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Mendocino County Today: Friday, Jan 29, 2016

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National Weather Service has issued a Flood Watch for Mendocino County. In effect from this evening through Friday evening. Heavy periods of rain are expected bringing possibly rain totals as high as 5 inches of rain in the higher elevations.

Small stream and creek flooding is likely, but the rivers are not forecasted to reach monitor or flood stage.


The National Weather Service in Eureka has expanded the flood watch to include a portion of Northwest California... Including low lying areas of Mendocino County...particularly in northern Mendocino County.

From this evening through Friday evening heavy periods of rain will cause ponding of water in roadways and areas with poor drainage. The heaviest rain will be Thursday night through early Friday morning...with widespread storm total accumulations of 2.5 to 4 inches expected. Totals as high as 5 inches will be possible at high elevations...particularly in northern Mendocino County.

Small stream and creek flooding is likely. Rapid rises on main stem rivers are also expected with some rivers reaching monitor stage. Visit for more details about mainstem rivers.

Precautionary/preparedness actions...

A flood watch means there is a potential for flooding based on current forecasts.

You should monitor later forecasts and be alert for possible flood warnings. Those living in areas prone to flooding should be prepared to take action should flooding develop.

The main stem rivers are expected to have rapid and significant rises. At this time the main stem rivers are forecast to remain below flood stage.

Rapid and significant rises are also expected on the small streams and tributaries. Some small streams are expected to exceed their banks.

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(photo by Elaine Kalantarian)
(photo by Elaine Kalantarian)

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APOLOGIES to Douglas and Alice Chouteau who were likened to nazis in a story by Malcolm Macdonald posted yesterday and, unfortunately, appears in the print edition of this week's AVA. I regret to say that I didn't read the column until it was up on-line. I would have edited out the offending reference, which was both untrue and terribly unfair.

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NAME THE ISSUE and the County of Mendocino waddles out and makes it worse. Stacy Cryer, head of the County's staggering Health and Human Services bureaucracy, having placed Animal Shelter boss Sage Mountainfire on paid leave, has now notified several Shelter volunteers that they've also been suspended.

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SHERIFF ALLMAN is throwing a presser next Tuesday morning during which he and SoCo law enforcement will announce they've identified the remains of two young girls found off Highway 20 between Willits and Fort Bragg in 1979. The girls had been reported missing from Sonoma County in 1978. The mystery of who the girls are, and how they died, has attracted national attention.

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Documented Shocked Middle School Students

by Paul McCarthy

I was the editor of a New Hampshire weekly, the "Salem Record," back in 1985 and went to Woodbury Jr. High School for photos of the students at an assembly watching the launch of New Hampshire's "first teacher in space" (Christa McAuliffe) aboard the Challenger on a big screen.


The shrieks and cries of the children and staff when the shuttle exploded still haunt me. The feed was quickly shut down and the students sent back to class. The impact of that moment still resonates back in the Granite State to this day.

(Courtesy, MendocinoSportsPlus)

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AN OPINION PIECE for this morning's print Chronicle begins, "In addition to its breathtaking cinematography and wrenching story line, 'The Revenant' is a masterful film…"

NOT. It's awful. Beyond awful, which is why it will win a lot of Oscars. The scenery is nice, though, if that's what's meant by "cinematography." I was still breathing and wasn't winded when I left the theater, marveling at what a sap I'd been to sit through the whole thing.

ABOUT THE OSCARS. The black boycott seems justified to me, not that I saw all that many movies this year. But the two I saw starring black actors, Straight Outta Compton and the Hateful Eight were certainly superior to Revenant. How they could be excluded while a guy in a bear suit movie racks up endless awards is hard evidence that black talent continues to be ignored.

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THE WARRIORS are beautiful to watch, simply beautiful. I'd stopped watching NBA basketball because it became uninteresting, to me at least, as it went over into what we used to call "6th Period Gym," a bunch of freelancers running around firing the ball up with no thought that the game is played by five people. The old Warriors of Rick Barry and Al Attles were in the mold of the current Warriors — brilliant teamwork, passing as exciting as the scoring. But these Warriors have taken the game to a whole new level of excellence. I sit in front of my tv set gasping out astonishment.

WHICH IS WHY the off-court Warrior news is so, so, so… distressing. Of course they should stay in Oakland. Of course their planned new abomination of an arena south of the ballpark in SF is a bad idea every which way except as one more venue for the few people who can afford tickets. And the thing will be called the Chase Center, after JP Morgan Chase!

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INTERESTING COLUMN by C.W. Nevius in Thursday's Chron: "Bryan Fikes is a fresh-faced, well-spoken 21-year-old from Flint, Mich. For the past month, he's lived in a green tent on Division Street under Highway 101. "I could have a job, be living in an apartment and all that crap," he said cheerfully, "but I'm not ready. Right now I just like getting high."

THAT PRETTY MUCH sums up who's out there, whether in San Francisco or Fort Bragg. And that's the problem with all the programs allegedly helping people like Fikes rejoin society, assuming rational people want to join all the way up. But drug addicts and drop-fall drunks are not rational. They're killing themselves on the streets while making the streets unsafe for everyone else. Their well-paid helpers, as in Frisco and Fort Bragg, help the homeless kill themselves. In the case of Fort Bragg, you have a Yuba City-based entrepreneur taking a nice private cut for himself helping the homeless stay homeless. Of course in SF, as in Mendocino County, if you point out this obvious fact you're denounced as heartless and even as fascists!

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Karen Heid has an active $15,000 misdemeanor warrant for forgery of check pc 470(a), petty theft less than $950 pc 484(a) and buying/receiving stolen property pc 496(a)
 Height: 5' 6". 
Age: 54 years old.
 Hair: Brown.
 Eyes: Brown.
 Weight: 120 lbs.


If you have any information regarding this individual's location, please call MCSO Dispatch at (707) 463-4086.

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BARRY VOGEL interviewed Bernie Sanders in 1991 for his invaluable local audio series, Radio Curious.

Vogel writes:

Here's a Curious note: This afternoon I called KZYX to tell advise them I'd sent a promo for this edition of RC. Mary Aigner answered and passed the call to Angela DeWitt the new Interim Program Manager at KZYX. They were not quite sure if the equal access requirement applies to this particular Radio Curious interview. They both were not quire sure what to do since Senator Sanders is a candidate for President. Mary said KZYX may be required to allow equal time to other candidates for President and Angela repeated that. I suggested they allow equal time and refer the other candidates to Radio Curious for an interview. Angela said she'd call me when they decide about this week's Radio Curious. I am an independent producer and not a KZYX programmer. That or any other station may choose to air or not to air Radio Curious. Regardless, this 25 year old interview with Senator Sanders may be heard here:

Barry Vogel

A READER NOTES: "The "equal time" obsession reminds me of the "safe harbor" obsession which reminds me of the "banned obscenities" obsession. This is Mary Aigner's legacy. Her legacy. Her agenda. Her screwball agenda with control. Her screwball agenda with censorship."

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ARIZONA COUPLE ARRESTED FOR DUI AFTER DAY OF WINE TASTING in Sonoma County. Husband fingers wife after switching seats with her.

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MichaelKennedyMichael John Kennedy died on January 25, 2016 at age 78 of cancer. Civil rights lawyer who fought for the First, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments. Mr. Kennedy, whose career as both a civil liberties and criminal attorney began in California in the 1960s, successfully defended Black Panther Huey Newton on manslaughter and murder charges in Oakland. In San Francisco, he won acquittal for all seven young Mexican Americans, Los Siete de la Raza, charged with murdering a police officer in the city's Mission District. And when Jimmy Mitchell, co-owner of San Francisco's notorious O'Farrell Theatre-which journalist Hunter S. Thompson called 'The Carnegie Hall of Public Sex'-was accused of killing his brother Artie in a drunken rage, Mr. Kennedy succeeded in having the charge reduced from murder in the second degree to manslaughter. In Illinois he represented Rennie Davis, a member of the Chicago Eight accused of conspiracy and inciting a riot during the 1968 Democratic National Convention and served as Mr. Davis's lawyer before the House Un-American Activities Committee in Washington, D.C. He also represented Bernardine Dohrn who belonged to 1960s radical group, The Weathermen. Other of his clients belonged to the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, the most famous member of which was Timothy Leary, LSD guru to a generation. In Lincoln, Nebraska, Mr. Kennedy won acquittal for a Penobscot Native American charged with assaulting FBI agents at Wounded Knee. Perhaps his most famous trial and certainly the most time consuming-it still remains the longest criminal jury trial in U.S. Federal Court history-was The Pizza Connection; the name came from accusations of drug money laundering through pizza parlors in New York City. When the U.S. Attorney put two warring mafia families on trial, the case played out like a drama between the Capulets and the Montagues with Mr. Kennedy retained as chief counsel representing one of the godfathers, Sicilian mob boss Gaetano Badalamenti. Wiretaps were the basis for charges against six Americans raising money in New York to buy weapons for the IRA in Ireland. As lead council, Mr. Kennedy won an acquittal for all six men. He also won clemency from New York Governor Mario Cuomo for Jean Harris, the private girls' school headmistress who was in prison for the notorious murder of her lover, Scarsdale Diet doctor Herman Tarnower. Mr. Kennedy worked on only one divorce case in his career and although the settlement was sealed, reliable sources reported that Ivana Trump was very pleased. There were many pro-bono cases about which no one has written. And there were many times when people from all walks of life, the high, the low, and the undocumented, sought Kennedy's advice privately and many times he privately reached out to connections, sometimes in the government, sometimes in the underworld.

As general counsel to High Times Magazine for 41 years, Mr. Kennedy and his friend, the magazine's founder, the late Tom Forcade, sought to subvert prohibition of marijuana. When a reporter recently asked Mr. Kennedy how he kept High Times out of trouble for so long, he replied simply that he had never asked or allowed them to do anything illegal but added: "At High Times we will never forget what was done in the name of law enforcement to our scarred arrestees, and those who still rot in prison for daring to try to enjoy themselves peacefully and harmlessly."

Mr. Kennedy was the consummate gentleman, with a quick Irish wit and a quick Irish temper. But he very rarely raised his voice, being the personification of Theodore Roosevelt's foreign policy: Speak softly but carry a big stick.

The romance between Michael Kennedy and Eleanora, his wife of forty-seven years, is the stuff of fairy tales. Marrying after love at first sight, they never spent a night apart and sometimes signed their names as one word. Although not an attorney, Mrs. Kennedy was her husband's most trusted associate and confidant working entirely behind the scenes on every case, becoming an unofficial voir dire expert. The couple eschewed the label 'socialite' but could be seen often at benefits for Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital, the Central Park Conservancy and the United Nations. They gave as many parties as they attended, a number of which were chronicled in New York Magazine and the New York Social Diary.

When not working or traveling, Mr. Kennedy spent his time between New York City, his Hamptons home Kilkare, his old Key West cottage in West Palm Beach and his house in Ireland's Black Valley. Michael John Kennedy, who died at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital, was born in the state of Washington in 1937. After boarding school in Washington, he attended University of California at Berkeley and Hastings Law School.

Besides his wife Eleanora, he leaves his daughters Anna Safir and Lisa Kennedy, his son Scott Hamilton Kennedy, three granddaughters and two grandsons. Friends may call at Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home, 1076 Madison Avenue at 81st Street in New York on Wednesday from 2-4 and 6-8pm. The funeral service will be held on Thursday at 10am at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle, 60th Street and Columbus Avenue.

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So, Bloomberg runs as an independent, the Republicans nominate Cruz, Trump runs as an independent, the Dems nominate Hillary…

At least it will be entertaining.

But the result, whoever ends up in the White House, won’t really make any difference. None of those people have the slightest notion of the inevitability of a world in descent due to over-population, over-consumption, and the consequent resource scarcity, with the world’s sinks filling with poisonous waste.

And all of them are fully-committed American exceptionalism and the enforcement and expansion of Empire by force of arms.

Meanwhile, the American voters, who all hate the Congress but love their own representatives, will send the same military-worshiping, culture warriors, grifters and simple morons back to Washington.

So Business As Usual (BAU) will continue until BAU cannot continue. Humans have become poorly adapted to the environment we have created, and global techno-industrial-finance-capitalist civilization is doomed. In fact it is dinosaur dead: the brain is no longer functioning, but it’s a long way from that tiny, pre-programmed lump of gray matter to those huge muscles in the limbs, so the twitching will continue yet awhile.

A few pockets of a different sort of civilization may survive, or Mad Max may prevail everywhere.

So, plant a garden, teach young folks a few real skills, write down what they need to remember (on paper) and hope for the best.

Presidential elections are a sideshow.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, January 28, 2016

Banks, Cady, Carson
Banks, Cady, Carson

MICHAEL BANKS, Willits. Domestic battery.

WILLIAM CADY, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)

KENNETH CARSON, Ukiah. Suspended license, obtaining credit with someone else’s ID, failure to appear.

Davis, Donahe, Holm
Davis, Donahe, Holm

ANTONIO DAVIS, Fort Bragg. Battery of peace officer.

MICHAEL DONAHE, Drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)

ANDREW HOLM, Ukiah. Failure to appear, probation revocation.

Joaquin, Marteeny, Maxfield
Joaquin, Marteeny, Maxfield

FERNANDO JOAQUIN, Covelo. Community supervision violation.

ELLE MARTEENY, Navarro. Probation revocation.

CHARLES MAXFIELD JR., Laytonville. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, probation revocation.

Navarro-Sandoval, Potts, Turner
Navarro-Sandoval, Potts, Turner


GARRY POTTS, Monmouth Junction, NJ/Ukiah. Probation revocation.

CHERYL TURNER, Fort Bragg. Domestic battery.

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The World Cup, the Olympics & the Zika Virus

by Dave Zirin

A major public-health crisis is stalking Brazil in advance of the 2016 Summer Olympics, and it is spreading rapidly throughout the hemisphere. The Zika virus, delivered through mosquitos, has led to a sudden and staggering growth of brain disease in fetuses and newborns. As reported by the BBC, “There have been around 3,500 reported cases of microcephaly—babies born with tiny brains—in Brazil alone since October.”

This virus is believed to have arrived during the 2014 World Cup, carried by wealthy Polynesian tourists, but has nested and found purchase in Brazil because of the climate, a poor public-health system crippled by recession, and a substandard system of sanitation.

Thousands of births have already been affected by the Zika virus and that could mushroom into the hundreds of thousands, as it spreads across the Americas. But its roots lie in the devastating priorities that paved the way for Brazil to host both the World Cup and Olympics in such close proximity to one another. Juliana Barbassa, longtime Rio journalist and author of the utterly indispensable book Dancing with the Devil in the City of God: Rio de Janeiro on the Brink, said to me, “Rio de Janeiro government’s response to the spread of Zika has been slow and inadequate; support for families whose babies have suffered has been grossly inadequate. The state’s healthcare system (like its sewage system, its transportation system, etc.) was underfunded and under tremendous strain before preparations for the World Cup and the Olympics siphoned away public funds. The additional burden of hosting these mega-events, together with a deep recession and a slump in price of oil, has created a state of emergency. Hospitals have had to turn away all but the most extreme emergencies. Some even boarded their doors shut. All this raises further questions about the spending goals and priorities of the state’s and the city’s authorities.”

The spread of the virus has created a scene out of some skewed version of the Old Testament. You have disease, locusts, and punishment from a wrathful God because of the hubris, greed, and corruption that went into hosting the two-year bacchanal otherwise known as the World Cup and the Olympics. Yet the wages of sin have devastated those who had nothing to do with the decision to host these global mega-events. For the wealthy oligarchs and political elites, the rewards and profiteering have been manifest. For the poor, they get plague. It is as if even God has gone neoliberal.

Christopher Gaffney, longtime Brazil-based journalist whose research is on the effects of the World Cup and Olympics on cities, said to me, “The poor areas in Rio that lack basic infrastructure are more likely to have standing water that serves as the breeding grounds. In a brutal twist, these are the places least served by public-health systems, which the hosting of the WC and Olympics have harmed. Remember when [Brazil soccer legend] Ronaldo said, ‘You don’t host a World Cup with hospitals’? Now we see the results of misdirected investment. To be clear, the World Cup and Olympics made a bad situation worse, yet FIFA and the IOC take no responsibility for negative impacts of their wildly expensive parties.”

We are not too late to beat back the Zika virus, but it will require a radical shift in spending priorities in the hemisphere’s richest nations. This virus is already causing a tremendous stress on the most impoverished countries throughout the region. (El Salvador, one of the poorest nations in the Western hemisphere, has a Zika plan that consists of asking people to not get pregnant until 2018.) The solution will need to begin in Brazil and will take place only if President Dilma Rousseff—who is currently enmeshed in a corruption scandal that could result in her impeachment—immediately pivots toward a massive investment in public health and sanitation. Yet such an act is impossible with Olympic hosting duties a mere six months away. Brazil has already announced that it will cut Olympic spending by $500 million, with athletes and workers paying the price — ten percent of the five thousand temporary workers hired for the Games have been laid off. Yet even with these cuts, we will see — if the past is any guide — a last moment spike in spending to cover security costs, making their net effect irrelevant, except to the athletes and workers. That’s not a shift away from Olympic priorities. It’s public relations. It also won’t address the Zika crisis.

Nations often talk about their “Olympic legacy”: code for infrastructure that is left behind after the confetti is cleared. In Rio’s case, the legacy of the Olympics appears to be a disease that will hurt the most vulnerable people in countries across the hemisphere. Harming the most vulnerable while elites hold an oblivious party? At the very least, you can say that the International Olympic Committee is nothing if not consistent.

(Dave Zirin is the author of Brazil’s Dance with the Devil. Contact him at

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Reading Terry Southern, Great American Satirist; Voice of His Time

by Christy Rodgers

The 20th century, perhaps uniquely in history, produced at least two distinct periods when artists and writers felt emboldened to declare that anything is possible, and everything is permitted. The first of these was at the turn of the century in Europe, as hidebound moral constraints collapsed and the avant garde energies of surrealism, Dadaism and other modernisms were released. The most recent, at mid-century in the US, injected an intensely repressive, scare-mongering period of Cold War paranoia with a surge of creative release that still astounds today, or should. The Beats: Ginsberg, Kerouac, et al., and novelists like Joseph Heller, Ken Kesey, and William S. Burroughs, produced a string of literary firecrackers aimed at shooing the demons conjured by the nightmare imaginations of Puritanically repressed authorities possessed of nuclear weapons. It’s arguable that the times themselves made it possible for those writers to produce their best work, making it urgent and essential and widely popular, whatever its widely varying level of craft. And also, in many cases, wildly funny.

Less cited now, but no less worthy of mention in this company, was Terry Southern (1924-1995). He produced a trove of freewheeling satirical (and some excellent non-satirical) pieces in a variety of genres: journalism, novels, short stories, screenplays, reviews, letters, and pre-postmodern unclassifiable mélanges of fact and fiction.

As Evelyn Waugh or Noel Coward concocted artful versions of the stylized cadences of high society England between the world wars, Terry Southern gave unmistakable literary voice(s) to the world of his time, the mid-20th century US. He had an unparalleled ear for the disharmonious sounds of the Big Cold War Freak-Out, from ultra-hip Greenwich Village to congenitally racist backwoods Mississippi, paranoid, gun-totin’ Texas, and beyond.

Probably his best-known work is “Dr. Strangelove, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb,” that classic Cold War farce-majeur of nuclear annihilation. Director Stanley Kubrick is Strangelove’s originating genius, of course, but Southern collaborated with him on its unforgettable screenplay. The extent of his contribution is apparently still contentious, and this may be an indication of why his career path led him to greater obscurity than many of his peers. The movies have been a cruel medium for many writers, and Southern’s later writing was almost entirely in screenplay collaborations.

But if you read any of his prose, you’ll see that his high style is there throughout the film. It revels in depicting the buffoonishness and deadly “preversity” (his preferred rendering of this term) of the powerful. You can bet that signature dialogue from each of its indelible cast of characters, and possibly their monikers themselves: General Buck Turgidson, Colonel “Bat” Guano (“If that really is your name,” as Peter Sellers’ Captain Mandrake remarks tellingly during a crucial exchange), and Jack D. Ripper, come from Southern. And personally I would hazard that General Ripper’s obsession with Russian infiltration of “our precious bodily fluids” through the monstrous Commie plot of fluoridation, which initiates the whole chain of events that ends in Armageddon, is a Southern contribution as well. And many equally brilliant touches in one of the world’s great satirical works, in any medium, of any age or land.

Another Southern collaboration, with dilettante poet and hopeless heroin addict Mason Hoffenberg (they met in post-war Paris), produced the novel Candy, in which Voltaire’s iconic innocent Candide is reconceived as a dim but preternaturally sexy small town girl who travels far (and wide) and finds her ultimate happiness in a very preverse manner. Candy is uneven, intentionally clownish shtup-shtick, but its timing gave it a role as significant as Joyce’s Ulysses in breaking down the censorship wall those nuclear Puritans had erected around the chaste body of the USA.

On his own, Southern is perhaps best known for the novel The Magic Christian, an intermittently brilliant lampoon of human greed. Both books became not-so-great movies, their imaginativeness stunted by a medium that Southern possibly had too much confidence in, after experiencing it at its best with Kubrick. Later interviews indicate that he saw the film world to which he’d hitched his fortunes with a very jaded eye.

That’s why, most of all, you need to read his short stories. These, whether satirical and “serious,” are distinguished by prose mastery, subtlety and a truly mind-blowing range of genre and subject matter, possibly unique in US fiction, from the magic realism avant la lettre of a Texas dirt farmer battling a mythical sea-monster in his melon patch, through the minutely examined lives of tragically hip young expats in Paris, and bafflingly insider views of the French working class, to the anomie and casual sadism of disaffected young boys. Whether the boys in question live in the heart of Texas (where Southern grew up) or on New York’s mean streets, the dialogue is always pitch perfect and the milieu is coolly exact.

Most of his best stories were collected in the superb 1967 anthology Red Dirt Marijuana and Other Tastes, along with some classic pieces of reportage, such as “Twirling at Ole Miss,” from 1962. Tom Wolfe considered this a foundational work of New Journalism. Here Southern reports on a baton-twirling competition at the eponymous deep South university, full of creamy white pubescent girls in drill team fetish attire, at the height of the dogs-and-firehoses period of the Civil Rights movement. His voice is deadpan and his eye for the telling detail is dead on. There is an exemplary moment in his visit to the college library, when he opens a first edition copy of William Faulkner’s Light in August and finds it raggedly inscribed with “Ni**er-Lover” on the title page.

Southern’s most creative period was spent toiling in what he dubbed the “Quality Lit Game,” the smug and self-serving world of New York magazine publishing. Unlike the advertising milieu brought to hyperrealist life in “Mad Men,” with which it shared the steel and glass towers of Madison Avenue, the “quality lit” world can only be barely imagined today. Not because it’s gotten any less smug and self-serving, but because it’s so utterly diminished in cultural and economic power. But through those then-ascendant, smoke-filled corridors, Southern rambled in a drug-enhanced state of ribald bemusement. He gives us an inside look in completely crazy-ass pieces like “Blood of a Wig,” whose fantastical sequence of events still grounds itself in a kind of realism with fly-on-the-wall boardroom dialogue, in the form of editors who make pronouncements like let’s stroke this one for a while and see if we get any jism out of it.

Like his contemporary Lenny Bruce, Southern was fascinated with our night-selves, the unexpurgated utterers of all that language that fervent ideologues tend to fear and despise. This marks him as a spirit out of synch with our times, but quintessential in his own. The stuff he dredged up out of the mid-20th century psyche has by now seen the light of day many times over. Concupiscence and degradation among the powerful and repressed have lost the power to shock most of us, as it becomes increasingly clear there’s no limit to how low humans will go in certain circumstances. Incest, pedophilia, necrophilia, coprophagy, whatever: it’s all a commonplace of 24-7 news feeds. And thanks to the endless proliferation of media platforms of expression, it’s long past the time when satirical use of racist or homophobic epithets could be seen as a brave and necessary cleansing of pus from a social wound.

And yet, in some way because his times demanded it, Terry Southern made his own uniquely delicious froth out of all that hyperbolated Id-speak, that’s still surprisingly tasty today. And still radical, even if it doesn’t shock. (The two qualities are often confused.) Why? Because he forces us to permit ourselves to imagine anything, and his wild, abundant humor shows us what a pleasurable act such free imagining can be.

His fecund sexual fantasies are always so absurdly over the top as to be self-satirizing — which this feminist critic at least would say is quite an apt way of looking at bourgeois male heterosexuality. For a slightly different take on gender relations, there is his gleefully mock-outraged letter to Ms. Magazine in the posthumous collection edited by his son Nile, Now Dig This! (which contains a whole section dedicated to his father’s spoof complaint letters). He admonishes the editors that if women wish to be taken seriously as full citizens in modern society, they will have to stop acting like “rutting [. . .] wildcat[s],” during sex: “moaning, sobbing, writhing, scratching, biting,” and so forth (Southern’s italicized list of shocking female copulatory behaviors is much longer). There is an unusual generosity of spirit here — often lacking in satirists from Jonathan Swift onward — that is the antithesis of misogyny or misanthropy.

I haven’t even begun to talk about his boundless love of drugs. You’ll have to experience that for yourself. Suffice it to say that avid consumer doesn’t do justice to it, and that Southern’s reality is always somehow like a drug experience, even when no drugs are involved. Now Dig This! contains a hilarious transcript of a conversation with Burroughs, as he and Southern go through a bag of pharmaceutical samples Terry has acquired in a mostly futile quest for the real thing. Terry’s exclamation-pointed enthusiasm for the trial-and-error method of drug testing is dryly riposted by the world-weary Burroughs. It’s an overlooked classic of drug literature.

Terry Southern paid for that exuberance with his health of course, in later life, as everybody does. How drearily real.

Almost regrettably for those of us who savor the power of words alone to move and enlighten, Southern was not a quality lit snob: he basically left fiction behind because he saw film’s potential to tell the stories he wanted to tell in a powerful way. And so we have Dr. Strangelove, thank God. And of lesser brilliance but still worthy: “The Loved One,” “Barbarella,” “Easy Rider” and “The Magic Christian.” He even took a stab at writing for Saturday Night Live, but it was way too tame for him by the early 1980s, when it was largely considered to have gone seriously bad anyway.

The times had been a-changin’, you see. The historical moment from and to which Southern spoke most eloquently, when “All Power to the Imagination” was not an empty slogan, was utterly gone. (His amazing eyewitness report “Groovin’ in Chi,” about the 1968 Democratic National Convention, suggests that that hope-slaughtering horror show may have been precisely when and where it died.) Our lives have continued to be coldly revolutionized by technology in the ensuing decades, but there has been far too much failure of the social imagination since that statement was made for it to resonate in the same way with us now.

Nile Southern has been a loyal guardian of his father’s legacy since his passing. He wrote a biography called The Candy Men centering on the writing and publication of Candy, and the deteriorating and finally wrecked friendship between Terry and Mason, which produced that work and was killed by it. It leaves the reader with a sense that both men’s lives, like others of their generation, followed a great postwar rising arc – reveling in limitless possibility until they smashed into the ruined hopes of the 1970s, burned out, and faded not-so-gently into the not-so-good night of the End of the Century.

This is not to make a plea for handkerchief-waving cultural nostalgia for a period that in no way deserves it. The Age of Consequences will produce, and is already producing, age-worthy cultural artifacts: new voices wielding new and old media alike. They are rising to the occasion as the Cold War generation rose to its, and they are multivalent, and full of possibility of a different kind. Nothing About Us Without Us is as bold and right a challenge to today’s status quo as was All Power to the Imagination. But it shows awareness of a global reality that is radically different from the classical polarities of that earlier generation. Terry’s world is receding quickly over the horizon. Time to catch a glimpse to see what difference a few decades make.

Now Nile has released a collection of his father’s letters: Yours in Haste and Adoration (Antibookclub, 2015). There is that voice again, unique and unmistakable as Coward’s: gossipy, sex-and-drug-obsessed, fabulistic, droll, forever turning hazy fact into jazzy legend. And unlike the rest of Terry’s creative output, the letters never slack off; the voice never loses its freshness, delight in absurdity, verve. It’s like finding a favorite candy from your childhood perfectly preserved in an old icebox. This book may only be for the most dyed-in-the-wool Terry Southern fanboys and girls – it ain’t Henry James’s letters, that’s for sure. But I dare you to read Red Dirt Marijuana or Now Dig This! and not become a full-on fan. Terry Southern needs to be read by anyone today who wants to understand that once upon a time, in the distant world of the last century, under a shadow of complete annihilation that has not yet lifted, some humans believed that anything was possible and everything was permitted.

Recommended Works:

(Christy Rodgers lives in San Francisco, where all that is solid melts into air. Her essays and reviews have appeared in CounterPunch Alternet, Upside Down World, Truthout, Dark Mountain Project, and Left Curve Magazine. Her blog is What If? Tales, Transformations, Possibilities. Courtesy,

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    • james marmon January 29, 2016

      Mendocino County Today

      When logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead
      And the white knight is talking backwards
      And the red queen’s off with her head
      Remember what the dormouse said
      Feed your head, feed your head

  1. Elizabeth R. Mitchell January 29, 2016

    Thank you for the item about Michael Kennedy. He was a great lawyer. His son, Scott Hamilton Kennedy, who is mentioned in the obituary, is a great documentary filmmaker. I particularly recommend OT: Our Town (public school teacher has Compton students perform Thornton Wilders’ Our Town); and The Garden (which exposes Antony Villaraigosa’s utterly corrupt politics in destroying a community garden in LA). I haven’t seen his other documentaries, but am setting out to see them. He was very kind to me when we were opposing the offshore wave energy permits, and let me pitch him the story as a possible documentary. Fortunately the battle was won before we needed him.

  2. Harvey Reading January 29, 2016

    Re: New Yorker cover

    Talk about the pot calling the kettle black …

  3. Jim Updegraff January 29, 2016

    Warriors: The two lawsuits filed in Alameda County and Sacramento against the new arena on behalf of the Mission Bay Alliance certainly will either stop the new arena project or substantially delay the project as it goes through the appeal position. (the law required the suit for a violation of the California Environmental Quality Act to be filed in Sacramento.)

  4. Jim Updegraff January 29, 2016

    Only a fool would attend or participate in the games in Brazil. The country health wise or crime wise is a disaster

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