Russian Closed to Fishing
Drought Committee Meeting
Supes Say No to Verran
Brooktrails Cannabis Busts
Surgeon’s Drug Plea Rejected
Orwell in Marrakech
Drought Tip of the Day
Inspired by Seeger
The Golden Years
Boonville Winter Market
Snowden Elected Rector
Time For a Raise
AS OF TODAY, the Russian River, all the way up to Coyote Dam north of Ukiah, is closed to fishing. The closure is supposed to protect spawning salmon and steelhead.
A FISHERMAN mentioned to us the other day that he has seen lots of dead fish on the Navarro, a grisly sight he attributed to catch-and-release policies.
DROUGHT AD HOC COMMITTEE
Wednesday, February 26, 2014 1:00 P.M. Conference Room C
501 Low Gap Road, Room 1010
Committee Members: Supervisors Brown And Hamburg
Order Of Agenda
(1) Open Meeting
(2) Public Expression
(3) Discussion And Update Of Assistance Given To The County By The State
(4) Discussion And Update Of County Departmental Activities To Address The Ongoing Drought
(5) OTHER BUSINESS
a. Announcements/Other Business
b. Matters from Staff/Scheduling of Next Meeting
WHAT’S SUPERVISOR HAMBURG’S PROBLEM with Julie Verran? Ms. Verran is the only applicant to the two vacant seats on the Gualala Municipal Advisory Council. Ms. Verran is a former reporter for the Independent Coast Observer and, on occasion, an outspoken coast enviromentalist. We haven’t heard much from her lately and haven’t seen any letters to the editor from her lately — in the past her letters appeared regularly in the ICO. At their February 11 Board meeting, Supervisor Hamburg took the unusual step of pulling Ms. Verran’s appointment from the consent calendar, saying he didn’t support her appointment. Since it’s hard to get people to apply to these positions in the first place, we’ve never seen an individual supervisor actively oppose an appointment, especially, as in this case, to an advisory group. Supervisor Gjerde suggested they just leave the position open for a while and see if anyone else applies. Hamburg was against that too, saying it “kind of leaves her hanging, in a way.” Hamburg then moved to deny the appointment. Supervisor McCowen pointed out the obvious that the Board usually defers to the applicable District Supervisor on such appointments. Supervisor Pinches pointed out that there shouldn’t be litmus tests on appointments because it’s always better to have multiple points of view on public committees and councils. Hamburg replied, “it’s not about political stances. It’s a different issue, and I don’t care to get into it. I don’t think it would be helpful. When we have these voluntary boards, we need them to be functional.” Oddly, all of Hamburg’s colleagues agreed with his “motion to deny the appointment,” including Gjerde, whose sensible approach to simply leave the appointment open for a while, wasn’t even considered. Earlier in the discussion, Supervisor Hamburg had reported that he’d attended the most recent meeting the previous Thursday night, and, “They are functioning quite well with five members,” with two of the positions vacant. The implication is that the five existing members don’t want anything to do with Ms. Verran and lobbied Hamburg to make sure she’s not appointed — that Ms. Verran’s appointment would somehow instantly change the GMAC from functional to dysfunctional because for some reason some of the existing members don’t like her and don’t want to have to deal with her.
BUT THAT’S HARD TO BELIEVE because a review of the minutes of the last few GMAC meetings show that Ms. Verran has been involved in what appear to be perfectly normal subjects of interest on the South Coast and in one case the GMAC asked her to prepare some talking points for them, not exactly an indication of dysfunction:
January 9, 2014: “Julie Verran, Gualala resident, asked if parking was legal on Highway One in the very large, striped area across from St. Orres and behind the fog line. … Julie Verran stated NGWC’s monthly bills have water conservation tips. The company’s voluntary measures have been extremely successful and their customers are way below the average water usage statewide. When the NCRWRB finds measures aren’t working, they impose more stringent rules.
December 5, 2013: “Julie Verran, Gualala resident, has been a weather spotter for the Eureka National Weather Service station for ten years. They invited her to tour the station, which she did. They have offered to send a representative to the Gualala area to speak on sea-level rise and/or tsunamis. Council Member Juengling will contact Troy Nicolini to extend the invitation. … Julie Verran noted the California Coastal Commission has $3 million to approve highway and other variances needed for upcoming state projects. She will work with Lori Hubbart and the local Native Plant Society in preparing the landscaping plan for GCAP and updating the area’s Coastal Plan. … It was moved by Council Member Juengling, seconded by Council Member Ivor, and unanimously carried that Ms. Verran write a list of bullet points: 1) in favor of the CCC holding a meeting in Gualala, and; 2) the reasons an Item not be addressed at a CCC meeting held more than 300 miles from the area the item originates. Council Chair Watts will write a letter using these points for Supervisor Hamburg to sign and send to the CCC.”
November 7, 2013: “J. Verran: California Coastal Commission (CCC) Sea Level Rise Policy Guidance for Public Review; assigned to Item 9. CCC Invitation to Meet in Gualala. … Julie Verran explained that Item III (above), adding a winter operating plan, is changing an existing THP in order to cut timber after 1 October and/or when roads permit. Gualala Redwoods, Inc. is not waiting for the permit to be approved and is continuing operations to date. Discussing the permit 5 December would not be too late to submit comment. Council Member Ivor will search CalFire’s website for information on the Major AM and the item was put on the 5 December Agenda. … Julie Verran, Gualala resident, said, since ticketing started on Cypress Way, businesses have closed in Cypress Village. Officer Solomon doubted tickets closed any businesses since the parking lot was so large and accommodated as many vehicles as it did. … Julie Verran, reported the next CCC meeting is in New Port Beach where they will discuss an item that affects the Mendocino Coast. The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors voted to deny access to Mendocino County parks by off-road vehicles and three MAC members appealed the decision for an ATV association. Ms. Verran feltthe CCC should not address an item at a meeting being held more than 300 miles away from the area where the discussed item is located, and the ATV item should be postponed until the CCC’s December meeting in San Francisco where people from the Fort Bragg/ Westport region can attend and present input. She suggested GMAC write a letter asking hearings be held closer to the area an item affects and requesting the ATV appeal be heard in San Francisco. … Julie Verran distributed the CCC Local Coastal Plan Planning Grant Program Announcement and Application Instructions of 5 September, 2013.”
ON FEBRUARY 19, 2014 Deputies from the County of Mendocino Marijuana Eradication Team, assisted by Deputies from Mendocino Sheriff’s Office, Agents from the Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force and the Mendocino County Probation Department conducted 4 unrelated marijuana investigations in the Brooktrails subdivision of Willits, California. At a residence on Primrose Drive investigators located processed marijuana, items used to manufacture controlled substances (butane method, honey oil), $5,483 in US Currency, a firearm and other evidence related to the sales of marijuana. Arrested at this location was Jeremy Hershman, 32, of Willits, who was booked into the Mendocino County jail where he was later released after posting $50,000 bail. At a residence on Lupine Drive investigators located 134 marijuana plants that were being grown indoors, $1,300 in US Currency and processed marijuana. No one was at the location during the service of the search warrant and the suspects have been identified. This case is currently under investigation. At a residence on Tucker Lane investigators located 26 marijuana plants that were being grown indoors, processed marijuana, concentrated cannabis and a firearm. One suspect was contacted at the residence during the service of the search warrant and two additional suspects have been identified. This case is currently under investigation. At a residence on Blue Jay Place officers located 187 marijuana plants that were being grown indoors, processed marijuana and other evidence related to the sales of marijuana. One suspect was contacted at the residence during the investigation and two additional suspects have been identified. This case is currently under investigation.
THE FLURRY of dope arrests at Brooktrails is no surprise. Residents laugh that every other rental in the subdivision is an indoor grow house, and there are a lot of rentals in Brooktrails. No surprise either is the increase in rural mail thefts. Tweekers, ever more numerous, have for years made home delivery of mail an iffy proposition for Post Office customers. The tweeks see rural mailboxes as the easy prey they are. Unless you’re standing by your box when the mailman arrives you’ve got a good chance of losing your day’s delivery, especially in the rural areas of the Ukiah and Willits valleys, and the Fort Bragg area.
PLEA IN PRESCRIPTION DRUG CASE REJECTED
DA says no; case moves to prelim
by Tiffany Revelle
The preliminary hearing for a Ukiah surgeon accused of drug charges including prescription fraud will continue as planned after the case did not resolve Thursday in Mendocino County Superior Court.
Dr. Brian M. Cable faces four counts of prescribing a controlled substance to a non-patient, two counts of prescribing a controlled substance without a legitimate medical purpose and one count of possessing a controlled substance with the intent to distribute, furnish or sell it.
Cable’s Ukiah defense attorney, Keith Faulder, said previously in court that he hoped to resolve the case without going to trial. He, the attorneys representing two co-defendants and Mendocino County Assistant District Attorney Paul Sequeira had been in discussions over the case this week, Sequeira announced in court Thursday that, “after some work and investigation,” he would not accept the defense’s offer.
Judge Ann Moorman scheduled a preliminary hearing in mid-March. The prelim is the district attorney’s chance to show a judge enough evidence to bind defendants over for trial.
Co-defendants Tonya L. Still and Kathryn L. Brown each also face a charge of possessing a controlled substance with the intent to distribute, furnish or sell it, according to the District Attorney’s Office. Brown additionally faces a charge of health insurance fraud.
Still is represented by Eric Rennert of the Mendocino County Public Defender’s Office; Brown is represented by Ukiah attorney Sergio Fuentes.
The preliminary hearing had been put over in December, when the District Attorney’s Office said it had a large amount of evidence to release to the defense attorneys in the complex case.
Cable was arrested in July on suspicion of fraudulently obtaining controlled prescription narcotics, possessing fraudulently obtained prescription narcotics, possessing prescription narcotics, using another person’s identity illegally and conspiracy after Ukiah Police Department detectives, along with county, state and federal investigators, searched his home and office.
Tiffany Revelle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @TiffanyRevelle or at 468-3523.
(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)
by George Orwell (Christmas, 1939)
As the corpse went past the flies left the restaurant table in a cloud and rushed after it, but they came back a few minutes later.
The little crowd of mourners-all men and boys, no women — threaded their way across the market-place between the piles of pomegranates and the taxis and the camels, wailing a short chant over and over again. What really appeals to the flies is that the corpses here are never put into coffins, they are merely wrapped in a piece of rag and carried on a rough wooden bier on the shoulders of four friends. When the friends get to the burying-ground they hack an oblong hole a foot or two deep, dump the body in it and fling over it a little of the dried-up, lumpy earth, which is like broken brick. No gravestone, no name, no identifying mark of any kind. The burying-ground is merely a huge waste of hummocky earth, like a derelict building-lot. After a month or two no one can even be certain where his own relatives are buried.
When you walk through a town like this — two hundred thousand inhabitants, of whom at least twenty thousand own literally nothing except the rags they stand up in — when you see how the people live, and still more how easily they die, it is always difficult to believe that you are walking among human beings. All colonial empires are in reality founded upon that fact. The people have brown faces — besides, there are so many of them! Are they really the same flesh as yourself? Do they even have names? Or are they merely a kind of undifferentiated brown stuff, about as individual as bees or coral insects? They rise out of the earth, they sweat and starve for a few years, and then they sink back into the nameless mounds of the graveyard and nobody notices that they are gone. And even the graves themselves soon fade back into the soil. Sometimes, out for a walk, as you break your way through the prickly pear, you notice that it is rather bumpy underfoot, and only a certain regularity in the bumps tells you that you are walking over skeletons.
I was feeding one of the gazelles in the public gardens.
Gazelles are almost the only animals that look good to eat when they are still alive, in fact, one can hardly look at their hindquarters without thinking of mint sauce. The gazelle I was feeding seemed to know that this thought was in my mind, for though it took the piece of bread I was holding out it obviously did not like me. It nibbled rapidly at the bread, then lowered its head and tried to butt me, then took another nibble and then butted again. Probably its idea was that if it could drive me away the bread would somehow remain hanging in mid-air.
An Arab navvy working on the path nearby lowered his heavy hoe and sidled towards us. He looked from the gazelle to the bread and from the bread to the gazelle, with a sort of quiet amazement, as though he had never seen anything quite like this before. Finally he said shyly in French:
“I could eat some of that bread.”
I tore off a piece and he stowed it gratefully in some secret place under his rags. This man is an employee of the Municipality.
When you go through the Jewish quarters you gather some idea of what the medieval ghettoes were probably like. Under their Moorish rulers the Jews were only allowed to own land in certain restricted areas, and after centuries of this kind of treatment they have ceased to bother about overcrowding. Many of the streets are a good deal less than six feet wide, the houses are completely windowless, and sore-eyed children cluster everywhere in unbelievable numbers, like clouds of flies. Down the centre of the street there is generally running a little river of urine.
In the bazaar huge families of Jews, all dressed in the long black robe and little black skullcap, are working in dark fly-infested booths that look like caves. A carpenter sits cross-legged at a prehistoric lathe, turning chair-legs at lightning speed. He works the lathe with a bow in his right hand and guides the chisel with his left foot, and thanks to a lifetime of sitting in this position his left leg is warped out of shape. At his side his grandson, aged six, is already starting on the simpler parts of the job.
I was just passing the coppersmiths’ booths when somebody noticed that I was lighting a cigarette. Instantly, from the dark holes all round, there was a frenzied rush of Jews, many of them old grandfathers with flowing grey beards, all clamoring for a cigarette. Even a blind man somewhere at the back of one of the booths heard a rumor of cigarettes and came crawling out, groping in the air with his hand. In about a minute I had used up the whole packet. None of these people, I suppose, works less than twelve hours a day, and every one of them looks on a cigarette as a more or less impossible luxury.
As the Jews live in self-contained communities they follow the same trades as the Arabs, except for agriculture. Fruit-sellers, potters, silversmiths, blacksmiths, butchers, leather-workers, tailors, water-carriers, beggars, porters — whichever way you look you see nothing but Jews. As a matter of fact there are thirteen thousand of them, all living in the space of a few acres. A good job Hitler isn’t here. Perhaps he is on his way, however. You hear the usual dark rumors about the Jews, not only from the Arabs but from the poorer Europeans.
“Yes, mon vieux, they took my job away from me and gave it to a Jew. The Jews! They’re the real rulers of this country, you know. They’ve got all the money. They control the banks, finance — everything.”
“But,” I said, “isn’t it a fact that the average Jew is a laborer working for about a penny an hour?”
“Ah, that’s only for show! They’re all money-lenders really. They’re cunning, the Jews.”
In just the same way, a couple of hundred years ago, poor old women used to be burned for witchcraft when they could not even work enough magic to get themselves a square meal.
All people who work with their hands are partly invisible, and the more important the work they do, the less visible they are. Still, a white skin is always fairly conspicuous. In northern Europe, when you see a laborer plowing a field, you probably give him a second glance. In a hot country, anywhere south of Gibraltar or east of Suez, the chances are that you don’t even see him. I have noticed this again and again. In a tropical landscape one’s eye takes in everything except the human beings. It takes in the dried-up soil, the prickly pear, the palm-tree and the distant mountain, but it always misses the peasant hoeing at his patch. He is the same color as the earth, and a great deal less interesting to look at.
It is only because of this that the starved countries of Asia and Africa are accepted as tourist resorts. No one would think of running cheap trips to the Distressed Areas. But where the human beings have brown skins their poverty is simply not noticed. What does Morocco mean to a Frenchman? An orange-grove or a job in government service. Or to an Englishman? Camels, castles, palm-trees, Foreign Legionnaires, brass trays and bandits. One could probably live here for years without noticing that for nine-tenths of the people the reality of life is an endless, backbreaking struggle to wring a little food out of an eroded soil.
Most of Morocco is so desolate that no wild animal bigger than a hare can live on it. Huge areas which were once covered with forest have turned into a treeless waste where the soil is exactly like broken-up brick. Nevertheless a good deal of it is cultivated, with frightful labor. Everything is done by hand. Long lines of women, bent double like inverted capital Ls, work their way slowly across the fields, tearing up the prickly weeds with their hands, and the peasant gathering lucerne for fodder pulls it up stalk by stalk instead of reaping it, thus saving an inch or two on each stalk. The plough is a wretched wooden thing, so frail that one can easily carry it on one’s shoulder, and fitted underneath with a rough iron spike which stirs the soil to a depth of about four inches. This is as much as the strength of the animals is equal to. It is usual to plough with a cow and a donkey yoked together. Two donkeys would not be quite strong enough, but on the other hand two cows would cost a little more to feed. The peasants possess no harrows, they merely plough the soil several times over in different directions, finally leaving it in rough furrows, after which the whole field has to be shaped with hoes into small oblong patches, to conserve water. Except for a day or two after the rare rainstorms there is never enough water. Along the edges of the fields channels are hacked out to a depth of thirty or forty feet to get at the tiny trickles which run through the subsoil.
Every afternoon a file of very old women passes down the road outside my house, each carrying a load of firewood. All of them are mummified with age and the sun, and all of them are tiny. It seems to be generally the case in primitive communities that the women, when they get beyond a certain age, shrink to the size of children. One day a poor old creature who could not have been more than four feet tall crept past me under a vast load of wood. I stopped her and put a five-sou piece (a little more than a farthing) into her hand. She answered with a shrill wail, almost a scream, which was partly gratitude but mainly surprise. I suppose that from her point of view, by taking any notice of her, I seemed almost to be violating a law of nature. She accepted her status as an old woman, that is to say as a beast of burden. When a family is travelling it is quite usual to see a father and a grown-up son riding ahead on donkeys, and an old woman following on foot, carrying the baggage.
But what is strange about these people is their invisibility. For several weeks, always at about the same time of day, the file of old women had hobbled past the house with their firewood, and though they had registered themselves on my eyeballs I cannot truly say that I had seen them. Firewood was passing — that was how I saw it. It was only that one day I happened to be walking behind them, and the curious up-and-down motion of a load of wood drew my attention to the human being underneath it. Then for the first time I noticed the poor old earth-colored bodies, bodies reduced to bones and leathery skin, bent double under the crushing weight. Yet I suppose I had not been five minutes on Moroccan soil before I noticed the overloading of the donkeys and was infuriated by it. There is no question that the donkeys are damnably treated. The Moroccan donkey is hardly bigger than a St Bernard dog, it carries a load which in the British army would be considered too much for a fifteen-hands mule, and very often its pack-saddle is not taken off its back for weeks together. But what is peculiarly pitiful is that it is the most willing creature on earth, it follows its master like a dog and does not need either bridle or halter. After a dozen years of devoted work it suddenly drops dead, whereupon its master tips it into the ditch and the village dogs have torn its guts out before it is cold.
This kind of thing makes one’s blood boil, whereas — on the whole — the plight of the human beings does not. I am not commenting, merely pointing to a fact. People with brown skins are next door to invisible. Anyone can be sorry for the donkey with its galled back, but it is generally owing to some kind of accident if one even notices the old woman under her load of sticks.
As the storks flew northward the Negroes were marching southward — a long, dusty column, infantry, screw-gun batteries and then more infantry, four or five thousand men in all, winding up the road with a clumping of boots and a clatter of iron wheels.
They were Senegalese, the blackest Negroes in Africa, so black that sometimes it is difficult to see whereabouts on their necks the hair begins. Their splendid bodies were hidden in reach-me-down khaki uniforms, their feet squashed into boots that looked like blocks of wood, and every tin hat seemed to be a couple of sizes too small. It was very hot and the men had marched a long way. They slumped under the weight of their packs and the curiously sensitive black faces were glistening with sweat.
As they went past a tall, very young Negro turned and caught my eye. But the look he gave me was not in the least the kind of look you might expect. Not hostile, not contemptuous, not sullen, not even inquisitive. It was the shy, wide-eyed Negro look, which actually is a look of profound respect. I saw how it was. This wretched boy, who is a French citizen and has therefore been dragged from the forest to scrub floors and catch syphilis in garrison towns, actually has feelings of reverence before a white skin. He has been taught that the white race are his masters, and he still believes it.
But there is one thought which every white man (and in this connection it doesn’t matter twopence if he calls himself a Socialist) thinks when he sees a black army marching past. “How much longer can we go on kidding these people? How long before they turn their guns in the other direction?”
It was curious, really. Every white man there has this thought stowed somewhere or other in his mind. I had it, so had the other onlookers, so had the officers on their sweating chargers and the white NCOs marching in the ranks. It was a kind of secret which we all knew and were too clever to tell; only the Negroes didn’t know it. And really it was almost like watching a flock of cattle to see the long column, a mile or two miles of armed men, flowing peacefully up the road, while the great white birds drifted over them in the opposite direction, glittering like scraps of paper.
DROUGHT TIP OF THE DAY
What you can do to stay healthy, conserve water and thrive when it is dry? Make sure wells are sealed to ensure that water is clean and potable. Be conscious of changes in color and taste of well water. If you notice changes, get your well water tested. Sample vials and instructions can be picked up at the Mendocino County Environmental Health offices in Ukiah and Fort Bragg for analysis by Alpha Laboratories for a fee of $35. This is a message of the Mendocino County Health And Human Services Agency.
AN AFTERNOON WITH PETE SEEGER
by Byron Spooner
Listen; I saw the Allman Brothers Band in 1971, at the Fillmore East, with Duane Allman. Twice. I was at Madison Square Garden in December 1975 for Dylan’s Night of the Hurricane. I remember seeing the Ramones at CBGB in ‘76, Talking Heads, too. It was there also that Television played into the wee hours. After seeing Patti Smith at CBGB and the St. Marks Church, I saw her all ragtag and triumphant at the Bottom Line right as Horses was being played on what seemed like every stereo in NYC right after Christmas ’75. My roommate and I had only to beat it across Washington Square Park to see the Rolling Stones turn a routine press conference into a free concert, rolling up at the corner Fifth and Eighth on a flatbed truck and playing ‘Brown Sugar’ to a crowd of maybe 200. I was at the Palladium for the 1979 Clash show where Paul Simonon was caught on camera smashing his bass into the stage, a picture that became the cover of London Calling. I was at the opening of SFJazz where every luminary of 21st Century Jazz was onstage.
Hell, I’ve seen Miles, Ornette, Ladysmith, Elvis (Costello), Reed, Jackie McLean, Sarah Vaughan, The Band, The Dead, Clapton, Beefheart, Buddy Guy and Junior Wells, Lucinda, Blondie (also at CBGB), Hell and the Voidoids, the Dead Boys, Graham Parker, Blood Ulmer, Bonnie Raitt, John Prine, Neil Young, Johnny Winter, Bill Frisell, Esperanza Spaulding, Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland, Randy Newman, Paul Simon and on and on.
So I don’t especially want to hear about how fan-fuckin-tastic Hall & Oates were when you saw them in Vegas in ’85. Especially if the only other live music you’ve ever seen are Kenny Loggins and the Doobie Brothers. Oh, and that time you saw Jimmy Buffett after a Cards game or Chicago at some corporate party your old girlfriend got invited to by mistake.
I think I can speak with some authority when I say the best live show I ever saw was free, in the band shell in Central Park, on a sunny Sunday in June of 1972.
* * *
We were all going in to see him, my friends and I, so we hopped on a bus across the bridge, took the A-Train down to 59th Street and made our way into the park. We were some pretty jaded eighteen-year-olds, wearing combat boots and jeans and very long hair. We drank sweet wine, smoked Marlboros and the cheap Jersey pot made up of equal parts catnip, hedge trimmings and the leftovers from when some kid’s mother out in Totowa figured out what he was growing on his windowsill and made him throw it away. We were into the Grateful Dead and the Jefferson Airplane and Dylan and all that. We had graduated from high school just a couple of days before.
The Vietnam War ground on and on, a dull stalemate 8000 miles away, chewing up kids our age at the rate of hundreds per week. It was an ongoing national nightmare, a madness that gripped everyone one way or another. There seemed to be no way to stop it. We’d been the ‘political kids,’ working to end the nightmare. We called ourselves revolutionaries and took the term seriously, but as time went on the rallies and marches had become increasingly more joyless and demoralized. Nixon had achieved a stalemate with the Movement as well; the war would end when it became politically expedient for him to end it and not a moment sooner.
As usual, there was a girl involved; ostensibly just another member of our little group but one I wanted to winnow from the herd as it were. She had chocolate eyes and a pixie haircut. It seemed impossible that a banjo-playing old man (53 years old!) who had once been in the Weavers, a group her parents listened to, would appeal to either of us. But she said she was going so I went.
Our friends commandeered a row of folding chairs near the front of the stage. I maneuvered not-so-subtly to sit next to her and began a series of jokes and dumb stories designed to impress her or, failing that, make her laugh. I was making good progress and hardly noticed when Pete Seeger hit the stage. It was just him and his banjo and a microphone; no Marshall amps, no drums or bass. The girl waved me quiet.
Seeger was tall and skinny, gaunt with a gray beard and a work shirt. He took us on an unhurried tour through his repertoire; “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy” which most us remembered him singing on the Smothers Brothers Show in defiance of CBS’s censors; “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” which they’d taught us in the third grade. He swung into “So Long It’s Been Good to Know Ya,” Oh, right, I thought, he knew Woody Guthrie; and “Goodnight Irene,” and Leadbelly and Cisco Houston and all those guys, too. I knew he still hung around with Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and Dylan and all those other Village guys; he knew these songs not from their records, like the rest of us, but because their composers had taught them to him personally.
He sang joyfully with his head thrown back, the sun in his face, as if serenading the sky. He sang about the war, the grape boycott, apartheid, civil rights, Nixon, feminism, and the Chicago 7. He had a song for each and many more. One by one we fell under his spell—his relentless enthusiasm, his iron optimism, his sturdy conviction that what he was doing was right, both musically and politically. And what reason would he possibly have to doubt himself when he could command an audience with just his songs and his voice; convince all of us that the glory of his stories, his songs, his causes were about the glory of us all?
Normally I was way too cool for anything as corny as a sing-along, especially in front of a girl I was trying, however lamely, to impress. But I went along with it when Seeger led us through “We Shall Overcome.” It reminded me of singing hymns back when I still went to church. We helped him out with ‘Guantanamera,” too, after a word or two from him about Jose Marti’s lyrics of the Cuban Revolution.
Next he introduced a Zulu song protesting the European colonization of Africa, which sounded pretty hip to us. It wasn’t any kind of stretch to go from the Zulu and their European colonizers to the Vietnamese people and their American invaders. The folding chairs we were sitting had an aisle that divided us exactly in half. The left half, Seeger told us, where my friends and I were all sitting, were to take the bass part and just keep repeating “Hey yup ho!” over and over again.
“And when I point this way” he said, pointing at the right side of the crowd, “you sing ‘The Wimoweh, the Wimoweh, the Wimoweh’.”
He got us started, directing the left and then right and then left again, like a conductor in front of an orchestra, getting the timing and the beat just right, turning us summarily into an intricately-arranged rhythm section. Once he had us going to his satisfaction he threw his head back again and began singing out the lyrics, loud and clear, over our heads. His tenor was strong enough to be heard over the roar of the several hundred of us accompanying him.
“In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight…”
He sang the lyrics in English and then in some African language. Undoubtedly Zulu. At some point he left the words behind; the words became mere sounds, sounds that came from his chest, his throat, his lips and his heart. They were wordless cries of freedom and longing and victory that echoed off the band shell and the trees ringing it—echoed all over the park. I imagined them resounding off all the buildings that towered over the edges of the park; off the Plaza Hotel to the south, off the Guggenheim and the Met to the east, off The Dakota and the Museum of Natural History to the west and off the tenements on 110th St, Harlem, forty blocks to the north. His voice rang with a gentle sureness, and as we sang our parts the music became tighter, as if arising from us organically—we no longer had to think about it, we were making music together. And the music was joyful and so powerful I felt my hair was standing on end. I was singing and weeping and grinning all at the same time. I looked at the pixie-haired girl and the same thing was happening to her, tears running down her face, her chin quivering. I looked around it seemed to be happening to everybody. We were all weeping and grinning there under the warm spring sun and digging every minute of it. And for that moment we all believed with all our hearts that we could end the war—hell, all wars—and free the Zulu and end racism, and unionize the farm workers, liberate all political prisoners, and eliminate injustice. We were going to change the world from right there in the park. We were going to change the world with music. We just knew it.
* * *
Afterwards, still breathless and high on two hours of music and the crummy pot we’d smoked, we wandered over into the West Eighties. One of the kids said he knew where our beloved former English teacher lived. She had, after all, told us to ‘drop by anytime’ and we wandered around vaguely looking for her building. Our teacher had been vocally against the war and had helped us organize events and teach-ins and student strikes at school and often came up against the administration for teaching books that were off the curriculum and letting us, for credit, read and write pretty much anything we felt like. She wasn’t much older than we were, maybe twenty-five, and, like us, was always in trouble. She had left her position at the end of the year. Rumor had it she’d been asked to leave.
No one was sure if it was 22 W. 84th or 44 W. 82nd or maybe 68 W. 86th. We banged on a lot of doors and established beyond doubt that people in the high rent district were either not at home on Sunday afternoons, or didn’t make it a practice to answer their doors. Finally, at one particularly immense oaken door, and just as everyone was starting to grumble at the futility of the entire exercise, we hit pay dirt.
The maid answered our pounding. We gave her our teacher’s name and she answered ‘yes,’ in a clichéd accent: our teacher did live there. A man came to the door who seemed surprised to find a squad of revolutionaries on his stoop. He told us he was our teacher’s father. He held his reading glasses in his hand while he talked to us. A woman, our teacher’s mother it turned out, came to the door and looked around her husband at us.
“She isn’t here today,” she called to us from behind him.
“They know that,” he said, peeved. You could feel the history as if it was leaking out the door, as if the all their ancestors had been awakened by our knock.
I’d always imagined our teacher living somewhere like Washington Heights in a little apartment and rushing out the door every morning in a great clatter and jumping onto a bus at the Port Authority at the last possible second, trailing test papers behind her, and crossing the bridge to hit the classroom just seconds ahead of us. Now instead I was picturing her being raised as part of this old venerable family; eccentrics all, probably, who had probably lived for generations in this same brownstone, like in some movie starring Spencer Tracy as the broke-but-proud patriarch.
One of us explained we’d come in to see Pete Seeger and had just blown by to say hello on the spur of the moment, you know, since we were in the neighborhood and all. It all felt vaguely embarrassing, like we’d stopped by to ask her to come out and play or something.
“I’m sure she’d be very proud to hear that, proud that you came all this way to see Pete,” her father said and you could tell he meant it. And you could tell he was proud that we’d come by to see her, too. He called him ‘Pete’ like he was a friend. It wouldn’t have surprised me.
“Do you girls and boys want to come in for some ice water or maybe some tea? We have everything,” her mother said.
Her husband shot her an annoyed look and you could tell he thought he was just a little hipper than his wife, just a little more in tune with the ‘young people.’ He would never have offered us tea—maybe a drink, but not tea.
We made all kinds of polite noises that added up finally to ‘no.’ None of us could think of anything worse than sitting there half the afternoon with our teacher’s parents, no matter how cool they were, and the maid and who knew what ghosts. We said our good-byes and headed down the steps. The girl with the chocolate eyes took my hand.
“We’ll tell her you were here,” her mother sang after us and I had no doubt that she would.
AN ELDERLY READER WRITES: Several days ago as I left a meeting at a hotel, I desperately gave myself a personal TSA pat down. I was looking for my keys. They were not in my pockets. A quick search in the meeting room revealed nothing. Suddenly I realized I must have left them in the car. Frantically, I headed for the parking lot. My husband has scolded me many times for leaving the keys in the ignition. My theory is the ignition is the best place not to lose them. His theory is that the car will be stolen. As I burst through the door, I came to a terrifying conclusion. His theory was right. The parking lot was empty. I immediately called the police. I gave them my location, confessed that I had left my keys in the car, and that it had been stolen. Then I made the most difficult call of all: “Honey,” I stammered. (I always call him “honey” in times like these.) “I left my keys in the car and it’s been stolen.” There was a period of silence. I thought the call had been dropped, but then I heard his voice. “Are you kidding’ me?,” he barked, “I dropped you off!” Now it was my time to be silent. Embarrassed, I said, “Well, come and get me.” He retorted, “I will, as soon as I convince this cop I didn’t steal your car.” Yep, it’s the golden years.
AT THE BOONVILLE WINTER MARKET this Saturday in front of the Boonville General Store, 11-1, rain or shine, you will find:
Yorkville Olive Ranch — both the 375ml and the 750 ml bottles ofthe 2012 Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Jade — greens and a few roots
AV Community Farm — eggs, greens, and meat. The meat includes pork shoulders and leg roasts, pork chops, ribs, and maple link sausage, lamb shoulder roasts, lamb and goat: leg steaks, loin chops, shoulder chops, rib chops and ribs, as well as frozen hybrid and heritage chickens and soup chickens
WildeAcre Farm — sauerkraut, milk kefir, water kefir and starter, chocolate hearts, almond chia seed muffins, tinctures, winter root tea mix
Basic Botany and Plant ID, a beginning class open to all levels. An Anderson Valley Adult School class, in the Rancheria Classroom (by the bus barn) at the AV Elementary School,
6 Tuesday evenings from 6-8:30 pm, February 25 — April 1, 2014, plus a Saturday field trip on March 29.
$35 — $50 sliding scale. This class will start with some basics of
botany and classification of plants, then discuss how to identify many native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers, as well as which
garden plants are related to each other and to wild plants.
Teacher Jade Paget-Seekins, taught plant ID labs for 6 semesters as a graduate student at Humboldt State. For more information contact her at email@example.com.
Salad University— The secrets of Floodgate Farm Salad Mix
Redwood Valley Winter — >Spring Salads:
Sun. Feb. 23, 2014, 12:45-4 PM
Meet at east side of West Road exit 557 off US 101. We will caravan/carpool up to the mountain farm on Bakers Creek Rd.
This class will include ideas for growing in a dry season.
Bringing vitality to people and the land through healthy food. The right foods provide an energized feeling combined with a stronger constitution with which to fight off disease. Sustainable harvesting means future harvest and a healthy garden ecosystem to limit pests and plant diseases. You will learn 40+ common cultivated & wild plants with diverse flavors, textures, & healing properties. Spend 3 hours with these plants, giving you access to using them and sharing them with others. Class will include how to grow and work with each plant while creating a biodiverse garden ecosystem able to better withstand variations in weather conditions. These foods are for the adventurous spirit, yet they can be crafted to please many palates.
Logistical details: Class Tuition ($20 or 2 hrs work trade per session). Seeds available. Please bring something for a small potluck meal at the end.
All students expected and encouraged to share what they have learned with others. Salad Heals!
Call or email: Bill Taylor at 707-272-1688 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit www.touchtheearthmusic.com or www.floodgatefarm.com for future class announcements
The election of Edward Snowden as the Rector of the University of Glasgow by its students was clearly a statement of approval of his actions. It was also certaining a rejection of the NSA and President Obama as well as GCHQ, the British intelligence agency, and Prime Minister Cameron. The post had its beginning in 1452 and only four rectors during that time were not Scots or English. Mr. Snowden is the first American so honored The Rector serves for three years and represents the students, works closely with the Student’s Representative Council and is the Chairman (ex-officio) of the University Court which administers the resources of the University. The Rector is not paid a salary. His participation is voluntary and obviously Mr. Snowden will not be able to come to Scotland.
In peace, James G. Updegraff, Sacramento
THE MINIMUM WAGE FOG
Seeing Through the CBO
by Ralph Nader
Harry Truman once asked for a one-armed economist in the hopes of never again having to hear “on the one hand, this” and “on the other hand, that.” Given the recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report on the effects of the minimum wage — one chock full of “on the other hands” — the American people can empathize with President Truman. Even worse, both sides of the aisle are spinning the report to claim victory, creating a fog around minimum wage policy that may further discourage a Walmart-influenced Congress from taking any action. Given the miserly state of the minimum wage today, such a can’t-do attitude is unacceptable. Here are five key observations about the minimum wage to help members of Congress see through the “something for everyone” fog generated by the report:
First, the Congressional Budget Office’s report on the effects of a minimum wage increase to $10.10 fails to reflect the modern economic consensus on a minimum wage raise’s employment effects. The weight of evidence from the economics literature has found that increases in overall business costs resulting from moderate wage increases are modest and can be absorbed by slight price increases, lower employee turnover costs, or adjusting distribution of companies’ total revenues. In fact, two recent meta-studies of dozens of papers over the past years — the first by economists Hristos Doucouliagos and T.D. Stanley in 2009 and the second by econometrics experts Paul Wolfson and Dale Belman in 2013 — have concluded that modest minimum wage increases have little to no significant negative employment effects.
Moreover, the stimulus effects of an increase in wages to at least $10 — monies likely to be spent promptly — could, according to the Economic Policy Institute create as many as 140,000 net new jobs over the three year phase-in period of the increase.
Second, the $10.10 an hour level by 2016 — which would, by the time it is fully implemented, have a real value of only $9.69 an hour in 2014 dollars — is modest relative to many minimum wage benchmarks. A minimum wage of $10.40 an hour by 2016 would set the minimum wage at half the median wage, which is a standard that the minimum wage levels of most Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations (as well as the United States itself in the 1960′s and 1970′s) meet. Over a hundred economists have lent their support to a minimum wage that catches up to the 1968 inflation-adjusted federal minimum wage, which would be $11.39 an hour by 2016.
A “March on Washington Wage” — one that reflects Martin Luther King Jr.’s demand of a $2 level in 1963, adjusted for inflation — would be $16.18 an hour by 2016. To put the minimum wage in perspective relative to the living wage, note that the living wage for one adult with one child living in House Speaker John Boehner’s Butler County, Ohio would be, according to the MIT Living Wage Calculator, $18.65 an hour by 2016.
Third, the media falsely reported that the tradeoffs associated with a minimum wage increase are roughly balanced between costs and benefits to different impoverished groups. In fact, the CBO report shows that, even with its outlier prediction of job loss, the change in real income of those making less than six times the poverty line is an increased $19 billion, lifting 900,000 people out of poverty and giving 16.5 million people raises.
Fourth, the partisan fight over the CBO report obscures the bipartisan nature of the minimum wage raise coalition. The most aggressive minimum wage effort in the country now is led by a conservative — Republican Ron Unz, who is pushing for a $12 minimum wage in California in an effort to ensure that Golden State taxpayers are not, in providing public assistance to those who already work full time, essentially subsidizing the low wages of big corporations. Bill O’Reilly, Phyllis Schlafly as well as a majority of Republicans polled join 80% of Americans in supporting a minimum wage increase.
Finally, the CBO Report, given its charter, has to avoid dealing with themoral case for a minimum wage. Raising, or more precisely, restoring the inflation-adjusted minimum wage to its level from 45 years ago lifts human beings from poverty in our rich nation — a nation that has allowed its minimum wage level to fall way behind those of other western countries.
Corporate spin-masters thrive on the fog created by he-said-she-said economic policy debates. True, we must continue to deliberate to make sure all perspectives are heard, but we cannot let the debate obscure the glaring, shameful fact that 30 million Americans, despite being twice as productive as workers were 45 years ago, are making less today, adjusted for inflation than their mid-century counterparts. Congress must push forward through the fog and give workers a much-deserved restoration of a fair minimum wage level.
Read more about our efforts to raise the minimum wage at TimeForARaise.org.
Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition.
POLICE CALLS AS OF FRIDAY MORNING
Grand Theft — Jerry P. Degurse, 53, of Willits, was arrested at 10:39 a.m. Wednesday on suspicion of grand theft and violating his probation terms, and booked at the county jail. The MCSO arrested him.
Marijuana Sales, Drug Manufacture — Jeremy M. Hershman, 32, of Willits, was arrested at 7:56 p.m. Wednesday on suspicion of possessing marijuana for sale and manufacturing a controlled substance by chemical extraction, and booked at the county jail under $50,000 bail. The MCSO arrested him.
DUI — Keith D. Buck, 30, of Willits, was arrested at 12:10 a.m. Thursday on suspicion of driving under the influence and booked at the county jail under $10,000 bail. The MCSO arrested him.
DUI — Bret A. Shaffer, 24, of Lakeport, was arrested at 3:38 a.m. Thursday on suspicion of driving under the influence and booked at the county jail. The California Highway Patrol arrested him.
Domestic Violence — Casey A. Ireland, 20, of Willits, was arrested at 8 a.m. Thursday on suspicion of domestic assault and booked at the county jail under $25,000 bail. The MCSO arrested him.
DUI — Gabriel L. Mendoza, 36, of Hopland, was arrested at 9:39 a.m. Thursday on suspicion of driving under the influence, driving with a blood-alcohol level greater than the legal limit, vandalism and violating his probation terms, and booked at the county jail under $20,000 bail. The MCSO arrested him.