Monday, April 25, 2011

Frank Asbill

Frank Asbill is THE most important character in recording the Eel River Valley’s history.
Much more has been added below, at the bottom of this post:

As I’ve said many times, the thing that I like most about this blog is that it has provided many of us with historical fact, and sometimes fiction, that we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to know without it. I was raised listening to the stories of the Old-Timers. Listening their stories was better than reading an adventure novel. It would be hard for many people to understand, but the Old-Timers that I knew were thankful for their ancestors that tamed the land for us. I have heard many stories of Indian treachery, cattle butchering, and theft. Some thought at the time that the Indian people Had to be eliminated. But, on the other hand I have heard stories about the people that tried, and indeed succeeded in saving the Indians from complete annihilation.

There were many stories of conflict in the settling of the west. The stories that were most prevalent were the stories of treachery of white on white. Many land, cattle, and lumber barons of the west were successful due to their treachery alone. The white on white treachery is the dead give-away that the butchery was not just racial, but greed. Or, possibly need, or desire to suceede. Maybe the grit in their gut was because of what some of the settlers had already been through on their trip to California. Remember, almost all Californians in the 1850’s and ‘60’s had migrated to California from another state or country. Many were hunted and killed on the plains of the west by Indians or thieves in their own wagon trains. One of my very own 3G Grandfathers and uncles disappeared on the trip to California. Death may have come from Indians, thieves, or something as simple as drowning while crossing a creek. Those that made it to California were as tough as nails and they were not about to back down from anything.

The following is about THE most important person in the Eel River drainage history story, Frank Asbill. Say what you will, any many did. He recorded the history of our Valley, without the historical leads that he gave us, we wouldn’t have known where to look. Many dispute his history as hyperbole, but his was the nature of most folks in the early days of the Eel Valley. The Old-timers put on a tough front. They had to be tough enough to scare you away, or fight you, if the case may be. A person didn’t dare appear weak, because the law wouldn’t protect you. Usually “the law” was in the pocket of one of the thug barons. The Eel valley is greatly indebted to Frank Asbill.

Recently Asbill’s niece contacted me to start a dialog about his history. She gave me permission to start a post. Our correspondence is the following:

Hi Ernie,
    I happened upon your website after doing a search on the name of my great-uncle, Frank Asbill. I saw all the posts on your site talking about the murder of Hattie Maud Maher by Frank Asbill and knew I had to email you.. I couldnt figure out how to post on the site or would have done so.
     Anyway, Frank Asbill was my dad's uncle. My dad's mother was Irma Asbill, daughter of Pierce Asbill and Kate Robertson.
     I remember as a child hearing my dad talk about Uncle Frank going to prison for murder. It was something he didnt talk about much, and when he did, he always said it like it was a secret. My dad described Frank as a cowboy, who always wore a cowboy hat and carried a gun. My mother said Frank was a real womanizer, who often lived off women he met. My dad also said Maud Maher was married to a wealthy guy and they had a house in Oakland, but she left him for Frank.
     I know alot about the Asbill history, even though I was born too late to have ever met Frank or my grandmother, Irma. I was born in 1962 in Oakland. My dad was 50 years when I was born, so most of the people from his childhood had already passed away by that time, including both Frank and Irma. I did meet Sybil, Frank and Irma's younger sister, on several occassions.
     My dad grew up in Oakland, in the apartment building that Katie Robertson Asbill Cox Young (she was a busy lady:) bought after she called it quits in the mountains and moved to the city with her daughters. The whole family lived in the apartment building in Oakland..Kate, her daughters Irma and Sybil, their husbands, Alex Kane (my grandfather) and Carl Spiken (Sybils husband).
     I spent alot of years researching the family history. I have a copy of Franks manuscript, Last of the West. I have a copy of a large map that Frank drew showing the spots where signicficant historic events took place, the trail Pierce took over the mountains to Red Bluff in 1856, etc... I also have copies of Franks prison records from San Quentin prison, with his mug shot, the transcript of the court hearing, letters from people in favor of his parole , letters from people against his parole and alot of other interesting stuff.
     Anyway, I dont want to go on too long here. I recognized the name Branscomb from my research.
Write back if you have any interest!!
Jill Kane

I replied:

     I’m very glad to hear from you. Frank Asbill was like a will-0-the-wisp around here. His presence was widely known, but nobody really wanted to say much about him. Most of what I’ve heard has been hyperbolic exaggeration, perpetrated mostly by himself. If you’ve studied him you most likely know that he made up a lot of spoofery. I think that Nona James summed him up the most bluntly: “…Mrs. Cook. She thought Frank Asbill told the truth and I knew he was a damned old liar because he killed a friend of mine down in the north end of this town - Mrs. Mayer. He knocked her down the stairs and he went to jail for a couple of years. His uncle settled Covelo. Frank was sure a rowdy young fella. He had it in for my step-dad, Noble because he was half Indian. His father was a white man. Him and another fellow went to Washington and they was in on that Mexican fight…”
     My fondest wish would be to post anything that you would like to place on this blog. Frank Asbill is one of those historical characters that I’ve heard many stories about, mostly conflicting accounts. I have many readers that really like to soak up these kinds of historical/legend stories. I might add, like any large historical event, I've heard many accounts of the killing of Hattie Maud Maher, also many spellings of her name. I can now accept you as the expert on the spelling... Thank-you.
     So, anything that you can add on this blog would be widely read, and I would be more that glad to have them here. With your permission can I post this correspondence? The Frank Asbill story is something that I would really like to pursue.

Jill Kane replied:

Hi Ernie,
     Yes, you have my permission to post.
Frank may have been prone to boasting and exaggerating when it came to talking about himself and of his father and uncle, Pierce and Frank. However, in his manuscript, Last of the West, I believe he made every attempt to give factual information and did so. He knew the history was important and fascinating, and he didnt want to see it lost. As a result, he left behind invaluable historical information that would have otherwise been lost forever. As you probably know, all of Chapter 7 of Genocide and Vendetta was taken from Frank's manuscript, as well as most of the chapter on George E. White and the one on the killing of Jack Littlefield. The najority of the manuscript has been verified and documented as true.
     I don't defend what Frank did in his personal life, but his knowledge of the history of Covelo and its surrounding areas, its people, and the geography of the area was really quite extensive. With as little formal education as he had, which was not much, he set out to write it all down for future generations.
     Frank, I think, had a sort of love-hate relationship as far a the Indians of the area. If you read his manuscript, he shows alot of reverence and respect for their knowledge and care of the land. But on the other hand, his own father was involved in the early massacres of Indians in Round Valley. Not alot of people know that Pierce's own grandmother was a full blooded Cherokee, so Frank had Indian blood. Johnny Asbill, Frank's first cousin, was half Wailaki Indian and Frank looked up to Johnny. I know Frank grew up with and played with many kids who had white fathers and Indian mothers.
    The Asbills were a strange breed. Even my own father, who grew up in the city, had many of their traits, I believe, He called Mexicans Greasors, and had a derogatory name for just about every race. But if he met someone he liked, it didnt matter what race they were...he liked them. I have a feeling Frank may have been that way.
Jill Kane

Hi again Ernie,
     I just want to clarify that I dont agree with the way Frank spoke about the Indians in his manuscript. He was very derogatory about them most of the time. I think that came from his father and uncle. I have always been ashamed of the fact that my great-grandfather and his brother took part the murders of hundreds of innocent Indians. It's something I have never quite come to grips with and probably never will.
    I have always had a genuine interest in the Indian history and culture of the area. I know the story of what happened to Johnny Asbill after he got out of prison and it is quite interesting.

I'm just anxiuos to post this now I will add to it in the comments.

Addendum #1 From Spyrock

hi ernie, i would love to have a photo copy of last of the west. maybe you can email it to me or snail it to me. thanks, spy

yeh, i've written a few things about this that disappeared on me. just as well.

trying not to scare her off. would like to know if frank ever talked about black bart, butch cassiday or the sundance kid to his own family. that's about the only part of the stories my family doesn't believe. i think this frank asbil who wrote last of the west was pretty much family with the pattons and the simmerlys and that's where he met maude but she probably doesn't know about that. so i'm interested in that connection.

i found a picture of joe simmerly, john's oldest brother, seated. i don't know if that is john or not standing next to him it certainly could be. fred looks a bit different. then jim patton with lottie simmerly. charlotte [lottie] simmerly was born in 1876 at round valley.

jim patton may have been a brother or relative to milo patton who was married to my great aunt sarah kauble patton. milo and sarah ran a ranch for george white east of alderpoint. it was said that frank asbil stayed with them after his parents got divorced while he was going to school.

there was a richard [kink] patton who was another brother to milo who died being dragged to death by his horse. a picture of him is on the blocksburg history website about the pattons. i think both james and richard worked the patton ranch with their brother.

Jim Patton

Jim Patton and Lottie Simmerly

Joe Simmerly and possibly John?

Addendum #2 from Jill Kane

Here's three photos of my dad. The hunting photo was taken in 1928 on Island Mountain. My dad would have been 16 years old. According to him that was the first and last deer he ever shot. The next one is my dad in his thirties, and then the last one is of me and my dad. He was probably 58 or so...I was eight or nine. Note the resemblance of my dad in this photo to Frank's mugshot and they would have been just about the same age. A definite family resemblence.

Kieth Kane at 16y

Kieth Kane at 30y

Kieth and Jill


Hi Ernie,

These should keep folks busy for awhile. Hope you can post these on the blog. You will see, it wasnt much of a trial. I think everyone will find the affidavits in favor of Franks parole very interesting--I'm sure some of the names will be familiar to you. Sybil Spiken, who submitted an affidavit, was Frank's sister, my dad's aunt. She practically raised my dad. Anyway, I'll give you a chance to soak this stuff up, and hopefully post these. I'll post some comments on the blog a little later


Frank Asbill trial transcripts


Friday, April 22, 2011

Fort Knox

Fort Knox Kentucky is where all of the gold, that used to back our U.S. currency is held. You know all that paper stuff that is "Legal Tender for all Debts Public and Private". We've all heard theories that Fort Knox doesn't really have any gold. The feds don't seem to be all that willing to submit to an audit, so who really knows what is hid there. Or, maybe they hid it somewhere else for our safe keeping, After all, we-all, all-of-us, actually own the gold. It belongs to The United States Government. As all of us know, who has ever been past the eighth grade, the U.S. government is us. (Small "us") Government by the people, for the people, and of the people. But you already know all that stuff. So we own our gold, and I want to see it!

I've heard that Ron Paul shares my sense of ownership of the gold. It was his Idea that we should have an audit of the Gold. He is a U.S. Congressman, and he doesn't know if their gold is there, or if it's real gold, or even if it is somewhere else. He's a fairly intelligent and educated man. He is a Medical Doctor. I understand that you have to be pretty smart to get an M.D. behind your name. But, he seems to be a little nervous about his party. It seems when he runs as a libertarian that he never wins, when he runs as a Republican, he wins handily. To me it seems like a republican is as far from a libertarian as it can get. But I know that the Dems don't like him because every time that I Google him I get a Rachel Maddow computer virus.

Anyway, when my cousin "Oregon" and I were little kids, we would counterfeit dimes. We would take a penny and grind the sides and edges off until it was about the size of a dime. You could buy a Coke out of a Coke machine for a dime back then. So, we would spend an hour or two grinding a penny off on the grinder, then head down town to try it in the Coke machine. Usually it wouldn't work. The machine would eat our "coin". Then, back home we would go to grind another "coin". About 1 in 4 worked because we were damn good counterfeiters. If we were lucky enough to get a coke out of the machine, we would have to share it, because we never knew when we might get lucky again. We would take the coke home, get two glasses of the same size out of the cupboard, carefully measure out equal amounts. Then we would go outside sit on the edge of the front deck, dangle our legs over the edge, wrap our poor bloody ground off and bruised fingers around our glasses, click them together, proclaim "Crime Pays", and swallow the mouthful of Coke we got out of it. Now, the moral of this story, is that we NEVER got caught. We were too sneaky evil and devious to ever get caught. The good part is that we left our mark in the machine. I can just see the Coke man when he shook out his can of loot when cleaned out the coin box. Can you imagine his face when he saw our "coins" in the other loot? (Snicker)
That's how I know that those awful bastards at Fort Knox have evilly plundered our gold. They won't even show it to us. Even if we forced them to show us, how could we know for sure that it was gold? I know that my cousin and I would have cleverly made counterfeit gold bullion out of some other phony metals. But after looking at how much things weigh, the only thing that I could fake gold with would be platinum, then gold plate it. Isn't platinum more valuable than gold? I think I know why they won't just show us.

I printed out the chart below, if an amount of water equaled 1,000 the same volume of gold would weigh 19, 320. It's just too heavy to fake.

Metal or alloy- kg/cu.m

Water=1000 (just for reference)
aluminum - melted 2560 - 2640
aluminum bronze (3-10% Al) 7700 - 8700
aluminum foil 2700 -2750
anti friction metal 9130 -10600
beryllium 1840
beryllium copper 8100 - 8250
brass - casting 8400 - 8700
brass - rolled and drawn 8430 - 8730
bronze - lead 7700 - 8700
bronze - phosphorous 8780 - 8920
bronze (8-14% Sn) 7400 - 8900
cast iron 6800 - 7800
cobolt 8746
copper 8930
delta metal 8600
electrum 8400 - 8900
gold 19320
iron 7850
lead 11340
light alloy based on Al 2560 - 2800
light alloy based on Mg 1760 - 1870
magnesium 1738
mercury 13593
molybdenum 10188
monel 8360 - 8840
nickel 8800
nickel silver 8400 - 8900
platinum 21400
plutonium 1980
silver 10490
steel - rolled 7850
steel - stainless 7480 - 8000
tin 7280
titanium 4500
tungsten 19600
uranium 18900
vanadium 5494
white metal 7100
zinc 7135

Anyway, what do you think that the chances of the gold still being in fort Knox Kentucky if they won't even show a Congressman??? Now I'm just not going to sleep nights until I figure out what they did with that gold. My cousin and I could have made a lot of "Coke Coins" with that much gold....


Thursday, April 21, 2011


A person called my wife at work today to ask what was happening next door to me. He said that there were a couple of sheriff vehicles there. My wife didn't know, so she asked me if I knew what was happening. As usual, I was clueless. Sure enough, when I came home tonight, there were two sheriff vehicles still over there. I thought about it a little bit. I decided that I shouldn't interfere, but you know that this is my neighborhood, and what if there was something happening that I should know about. After all, if anyone seriously needed help, I would be the first to respond, so rightfully I should be informed.

I boldly put on my straight face and I walked over next door keeping my hands in clear sight. I walked over to the officer who was eying me with cautious suspicion. I said "Hi, I'm the neighbor next door, is everything alright?" His reply was "we are here serving a search warrant. You will need to ask your "neighbor" after we leave if you need to know anything." I asked if would be okay to take a picture. The officer said that he would rather I not do that. My "neighbor" said that he would really not like me to do that, so I agreed, and didn't take a picture.

I left and went back home, but I was reminded how chief Garr Nielsen must have felt, when the D.A.'s office worked a search warrant on the Eureka Policeman, who allegedly was a one man pharmaceutical distributorship. Nielson was distressed because he felt that he should have been notified that the D.A.'s office was working on his turf. That's how I felt about it. These officers were working my protection zone without even the courtesy of notifying me.

At this point, I'm not sure why that the officers were even there. Maybe the man had an un-bandaged hangnail. who knows? My suspicions just run wild. Ten years ago or so, the last people that got busted there were running "a clone operation". They would have a loud, laughing, party starting about 10 pm most every night, and would start getting into loud arguments about midnight. Glass would start breaking. By 2 am they would go outside and shoot pistols into the dirt bank to keep from killing each other. I complained to everybody that would listen, but everybody said that it "was just a car backfiring". I called the sheriff to complain about the gunfire. They did send a deputy down to tell them to "knock off the gunfire, the neighbor was complaining." ARGHHH... I felt like a sitting duck. Finally the man got drunk and decided to shoot up the chimney cap in the middle of a Sunday afternoon. People were ducking and rolling on the golf course, bullets were wizzing through the trees. Limbs were falling off. Multiple people called the 911 dispatcher. I was laughing like a hyena. HAAAA...HAAA... ha. I told you so! Backfire my ass!

The sheriff, highway patrol, and a swat team showed up. The woman had barricaded herself inside. It was about 95 degrees outside. The swat team was sweating through their black uniforms. I was scurrying around the hillside serving ice-water and cookies to everybody. They told me that I should stay back, that she might have a gun. I stifled the hyena laugh. But, I did manage a "Yeah Right". After complaining about the bullets for a year, they didn't seem that important anymore.

Finally a nice lady who was a female highway patrol told the lady inside. "You need to come out. If the swat team or a dog has to come in they might hurt you. You and I are friends, remember we talked before? Just come out and you won't be hurt. We're friends remember?" Finally the lady came out, and the rather diminutive female CHP had her cuffed and stuffed before you could blink. I remarked that "If that's the way you treat your friends, remind me to never piss you off."

The lady yelled out the car window at me... something about her being abused and that I was serving tea and crumpets...

Anyway that was the last drug house. I'm not sure what has happened this time, but I will say that these people have been very quite neighbors. I'm hoping that it is just the felony hangnail thing...

1945 to now.

I was born on March the 25th 1945. I recently started wondering about the things that have changed since then. So, I looked a few things up.

In 1945 the Dow Jones Average was a low of 155 and a high of 195. Today it’s about 12,506.

The population of the U.S. was 139,928,165. That’s about 140 million. Today the U.S. population is about 311 million. World population was 2.3 billion. Today it's about 6.9 billion. There is a theory that there is more than half the people alive today than has ever existed in all of mankind. That thought hurts my brain. I just doesn’t seem like that could be right! On second thought, it’s probably not right, but a few million here and a few million there, pretty soon it sounds like a lot of people…Also, they say that the world population will be 10.5 billion by 2050.

The average home cost was $4,600.00. The average home cost today is 100 times that. But, our houses are nicer! Back then, a car cost $1,020.00. Why not just round it off to $1,000.00? Because $20.00 was a big deal! You could buy 130 gallons of gasoline for twenty dollars. Get it? Gas was only 15 cents a gallon.

A bomber got lost in the fog and accidentally crashed into the 79th floor of The Empire State Building. Eleven people died. The building stood, and is still standing today. I’m not sure what that says but it is sure different from the Twin Towers on September 11th. Two planes took down two buildings.

What differences do you think are the biggest differences between 1945 and now???


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Spyrock question

I would like info on Charles E Morgan ( Johnny Morgan) and Arra V Morgan my grandparents my father is Charles E Morgan they live on Spyrock mountain and we still have the property there. My father and brother Bill sisters Ruby, Mary Ellen went to school by Marge's old property, we still have the little house by river about the tracts Spyrock is to the right of the house the Diana Simmerlys married Bill Morgan. Any info would be great.
Mary Morgan Childress

Friday, April 15, 2011

Save the Garberville Theatre Benefit Jam

Garberville Theatre Benefit Jam, today Saturday April 16!

The Garberville Theatre is having a benefit jam. Please click on the following links for more information. I tried to paste their poster into this page, but failed miserably. It is best if you click on the following links and brouse through their website.

 I asked Chris Brannan if he could provide me with a bio for "Twango Macallan." I'm not sure what I got, but he assures me that it is the true story of "Twango Macallan." Strangely, it fits very nicely on this Blog. Please read the following story for more info:

Twango Macallan was born out of the chance meeting between Larry Fries and Chris Brannan at a full moon party in Southern Humboldt County. Over several cocktails, Larry and Chris realized that they had a strange musical past in common with each other. Both had known and played music with the legendary and mysterious Twango Macallan at different times around the world. (Larry while running contraband in the South Seas and Chris during his short-lived and ill fated stint as a card shark in New Orleans.) As the liquor flowed and the stories began to unfold, it became clear that each held a key piece of information that would help the other solve a nagging question: Was Twango alive? And if so….What ever happened to him?

Over the next few weeks, Larry and Chris began to play music together and just about the time the boys began to figure out that Twango was indeed alive and living in the back country of Northern California, he showed up unannounced in rare form with a sparkle in his eye and smelling of ether and peaches, wearing only a loincloth and a cowboy hat. As the boys stared in disbelief at the spectacle before them, Twango, with nary an explanation said, “Let’s play boys!” And the Twango Macallan Trio was born.

Well despite the great times the three had playing in the gin joints and bordellos of the Pacific Rim countries, a consistent problem simmered to the surface of their particular brew of eclectic music. Namely that Twango himself was often either in the pokey or no physical condition to sing at gig time. It became clear that the new band needed a dynamic singer that could match the power and soul of the elusive and colorful Twango. So, naturally the boys suggested their spouses or girlfriends at the time. This is indeed a critical juncture that most bands must endure and if possible, survive. The wreckage of many promising bands have been tossed upon the rocks of “Hey my girlfriend can sing!”

Well by pure luck in this case, the Queen of Hearts smiled and granted our heroes the beautiful Brigette as their new lead singer. Her power and vocal clarity matched Twango’s vocal prowess, and persistent rumors about her supposed escape from a Harem in Tangiers fit the band’s rigid criteria for “colorful or questionable past.”

As the trio sharpened their collective skills at such venues as the Benbow Inn and the Blue Lake Casino, they felt that they had a great mixture of their favorite songs from a cross-section of musical palettes, such as rock, country and blue grass. Yet, something was missing. Then one night during a severe electric storm at the band’s secret practice facility, they heard someone fumbling with the security system outside. At that moment a tremendous bolt of lightening struck the short wave radio antenna sending millions of volts through the electrical circuitry and nearly killing Larry. Through the shower of sparks and smoke, the group witnessed a strange glowing phenomenon just outside the vault doors. After starting the emergency power system, they were able to depressurize the bunker and swing the great doors open. To their astonishment, the source of the blue green light was a devilishly handsome, yet unconscious person smoldering in the grass. “Is it dead?” asked Brigette. “Hey wake up! You’re trespassing!” Shouted Larry, “Wait a minute.” said Chris. “Don’t you guys notice something peculiar about his face?” “This guy is spitting image of Twango himself; it is a sign if I have ever seen one!!!” Indeed it was true, a drummer in the form of Mat, the illegitimate son of Twango, (Born out of a tryst in the upper Amazon Basin, thus fulfilling the band’s criteria.), had appeared as if by miracle, and was now lying there, smoking, on the front lawn. “Well, get some whiskey, and a funnel.” Said Larry “Let’s see if he can play like his Daddy.”

Over the years, Twango Macallan grew in popularity and began to open for such legendary acts as The Nestburys, The NPK and country great Marty Stewart. It was during the Marty Stewart gig that Twango showed up again this time in an eighteenth century horse drawn hearse. Naturally, he was riding in the back and as he arose from his casket, (which caused quite an uproar as one could imagine)…he announced that he had booked the band on a concert tour in Laos. The Southeast Asian tour was to be on a steamship that continually toured many of the islands throughout the region. A tropical vacation sounded wonderful to the band so they readily agreed. Mat was happy to be hanging out with his dad again after his long absence and the band eagerly made preparations for the long trip.

Even though Twango could wax poetically for days on the romance of the road, and expand ad nauseum of the wonders of Laos, there was a definite shortage of exact information concerning the details of the voyage. Sure enough, after nearly eight weeks of a storm tossed crossing on the U.S.S. Yankee’s Demise, (a 1924 four masted schooner with an undocumented registry.), the band found themselves on a decrepit dockside looking at a tramp steamer…Steampunk. They also learned that they were now wholly “owned” by Okimo Basterdly, the Steampunks’ captain. It seems that Twango had lost badly at six card snookems the season before and had been forced to sell the band lock stock and guitar amp to Captain Basterdly. Resigned to their fate, and with the encouragement of the heavily armed crew, Twango Macallan boarded the reeking, listing, and rusting steamship.

The Steampunk predominantly carried rum, ether, and tropical fruit to the mainland from the various islands, and diesel, Spam and fruit pies back from the mainland to the islands. Twango Macallan’s job was to entertain the captain, crew, and the steady compliment of undocumented travelers wishing to get from place to place with limited inquiry by government officials. So each evening for four years, they caroused with the smelly staff of the Steampunk and its’ passengers, then played music until the wee hours of the morning.

It was during one of the late night concerts when a large explosion rocked the ship, loosening much of the solid rust that was holding the steamer together and interrupting one of Larry’s solos. The vessel shook violently and a general alarm was sounded through the brass speaking tubes. As it turned out, the ship was under attack by pirates. Oh, and they were a frightful lot indeed. La Jumeau Mauvais, (Captained by Pierre La Grenouille), was crewed almost entirely by conjoined twins with a bad attitude. The battle lasted most of the next day when finally the dregs of the Steampunks’ began to gain the upper hand. Not because they were masterful swordsmen, (Heck most of them were three sheets to the wind during the fight!), it was just that the crew of twins weren’t an effective fighting force and tended to get in each others’ way.

The band had retreated to the crows nest far above and began alternately to throw fruit at the fighters of both sides down below, and place bets on the various sword duels and canon placements. Sometimes a well placed mango dealt the final blow to one of the crew and thus insured a winning bet much to the chagrin of the other betting band member. Through out the intense battle, as each side swung on ropes to the other ship, the band kept noticing a frightfully handsome pair of musicians that were joined at the back of the head. They were joined in such a way that neither could see each other. They however, since birth had been traveling minstrels playing for their daily meals. Their act consisted of both of them standing on a slowly rotating human sized turntable while Antoine from Marseilles played the guitar, and Damien from Toulouse played the Dolbro. Even though they played heavenly, soulful music together since birth, they had never been able to see each others face or explain how twins could be from different cities in Southern France. The crew of La Jumeau Mauvais had constantly marveled how each was better looking than the other as they rotated into view.

Well all of the members of Twango Macallan could not help but notice the pair who continued to play and rotate all through the battle. “Just look at that those guys” said Larry. “How the hell do you suppose they were able to train those monkeys to run in that squirrel cage to power their turntable? He asked. “Forget about that” added Brigette, “Just look at them, they’re nearly as beautiful as me.” Just as Chris was remarking on their musical dexterity, an amazing event occurred. A drunken member of the Steampunk was attempting to open a keg of rum from La Jumeau Mauvais’ storeroom with his large curving dagger when he slipped on a previously hurled mango and careened dangerously toward Antoine and Damien. As he hit the railing of the poop deck, he tumbled head over cart wheeling heals onto the turntable that the monkeys had just powered to the precise angle that allowed the large curving dagger to slice them apart for the first time in their lives. This stunned everyone on both ships…bringing the entire battle to an abrupt halt. “I am finished!” remarked La Grenouille “My muse is gone, I lay down my sword.”

The ensuing surrender negotiations were intense. La Grenouille was asked to list his most valuable assets on La Jumeau Mauvais. They were as follows: His trunk of gold bullion, his cargo of counterfeit Spam, and his beloved captured musical phenoms, whom he called Damn and Baritoni. Unbeknownst to the band, Twango had managed to start winning at seven card strumpet during the previous four years of the bands’ captivity and had worked himself into a position of relative strength for the settling of the reparations. Thus when it was all said and done…..Captain Basterdly got the bullion, Twango Macallan, (the band), got their freedom as well as Tony and Damien, and Twango Macallan, (the man), secured the counterfeit Spam.

The band was set adrift with their new found friends and the counterfeit Spam and proceeded to paddle back to Northern Caliwonder under the navigational wizardry of Twango himself, who was asleep most of the time dreaming of the absolute killing he was going to make in the Spam black-market behind the Redwood Curtain. The severed twins made a remarkable recovery and during the long struggle home, the band, having little else to do but eat Spam and practice became a very tight group. The bedraggle band washed ashore on Blacksands Beach just North of Shelter Cove eight weeks later. All they had left was their instruments, a keg of rum, and fourteen ounces of counterfeit Spam. Twango frustrated about his lack of marketable product announced, “Hell we started with one point five metric tons of my meat-like product how could you guys possibly eat so much in two months?!” “I’m off to my next adventure.” Thus Twango Macallan became a seven piece trio with six members…..

The rest of course is history. Twango Macallan now entertains millions in and around Humboldt County in Northern Caliwonder.
Artists Featured by Twango Macallan
Alison Krauss Tim O’Brian Natalie Inbruglia
Nickel Creek Hank Williams Kristen Hall
Bonnie Raitt Bob Dylan Amanda Marshal
Sheryl Crow Dolly Parton Creedence Clearwater
The Eagles Fleetwood Mac Ricky Skaggs
Darrell Scott Gene Autry John Hartford
The Beatles Dixie Chicks Jim Croce
The Stray Cats Don Henley Peter Rowan
Linda Ronstadt Nora Jones Merle Haggard
Mary Chapin Carpenter Allman Brothers James Taylor
Winnona Judd ZZ Top John Prine
Pure Prairie League Lonnie Mack Dan Fogleberg
New Riders of the Purple Sage The Band

Twango Macallan is currently writing and performing many original songs as well. Recording will begin in 2011 for the first CD project!

For Booking information contact:
Larry Fries (707) 943-1606
Chris Brannan (707) 923-1100
Bio Section
Chris Brannan was born in a log cabin in Arcadia California. He and his family moved up to Humboldt County in Northern California during the great 1964 flood. Chris’ Mother bought him his first bass in high school. It was then he became famous. He headed out to make his fortune in New Orleans as a riverboat gambler. Only to find much to his disappointment that the hey-days of this profession peaked with Mark Twain. Thus it became necessary to frequent the questionable Cajun back alleys in search of a game or opportunity. An opportunity came a knockin one day in the form of Twango Macallan. Twango took a liking to Chris because of his ability to play the bass while unconscious. This particular talent served Twango well when it came time for the band to get paid at the end of the night, allowing Twango to collect two checks. After a few months Twango hatched a scheme to “borrow” a few kegs of white lighting from a local gangster and sell it back to the same distiller a few days later. The money flowed in and the boys purchased a lavish townhouse in the French Quarter. All was well until the miscreant started to wonder why he was going broke. About this time Twango and Chris arrived with another shipment, which unfortunately was recognized by the dastardly rascal. Running for their collective lives through the swamps, they just started to think they had made it unscathed when a hot slug of lead found its’ target in Twango’s butt. He howled in anguish at his bad luck and the fiery sensation emanating from his hind end. Later that night at the gig they agreed it would probably be best to head out to California where there were less swamps and bullets.

Larry Fries was born in a log cabin in the Rocky Mountain area of Colorado. Raised as a rough and tough mountain gunslinger Larry was feared high and low. Not so much for his slinging of bullets as his actual ability to throw weaponry. Once while playing with the formidable Colorado Stump Jumpers, he sighted a lone cow poke slumbering in the back. He slung his 44 magnum pretineer one hundred and fifty yards dropping the man in a pool of his own drool to the cheers of an enthusiastic crowd. By a relatively young age, Larry had it all. He was playing semi-pro baseball during the days, singing and pickin with the best bands in Colorado at night and running his own still in his spare time. Yet wanderlust called him out to the seven seas. With his considerable savings from moon shining, he bought a Chinese Junk and toured the South China Seas. Late one night he was raided by pirates led by the one and only Twango Macallan. The ever-wagering Twango gave him one chance to live. “Convince me not to send you to the Mermaids.” Larry picked up a guitar and sang about the sweetest sea going ballad that Twango had ever heard. With tears in his eyes, Twango said, “Free this man for he is my new executive officer in charge of booze and music making.” Together they toured the world doing just that.

Brigette Brannan was born in a log cabin in Los Angeles California. It was clear she was a natural entertainer performing her first concert at the age of four with a three string guitar for a field of cows. After gaining notoriety and popularity in a host of Northern California bands, she decided to expand her career to Europe. All was going well until her shady manger suggested that her band be booked to a series of lengthy engagements along the Northern African coast. It was there that the band found out they had actually been sold to a minor Euwanian Sultan then living in Tangiers. As happens in any hostile take-over, the band was broken up and resold for a profit. Brigette however was to stay in as a “guest” of the Sultan within his kingdom walls. Tasked to “sing like a songbird” to the setting sun, among other duties, Brigette spent her days playing in the Mediterranean Sea and dreaming of escape. The Sultan, (known as “Frank the Simian” to the locals.), traveled often. Thus he felt that he needed a manager for his “guests” who happened to be all women, when he was out of town. The small kingdom was soon consumed with the nation-wide search for the royal host. One night a mighty storm washed a shore the remnants of a once fearsome Chinese junk flying the California flag. Out of the wreckage climbed Twango and his XO Larry. Twango managed to spin wonderful yarns which show cased his tremendous feats of bravery and adventure for the Sultan’s entertainment. Surely, the Sultan concluded, this was the right man for the coveted “Minister of Love” position. Thus the fox was given the keys to the hen-house and Twango threw himself wholeheartedly into his duties. All was well in the kingdom until Frank returned from a high altitude belly button worship seminar in Peru to find the lovely Brigette, (The fairest of them all.), hidden away in Twango’s private quarters. This of course did not set well with his Simianismo and the Castle exploded in confusion. Fortunately through the smoke and fire Brigette, Larry and Twango made their escape by pretending to be marble statues on a barge heading for Corsica.

Matt (Macallan) Hanf was born is a log cabin in Berkeley California. He started pounding on various objects at a very young age. Thus it was decided that all of his extra energy should be focused in a positive direction. (It was Berkeley after all.) By the time he was six years old he was head of the Drummer Underground Movement, president of La Battierra Liberacion and part time professor of Rhythm Technology at UC Berkeley. It was then he learned the truth about his lineage and became fascinated with the lore surrounding Twango Macallan. At eight years old, he set off to seek his fortune and his Dad by jumping on tramp steamers around the world and playing drums to make ends meet. When he finally caught up with Twango in the Virgin Islands, the encounter was much different than he had expected; in fact, he was met with a hail of gun fire. The ever suspicious Twango had mistaken Matt’s ecstatic exclamations as the glee of a delirious revenuer on the verge of a career enhancing collar. It was soon sorted out however and the two bonded together in the magic that can only be found in music or rogue scalawagery.

Damien Roomets (Nester) and Tony Nester, (Roomets) The identical twins were born in different log cabins in Southern France. Damien was born in Toulouse and Tony was born in Marseilles to different fathers. Their wondrous birth started in Toulouse, with Damien being born in his fathers’ log cabin. But when the attending doctor noticed that indeed the heads of the two future superstars were connected, they immediately left the cabin and raced for the hospital in the big port city of Marseilles. They had just approached the outskirts of the city when their mother announced…”C’est l’end of the line amours…Antoine is ready to vivre!” So they pulled the mighty Peugeot into the first log cabin they could find, which ironically, was Tony’s fathers’ log cabin. It was a great joy to all concerned to have the family all back together again for such a momentous occasion. Soon thereafter, Tony made his appearance and the assembled family marveled not so much at the unusual er, connection the boys had, but that; 1) They were extraordinarily handsome, and 2) Whenever they cried out, they did so in perfect harmony, 3) They could stand, leaning against each other, back to back pretty much from birth!

Since they always spoke and cried in harmony, it was natural that they started a singing duo at a very young age. They were soon famous all over France and certain parts of Canada. Unfortunately, they had also captured the attention of the evil Captain Pierre La Grenouille, who immediately made plans to intercept the two on their way to Canada for their first world tour.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A little update on the Dobynn Creek slide

Okay, I'm going to be downloading photos, so keep watching.......the top four were taken facing west. (into the sun. bad timing) The bottom two were taken from the center of the bridge facing west. (more or less) Click on photo to enlarge.

Saturday, my wife made the statement that if we weren't doing anything Sunday, she would like to ride over and look at the Dobynn Slide. So, I wisely arranged to not be doing anything, and I drove her over there. I'm glad that I did, it was a sight to behold. The whole east side of the mountain, from the creek to almost the top has slid down. It pushed its way across the stream and up against a large rock. The gumbo mud with the trees and brush made a very effective adobe dam that even a beaver would be proud of. The water is about thirty feet deep and it has backed up about a mile. I got some fabulous photos that I will add here later, when I figure out how to get them off my new cellphone camera. The email program is not working and I can't send them. When I get to work, I can bluetooth the photos into the computer there. Ain't tecknollogy wonerfull?

Right now the slide is stalled at about half slip. There is a rather large bulge at about the middle of the slide that is slowly forming. In technical terms it is called an "alluvial rotation", where a huge dollop of mud slowly rotates up to the point where it simply takes a crap and slides down the mountain. Like watching rain gather on glass until it reaches critical mass and trickles down the glass. At the top of the slide several springs can be seen, ominously,  trickling over the edge, and some water is pushing out of the exposed blue clay that the the whole slide was based on.

Diana Totten, and the Coleman Brothers Construction Company is in charge of the slide mitigation. They and local volunteers have saved the day.  The work that the crew has done out there has surely saved the house that is located in the new spillway, and the county road bridge, which would have probably been undermined on the south end. The crew sandbagged the water out onto the bridge and let it spill over the side instead of washing down the embankment, where it would have undermined the bridge and possibly have caused it to collapse. Shear genius! Then they used three culverts across the pavement and down the other side onto the rip-rap. They spaced them wide enough to not undermine with water, like they will do if placed to close together. Those kinds of things are things that you just have to know how to do. The average person would be clueless.

Dianna Totton, the Dobynn Slide consultant, is a friend of mine. Her dad was ahead of the state Highways in the Garberville yard before his death, and Diana has a lot of road and earth-moving equipment experience in her own right. She has been watching the large rotation with some degree of apprehension. The slide has already done several alluvial rotations and taken several craps. So it's now a waiting game to see if this rotation builds enough weight to let loose again or simply stabilize and become firm enough to last another ten thousand years or so, or until the soil becomes tight enough to hold the water back, the water that is hydraulicing the soil loose from the top and underneath the large dollop of mud, and send it down the mountain like a large cowpie. When that happens, I wonder if they will still be looking for someone to take the blame for Mother Natures wonderful sense of humor. I can hear it now: "Back in the 50's, some damn fool with a bulldozer went up there and stirred that soil all up, and now ten thousand years later, we have to pay the price. Damn loggers anyway!" I wonder who the old Indians blamed for these canyons that we have here? I bet it was a Coyote. "Darn Coyote scratched that soil all up now it slid."

Alluvial rotations happen all over the north coast's loose soil, and are very distinctive. You can see them all over the place if you know what you are looking for. On a broad sloping hillside you will see a little indentation in the hillside above, and a little point of land that pooches out. It is one of the most enticing building spots that you will ever see. "Look Martha, at that little flat over there, wouldn't that be a nice place to build a little house with a nice duck pond and maybe a vegetable garden?" Many an old-timer has succumbed to the allure of building a house on an alluvial rotation, and most old-timers were sorry. Fortunately today we know better... or do we? I guess that is part of "The wisdom of the people that live there" that I was talking about in my header at the top of the Blog.

But, the good part, that Diana knows, and the "Old Indians" know is, that the north coast is building land faster than it is slipping away, In the 1989 earthquake Petrolia gained 4 feet of elevation, and Kings peak grow 16 inches. That is a lot of soil to wash away folks! Diana made mention of that fact in her "Citizen of the Year" speech when she related that she had stood on the top of Kings Peak and contemplated the awesome knowledge that it had grown 16 inches in her lifetime.

The Earth gives, and the Earth takes away.

More on the Dobynn Slide: Click this link


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

December 1964, 35 inches of rain!

     For the first time in many years, all the water reservoirs in the state of California are full, and the snow pack in the mountains is deep. The month of March had the steady, prolonged type of rain the ranchers like, the kind that soaks in deeply and keeps the springs running all summer. Sadly, some people have paid a heavy price for all of this glorious moisture. Houses and roads are slipping slowly into the canyons. Nobody is really to blame, Mother Nature is a bitch.
     It is especially sad to me to see someone lose their valuable possessions. I’ve seen that devastation many times at house fires. I’ve always thought that it was strange when a hurricane or a major flood destroys a bunch of houses, FEMA or some other governmental agency steps in a provides new housing for them. But, if ONE house burns or slides down the canyon they just look at it like it was a small loss, and not do a thing. Let me tell you folks… when you lose everything, you loose everything. It doesn’t matter how many other people lost everything, it only matters that YOUR family is doing without.
     After putting everything in context, it seem like a good time to talk about December 1964, where a good percentage of people lost everything to a major rainfall. There was a slide similar to the dean creek slide at least every five miles. Most of the bridges and roadways were also washed out. Not just in Humboldt County, but all over northern California. I won’t even try to describe it because people can’t picture it in their minds. Even when they can picture how bad it was they start trying to lay blame. Like it was caused by ranching, logging, road-building or some other fault of man, but it wasn’t that it just rained incredibly hard.
     How hard, you say? Well there was 35 inches of rain in December, the first part of which collected as snow, about 1 foot deep in the Valleys like Laytonville and Branscomb. And about 3 feet deep on Bell Springs ridge, and about 4 feet in Kettenpom. The rain then turned warm and started raining like a thundershower. In the last five days it rained 27.5 inches. The snow melted with the torrential rain. “In the last 4 hours of the heavy rain, it rained 7 inches, and in one of those last hours it rained 4 inches.”
I not telling you this to belittle the loss of the people today, but this is one of the rare opportunities that I’ve ever had to try to convey to people how hard it rained in 1964.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Remember "Love Boat"?

I remember a time when "Love Boat" was required viewing in my home. (1977) Not by me, of course, I was always more interested in the more worldly stuff like "Dukes of Hazard" and "Petticoat Junction". I had to laugh the other day, when I ran across this review distributed by the Associated Press at the inception of the show. I don’t know of anybody that ever pays any attention to a reviewer. They are always way too snarky and full of themselves, plus they always get it wrong. Anyway I reprinted the review below. I even corrected the typo’s for the newspaper that it came from. 1977 was before the digital age and everything was done by hand, including setting the type.

     September 24, 1977. Los Angeles (AP) - In recent debate on TV quality, ABC programs chief Fred Silverman said a lot of ideas submitted for programs are awful. Today, ABC will premiere a prime-time example.

     It’s “Love Boat,” A new one hour series trying for romance and comedy aboard a cruise ship, the Pacific Princess. It’s sort of a bad “Love, American Style” with life preservers. Gavin Macleod, a good actor last regularly seen on the “Mary Tyler Moore Show,” plays the Captain of ABC’s ship of foolish.

     Other regulars are Lauren Tewes as a pretty cruise director, Fred Grandy as mildly dense assistant purser, Bernie Koppel as the ships doctor and Ted Lange as the ship’s barkeep.

     As is with the custom with most new ABC ventures, Saturday’s yarn features guest stars of established series on the theory that they will bring their fans with them and boost opening night ratings.

     On hand from CBS is Bonnie Franklin of “One Day at a Time” and Jimmie Walker of “Good Times.” ABC’s delegates are Suzanne Somers of “Three’s Company” and Meredith Baxter-Birney of “Family”.

     NBC is a no-show, but so is “Love Boat,” which spins three tales by as many writers during it’s maiden voyage to various Mexican ports.

     Miss Franklin plays a nasty, domineering woman wed to a director of the company owning the ship. As she boards, Grandy makes a big fuss over her. Sneers she: “Lord, I love an obsequious runt.”

     She is also harsh with Macleod, but for reasons that are too personal and predictable to go into now - or ever.

     Miss Baxter-Birney is on the cruise ship with her fiancĂ©, a handsome young congressman. She is worried he’ll find out she is the centerfold lady in a Playboy-like magazine called “Kitten.”
     Seems that while she was an impoverished law student, she put on a black wig and posed in her birthday suit to raise funds. Now the picture has turned up in an edition of “kitten” sold on the ship. She is embarrassed and ashamed and spends most of her time on a belated cover-up.

The review just ends there, like hanging in air. Maybe they used it as a filler and didn’t need any more words. It’s just that it bugs me when things end funny, like they know something that I’m supposed to know, but I don’t.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Keep Road open

I just got this note from "Taxpayer":

"I have had several calls today about highway 101 closing at 6:00 pm tonight, Monday. tell your friends to call cal trans, highway patrol, supervisors and tell them there is no way the road needs to close. There is k rail in place. There are spotters on site if the slide were to move again in such a matter to be of concern for the traffic. The sun and wind are drying the mud slide as we speak. People who are working in areas both north and south that would be impacted by closing the road needlessly. Make your calls. it is important to let them know we are watching."

If there is no good reason to close the road, it should be left open. Much of the economic engine of Humboldt county runs at night. Most all of the freight come in and out of Humboldt county at night UPS, FED-X, Efficiency Service, and general trucking runs at night. If they are closing the road for the convenience of the contractor, that is a poor excuse. His contract should include opening the road and leaving it open.

With the whole north coast shut down, this would be a typical example of a dollar waiting on a dime. I personally have two jobs in progress that I'm waiting on parts for. I hate to think what the road closure is costing us collectively.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Carl's Slide

Here's a little slide history for you. Robin Shelley worked for The Ledger (Laytonville) at the time. She was kind enough to send me this note and the enclosed photo’s. The slide is obviously "Carl's Slide". Located about ten miles north of Leggett a few yards north of Carl's Coffee Shop, and a few yards south of "Howling Wolf Lodge"

Hi, Ernie,
Here are two pictures from a slide that occurred north of Leggett sometime in late 1970s/early 1980s. Merle Askew from The Ledger & my husband flew up with a guy named Wayne from L'ville to take pictures. I don't remember the location but I'm sure you do. I know it's not Confusion Hill - ha!
Hope all is well with you & yours,

When the slide came in, they say that it came in in one big fell-swoop. It originally went clear across the river, and they were evacuating downstream. The river backed way up, but it slowly washed its way back through, and a large percentage of the slide washed down the river with the water that cut through it. The brush and trees on the far bank from the slide were removed from the water spilling over and cutting it's way down the bank. 

The dozer on the right side of the photo was building a road to the top of the slide to start peeling the bank clean. As you can see when you drive by today, the dirt and rocks are removed clean down to bedrock.

THANKS ROBIN! (Yes, I'm shouting!)


Photo by Lindsey Locke. Photo of the Dean Creek Slide today.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Local tragedy compounded by lack of income.

In the past when we have had local disasters, such as landslides and road failures, the residents and businesses have suffered greatly. We have suffered  from loss of jobs because people couldn’t get to work, and businesses suffered from loss of sales because people aren’t able to travel freely. The upside has usually been that the local contractors and truck drivers get work repairing the damage, so the disasters hurt a few, but help other locals, so it all comes out in the wash. Some of the money that we have paid in taxes comes back to stir the economy, so we can send the money back in taxes again.

Maybe I’m speaking out of turn here, and if I am, please correct me and I will sincerely apologize. But, I haven’t seen one damn piece of local equipment on the slide repair. Have all of the local contractors and truckers said to hell with it? 

Also, I’m no expert, but I know people that would have had that slide open within two days. Three little excavators are like three kids with tablespoons in a sandbox. They need dozers and earthmovers to stack the dirt back down the wide turnout. The road could have been passable long ago!

I really would like an explanation as to why Caltrans approached this repair without any local opportunity whatsoever.

If there are any local people that would have liked to have their equipment on this job and were not given the opportunity. I would seriously like to hear from you. Or if you have an opinion about this project, please comment.

The one silver lining is that our local state and county workers are getting some good overtime pay. Too bad the local contractors are sucking hind tit.

Jet boat past slide!

Imediately available: Jet boat passage from Dean Creek to Sylvandale, and from Sylvandale to Dean Creek. Leaving every hour on the hour from Dean Creek and leaving every hour on the half hour from Sylvandale.

One-way trip ticket $20.00.
Round trip $35.00

For information and tickets click on this link: Bypass the slide tickets

Laser Stereo

Times-Standard, dateline September 24, 1977:
Tokyo (AP) --- “Laser sound,” A futuristic record player without a needle, was heard in public for the first time Friday at the 26th All-Japan Audio Fair. The machine uses a powerful laser beam instead of a needle to pick up musical sounds.

The machine went on to become today’s CD technology. Who would have ever thought that something so complicated would surpass the simplicity of the needle in the grove record player?

Nobody in 1977 had even heard of the concept of the cell-phone, let alone the fact that you can download the worlds supply of music onto a micro-chip and listen to it on your cell-phone.

Are we better off?