Category Archives: art

The LYGSBTD 2014 Holiday Gift Guide

holiday-gift-guide 2014

That time of year has arrived again. It’s the time when Americans go to the stores to buy a bunch of useless crap for people they don’t care about. It’s our way of saying “Sorry I haven’t looked up from my screen once in the past year, please accept this tangible object as evidence supporting the allegation that I still care.”

Allegations

It’s a touching sentiment, but poorly placed. Sure, you can’t help the fact that you have real people around you. There’s 7-fucking-billion people on this planet. There’s bound to be at least one or two in your immediate vicinity. You probably have to share a bed with one, because things are so tight these days, but does that mean you have to care about them? Hell no! At least not now that we have the internet.

hell no kitty

Today, the people we care about appear on a glowing screen in front of our face, and because of the internet, we can all care about the same two-dozen or so people, the Kardashians for example, and nobody has to give a rats ass about the other 6,999,999,952 of us. That clearly constitutes a step forward in speed and efficiency, and we should maximize these gains by avoiding even the pretense of an emotional connection with anything squishy.

squishy

Instead, this is a great time of year to direct those warm feelings of gratitude, kindness and generosity that characterize our innate human nature, towards those deserving individuals behind the screens. Please Support the people who make you laugh, the people who make you think, the people who bring you an interesting perspective, and the people who dig up funny pictures for you every week, all year, year after year, and by “the people,” I, of course, mean “me”. This is a great time to support this blog. Please support lygsbtd, the irreverent, independent, outspoken voice of “the people” in Humboldt County.

me

Still, you may want to give a gift to someone other than me this holiday season, if for no other reason, than because you know that they are going to give you a gift, and you don’t want to be caught empty handed. So, you go shopping, but what should you get for people you hardly know and have barely spoken to? Never fear, lygsbtd is here, to guide you through the madness.

holiday-shopping-madness-

It helps to know the age of the person you are shopping for, especially if that person is a child. Children can be the hardest to shop for, because fad toys change every year, and unless you are a kid, you really don’t give a fuck. It’s never a good idea to talk to children, and the worst question you could ever ask a child is “What do you want for Christmas?” Don’t do it. Take my advice and stick with a classic, tried and true, age appropriate toy for young children.

candy cigarettes

For newborn infants, forget it. I can’t think of one good reason to give a gift of any kind to a newborn infant. The Three Wise Men of the Bible were the Three Stooges as far as I’m concerned. Think about it. Do we ever hear about those Three Wise Men again, at all, in the rest of the Bible? Fuck no! Jesus didn’t hang with those guys. They were, like, friends of his parents or something. He didn’t remember that gift. He was just a baby.

wise guys

That’s my point. Baby’s don’t know anything. They aren’t expecting a gift, they didn’t get you one, and no matter what you get them, if it isn’t Mommy’s boob, they’re not interested. So, don’t bother giving a gift of any kind to an infant. If you absolutely must give a gift to an infant, the perfect gift for an infant is: a bottle of Scotch.

scotch3

Bottle of Scotch  If you give a baby a bottle of Scotch, whoever is taking care of the baby will, of course, immediately take the bottle away from the baby. After that, one of two things will happen. Most likely, the person taking care of the baby will eventually find themselves so ragged and bedraggled from the responsibility that they will take to drink. If so, that bottle of Scotch will taste like nectar to them, and they will appreciate you for understanding.

tooth fairy drunk

On the other hand. It is possible, though unlikely, that the person taking care of the baby will save the Scotch, in a secure location. Years later, when the baby has grown up and reached the appropriate age of, say 18 or 21, This dutiful guardian might then present this thoughtful gift, now aged an additional 18-21 years, to the young man or woman to whom it was originally gifted, along with the story of how you gave a bottle of Scotch to a baby for Christmas. If so, that young man or woman will think that you are the coolest old fart on the planet.

cool old farts

See, you can’t go wrong when you give a bottle of Scotch to a baby. But maybe you’re not right in the head, and if you have an infant, that’s a pretty good bet. If you like it wrong, it don’t get much wronger than this:

thongies

Thongies Because diaper lines look so unflattering under a onesie.

onesie

These days, we try to be “gender-neutral” with kids toys. We don’t have toys for boys and toys for girls, we have toys, and we let the kids decide which ones they want to play with. Dolls always work with kids. All kids play with dolls of some kind at some time in their childhood. Here are a few of my favorites, starting with some baby dolls:

shave the baby

Shave the Baby Here’s a real hairy baby doll, that comes with a real razor. Every little kid should learn how to properly shave a baby before they have to do it for real.

babys first baby

Baby’s First Baby You may laugh, but these plastic toys contain all kinds of endocrine disrupting, hormone mimicking chemicals that wreck havoc on our reproductive systems. Hairy, pregnant infants may not seem so odd in the future. I suspect that these toys are more popular in industrial cities in China, where they’re made, because hairy, pregnant infants have already become normal. Then again, maybe if you hadn’t shaved the baby, and then tarted her up in those Thongies diapers, the baby wouldn’t BE pregnant, now would she?

Pope-Francis-wags finger

The teenage girl doll remains popular, whether they’re plastic miniatures, or life-size inflatables, who doesn’t love a teenage girl doll? Barbie remains the Grande Dame of teenage girl dolls. This new Barbie has a feature I can scarcely imagine:

barbie_squirts

Barbie Squirts Squirts what? From where? And then there’s this:

cesarian barbie

C Section Barbie Again with the pregnancy thing. Barbie has to have a C-Section, because Barbie never had a vagina. We don’t mind that her stomach opens like a toilet seat to reveal a tiny plastic fetus, but we’re offended by the idea of a teenage girl doll with a vagina. I suppose it can’t hurt to teach kids about basic human physiology with toys, and maybe it’s a good idea. I guess that’s the idea behind these:

period doll

Period Doll  I thought “period doll” refereed to a doll dressed in a costume reminiscent of a particular historical period. I guess getting your period can be an empowering thing, if you are a young woman. Why not make it into a superpower? Every superhero needs a supervillain to battle:

blood bath action figureBlood-Bath Betty  Here’s another period related gift idea:

maxi-pad-sticky-notes

The Maxi-Pad Writing Pad Give this to your teenage daughter for Christmas. She won’t like it, but she’s not going to like anything else you do for the next ten years, so don’t waste your time trying to please her.

Teenage girl rolling her eyes in front of angry parents

Then we have role-playing adventure dolls, or “action figures” as they’re commonly called. A popular TV show can often spin-off some popular action figure dolls. Such is the case with these:

breaking-bad-action-figures

Breaking Bad action figures

breaking bad action figures2

Your “little tweakers” will love playing with these toys. The figures are each sold separately, and they each come with tiny bags of “meth” and a recipe for cooking up more, using an Easy-Bake light-bulb oven.

easy bake meth labEasy-Bake Meth Lab  Perhaps those characters don’t seem like the kind of role-models you want your kid to emulate. Instead, you might want to encourage your kids to aim a little higher in life. Why not let them take inspiration from the the most influential man of the 20th Century:

hitler action figure w leni

Der Fuhrer is a tremendously popular toy that has taken the world by blitzkrieg. You can buy literally millions of accessories for him. This is my favorite:

hitler action figure ss

The Der Fuhrer ipod docking station This toy comes pre-loaded with five of Der Fuhrer’s most stirring speeches, and it has an input for your music player or computer, so you can “rock out” with Adolf, but there’s much more:

waffen ss

Waffen SS

panzer tank

Panzer Tank Brigades

luftwaffe

The Luftwaffe

scale model whores

The Brothel at Berchtesgaden, and no fascist putsch would be complete without:

concentration camp6

Concentration Camp  Collect the whole Third Reich! But these toys might be too intense for some more sensitive children. Sometimes you want to give a kid something soft and cuddly, especially if they are going through a rough patch, like a death in the family, or maybe a parents divorce. In that case, get the kid a plush toy. Here’s a pair that come together. I guarantee that these two will cheer-up even the most severely traumatized child.

pee and poo

Plush Pee and Poo Plush Pee and Poo teaches kids that it’s OK to play with their excrement, and that it’s soft, and squishy and feels nice, an important lesson for any deeply traumatized child.

traumatized child

There we have a few ideas for gifts for kids, but what about the adults on your shopping list? Why are there adults on you Christmas gift list? Do they still believe in Santa Claus? I mean really. Grow-up for Christ’s sake. If you’re are sick of buying gifts for people, here’s a gift for someone you really hope you won’t have to buy a gift for, next year:

gun-comb

The Gun Comb Give someone the Gun Comb, and if they use it, a cop will probably shoot them dead before next December. Does that sound a little paranoid? Here’s a gift for paranoid people:

youre_being_watched_wall_clock

The Eyeball Clock  There’s a camera mounted in the center, so you can keep an eye on them. Paranoid people prefer to stay at home, and they should be encouraged to drink soothing herb tea, rather than coffee. Here’s another great gift for just that kind of homebody.

charles manson teapot

The Charles Manson Teapot That’s some CRAZY good tea! The problem is that lately, fewer of us have homes, which means fewer of us have anyplace to put the crap that people give us for Christmas, but we all need clothes, and here’s an article of clothing that I think has the potential to change the way we live.

personal theater hat

Personal Theater Hat This one product could replace the multiplex, the living room and the apartment for million of people in coming years. A smart phone hangs from the elongated bill of the hat, beneath the curtain. In the future, this is all the privacy that many of us will ever know.

picnic-pants-wingsuit-jeans

Picnic Pants. Another technological innovation in clothing. Behold the dining room of the future. Imagine this future. Billions of people in picnic pants and personal theater hats, shoveling prefabricated snack-food from their stretchy lap tables, into the dark abyss beneath their personal theater hats. Where do all of these people sleep?

ostrich-pillow-desk

Ostrich Desk Pillow. Welcome to the future. Maybe you’re ready for this gift:

toy noose

Toy Noose. I’ll be back with part two, next week. Don’t forget to put me in your will. Happy Holidays!

happy holidays from cocacola


Pacific Fishers, Owls, and Telepathic Gorillas

Pacific-Fisher horz

This week, two radio programs that I co-produce with my beloved partner Amy Gustin, will air on our beloved community radio station KMUD. First, at 5pm on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday November 27, KMUD will air the latest episode of Wildlife Matters. I just put the finishing touches on it this morning. Wildlife Matters #3 will focus on the Pacific Fisher (Martes pennanti) an elusive, formidable, and unbelievably cute forest carnivore.

fisher in tree

Mourad Gabriel, fisher expert, and Executive Director of the Integral Ecology Research Center generously invited us into his home, and allowed Amy to interview him at length.

Mourad_fisher_UCDW-716x1024

He told us everything we needed to know about fishers, and the crisis they face due to extensive use of rat poison by marijuana growers, hiding-out in the fisher’s deep-forest habitat. We spent more than an hour seated around the dining room of his family’s home, while his wife, Greta Wengert, also a Ph.D biologist, attended to their infant child in another room, to give us some quiet time for the interview.

greta wengert

The show came out great! We had more good material than we could fit in one half-hour show, so in next month’s show we will talk more about the problems associated with rat poison. Last Friday, we recorded a presentation by Maggie Rufo, representing two groups: The Hungry Owl Project,

hungry owl project

and RATS (Raptors Are The Solution).

raptors are the solution

Maggie Ruffo came to Arcata to address the Redwood Region Audubon Society, about the impacts of rat poison on owls, hawks, and other raptors, and to advocate for the use of owl boxes, wooden boxes constructed to owl-nest specifications, to attract owls, as part of an integrated pest control program.

owl box

In other words, encourage owls to move in, and they can help solve your rodent problem. Then you don’t need to spend money on rat poison.

owl eating rat

She gave an excellent talk, and as a bonus, the Humboldt Wildlife Care Center brought some of their ambassador birds, so we got to mingle and chit-chat with a live: red-tailed hawk, a great horned owl, and a western screech owl. It was a noisy room, but I think we have enough good material that we can use a little from column A and a little from column B to make another good show about the effects of rat poison on entire ecosystems, and we’ll look at the campaign to ban the sale of dangerous rodenticides in California.

poison eco consequences

The other show of ours to air this week, really deserves it’s own blog post.  Teaser:  It involves an interview with Daniel Quinn, author of Ishmael.


The Curse of Measure Z

frightened woman

As this campaign season moves into its final frightening week, I feel the curse of Measure Z looming around me. I resent that I must unmask this this diabolical ripoff scheme yet again. For Halloween 2014, I offer this terrifying tale:

VictorVictoriafeature

No one really knows the depths of the evil that resides in Humboldt County, but the existence of a very well funded, and deeply entrenched community of vampires cannot be disputed. Vampires love Humboldt County because we get lots of fog. Vampires love fog. You can build a castle in the middle of nowhere (like, where else would a vampire live?), and people in town don’t ask too many questions. Vampires like to keep a low profile. The remote location, underground economy, and corrupt constabulary provide plenty of cover for these soulless bloodsuckers.

dracula

No one around here bats an eyelash when a hapless young wayfarer disappears into the forest never to be seen alive again. We’re used to it. Kids come. kids go…missing. What happened? Who knows? That’s life in Humboldt County. Sometimes, the kids have families that care. They hire private investigators, because you sure can’t trust the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Dept to investigate a murder, but that usually doesn’t help either. These hills keep their secrets.

scary hill

More often, kids disappear and no one comes looking for them, because no one cares about them. That’s why they came to Humboldt County in the first place. They had no prospects, and no place to go, so they came here. Someone lured them out to the middle of nowhere with the promise of a shitty illegal job, and then took their life. It happens all the time, but that’s nothing compared to the evil of Measure Z. Today, Humboldt County’s most ravenous vampires plan to suck all of us dry, and they plan to use Measure Z to do it.

vampires-de-salem

The vampires in Humboldt County comprise a small portion of the electorate, but they contribute the lions share of campaign contributions, and today, they hold a majority of the seats on the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors. You’ll notice that they keep the lights quite low in the Supervisors Chambers, and you will find no mirrors anywhere inside.

supes chamber

The leading order of vampires in Humboldt County goes by the name of Hum CPR. Vampires often use CPR to extract the last few drops of blood from their victims, and that’s exactly what they plan to do to us, with Measure Z. They’ve already mined all of the gold, fallen all of the trees and exploited marijuana prohibition to the hilt. Now they want your blood.

vampire_bite

Do not fall prey to the vampire’s seductions. Vampires lie. You cannot trust them. What do they tell you about Measure Z? They tell you that the Sheriff takes two or three hours to respond to a 911 call because the Sheriff doesn’t have enough money. What a load of bullshit! It takes the Sheriff two or three hours to respond to a 911 call because:

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A. The Sheriff doesn’t give a fuck about your 911 call. He’s too busy looking at google Earth and trying to figure out which giant industrial grow scene will net the most booty, and which ones to avoid because he’s personally invested in them.

downeys grow

B. The Garberville-Redway Chamber of Commerce has already made 30 calls to the Sheriff today, about the same six people eating lunch and talking on the sidewalk in Garberville, and all of those calls will get answered ahead of your emergency.

garberville-redway-chamber-of-commerce

C. Sheriff Mike Downey is an idiot! Just because we pay the guy a quarter-of-a-million dollars a year, doesn’t mean he’s not the same dumb redneck who thought it’d be fun to swab pepper spray in kids’ eyes, sein’ as how they was chained-up an’ all. The guy doesn’t know how to handle the resources he’s got. Giving him more money won’t solve anything. The guy is doing a shitty job as Sheriff, because he’s as dumb as a box of rocks. Sending more money his way will only allow him to fail even more spectacularly, and expensively.

downey sheriff

Think about it. What if I told you that if all of my readers pitched in a hundred bucks each, it would turn me into Leo fucking Tolstoy? Would you believe me? Of course not. Each of you should give me a hundred dollars, because you enjoy my writing, as it is, and you want it to continue. I mean really, if you don’t like my work enough to support it, then what the fuck are you doing here but freeloading.

freeloaders

On the other hand, you should not give money to Sheriff Mike Downey, because he sucks, and giving him more money won’t make him any better at his job. Sheriff Mike Downey should be replaced, not rewarded. Mike Downey is a grunt. He has no taste. He has no sense, and he has no idea how to spend money.

Downey-deputies

You want to know I know so much about Sheriff Mike Downey? I’ll tell you:

horror-story

One year, Mike Downey’s wife stopped at my booth at Winter Arts Fair, with her husband in tow, to “hint” in the most direct and obvious way possible, that she would very much like to receive one of my lanterns as a Christmas gift. Later, dutifully, then Deputy, Mike Downey returned to my booth, unaccompanied, and began perusing my selection. He looked them over, blankly, checking all of the price tags, then he shrugged, and pointed to the cheapest, and ugliest lantern in my entire collection.

ugly lantern1

I knew then, that Mike Downey was one of the dumbest men on Earth. If he had any taste at all, he would have picked out a nicer lantern, and recognized that it was worth five or ten dollars more. If he had any sense: First, his wife wouldn’t have had to “hint” at what she wanted for Christmas quite so obviously. Second, even if he had no clue why his wife liked my lanterns, he could have asked us. We knew which one his wife liked, because we pay attention, something Mike Downey apparently, cannot afford. Finally, think about how much that decision cost him:

pay up

Mike Downey disappointed his wife at Christmas. For ten dollars more, he could have gotten her exactly what she wanted. She would have been thrilled. She would have known that he loves her. She would have seen that he pays attention, and that he cares, and she would have known that she married the right guy. Instead, he saved ten bucks.

bloody room z

That’s how stupid Mike Downey is! Do you think he’s any better of a manager than he is a husband? No! Mike Downey is a goon who gets paid to protect the vampires, and he does what he’s told, but Measure Z will allow Mike Downey to suck blood directly from the poor people of Humboldt County, just like those HumCPR vampires he serves. That’s what’s so scary about Measure Z Vote NO on Measure Z.


We Must Defeat Measure Z

z1 genghis khan quote

It’s only a campaign if you stick with it till the bitter end, we must defeat the forces of greed and corruption in Humboldt County, and we must defeat Measure Z. Unfortunately, this is an uphill climb. I really don’t know how to gauge the electorate, but from the people I’ve talked to about the issue, public opinion ranges from ignorance to stupidity.

z1 mlk ignorance and stupidity

The most common response I heard from people was: “What is Measure Z?” That’s just simple ignorance. I understand that. I can explain Measure Z to them, no problem, and then they can make up their own mind, but that takes work, and it costs money which I don’t have.

z1 Look-at-all-the money

Measure Z is essentially a one-half of one percent increase in the cost of almost everything for everyone in Humboldt County. Measure Z is the rich stealing from the poor. Measure Z is the same greedy bastards who took over our Board of Supervisors, reaching deep into the pockets of the working people of Humboldt County. Measure Z makes you pay for big subsidies to ranchers and developers, and allows them to profit from your hard work.

z1 slavery1

There’s been almost no press about this issue, except the blandest pile of BS you ever heard from our local Supervisor, and another from someone in the Sheriff’s Dept. Everyone in the county got a mailer about Measure Z, paid for by the taxpayers. The mailer was equally bland, and completely unbalanced.

z1 unbalanced

Measure Z proponents are hoping for rain on election day, and a poor turnout. They don’t want Humboldt County working people to even bother to vote. They know that the greedy bastards looking for a free ride on your shoulders will make it to the polls, rain or shine. We need to GET OUT THE VOTE on November 4. Measure Z is going to bite you in the wallet if you don’t wake up now and beat it at the ballot-box. Please vote No on Measure Z.

z big_shark_1a

The stupidity is a lot harder to deal with. Stupid land owners say things like (excerpted from a fb exchange):

z1 born ignorant

“ I am a property owner and a landlord. I have no problem with increased taxes, but county government is for all of us from law enforcement, public records, the library, our courts, public health to public welfare. I agree we may well have a planning problem with developers, but I don’t see ranchers and farmers as greedy–they provide us with our food. Ranchers and farmers have been heavily impacted by the recent drought. Poor people and the homeless need government services–before I retired I was on the homeless coalition. There are those who care about the poor who work in county government. I would be very careful pitting people against each other. We all need to work together to make our area a better place to live. Paying property taxes is a way to make the lives of the less fortunate better. Proposition 13 that decreased county property taxes heavily impacted the poor by decreasing government services.”

rz1 ich and stupid

What a crock of Bullshit! People like this don’t think they are being greedy, because greed is the water they swim in. Calling them “greedy” is like calling a fish “wet.” 90% of what county government does, is guarantee the property rights of property owners. Courts, law-enforcement, public records primarily serve these ends. There may be people who care about the poor who work in county government, but that’s not what they get paid to do. They get paid to implement policies that have been created to protect property owners from the poor.

z1 class war ahead2

Ranchers and farmers don’t “provide us with food,” unless we buy it from them, at a price they agree to. Measure Z forces poor and homeless people to subsidize these farmers and ranchers, even though they have no land themselves, and get no food at all in return. Those alleged “property rights” amount to nothing more than an expensive and violent occupation of stolen land by vicious genocidal invaders.

z1 indian-land-for-sale

I agree that we all need to work together to make this area a better place to live, but to do that, we need to find homes for the more than 2,000 people who have no place to live in Humboldt County. Instead, Measure Z makes those homeless Humboldters pay for services to rich, stupid and greedy land owners, heirs to the most violent, racist and genocidal empire to ever despoil the face of God’s green Earth.

z1 thanksgiving That’s the kind of greed and stupidity we’re up against folks. Measure Z supporters are “Marie Antoinette” stupid, and there’s only one cure for that kind of stupidity.

z1 marie-antoinette1

Here’s some more helpful information to help you make up your mind about Measure Z:

z1 stuff you should know

The North Coast Journal usually only accepts letters to the editor about topics they cover in the magazine, and they haven’t even mentioned Measure Z. In this last month before the election they have made space for letters about political issues, but limited the length of these letters to to 150 words. 150 words is barely longer than a bumper sticker for Christs sake. Anyway, here’s mine.

z1 heres mine motivation

Dear Editor,
Measure Z, the proposed county-wide sales tax will raise the price of basic necessities like shoes, clothes and toiletries, as well as most other things, for everyone in Humboldt County. This new tax will most severely impact Humboldt County’s students, working people, low-income families, disabled people and seniors living on fixed incomes. It is particularly unfair to fund county government with a sales tax because the primary purpose of county government is to secure the property rights of property owners. If you own property, county government works for you, whether you live here or not. If you don’t own property, county government are the people who evict you from your home. If Measure Z passes, Humboldt county’s low-income residents will begin paying their landlord’s tax bill. Measure Z is a cynical ploy to take advantage of the county’s most vulnerable. Please, VOTE NO on Measure Z.

z 1 darwin award

Sincerely, John Hardin

z1 blotter mad hatter

Continuing my campaign to sink Measure Z I present the text to an “All Sides Now,” a nightly audio editorial feature on KMUD, that I submitted regarding Measure Z. Read it now or save yourself the trouble of interpreting all of those English language characters and listen to it tonight, Monday, October 20 at 6:30 after the evening news, instead.

z1 listen

This is John Hardin for All Sides Now,

Measure Z, if it passes would establish a brand new county-wide sales tax, on top of the already high seven-and-a-half percent state sales tax, and in addition to any municipal sales tax, such as the one up for reconsideration in Eureka. If Measure Z passes, it will make almost everything in Humboldt County, more expensive, including basic necessities like shoes, clothes and toiletries.

z1 kid-drunk

Measure Z will most severely impact Humboldt County’s young people and students, low-income working families, single mothers, disabled people, retirees and others living on a fixed income. In other words, Measure Z hurts the people who can afford it the least.

z1 steinbeck quote

Who benefits from Measure Z? Greedy developers, rich ranchers and large estate owners expect to reap a windfall of taxpayer subsidies from Measure Z funds. If Measure Z passes, you will pay for taxbreaks on new McMansion developments, every time you buy toilet paper. If Measure Z passes, you will have to pay for subsidized pest control for ranchers, through Wildlife Services, a notoriously inhumane agency of the USDA that needlessly kills millions of wild animals every year, every time you buy cruelty-free cosmetics in Humboldt County.z1 Cruelty-towards-animals

Measure Z is a cynical plan, hatched by Humboldt County’s richest and greediest, to foist the burden of county government on to the backs of people who can afford it the least, while they insure that the benefits of county government remain firmly within their grasp.

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Measure Z steals from the poor and gives to the rich. We must stop Measure Z now, before it is too late. Please, vote NO on Measure Z.

z1 stop ebola rns


Vote NO on Measure Z

z abe lincoln quote1

I just googled “Measure Z Humboldt County,” and discovered that this blog ranks higher than any other site that opposes Measure Z. Right behind the official Support Measure Z site, the county’s Measure Z page, and a LOCO story about Measure Z, my piece, No Wifi in SoHum Means No on Measure Z ranked fourth, and was the only “No on Z” site to turn up on the entire first page of results.

No-Wifi-no-z

Fuck! Somebody needs to stand up to Rob Arkley and Lee Ulansey’s plan to screw the poor and working people of Humboldt County. It looks like everyone else is busy with the Eureka Fair Wage Act and the County-wide GMO Ban. Personally, I don’t even garden, let alone farm, and I don’t live in Eureka, so those issues don’t effect me much.

z churchill quote

On the other hand, Measure Z, if it passes will hurt me, and a lot of other people in Humboldt County like me, who barely make ends meet, and have neither the time nor the resources to launch a political campaign. I don’t have money for campaign literature. I don’t even have a phone to call other people to help organize a fundraiser. I have a blog. That’s it. That’s what makes Measure Z so unfair. It specifically targets the people who have the least resources to fight it. It’s like taking candy from a baby.

z baked baby

I make my living as an artist. The key to survival as an artist is not talent or hard work, because God knows I lack the former, and avoid the latter like Ebola. The key to survival as an artist is finding creative ways to spend even less money than you make. There is no minimum wage for artists, nor do we get any raises, cost-of-living increases or bonuses. Keeping costs down is critical to my survival, and Measure Z, if it passes will raise my cost of living, and it will definitely hurt.

z big_shark_1a

If Measure Z passes, I will have to pay more for things like shoes, clothes, shampoo and toilet paper, basic necessities of life that everyone needs and has to buy. Everyone who buys anything in Humboldt County will have to pay this tax to county government. Measure Z will raise the price of everything from tampons, condoms and diapers to beer wine and cigarettes for everyone who shops in Humboldt County, but it won’t effect everyone equally.

z arkley crop-tile

People who have plenty of money will just shrug it off without a second thought. Land-owners think it beats paying property tax, so they won’t complain. Merchants think they are going to get something for it, namely more sheriff’s deputies tasked with the job of removing unsightly poverty from our business districts, so you don’t hear them complaining. For work-a-day stiffs, low-income families, disabled people and retirees on a fixed income, Measure Z could easily become the straw that breaks the camel’s bank.

z1 burden rock

The injustice of a county sales tax is that the primary purpose of county government is to protect the property rights of property owners. If you own property, then county government works for you, but if you don’t own property, but instead rent your home, county government are the people who evict you. That’s why, until now, your landlord paid for county government. That’s why a county-wide sales tax is unfair. Everyone pays it, but it primarily benefits land-owners, and hurts renters.

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The landlords in Humboldt County have gotten so greedy that they want to make poor and working people pay for their own eviction every time they buy shoes. Listen closely to the way land-owners talk about “transients, ” because when land-owners say “transients” they mean everyone who doesn’t own land. If you’re a renter, they’re talking about you. They’re not satisfied with the exorbitant rent they already charge you. They want more. If Measure Z passes, it will be like giving your landlord an extra nickle every time you spend $10 in Humboldt County.

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Your landlord takes too much of your money already! Measure Z is a shameful attempt by rich ranchers and greedy real estate developers like Lee Ulansey and Rob Arkley to steal from the poor and working people of Humboldt County. Measure Z steals from the poor and gives to the rich. We must stop it NOW. Vote NO on Measure Z

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…And don’t forget to register to vote!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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The Following letter appeared in this week’s Independent and Redwood Times:

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Dear Editor,

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The only thing that looms larger on the landscape of Humboldt County than the majestic redwoods for which we are rightly famous, is the unmitigated greed of some of it’s richest residents. Today, that greed has a stranglehold on county government, and stands poised to reach into the pockets of this county’s poor,

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young,

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low-income,

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and working people.

People work in a maquiladora, or garment assembly plants in Tehuacan

Measure Z, the countywide sales tax, will make bare necessities, like clothing, shoes and toiletries, more expensive for the people who can least afford them: single mothers,

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working families,

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disabled people,

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and retirees on fixed incomes.

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Measure Z steals from the poor, and gives their hard-earned money to Lee Ulansey’s hand-picked Board of Supervisors, who then give it to rich ranchers and greedy developers in the form of subsidies and tax breaks.

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The Board of Supervisors, and the puppet-masters who pull their strings, know that poor people are the most generous, community minded people in the county, and they intend to play us for suckers.

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The county has not promised to do anything to help poor or working people. Quite the contrary, the county has promised to use the money to harass homeless people, speed up evictions, and to make room in the county jail for people accused of petty crimes.

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If the county is broke, it is only because it has so consistently pandered to the desires of rich land-owners, and failed to tax them sufficiently.

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If measure Z passes, the county will begin collecting sales tax from everyone who spends money in Humboldt County, including many local residents who can ill afford it.

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That money will pay for subsidized infrastructure to support new McMansion developments.

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It will pay for subsidized pest control for ranchers, through Wildlife Services, an expensive and outdated agency notorious for cruel, inhumane practices and for indiscriminately killing millions of wild animals every year,

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and it will pay for thousands of little perks for land-owners, like subsidizing the cost of hazardous materials inspections at agricultural businesses.

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Measure Z will be a windfall for Humboldt County’s richest and greediest 1%.

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I urge each of you to stand together with the 99%. Tell the county to tax the rich, not the poor! Make the 1% pay their fair share. Please, vote NO on Measure Z.

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Sincerely, John Hardin

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Medicine Baul Live at Jambalaya in Arcata

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All Photos in this essay by Bob Doran, some, like this one are stills from his video Medicine Baul Live at Bummer Fest 2012. Other pics from his Medicine Baul photo album on facebook

Amazing! Astounding! Wonderful! Wow! Wow! Wow! If you read this column regularly, you know that I’m a cynical old coot who loves to make fun of people. Not today (sorry to disappoint you). Today I feel rejuvenated, recharged and re-energized, because last night I experienced Medicine Baul live at Jambalaya in Arcata.

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Medicine Baul played inspiring, original music. When I say “original” music, I don’t just mean that they write their own songs, I mean that they don’t do anything normal. Medicine Baul didn’t even play anything you could call a song. Instead, we heard one continuous, collaborative, improvised composition that spanned the duration of their set.

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They had some normal instruments, like a concert bass drum, a trombone and a hammered dulcimer, but Medicine Baul didn’t play anything normal on them. They had some decidedly abnormal instruments, like a homemade, cello-sized, one string instrument, a mouth harp and an electric hurdy-gurdy. They didn’t do anything normal with those instruments either. They hit things. They plucked strings. They held twisted brass tubes and other strange devices to their lips, and they fiddled with many contraptions too small to see clearly from the audience. They produced a great variety of weird noises.

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At the center of all of this instrumental madness, one tall slender dark-haired woman of artistic demeanor, not brassy, not seductive, but serious, concentrated, reserved, but with a playful glint in her eye, stood alone in front of the microphone at center stage in a long striped indigo dress. Her vocalizations, sometimes soaring and melodic, other times dark and guttural contained no discernible lyrics. Flanked stage left by by a man wearing coveralls, knee-pads and a hardhat, crouching low to the floor amid a pile of instruments, and on stage right by a seated man wearing a red flannel union suit playing what looked like a hillbilly cello, Medicine Baul looked positively surreal.

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Projected on a screen behind Medicine Baul as they played, scenes from documentary films, probably made in the 1970s by the look of the film, depicted life in remote tribal villages. The images began with people navigating white-water rapids in dugout canoes while standing up, each using a single pole to steer and control their tiny boats. The music began as a low murmur, crescendoed to a mighty din, climaxed in a cathartic release of energy and concluded as peacefully as it began. Medicine Baul both defied and exceeded expectations with their spontaneous composition.

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Medicine Baul has at least six members. I find it hard to count higher than that, but there were a lot of people up on that rather cramped stage, and they all had something to do, pretty much all the time. Clearly, they all listen to each other. I don’t think anyone would say, of Medicine Baul, that they were fantastically talented players, because none of them were show-offs, and they did not play music for show-offs. Instead I will say say that Medicine Baul is made of fantastically talented listeners, and that together they compose brilliant original music.

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You really should experience them for yourself. You will have a chance to do that on November 3. Medicine Baul will perform in Eureka on Monday, November 3, at Siren’s Song, along with Willoughby, starting at 8:00pm. We’ve already planned our next Eureka trip around it, and so should you.

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We have an obscene amount of music shows here in Humboldt County, and most of them them are more party than concert and involve music drawn from well-trodden, commercially proven, genres. That doesn’t interest me. I want to hear something original, and I like it that much more when the artists have the guts to challenge the audience’s expectations rather than pander to them. That’s what makes music interesting. That’s what makes music powerful, and that’s what keeps music alive.

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Art matters! Parties, not so much. We need original art now, more than ever, because at the core of our current cultural collapse lies a colossal failure of imagination. It’s going to take a lot of imagination to reinvent the future. Original art is to imagination what business is to money. An abundance of art promotes a wealth of imagination. Medicine Baul is a perfect example of what I mean by “original,” and listening to them could change the way you think about music.

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Big Photo Finish to Our Summer Tour (This is gonna suck if you have a dial-up connection)

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Last weekend, my partner Amy Gustin and I performed at North Country Fair in Arcata.

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We had a terrific time playing for an appreciative and generous audience.

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We performed a couple of pieces from Amy’s album, The Big Picture, and one from my album Um… Uh…Gum Eh? as well as several new works-in-progress.

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After a busy Summer, we expected to conclude our season of live engagements with our performance at North Country Fair, one of our favorite venues, before taking some time off to record a new album.

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Most bands that play North Country Fair don’t bring a full, theater-scale, light show, but since it was the last show on the tour, we decided to go all out.

Tin Can luminary mind blowing light show

It did take a rather extraordinary effort to set up 50,000 watts of lighting and four floors of scaffolding for a 45 minute set, but I think all who were in attendance would agree, it was worth it.

lightshow Tin Can luminary

As a band, Amy and I sound pretty good, but our light show will blow your mind. You really need to experience it first-hand.

lightshow Tin Can Luminary 1a

Photographer Bob Doran turned up for the event, and took all of these great photos.

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After our set, we chatted a bit with Bob.

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In addition to being a music writer and photojournalist, Bob Doran is also associate producer of my favorite radio music show in Humboldt County, Fogou, with host Vinny Devaney from 2-4pm Weds on KHSU.

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Bob invited us to perform on Fogou the following Weds. Of course we were honored and delighted to play for KHSU’s listeners on Fogou.

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We met Bob at his exquisitely decorated home in Arcata, and met his lovely wife Amy.

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Before we went to the station, Bob showed me some of the photos he took at North Country Fair. Bob has a great eye, and his photos were not only well composed, but they captured the energy of the event as well as our personalities.

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I really appreciate that he came out early on a Sunday morning to catch our set.

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When we got to KHSU, we set up on the floor of the studio.

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We had some technical difficulties with the Theremin, which took a while to work out, but we played four pieces from our repertoire and did our best to help them raise money during their pledge drive.

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Bob Doran took several photographs of our performance on Fogou.

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I had a great time, and it was a real kick to be a part of my favorite radio show.

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