Mendo Island Journal — Timely. Useful. Sometimes Cranky.

Archive for the ‘Guest Posts’ Category

Antonio Andrade: I will not be opposing Syrian air strikes…

In Guest Posts on September 11, 2013 at 8:48 am

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From ANTONIO ANDRADE
Ukiah

September 10, 2013

I will not be joining my friends by signing petitions or protesting in the streets due to President Obama’s proposed air strikes against the Assad regime’s repeated use of chemical weapons against his own people.

I have spent the last couple of weeks reading up on and intensifying my knowledge about the Syrian conflict, the pros and in particular the passionate well-articulated cons of military action, the horrific brutality of this conflict inflicted by all sides and the incredible price the Syrian people have paid, are continuing to pay, and will continue to pay as far into the future as the eye can see.  I abhor war and put my personal convictions on the line in the early 1970s, resulting in my conviction in federal court as a convicted Vietnam war draft resister.

The debate raging in this country is perhaps the most important one we have engaged in since the Vietnam war.  This has now become the defining moment in the Obama presidency, one which will determine the success or failure of his overall agenda for his remaining years in office but also largely how his presidency will be judged in history.

To take a phrase from moderate Republican New York Times columnist David Brooks, losing this initiative will More…

Nobody Looks Like Who They Are…

In Guest Posts on July 3, 2013 at 9:05 am

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From DAVE POLLARD
How To Save The World

When I look at myself in the mirror, and try to see myself the way others see me, the person I see is not at all like who I am. The qualities that I think really distinguish me are not evident from my appearance. And when I meet people for the first time, and become aware of my judgements and assessments of them, often automatic and sometimes cruel, I invariably discover that, when I get to know them better, they are not like that at all. The women I’ve come to love in my life do not look like the women I imagined, and they do not look like who they are. And when I’ve met women who at first appear to have some of the qualities I love (e.g. exceptional intelligence, curiosity, playfulness, emotional strength, gentleness), I almost always discover my assessment was completely wrong. They don’t look like who they are. More…

James Lee comments on Wealth Inequality…

In Guest Posts on March 6, 2013 at 7:15 am

bFrom JAMES LEE
Anderson Valley

“The easiest way to steal money from someone is for them to never know they had it in the first place.”

The Great Debt Scam aka The Biggest Lie

“Over the past weekend, Gov. Jerry Brown of California took to the safety of YouTube to reveal that the Golden State’s budget deficit is now $15.7 billion, far greater than the original $9.2 billion estimate in January. (CNN, May 15, 2012)”

————-

The Simple Truth

The State Government of California has $100′s of billions in liquid investments and assets, could easily pay off all of its debt tomorrow, and would have $100′s of billions left over.

****

The Really Sad news is that a great scam has been perpetrated on the American people for decades by denying the existence of vast sums of money we have paid into our government systems and that the 99%’er’s have no idea this has/continues to occur.

The Great News is that we are not broke, not in the least!!! In fact, it is estimated that if just the CA government alone were to sell all the investment class assets it held, our debt would be eliminated and every resident would receive nearly $50,000. Think about that for a minute.

Big Government has taken money More…

Gina Covina: Is anything gained by starting vegetables early?

In Gina Covina, Guest Posts on May 2, 2012 at 7:14 am


Apples and pears are blooming – here’s Pink Pearl apple

From GINA COVINA
Laughing Frog Farm
Laytonville

Is anything gained by starting vegetables early? Lucinda set up an experiment to answer this question some forty years ago. She planted seeds of various vegetables at one-week intervals, and charted their performance and yields over the entire season. Results across the board: no advantage in starting early.

“So does that mean you’ve never since tried to get a jump on the season?” I ask her.

“Well, no,” she admits.

I too find premature planting irresistible in spite of all past experience. Last year our sweet peppers, started in early April and transplanted to the hoop house in early May, just sat there dumbfounded in the cold, unable to grow at all. Finally we replaced most of them in early June with younger more vigorous starts that had never known the chill of April. Did we start the peppers later this year? Yes, but only by a week. And I’m moving them to the hoop house tomorrow, when night temperatures rise into the 40s for at least a few days.

We’ve planted out forty tomatoes (half the total), and Lin direct-seeded half the Dark Star zucchini a few days ago. Its sprouts emerged yesterday – that’s a month earlier than I’ve ever planted squash here. We’ll see how Dark Star lives up to its reputation as cold-tolerant.

More…

Will Parrish: ‘America’s Last Newspaper’

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on January 27, 2012 at 5:27 am

Bruce Anderson, Editor/Publisher, Anderson Valley Advertiser
From WILL PARRISH
Ukiah
TheAVA

I decided to enroll in the journalism program at my alma mater, the University of California Santa Cruz, during the run-up to the invasion and occupation of Iraq, circa late 2002 and early 2003. UCSC was home to a trenchant anti-war movement, far more than in most of the country. For example, a 2,000-person demonstration against the impending US invasion of Afghanistan took place there on October 11, 2001. It was the first event I covered as a student journalist.

The experience of these actions — which reached their pinnacle on February 15, 2003, when more than 15 million people protested throughout the world — gave me my first sense of belonging to a force capable of transforming history. We jumped on the earth, as Abbie Hoffman once put it, and the earth jumped back. With each demonstration, the repressive and heavily militaristic post-9/11 political climate thawed a bit more. Several US-allied countries responded by backing out of the invasion. Though the movement tragically failed to stop the war, many thousands of people — me included — were compelled to continue on with political resistance of various kinds.

Most journalism programs at US universities are feedlots of mediocrity. Their underlying purpose in most cases is to prepare the students for careers propagandizing on behalf of corporate and state power. By contrast, the lure of UCSC’s journalism program was that it encouraged advocacy journalism and dissident thinking. The course instructors were accomplished investigative reporters, authors, and academically-inclined people from various backgrounds. Yet, their lessons and assignments tended to be based on an unapologetic left-wing slant on news reporting and the functions of mass media.

The program’s main architect was a member of the San Francisco Bay Area’s most fascinating Irish political family, Conn Hallinan. His grandfather, Patrick, was a member of the revolutionary Irish National Invincibles who fled to the US to avoid persecution, then became a leading San Francisco labor agitator. His father, Vincent, was a famous Communist attorney best remembered for successfully defending union leader Harry Bridges against perjury charges More…

Todd Walton: Yes, But…

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on December 16, 2011 at 6:55 am

From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks.com
Mendocino

“If there’s not drama and negativity in my life, all my songs will be really wack and boring or something.” Eminem

For many people, December is the most neurotic month; and Christmas marks the apogee of shame, jealousy, disappointment, and self-loathing. Indeed, most psychotherapists aver that Christmas in America might as well be called Crisismas. One can theorize endlessly about why Christmas/Hanukah (and the attendant mass gift buying) inflame the dominant neuroses of so many people, but the picture that sums it up for me is of a child surrounded by dozens of presents she has just frantically unwrapped, not one of which satisfies her craving to be loved.

“The ultimate lesson all of us have to learn is unconditional love, which includes not only others but ourselves as well.” Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

When I embarked on my first experience of formal psychotherapy, I knew my parents had abused me, but I could not clearly elucidate the rules of behavior instilled in me by their abuse. My therapist suggested I try to write down the basic rules governing my behavior so I might gain a more objective view of how those rules impacted my life.

One of the most deeply entrenched rules I uncovered was: Nothing I do is good enough. Sound familiar? I ask because I subsequently learned that this rule runs many people’s lives. And though I doubt our parents ever came right out and said, “Nothing you do is good enough,” I know that in myriad other ways More…

Todd Walton: When Is It Done?

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on December 13, 2011 at 7:00 am

William Everson

From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks.com
Mendocino

(This piece appeared—twice!—in the Anderson Valley Advertiser in 2008-2009. I recently got a request for this article, thought it was on my blog, but could not find it herein. So here it is now. Enjoy.)

Thirty-five years ago, I was hitchhiking from Santa Cruz to San Francisco on Highway One, and I got a ride with the poet William Everson, also known as Brother Antoninus, one of the more esoteric Beats. He sported a wispy white beard and a well-worn cowboy hat, and his old car reeked of tobacco. Recently installed as a poet-in-residence at UC Santa Cruz, he was going to a party in Bonny Dune but had no idea how to get there.

I knew exactly where he wanted to go and offered to be his guide, though it meant traveling many miles out of my way. I was obsessed with poetry and wanted as much of the great man’s time as I could finagle. He accepted my offer to be his Sancho Panza and did me the honor of asking, “So what’s your thing?”

“Guitar. And I write stories and poems, too.”

He nodded. “Who do you read?”

“Philip Whalen. Lew Welch. Faulkner. Kazantzakis.”

He lit a cigarette and seemed disinclined to continue the conversation.

And then, without consciously intending to, I asked, “So…how do you know when a poem is done?” More…

Todd Walton: Falling Behind

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on December 9, 2011 at 5:45 am

From TODD WALTON
Mendocino
UnderTheTableBooks.com

“If we weren’t still hiring great people and pushing ahead at full speed, it would be easy to fall behind and become a mediocre company.” Bill Gates

In 1983, as the trajectory of my writing career, commercially speaking, was turning steeply downward, my third-rate Hollywood agent gave me an ultimatum. “Get an answering machine or find another agent.” Thus I became one of the last people in America to discover the joys of screening my calls.

In the early days of owning an answering machine, I especially enjoyed making long rambling outgoing messages; and people seemed to enjoy hearing those messages a few times, after which they would urge me to change the messages because they never wanted to hear them again. So I got in the habit of making More…

Todd Walton: Complexity

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on December 2, 2011 at 7:49 am

From TODD WALTON
Under The Table Books
Mendocino

“Adam was but human—this explains it all. He did not want the apple for the apple’s sake, he wanted it only because it was forbidden. The mistake was in not forbidding the serpent; then he would have eaten the serpent.” Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar

Are most humans inherently incapable of understanding complex arrangements of interrelated things and actions, or can almost anyone develop such a capability?

Yesterday I heard live coverage of the eviction of campers at Zuccotti Park in Manhattan, an occupation that began as a protest against rich people being further enriched by a corrupt financial system. After several weeks of camping in the park, the protestors morphed into an ongoing settlement of people who, judging from interviews I heard with a number of evicted campers, wanted to continue living in Zuccotti Park indefinitely because: “Where else am I supposed to go?” “The one per cent got rich ripping everyone else off.” “There are no good jobs left in America because the rich people sent all the jobs to China.” “It is my constitutional right to camp here as long as I want.” “Private property is a conspiracy More…

Todd Walton: Robbery

In Around Mendo Island, Around the web, Guest Posts on November 18, 2011 at 6:26 am

From TODD WALTON
Mendocino

Someone broke into our car last week while we were in Cotton Auditorium for another marvelous Symphony of the Redwoods concert, Marcia in the orchestra, I in the audience. I left our car unlocked, having lost the habit of locking up since I moved to Mendocino from Berkeley six years ago. The thief or thieves took a water bottle, a pair of dark glasses, and several CDs. They did not steal the stereo or wreck anything, but the invasion left us feeling sad and cranky. Marcia always locks her car, and I will do so henceforth, though it pains me to feel I must.

I’ve been robbed several times in the course of my life, each robbery ushering in a time of self-review. I’ve had six bicycles stolen, each theft necessitating the purchase of my subsequent mount, along with new and improved locks and chains. And because riding my bicycle was, until quite recently, my primary mode of transport, I understand very well why we used to hang horse thieves.

The grandest material theft of my life befell me two days after Christmas in 1979. I had just moved to Sacramento and was renting a house in a demilitarized zone—poverty to the south of me, wealth to the north. For the first time since childhood, and after more than a decade of living a monk’s life, materialistically speaking, I was relatively affluent. In quick order I had acquired More…

Todd Walton: 3-D

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on November 11, 2011 at 7:12 am

From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks.com
Mendocino

As the local and state and national and global economies continue to stagger under the weight of debt, real and imagined, and seven billion hungry humans vie for space and food and air and water on the besieged planet, and the Haves continue their eternal battle with the Have Nots, Hollywood has, in the last few years, been rescued from financial ruin by the advent of huge budget movies made in 3-D to be shown in special 3-D theaters and on special 3-D screens for audiences wearing special 3-D glasses. Yes, it was a close call. People weren’t going to the movies much anymore, preferring to wait to watch the junky new films at home for pennies on the dollar or pirating them off the interweb. Why drive to a multiplex and pay a small fortune to see crap when that crap can be delivered right to your doorstep, so to speak, like bad pizza?

But crap in 3-D is amazing. 3-D crap looks fifty times more real (and better) than real crap. And little kids, the second largest engine of movie ticket sales after kids slightly older than little kids, love 3-D, probably because their brains aren’t fully formed yet and the impact of watching massive multi-dimensional animated penguins and cartoon characters and toys and gigantic super heroes killing and killing and killing More…

Will Parrish: The Occupy Mendo Food Project

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on November 11, 2011 at 7:09 am

From WILL PARRISH
Laytonville
TheAVA

On the night and early morning of October 16th  to 17th, the San Francisco Police Department raided the Occupy San Francisco encampment at Justin Herman Plaza, disassembling people’s tents and nabbing basic provisions such as food, water, and utensils.  Five people were arrested.  Footage of the police roughly dragging protesters across the pavement and beating them with batons spread quickly across the internet, sparking widespread outrage among movement supporters.

Those supporters include Anderson Valley residents Lisa and Francois de Melogue, who had been following the Occupy movement since its genesis as a small protest in Zucotti Park in the New York City financial district in August.  “We just thought that was, in a nutshell, bullshit,” says Mr. de Melogue, 47, referring to the SF police raid.  “We decided right there and then that we would start bringing food down to the Occupy San Francisco camp as a show of support.”

The San Francisco protesters reassembled their camp only hours after the police finished the raid.  In a matter of days, the de Melogues had solicited enough donations from farmers, bakeries, and grocery outlets in Fort Bragg, Willits More…

Will Parrish: The Evolution Of Occupy Santa Rosa

In Guest Posts, Local on November 4, 2011 at 6:29 am

From WILL PARRISH
Laytonville

“We are reclaiming those same spaces of public practice that have been commodified, privatized and locked into the hands of faceless bureaucracy, real estate portfolios, and police ‘protection’. Hold on to these spaces, nurture them, and let the boundaries of your occupations grow. After all, who built these parks, these plazas, these buildings? Whose labor made them real and livable? Why should it seem so natural that they should be withheld from us, policed and disciplined? Reclaiming these spaces and managing them justly and collectively is proof enough of our legitimacy.”  — Egyptian Tahrir Square protesters, statement of solidarity with Occupy Wall Street movement, October 2011

A small but promising model for a better world has sprung to life on the previously sterile and generic expanse of lawns at 1st St. and Santa Rosa Ave., location of Santa Rosa City Hall, where participants in the growing Occupy Santa Rosa demonstration have assembled in a protest camp for more than two weeks. It is part of the larger Occupy Wall St. movement, which consists of hundreds of encampments in cities from San Francisco to New York to London. The tactic of occupying physical space to press for demands from those in power was popularized on a global basis by the Egyptian Tahrir Square demonstrators and other protesters throughout western Asia and northern Africa this past spring.

Occupations of public space in New York City’s financial district first began in August, as a means of challenging the corporate greed and democratic unaccountability that characterize the dominant political and financial institutions in the US and also throughout most of the world. While this country’s political punditry has persistently criticized the movement on grounds that it lacks clear goals, much less a coherent policy platform, it’s a laughable criticism More…

Todd Walton: Occupy Yourself

In Guest Posts, Local on November 4, 2011 at 5:00 am

From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks
Mendocino

“The young always have the same problem—how to rebel and conform at the same time.  They have now solved this by defying their parents and copying one another.”  Quentin Crisp

In 1972, when I was in my early twenties, I founded a commune in Santa Cruz, California, a collective of eight people (with numerous and frequent overnight guests). We were disenchanted with American society, with America’s wars of aggression, with America’s pyramidal scheme of things, and with America’s environmentally disastrous use of the land, so we decided to explore new (to us) and regenerative ways to interface with the world rather than follow in the destructive footsteps of our parents and forefathers.

To that end, the eight of us shared a house built for a family of four, created a large organic garden (some of us having worked with Alan Chadwick in the university gardens), and pooled our minimal resources for the good of the group. Our experimental community lasted two years before collapsing under the weight of selfishness, immaturity, and a profound lack of preparation for such an undertaking. Our intentions were flawless; our skills and execution abysmal.

Nevertheless, I learned many valuable lessons from that adventure, and my next communal experience was vastly more successful, though it, too, died a sorry death for lack of skills, experience, and commitment by the majority of the participants. We were children, after all, though we had attained the age of adults in other societies; and children, with rare exceptions, eventually need guidance from elders to make the transition from play into self-sustaining living.

A few nights ago, after watching a raft of Occupy Wall Street videos sent to me by fascinated friends More…

Todd Walton: Recent Studies Show

In Guest Posts, Local on October 31, 2011 at 5:43 am

From TODD WALTON
Mendocino, California
UnderTheTableBooks.com

“As far as income tax payments go, sources vary in their accounts, but a range of studies find that immigrants pay between $90 billion and $140 billion in Federal, State, and local taxes. And let us not forget the Social Security system. Recent studies show that undocumented workers sustain the Social Security system with as much as $7 billion a year. Let me repeat that: $7 billion a year.” Luis Gutierrez

Which seems to contradict…

“The Center for Immigration Studies found that illegal immigrants cost the United States taxpayer about $10 billion a year. A large part of that expense stems from the babies born each year to illegal immigrants.” Nathan Deal

Marcia and I both have web sites and use the interweb for research, marketing, entertainment, and communication with the world outside of Mendocino. Her office and mine are separated by a wall through which we occasionally shout at each other, though we can never be certain what the other person is shouting about until one or the other of us rises from his or her chair and walks around the corner to find out; or we send each other emails. It occurs to me that we could call each other on the phone, since we have separate lines, but we never do. That would feel silly.

We both have taken to scanning news synopses and articles on the interweb and exclaiming about various horrors and wonders and nonsense we discover. These exclamations can be heard through the wall and often elicit shouts of “What?” or may cause the hearer to rise and walk around the corner to find out what the exclaimer is exclaiming about. We are particularly fond of reports of recent studies by so-called scientists that may prove or disprove something that absolutely, trust me, does not need proving or disproving, though this lack of necessity never stops the studiers from carrying out their needless studies because, hey, in these difficult economic times what else have they got to do with their time and your money? More…

Todd Walton: Whoopsie Doopsie [Local]

In Guest Posts, Local on October 21, 2011 at 7:20 am

From TODD WALTON
Mendocino
UnderTheTable.com

“The one thing we can never get enough of is love. And the one thing we never give enough is love.” Henry Miller

A couple years ago I created a catchy blues tune entitled Whoopsie Doopsie, and after I performed the song to the apparent delight of my wife Marcia, I thought I might make a recording of the tune and see how the world liked it. I wrote a note to myself—Whoopsie Doopsie Project—and put the note in the center of my just-cleaned desk, thereby establishing a new bottom layer for the accumulation of papers and books and drawings and letters and bills that would inevitably grow into a high plateau of dysfunction until, in a fit of frustration, I abstained from eating and drinking for several hours until the mess was properly expelled.

Thus time and again over these many months, I worked my way down to a little yellow square of paper on which was writ Whoopsie Doopsie Project, a trio of words that sent me to the piano to bang out the latest rendition, after which I would say to myself, “Yes, I really should record that and see what the world thinks of it.” Then the tides of time and paper would rush in again and submerge the note, and the project would largely vanish from my consciousness, except on rainy mornings when I was practicing the piano, at which times I might essay a version or two of the pleasing apparition.

Feeling especially sad one such rainy morning, I played a very slow Whoopsie Doopsie, and the sweet little love song became dark and plaintive; and I appreciated the song in my bones rather than with my sense of humor. And that very night we went to a dinner party at which the hostess asked me to play, and Marcia suggested I premiere Whoopsie Doopsie for the public, as it were. So I performed a rather timid version of the tune, the piano unfamiliar to me, and everyone in the audience said More…

Todd Walton: What Lasts?

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on October 8, 2011 at 5:01 am

From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks
Mendocino

“You are the music while the music lasts.” T.S. Eliot

Long ago, in a time when records were big round vinyl things activated by spinning them on turntables while running needles through their grooves, when marijuana was highly illegal, and long before the advent of personal computers and cell phones and digital downloads and peak oil and whole sections of grocery stores being dedicated to gluten-free products, when my hair was plentiful and not yet gray, I performed a song of mine at a party where other songs were performed by other people hoping to become famous, or at least solvent, through their music.

Following my performance, a woman in black leather approached me, and by her gait and the slurring of her words, I deduced she was drunk. “Your song,” she shouted, “was good as anything you hear in grocery stores.”

“That was like… a classic?” said a woman in green paisley, More…

Todd Walton: Sexual Comportment [Local]

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on September 26, 2011 at 7:50 am

Shall We Dance painting by Todd

From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks
Mendocino

“There’s only one person in the whole world like you, and that’s you yourself.” Fred Rogers

You may have heard about Cynthia Daily, a social worker using an interweb directory to keep track of all the children fathered by the same sperm donor who fathered her child. According to Cynthia’s data, this same sperm donor More…

Todd Walton: Wrong Thinking

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on September 16, 2011 at 7:00 am

From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks.com
Mendocino

“Taken out of context I must seem so strange.” Ani DiFranco

One of my Anthropology professors was Nigerian, his people Yoruba. An exceptional student as a child, he was sent to school in England and eventually got his PhD from a prestigious American university. My professor married an African American woman, with whom he had two children, and when those children were five and three-years-old, he and his wife took the kids to Nigeria so they could get to know their paternal grandparents and the huge extended family that was my professor’s clan. After a few days in Nigeria, my professor was summoned to a meeting of the male elders of his clan who severely chastised him for not taking a second and third wife to produce more sons.

“You are a very rich man,” said his father, with twenty other men nodding in agreement. “You are richer than any of us, yet you shame your parents and your clan by not taking more wives. Why are you doing this?”

The professor explained to his outraged father and uncles and cousins that in America it was the law that a man may only have one wife. The Yoruba men were disgusted to hear this and shouted many insults at my professor, the gist of their insults being that wealthy American men who take only one wife More…

Todd Walton: Good People

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on September 9, 2011 at 6:02 am


Mr. and Mrs. Magician and their son Mischief by Todd

From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks.com
Mendocino

“When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion.” Abraham Lincoln

Our maternal grandfather Casey died when he was eighty. He was institutionalized for a year prior to his death because his worsening dementia made him too unpredictable and uncontrollable for our diminutive and frail grandmother to handle. I visited Casey several times in that sad institution where he spent his last days, and though my parents always prefaced my visits to him by saying, “Casey just spouts gibberish now,” I invariably found him cogent and funny in a rambling sort of way.

At the tail end of my last visit to Casey, about a week before he contracted a virulent flu and died, he said two things that have stuck with me for thirty years. We were sitting side-by-side on a concrete patio in a little pool of sunlight when Casey arched his eyebrow (he reminded me of Groucho Marx in appearance and voice) and said, “You know, this is a very exclusive university. It’s extremely difficult to get in here. But eventually, everyone does.”

We laughed about that and then Casey said, “Listen. When you find yourself with the bad people, get away from them and go to the good people.”

“Nothing can be more readily disproved than the old saw, ‘You can’t keep a good man down.’ Most human societies have been beautifully organized to keep good men down.”  John W. Gardner

So what makes someone good or bad? Or are good and bad essentially useless terms, since one nation’s mass murderer is another nation’s hero, and the town harlot turns out to be a tireless advocate for women’s rights, and that usurious money lender is the beloved grandfather of a girl to whom he gave a pony? I took Casey’s advice to mean: if I find myself entangled in unhealthy relationships, I should, as swiftly as possible, get out of those relationships and seek healthier ones. But maybe that’s not what Casey meant. Maybe he meant there really are bad people, and they should be escaped from and avoided; and there really are good people, and they should be found and hung out with. Or maybe he was just speaking gibberish.

“I’ve never met a racist yet who thought he was a racist. Or an anti-Semite who thought they were anti-Semitic.” More…

Todd Walton: Collapse Scenarios

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on September 2, 2011 at 6:58 am

From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks.com
Mendocino

“Our business gets better as the economy gets worse.” Kent Moyer, founder and CEO of World Protection Group Inc.

The business referred to in the opening quote is officially known as Executive Protection, and Kent Moyer is the kingpin of a successful Executive Protection agency providing body guards and small armies and surveillance experts and surveillance equipment and defensive strategies to wealthy individuals and consortiums of wealthy people who are certain they need protection from kidnappers, assassins, disgruntled employees, mobs of poor people, psychotic fans, and the like. Having recently read The Three Musketeers, it occurs to me that the musketeers were a seventeenth century equivalent of one of today’s private armies dedicated to protecting a consortium of wealthy people. In the case of The Three Musketeers, the wealthy people in question were the king of France and his sycophants.

“It isn’t so much that hard times are coming; the change observed is mostly soft times going.” Groucho Marx

Today many thoughtful people are hard at work writing essays and books about the coming (ongoing) collapse of economic, social, and natural systems in North America and around the world. I applaud them for their efforts and salute them for their desire to awaken others to the dangers confronting us. More…

Todd Walton: Flow

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on August 27, 2011 at 7:28 am

From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks.com
Mendocino

“Flow with whatever may happen and let your mind be free. Stay centered by accepting what you are doing. This is the ultimate.” Zhuangzi

Something happened to me a few days ago the likes of which hadn’t happened to me in eons. I was shooting hoops at the elementary school, playing alone, as is my custom now that I am deep into middle age and easily injured, when I became aware that I was caught up in an extraordinary flow of action involving my body, the ball, the air, the backboard, and the hoop. I think this was what sports commentators mean when they say a player is “in the zone,” playing with seeming effortlessness, yet playing superbly and flawlessly for an extended period of time. A frequently used adjunct comment to saying a player is “in the zone” is “he’s unconscious.”

That adjunct comment turns out not to be true, because the cool thing about being in the zone, and this has been corroborated by many athletes speaking about their in-the-zone experiences, is that they were not unconscious, but rather fully aware of being in the zone yet not consciously controlling what they were doing. That is to say, they were not conscious of making decisions about what to do next while they were caught up in the flow of action because they were, in essence, inseparable from the flow of everything going on. More…

Todd Walton: Brandon Crawford

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on August 12, 2011 at 6:25 am

From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTable

Mendocino

“The Possible’s slow fuse is lit
By the Imagination.”
Emily Dickinson

While following a seemingly insignificant line of thought I will suddenly find myself on a broad avenue of inquiry that becomes the on-ramp to a sixteen-lane super highway of conjecture leading to an imposing citadel wherein is housed the solution to all the problems of humankind. Wow. Talk about grandiose. But isn’t that how our minds sometimes work, leaping from the insignificant to a grand unified theory of everything?

For instance, my recent musings about Brandon Crawford merged onto the super highway of an idea that all the problems of human society can be traced to a lack of imagination, to the inability of people to imagine new ways of proceeding rather than repeating the same old nonsense that dooms us all to slide down the steep and slippery slopes to a most unpleasant bottom of the dysfunctional pyramidal paradigm.

Who is Brandon Crawford? A descendant of English royalty? An up-and-coming politico? A movie star? Nay. Brandon Crawford is a baseball player, an easy-going California guy, a wide-ranging and quietly brilliant shortstop for the San Francisco Giants recently sent back to the minor leagues where, because of the aforementioned lack of imagination by people in positions of power, he definitely does not, in the way I imagine things, belong.

When Brandon was called up from the minor leagues a month or so ago, the Giants were reeling from injuries to star players and mired in a debilitating ennui that threatened to send our team spiraling out of contention for a return to the World Series. Desperation, not imagination, inspired General Manager Brian Sabean and Manager Bruce Bochy to call up the young Brandon, and the results were miraculous. The moribund team came to life, moved into first place, and steadily won more games than they lost. Brandon Crawford, as far as my imagination is concerned, was the catalyst for this revival, and his removal from the starting lineup and eventual demotion to the minor leagues was the cause More…

M A Landis goes to Washington… Bellingham that is

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on August 9, 2011 at 6:09 am

From MARY ANNE LANDIS
Ukiah City Council

People figured I’d been to Indonesia, when I mentioned I’d been to the BALLE conference recently. It wasn’t BALI; it was the BALLE conference in Bellingham, Washington – The Business Alliance for Local Living Economies.

Bali was one of the most beautiful places I’d ever seen when I was there 25 years ago, but traveling to Bellingham re-opened my eyes to how beautiful OUR home in the Pacific Northwest is…

All along the route, from the clear aerial view leaving Santa Rosa, then flying past Lassen, Shasta and St Helens, to landing in the creative clutch of Seattle, where even the lampposts in Pioneer Square are covered with art, is like nowhere else. Striped hand-knit sleeves wander up all things vertical making this urban park a wacky Dr Seuss tableau. I departed from the grand, somewhat rehabbed King Street Station, on a pretty darn comfortable Amtrak train with the sunset view of the Pacific Coast for the 3 hours north to Bellingham. Soothing, yet majestic.

Bellingham, aka the hippie retirement community for California, is as inviting a location for a conference, Place Matters, on preserving the special places our hometowns are! Coastal breezes, island vistas from the bay shore, great trails along the coast from the neighboring former town of Fairhaven, for walking, biking, running, baby carriages to get to town, or just to explore the towns heading south. For this town of 80,000, the town’s amenities are clearly being planned for accessibility, recreation, and natural beauty. A lovely example of a smaller town that is being re-born as a sustainable local economy.

Successive waves of commerce, from seaport, to gold rush boom, to lumber mill town supplying the rebuild after SF’s fire of 1906, to coal that faded in the 1950’s or 60’s… all focused on Bellingham’s natural resources More…

Todd Walton: Three Musketeers

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on August 6, 2011 at 7:30 am

From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTable.com
Mendocino

“Oh, the women, the women!” cried the old soldier. “I know them by their romantic imagination. Everything that savors of mystery charms them.” Alexandre Dumas

Last Thursday evening, as I was about to go to bed, I had a moment of panic because I had nothing to read. Yes, there are millions of books; and hundreds of new volumes flood the world every day; but I was hungry for a particular literary food I’ve cultivated a taste for over a lifetime, nothing else will do, and I wasn’t sure I had anything of the kind in the house I hadn’t too recently read. Alas, I am allergic to science fiction, murder mysteries (save for Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes), fantasy, horror, mainstream fiction, exposés of the depredations of the oligarchic octopus, and odes to the coming collapse, thus new prose is, for the most part, of no use to me.

Stumbling into my cluttered office, I espied a volume recently procured from Daedalus Books, that goodly purveyor of publishers’ overstocks—a happily inexpensive Dover edition of the 167-year-old The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas. I had attempted to read the book as a teenager and found the language too rich for my fledgling taste buds. I had seen a movie based loosely on the book (there have been more than twenty movies made from the novel) and I have always liked myths in which a group of characters compose a collective being, each character a distinct aspect of the whole—Robin Hood, Little John, Will Scarlet, and Friar Tuck; Groucho, Harpo, and Chico; D’Artagnan, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis. And so with hope in my heart, I lugged the ample paperback to bed, settled in for my customary bout of reading before sleep, and was relieved to find the first two chapters of The Three Musketeers exactly the food I craved.

“The intrigue grows tangled.” Alexandre Dumas

Three months before I began to read The Three Musketeers, I was inspired by various twists of fate to begin a series of large and colorful drawings (large for me, small for Picasso), 20 x 16 inches. More…

Todd Walton: Aliens From Outer Space

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on July 22, 2011 at 8:30 am

From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks.com
Mendocino

“Chances are, when we meet intelligent life forms in outer space, they’re going to be descended from predators.” Michio Kaku, famous theoretical physicist

So this morning I was listening to a radio interview of a reporter for the New York Times, and she laid out clear and irrefutable evidence of how the crooks took over our government and the banking system and didn’t even try to hide what they were doing—massive theft in broad daylight, so to speak. This radio interview was not on some lunatic fringe radio show hosted by a conspiracy theory fruit bat. No, this interview was on National Pentagon Radio and was listened to by millions of Americans; and the conclusion of the New York Times reporter and of the mainstream radio guy interviewing her was that, yes, the bad guys stole trillions from us and continue to steal trillions from us, but, well, so, let’s just hope and pray that the amoral scumbags will have a change of heart and give back a little of what they stole from the hundreds of millions of people whose lives they’ve destroyed.

That’s when I heard someone say, “Aliens from outer space,” and that someone was yours truly. Seriously folks, how else can we explain this? This being the takeover of our government and the takeover of several European governments by a bunch of amoral scumbags, More…

Todd Walton: Another Year

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on July 15, 2011 at 7:34 am


Mike Leigh

From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks.com
Mendocino

“The backers accept that they don’t know what they are going to get.” Mike Leigh

According to the on-screen credits that introduce Mike Leigh’s latest movie Another Year (available on DVD), the backers included agencies of the British government, including the national lottery. So…not only do the Brits have excellent and free healthcare, but their government provides money for cutting edge artists (be still my heart) to make major motion pictures about people so real that Marcia and I have been talking about Another Year for days on end, as if the characters in the movie actually came here and spent several days with us, getting drunk and driving us batty with all their imperfections and beauties and sorrows and strengths and frailties attendant to being human, as opposed to being cartoon characters.

The Sunday following our viewing of Another Year, I leafed through the Pink section (movies, music, theater, dance) and Insight section (books) of the San Francisco Chronicle and felt painfully embarrassed, as I often do, by our so-called culture. Books so badly written (my teeth ache thinking about them) fill the bestseller lists and garner slobbering reviews of such transparent falsity there can be no question this nonsense was planted by the publishers, those New York-based mouths of multinational corporations that would never knowingly publish More…

Todd Walton: Lives Unlived

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on July 8, 2011 at 6:20 am

From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks.com
Mendocino

“Every art has its secrets, and the secrets of distilling are being lost the way the old songs were lost. When I was a boy there wasn’t a man in the barony but had a hundred songs in his head, but with people running here, there and everywhere, the songs were lost…” Frank O’Connor

I am reading The Collected Stories of Frank O’Connor for the third time in twelve years. Enough time has passed since my last reading of his remarkable stories so I have forgotten sufficient details and plot twists and endings to make the stories new to me again; and in some ways they are better than new because I know them now as I know favorite pieces of music or beloved paintings, and in this further experience of them I discover more and more of the genius they contain.

Frank O’Connor, who died in 1966, was Irish, and most of his stories are set in Cork and Dublin in the 1940’s and 1950’s. O’Connor was hailed by W.B. Yeats as the Chekhov of Irish literature, yet very few of my well-read friends have heard of him, and I, a voracious story reader since childhood, discovered him relatively late in my incessant search for great stories. I should note that many of my well-read friends are aghast at my reading habits which now largely involve reading and re-reading a relatively few dead writers of short stories, with barely More Todd Walton…

Todd Walton: Thus Spake Angelina

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on July 1, 2011 at 8:00 am

From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTable.com
Mendocino

“Rejoice in the things that are present; all else is beyond thee.”  Montaigne

I used to hate it when I predicted something long in advance of when it happened, and then no one remembered I predicted it or believed me when I insisted I predicted the thing. And I used to really hate it when I invented something but didn’t bother to patent it because I didn’t have the money or the time or the personality, and then someone else found out about the thing I invented and they patented it and became filthy rich from my invention. But now I don’t mind when people don’t believe I predicted important things before they happened. Nor do I mind when people get rich and famous from my inventions. And here’s why.

The writings of my hero Buckminster Fuller convinced me it was a colossal waste of time to worry about people stealing our ideas or not believing us because ultimately the universe (transcendent of human pettiness and ignorance) responds appropriately and exquisitely to our thoughts and actions regardless of whether we own the patents on the lucrative inventions or whether people believe us. More Todd Walton…

Todd Walton: Her Children

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on June 24, 2011 at 8:00 am

Photo by Ginger Malisos

From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTable.com
Mendocino

“My mother is a poem 
I’ll never be able to write, 
though everything I write 
is a poem to my mother.
” Sharon Doubiago

I’m about to pull out of the Presbyterian parking lot and make a right turn, when I see a woman on the sidewalk across the street dragging a heavy suitcase. She has a baby girl on her back in a makeshift backpack, and this baby has a smile on her face as big as the world. The woman lets go of the suitcase and backtracks about twenty feet to where she’s left a bulging duffel bag and a blue plastic laundry basket piled high with clothes and toys and whatnot. She takes hold of the duffel bag and starts dragging it to where she left the suitcase, and as she drags the duffel she calls to two tiny children waiting for her some twenty feet further along the sidewalk beyond the suitcase.

“Wait for us at the corner,” she says, her voice clear and musical; and I am struck by how calm she sounds, how sure she is that the three-year-old girl and the four-year-old boy will obey her, which they do. More Todd Walton…

Todd Walton: He Is Us

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on June 17, 2011 at 7:02 am

Photo by Marcia Sloane

From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks.com
Mendocino

“When men are most sure and arrogant they are commonly most mistaken, giving views to passion without the proper deliberation which alone can secure them from the grossest absurdities.” David Hume

I may be wrong. I thought I’d begin with that disclaimer to defuse the notion I think I’m right. What troubles me most about zealots is that anyone who doesn’t agree with them is not only deemed wrong, but bad. Oh, get to the point, Todd. Well, but this is a big part of the point, this trouble I have with people who think they have the one and only true answer, true faith, true way to grow strawberries. There’s no way to have a meaningful discussion with them.

When I had my oh-no-we’re destroying-the-earth-we’d-better-change-our-ways epiphany in 1965 at the tender age of fifteen, even most of my fellow Sierra Club members thought I was either crazy or a dangerous radical. Forty-six years later, my assertion that radically reducing our individual resource consumption can help save the earth is scoffed at and ridiculed by a growing cadre More Todd Walton…

Todd Walton: Something Missing

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on June 10, 2011 at 8:02 am

From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks.com
Mendocino

[The following essay is about interpersonal relationships, though the opening paragraphs may seem to be about disaster, ignorance, greed, and selfishness. ~TW]

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.” Jimi Hendrix

International news sources (because American media is mum on the subject) report that a powerful cyclone just blew through the out-of-control and inconceivably deadly Fukushima nuclear power plants, with more such storms on the way. The four nuclear power plants, in the words of the Japanese government, are uncovered, so the ferocious winds of the cyclone picked up and blew tons of radioactive debris all over Japan, Korea, China, Russia, and much of the northern hemisphere. The Japanese government released a statement saying they were sorry they were not able to cover the nuclear power plants before the cyclone hit, but they don’t have the resources or manpower or money to do much of anything about the situation, so… sorry. Meanwhile, the land around those power plants, thousands of square miles, will be essentially uninhabitable for thousands of years; and now a growing number of scientists fear that the megalopolis of Tokyo is doomed.

Am I missing something here? Is this not one of the worst environmental disasters in history? More Todd Walton…

Todd Walton: What We Do

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on June 3, 2011 at 7:33 am


From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks.com
Mendocino

“One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important.”Bertrand Russell

The first few times I finished writing a novel (each book representing two or three years work), I was gripped by the same terrible fear that I might die before I could make copies of the books and send them out into the world. Before the advent of personal computers and the ability to send massive documents in email attachments, making copies of fat manuscripts meant going to copy shops and leaving the precious documents overnight while copies were made.  Then, exhausted from lack of sleep and worry, I would pick up the copies and mail them to people scattered More Todd Walton…

Todd Walton: Both At Once

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on May 27, 2011 at 7:34 am

From TODD WALTON
Underthetablebooks.com
Mendocino

“Truth is the only safe ground to stand upon.” Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Morning: A beautiful day in Mendocino, the rhododendrons madly blooming, the headlands a riot of wild roses and wild irises and wild mustard, while across the ocean a terrible thing is happening: four nuclear reactors in Japan are out of control, melting down, and turning vast areas of that nation into dead zones for thousands of years to come.

“The only thing that can save the world is the reclaiming of the awareness of the world.” Allen Ginsberg

Noon: A friend writes to say his business is doing well, his daughter about to get married, and he hasn’t felt so well in ages. In the same mail is a note from another friend telling me about his neighbor, a fellow from Japan, who now has five relatives living with him in his tiny apartment in Berkeley, More Todd Walton…

Todd Walton: Ball Bear Cat Piano

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on May 20, 2011 at 7:23 am

Photo by Marcia Sloane

From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTable.com
Mendocino

“A hot dog at the ballgame beats roast beef at the Ritz.” Humphrey Bogart

Jon Miller, my favorite bard of baseball, recently used the words egregious, preposterous, cerulean, prodigious, and greensward whilst painting verbal pictures of our San Francisco Giants sweeping the Rockies and the Snakes, and making history as they did so. Jon revealed today during a lopsided loss to the Cubs, that no team in the long history of baseball had ever won six home games in a row in which they scored less than four runs in any of those six games. I agree that isn’t nearly as important as the ongoing meltdowns of the Fukushima nuclear power plants, but it does prove we have some mighty impressive pitching.

Sometimes Jon will quote the Bard (Shakespeare) himself. Fair is foul, and foul is fair:
 Hover through the fog…” might have been written More Todd Walton…

Hal Zina Bennett: Putting a Dollar Value On The Arts

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on May 14, 2011 at 8:14 am

From HAL ZINA BENNETT
Blue Lakes, Lake County (7/02)

Last month  there was an article in the San Diego Union Tribune spelling out the contribution made by the arts in America. Unlike other polemics arguing the moral, aesthetic and spiritual values of these activities, the author, Robert Lynch, president of Americans for the Arts (AFA) looked at the strictly economic contribution of the arts. Here are some of his findings:

Nonprofit arts groups, including museums, theater companies, performing arts centers, orchestras, dance companies, arts councils and other, generate $134 billion in economic activity nationally every year.

The above groups employ nearly 5 million full-time employees. More Hal Bennett…

Todd Walton: Duck

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on May 13, 2011 at 8:09 am

From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTable.com
Mendocino

“One cannot write of ducks without mentioning water.”  Ernest Thompson Seton

Just when we thought the apex of human stupidity was a toss up between building nuclear power plants and waging wars for gasoline, here comes…

Marcia and I strolling inland along the shores of Big River, a cool breeze wafting in from the Pacific, the sun playing peek-a-boo with wispy white clouds, when suddenly Marcia shouts, “Duck!”

And I reply (hoping for a glimpse of a mallard or possibly a merganser or improbably a McGregor’s Cuckooshrike), “Where?”

“Not a duck,” cries Marcia. “Duck! As in Get Down!”

So I do a belly flop in the sandy duff just as a loud report from a big gun presages a swarm of buckshot flying overhead and ripping a humongous chunk More Todd Walton…

Jonathan Middlebrook: Local Lessons on the Constitution with the Ukiah Valley Patriots

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on May 12, 2011 at 8:24 am

From JONATHAN MIDDLEBROOK
Ukiah

Last January, the Ukiah Daily Journal printed a story about the Ukiah Valley Patriots offering a class in the U.S. Constitution. They invited anyone interested in the subject to attend. I am not a UVPatriot, but I accepted their invitation, interested both in our Constitution, and in the Patriots themselves.

“Be careful!” several of my friends said, demonstrating that our vile, polarized national political discourse also roosts locally. At every opportunity I tell people who want to hear “the story,” that this is the story: the UVPatriots are neighbors. They are hospitable, interesting to talk with. They share my distaste for international corporations, disgust with Wall Street, dismay at military adventurism. We seem to disagree about spending cuts focused on “entitlements” and bi-partisan free-ride-for-the-rich tax policy. More Jonathan Middlebrook…

Todd Walton: Post Office Football

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on May 7, 2011 at 8:34 am

From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks.com
Mendocino

“Carrier of news and knowledge, Instrument of trade and industry, Promoter of mutual acquaintance, Of peace and good-will Among men and nations.” inscription on southeast corner of post office in Washington, D.C. by Charles William Eliot

Though it may at first seem a stretch to compare the struggle to save the historic Ukiah Post Office with the current labor dispute between National Football League owners and the NFL players’ union, similarities abound. The root cause of the national postal crisis was the great commercial success of the Postal Service; and the root cause of the football crisis was the fantastic commercial success of football. In both cases, ownership i.e. the corporate elite, decided that their employees were making far too much money compared to, say, Mexican peasants, and they, ownership, wanted as much of their employee’s money as they could steal. More Todd Walton…

The Problem with Rototillers

In Around the web, Guest Posts on April 29, 2011 at 8:12 am

From KIM CHASE
Chase Farm, Helena, Montana

We do have a roto-tiller attachment for our lawn tractor, which we used to use and will continue to use when preparing brand new ground for garden. But it turns out that roto-tilling every year is not optimal in several ways.

  • It ruins soil structure. It pulverizes the soils, breaks up soil aggregates, breaks up macropores (large spaces) in the soil and destroys all the tunnels your worms have worked so hard to build.  All this space in your soil improves drainage, facilitates movement of nutrients and water.
  • It causes compaction. Once those soils aggregates are broken up and the soil is reduced to its particles, the soil is nice and fluffy. But since there is no real structure, the soil will settle into a more compacted state.
  • And then there is the problem of tiller-pan. The weight and action of the tiller causes a compacted layer just below where the tines reach, further decreasing soil drainage and the ability of roots to penetrate the soil.
  • It inverts your soil. Tilling turns your soil right upside down. The delicate ecology of soil develops as it does for a reason. Certain helpful bacteria, fungi, and earthworms were at a certain depth in the soil because it had the right moisture and aeration conditions. Turn the soil upside down and you will disrupt this ecology for at least a while.
  • It plants weed seeds for you. Ugh.

Broadfork to the Rescue article here
Available locally – Ubar: Bountiful Gardens
~~

Todd Walton: Old Pot Folks

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on April 29, 2011 at 7:38 am

From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTable.com
Mendocino

“How’s your back?” asks Marvin, handing me cash for pruning his fruit trees.

“Pretty good,” I say, lifting my ladder into the back of my pickup.

“Mine’s all fucked up,” he murmurs, looking away. “Can’t lift a damn thing.”

“You need something lifted? I’m good up to fifty pounds.”

“Well,” he says, fidgeting. “I…the thing is…” He frowns. “You want to earn a quick hundred?”

“How quick?” I say, looking at my watch. “I have a couple big apples to get done before dark.”

“Half an hour,” he says, nodding. “Hour at the most.”

“I charge forty an hour for pruning, so…”

“This isn’t pruning,” he says, taking a deep breath. “This is pot.”

“You have a prescription?”

“Two,” he says, beckoning me to follow him. “One for me and one for Candy. Need to empty the old mix and fill the pots with new stuff, but the bags…”

So I follow him to the house where Candy appears on the front porch and shields her eyes from what I don’t know since the sun is hidden behind dark clouds. Candy is seventy-two, petite, with shoulder-length gray hair More Todd Walton…

Todd Walton: What’s Going On?

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on April 23, 2011 at 7:08 am

From TODD WALTON
Underthetablebooks.com
Mendocino

“You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.” Malcolm X

One of my guilty pleasures is watching sports highlights on my computer, many of which are prefaced by thirty-second ads for shoes, cars, beer, and the Army. I have become adept at turning off the volume and relaxing for those thirty seconds before each highlight, but occasionally a new ad grabs me and I’ll watch and marvel at the senseless inventiveness of capitalism. The last Army recruitment ad I watched began with a video-game-animation of Caucasian American soldiers morphing into actual Caucasian American soldiers interdicting and arresting impoverished American black men, brutally and at gunpoint.

I haven’t the slightest doubt that twenty years ago such an ad would have caused a huge public outcry for its racist violence and for the implication that American armed forces are servants of a racist police state. But this ad, I have since been informed, has been running for several weeks through several mainstream media outlets, and no outcries are being reported (which, of course, doesn’t mean outcrying isn’t going on.)

“I think I’m an actor because I have a very strong imagination and empathy. I never studied acting, but those two qualities are exactly the qualities that make for an activist.” Susan Sarandon

As I was pondering this latest indication of the thorough conquest of our media by the corporate state, my brother sent me a link to an article about a large new study by the American Red Cross that reveals nearly sixty percent of American teenagers (both male and female) think brutal torture More Todd Walton…

Gene Logsdon: Tired of Tires

In Guest Posts on April 20, 2011 at 6:52 am

From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer
Upper Sandusky, Ohio

Do you know how many pneumatic rubber tires you own? I bet when you count them up, you’ll be surprised. Even on my little one horse farm, there are 40 tires in use, not counting the ones on the car. And ten percent of them are flat at any given time. This is partly because most of my tires were vulcanized in the late Middle Ages or thereabouts. But it is also because there is something unsustainable and unnatural about riding around on air wrapped in a substance that comes from trees that grow half a million miles away.

This is the time of year when I fare forth to another season of mowing and planting. I know without looking, that my first chore, after getting all the motors (6) running, will be fixing flats. I thought maybe this year would be an exception. The green tractor started right up and the hydraulic system on it worked fine. I backed up to the disk to hitch up and the hole on the disk tongue lined up with the drawbar hole perfectly on the first try. Oh perfect joy.

One pass across the field and behold, the left tire on the disk was as flat as a pancake. I pumped it up (by hand) and proceeded on to the gardens which were actually dry enough to disk (the corn ground wasn’t) and worked up two of the plots before the tire went flat again. Pumped it up again and it lasted until I had finished the other two plots. I would not have been so stubborn about it except rain was threatening and it might be another two weeks before the soil was dry enough to work again.

Have you ever stopped to think just how dumb it is to have pneumatic tires on a disk? They are only in use when the disk is not disking and that would mean, in my “operation”, about three hundred feet a year at a speed of not more than two miles per hour. More Gene Logsdon…

Todd Walton: Young Pot Moms

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on April 15, 2011 at 7:57 am


From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks
Mendocino

“Youth is wasted on the young.” George Bernard Shaw

When I and my middle-aged and elderly Mendocino Elk Albion Fort Bragg peers convene, talk often turns to the paucity of younger people coming along to fill the local ranks of actors and musicians and writers and artists and activists. The excellent Symphony of the Redwoods plays to audiences of mostly white-haired elders and is itself fast becoming an ensemble of elders, ditto the local theater companies, ditto the legions of Mendocino artists and social activists. People under fifty in audiences and at art openings hereabouts stand out as rare youngsters; and the question is frequently asked with touching plaintiveness, “Will it all end with us?”

“The supply of good women far exceeds that of the men who deserve them.” Robert Graves

A few days ago I was waiting my turn at the one and only cash dispensing machine in the picturesque and economically distressed village of Mendocino, my home town, and I couldn’t help noticing that the woman using the machine was young (under forty), expensively dressed, and pushing the appropriate buttons with an ambitious energy that made me tired.

When it was my turn to stand before the cash dispensary, I noticed that the young woman had declined to take her receipt, which hung like a punch line from the slot of the robot. Being a hopeless snoop, I took possession of the little piece of paper, affixed my reading glasses, and imbibed the data. Did my eyes deceive me? No. This young woman had a cash balance in her Savings Bank of Mendocino checking account of…are you sitting down?…377,789 dollars. More Todd Walton…

Todd Walton: Kings and Presidents

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on April 8, 2011 at 7:26 am

Video Clip Here

From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks.com
Mendocino

“Divine right of kings means the divine right of anyone who can get uppermost.” Herbert Spencer

I just finished reading an excellent book by British historian Derek Wilson: A Brief History of Henry VIII, 386 pages of densely informative prose that is certainly not brief by American standards. I do not often read history, but I’m glad I read this book because it illuminates much of what’s going on in the world today. But before I tell you a little more about Henry VIII and why his story reminds me so much of George H. Bush, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and innumerable bullies and louts responsible for the ruination of our local, national, and global societies, I thought you might enjoy knowing how I came to be interested in Henry VIII.

“Kings are in the moral order what monsters are in the natural.” Henri Gregoire

Several years ago, I wrote a play about a history professor who has a nervous breakdown that features visitations from Queen Elizabeth I, Henry VIII’s daughter. When I came out of my trance and found More Todd Walton…

Todd Walton: The Play’s The Thing

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on April 2, 2011 at 6:51 am

From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks
Mendocino

“More relative than this—the play’s the thing

Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King.” William Shakespeare

Yes, it will only be a staged reading in a tiny theater on the fringes of civilization, but I feel like my play Milo & Angel is about to open on Broadway. And you’re invited! When I was sixteen years old, I decided to try to make my way as a playwright and actor amidst the roar of the greasepaint and the smell of the crowd, but other scenarios intervened, other roads were taken, and all the plays I wrote remained hidden from public view.

True, the actors will be sitting in chairs and holding scripts as they perform, and they will only have rehearsed a few times under the inspired guidance of Sandra Hawthorne, but they will be on a real stage in a real theater (not a living room or a café) imbuing my lines with character. What an amazing process it has been so far, the blessed night still to come—April 13, a Wednesday evening at 7 PM at the Helen Schoeni Theater at the Mendocino Art Center—mark your calendars.

“If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.” George Bernard Shaw

More Todd Walton…

Mike Sweeney: Ukiah Post Office — What are they hiding?

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on April 1, 2011 at 8:20 am

From MIKE SWEENEY
Ukiah

When the United States Postal Service announced that it had financial reasons to close the Ukiah Post Office, many voices said:  “Show us the numbers.”

Since the USPS is a government agency, I assumed such information was in the public record and filed a Freedom of Information Act request.  The USPS denied it.

Both the City of Ukiah and Congressman Mike Thompson’s office asked for the same information, and they were denied too.

Then the City asked for permission to inspect the post office building so that it could make an independent evaluation of repair costs, if any.   More than two weeks after this request, the USPS hasn’t bothered to reply.

This stonewalling doesn’t do the USPS any good.  It arouses mistrust and casts doubt on the truthfulness of any of their numbers.  As Councilman Doug Crane told a local newspaper, “It appears to be rationalized math. Without their willingness to disclose what supports the math how can we accept or consider that math is valid in any way?”

More Mike Sweeney…

Getting The President To Laugh

In Guest Posts on March 30, 2011 at 8:25 am

From GENE LOGSDON

The kind of readers who visit this website may have noticed that one of our heroes, Wendell Berry, made President Obama laugh right out loud the other day. Wendell recently received a National Humanities Medal in Washington, and when the President leaned forward to drape the award over Wendell’s shoulders, the two exchanged whispers and the President broke out in a huge grin. It is a wonderful picture and appeared in many newspapers. To be able to get the president of the United States to laugh like that in front of the whole world in these awful times… well, that’s a real accomplishment. I am not surprised, however. If you know Wendell, he can make very funny remarks at the most unexpected times. I asked him what he whispered to the president but he’s not talking. Says he can’t remember.

Two other writers who received a National Humanities Medal this year were Joyce Carol Oates and Philip Roth. Jacques Barzun, the historian, got one too. This is top notch stuff, and I don’t know anyone who deserves the recognition more than Wendell. He is the hardest worker I know, traveling and giving speeches incessantly. He’s written 40 books so far and still manages to do a little farming with the help and support of his equally amazing wife, Tanya, and his son Den and daughter Mary and their families. His message, now and always, is that society is ignoring and abandoning ecological and economic common sense More Gene Logsdon…

Todd Walton: Kyoto Amore

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on March 25, 2011 at 7:26 am

From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTable.com
Mendocino

“But a whole school of lady koto players

Best kimono and Japanese hairdo

Perform on tatami platform underneath falling blossoms”

Philip Whalen

I’ll never forget the night in 1989 when we danced at Melarkey’s on Broadway in Sacramento, dancing for joy because in a free and fair election, for the first and only time in history, the majority voted to shut down an active nuclear power plant. And only a handful of people know that Ben Davis started the whole thing, and I, in the beginning, helped him keep the ball rolling.

Ben, an eccentric, stubborn, self-educated advocate for the public good, first tried to shut down the Rancho Seco Nuclear Power Facility by single-handedly taking SMUD (Sacramento Municipal Utility District) to court for not having an adequate emergency evacuation plan in the event of a catastrophe such as the multiple catastrophes ongoing in Japan today. The courts wouldn’t oblige Ben for the usual putrid reasons (putrid as in corrupt), though Ben had more than ample proof that SMUD, for all intents and purposes, had no evacuation plan at all.

Failing to overcome the entrenched putrescence More Todd Walton…

Bruce Patterson: Animal Rescue

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on March 25, 2011 at 7:20 am

From BRUCE ‘PAT’ PATTERSON
4 Mules Blog
Anderson Valley

About a month before my second book came out, I received a form email from my publisher’s Manager of Marketing and Publicity. At the ripe old age of 29, I was informed, worn down by the workaday grind and determined to follow her heart, she was quitting her job so she could devote herself to doing volunteer work with Animal Rescue. So I emailed her back: “How bout me? Ain’t I an animal?”

Although I never received a response, I like to think she got a chuckle of out my wisecrack, at least until she realized I had a point. I mean, imagine if we people loved each other the way we love our little house doggies and pussy cats. Since we’re taking leaps of imagination here— for this we’d need Divine Intervention—what if we loved each other as much as we love the money in our pockets? Since about 90% of human misery is caused by greedy humans, imagine how sweet and easy our lives would be if ever we got out from under their thumbs.

I’ve been an outdoors person, both as vocation and avocation, my whole life, and I’ve spent more time around house pets, wildlife and livestock than most any busload of the kind of animal rights activists you see on TV. Yet, while my attitude toward animals ain’t nearly as romantic as theirs, we’re on the same page ethically. If “soul” is what makes humans more than the sum total More Bruce Patterson…

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