Friday, May 27, 2011

40th Annual Redway Fire Department Barbeque

Fortieth Annual Redway Fire Department Barbeque
On Memorial day week-end 1971, forty years ago, the Redway Volunteer Fire Department had their first Barbeque. Ben Doane, a local sheriff’s deputy at the time was also a Redway volunteer firefighter. He was from Willow Creek, where he had seen them have a successful fund-raising barbeque. He suggested that the Redway Fire Department have a similar barbeque. He gave the firefighters, at the time, complete specifications as to how to build the deeply dug pits, how to place the meat wrapped in butcher paper and wet burlap directly on the coals, leave a six inch air space above the meat, place pipes and roofing tin over that, and bury in six inches of soil, uncover the meat after twelve hours, unwrap, slice and serve with homemade bread, baked beans and salad.

Ben’s plan was to dig a twelve foot long trench, four feet wide and four feet deep. The walls of the pit were to slope gently outward because the bottom of the pit, and the sides, were lined with six inch rocks to hold the heat, leaving a six inch space at the top for the cross-bars, tin, and a six inch layer of dirt to smother the fire and bake the meat.

Firefighters being very, very smart as a very, very general rule, had a better idea. Against Ben Doane’s very, very loud objections, they proposed that they build two large steel box-ovens. It was their idea that the meat would be easier to handle, and they just couldn’t warm up to the idea of placing the meat directly on the coals, because it would surely burn, and they just didn’t want to ruin four hundred pounds of meat, so they dug their pits, pretty much as originally designed, but they welded together some very elaborate oven-boxes, complete with hinges and latches. After all, they were going to have to last a very, very long time, the firefighters intended for this to be an annual fund raising Barbeque event!

They placed the roasts onto racks in their elaborate ovens. They lowered the ovens gently into the fire pits, They talked about maybe having the ovens chrome plated to make them look nicer and cleaner. Firefighters all like clean, chrome, shiny, and red. Some of us even have those words embroidered on our pajamas.

As things often, (always?) go, the boxes didn’t get enough heat from the coals, the meat came out very, very rare, and pork is not appreciated in the very, very rare form. In a panic, the firefighters recruited all of the neighbors ovens to finish cooking the roasts, mine being one of the neighbors ovens. So, I was involved in the very, very first barbeque.

The next year, Ben gave the firefighters a list of the people in Willow Creek, who have done this barbeque before. After calling them all of them on the phone, they were able to convince the firefighters that “yes indeed, just wrap the meat in butcher paper, tie it in wet burlap and place it directly on the coals. Ben Doane said that he would consent to do the barbeque again as long as every single firefighter do every single thing that he told them to do. It was a humbling experience for the otherwise smart firefighters. We sometimes ponder what might have happened to the steel box ovens.

By the second year of the barbeque I was a “probie”, Probie is a term used by firefighters to identify a probationary firefighter, or rookie. I had joined the fire department by then, but you don’t get accepted as a rank-and-file fire department member until you complete your training and get voted in by the regular members. At that time a firefighter gets issued a regular set of fire protective gear, boots, gloves, pants and coat. The other advantage is that you got named on the insurance as a regular firefighter. Before that, the rookies were covered as “John does”. The fire department covered Five Does.

It was a real “Plum” to become a regular firefighter back then, and, there was a waiting list. We had twenty regular firefighters and five, or so, rookies as they were culled-out or accepted. My badge number is “22”. I became rank-and-file in 1973. But, I have been at, and worked on, every Redway Fire Department Barbeque.

Nowadays, we have improved our fire pits, they are fire-brick lined and they have fitted steel lids, but we put the meat directly on the coals. We now cook 800 pounds of beef and pork. We now wrap the meat in yards of foil, then in wet burlap. We lost some of the smokey flavor with the foil wrap, but we gained tremendously in juiciness. When we unwrap the roasts, they are surrounded in juice. The meat is tender and well seasoned in our “Top-Secret” dry rubs and sauces.

We start working on the barbeque Wednesday, May 25th, 6:00 PM at the Redway Fire Department at 155 Empire Avenue in Redway. (behind Shop Smart) Wednesday we make all the rubs and sauces, gather the sand that we use to cover the pits, and make the hall ready. It a “punch-list” day. The real fun starts on Thursday at 6:00 PM we clear out the hall, set up tables, then we season and wrap the meat for placement into the pit’s the following Friday night. We have Carnitas with spices and sauce. We have “refreshments”, play a little music, and generally have a good time getting things prepared. Local people come and go to participate in the fun. It’s always an open house, after all it’s YOUR fire department. Then the meat marinades over-night.

At 5:00- 6:00 PM Friday we kindle the fire pits. We keep the fire going with nothing but ash-free Madrone wood. Do you know that the north coast of California is one of the only places in the world that Madrone grows? We are soooo lucky. Back to the barbeque. We have a pot luck dinner at 7:00 PM. We mostly tend the fire and talk about “The Big Ones” (fires of the past) The kids play music and we have lots of fun tending the fire. It’s like camping, only with a much bigger fire, and we have chairs around the fire pits, indoor plumbing, a T.V…. Okay It’s not like camping but there is a BIG fire and a lot of fun. Folks from other fire departments come and go, and members of the community come and go for the fun of it. The kids go nuts with their games and fun is had by all.

At somewhere between 11:00 PM and 1:00AM, we place the meat in the pits and cover the lids with sand. We all go home, except for a few well placed guards.
At 10:00 AM Saturday, we “crack the pits” by shoveling the sand off a lid and placing a shovel under it, that slows the cooking and readies the meat for serving. At High-Noon Saturday we sound the hall siren and serve food until 7:00 pm.

We serve juicy deep pit barbeque beef and pork, baked beens, salad, bread, and your choice of milk, coffee, or water. We sell beer, regular and premium, or a premium dark beer. We sell sodas, and we also have a wide variety of desserts for sale.

The band will be Twango Macallan. The head Twango told me that there will be a six piece combo there this year. They have added a dobro player, and a saxophone. The wonderful Brigette will be delighting us also. They play great music widely appreciated by the crowd.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


You know, sometimes I just love this blog. Just when I think that I've run out of things to post, somebody sends me an email with a new direction. A lady that lives in Mountain View sent me some recipes that I can't wait to try. The sound drop-dead delicious! (literally)

The following recipe is obviously man food, but I'll include our emails first. Marianna van Erp saw my post on Sausage. She emailed me to let me know that our families were acquainted, and give me one of her family recipes.

From Marianna:
The Rathjens brothers were friends of William van Erp, and probably of his father Dirk van Erp, both notable metalwork artisans in San Francisco.
I am the widow of William's son, also named Dirk van Erp, a SF architect. Whenever we had kale and frankfurters, William always mentioned the Rathjens and their wonderful sausage.

From our family cookbook:
Kale and Frankfurters
This recipe, stampot van boerenkool met worst, was brought from Holland by Great Grandma Mary Benama, mother of Josephine van Erp.. The thrifty Dutch use mashed potatoes to extend many vegetables. Be sure to make them buttery. This is better the second day made into patties and sautéed in still more butter. Serve with more butter and good quality frankfurters. Proportion of kale to potatoes is about 1/4 pound kale to 4 or 5 potatoes but may vary as the cook pleases. Dirk van Erp

kale, thoroughly washed, finely chopped
salt pork or bacon (optional but yummy)
mashed potatoes
salt and pepper to taste

Cook kale with salt pork in a covered pot in an inch or two of water until kale is tender.. Drain. Remove salt pork. Chop fine. Make mashed potatoes laced with butter and mix with kale and pork. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with heated frankfurters.

Of course, I immediately emailed her and ask for her permission to publish, then she sent me the following:

You have my permission to use the letter.

When choosing the sausage, I suggest one with a firm texture, a contrast to the rich soft potato mixture.
BTW, I found your blog while looking for an answer in a knotty NYT crossword. I spotted the name Rathjens. Sure brought back memories.
Marianna van Erp
Mountain View CA

Bratwurst is pronounced Brahtwurst. Which means fry (brat) wurst (sausage) in German. Bratwurst is made of pork and veal, or pork and beef, then stuffed into a casing. It is seasoned, and was originally sold fresh and ready to cook. The sausage needed to be cooked thoroughly. Pork should never be served raw. Though cooking bratwurst can be done many ways, the best way is grilled over a bed of charcoal. It is almost impossible to find fresh raw bratwurst anymore. The shelf life is not long enough and has too many chances to pass a food borne illness.

Now that we are past the yucky part, lets talk about Man Food. Bratwurst is usually best served with German potato salad, or the kale/potato recipe above. It is great with sauces, of which there are hundreds. And of course, a good German dark beer. Hot dog wieners are bratwurst, but the off the shelf kind can be particularly disappointing. Bratwurst can be served with a good German sweet mustard. I like Fred's Stone-ground Horseradish Mustard, from Payne's Creek CA.

My only problem lately is finding a really great premium bratwurst. There are lots of recipes for serving them up, but just like anything else, if it going to be great, you will need great ingredients.

What is your favorite Bratwurst???


Sunday, May 22, 2011

After the Rapture

Wow, It was true… I’ve been raptured. I went to bed last night, went to sleep, then soon after I went to sleep I got the sensation that I was floating. I already know what you are thinking, you are thinking that this story is going to end with “then I woke up, and it was all a dream.” I promise you that this is, all, a true story.

As I started floating, I floated up through the wonderful home that my wife and I had built with our own hands. I thought about my daughter that once lived in the bedroom at the end of the hall. I thought about my mother that lives in her cozy little nest downstairs. I thought about the grandkids and I wondered where they were. I thought about my dog. I looked around and I was the only one floating in the air.

I looked down at the beautiful little valley that I live in, as it slowly sunk away. I could see the dew on the fresh spring grasses. I could see a doe with a fawn. It went through my mind that it was the first fawn that I had seen this spring. I could see a couple of yearlings and a buck with no horns. He was eating the fresh young buds and fattening himself for the coming rutting season. I thought about the fact that I hadn’t seen a Johnny-Jump-Up yet this spring, usually they bloom right after the swallows come back, and the swallows have been back for quite some time.

I could see the promise of wildflowers everywhere, and I know from the rain that we had here this year that it was going to be one of the most beautiful wildflower years that we have ever seen.

I looked up into the familiar starry sky, the sky that I often ponder, at peaceful times at night. The sky was velvety black with pin-prick bright stars. I looked around and picked out a few seasonal constellations. They were all exactly in the right place for this time of the year. The Moon was exactly were it belonged. I felt a little ironic smile pull across my face, and thought about: no matter how many things that have changed lately, the sky is much the same as it has been for millions of years.

As I arrived in heaven, I was amazed that God was there to meet me. The Pearly Gates, St. Peter, and judgment thing is all a myth. If you’ve been bad, you don’t even get to see heaven. I looked around and I didn’t see anyone. I thought about all of my family and my friends. I asked God, “where is everybody?”. He Answered that “nobody up here has the same beliefs, so I separate everybody, so there won’t be any disagreements”. In heaven, there is no chance of a disagreement.

I looked down at my body, because I remember that I wasn’t wearing much when I went to bed. I was in a brilliant white cotton robe, and it had a pure gold belt woven out of pure gold fibers the size of a silk thread. I thought about my wife, because she likes to spin and weave textiles. I couldn’t help but think of what it would be like for her to spin and weave with pure gold. I asked if I could see her. God told me no, that she had disagreed with me just yesterday and he had to send her to Hell, because she didn’t feel bad and she didn’t pray for forgiveness. I felt real bad, and I thought that maybe God might have been a little too harsh. I told him that she doesn’t know any better than to disagree with me. He said that’s why it’s in the bible that women are supposed to remain obedient.

I looked around me, everything was either white or gold, there were no people, just God. I thought about all of the organizations that I belong to, and all of the friends and relatives that I had back on earth. I thought about the Fire Department Barbeque is this Saturday. It would be the first one that I haven’t been to in 40 years. This Saturday is the fortieth annual. I thought about the fact that I was in heaven. I asked God, “do I get to fight fires up here or go on any medical rescues? The Rotary club expects to cure Polio this year, I’d like to see that. He said “No, nobody gets sick or needs help up here. If you wanted fire you should have gone the other way” He cast his eyes downward like he thought that “Hell” was a bad word.

I noticed that I had flowing long white hair, I felt real strange, I wondered: “Do you have to comb your hair in heaven?” It occurred to me that It’s been so long since I had hair that I have forgotten how. So, there I stood. Long white robe, and long white hair. God forgive me for my indiscretion. But, I felt just like a “hippie”. I hope all the hippies out there will forgive me. Maybe they will understand if they thought about how it would feel if someone thought of them as Redneck. Get my point?

I looked God in the eye and said: “I know that you and I have never really got along. I don’t really approve of some of the mean things that you do to the poor people on earth, and you seem to not care that you hurt people that don’t have it coming, and you let evil people that should not even be on the face of the earth continue to exist... Look, I feel really great that you thought I was good enough to ‘Rapture,’ but I could never be happy in Heaven, I miss all things on Earth, and if I promise to not be so darn good, can I just stay there?” At first he looked like he was going to say NO. But, like I say, we were looking eye to eye and I think that he saw the dampness of a tear forming on my bottom eye lid. For the first time since before time began, God felt human compassion and said “granted”.

I passed back down through the sky just as dawn was breaking, I don’t think that I’ve ever seen a more glorious morning. There is nothing like being home on Earth. I do hereby solemnly swear, that I will stop being so darn good, I almost ended up in heaven.

God’s honest truth!

Friday, May 20, 2011

The end is near!

Tomorrow, Saturday, May 21st, 2011, is the beginning of the rapture. The rapture is where only the most devout of the most religious will qualify to go straight to heaven. The rest of us will have to linger here until October or something, while God sorts us out. "Okay you go to heaven... You go to 666." "Rapture will occur at 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 21, followed by the end of the world five months later on October 21, 2011."

I'm taking bets, I'm betting that the world doesn't end tomorrow. Only a fool would not take my bet, because if I'm wrong and the world ends, what do you have to loose? If you think that the world is ending, just write me a check, I will hold it until, say, a week from tomorrow. If the world is still here I will cash the check, and you will get to live another day. We should both be extremely happy. Right?

Some Christians are all upset with the doomsday sayers. They think that they are making Christianity look ridiculous... Ummmm. I hate to say this, but what if they are right, and the rest of you Christians are wrong. The doomsday sayers will get to go straight to heaven and you will have to go straight to... well... you know... that hot place.

After all, they are most passionate about their belief. They are obviously very good people, they were good enough to warn us, and here we are ignoring them. Aren't you at least a little bit nervous?

I understand that only a few people will get to go to heaven, you would have to be darn near perfect to get to go up there. Every day there are thousands of babies born. I hear that babies are already born as sinners. Something about original sin. So, we have a hand up on getting into heaven before the babies. I'm not sure that some people would feel good about kicking a baby out of heaven, just so they could have eternal rapture. Something about this whole rapture idea just doesn't feel fair to me. Where do people like me fit in? I tried to be religious, but I thought too hard about it, and if you think real hard some of the concept of religion falls apart.

Now, I don't want to seem too unbelieving. But, just make your checks out to me... and no fair stopping payment if we are still here Sunday.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Lee Wilson, Laytonville


I remember Lee Wilson as a child, but I left Laytonville in 1955 when I was ten years old, so I didn't know him well. One of the joys of being a long time resident, you can always introduce yourself as a descendant of somebody they knew well, you then become accepted as one of the locals. I would have introduced myself as; "Ernie Branscomb, son of Everett and Elsie, Grandson of Ruby". If he still didn't recognize me I would have said that; "I'm John Franklin's, Jim Newland, and Roy Branscomb's Cousin." By then he would be putting it all together and realize who I was. He might say " I haven't seen you since you were a kid, I remember you in diapers". "then there was the time that you got stuck in the piano at church, and then the time that you knocked over the punchbowl at the town picnic". By then it would have been just like old-times again.

Like I said, I didn't know Lee than well, but most of my cousins did. Some of them hunted on his ranch, (With permission)They all talked about Lee with some great story. Most of the stories that I've heard will be held for now to be told first hand at his memorial.

Most of the old time CalFire employees remember him, Calfire was called C.D.F back when Lee worked there. Myself being a firefighter, even if Lee didn't remember me at all we would have had many Fire stories to swap, so I'm sure that we would have got along quite well.

Lee was a life long resident of Laytonville and he was a repository of history, the kind of history that I love to listen to. His story (History) is best when it is told from his mouth into my ears, where you can ask all the questions that you want. The people that hold Lee's stories today are his legend. I would have been very proud to have known him as well as the rest of my family did.

Addendum #1
From Johnathan Wilson, Lee's grand-nephew:

Here are some pictures of Lee.

We also have a copy of a biography of the Wilson family in Mendocino that was printed in the Willits newspaper. In there was a picture of Lee and his dad after a successful deer hunt. I was hopping if you, or one of your blog followers could help me find that picture.

Click on any photo to enlarge:

Lee with a girlfriend Norma Fahy, 1947

(I don't know who this good-lookin' little boy is, but the car in the background is @1950's model. Somthing is out of sync. Ernie)

Alfred Weathern, Marcell Gentillaiom, and Lee Wilson.

Lee is holding me (Johnathan Wilson) on the left, and my twin sister (Ashley Wilson) on the right, 1994

Don Wilson is holding my brother (Matthew Wilson) with Lee to the left 1989.

the last picture is one of his report cards that i found.

last picture of Lee that we have before he died with Brenda Merz.

Monday, May 16, 2011

U.S. hits debt ceiling

Hey... I know that I'm no expert on these things, I only have a superficial grasp of economics. And, Anonymous will advise me to take a walk in the sunshine and things will be better. (I'm not picking on you Anon, you had some valid points, and I appreciate your input) But, we just spent all of our "Economic Recovery" money. Now we are faced with borrowing more... I noticed that the stock market is already falling. The fat-Rats are "profit taking" and running.

Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, "went on to urge Congress once again to raise the country's legal borrowing limit soon "to protect the full faith and credit of the United States and avoid catastrophic economic consequences for citizens."

"Congress, meanwhile, is not showing any signs of budging. Many Republicans and some Democrats say they won't raise it unless Congress and President Obama agree to significant spending cuts and other ways to curb debt."

"How high is the debt limit right now? "The ceiling is currently set at $14.294 trillion. Based on Treasury's announcement, it hit that mark on Monday morning.

Well heck... why don't we just borrow more money? Well, we already borrowed more than our children can pay back, nor our grandchildren... But, hey, our great grandchildren don't owe a thing yet. Should they be allowed to get off Scott Free??? I don't think soooo... Let's saddle them with more borrowed money debt.

Obama is cetainly building himself legacy. Future generations are certain to remember him. I know, I know, The damn republicans were all to blame. Especially that damn Bush. The really good thing is we are going to finally "get over it". "Hell to pay" is getting closer.

here's a link to CNN. I was going to link to Fox News, but the everything-is-fine folks won't believe Fox news


Friday, May 13, 2011

Gloom and doom, and agony on us!

I received an email from Charlie Two Crows. Both he and I have discussed that we are normally upbeat positive people, but we worry… are we fooling ourselves? Whistling through the graveyard so to speak?

As predicted last winter, when we got a bazillion acre tons of snowfall in the upper Mississippi river system, that there would be terrible floods this spring. The floods are starting and there is no clear idea when the farmland will be available for planting. The following is a copy of a email that I received from Two Crows:

It is estimated that the recent US floods will remove 3 million acres of farm land from growing this season. Bill Doyle of Potash corp. a fertilizer company that tracks ag trends. Has noted that last year the world consumed 7 times its normal grain usage. Drawing down US reserves to almost zero. Midwest farmers need a bunker crop to keep up with demand. The floods have changed that!

Ernie I'm not a doom and gloom person, but I do follow the markets close because of my gold sales. I don't think people really realize what's coming. The other day I was leaving a big box store and Home Land Security was handing out readiness kits. With lists of thing to have; 3 months of food and water. Also to have cash. And two backpacks ready, one at home and one hide on an escape route away from home. And six months of med.s . What are they trying to say? And are we ready for what?

I remember when we were in the 1960's we had civil defense and were ready for the cold war. The high price of gas in the US is directly related to Cal-Per s retirement fund. Cal Pers is the largest investor in gasoline futures (through hedge funds) in the US. They’re not satisfied with 8% return. Cal Pers wants 30% return. Some days Cal Pers invests over a Billion in gas futures, driving the price up by $1.50 a gallon retail. And most of your Blog readers will blame Big Oil unjustly. But more than gas, food will be the big player.

I know everything seems ok in everyday life in So Hum. But things could change in the blink of an eye. For reference check Bill Doyle Potash corp. And Home Land Security's home page. Sorry for the Rant.
    Two Crows.
I forgot to give reference for Cal-Pers. They invest through Pimco Bonds and Hedge funds. Just to prove I'm not lying. C2c

I understand and share your fears. Sadly our politicians are owned by crooked corporations, and we are their last concern. I think that it is a good idea to have a large supply of food on hand, but I don't know how we will protect ourselves from the chaos that will ensue when it all falls apart. I see us heading up to that precipice. Our political system is not the same as it was in the sixties, back then it worked, and was responsive to the people.
I was just talking to the sheriff of Humboldt County, Mike Downey a few weeks ago, he said that he was going to have to lay off most of the deputies and close the Garberville sub-station completely if he was going to meet his projected budget. Wednesday I talked to the Mendocino Sheriff, Tom Allman, and told him of our plight. He said with his budget that if he laid off ALL of his deputies and closed the Sheriff’s office he would still be hundreds of thousands of dollars short of meeting his budget. He has notified the CHP in Sacramento who are now, also, the State Police, that they will have to take over law enforcement in Mendo. I talked to my CHP buddies and they say that the CHP has closed their academy from lack of funding. If we are heading into chaos, aren’t we going to need cops?

I hate to be gloom and doom, but what should we do as individuals to be prepared? On top of all of this, what would happen if we also had a major disaster. Earthquakes are way overdue along the west coast. The fire danger is greater that ever with all the brush that is coming back after the logging heyday. I'm sure that they are going to cut Cal-Fire funding, because there is NO money. Not even the Governator Schwarzenegger could solve the funding problem.

I’m running out of reality here. What’s our options?


Viral talking dog video

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Should we see Osama Bin Laden death photos

President Barack Obama decided on Wednesday that he would not release photos of the body.

"It is not in our national security interest ... to allow these images to become icons to rally opinion against the United States," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters at the time. "We have no need to publish those photographs to establish that Osama bin Laden was killed."

I'm not really sure about how I feel about seeing the photos of Bin Laden. I'm sure that they would not shock or offend me. I'm also sure that anything that they showed me could be fake. But, something deep inside me just wants to see them. I must not be the only one. Obama must have wanted to see them, but he's much more important than a plain ordinary American citizen. More important than a cop, or a firefighter or a priest Or any of the people that died on 9-11 at the direction of Bin Laden.

How do you feel about it. Do we as American citizens deserve the respect of being allowed to see our enemy? As Americans we have the right to meet our accussers in a court of law. Is this Different?

Explain to me how you feel. I'm sincerely curious. I added a poll above so you can vote on it.

The final results were:
Should Osama Bin Laden death photos be made available to the public?
53 for--No, no one should see them. It might offend.

32 for--Yes, Americans have the right to see the man that declared war on them.
23 for--Only the President and important politician should see them

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Joe Blow

Some full disclosure on Joe Blow. I'm am not Joe's favorite person.
  Joe was a Southern Humboldt logger that chose to fight the growers and lost. He now lives in Eureka in his fog bank and throws literary darts at people that just try to get along and lead the best life that society allows them, to try to live their lives of quite desperation.

The thing that bugs me the most about Joe Blow is that he was there on the front lines of the confrontation between the loggers and the dope growing hippies. He has a real story to tell. Yet, he would rather berate people and compare them to pimples on real men’s asses, and point out how everybody’s opinions are wrong, yet he never tells his story which I think would be incredibly pertinent.

When the hippies first started growing marijuana, they would grow it on logging land because it was very much against the law to cultivate and they didn't dare risk growing it on their own land because they didn't want to risk land confiscation. The loggers would blade their plants aside. Later they started spraying broad leaf killer for “conifer release”. The spray was more like bug spray because they were trying to eradicate the dope grower as much as for conifer release.

The hippies joined together to get the spraying stopped. They brought out all of the environmental hazards of spraying as a means to stop the loggers from killing their plants. They complained about all kinds of maladies, some real, and some imagined. Women complained about still-births and every malady from acne to hangnail was blamed on the spray to build their case. Out of that “stop the spray” movement came the logging protesters, and today’s pseudo-environmentalist.

The loggers would have been wise to have played ball with the grower and left them alone. If they had, there may have still been a timber industry today.

The growers learned that the tactic of the “Oblique Challenge”, or the “strawman” fight, where the real issue is never mentioned. The latest was the so called “medical” marijuana issue that was used to make marijuana defacto legal. Joe could make the point that the growers have shot themselves in their own foot. They have made marijuana so unrisky to grow that it is becoming worthless.

Joe was in the middle of that fight, yet he tucked tail and ran. So realistically he is just as much to blame with today’s situation as the people that cater to the grower.

I don’t know who Joe, is and I wouldn’t rat him out if I did. Shakespeare said that “a coward dies a thousand deaths a brave man but one”. Joe must have something to fear to stay so hidden. But, while he is anonymous he could tell his version of the marijuana wars, and why he hates me for making my peace with the grower and staying in the canyon that I love. He must kick himself when we are soaking in the sunshine while he is buried in a Humboldt Bay fog bank. But, that must be only one of his thousand deaths, he has many more to go.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Pot Country documentary

I just got back from the University of California, Berkley. I, and some other SoHum residents went to a viewing of a documentary about pot in SoHum... So what else is new?

A couple of very charming, and sincere, students from the U.C. Berkley School of Journalism, named Mario Fruloni and Kate McLean did extensive filming of the local area, and did extensive interviews. They dug a little deeper than the average reporters seem to do, you know, the ones that just want the quick sensational story. Mario and Kate gathered some outstanding historic photography of the "hippy influx" into the Mattole and Eel canyons, what the hippie poet named “Deerhawk” termed as “The Mateel“. The story is filled with stories from marijuana advocates, lobbyists, lawyers and, and of course a legal 215 medical marijuana grower.

They told the story from back in the heyday of the logging boom up to it's demise. Then, they told the story of the heyday of the Marijuana boom up to today... and it's possible demise.

Not in the film, but it is widely rumored that in Berkley,  you can buy "Humboldt Homegrown", from the grower, from $500.00 up to $2500.00, depending on the negotiating skills of the buyer and the desperation of the seller.

Of course, I think that the film is a cut above the average run-of-the-mill marijuana documentary, I'm hoping that I don't feel that way just because I'm in it. I play the part of the grumbley, curmudgeonly ex-logger, that fought marijuana cultivation up until I got to know some of the growers a little better, and found out that some of them are not all that bad. That, and the fact that the economy of Southern Humboldt has become dependant upon the cash that they bring to town.

The film depicted some of the dangerous aspects growing marijuana and having little protection from the law, but mostly it was an upbeat story about the struggles in SoHum.

The film also depicts the arrival of the hippies, and some of their festivities. They had some parties that most people would have liked to be a part of… Some of the archival films were of the skinny dipping parties, and the dances that they had. Some were clothing optional, unless you counted the flowers in their hair, then they were dressed to the nines.

Anyway, I hope that someday you will get to see it, right now it is caught-up in the grinding wheels of academia. The students want to polish the film a little bit, I’m not sure what they want to accomplish from here. But, some of the other students have sold their films to the broadcasters, and will be seen on T.V. I’m guessing that they want to put fuzzy spots over the naked parts, real-life is just not acceptable for T.V.


Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama Bin Laden Is Dead!

Is there a time to kill?  Yes. 

Great day in the mourning
 Is there a time to kill? As I ponder what has just happened, Osama Bin Laden has been killed, I wonder if what I’m feeling is okay? A man, a human being has been killed. Something deep inside of me says that killing should be wrong, and I should not be happy. Well, I can’t be happy because, with me, the feeling of watching those twin towers collapse on all of the humanity comes flooding back. Then I remember the reason that the towers came tumbling down. Knowing that Bin Laden is dead is bitter-sweet, knowing what all of the widows, orphans, and survivors of Bin Laden’s carnage must be feeling right now, I’m sure that most are in tears.

I remember the first time that Bin Laden’s minions bombed the twin towers by parking a truck-load of explosives in the basement. Six people were killed, but the towers stood. President Clinton told Bin Laden that “You can run, but you can’t hide, America will hunt you down.” Then President Bush took on the hunt when Bin Laden destroyed the towers on 9/11 2001. Now Obama has seen the end of Bin Laden. It will be one of the high points of his carreer. He was right to say that our battle is not with Islam, but with Al Qaeda. Our battle should always be on the side of good, and against "Evil Doers", as George Bush would say.

I remember Oliver North before the senate hearings. He was being questioned, his reply is rumored to be as follows:

'Did you not recently spend close to $60,000
for a home security system?'

Oliver replied, 'Yes I did sir.'

The senator continued, trying to get a laugh
out of the audience,
'Isn't this just a little excessive?'

'No sir,' continued Oliver.

'No. And why not?'

'Because the life of my family and I were threatened.'

'Threatened? By who.'

'By a terrorist, sir.'

'Terrorist? What terrorist could possibly scare
you that much?'

'His name is Osama bin Laden.'

At this point the senator tried to repeat the
name, but couldn't pronounce it, which most
people back then probably couldn't. A couple
of people laughed at the attempt. Then the senator

'Why are you so afraid of this man?'

'Because sir, he is the most evil person alive
that I know of.'

'And what do you recommend we do about him?'

'If it were me I would recommend an assassin
team be formed to eliminate him and his men
from the face of the earth.'

The senator disagreed with this approach and that
was all they showed of the clip.

It's scary when you think 15 years ago the
government was aware of Osama bin Laden
and his potential threat to the security of the world.
I guess like all great tyrants they start small but if
left untended spread like the virus they truly are.

Bin laden was also behind the other attacks on the Pentagon, and flight 93 that killed Humboldt County’s own Richard Guadagno from Arcata.

So, it is with some soul searching that that I find that it is okay to be satisfied that Bin Laden is dead. There is a time to kill. If not only for revenge, but to assure the free world that we will be protected from such evil people.