunday. My only complaint was I was pulled over near Lambert Bridge coming home from a Father’s Day BBQ at my brother’s house. Burned out tail light. He let me off with a warning but I was a little annoyed because he took mine and the hubby’s licenses so he could run us through the system.

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