Off the Record (Nov. 1, 2017)

by AVA News Service, November 1, 2017

QUITE A SCENE last Friday at the Wells Fargo Bank, Ukiah. A bellicose young man in a retro tie-dye shirt startled a lobby full of customers when he walked up to District Attorney David Eyster and loudly, profanely and persistently denounced the DA. And wouldn't stop. Ukiah is a small town. Mendocino County is small in population. If there are two people everyone recognizes it's the Sheriff and the DA both of whom, like any other citizen, are free to go about their business unmolested.

SO THE DA is standing in line for a teller as a person he does not know raining down obscenities on him. The audience for this un-bank like scene is frozen, looking on, poised to do whatever people do when a nut case goes off in a public place, a frequent occurrence anymore, but hoping like all people to go about their business with a minimum of participation in psychotic episodes.

THE DA cooly asked Tie Dye, "Who are you?"

"You know who I am. You charged my father with murder!"

THE OAF in the retro garb then resumed cursing Mendocino County's top law enforcement officer.

THE BANK MANAGER hustled up. "We don't allow that here." And just as a staffer was reaching for the phone to call the police, the oaf strode for the door.

HE was subsequently identified as Luke Keegan, one of two sons of the murderous medical doctor, Peter Keegan, presently charged with bludgeoning his wife of 32 years to death. The Keegans' other son, presumably less unhinged, teaches at Ukiah High School.

NOT TO BE TOOOOOO judgmental here, but the arrogance of this punk is breathtaking. "You know who I am?” No, but let me guess. Robert DeNiro? Trump Jr.? The Duke of Ook?

TANTRUMING seems to run in the family.

MEASURE B and attorney to the stars of Northcoast destruction, and go-to guy for big shot Republicans, Jared Carter, argues that a county psych center is not fiscally sustainable, that only the state or federal governments are capable of doing it right. Maybe, but they've abdicated, Jared, and you would argue against a teensy bump in the sales tax even if the state or the feds did suddenly declare that they wanted to re-build the state hospital systems we used to have before America veered permanently off the tracks.

WHEN I WAS A KID — Wait! Don't run! I'll be brief! — Anyway, when I was a kid, the free range nuts, drug addicts, drunks, and mental defectives we now see wandering around every town and city in the country, were confined to state-run hospitals until they could regain possession of themselves. Americans, except for the Carter types, recognized it was not only the decent thing to do for persons unwilling or unable to care for themselves, confinement was good for public morale. Fast forward to 2017 and, well, the homeless are funding units for a large apparatus of college graduates, unwitting allies of the Carter types, who resist any interference with things as they are. (I should add that lots of families used to keep their troubled but manageable relatives at home, hence the old expression "idiot in the attic." Governor Reagan freed them all.)

THE MIGHTY AVA is for an in-County mental health facility because we think it pencils out, not because we have faith in contemporary mental health strategies, most of which consist only of zombo-izing troubled people with psychotropic drugs. The expensive out-of-county facilities Mendo's more intractable mental cases are unreasonably expensive. Our difficult cases can be treated here at home if B passes, thus funding much of our very own mental health management. Outside agencies will be sending us patients, one can expect, because we will be less expensive than the quack, cash and carry facilities NorCal is presently dependent on.

ATTORNEY CARTER also seems contemptuous that little Mendo would even attempt to do mental health in a way no other county in the country would be doing it. We think the unprecedentedness of Measure B is another argument for it, not a reason for laughing at it.

PERSONAL NOTE RE CARTER: I get a kick out of the old coot. To hear him on Measure B you'd think a tiny bump in the sales tax would throw him and Bonnie out on State Street, pushing their collection of Limbaugh tapes and autographed Nixon photos around in a shopping cart.

AT THE RAUCOUS Supe's meetings of the Redwood Summer period, Carter, of course representing the cut and run boys of Atlanta as they mowed down the economic base of the Northcoast, would cast a contemptuous, no look gesture behind him at the enviro protesters in the audience and declare, with deep disdain, "Now these people…" These deadbeat communist dopeheads, or whatever the hell they are...

IN FACT, the outside timber corporations had hired the big public relations firm, Hill and Knowlton, to vilify timber protesters as hippie unemployables bent on taking jobs from honest working people. H&K's yellow ribbon campaign managed to convince loggers that L-P and G-P were on their side, but by 1990 the timber corporations had pretty much completed their mop-up of what had been a solid timber economy, trading that economy for short-term profit-taking.

LIT CRIT: The prolific Jonah Raskin has published an interesting detective novel based in Sonoma County, I said to myself, "OK, I'll read it because I know the guy, he's a very good writer of non-fiction, and it's set in a geography I know, although I don't read much contemporary fiction because so much of it is so bad, cf 9 out of 10 New Yorker short stories. But Dark Land, Dark Mirror was fun, a real page turner, so I can recommend to the highly literate, mega-sophisticated ava readership without any of them accusing me of log rolling.

DITTO for A Vintage of Sour Grapes by Mendo guy, John Perrill, who I met in the early '80s when we were both confined to the Mendocino County Jail and, I must add, both of us confined for reasons of high principle, whatever they were. Perrill's collection of Bukowski-like short stories is refreshingly negative, especially in Mendo County's bubbly, smiley-faced context. Where else but Mendocino County would chronological adults, these laboring for the City of Fort Bragg, straight-facedly propose deportment rules for persons addressing the city council? Anyway, Mr. P's very first story had me laughing out loud. It's the all-time contrails fiction! Don't let your tin foil hat friends read it alone. I liked the heck out this collection. I hope you can find your own at your local book store.

AND JIM GIBBONS has written a heckuva interesting and fun book called Flashbacks: A Memoir.  A former resident of Willits, now Hawaii, Gibbons delivers the goods, a series of real-life stories by, among his other gifts, a world class athlete, one of the fastest long distance runners among old guys that we have, or had until his knees finally gave out. This is one back book cover blurb that really gives you a true hint what's to be found between the covers, and Mr. G. almost didn't get out from beneath the covers fast enough as a young man but went on to give us a fine memoir indeed: "To sum up my first week in California: I delivered drugs to an Oakland neighborhood in a black Cadillac; I walked over the Golden Gate Bridge without jumping off; I was seduced by astrology and put to sleep by a woman with, I found out later, a jealous, belligerent old man; I sailed out on the Bay for the first time; and stole a toilet from a famous musician. And that was just for starters!" I'm assuming this essential collection will be available at all our local bookstores, but if it isn't, and I hate to recommend Amazon, you can find it there.

WRAPPING UP today's book chat, a sad story of the Signs of the Times type, literary division. An acquaintance asked me to read her novel, still in manuscript form. She can't find a publisher, although all her previous books have made money. I thought there must be something seriously off about it, given the author's rep. So I read it, raced right on through it, actually, and it's so good that even in the post-literate age, as soon as it got out there I know it would take off like, say, Gone Girl took off. My daughter handed me that one. "I know you'll like it," she promised. What's it about? I demanded. "Uh, this young woman…" Hold it right there. Any story about a young woman that isn't by one of the Bronte sisters or Jane Austen, spare me. I'm not reading it. But Gone Girl drew me right in. It's very good, and I'm here to tell you the unpublished novel by my friend is better — more serious, more literary without being oppressively smart, and really, really good. With a couple of the characters based on Mendo people. And also a page-turner. She said her agent won't even try to sell it, although the Hollywood maw would swallow it whole for the movie rights. Maybe she's just more pessimistic about the book's chances than she should be. Stay tuned.

A READER points out that the County has been successful in securing a $26 million state grant to build a mental health annex to the County Jail. The grant was awarded back in June. Somehow the news escaped the hawk-eyed vigilance of the ava, but is now apparently causing some confusion, especially among the deliberately confused; if the Sheriff already has $25 mil for a mental health unit, why Measure B?

BUT ACCORDING to Supe's board chair John McCowen, the eventual jail unit "is not a mental health jail annex; it is a separate building that will allow for better housing of inmates with mental health issues, but also violent inmates, gang members, vulnerable inmates, and anyone else classified as appropriate for administrative segregation, as I think it may be euphemistically called."

IN OTHER WORDS, the County Jail expansion will house people who have run afoul of the law, not the 5150s now housed at the County Jail simply because there is no other place to put them. The Jail unit is jail, not a mental health facility. Measure B is strictly mental health.


The Cannabis Hour, NOV. 2, 9 a.m., KZYX - Track and Trace, with Carmel Angelo, CEO, Mendocino County Track and trace is the cannabis tracking system Mendocino County's licensed cannabis cultivators must use to follow their cannabis crop from seedling to distribution. Mendocino County CEO Carmel Angelo and a representative from SIPCA, the program the county has adopted, will join host Jane Futcher on The Cannabis Hour, explaining how the system works and why it is different from the track and trace system the State of California has adopted. That's Thursday, Nov. 2 at 9 a.m. on KZYX.

ERICK O'DONNELL, too briefly of the Ukiah Daily Journal, and a fine reporter, managed to develop a severe drinking jones by age 24. My friend Tom Hine considered O'Donnell "the best young journalist to arrive in Ukiah since Charlie Rappleye." Rappleye went on to big time journalism, and for sure he was good. As was O'Donnell who totally flamed out despite half of Ukiah going to bat for him, lending him money, finding him places to live, which he repaid by showing up drunk for court appearances, much to the shock and chagrin of his many samaritans. O'Donnell racked up so many drunk arrests in his short stay in Ukiah he'd almost achieved frequent flier status. And now he's gone, re-embraced by his family in Arizona and, we hope, freed from alcohol's seductions. The kid reminded me of the young Edgar A. Poe — talent and self-destruction in lethal competition.

Poe, O'Donnell

ON A HAPPIER NOTE, the First Lady of Fort Bragg, Betty Piver, stopped by the other day with a gift of a dual-function memorial and fund-raising baseball cap heralding the Vern Piver Holiday Classic Basketball Tournament. It's beaut, a vivid orange inscribed with "Vern Piver Holiday Classic and Vern's fave sign off, "Later," on the back.

THE SUPE'S DISCUSSION last Tuesday made it clear that an environmental disaster looms in Redwood Valley commencing with the first rains, which will run off hither and thither into feeder creeks of the upper Russian River. Much of the bad news was delivered in graphically startling terms by Redwood Valley contractor, Lee Howard. I was startled to hear Planning and Building's Nash Gonzales comment that the fire ran so hot it melted fiberglass septic tank covers and some septic lines.

IT APPEARS the County of Mendocino either has or is close to settling with the Neuroth family over the death of Steve Neuroth in the County Jail. It may be a large settlement because, in the run-up to his death, the police officer transporting Neuroth, was verbally tormenting the hallucinating young man who was apparently at the paranoid stage of a prolonged drug run. That officer, who was caught on tape in the act of adding to Neuroth's terror, was fired soon after his role in the death was revealed. Neuroth had no criminal history and from all accounts was always employed, always enjoyed a solid reputation as a good worker. Neuroth was not known to be a drug person.

THE CURIOUS CASE of Alan 'The Kid' Flora, assistant to County CEO Carmel Angelo is curious indeed. If you came in late, Flora was fired on a recent Friday when he showed up for work. He apparently had no inkling he was about to be axed, and no one in the County's apparatus will reveal what got the guy the heave-ho. It seems to us that if he wasn't fired for cause, simply offed because the regal CEO didn't like him, then it seems time to look at the CEO's own job performance. Their serf-like deference before CEO Angelo, and the rest of the County’s top bureaucrats by the Supes is pathetic. It wouldn't surprise us if they all suddenly began addressing CEO Angelo as Mommy.

NOT to be too much of a whiner about it, but I just got another property tax bill. The County dings me for $4,764.34 a year for the one acre of Boonville land I own. The place is assessed at $430,746. In 1970, you could have bought all of central Boonville for less than $400,000, but that's the magic of capitalism, which I've never been good at.

I BRING IT UP because when I see the way elected people and their tax-paid minions blithely throw my tax money around, much of it sailing right on by on the Supe's consent agenda, I don't feel like coughing up almost five grand a year to fund these people. And when I see them shaft a smart young guy like Flora without explanation I realize I'm also funding some awfully crummy behavior.

THERE IS NOT a single Supervisor who questions frivolous spending. Even in egregious examples like that construction training contract where the contractor clearly performed poorly and went way over the contract amount on the simple unwritten say-so of the now-former Chief Probation Officer. The Supes should have refused to pay and let the contractor take them to court. But no. Even after Supervisor McCowen, who wrote a clear letter explaining that the County should not pay, all four of his colleagues went along with paying it and then the item was suspiciously and quietly buried with no public vote after it was moved to closed session when County Counsel Kit Elliott told the Board that not paying might lead to litigation. John Pinches used to question this kind of thing regularly, and here's hoping he runs for his old seat.

MANUFACTURED HOMES have been widely suggested as a hurry-up means to house the people displaced by The Fires. We bought two of them to put on the bare ground we bought in Boonville, and I'm here to tell you that when I emerge from seven hours of technicolor unconsciousness, I could be awaking in the palace at Versaille. These units are all-round solid and comfortable. Of course there are people who lost, and seem to require, much grander housing, but for people of modest means like most of the people who lost their homes are, you'll be pleased with a manufactured home, at least as a fast answer to interim shelter.

THE DRAWBACKS? Lots of banks won't loan money on either bare ground or bare ground with a manufactured home on it. Why? Who knows, but at the moment banks don't seem to be loaning money period. Why should they, what with the government printing up fat batches of cash every day and handing it to them? On the subject of The Fires, according to at least one business page story, individual property owners are financially responsible for much of the clean-up, which doesn't surprise me but a lot of the neighborhoods wiped out by the catastrophe were mostly home to people of modest means who won't be able to afford the clean-up costs imposed on them.

CAN'T remember the last time I ate at a fast food place. I don't preface these tedious observations out of either snobbishness or food fetishes. Just sayin’ as the young people just say. But the other day, suddenly famished in Healdsburg, a kind of gastro paradise, I ordered up a beef burrito at Carl's Jr. There was no beef in it, although it was tasty enough with lots of beans and rice, and darned if it didn't taste kinda like beef. So I got out my scalpel and took a closer look at the thing, concluding the beef taste was derived from something that appeared to be beef soup, some kind of beef extract, maybe melted down beef bouillon cubes.

IN THE ONGOING fallout from the Harvey Weinstein revelations, male sexual boorishness seems far more widespread than even a hep cat like me assumed, and about here is where I'll lose most of you, especially women, especially young women.

I THINK the widespread sexual abuse of women is relatively new in its prevalence, certainly new as the slobbering oaf Harvey W and the like practice predatory sexual behavior. What we're hearing, or much of it, amounts to what used to be viewed as straight-up sexual assault, a felony.  And I’ll bet if Hillary had been elected, the victims of sexual assault, especially the celebrity vics, would have remained silent. Harv, after all, was big time for Billery. And next we’ll get chomo Hollywood people doing the perp walk. This is shaping up as endless.

HOLLYWOOD CASTING COUCHES, I guess, are nothing new, but how would I or most of us have any idea for sure what the cretinous degenerates responsible for our moronic sex drenched entertainment really do in the privacy of their vulgar offices? Who cares except their silent, paid off victims?

WATCHING the Chuckle Buddies recite the news the other night, the beautiful female reporters wrapped up like painted sausages, who pops up saying that a Democratic Party big shot grabbed her when she was a young staffer and plunged his tongue into her mouth? Jackie Speier, now a congressman herself. Why not name him? Pervery is a bi-partisan phenomena, after all. As an extremely uptight, old school prude myself, I think it's all a combination of the so-called sexual revolution, pornography, immodesty both male and female, and the lack of the normal social restraints that used to make pariahs out of men who mistreated women.

48 HOURS, the tv show, called a couple of weeks ago for background on the Keegan murder case. But, boiled down, it's not very interesting from a show biz perspective. In fact, it's depressing as hell, notable only for the fact that it involves a medical doctor being prosecuted by the former consiglieri for the People's Temple. The facts of the murder itself involve no mystery, no narrative that would seem to lend itself to the formula format of these tv shows. A man flips out in the middle of the night and kills his wife by hitting her on the top of her head with a blunt instrument. Why does he flip out? Because she gets half of their community property, and she's moving on, and happy to be moving on.

FRANK HARTZELL NOTES: PG&E has been told to underground wires around here for years. The risk would be drastically reduced if they just did some of that. They could also turn off power in dry season when winds are high. As a reporter I sent CPRA records request to the "State" public utilities commission, who refused to answer them and gave me the name of a PG&E person to get in touch with. I could tell you a dozen stories about the deceptions and outright lies they have perpetuated. This company needs to be sued and this problem resolved. Perhaps there is no way the wires could be put underground like they have done in other areas and most utilities have done more of. Maybe. This is what the courts are for.

BIASES. I have as many as the next guy. A photo of a harp, a harpist or the sound of harp music translates to me that wacky is right up ahead. Sure enough. A story in a recent Chron described a "Sound Healing Symphony organized by Sound Meditation San Francisco. An usher, prayer beads draped across her chest, checked the ticket on my smartphone as another usher doused our surroundings in burnt sage. A woman with a pillow tucked between her arms chatted with a friend as they waited to be let inside the cathedral. 'It can induce orgasm,' the woman with the pillow said. Her companion nodded, sucking marijuana vapor through a silver contraption."

TURNS OUT, it's group meditation at Grace Cathedral, $25 for floor space, $150 for seats nearest the harp. The harp being only one indicator-instrument of mental unbalance, for your $25 you also get the full musical mental monte — the didgeridoo, monochord, vibraphone, Indian flutes, Tibetan bowls, chimes.

I THOUGHT of a man I once saw crawling to the altar in a Catholic church. I remember thinking, "Now there's a seriously spiritual dude. Whatever he's after, it's something big. And he isn't lazy about it." The easy over spirituality we see among the comfortably well-off fits the times. All it asks is that you show up.

IRONIC that both Halloween and Day of the Dead arose out of the human desire to remember the departed. Mexicans still seem in touch with the spirit of the remembrance, GringoLandia not at all. With us it's a candy orgy for children and a costume party for adults.

MAYBE it's just me, but I thought Trump's remark, as he doled out candy to the children of White House reporters, was pretty funny: "I didn't know the media could have such beautiful children,” he said. And how perfect is Kunstler's description of Trump as "the golden golem of greatness"?

BECAUSE THE KENNEDY ASSASSINATION is still so vivid to us children of the sixties, many of us geezers naively expect that the just-released documents will answer the big question: Was it a conspiracy? Those of us expecting some answers assume all the info about that event is still extant, hasn't been shredded, hasn't been disappeared, which it undoubtedly has. What we're going to find out is that in the month or so before Oswald shot the president, intelligence agencies of all kinds were well aware of him. How could they miss? Here's a guy who renounces his U.S. citizenship for life in Russia, which he soon tires of because the Rooskies put him to work in a factory in an outback town. Oswald then begs for re-entry with his new wife, a daughter of a KGB colonel. He comes home and immediately establishes himself as a kind of low rent, freelance secret agent, moving mysteriously around at night when he's not home beating his wife, finally taking a shot at a rightwing general as a kind of prelim to shooting Kennedy. All by itself, especially at the time, Oswald's Russian interlude would have the CIA and the FBI on his case. Big Time. As would his trips to Mexico where he talked to Cubans, Russians and American spooks. Was he on the payroll of any or all of them? That's the part we're not going to know, ever. Major murk that he was, implausible as he was, I still think Oswald acted alone. There's no evidence of a conspiracy, not that some might not surface someday.

AND BUILDING 7 was not blown up by the Mossad or the "deep state;" 911 was not an inside job; vaccination is not a government plot to murder hippie children; contrails cannot penetrate tin foil hats; Bigfoot was truly a retired logger from Orick in an ape suit; we are not visited by entities from outer space; the OJ jury delivered a just verdict based on the case they heard presented in court; you are not represented by anybody at any level of federal or state government, but you might have a supervisor who more or less represents your views.

MORE EVIDENCE the Press Democrat is not edited, this hed from Saturday's paper: Smith: Recognize this olden wedding photo spared in the fires?

SOME RESIDENTS of the fire zones are telling us they’re unhappy with the notification language in the County’s “Right of Entry Agreement” form. In the fine print it says, “Owner(s) will only be contacted to arrange for cleanup at the ‘Ash and Debris Cleanup’ phase (Step 4).” The three prior steps do not involve any notice, which means that any government employee can “enter upon the Property, and all related appurtenances thereto, for the purpose of inspecting, testing materials, removing and clearing any or all wildfire-generated debris of whatever nature including but not limited to ash, vehicles, trailers, miscellaneous debris, construction debris, waste or other materials from the Property, subject to the terms and conditions set forth in this Permit, and to perform all incidents necessary thereto.”

CITIZENS who have suffered terrible losses from the fires can’t at least get a courtesy call that a government inspector is on the way or in the area prior to one or a bunch of them traipsing through your burned over property? Don’t fire victims deserve a bit more consideration than this?


Depravity and frivolity now stands in for art and entertainment. A walk in the woods to enjoy the fall colors of autumn leaves will not suffice for much of the population. So desperate for a rush of endorphins people constantly seek more and more outrageous things to give it to them. Normal things can no longer give them a feeling of joy. Their own lives are empty so they focus on the lives of people famous for nothing else than being famous to fill them up. We are a society more interested in reality television than actual reality. Such a society can’t possibly be invested in our future. We’re pretty much finished.

2 Responses to Off the Record (Nov. 1, 2017)

  1. Zeke Krahlin Reply

    November 3, 2017 at 2:48 pm

    Is the news up there in Mendoland always so astounding as to leave one both breathless and exhausted? Best roller coaster ride ever!

    • Helga Reply

      November 29, 2017 at 10:23 am

      Yes. Yes, it is, Zeke Krahlin. Lifelong resident of Mendo here. We leave the county for a short break when overcome by vertigo and nausea from the neverending roller coaster life.

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