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Valley People (July 19, 2017)

WHOEVER rolled away with it, the Anderson Valley Food Bank would deeply appreciate your return of the little black wagon. People, some of them disabled, use the wagon to carry their food out to their vehicles, but now that the wagon is gone they have to depend on the kindness of others to help them.


Who Has Food Bank’s Black Wagon?

A musical from Boonville,

Not so amusing.

Not Starring Clint Eastwood. Or Julie Andrews.

Starring someone who could put their cape on and help us solve this mystery

Act I The Black Wagon disappeared from the Food Bank just prior to the May distribution

Act II Carelessness? Selfishness? Maliciousness?

Act III Bring it back.

HURRY-UP SCHOOL BOARD MEETINGS march on. There was one last Thursday, and another coming up this week, as lawyers battle it out over recent administrative dismissals. Elementary principal Katherine Reddick has been fired, as has high school principal Keri St. Jeor. St. Jeor and Mrs. St. Jeor have left the Valley. Ms. Reddick is in the process of leaving, but neither administrator is going quietly. Both, hired last year, are bringing what amount to unlawful termination suits against AV Unified. Ms. Reddick said Monday morning that she will exercise her right to an open hearing on her dismissal. That hearing is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, August 1st.

GOOD TO SEE Marilyn Pronsolino back at Lemons Market after what Marilyn describes as “the trip of a life time” to the Italian home of her and her husband’s immigrant grandparents — Giovanettis and Pronsolinos. She promised details, and I’m holding her to it.

A STRAY ROOSTER has made himself at home at the Navarro Store, placing itself at night directly beneath proprietor Dave Evans’ bedroom window, as if the personable Evans doesn’t already have more than his share of wandering creatures.

ANDERSON VALLEY is "discovered" by expense account media explorers on what seems like a weekly basis, the effect of which, or at least one effect of all the advertising about this small, fragile place, is the conversion of lots of rental space to transient accommodations.

OUR DISCOVERERS describe us as "the unhurried Napa Valley." And we do indeed have a bunch of excellent, modestly-priced restaurants and umpty many tasting rooms, all of it in a pleasing, semi-rural setting, but we’re at least half-way to hurry-up and the shuffling weekend mobs rivaling those of Napa, Sonoma, Healdsburg. A Holiday Inn in the middle of Boonville and we’re done. Both properties presently for sale in central Boonville have abundant clean water, highway frontage, commercial zoning, but please don’t tell anyone.

COUPLA WEEKENDS AGO, there was a million dollar wedding at a high end Philo resort. Two Google execs were wed there. The food was catered by Quince, a fancy Frisco restaurant. Every place in the Valley was stuffed with Silicon people in town for the big event.

ONE COUPLE in town for the wedding booked themselves into Blackbird Farm, and they did it months before the wedding. Blackbird, if you came in late, is the ridgetop ranch now owned by an LA-based edu-hustler named John Hall. Hall recently drove up to a neighborhood meeting in a chauffeured limo, his driver togged out in old fashioned livery complete with cap. Hall bustled in, looking pointedly at his Rolex as if he were the world's biggest big shot, and said he had "exactly thirty minutes" to listen to neighbor complaints about his alleged educational and tourist rental operation. Silently absorbing a half-hour history of his bad neighborliness, Hall got back into his limo and drove off.

THE COUPLE REFERENCED ABOVE, had made reservations at Blackbird cabin well in advance of the million dollar wedding, but when they arrived they were told that Blackbird had “overbooked” and they would have to stay in one of Blackbird’s down-market cabins. The women were, to say the least, unhappy with the cabin or tool shed or whatever it was they’d been shunted into, so unhappy they placed a frantic 3am "Get us outta here!" call for help. They said they couldn't sleep because the place was so dirty and vermin-ridden they absolutely had to get off the hill! Right now! Which they did, retreating to a hastily-arranged Boonville home where they'd been offered 3am sanctuary.

RUMORS of a ghastly propane accident Thursday at Ray Pinoli's ranch in Philo turned out to be, well, overblown. The initial report had it that an explosion burned a woman's arm down to the bone, and that her injuries were so severe that an air ambulance had landed at Scharffenberger to carry her out of the county for treatment.

THE VIC WASN’T A WOMAN. The rumor mill had this one wronger than wrong. AV Fire Chief, Andres Avila, sets the record straighter than straight: “I just got home from being out of town. Briefly talked to the troops about this. Not a woman but a man delivering propane from local delivery truck was attacked by some yellow jackets while making access to the rear of a building. Accidentally losing control of the dispenser, gas was released and flash ignited. The injured worker suffered burn injuries, mostly from burnt clothing. The patient was transported by air to a burn center for treatment. I am told that the rumors about the full thickness burns to the bone are not accurate. I hope this helps a bit. I wasn't there to get the details.”

IT SEEMS that a deranged man flipped out on his own vehicle last week near Navarro, set it on fire and shoved it off the road. Officially, it was “VEHICLE FIRE ON SR-128 & MASONITE ROAD 2:12 PM Anderson Valley Fire Department & CalFire ground, air & inmate units are responding to a reported ‘vehicle fire on Highway 128 near Masonite Road’.”

Starr Automotive to the rescue

FOR TWENTY BUCKS, $25 at the door, you can drink all weekend this Saturday and Sunday at the “Fifth Annual Anderson Valley Barrel Tasting Weekend, July 22-23.” And a cheaper two-day drunk you won’t find anywhere in Wine Country.

BAD MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT on Saturday afternoon (July 15) east of Yorkville near mile marker 48.96. Sucik Ladislav Teshale, 34, of Imperial Beach, was badly injured when the motorcycle she was a passenger on left the road for an unknown reason. Ms. Teshale was transported to Santa Rosa Memorial hospital where her condition is no longer life-threatening.

BZZZZ. We're very happy with our four bee hives brought to us by Patrick Kalfsbeek, a multi-faceted farmer out of Arbuckle. Like everyone else, we understand that bee populations are way down. We want to do our part to restore them, if it's not already too late to restore them. We simply provide the one square yard the hives are placed on. We are also slowly sowing our place with bee-friendly plants. Patrick's crew does everything else. All us hosts have to do is welcome the hives. Patrick's guys were just in Boonville last week to have a look at how the Boonville and Philo bee consignments are doing. Our honey bees are, the beekeepers announced, "doing great." (Probably the good vibes we emanate here are a big help.) If you want a bee farm at your place, contact Patrick at or 530/908-1311.

IF YOU WONDER why people fall in love with methamphetamine or find themselves addicted to oxycontin, an experienced drug acquaintance puts it this way: “I snorted my first line of crank when I was about twenty, and spent the next few hours reorganizing my house, right down to alphabetizing my cook books. My girlfriend walks in and says, ‘Where’d you get the meth?’ I was awake for three days. Oxycontin? My dentist prescribed three pills, telling me not to break them up to make them last longer. As soon as I got home I broke them up to make them last longer, and when I was down to that last pill I gazed at it like I was gazing at my mom on her death bed. I absolutely understand why people love this stuff.”

JUST ASKING, but aren’t those non-muffling mufflers our young blades fit their vehicles with, like illegal? In downtown Boonville, at odd intervals, you get what the cops call “an exhibition of speed” along with combat-quality rapid fire explosions via the kid’s exhaust pipe. Can hear over it while it’s underway, and fortunately these expressions of contempt for your friends and neighbors are brief and only sporadic, But they’re an ongoing bummer.

A LOCAL READER, noting that Nobel Prize winner Kary Mullis’s Wikipedia entry mentions the Anderson Valley, asked, “Did you ever meet him?”

Yes, memorably.

Mullis, far as we know, still owns property on Gschwend Road, Navarro, although he lives full-time in Southern California.

Anderson Valley's Nobel laureate is known for his controversial views. He's said that climate change "is due to a conspiracy of environmentalists, government agencies and scientists attempting to preserve their careers and earn money rather than scientific evidence."

He’s also drawn criticism for saying that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS, bad "lifestyle choices" ignites it.

Mullis became famous in 1993 after winning the Prize for a major chemistry discovery which, among other things, allows DNA testing on extremely minute amounts of trace material in criminal investigations. The perps of otherwise unsolvable crimes have been revealed and punished — or exonerated — thanks to Kary Mullis.

Back in 1994 after Mullis’s Nobel prize award was announced with the associated publicity, the AVA's Mary Miles, reacting to some of Mullis's more inflammatory opinions, drew Mullis, a lifelong surfer, as a "Butthole Surfer."

An AVA reader, Mullis loved the cartoon. He arranged for Philo artisan Kevin Burke to frame the original for him and invited Burke and Major Scaramella to a party at his home on Gschwend Road where they would present the famous genius with Miss Miles' rendition of him.

The Major remembers:

"When we got there a collection of invited guests and locals were chatting and drinking. Some scantily-clad babes from the city were enjoying the hot tub.

The Nobel Prize winner was standing on his deck with a semi-automatic rifle in his right hand, a large bottle of wine in his left. In between swigs, Mullis was taking potshots across a gulley at watermelons his son was rolling down the opposite hill. Whenever he hit a watermelon he’d smile and wheel around with the gun and the wine bottle and laugh.

Kevin and I took cover behind a wall.

The food was plentiful — barbecued meats and vegetables and two large pots of boiling corn. The stainless steel corn pots were sitting on a pipe frame heated by propane burners rigged precariously from the kitchen by our host or his staff. As a few of us sat waiting for dinner, the pipe and propane arrangement suddenly exploded. One of the men involved in the food prep re-lit the propane burners and continued cooking the corn as if nothing had happened.

After dinner, Mullis presented a slide show using an old style Kodak carousel slide projector. By this time our host was full sail to the winds. After dropping the slides, the jolly Mullis laughed as he randomly put them back into their slots, unconcerned that they were out of sequence, sideways or upside down.

Mullis clicked through the slides. Some were pictures of the conference room in the biotech company where he worked prior to his break-through discovery. The room he showed us interspersed suited men sitting around a conference table with spectacularly topless women.

When the first topless slide popped up, a woman sitting next to me who said she was one of Mullis’s ex-girlfriends reached over and put her hand in front of my eyes and said, ‘Oh, you shouldn't see this.’

Because the slides were now out of order, the presentation switched back and forth between the conference room pics and photos of the Nobel Prize presentation ceremony. One photo showed Mr. Mullis standing at the dais with several solemn gray-haired men arrayed on either side of him. Mullis’s casual outfit contrasted with the conservative suits of the older men. Mullis, commenting on the tableau, remarked, ‘Here's me with a bunch of old farts whose asses I had to kiss to get the prize.’

After the slide show, we thanked our host and departed, our exciting afternoon a memory among memories.”

GROUNDSWELL, the unregistered gay event center six miles south of Boonville on the former Mathias Ranch (who’d have thunk it?), was making its usual weekend din Friday night, prompting a visit from Sheriff’s deputy Craig Walker. Distressed neighbors of Groundswell’s repeat quakes, Steve and Nikki Auschnitt of the Petit Teton Farm across the road, accompanied the deputy on another frustrated goodwill mission to try to get Groundswell to turn the music down. The woman in charge was “not exactly rude but close,” the visiting party said. Ms. Groundswell would not identify the person in charge of the debauch center. Nikki and Steve’s next stop is the county’s Planning and Building Department to see if Groundswell has a use permit as an event center, and if it doesn’t why doesn’t it? A use permit would require limitations on the hours of the amplified merriment. Some nights, the music, played full blast (of course), reverberates through the once tranquil hills until five or six in the morning.

THE GOOD NEWS: Velma's Farmstand, Boonville, is back open for business, featuring among the opening bio-bites, fresh blueberries like you've never tasted blueberries.

THE REAL SARAHS! Friday, July 21, at AV Solar Grange, Philo. Doors open at 7:30. Food, beer & wine available, $15 advance, $20 at the door.

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