Press "Enter" to skip to content

Mendocino County Today: Thursday, March 23, 2017

* * *



Here are two important updates regarding Caltrans’ plans to replace the Salmon Creek and Albion River Bridges, as well as significantly widen Highway 1 from Navarro Ridge Road to Albion Ridge Road. This is a roughly $100 million construction project that could have significant impacts on traffic, businesses, and the environment in the Albion area.

--- Albion River Bridge historic designation --- The Albion River Bridge has been nominated for historic landmark status. On May 10, the nomination will be heard by the state Office of Historic Preservation at a hearing in Pasadena.

The office welcomes comments regarding this nomination. Comments in favor or against should be sent by April 25 to:

State Historic Preservation Officer Office of Historic Preservation 1725 23rd St., Suite 100 Sacramento, CA 95816-7100

To see the historic landmark application, which was prepared by Albion resident and architect John Johansen, visit this page:

Scroll down to “Albion River Bridge,” and then click the link to open the PDF of the application.

The application's summary paragraph is abbreviated below:

The Albion River Bridge is a rare example of a timber deck over combination steel and timber truss bridge. It is the only surviving bridge of its type in the California state highway system. It was constructed during WW II, when strategic material shortages required innovative engineering design. With its historic integrity entirely intact, the Albion River Bridge stands today, exactly as it was built.

--- Caltrans public meeting this Thursday in Mendocino --- This coming Thursday, Caltrans is holding a public meeting to discuss the bridge and highway widening project.

The meeting takes place on Thursday, March 23, 2017 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Mendocino High School, 10700 Ford Street. Everyone is encouraged to attend and bring questions and concerns.

These updates come to you from the Albion Community Advisory Board (ACAB). ACAB’s mission is to review studies on the Albion River and Salmon Creek Bridges and their Highway 1 approaches, and to summarize and present these to the Mendocino Coast community.

When there are important developments, we hold monthly meetings and make announcements here.

We hope to see you in Mendocino this Thursday.

Jim Heid President,

ACAB Albion

* * *


The Anderson Valley has lost one of its central figures. Mike Shapiro had been ill for the past year when he finally succumbed yesterday, Tuesday, March 21st. Arriving in the Anderson Valley with his wife Sharon in 1969, the energetic Shapiro was instantly involved in a range of businesses, several of them conducted simultaneously. He would rototill people's gardens during the day and at night sell pizzas out of the back of the Boonville Hotel. Early on Mike obtained his real estate license and, from there, figured large in the life of the community as both a real estate developer and salesman. His early projects included his own landmark office complex in Boonville composed of rail cars, and an attractive office building on State Street in Ukiah. Always active in the daily life of the Anderson Valley, Mike was crucial to the planning and subsequent adoption of the Anderson Valley segment of the County's general plan, and was a dependable contributor to community activities ranging from junior sports to the Anderson Valley Senior Center and Elder Home. Besides his wife Sharon, Mike leaves behind three adult sons, all graduates of Anderson Valley High School, all successful adults.

Interment, Evergreen Cemetery, Boonville, Friday, March 24th, followed by a memorial gathering at the Apple Hall at 12:30.

Anne Fashauer, October 2015 (when she took over the office):

Forty-five years ago Michael Shapiro came to Anderson Valley with little but an idea that he wanted to live in this beautiful place and make a living and raise a family. He began this journey with a few fits and starts, some may remember “ Boonville Burl and Board” or the “Sundown Café and Cabaret” at the Boonville Hotel, but he ultimately settled on real estate, creating the brokerage known as North Country Real Estate. Most everyone in these parts is familiar with the red and white signs bearing his and the brokerage name NORTH COUNTRY, as well as the iconic red caboose. Mike, after having some issues when he purchased his parcel south of town and hearing other stories about problems people had with their real estate activities, said when he got into real estate…. “There must be a better way”. He was committed to what he called ‘surprise free’ real estate and embarked on helping people who were interested in moving to our valley. Now we call surprise free real estate…..”full disclosure”. It was our objective in the early years and it is our commitment still and will remain our objective to all who we work with.

Michael has seen the ebbs and flows of real estate over all of those years – from the crazy-high interest rates of the 1980’s to the devastation of the Great Recession in the mid-2000’s. Things appear to be in a more settled period now and Michael has decided this is the time to reflect on all that has occurred and to take some time for himself, his health and his ever-growing family.

Michael married Sharon Shapiro in 1975 on their mountain top south of Boonville. They had their first son, Ben In 1977, they had Dave in 1980 and in 1984 they had their youngest, Gabe. Michael and Sharon raised the three boys in the Valley and all attended the local schools before graduating and moving on. Now David, Gabe and Ben are all married and all have families of their own; Michael and Sharon’s grandchildren number 5…. 2 girls and 3 boys, and now number six is on the way. Michael and Sharon want to take some time to enjoy these grandkids before they too grow up and start families of their own.

* * *

Mike Shapiro

Interviewed by Steve Sparks – May 20th, 2009

I met with local realtor, Mike Shapiro, last Wednesday afternoon in the garden behind what was the ‘One Horse Espresso’ stand in Boonville and in very peaceful surroundings we chatted about his life and Valley experiences…

Mike was born in Buffalo, New York to Jewish parents of Russian descent and he has a younger sister, Judy. Mother Ceil’s parents had come over from southern Russia whilst his father Irving’s were Russian/Hungarian and from a family of opticians that stretched back many generations. Mike’s paternal grandfather, Abraham, had left the family as a thirteen year old and traveled across Europe before making his way to the United States in 1904.

Abraham then broke the family mold and became a baker in New York where he raised a family in the Bronx, Irving graduated from Columbia University and then returned to the family profession of Ophthalmology, later encouraging Mike to do so too. Irving was ahead of his time in this field, a founder of vision-training, which encouraged eye-exercise and training with the aim of preventing the need for spectacles. “I believe my eyes are good to this day because of the eye-training I did. I wear glasses for reading but otherwise my sight is excellent. My sister didn’t do the training and she’s as blind as a bat!”

The family lived in a predominantly Jewish/Black neighborhood of Buffalo until Mike was in 5th grade when they moved to the suburban town of Kenmore. Mike attended Kenmore West High School where his favorite subject was science – “I even built an x-ray machine at home” – and he had plans to study to be a vet when he entered the University of Buffalo following his high school graduation in 1960. However, after a year of pre-Vet studies, he found himself drawn strongly to Economics, something not offered at high school. “I soon found myself loving the study of Economics – it explains the whole world.” It was while at university that Mike became very politically aware and was active in the civil rights movement, wearing a button with ‘=’ on it. “I was involved in all sorts of marches and political events. It was the during the days of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and along with many others, particularly in Buffalo and of course out west in Berkeley, I protested their actions and even chained myself to the courthouse. My parents were horrified and I didn’t help matters when, after graduation, I made the decision to put my education on hold and work for the Peace Corps for two years. My mother was particularly concerned but my father supported me and, with a place secured to attend Syracuse to get a Masters on my return, I joined up just one day after graduating from Buffalo and went off to Turkey in 1964 for two years as part of the World Development Project. It was a very rural area and I was the only non-Turk in a village of 1300 people. I had the task of bringing them into the modern world and improving their economic conditions. It was a marvelous experience and when I returned there a few years ago, after an absence of more than thirty years, it was very special indeed.”

On his return to the States in 1966 Mike resumed his education at Syracuse – “I played handball at college and loved sports, so I chose Syracuse over Kentucky because in those days I was into football more than basketball, although that has since been reversed and now I much prefer to watch basketball. However, after getting my Masters, ironically my first job was working in the four western counties of Kentucky for the Rural Economic Development Agency.”

In the fall of 1968, Mike attended the watershed Democratic Convention in Chicago as a guest of the Kentucky delegation and it was that infamous event that he met and connected with Allard Lowenstein, who had nominated Eugene McCarthy for President and who ran for Congress himself in Nassau County, New York. “It was obvious that Nixon was going to win. Dr. King and Robert Kennedy had been assassinated, the Democrats were in disarray, and therefore I thought the future looked bleak for my efforts in Kentucky. I quit that job and joined Allard’s campaign. I had a great time and Lowenstein won, serving a term in Congress and becoming a significant figure in the civil rights and anti-war movements.”

“Anyway, after the successful campaign I spent Thanksgiving at home before heading out to California with a friend, Bill Price. We wanted to drive across the country and see what all the fuss was about in San Francisco at that time. The day before I left, in early December 1968, I went to my cousin’s house to say goodbye and she had a friend over – Sharon Katz was her name, I’d never seen her before. We hit it off and went out for a drink that evening and then the next day Bill and I set off in my Chevy, taking the warmer southern route – Route 66. Six months later, out of the blue, Sharon turned up in San Francisco and called me. Forty years later we are still together! I always said she was stalking me.”

Mike had really settled into the SF lifestyle. “We had been here just a few days when I called my friends back east and asked them to send me all of my stuff. I loved it out here. There were women, recreational drugs, an incredible scene, unbelievable really – nothing like it anywhere, but I needed a job.” Mike had been involved with an educational television show in Kentucky called ‘Your Future is Now’, which helped kids get a High School equivalency diploma. He pitched this to the local public television channel in San Francisco – KQED. “They didn’t want it but put me in touch with Joan Ganz Clooney who had started the Children’s Television Workshop (CTW), creating Sesame Street and The Electric Company in New York. She hired me to work for them and allowed me to stay in San Francisco with an office at KQED as long as I attended a meeting back east every six weeks. It was a great situation and I worked full-time for them until 1973.”

Ever since his trip to Turkey, Mike had known that he had received some sort of rural calling. “My experience in Turkey was a fork in the road for me. I had urban skills but knew I wanted to enjoy the small town rural lifestyle. I had spent time during school vacations in upstate New York as a farm laborer and throughout my San Francisco days I constantly spent time checking out small countryside communities in the region with a view to moving to one at some point…In late 1972 we had explored this area in my ’67 Chevy convertible and visited Sea Ranch before taking Mountain View Road back over to Highway 128. As we arrived in this Valley we felt like we’d discovered Paradise Lost. It was like heaven. There was a big black dog asleep in the middle of the road in Boonville outside the AV Market. Traffic was going around it. As we were leaving I commented that it was time to get back to ‘real’ life, but then said, ‘Wait a minute, this is what real life should be, right here’. We knew this was the place for us… In 1973 the chance for promotion came along and I made the decision to pass on it. Instead CTW offered me a part-time position of a hundred days a year at $100 a day plus expenses. I called Sharon – we were living together at this time – and asked her to come with me to build a cabin in Boonville. I didn’t want to do it alone. She agreed and we bought property just south of Boonville where we were to live for the next 34 years.”

Sharon got a job at the school and Mike remained as a part-time consultant with CTW for two years. During that time the owner of the Boonville Hotel, Ed Karsay, offered Mike and a friend, Peter Dobbins, the opportunity to open a restaurant there and for two years they ran The Sundown Café and Cabaret with a “spectacular array of music – jazz and classical, belly-dancing, fire-eaters, all sorts. It was packed on Friday and Saturday nights with the acts coming from all over the County. We made little profit but I like to say we did throw a party for two years!”

Following this experience Mike thought he needed a ‘real’ job and for a time thought about teaching at the newly built Junior High school. “The pay was awful – about $5K a year – the lowest-paid teachers in the State at the time, other than Death Valley. The teachers even qualified for commodities such as cheese, peanut butter, etc. Arguably the most important job in the country and they were paid awful wages – a terrible shame. I had a Masters degree and other hands-on experiences and just couldn’t do it.”

It was during his time in the restaurant/’entertainment’ business that Mike became increasingly inundated with inquiries about property in the area. It was also the time of the Rural Alliance, The Back-to-the-Land Movement, the Simple Living Workshops offering all kinds of information about organic food, solar energy, building country houses, etc. More people were becoming interested in the rural lifestyle and Mike grabbed the opportunity.

“I had been meeting so many people who wanted to move here and real estate had really begun to interest me. I had bought the property south of town and, unbeknownst to me until much later, it was an illegal subdivision and had illegal access. It was the time before disclosures were required and house buying truly was a ‘buyer beware’ situation. People needed good guides to get them through the process. As a result when I got a real estate license my slogan was ‘Surprise Free’ Real Estate. In July 1976 I started as a salesman in Ukiah, where I’ve always had an office, and then in 1977 rented the old gas station next to Rossi’s for my local office, getting my broker’s license in 1979 and opening North Country at that time. Later on I bought the caboose in town for another office but kept the gas station site for a long time. I love my job – being outside in beautiful land helping these ‘Urban refugees’ discover what I had already discovered. I have about two thousand files on homes I have sold, the vast majority in the Valley.”

Sharon and Mike started a family in 1977 when son Ben was born, followed in 1980 by David and then Gabe in 1984. All three are involved in the sports world in one way or another – Ben is Vice President of the Golden State Warriors basketball franchise; Dave works for the Positive Coaching Alliance, an organization that trains coaches; and Gabe is in marketing for sports radio station KNBR in San Francisco. Mike has always loved sports and claims he in his playing days he had the hardest job of all– a benchwarmer!

Over the years Mike has been involved in many local projects. “Living here in a small community many of us get involved with so many good causes.” To mention a few – he helped raise money for a transmitter to be installed which would allow Channel 9 public television station to be seen here in the Valley as well as the other, already available commercial channels; he was heavily involved in the protests against the plans by the Masonite Company to build housing for 3500 people in the heart of the Valley; he was part of the early movement to get the local public radio started, five years before it finally did in 1989; he was on the board of the Mendocino Transportation Authority, where his Masters Thesis entitled, ‘You can’t get there from here’ on rural transportation proved to be very useful; and was on the fundraising group for the Health Center…

With three sport-playing boys in school much of Mike’s leisure time in the Valley was spent watching school sports. “For twenty six years we had kids around the house – I thought it would never end! It was wonderful. There must be an indentation of my backside in the bleachers at the school!…I have backed off a lot although I still go to some basketball and football games, but these days my favorite time is spent at the home we bought on Hwy. 253 in 2003. It’s in ‘suburban Boonville’ and ironically it’s a spot we looked at back in 1969. I love the Valley and perhaps appreciate it even more now that we live a few miles outside. It is a unique place and every time we travel I feel fortunate to come home here. It is a very sweet piece of fruit that I believe will not be spoiled. Highways 128 and 253 keep it protected from ‘Napafication’ and I believe we’ll be nothing more than ‘Napa in blue jeans’ for the foreseeable future.”

I turned to a few of the hot-button issues that Valley folk seem to talk about and asked Mike for his thoughts and opinions on some of them.

The school system? “I think you could make a list as long as both of your arms of kids who have done spectacularly in life after attending our schools. There is so much that this environment and the school offers to kids that suburban or inner city schools cannot. Living in a small community with small numbers in the school means that the kids get so much more attention with their studies and can also make great friendships that last forever. My kids did very well at the school both academically and in sports – Ben went on to play Division 1 tennis at Sacramento State; Dave was a catcher at UC Davis. All three have excellent jobs and many other parents have similar stories, I’m sure. Kids at our school have problems of course but nothing compared to those at city schools. Our schools are excellent and incredible results have been achieved by kids from this rich environment.”

The AVA? – Bruce is no longer a Jekyll and Hyde character and his paper is very good as a result. It will survive as long as he does. The paper still gives jabs at people and that is fine. My only complaint is that the print it too small, but then so are all newspapers to me!”

The wineries? “Well I know this issue has lots of arguments on both sides but I believe that they provide lots of jobs, improve the quality of life for many, don’t cause much pollution, and export Anderson Valley products at great value. They are thus a big plus. Water is critical and always has been in California. The history of California is the history of water fights/wars, and a more diverse agricultural base would be good, but the wineries are the hub of commercial life in the Valley and the climate is perfect for the Pinot Noir grape.”

KZYX radio? “They do a terrific job. It is very hard to run a business when the staff consists mainly of volunteers, some people doing it for personal gratification to some degree. Conflict will always be there and there is never enough money but it has been a great success for twenty years and people have constantly stepped up and provided a great service.”

Law and Order in the Valley? “Deputy Keith Squires is a big asset to the Valley. He knows virtually everybody and is more a member of the community than a cop. He will be very difficult to replace effectively.”

I asked Mike whom he’d vote for Mayor if there were such a position. “We don’t need a mayor. If local government is impacted too much by specific local-interest groups the results may not suit everyone. A little distance might lead to more rational decision-making. As for incorporating, this would not be good. The parcel size is now 40,000m square feet. If you get public sewer and water then this would shrink to 6,000 square feet and we’d end up like Cloverdale and soon have street-lights, etc, and a far greater population. By keeping the Valley folk responsible for their own septic and water, the large parcels will remain and the rural nature of the Valley is maintained. As a broker I suppose I should be advocating the opposite but I never have and still don’t.”

What is your favorite hobby? “Fishing, gardening, and physical work around my property – fence building, road maintenance.”

What profession would you not like to do? “Well I have always thought it would be fun to run for political office but then I believe I’d hate actually serving in that office.”

What was the saddest? “The deaths of my parents. My mother died in 2000 and my father followed four years later. I had never experienced loss before and the fact that both had lived long lives, Mom was 88, Dad 90, did not make it any easier.”

What is your favorite thing about yourself, physically/mentally/spiritually? “I see the silver-lining in everything. I am very positive and optimistic. Not that I have anything to complain about. I feel very blessed in my life – Sharon and the boys, my Real Estate business, Boonville.”

Finally, if Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? “Good job, Mike. Now go over there and say hello to your folks who have been waiting for you.”

* * *

KNYO, the micro radio station out of Fort Bragg, held the liveliest radio debate ever in Mendocino County. As soon as Rex Gressett and Paul McCarthy started debating the proposed shopping center at Hare Creek at 5 o'clock Wednesday afternoon, I knew immediately I wasn't listening to constipated KZYX, where a discussion like this simply isn't possible. These two guys are radio naturals. Sorry, I didn't get the young host's name, but he was good, too. The argument moved right along with a lot of accompanying banter that was great fun. So, who won? McCarthy on points, I'd say, but Gressett made the best possible case for keeping the area as is. Best line? McCarthy: "Fort Bragg has all the architectural imagination of a shoe box." (Praise be to Dunlap Roofing for sponsoring the best radio hour I've ever heard in Mendocino County.)

* * *

MARK SCARAMELLA ADDS: The Gressett-McCarthy Hare Creek Grocery Outlet debate was another local version of the eternal argument about legal property rights and the limits of development. The late Mike Shapiro always argued that land should be put to the “highest and best use” — which in Anderson Valley, realtor Shapiro said, was wall to wall wine grapes because that’s what produces the highest property values. Never mind that wall to wall wine grapes destroys the character of the valley in favor of a overpriced booze-generating, pesticide laden, labor-exploiting, water-guzzling, critter-killing needless monoculture. Years ago, my old-fashioned Republican father, exasperated by all the complaints in the AVA about industrial timber practices and wine grape production, once asked me, “What the hell do you want, anyway?”

I replied, “It would be nice if the people of the Valley could democratically vote on how big vineyards could be, or how many total acres they could plant, or how much timber could be harvested in a year.”

My father immediately came back with, “Do you know what that would do do property values? To investment? To property rights?”

I replied, “Yes, that’s what’s good about it.”

We never agreed on the subject — and in a similar manner we don’t expect Mr. Gressett and Mr. McCarthy (who both make good arguments) to ever agree. But long-term, Gressett is right: Putting a perfectly legal big box store on the beautiful coastal headlands south of Fort Bragg is one more cumulative nail in the commercial coffin that Fort Bragg is becoming step by inevitable step.

* * *


A President’s Credibility: Trump’s Falsehoods Are Eroding Public Trust, At Home and Abroad.

If President Trump announces that North Korea launched a missile that landed within 100 miles of Hawaii, would most Americans believe him? Would the rest of the world? We’re not sure, which speaks to the damage that Mr. Trump is doing to his Presidency with his seemingly endless stream of exaggerations, evidence-free accusations, implausible denials and other falsehoods.

The latest example is Mr. Trump’s refusal to back off his Saturday morning tweet of three weeks ago that he had “found out that [Barack] Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory” on Election Day. He has offered no evidence for his claim, and a parade of intelligence officials, senior Republicans and Democrats have since said they have seen no such evidence.

Yet the President clings to his assertion like a drunk to an empty gin bottle, rolling out his press spokesman to make more dubious claims. Sean Spicer—who doesn’t deserve this treatment—was dispatched last week to repeat an assertion by a Fox News commentator that perhaps the Obama Administration had subcontracted the wiretap to British intelligence.

That bungle led to a public denial from the British Government Communications Headquarters, and British news reports said the U.S. apologized. But then the White House claimed there was no apology. For the sake of grasping for any evidence to back up his original tweet, and the sin of pride in not admitting error, Mr. Trump had his spokesman repeat an unchecked TV claim that insulted an ally.

The wiretap tweet is also costing Mr. Trump politically as he hands his opponents a sword. Mr. Trump has a legitimate question about why the U.S. was listening to his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, and who leaked news of his meeting with the Russian ambassador. But that question never gets a hearing because the near-daily repudiation of his false tweet is a bigger media story.

FBI director James Comey also took revenge on Monday by joining the queue of those saying the bureau has no evidence to back up the wiretap tweet. Mr. Comey even took the unusual step of confirming that the FBI is investigating ties between the Trump election campaign and Russia.

Mr. Comey said he could make such a public admission only in “unusual circumstances,” but why now? Could the wiretap tweet have made Mr. Comey angry because it implied the FBI was involved in illegal surveillance? Mr. Trump blundered in keeping Mr. Comey in the job after the election, but now the President can’t fire the man leading an investigation into his campaign even if he wants to.

All of this continues the pattern from the campaign that Mr. Trump is his own worst political enemy. He survived his many false claims as a candidate because his core supporters treated it as mere hyperbole and his opponent was untrustworthy Hillary Clinton. But now he’s President, and he needs support beyond the Breitbart cheering section that will excuse anything. As he is learning with the health-care bill, Mr. Trump needs partners in his own party to pass his agenda. He also needs friends abroad who are willing to trust him when he asks for support, not least in a crisis.

This week should be dominated by the smooth political sailing for Mr. Trump’s Supreme Court nominee and the progress of health-care reform on Capitol Hill. These are historic events, and success will show he can deliver on his promises. But instead the week has been dominated by the news that he was repudiated by his own FBI director.

Two months into his Presidency, Gallup has Mr. Trump’s approval rating at 39%. No doubt Mr. Trump considers that fake news, but if he doesn’t show more respect for the truth most Americans may conclude he’s a fake President.

(Wall Street Journal editorial)

* * *

* * *


We are pleased to announce that we have submitted a proposal to the City of Fort Bragg for the creation of:

  • The Avalon Hotel – 65 guest rooms (comprised of three 3-story buildings, max heights of 35’)
  • Restaurant – 63 seats
  • Cocktail Bar/Lounge – 40 seats
  • 3,064sf Event Center (1-story)
  • Parking for all uses, including 15 bicycle spaces
  • Climate-specific landscaping with walkways with educational signage, connecting to Haul Road
  • Highlighting green-building methods and Low-Impact Design features
  • Use of on-site water well for landscape irrigation


Robert Hunt, Hunt InnVestments

(Fort Bragg native; owner of Beachcomber Motel, Surf & Sand Lodge, Beach House Inn)


  • Architect: Epikos Land Planning + Architecture (McCall, Idaho)
  • Civil Engineering: SHN (Willits & Fort Bragg)
  • Land Surveying: Forrest Francis, Land Surveyor (Mendocino)
  • Traffic Engineer: W-Trans (Santa Rosa)
  • Biologist: Spade Natural Resources Consulting (Fort Bragg)
  • Archaeologist: Thad VanBueren
  • Landscape: Epikos and Kent Graney Landscaping (Mendocino)
  • Agent: Wynn Coastal Planning (Fort Bragg, 707-964-2537)

Project Website:

* * *

A READER NOTES: It seems unfair that taxpayers have to foot the bill again, for another blunder from Marie Jones.

How much were the first 'stairs'? Perhaps whoever approved the first ones should pay this time.

* * *



Actually, I was on the Grand Jury that investigated the building of that justice center. I recall the basis for the Federal block grant to pay for that structure was the need for the two holding cells — which I believe have never been used.

And you know the justice center is not vacant, why have you claimed the opposite repeatedly? One mention, or even two, might have been an inadvertent mistake, but the repetitions smack of deliberate untruth.


George Dorner, Willits

ED NOTE: Good lord. Why would I "lie" about something like this? The building has been vacant as a courthouse, correct? That was the subject of my complaint. The thing was erected as a courthouse then abandoned as a courthouse. Sheesh!

PS. A Willits reader notes: “I’m happy the roof isn’t leaking. An error, a partial one at that, isn’t a lie, George, but suit yourself.”

That may or may not be true, but I tell you what is for sure leaking: the walls —.and have been for decades, they weep. Ask anyone who’s worked on the thing, the roof is and has always been a mess, similar to what rumor has it that the new Adventist Health Hospital is experiencing. (more to come). Low bids, no accountability equals bad work. George sounds like an angry, old, you know what… Smoke a joint or drink a beer, drive a truck in second gear, dude…

* * *


Dear Cap’n Rainbow & the Variety Show staff,

Please make your variety show available on a Sunday afternoon, matinee? So that the rest of Mendorama can attend?

Thank you, and much obliged.

Susie de Castro

Fort Bragg

* * *



[Original notice] — On 03/21/2017 around 10:20 AM the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office received a report from the Round Valley Indian Tribes, Tribal Police that they had responded to a report of an unwanted and armed subject in the 22500 Block of Refuse Road in Covelo. The report to their agency was phoned in by a home owner, living on the Reservation, who advised the suspect, 22 year old Jeffery Joaquin, was armed and Tribal Police were requested to remove him. Around 10:00 AM two Tribal Police Officers responded, one at the front of the residence and one in the rear of the residence. The Officer in the front of the house observed the suspect in the driveway as he approached and saw that he was armed with a shotgun. The Tribal Officer exited the vehicle with his duty issued shotgun and demanded Joaquin "drop his gun". According to the Officer, Joaquin fired one round at the Officer with what appeared to be "birdshot." The Officer returned fire, shooting two times at the suspect who had hidden behind a vehicle. Witnesses yelled at Joaquin to drop the firearm at which time he did. He removed his shirt and placed his hands into the air, as if to surrender, before fleeing in a west bound direction on foot. He was last seen westbound when the Tribal Officers lost sight of him. The Tribal Officer appeared to have been struck with at least one pellet in the face but it did not break the skin as the distance between the two was approximately 50 feet and the energy of the birdshot appeared to have dissipated. It is unknown if Joaquin was struck or injured by rounds fired by the Tribal Officer. The Mendocino County Sheriff's Detective Unit responded to investigate the case. Joaquin is currently being sought for questioning related to this case. Joaquin is described as being 5'08" tall, weighing approximately 175 pounds, having black hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing dark colored jeans with no shirt. If anyone has information about the where abouts of Joaquin please contact the Sheriff's Office Dispatch Center at 707-463-4086.

* * *


UPDATE: On March 21, 2017 around 1600 hours the Round Valley Indian Tribal Police received an anonymous tip that Suspect Jeffery Joaquin was at a residence in the 25300 Block of Barnes Lane, in Covelo. Several Tribal Officers responded to that location where they demanded Joaquin exit the residence and surrender himself. Joaquin exited the residence and was taken into custody. He was later transferred to the custody of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office. Joaquin was taken to a hospital for medical clearance prior to being booked into the Mendocino County Jail, after experiencing difficulty breathing. This clearance was not related to the shooting as he was not injured during this incident. He had been involved in a different incident on 2/7/2017 where he was shot in the torso, by an unknown assailant, but refused to cooperation with law enforcement during that investigation. Joaquin was transported and booked into the Mendocino County Jail for Assault with a deadly weapon, firearm; Use of a firearm during the commission of a felony; Prior prison enhancement; Possession of a firearm with the intent to commit a felony; Felon in possession of a firearm; Possession of a short barreled shotgun; and Warrant for Post Release Community Supervision violation. He is being held with no bail due to his status of being on Post Release Community Supervision and having an outstanding warrant for his arrest at the time of the incident for violation of the terms of his PRCS. He refused to provide a statement in this case so the motivation behind the assault is not known.

* * *


(Thursday, Lauren’s Restaurant in downtown Boonville)

Dear Friends of the Quiz and Friends of Friends of the Quiz,

We continue with the General Knowledge and Trivia Quiz at Lauren’s Restaurant on the 2nd and 4th Thursday schedule. With March being a five-Thursday month this year, the Quiz taking place tomorrow, Thursday, March 23 (the fourth Thursday), will be the last one for three weeks — until the second Thursday in April, the 13th! Obviously you will need to exercise your minds thoroughly before that long interlude and I therefore I suggest that your attendance at tomorrow’s event would be very beneficial indeed for your brain. Not to mention the fine wines, delicious food, and fun banter with friends that are all on offer too. I hope to see you there. First question is posed at 7pm.

Steve Sparks / The Quiz Master

* * *


Not at sunrise, but at 8 AM

There will be a Community Christian Easter Church Service and all are invited.

Time: 8 AM Date: Easter morning, 4-16-2017

Place: In front of the Boonville Methodist Church, 13850 Highway 128, Boonville. Valley Bible Fellowship is hosting this for the entire Valley.

Come join us for a time of celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

There will be hymns, prayer, fellowship, refreshments, and reading of the Bible (the resurrection account). No admission and no offering will be taken.

For information call Pastor Dave Kooyers at (707) 895-2325

* * *


by Glenda Anderson

The Hopland Band of Pomo Indians is seeking more than $25,000 in damages from Mendocino County for 847 marijuana plants it claims were illegally eradicated from its rancheria by law enforcement last year.

It’s one of at least two claims filed against the county in connection with tribe-sanctioned cannabis operations, a growing movement among Indian nations seeking new sources of revenue. The Pinoleville Pomo Nation last year filed a claim for the eradication of more than 400 plants on its rancheria just outside Ukiah but has yet to file a lawsuit. Both tribes contend the marijuana was for medicinal use.

Pot cultivation as an economic enterprise on tribal land “is presenting itself statewide,” said Mendocino County Sheriff’s Lt. Shannon Barney, who is a member of a northern Mendocino County tribe.

The estimated 300-strong Hopland tribe contends the seizure and destruction of its nearly mature medicinal marijuana crop in September was “unlawful,” according to the claim filed last week. Such claims are required before a lawsuit can be filed. The claim alleges multiple legal violations by law enforcement, including unreasonable search and seizure, violation of due process, unreasonable search and seizure, and trespass on the 40-acre rancheria.

The claim also suggests the search warrant was served at the wrong address.

The tribe’s claim seeks restitution for the confiscated plants, agricultural infrastructure and materials, and the labor costs of growing the plants.

The tribe was involved in a medical marijuana enterprise that included cultivation, distribution and sales of marijuana on the rancheria under an agreement with a medical marijuana consulting group called Therafields Inc., according to the claim. The Secretary of State’s website lists William Htun of San Francisco as the company’s agent but provides no contact information. A website associated with Therafields contains little information about the business.

The tribe’s Ukiah-based attorney, Lester Marston, declined comment beyond saying, “I think the claim is self-explanatory.”

Tribal members were not available Tuesday for comment.

Neither the tribe nor Therafields was listed as suspects at the time of the pot raid, but law enforcement are investigating the connection, said Barney.

Those arrested during the September raid included Zachary Diamond, 26, and Kyle Murphy 26, who lived on the Nokomis Road property where the plants were located, and Richard Paiz, 33, of Lancaster, Barney said. He said the case was forwarded to the Mendocino County District’s Office but returned to the Sheriff’s Office for further investigation.

Original of Claim:


* * *

CATCH OF THE DAY, March 22, 2017

Adams, Elder, Fenrich

AMOS ADAMS, Fort Bragg. Stalking and threatening bodily injury.

JACK ELDER, Fort Bragg. Domestic battery, vandalizing phone lines.

GARRETT FENRICH, Fort Bragg. Domestic battery.

Gonzalez, Hodges, Huddleston

ANTONIA GONZALEZ, Ukiah. Failure to appear, county parole violation.

JODI HODGES, Ukiah. Petty theft, vandalism.

CHRIS HUDDLESTON, Ukiah. Drunk in public.

Hulbert, Joaquin, McGrew

MONTY HULBERT, Boonville. Drunk in public.

JEFFREY JOAQUIN, Covelo. Assault with firearm, personal use of firearm, loaded firearm in public, ex-felon with firearm, community supervision violation, prison prior.

CHRISTINA MCGREW, Ukiah. Hypodermic needle, paraphernalia, disobeying a court order, probation revocation.

Mendez-Zarate, Metereveli, Rasmussen

ENEYDA MENDEZ-ZARATE, Fort Bragg. Domestic battery.

LAURIE METEREVELI, Eureka/Fort Bragg. Domestic battery.

KEVIN RASMUSSEN, Clovis (Fresno area)/Ukiah. Drunk in public.

CESAR ROJAS, Redwood Valley. Domestic battery.

TEODORO ROSALES, Covelo. Domestic assault, child endangerment, probation revocation.

MICHAEL VORIS, Roseville/Willits. Trespassing.

* * *



In response to your comments on the Russian revolution (AVA, March 8) I was reminded of an old VHS tape I used to rent at Figuerido’s in beautiful downtown Fort Bragg titled “From the Czar to Stalin,” which in those days was my short history of that age. According to the Brits who made it, the revolution was the Russians’ three years of freedom before the Bolsheviks took over and forced the Menshevik leader Kerensky to get out of town in a fast American car. He had planned to prosecute the war against Germany and form a democracy, but Lenin ultimately handed the best third of Russia’s territory over to Germany to get out of the war he had welcomed as the means to weaken the European states. The film also claims that the Bolsheviks allowed “the first Russian election, ever,” lost it, and then scrapped it, “the last Russian election, ever.” (The film was made long before the From Perestroika to Putin.)

I read Rosa Luxemburg’s opinion of Lenin back then as well, it was she who quoted Lenin’s glee at the start of the First World War which she deplored as the massacre of the working class by the rulers of Europe. Like “Red Emma” Goldman, Rosa didn’t see the Bolshevik state as the real revolution, but rather a tyranny. The Lubyanka was the forerunner to the KGB. But the Czar’s police state was the forerunner to the Lubyanka, so Stalin’s paranoid state actually traces clear back to Ivan the Terrible.

Oppression tends to keep its effects even when it is overthrown. Sometimes even the same people take over. Napoleon was about to be guillotined by the French, but the next thing you know he’s in charge, and they’re in Spain butchering a land of peasants.

Humane treatment and conduct, legitimate terms, mutual benefit, everything civilization should provide for itself, is hard to sustain, or even make credible when the inherent circumstances of centuries of ignorance and cruelty are taken for common, or even God, by the people.

That’s the situation we’re back in, oddly enough, considering all we’ve learned and discovered. So much is considered to be the will of God or fate that just isn’t. It’s as if people want it to be that stupid, or it must be because they believe it. But since the same offenses are committed without religion, it must be offensive whatever else we want to call it.

Scott Croghan


* * *


“(note: 80% of our ills are the result of lifestyle choices.)”

Too much magic I would say.

I suppose you have to say, ”lifestyle choices” because if you try to get any more specific the whole thing very quickly devolves into complete absurdity.

At least 80% of the population does NOT smoke anymore.

At least 60% does NOT drink any more. Of those who do still drink, with draconian DWI laws, the large majority of those are restricted to drinking only when they aren’t mobile.

Since even the most mundane tasks in this landscape require you to go mobile, that puts rather a significant crimp in that activity.

To grow tobacco, ship it, manufacture it into cigarettes, and still make a very generous profit, a pack of cigarettes would still only cost about 40 cents.

Are there any products or activities more outrageously taxed than tobacco and alcohol?

A great many people never the less die from smoking and drinking, and I’m sure you cry buckets of tears over these people, EXCEPT when you are complaining about over-population.

Pornography is every bit as fantastic as Disney princess movies.

At least one-sixth of my generation are clearly slated to live out their lives as old maids and old bachelors.

The number one actual reason for not having children seems to be to conserve what little wealth you still have. Never the less, such children as these people are having will still not be as affluent as their predecessors.

All of this is to say that I suspect the sexual revolution has produced far more celibates and near-celibates than the Middle Ages ever did.

In that light, beating the Catholic Church over the head with Humana Vitae is downright comedic.

That leaves us with the bad lifestyle choices being cheese doodles, burgers, and pizza.

So, presumably, it is a terrible thing that we do not adopt the diet of medieval serfs, with gruel for breakfast, gruel for lunch, and gruel for dinner.

As for those people who don’t smoke, drink, screw, or eat pizza, they are typically wound so tight that their company can never be tolerated but briefly.

Perhaps they will live to be 80 or 90, but secretly you wish they would drop dead, like, yesterday.

Perhaps THEY will live, but LIVING WITH THEM is another story.

By the way, notice that those who advocate the diet and lifestyle of medieval serfs, never remotely resemble medieval serfs in any way.

* * *


Love Smash? Test your gaming skills against some foes. There will be a $5.00 entry fee with the top three winners taking the payout. We will also have set-ups for Street Fighter Five play. Register for the tournament with the Ukiah Library at 707-463-4490. The age limit is 12 and up, and is free of charge for spectators. This event will be facilitated by the Friends of the Library, Ukiah Valley. Come and enjoy the fun.

Book Buddies! Saturdays 2-3 pm

Grab a friend or make a new one at our new buddy reading time. Get together in small groups and read something fun! Practice reading out loud and gain confidence in a safe, non-judgmental space.

Big kids and teens are invited to pair up with "littles," or kids can group with someone their own age. Track your progress on our big reading board and earn prizes! Our new Book Buddies program will occur every Saturday 2-3PM, drop by and try it out!

Wines & Spines Book Club Wednesday, March 29th 6:30 pm

Adults 21 & over are invited to join our monthly book club Wines & Spines. We meet at Enoteca wine bar (106 W. Church St) on the last Wednesday evening of each month.

Studies show reading for pleasure reduces anxiety & increases our capacity for compassion. Join us in March for "Year of Yes" by Shonda Rhimes: March 29th at 6:30 pm. Reserve your copy online: For a list of our titles, to sign up for the Book Club email list, or more information – please contact Melissa at the Ukiah Library: 467-6434 or

LOBA Poetry Reading Series featuring Caroline Goodwin & an Open Mic! Sat, April 1st 3 pm

Join us to kick off National Poetry Month with a reading with Caroline Goodwin, the 1st Poet Laureate of San Mateo County! Open mic follows. Teens & adults are invited to share poems in any form or style.

A feminist epic by Diane di Prima, LOBA is a visionary epic quest for the reintegration of the feminine, hailed by many as the great female counterpart to Allen Ginsberg's Howl when the first half appeared in 1978. Loba, "she-wolf" in Spanish explores the wilderness at the heart of experience, through the archetype of the wolf goddess, elemental symbol of complete self-acceptance.

Caroline Goodwin moved to the Bay Area from Sitka, Alaska in 1999 to attend Stanford as a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry. She is the author of the chapbooks Kodiak Herbal, Gora Verstovia and Text Me, Ishmael and the full-length collections Trapline and The Paper Tree. She teaches at California College of the Arts and the Stanford Writer's Studio and is currently serving as the first Poet Laureate of San Mateo County.

Light refreshments will be served. For more information – please contact Melissa at the Ukiah Library: 467-6434 or

For a full list of events, check out our website or follow us on Facebook.

* * *


Dear Editor:

In a recent issue of the New Yorker magazine there was interesting article by Jelanie Cobb about Article V of the Constitution provisions for amendments to the document. It was noted not only does the GOP control the Senate and the House but also 33 state legislatures. An amendment has to be approved by 2/3rds of each chamber and ratified 3/4ths of the states.

In 1995, the House approved an amendment that would required a balanced budget but it failed in the Senate. Now the amendment again in is being introduced by the GOP. Cobb thinks it is unlikely that it can pass Congress at this time.

Article V provides an alternative way to propose amendments which bypasses Congress. Two-thirds of the state legislatures can call for a constitutional convention. To do so the GOP needs to gain control of one more legislature which is an event that could well happen in next year's election. It should be noted that 28 states have already adopted resolutions calling for a constitutional convention on a balanced budget amendment.

A concern if a constitutional convention is held that it might not limit the agenda to the balance budget amendment but expand to include such issues as bans on abortion and same sex marriage, and also ending birthright citizenship which is guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.

Any action that might be taken by the convention does require the approval of 3/4ths of the states.

As a sidebar, I have several comments. A federal balanced budget amendment displays a woeful lack of an understanding of the budget process as how it works in good and bad times and in wars. While approval by 3/4ths of the states at this time would seem unlikely one needs to recognize the current ineptness of the Democratic party does note bode well for future elections.

In peace and love,

Jim Updegraff, Sacramento

* * *


A Two-Day Improv/Scene Study Intensive, taught by Tracy Burns (formerly of Hit & Run Theatre), will be held on Saturday & Sunday, April 1 & 2 from 10am - 4pm (with a one-hour lunch break) in the Mendocino Theatre Company rehearsal room. The cost is $150. Space is limited, so reserve your place in the class TODAY. This workshop is suitable for actors of all skill levels, high school age and up! For more details:

* * *


by Dan Bacher

Governor Jerry Brown and administration officials claim that the California WaterFix, a controversial plan to build two 35-mile long tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, is based on “science.”

“The best scientific thinking says California needs the project,” Governor Brown told Dan Morain, Sacramento Bee editorial page editor in an interview in December of 2016. (

However, federal scientists strongly disagree with Brown’s claim that “best scientific thinking" supports the construction of the tunnels. In fact, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has released a draft biological opinion documenting the harm the tunnels would cause to salmon, steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt, other fish and wildlife species, and water quality.

An independent peer review panel found the NMFS findings are backed by “comprehensive analyses, new data, and modeling,” according to a statement from the Golden Gate Salmon Association (GGSA). The panel further found NMFS used the “best available science” and produced evidence of “significant adverse impacts” to species and critical habitat, including unacceptable harm to salmon.

The draft biological opinion is available at

For the section focusing on the impacts on salmon and other fish species, go to:

Based on new scientific data documenting that the California WaterFix project would worsen water and habitat conditions for migrating Central Valley salmon, GGSA said it opposes the tunnels plan as “currently envisioned.”

“The NMFS science and the peer review both make clear the current twin tunnels proposal will likely drive the salmon to extinction and will harm other wildlife. GGSA has no option but to oppose this project,” said John McManus, GGSA executive director.

Some of the many problems highlighted in the NMFS report are the following:

  • The heavy flow through the fish screens at the giant water intakes in the Sacramento River, located just downstream of Sacramento, could impinge the juvenile salmon to the screens where they will perish.
  • Those that survive impingement and are stressed or injured will be subject to heavy predation.
  • The Sacramento River below the screens will be reduced to a relative trickle. The tiny salmon need strong flows to push them downstream. Without that, more predation and heavy losses will result.
  • Lower flows downstream of the intakes will cause more juvenile salmon lost to the interior Delta through the Delta Cross Channel and Georgiana Slough.
  • A major decrease of freshwater downstream of the intakes will also highly degrade water quality, resulting in increased contaminants and decreased food sources. 

“The models used to gauge the damage to salmon showed a zero percent chance the tunnels would help winter-run Chinook salmon,” noted McManus. “Instead the modeling showed a slow steady decline towards extinction for these salmon if the tunnels are built and operated as currently envisioned.”

NMFS scientists forecast increases in winter run Chinook redd (nest) dewatering (page 78) and spring run Chinook redd (nest) dewatering (page 86) on the Sacramento River if the tunnels are built.

The NMFS report also highlights two upstream issues of concern to anglers and public trust advocates:

  • Salmon egg and alevin mortality on the American River under the tunnels project “clearly” results in adverse effects on fall run salmon, the mainstay of the sport and commercial fishing industries.
  • Increased loss of federally protected winter and spring run salmon will occur from dewatering of their incubating eggs in upstream river gravels. 

“This project will not only destroy the salmon, but it also threatens the jobs of the thousands of people who depend on healthy salmon runs, including fishermen, tackle shops, boat shops, launch ramp operators, marinas, and many others,” said GGSA director Mike Aughney. “It’s time to admit this version of the tunnel idea won’t work. There’s no doubt the status quo is very bad for salmon, but this giant twin tunnels proposal obviously isn’t the answer.”

GGSA secretary Dick Pool added, “The State Water Board’s update of the water quality control plan, including new flow standards to protect salmon, water quality, and the health of the delta, also needs to be completed before any tunnel project can be properly considered and designed.”

The Governor continues to promote his tunnels as recreational, commercial and Tribal fishermen face reduced ocean and inland salmon seasons this year. Pre-season numbers unveiled by Dr. Michael O’Farrell of the National Marine Fisheries Service at a meeting in Santa Rosa on March 1 estimate only 230,700 Sacramento River fall run Chinook adults and 54,200 Klamath River fall run adults will be in the ocean this year.

Both forecasts are lower than those of recent years, with the forecast for Klamath fall run being among the lowest on record. Ocean regulatory management for salmon fisheries on the ocean from Cape Falcon in Oregon to the Mexico-US Border is heavily based on these runs.

The Delta Tunnels will also have a huge detrimental impact on Delta smelt, a state and federally listed endangered species, including reducing the available habit for smelt, migration, spawning and rearing.

“The PA will result in substantial adverse effects by the constriction/reduction in available habitat to delta smelt that support the migration, spawning, transport, and rearing processes that are necessary for reproduction and therefore survival of the species,” the report states. (page 251)

The document also states, “The delta smelt population will be most affected by the constriction and reduction in the quantity and quality of available suitable habitat to rearing juveniles and adult spawners. Their habitat size will be greatly reduced from restricted access in the north, altered flows in the south Delta, and interior Delta movements of the LSZ. The quality of habitat will be further degraded by small changes in salinity, water temperature, water clarity, food supply, Microcystis, and selenium under the PA.” (Page 260)

Delta smelt, longfin smelt and other fish species continue to remain at the edge of extinction. The Delta smelt has not yet become extinct, but the numbers of fish collected in the fall 2016 midwater trawl survey conducted by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) remained alarmingly low.

This is in spite of improved precipitation last winter and spring, followed by a very wet fall that should have resulted in much higher numbers of smelt surviving.

The Delta smelt index, a relative measure of abundance, survey was 8, the second lowest in history. Seven Delta smelt were collected in November – and none were collected in September, October, or December, according to a memo from James White, environmental scientist for the CDFW’s Bay Delta Region, to Scott Wilson, Regional Manager of the Bay Delta Region. ( )

From 1967 through 2015, populations of striped bass, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, American shad, splittail and threadfin shad declined by 99.7, 98.3, 99.9, 97.7, 98.5 and 93.7 percent, respectively, according to Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA). For more information, read:…

While Governor Jerry Brown and other state officials proclaim that the Delta Tunnels project will “restore” the Delta ecosystem, they revealed their real plans when the administration applied for a permit to kill winter-run Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt and other endangered species with the project.

On October 7, 2016, California Department of Water Resources (DWR) submitted an “incidental take” application for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) in “compliance” with the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) in order to build the Delta Tunnels.

For more information, go to:

The NMFS draft biological opinion confirms and expands upon what previous scientific reviews of the Delta Tunnels project, including a scathing 43-page report by the U.S. EPA in August 2014, have already documented - that the project, rather than restore the ecosystem, is likely to harm water quality and further imperil struggling populations of salmon, steelhead and other fish species in Central Valley rivers, the San Francisco Bay-Delta and the ocean.

The EPA diagnosis revealed that operating the proposed conveyance facilities “would contribute to increased and persistent violations of water quality standards in the Delta, set under the Clean Water Act,” and that the tunnels “would not protect beneficial uses for aquatic life, thereby violating the Clean Water Act." (

The Delta Tunnels project is based on the absurd assumption that diverting more water out of a river and estuary will somehow “restore” that river and estuary. In addition to hastening the extinction of Sacramento River Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt and green sturgeon, the California WaterFix also threatens already imperiled salmon and steelhead on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.

* * *


Barbara Skelton, who died in January of 1996 at age 79, published three works of fiction and two striking volumes of autobiography, remarkable chiefly for the light they shed on her career as a femme fatale.

Her memoirs, Tears Before Bedtime (1987) and Weep No More (1989) rarely erred on the side of discretion. In particular she penned an hilariously funny portrait of Cyril Connolly, her first husband who divorced her on grounds of her adultery with the publisher George Weidenfeld.

Then she married Weidenfeld who in turn divorced her on grounds of adultery with Cyril Connolly. Finally she was briefly the fifth wife of millionaire physicist Derrick Jackson's six wives.

Skelton enjoyed love affairs with King Farouk of Egypt, the painters Felix Topolski and Michael Wishart; Alan Ross, founder of the London Magazine; and Bob Silvers, founder of the New York Review of Books. The cast also included a metropolitan policeman -- "sex is a great leveler," she reflected.

Anthony Powell admired the "peculiarly incisive malignity" of Skelton’s memoirs. It has even been suggested that she might have afforded certain characteristics for the lethal Pamela Flitton who drives men to their death in Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time.

However irresistible others found her feline sex appeal, Skelton herself was dismissive of her beauty -- "bun faced, with slanting sludge colored eyes." She was also distinctly unappreciative of conventional mail good looks.

Rather, she like to dwell in detail on her lovers’ physical shortcomings -- on Connolly’s elephantine torso and Chinese Coolie legs, or own Weidenfeld’s hands and pallor intruding "like flaws or speckles in an otherwise perfect photograph."

Skelton's conversation was as sharp and funny as her writing. She enjoyed sharing the fruits of her wide reading; and however sullen and sulky she might appear, good humor would instantly return in the company of anyone who could make her laugh.

The daughter of an army officer and a gaiety girl of Scandinavian origin, Barbara Skelton was born in 1916.

She was a passionate and uncontrollable child, on one occasion running at her mother with a carving knife in a jealous rage. Fascinated from an early age by the havoc wreaking possibilities of passion, she was expelled from her convent school when a bundle of love letters was found in her desk.

The letters, written by herself and addressed to herself showed a degree of moral corruption which the nuns were unable to countenance. Her education thus ended, Miss Skelton was given a job as a model at a Knightsbridge dress shop.

Her patron, a rich friend of her father’s, quickly established his protege as his mistress, and Barbara Skelton was launched on her career of petulant promiscuity.

Cocktails and tangos at the Savoy soon palled and were followed by a brief sojourn with a paternal military uncle in India where she broke the heart of a poetic and peace-loving soldier. An attempted elopement resulted indirectly in the death of her admirer.

She returned to London and an erratic modeling career which included a spell working for Schiaparelli.

During the first years of the Second World War she set up house with an unsurprisingly unattractive free Frenchman -- "a balding stocky man with a pale reptilian face." Recruited to the foreign office by Donald Maclean, she was posted to Egypt as a cipher clerk at the embassy.

Friendship with King Farouk flourished after a chance encounter at a restaurant, much to the disquiet of her Foreign Office superiors who transferred her to Athens. She was to renew her acquaintance with Farouk some years later when she joined him at Monte Carlo. He whipped her with a dressing gown cord, providing material for her first novel, A Young Girl's Touch (1956), in which the heroine is beaten in similar fashion by King YoYo.

After the war Skelton lived a hectic and bohemian social life in London, consorting with, among others, Peter Quennell (whom she nicknamed "The Bastard") and the filmmaker John Sutro. In 1969 Skelton's novel A Love Match was withdrawn when Sutro and his wife threatened to sue her for libel.

Skelton's acquisition of a red Sunbeam Talbot convertible resulted -- according to Nancy Mitford -- in the captivation of Cyril Connolly. They were married in 1950 and for the next four years live together in her cottage in Kent.

In her memoirs Skelton describes Connolly lying abed morning after morning sucking the sheet and crying out in ectoplasmic voice, "I wish I was dead," or more simply, "Poor Cyril."

Rage seems to have presided over the ill starred marriage from the very beginning. When Skelton one day asked her husband what he had all over his face (it was in fact red wine), he furiously replied: "Hate!"

Visits to other people’s houses were invariably disasters. "Do come back when you're less cross," suggested one hostess. Nevertheless Skelton retained a residual affection for Connolly: "He had such enormous charm and intelligence," she wrote, "and he never bored me."

Her affair with George Weidenfeld began with the tortured permission of Connolly. "I am simply obsessed with him sexually," she noted of her new admirer. "I no longer remark on his hands or his toenails. And I have told him that he must grow some new black hair on his back. I have even threatened to smear him with bone lotion to further the process."

A Young Girl's Touch was dedicated to Connolly and published by Weidenfeld; and in 1956 Skelton divorced the first and married the second. "A feeling of utter despair followed the ceremony," she recorded. During the honeymoon she chanted "Until death us do part" at her husband through clenched teeth.

Weidenfeld’s attempts to make her behave like a smooth social hostess -- "Gush, gush," he would whisper to her at dinner parties -- were to no avail. She continued to play with Connolly and in time the publisher sued for divorce.

Skelton's marriage to Weidenfeld and her affair with Connolly both ended in 1961. She then embarked on a series of liaisons with younger men and took up with Kenneth Tynan, who maintained that "sex means smack and beautiful means bottom and always will."

Subsequently, Skelton lived for some years in New York where she worked variously as a dental nurse, secretary and elderly lady's companion. She also wrote a book of short stories, Born Losers (1965) about the sex war in New York.

Of her third foray into matrimony in 1966 Barbara Skelton observed: "A marriage can be founded on many things -- it was not for love that I married Professor Jackson." The union, dominated by Skelton's menagerie of small violent mammals, was of brief duration.

Skelton then went to live in a farmhouse in Provence, where for more than a decade she shared the favors of the French journalist Bernard Frank with Francoise Sagan. Cyril Connolly visited her there shortly before his death and spent an afternoon rummaging through her papers. "You certainly were a sexpot in your day," he concluded.

In 1993 Skelton returned to Britain where she divided her time between a flat in the King’s Road and a cottage in Worchestire. Her affection was chiefly bestowed on two cats -- her "pussers," as she called them.

(The London Daily Telegraph, January 29, 1996)

Barbara Skelton, 1948; 1987.

Barbara Skelton

by DJ Taylor

(Evelyn Waugh gossiped about her, Anthony Powell put her in his novels and Lord Weidenfeld, briefly, married her. She was a writer, a bohemian, a femme fatale – but, on her centenary in 2016, DJ Taylor asks who was the real Barbara Skelton?)

Barbara Skelton’s trail runs through a certain type of 20th century literary life like a vein of quartz. Here is Evelyn Waugh, writing to Nancy Mitford early in 1950 with a bumper selection of the latest Grub Street scuttlebutt: “G Orwell is dead, and Mrs Orwell presumably a rich widow. Will Cyril [Connolly] marry her? He is said to be consorting with Miss Skelton.”

Nearly four decades later their mutual friend Anthony Powell was still filling his diaries with news of the journalists who had telephoned to inquire if Barbara was the model for A Dance to the Music of Time’s farouche, man-eating Pamela Flitton (“I replied with guarded affirmation”). The death of Lord Weidenfeld earlier this year brought another little flurry of publicity for the woman once described as looking like “the youthful concubine of a legendary Mongol chieftain” along with lurid accounts of their brief yet tempestuous mid-1950s marriage.

But who was Barbara Skelton, and why should Waugh have gossiped about her, Powell finessed her into his novels and Weidenfeld schemed so craftily to displace her first husband, the literary critic-cum-editor Cyril Connolly, from the marital bed?

Most of the answers can be found in her highly autobiographical first novel, A Young Girl’s Touch, published in 1956 at the height of the Weidenfeld/Connolly standoff, which tracks her erratic progress through the second world war.

Skelton, who was born 100 years ago in 1916, features as “Melinda Paleface,” who is thought “far too young and pretty to live in London alone”. She is first seen working at the offices of a continental government in exile, where she devotes her mornings to “doing her face or making dates by telephone with all her friends and admirers” and her evenings to being entertained by them at a variety of expensive restaurants and back-street nightclubs.

An unabashed freeloader (“Someone was always there to take Melinda out to dinner”), equally in her element lunching at the Berkeley Hotel or attending blue movie screenings in Chelsea, her fatal attraction is ascribed to a trick of cupping her chin in her hands and staring abstractedly into the distance to create “an air of elusiveness that men found irresistible”. At the same time the deep wells of private unhappiness into which her boyfriends so regularly tumble make her captious and spiteful. Plus, as she frankly concedes, she has a habit of falling for men as unreliable as herself. Despatched to “Jubaland” (a thinly disguised Egypt) as a cipherine, she is taken up by the local potentate, King Yoyo (an even less thinly disguised King Farouk), who delights in thrashing her with a dressing-gown cord. “Nothing was ever as black as it seemed,” Melinda gamely reflects at the close of her tragi-comic picaresque. “The entire course of our life can change completely at a moment’s notice.”

If A Young Girl’s Touch falls into the category of ingenue confession – one of those engaging books in which a stream of hair-raising events is recounted with a comparatively straight face – then by the time of its appearance Skelton had spent nearly two decades up to the neck in the kind of life it so carelessly describes. Her father was a regular army officer who had married an Edwardian chorus girl. There was Danish blood – the source of Barbara’s corn-haired good looks – a family connection to the playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan, and a germ of temperamental excess that led her at four to attempt to run her mother through with a carving knife and in her early teens to be expelled from her convent boarding school for forging a sheaf of love letters to herself signed “Fred”.

At 17 a millionaire friend of her father set her up in a West End flat. Bored by the routines expected of the rich man’s mistress she took to modelling for Schiaparelli and Hartnell, pining for the bohemian life while acknowledging that whatever society she fell into would always fall short of her expectations of it. Like Melinda, “for years she had longed to get away and escape into the unreal world of London. Now that she had done so, happiness still seemed far out of reach.”

All this raises the question of milieu, the kind of world that Skelton inhabited in her twentysomething heyday. On one level, naturally, it is the sort of existence sketched out in the famous chapter in Thackeray’s Vanity Fair entitled “How to Live Well on Nothing a Year” in which a suit of finery or a three course dinner is all the more enticing for being subsidised by somebody else. It was also a world of stratospherically differentiated removes, in which the Ritz hotel and the rat-haunted bedsit, the flyblown country cottage and the out-of-season continental resort all play their part, and the next significant other is as likely to be a half-starved painter as a checkbook-wielding millionaire. What kept her from being a poule de luxe pure and simple, Powell thought, was an odd streak of seriousness, a half-buried intellectual twist that allowed her to combine a relish for causing trouble for its own sake with a genuine shyness, uncertainty and eagerness to learn.

All these qualities contributed something to the most heartfelt relationship of her postwar life, her five-year marriage to Connolly. They were also responsible for most of its tensions. By this time, at any rate in the upper bohemian quadrant in which she moved, Skelton was famous, or perhaps only notorious, part of the tiny yet legendary demographic defined by the essayist Peter Quennell (with whom she had pursued a wartime affair) as “lost girls” – “adventurous young women who flitted about London, alighting briefly here and there and making the best of any random perch on which they happened to descend”. Their ranks included Orwell’s second wife Sonia Brownell, Janetta Parlade (then married to the journalist Robert Kee) and Connolly’s former girlfriend Lys Lubbock, and the associative net flung out to gather them in was usually a connection with Connolly’s 40s literary magazine, Horizon. Skelton herself had first come across Connolly while sharing a flat with Quennell upstairs from the Horizon offices.

Skelton & Connolly

Married at Elham registry office in October 1950, with a local policeman as the solitary witness, the Connollys moved to a cottage on the Kentish heights, attended by some guinea fowl, several geese and a vengeful coatimundi named Kupy, and fought, in Connolly’s words, “like kangaroos”. Friends offered horrified testimony to the adversarial depths they were capable of plumbing – Frances Partridge’s diary for January 1954 carries a bracing resume of a weekend house party in Wiltshire where Skelton sulked in her room, refused to come down to meals, asked to be called at seven on the Monday morning and then knocked herself out with sleeping tablets to the fury of her hosts. Skelton’s accounts of life at Oak Cottage, meanwhile, contain epic descriptions of her slothful and self-pitying husband lying for hours in the bath murmuring the words “Poor Cyril” to himself or telling her that he wishes she were dead.

Punctuated by outsize doses of husbandly melancholia and periodic crises in the pets department (“His Animal has been sacked from the zoo” Waugh reported to Nancy Mitford, “and sent home to Oak Cottage in disgrace”) the marriage limped on until early 1955, when Connolly became aware of his wife’s infidelity with Weidenfeld – apparently by walking on a whim through the front door of the latter’s house in Chester Square and finding them in flagrante. Matters were further complicated by the fact that Weidenfeld was at this point both his Skelton’s and her outraged husband’s publisher. Though represented as something very near to farce – a friend remembered the affair as a case of “people literally hiding in cupboards in hotels” – the swerve to Weidenfeld is a classic instance of Skelton’s fatalism, her tendency to take the worst possible option when every natural instinct counselled otherwise. Connolly, she acknowledged, was the love of her life; her marriage to Weidenfeld was in trouble from the honeymoon onwards, when her ex-husband was discovered to be lurking on the same Greek island; in the second set of divorce proceedings, Connolly was named as co-respondent.

There was faint hope of a rapprochement, but by this stage Connolly was courting his last wife, Deirdre Craven, whom he married in 1959. Skelton took flight to New York, where she worked in a bookshop and as a dental assistant, had affairs with (among others) the dramatic critic Kenneth Tynan and the cartoonist Charles Addams and sent back a series of autobiographical short stories for Alan Ross – another of her ex-lovers – to publish in the London Magazine and eventually in book form as Born Losers (1965). A second novel perished before the lawyers, as did a third marriage, to the millionaire physicist, Derek Jackson. A final relationship with the French writer Bernard Frank was marked by bouts of plate-throwing. In her mid-70s, with many of her friends dead and most of the remainder alienated by her two scarifying volumes of memoirs, Tears Before Bedtime (1987) and Weep No More (1989), she came back to England – the transit is vividly rendered in Jeremy Lewis’s memoir Battling with Barbara – and very soon after succumbed to an inoperable brain tumour.

Twenty years after her death, what remains of “Skeltie”?

Literary friends occasionally complained that her books were marred by laziness, that age-old amateur reluctance to do justice to promising material. On the other hand it could be argued that this tendency to throw the words down any old how is what gives her fiction its kick, the breezy impressionism of the style made all the more compelling by the hint of darker things beneath. And for sustained, score-settling bitchiness the memoirs are in a class of their own, not least for their portrait of the sheet‑chewing Connolly, at one stage pictured lying in recumbent misery with the bedclothes seeming to spew out of his mouth like ectoplasm. Or there is her account of a grand party at which Skelton, furious that Connolly has been invited to sit next to Princess Margaret, cruises the room looking for people to insult (“we are interrupted by Orson Welles, so I try to be offensive to him but he doesn’t notice”).

If there is something rather impressive about Skelton’s complete disregard for what people might think of her – one of her most mystifying tricks as a memoirist is to spin out stories that unwittingly present her in a bad light – then there is no getting away from the deep-rooted vulnerability, the sense common to nearly every account of her that here is someone who not only makes life harder for herself, but who knows it as well. And while the merits of her books can be overplayed, she remains a classic example of the woman writer inhibited by the company she keeps – a genuine stylist who deserves to be taken out of the context of the world in which she was compelled to operate and given something never allowed her by the teeming horde of male associates – a life of her own.

(The Guardian of London, April 2016)



  1. MarshallNewman March 23, 2017

    Sad to read of Mike Shapiro’s passing. Rest easy, old friend, and know you will be missed.

  2. George Hollister March 23, 2017

    Scott Croghan, “Humane treatment and conduct, legitimate terms, mutual benefit, everything civilization should provide for itself, is hard to sustain, or even make credible when the inherent circumstances of centuries of ignorance and cruelty are taken for common, or even God, by the people.”

    Humane treatment and conduct emanates from the individual, and his/her faith; not the Czar, King, Emperor, or central government. The more a central government power takes responsibility for moral behavior, the less there is. The reality is counter intuitive, but is a fundamental conundrum with socialism.

  3. Harvey Reading March 23, 2017

    Re: A President’s Credibility: Trump’s Falsehoods Are Eroding Public Trust, At Home and Abroad.

    Ha! Public trust began eroding long before Trump was a significant player. He is little more than the nest logical step of a regression back to formal, authoritarian rule by the wealthy–as intended by the founders–that began in earnest with H.S. Truman’s signature on the National Security Act of 1947.

  4. John Kriege March 23, 2017

    Re: Hare Creek Center,
    Did not catch the Hare Creek debate, but please remember, the city’s own staff report said a Grocery Outlet would steal business – and eventually jobs – from Safeway. Some locals think competition will make Safeway lower its prices. The Wednesday ad in Fort Bragg and Sacramento are identical. If Safeway loses business to Grocery Outlet, locals will lose their better paying Safeway jobs, and eventually their much better Safeway store. I get property rights. I just wish the City Council had gotten involved earlier with the property owners to figure out a better use for this property.

    • George Hollister March 23, 2017

      When I go to Grocery Outlet in Ukiah, I often meet people there from the coast. I assume they shop at Safeway, just as I do. Seems to me to make sense for Fort Bragg to have it’s own Grocery Outlet instead of people driving to Ukiah to shop. Does Grocery Outlet take money away from Safeway? Probably does. But I assume some of the over-stock items at Grocery Outlet come from Safeway, or would have been sold there if circumstances would have been more favorable. And Grocery Outlet is a good place to shop for people with limited means. Groceries on the coast are pretty pricey, incase no one noticed.

      • BB Grace March 23, 2017

        Why not a Trader Joes?

  5. John Kriege March 23, 2017

    Re: Coastal Trail Glass Beach Stairs,
    The cIty is finally building the stairs the right way. The steep, handrail-less stairs were an accident waiting to happen. And I think it did? Although none of the stories about the new stairs mention it, I think the city is being sued because someone fell on the old stairs. I think that, and not erosion, is the reason for the new stair design.

    • BB Grace March 23, 2017

      Was it about a decade ago CA State Parks rebuilt the trestle bridge across Pudding Creek? I have been under the impression from that time, and by looking at maps and by CA State Parks advertising, CA State parks owns Glass Beach. Why is the City of Fort Bragg building steps in MacKerricher State Beach Park?

      Glass Beach (Fort Bragg, California) – Wikipedia,_California)

      Glass Beach is a beach in MacKerricher State Park near Fort Bragg, California, that is abundant in….

  6. John Kriege March 23, 2017

    Re: the Avalon Inn project,
    Wow, big day. Three items I want to comment on. This could be a good thing for Fort Bragg. The mill is gone. Fishing is restricted. Fort Bragg has hung its hat on tourism. And then let its last historic downtown hotel go to a nonprofit, with no chance of property, sales or bed taxes or other tourist dollars from that property in the future. Not sure 65 rooms makes a monstrosity. I see a chance for the city to start talking to the owners and developers to get a good project.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *