Posts By ds

Financial Feudalism…

From Dmitre Orlov

Once upon a time—and a fairly long time it was—most of the thickly settled parts of the world had something called feudalism. It was a way of organizing society hierarchically. Typically, at the very top there was a sovereign (king, prince, emperor, pharaoh, along with some high priests). Below the sovereign were several ranks of noblemen, with hereditary titles. Below the noblemen were commoners, who likewise inherited their stations in life, be it by being bound to a piece of land upon which they toiled, or by being granted the right to engage in a certain type of production or trade, in case of craftsmen and merchants. Everybody was locked into position through permanent relationships of allegiance, tribute and customary duties: tribute and customary duties flowed up through the ranks, while favors, privileges and protection flowed down.

Mormon Secrets: What the Missionaries Don’t Tell…


William Edelen: Moon Plays Role in Primal Afterlife Concepts


The Contrary Minister

“On the third day he rose again from the dead”… You may think I am quoting the Apostles Creed still recited in so many churches, but actually I am quoting from primal religious liturgies that are referring to the resurrection of the moon after the third night of darkness.

“As the moon dieth and cometh to life again, so we also, having to die, will again rise,” declared the Juan Capistrano Indians in ceremonies celebrating the resurrection of the new moon, after three nights of darkness and death. Basically the moon was “she,” but in some cases “he.”

For more than 100,000 years it has been believed that death had no finality and that there was more.

A boon to archaeologists has been the discovery of graves in the Neanderthal period with both artifacts and flower remains, combined with the sensitivity of the burial.

What phenomenon played a vital part of their imagining a life after death? It was quite simply… observing the moon. The sun is always the same. The moon, on the other hand, is born new, grows to maturity, dies and is then resurrected. The period of the new moon, the resurrection of the moon, became one of the most important religious celebrations in many cultures.

Todd Walton: Hey Nineteen

tTodd 1969 photo by Richard Mead

Under The Table Books

Hey Nineteen, that’s ‘Retha Franklin

She don’t remember Queen of Soul

Walter Becker and Donald Fagen

Digging around for photos of my grandmother, I came across a black and white picture of me taken in 1969, a still shot from a student film made during my second and final year of college at UC Santa Cruz—when tuition was next to nothing. My decision to quit college was made easier than it would be today because housing in 1969 was cheap, work was easy to come by, and the economic obstacles to experimenting with being an artist were minimal, certainly compared to the economic realities of 2015.

In the photograph, my thick brown hair is going every which way, my kinky beard full and black, my black-framed glasses the same ugly frames millions of myopic young American men wore at that time. I am wearing a black suit and tie because in the film I play the part of a violin teacher, my student such a terrible player that his squawking music drives me first insane and then causes me to have a heart attack and fall to the sand.

Will Parrish: California’s ‘Water Donor Counties’



The Humboldt and Trinity County boards of supervisors have issued a new trickle of outrage concerning their status as water vassals of Central Valley agribusiness. In letters this past January to Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, CC’d to local US Rep. Jared Huffman, each set of officials requested full participation in deliberations regarding Congressional drought legislation to address, as the TrinCo version put it, “the impacts caused by massive export of Trinity Basin water supplies.”

Both groups of supes described their jurisdictions as “a water donor county.” In other words, a completely different area of the state is reaping enormous financial gain from the expropriation of their watersheds. “[S]ince 1964 Trinity County has contributed more than 46 million acre-feet from the Trinity Basin to the Central Valley [emphasis in original],” reads the Trinity County version. “Simply put, to the Central Valley Project and other water recipients like the San Luis Unit (SLU), we are a water donor county.”

The San Luis Unit refers to Westlands Water District, the largest agricultural water district in the United States. Owing to the miracle of modern hydrologic engineering, the US Bureau of Reclamation has exported as much as 90% of the Trinity River’s annual flow to the Central Valley since the completion of Trinity Dam — at the time of its construction, the world’s highest earthen dam — in 1962. The arrangement has turned the arid western San Joaquin Valley, located roughly 500 miles away, into a bountiful — and profitable — farming region.

The water exports have had dire consequences, however, for the Klamath and Trinity fish populations and the people who depend on them. Largely owing to the long struggle by Yurok, Hoopa, and other Klamath basin indigenous people to maintain federally acknowledged fishing rights, the Klamath-Trinity is still home to the largest population of wild salmon of any river system in California. It is also home to one of the healthiest populations of steelhead trout in the Lower 48 and the world’s most abundant green sturgeon population, among various other superlatives.

With California entering the fourth year of drought, long-time observers are warning of even more dire consequences if the federal government continues to pump its customary quantity of the rivers’ water “over the hill.”

“What the Trinity and Klamath are facing is a catastrophe of epic proportions,” said Tom Stokely, a resident of Mt. Shasta and a former Trinity County natural resources planner who is now a policy analyst for the conservation group California Water Impact Network.

The problem is straightforward: not enough cold water for fish. In 2002, the lower Klamath River was the site of the largest recorded fish die-off since Europeans first stepped foot on the continent. At least 65,000 adult Chinook salmon died due to low summer flows caused by bureau water diversions and warm temperatures.

Klamath Fish Kill, 2002

Last August, as temperatures in the lower Klamath soared into the 70s, tribal biologists began to discover fish carcasses washed up on shore near the river’s confluence with the Trinity. More than two hundred tribal members responded by rallying at the Bureau of Reclamation office in Sacramento to demand that the agency release cold water stored either in Oregon’s Upper Klamath Lake or at Trinity Reservoir.

The HumCo counterparts use the more pointed language of the two. “The regulatory and programmatic ‘taking’ of [Trinity River] water in the form of diversions has significantly impacted the North Coast economy, commercial and sport fishing industry, harmed the economic, social and cultural values for three local Native American Tribes, and shuttered local small coastal towns,” reads the letter signed by County Supervisor Mark Lovelace. “The people of the North Coast experience the pain of those diversions every day — and have since 1964.”

The TrinCo and HumCo supes are rightfully concerned that drought legislation being shepherded by perennially big business-friendly US Sen. Dianne Feinstein and other Congressional reps to benefit San Joaquin Valley farmers could deal a huge blow to the river’s wildlife and the people who depend on it for their livelihoods. Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno) has announced that a bi-partisan bill that would increase “operational flexibility” for federal water projects in California, thereby further increasing water deliveries to agribusiness, will soon be unveiled.

The situation for North Coast people, fish, and other critters would quickly go from disastrous to even more disastrous. Meanwhile, Gov. Jerry Brown unveiled drought legislation last week that does virtually nothing to address the water demands of agribusiness, which uses 80% of California’s developed water supply.

As part of the 1955 legislation that mandated Trinity Reservoir’s construction, Humboldt County was promised 50,000 acre feet annually from the Trinity Reservoir. The Bureau of Reclamation has never provided HumCo with this comparatively modest allocation, which represents a mere eight percent of what the feds shipped to the Central Valley last year (595,000 acre feet). And that’s a big part of the county supes’ beef with the federal government’s water management.

When it comes to “water donor” counties in California, few have proved more munificent than the county immediately to Humboldt’s south. The Humboldt County Supervisors have protested for years regarding the federal government’s failure to abide by the 50,000 acre foot water agreement. Meanwhile, Mendo’s official representatives have permitted Sonoma County to help themselves to most of the upper Russian River’s water at no cost ever since Lake Mendocino was constructed in the late-’50s. (The late Joe Scaramella, uncle of this publication’s managing editor, was the only supervisor to vote against this short-sighted arrangement). Sonoma County also gets free rein to the waters of upper Dry Creek, which rises in southern Mendo and is trapped by Warm Springs Dam west of Healdsburg.

Lake Sonoma

Sonoma County sells the water to Marin County, particularly the dry towns of Northern Marin, for pure profit, the “product” costing nothing more than the pipes and valves to shunt it across the Petaluma Gap to Novato. The Sonoma County water business (agency), overseen by Sonoma County supervisors, is that rare public bureaucracy that turns hefty annual profits.

When Supervisor John Pinches attempted to simply bring up the subject of the water diversion for discussion, his wine-fueled Mendo colleagues — there’s no significant wine industry in Humboldt or Trinity counties — nixed it 4-1.

As with the dams in the Klamath River system, the existence of the dams in Mendocino County that enable this arrangement have wrought a huge toll both on the fish and the humans who depend on them. Whereas the spring-run chinook of the Klamath-Trinity used to travel exclusively to the cold-water tributaries above the dams, now they must make do as they can with the warmer waters of the mainstem and the tributaries in the lower parts of the river. On the Eel River, the existence of Scott Dam, behind which forms Lake Pillsbury, blocks the migration of salmon and trout to their best spawning grounds.

In 2017, a federal commission will begin reviewing an application by Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to re-license its Potter Valley Project, which includes the mile-long tunnel that diverts Eel water to the Russian River’s east branch. It’s a safe bet Mendo’s supervisors will not use the relicensing process to try to leverage a new arrangement.

Of course, the Russian River’s abundant water supply is supplemented by the Eel River diversion, and the mainstem Eel’s “county of origin” is actually Mendo’s even-more-impoverished eastern neighbor, the County of Lake. The Eel region has never been compensated for its diverted water.

The HumCo and TrinCo supervisors invoked restitution in their recent missives to California’s congressional delegation. When it comes to restorative justice, though, the greatest claim lies with the original people of the area: the indigenous groups who still depend on these river’s fish for their cultural survival.

Hoopa Valley tribal member Dania Colegrove, also a member of a grassroots organization called the Klamath Justice Coalition, explained to me the central role that the Klamath’s fisheries continue to play in her culture.

“On Sunday, I went to the mouth of the Klamath River at the ocean and got eel,” she said. “The week before that, we fished for steelhead. Two days ago, my neighbor brought my mom sturgeon. The river is our grocery store, basically, and without it, we cease to exist as people.”

A federal court ruled in 1979 that the tribes are “entitled to as much water on the Reservation lands as they need to protect their hunting and fishing rights,” with a priority date of “time immemorial.” According to Colegrove, though, it’s inevitable that the Klamath basin indigenous people will have to continue protesting if their fish are to survive. “It’s going to be a fight from now on,” she said.

(The Humboldt and Trinity County Letters referred to above can be found on the AVA website. Contact Will Parrish at

Interviews with Thomas Brower and Tom Liden just posted to Mendocino Talking…

Thomas Brower Photo 2TomLiden
…at Mendocino Talking here

Happy Birthday, Richard Dawkins…


From The Freethinker UK
‘The Voice of Atheism since 1881′

On this date in 1941, evolutionary biologist and freethought champion Richard Dawkins was born in Nairobi. His father had moved to Kenya from England during the Second World War to join the Allied Forces and the family returned to England in 1949.

Dawkins graduated from Oxford in 1962, earned his doctorate, became assistant professor of zoology at the University of California at Berkeley 1967-1969 and a fellow of New College in 1970. The Selfish Gene, his first book, published in 1976, became an international bestseller. It and the award-winning Blind Watchmaker were translated into all major languages.

His other books include The Extended Phenotype (1982), River Out of Eden(1995), Climbing Mount Improbable (1996), Unweaving the Rainbow (1998) and A Devil’s Chaplain (2003). His 2006 iconoclastic book, The God Delusion, which he wrote with the public hope of turning believing readers into atheists, became a bestseller in both the UK and the US.

Cognitive psychologist explains why Bill Maher is one of our best weapons against ISIS…


From Raw Story

What makes young people give up their lives and join ISIS? Over the past week, we’ve seen reports of troubling new examples of the Islamic State’s hold on some people, who leave from various parts of Europe and even the United States to become volunteers for the brutal war zone in Syria and Iraq. Repeatedly, these stories express the frustration experts feel trying to understand what motivates recruits, some of whom are well off or have college degrees. Why are they giving up their lives in the West for one of the most dangerous places on Earth?

Hungry for answers, we went looking for someone who could explain the situation and stumbled on the work of Glasgow University cognitive psychologist Gijsbert Stoet. His explanation for how ISIS appealed to some young people cut through the confusion, and we were intrigued that he said we’re not going to stem that tide until we start getting more serious about questioning religious ideas in the public sphere. Wanting more detail, we gave him a call, telling him that we hadn’t seen anyone else give such a concise, convincing explanation of who was joining ISIS and why.

How The US Government and US Military Became Murder, Inc….


From Dr. Paul Craig Roberts
Global Research, March 26, 2015

 Andrew Cockburn has written a must-read book. The title is Kill Chain: The Rise Of The High-Tech Assassins. The title could just as well be: How the US Government and US Military Became Murder, Inc.

The US military no longer does war. It does assassinations, usually of the wrong people. The main victims of the US assassination policy are women, children, village elders, weddings, funerals, and occasionally US soldiers mistaken for Taliban by US surveillance operating with the visual acuity of the definition of legal blindness.

Cockburn tells the story of how the human element has been displaced by remote control killing guided by misinterpretation of unclear images on screens collected by surveillance drones and sensors thousands of miles away. Cockburn shows that the “all-seeing” drone surveillance system is an operational failure but is supported by defense contractors because of its high profitability and by the military brass because general officers, with the exception of General Paul Van Ripper, are brainwashed in the belief that the revolution in military affairs means that high-tech devices replace the human element. Cockburn demonstrates that this belief is immune to all evidence to the contrary. The US military has now reached the point that Secretary of Defense Hagel deactivated both the A-10 close support fighter and the U-2 spy plane in favor of the operationally failed unmanned Global Hawk System. With the A-10 and U-2 went the last platforms for providing a human eye on what is happening on the ground.

Gene Logsdon: Corn Lover Delights


The Contrary Farmer

I get carried away sometimes with my misgivings about corn farming, so I have to balance that out occasionally with praise for one of my favorite foods. A reader, I think it was Ken, recently asked me to write about our experiences with cornbread and so I will, although I know many of you could do it better.

Daughter Jenny provided the photo of me and the corn.  The ear is 14 inches long with 22 rows of kernels if I remember correctly. I don’t see any practical reason to try to grow big ears of corn except for the fun of it, although with ears like this it would not take an impossible number of stalks per acre to make a record breaking yield. The corn is open pollinated Reid’s Yellow Dent, which I grew for about 35 years and quit only last year when the deer started eating every bit of it. I hope to be able to grow a bit of it in the garden now. Friends and family who have used it for cornbread always come back for more. I have a hunch that if our corn does taste better it is because it is fresher than store-bought meal.  As any food ages, it loses taste. We use new corn every year. The trick is to store it on the cob in a dry cool place, shelling only as needed. Leave the corn out in the field in the fall as long you can. When I bring it in, I tie the ears we want to save for cornmeal by the husks to wires in our airy garage with metal disks at both ends of the wire so mice can’t get to the corn. Looks sort of like clothes on the line. Carol also stores ears of corn in the freezer after they are dry. This is a good thing to do if you are having problems with weevils.

Wendell Berry: Climate Change  — To Save the Future, Live in the Present…


From Wendell Berry

Editor’s note: This excerpt consists of two numbered parts. The first was written in 2013 and the second in 2014.

I. [2013]

So far as I am concerned, the future has no narrative. The future does not exist until it has become the past. To a very limited extent, prediction has worked. The sun, so far, has set and risen as we have expected it to do. And the world, I suppose, will predictably end, but all of its predicted deadlines, so far, have been wrong.

The End of Something—history, the novel, Christianity, the human race, the world—has long been an irresistible subject. Many of the things predicted to end have so far continued, evidently to the embarrassment of none of the predictors. The future has been equally, and relatedly, an irresistible subject. How can so many people of certified intelligence have written so many pages on a subject about which nobody knows anything? Perhaps we need a book— in case we don’t already have one—on the end of the future.

None of us knows the future. Fairly predictably, we are going to be surprised by it. That is why “Take…no thought for the morrow…” is such excellent advice. Taking thought for the morrow is, fairly predictably, a waste of time.

I have noticed, for example, that most of the bad possibilities I have worried about have never happened. And so I have taken care to worry about all the bad possibilities. I could think of, in order to keep them from happening. Some of my scientific friends will call this a superstition, but if I did not forestall so many calamities, who did? However, after so much good work, even I must concede that by taking thought for the morrow we have invested, and wasted, a lot of effort in preparing for morrows that never came. Also by taking thought for the morrow we repeatedly burden today with undoing the damage and waste of false expectations—and so delaying our confrontation with the actuality that today has brought.

Christian Crock: Children as Chattel — What Religious Child Abuse and the Pro-Life Movement Have in Common…


From Valerie Tarico

On the surface, valuing embryonic life and abusing children are at odds, but with a biblical view of childhood, these positions can go hand in hand.

Why do the same people who fight against abortion argue that parents should have the right to beat their children and deny them medical care or education, as some conservative Republicans have done recently? How can someone oppose family planning because a pill or IUD might have the rare and unintended consequence of interfering with implantation, and then endorse beating a child, which might have the rare and unintended consequence of battering her to death?

These two positions fit together seamlessly only when we understand the Iron Age view of the child imbedded throughout the Bible, and how that view has shaped the priorities and behavior of biblical literalists.

Extreme Biblical Parenting 

Patriarchy is killing our planet — women alone can save her…

wWomen from all over Côte d’Ivoire gather to celebrate International Women’s Day at the Palais de la Culture in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

From The Ecologist

The global epidemic of violence against women and their systematic exclusion from the power structures that rule us are integral to man’s violent exploitation of Earth and her resources, writes Nafeez Ahmed. The fight to save the Earth must begin with the empowerment of women – and that means ending our complicity in their oppression, and servitude.

The systemic marginalization and repression of women is not an accidental feature of our civilizational crisis. It is inherently bound up with our male-dominated system of violence toward the natural world as a whole.

[…] The systemic marginalization of women is integral to what I call the ‘crisis of civilization.’

Efforts by the UN and other agencies to highlight the centrality of women to the fight against climate change are laudable, but they simply don’t go far enough in addressing the extent to which male-dominated global institutions and structures are directly responsible for the disempowerment of women.

Wendell Berry: Think Little


From Wendell Berry

A Continuous Harmony: Essays Cultural & Agricultural reprinted in the Whole Earth Catalog 1969

First there was Civil Rights, and then there was the War, and now it is the Environment. The first two of this sequence of causes have already risen to the top of the nation’s consciousness and declined somewhat in a remarkably short time. I mention this in order to begin with what I believe to be a justifiable skepticism. For it seems to me that the Civil Rights Movement and the Peace Movement, as popular causes in the electronic age, have partaken far too much of the nature of fads. Not for all, certainly, but for too many they have been the fashionable politics of the moment. As causes they have been undertaken too much in ignorance; they have been too much simplified; they have been powered too much by impatience and guilt of conscience and short-term enthusiasm, and too little by an authentic social vision and long-term conviction and deliberation. For most people those causes have remained almost entirely abstract; there has been too little personal involvement, and too much involvement in organizations that were insisting that other organizations should do what was right.

Journalism as Subversion…


From Chris Hedges

The assault of global capitalism is not only an economic and political assault. It is a cultural and historical assault. Global capitalism seeks to erase our stories and our histories. Its systems of mass communication, which peddle a fake intimacy with manufactured celebrities and a false sense of belonging within a mercenary consumer culture, shut out our voices, hopes and dreams. Salacious gossip about the elites and entertainers, lurid tales of violence and inane trivia replace in national discourse the actual and the real. The goal is a vast historical amnesia.

The traditions, rituals and struggles of the poor and workingmen and workingwomen are replaced with the vapid homogenization of mass culture. Life’s complexities are reduced to simplistic stereotypes. Common experiences center around what we have been fed by television and mass media. We become atomized and alienated. Solidarity and empathy are crushed. The cult of the self becomes paramount. And once the cult of the self is supreme we are captives to the corporate monolith.

As the mass media, now uniformly in the hands of large corporations, turn news into the ridiculous chronicling of pseudo-events and pseudo-controversy we become ever more invisible as individuals. Any reporting of the truth—the truth about what the powerful are doing to us and how we are struggling to endure and retain our dignity and self-respect—would fracture and divide a global population that must be molded into compliant consumers and obedient corporate subjects. This has made journalism, real journalism, subversive. And it has made P. Sainath—who has spent more than two decades making his way from rural Indian village to rural Indian village to make sure the voices of the country’s poor are heard, recorded and honored—one of the most subversive journalists on the subcontinent. He doggedly documented the some 300,000 suicides of desperate Indian farmers—happening for the last 19 years at the rate of one every half hour—in his book “Everybody Loves a Good Drought: Stories From India’s Poorest Districts.” And in December, after leaving The Hindu newspaper, where he was the rural affairs editor, he created the People’s Archive of Rural India. He works for no pay. He relies on a small army of volunteers. He says his archive deals with “the everyday lives of everyday people.” And, because it is a platform for mixed media, encompassing print, still photographs, audio and film, as well as an online research library, it is a model for those who seek to tell the stories that global capitalism attempts to blot out.

The Irrationality of Alcoholics Anonymous…


From The Atlantic

Its faith-based 12-step program dominates treatment in the United States. But researchers have debunked central tenets of AA doctrine and found dozens of other treatments more effective.

J.G. is a lawyer in his early 30s. He’s a fast talker and has the lean, sinewy build of a distance runner. His choice of profession seems preordained, as he speaks in fully formed paragraphs, his thoughts organized by topic sentences. He’s also a worrier—a big one—who for years used alcohol to soothe his anxiety.J.G. started drinking at 15, when he and a friend experimented in his parents’ liquor cabinet. He favored gin and whiskey but drank whatever he thought his parents would miss the least. He discovered beer, too, and loved the earthy, bitter taste on his tongue when he took his first cold sip.

His drinking increased through college and into law school. He could, and occasionally did, pull back, going cold turkey for weeks at a time. But nothing quieted his anxious mind like booze, and when he didn’t drink, he didn’t sleep. After four or six weeks dry, he’d be back at the liquor store.

By the time he was a practicing defense attorney, J.G. (who asked to be identified only by his initials) sometimes drank almost a liter of Jameson in a day. He often started drinking after his first morning court appearance, and he says he would have loved to drink even more, had his schedule allowed it. He defended clients who had been charged with driving while intoxicated, and he bought his own Breathalyzer to avoid landing in court on drunk-driving charges himself.

William Edelen: The Tyranny of God

The Contrary Minister

The debris of something called “god”: cosmic bellhop….. celestial hitman…. divine windowpeeker. Thinking human beings everywhere now are clearing the cobwebs of their, so called, minds and finally setting themselves free of the archaic and superstitious “biblical god.”

A major article in the LA TIMES for the week of Nov. 10, 2013 had this heading “ATHEIST ‘MEGA-CHURCHES’ TAKE ROOT” documenting how large groups of non-believers are spreading all over the United States in major cities. They are all saying what I wrote in one of my columns ten years ago:

“Blessed are the Atheists, Agnostics, Deists, Mystics, Humanists, Free Thinkers, Taoists, Buddhists and all others who do not have an archaic, primitive God in their mind-brains.

Blessed are they who do not believe that ‘God’ is on their side.

Blessed are they who do not participate in Holy wars, jihads or Crusades.

Blessed are they for they would never be martyrs for the ‘Glory of God.’

Blessed are they for they do not condemn others as heretics or infidels.

Blessed are they for they do not conduct inquisitions nor slaughter millions of women as witches.

Blessed are they who do not participate in sectarian violence.

Blessed are they who do not twist biblical words to condemn homosexuality as a sin, nor condemn a woman’s right to choose abortion.

Blessed are they who would never say that a terrorist act is God’s punishment against those who do not believe or think as they do.

Blessed are they who know that the only hell that exists is right here on earth created by man. And that it is in man’s hands alone to create a heaven here on earth through intelligence, empathy and love.”

Will Parrish: Greenfield’s Pomo Relics…



Systemic and widespread murder, land expropriation, forced sterilization, kidnapping and forced indoctrination of children via a residential school system that persisted for nearly a century, destruction of languages and outlawing of spiritual traditions, and commercialization and exploitation of ceremonies and healing practices, including by some of the people who labeled themselves “hippies” and appointed themselves as the vanguard of a “new age” — the genocide of indigenous people in what is now called “Redwood Valley,” as with first peoples everywhere, has taken myriad forms.

The name “Pomo” is an arbitrary classification for various regional indigenous people assigned by famed UC Berkeley anthropologist Alfred Kroeber. At the time of Euroamerican contact, one Pomo group inhabited and maintained the land now called “Greenfield Ranch”: 5,400 acres of breathtaking oak savannahs, oak woodlands, and riparian redwood groves centered roughly 10 miles west and north of Ukiah. In the early-1970s, the ranch emerged as a haven for Back to the Landers, refugees from urban life who declared their reverence for the earth, nature, and indigenous cultures.

Todd Walton: Goody’s Song

Goody jpegGoody photo by Todd

Under The Table Books

The truth is not ashamed of appearing contrived.” Isaac Bashevis Singer

As recently reported, Marcia and I are getting more airplay for our music on KVRF, a radio station in Palmer Alaska, than we’ve had anywhere else in these United States, and our song getting the most play recently is “Goody’s Song” with lyrics based on a poem by my grandmother.

In 1979 I turned thirty, moved to Sacramento, bought a fixer upper, my novel Inside Moves was being made into a motion picture, and my second novel Forgotten Impulses was about to be published. In the midst of this hoopla, my grandmother Gertrude, known to friends and family as Goody, sent me a poem she hoped I would turn into a song. I loved Goody, and she had just lost her husband, my grandfather Casey, so I said Yes.

Her verses rhymed, sort of, but were syllabically inconsistent from one line to the next, and she used several gigantic words that simply would not sing. Nevertheless, I made a few feeble attempts to set her poem to piano music, and then gave up.

Gene Logsdon: Village Farming

The Contrary Farmer

A lot of attention is being given to urban farming and that is certainly good. But there is a somewhat broader view emerging under the impetus of garden farming. I call it the ascendancy of  village farming. As far as I can find in history and archeology, as the hunting and gathering age gradually evolved into settled communities, farming was very much a village affair, not an individual family undertaking.  People congregated into groups for mutual protection and for sharing the work load. Their garden farms were clustered around the outskirts of their villages. Among the many advantages, there were plenty of children and dogs running around, scaring wild animals away from the crops. Traditionally in Europe and especially Asia where even today the average size of farms is under five acres in some areas, farmers lived in villages and went out to their acres during the day.  Immigrants who lived this integrated village farming life in Austria have told me how much more comfortable and enjoyable life was compared to what they found in America. In their homeland, farmers often worked in groups in the fields and then returned to town in the evenings, to community, and on porches, street corners,  and in taverns, they talked to each other, shared ideas and events, tended to see both farm field and urban shop as one community united in work and play. In America they felt lonely on American farms.

But even here, there were close connections between farmers and villagers as I grew up. On Sunday morning, we country people went to church in our villages and after services, everyone stood around outside and talked sometimes for over an hour. We children played hide and seek among the legs of the grownups. And on Saturday night, everyone went to town and stood on street corners visiting with townspeople and each other until after midnight.


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