Category Archives: food

Sexy Street Kids, Homeless Hotties Revitalize Downtown Garberville

Photo by Kevin McShane.

A startling new survey published in the July 8 edition of The Independent reveals that SoHum’s street kids and homeless population, so often talked about as “a problem,” are actually what people most love about Garberville. Indeed, twice as many respondents said they loved Garberville’s scruffiest and scrappiest as anything else about the whole town.


No one in the survey said they loved the shops. No one in the survey said they loved the Theater, or the Town Square, or even the marijuana.


Only one respondent said they loved Garberville’s restaurants, and from the accompanying photo, it’s obvious that she has never ordered anything that wasn’t on the kid’s menu, and never picked up the tab. Other also-rans in the “most loved” survey included: people’s tolerance, the fact that there are no stop-lights in town, and one woman I’ve never seen before in my life said she loves that “You can walk down the street and everybody knows your name.”

who the fuck are you barking

It appears that sexual attractiveness at least partially drives the love affair with this oft vilified segment of the population. A respondent from Carlotta answered the question “What is one thing that you love about Garberville?” with the answer, “Definitely all of the hotties that frequent the Veteran’s Park.” Her honest enthusiasm shows as clearly in the expression on her face as it does in the words between the quotes.


Clearly the lean, rugged, free spirited young men who live out of their backpacks and take refuge at the Veteran’s Park have caught this young woman’s eye. From Carlotta, it takes longer, and uses more gas to come to Garberville, than it does to go to Eureka, where she could find anything else she needed, at a better price. Instead, she came to Garberville, to see “the hotties that frequent the Veteran’s Park.” Apparently, it’s the homeless beefcake that brings home the bacon for Garberville’s merchants.

bacon beefcake mirror

The Jim Demulling Memorial Grove, aka Veteran’s Park, a little patch of land at the North end of town, squeezed between a parking lot, an on-ramp and Garberville’s main drag, became a popular hangout mainly because it is the only place in town where people can sit in some shade, socialize, eat lunch and relax without being hounded by shop-keeps to spend money or move along. Usually inhabited by a colorful cast of interesting characters, and their dogs, Veterans Park soon evolved into SoHum’s cultural center. It is, by far, the friendliest, most welcoming place in town, especially for a newcomer.

jim demulling grove

Today, “Veteran’s Park” is the epicenter of an economic boom in Garberville’s otherwise stagnant and dying downtown shopping district. Like the people fueling this emerging economic engine, the entrepreneurs who serve them have found imaginative ways around Garberville’s exorbitant rent prices, and this seems to be the key to their success:

key to success

Chicago Bob’s Hot Dogs opened up a while ago in a mobile food cart on the main drag, but just across the street from Veteran’s Park. Chicago Bob brought something to Garberville that this town desperately needed. That is, lunch for less than $5. Bob makes a great hot dog, with all the fixin’s. If you haven’t had one, you should.


Just last week I noticed a new food truck operating directly adjacent to the park, advertizing tacos for $3. “Right on!” I say. I haven’t tried their food yet, but they had a dining canopy full of people when I passed by, and no doubt full of people like the woman from Carlotta, who came for the hotties, but stayed for the tacos.

taco chick flips you off

It’s refreshing to see some entrepreneurs with good sense and moxie in Garberville for a change. This new economic growth really livens up our little town, and I applaud these business-people for recognizing the potential, and filling a need, rather than complaining about it and trying to make it go away.

make it go away-horz

If you ask me, the ones who should go away, are the stodgy old business owners who would rather complain about the people in front of their store, than figure out how to meet their needs at a price they can afford.

blaks lehman go the fuck away


Is Cannibalism Right for You?

cannibalism ludacris

The Onion once ran a story about two men who killed and partially ate a coworker while the three of them were stuck in a malfunctioning elevator. The three had been trapped together, without food or water, for nearly half-an-hour. In the story, the men admitted, on reflection, that they may have resorted to cannibalism just a bit prematurely.

cannibalism elevator cartoon

I know how they feel. I don’t really want to be known as the first person in the 21st Century to advocate cannibalism, and I really don’t want to lead a crusade for it. I just want for us to get to the day where eating another human being has become an accepted everyday thing.

cannibalism frowned upon

I know that it’s bound to happen eventually. Whether I want it to happen or not, people have got to realize that the single most abundant source of protein and fat left on Earth is human flesh. I’m not enthusiastic about this fact. I don’t think it anything to celebrate. It’s simply a fact of life. Cannibalism seems inevitable to me at this point, and I think maybe the sooner we get to it, the better.

Cannibalism closest two human beings can get

With over seven billion human beings on the planet, we’ve so outstripped the Earth’s carrying capacity that I just don’t see another way out of this mess. I suppose a global pandemic might do the trick, but it would have to be a doosie, and we shouldn’t just wait around for some hypothetical microbe to solve our problems for us. Like it or not, we humans will probably have to solve the human population problem ourselves, and cannibalism seems like an unavoidable part of the solution.

cannibalism overpopulation1

I realize that most people would rather eat practically anything else, before they would willingly sink their teeth into a “suburban pork” chop. Unfortunately, if we put off the cannibalism option until the last possible moment, we will have already wiped out all of the biodiversity necessary to support those of us who might otherwise survive this grisly phase of human history. It would be like raising a praying mantis, from an egg, in a jar.

praying mantis in a jar

If you start with a praying mantis egg case in a jar, soon, you will have a jar full of baby praying mantises.

praying mantis egg hatch

The praying mantises then begin preying on each other.

praying mantis cannibalism

Eventually, you have a jar with only one praying mantis left in it, and that praying mantis then slowly starves to death. The whole process takes about a semester, which makes it popular with science teachers.

praying mantis face

My point is: if we wait to the last minute before resorting to cannibalism, the survivors have nothing to look forward to, except starving to death on a dead planet. Not much of a future there. You might prefer to become chopped sirloin.

cannibalism choice cuts

The only thing worse than a world in which people hunt each other down for food, is a world where most people wish they were dead, and the rest, don’t have the appetite to eat them. No matter how bad things get, it’s important to have something to look forward to, and if we hold out too long on the cannibalism question, it might cost us the hope of a post-cannibalistic future.

Something To Look Foward to

On the other hand, if we get started eating each other now, while a few fish remain in the sea, before the caribou population collapses, and while some rainforest habitat remains unconverted to palm oil plantations, the few humans that survive these dark days of dietary depravity, might actually look forward to a bright future. As humans became more and more scarce, those few survivors may eventually find that deer, wild boar, and even endangered coho salmon have become more plentiful.

Coho Salmon 2

Having lived, for at least a few generations, on a diet high in human protein, these lucky descendents of ours might find the idea of eating these other species revolting and barbaric. However, as humans became more scarce and widely dispersed, and as they developed more successful strategies to avoid becoming someones lunch, people would, once again, however reluctantly, learn to eat these, newly replenished, wild game animals that once nourished our prehistoric ancestors, and eventually, I’m sure, they would reacquire a taste for them.

acquired taste tori amos

Still, despite the promise of a brighter future, the idea of a world in which cannibalism has become common, widespread, and “the new normal”, seems unthinkably ghastly, but consider the alternative:

foodshopping-consider the alternatives

For many years I ate a vegetarian diet. I had many reasons for becoming a vegetarian, but high among them was this argument: The world can support many more vegetarians than it can meat eaters. Basically, the argument goes that it is much more efficient for a person to eat grain directly, rather than feeding it to livestock first, and then eating the livestock.

cows eating

I bought that argument. I wanted to shrink my carbon footprint and live a lower impact lifestyle, and I thought that eating a vegetarian diet would help me do that.

Istara Bon Gundry, Katrina Lugartos, Ashley Fruno

Today, I’m not so sure. I still want to minimize my carbon footprint, but I’m not so sure that vegetarianism is the answer.


For one, it now seems to me that the biggest problem we face is overpopulation. There are twice as many human beings on the planet now than there were when I was10 years old. 35% of the Earth’s total landmass has been converted to agriculture. The oceans have been mostly fished out and polluted. Even on a vegetarian diet, the Earth’s human population is not sustainable, and agriculture, far more than hunting or other forces, is wiping out wild animal populations by destroying and fragmenting their habitat.

ag land converts

As a result of converting ever larger tracts of land from habitat to agriculture, we get a world populated by more and more humans, and fewer and fewer of every other species.


Not far down the line in the vegetarian scenario we end up with 30 billion humans on planet Earth, and every square inch of the planet not occupied by human habitation, devoted to agriculture. That just leaves everyone one crop failure away from that whole cannibalistic praying mantis scenario. So, when it comes to eating meat, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t, it seems to me.

damned if you dont

My partner Amy finally got me off of the vegetarian bandwagon.

fell off the wagon

She tried to join me in my vegetarian lifestyle, but by about the 600th time we had hummus and corn chips for dinner, she decided she couldn’t take it anymore.

cant take it anymore

We started adding some animal protein to our diet. Amy took more of an interest in food and nutrition, and we started eating better. Every time she read a new book, I’d find some strange new food on my dinner plate, but most of it turned out OK.

strange new food

Last year, for her birthday, Amy asked me if I would go on the Paleo diet with her. That was all she wanted for her birthday, and she agreed to do all of the cooking. I thought, “I can afford that!” So, ever since last May, we’ve eaten Paleo. It took a little getting used to, but now, I really like it.


Paleo meals are amazingly delicious, satisfying and easy to make, or so it seems, since I never make them, but Amy makes it look easy. We have meat with almost every meal, and meals are simple. Usually, meals have two ingredients, some kind of meat, and some kind of vegetable, usually cooked up in a skillet or dutch oven, maybe with some garlic or ginger. Chicken thighs and carrots, pork chops and beets, ground beef and cabbage, are a few examples of meals I’ve enjoyed over the past year.

paleo easy

I know it doesn’t sound like much, but cooked up together, meat and vegetables taste great together. I’ve never cared much for steamed vegetables, but cooked up in a little bit of pork fat or chicken schmaltz, vegetables taste great. The diet seems to agree with me too. I’ve lost a little weight, without even trying, and my HDL/LDL cholesterol ratio has improved since I started on the so-called “Caveman Diet”.

paleo bone

So, I feel better, my girlfriend is happy, and we both enjoy eating this way. The Paleo diet now feels very natural, like this is how humans were meant to eat. Eating Paleo for a year has convinced me that cavemen lived pretty well.


Then I think about all of those poor battery chickens, and the factory farms, and the suffering and the cruelty that goes along with them. It’s horrible, I know. I feel awful about it.


I’d prefer to hunt wild animals, but precious few of them remain, and those that persist need all the help they can get. I don’t want to hunt anything to extinction.

pigs in crates

Really, I can only think of one animal that has become so common that killing them wholesale would actually make the world a better place. Besides their abundance, human beings rate pretty low on the “cute scale”, which would make them even easier to kill.

cute scale

Besides that, even though I’ve never hunted wild game before, I know human beings and their behavior patterns well enough that I think I could hunt them effectively.


A lot of the humans I see these days look tender and well-marbled. I bet they would taste delicious, and I wouldn’t feel nearly as guilty about eating them, as I do about those poor chickens who never even had a chance to turn around, or see the light of day. Not only that, eating human beings would be a strong positive step in the right direction towards addressing the global overpopulation problem. The cannibalism question seems like a no-brainer to me.


No, I don’t want to be the first, but I do look forward to the day, soon, hopefully, very soon, when we can move beyond our cultural revulsion at the idea of cannibalism, and that cannibalism will become just another accepted dietary choice, and culinary phenomena. The time has come to let go of our outdated ideas about food. We should accept the fact that cannibalism is good for your health, and good for the planet, and the sooner we learn to accept it, the better the future will be for all of us.


Agribusiness, Genetic Engineering, and Where to Draw the Line

draw the line

When Eric Kirk introduced his most recent talk show on KMUD, he said his goal was to take listeners “outside of their comfort zone”. I have to say that he succeeded in that. Listening to his show made me uncomfortable in the same way that watching a dull-witted kid beat a dog with a stick would make you uncomfortable.

beating dog

Even if you don’t like dogs or kids, a scene like that makes you squirm. You wish you had never seen it. The whole pathetic situation makes you sick to your stomach, but you know that you have to say something.


In this little metaphor, The show’s host, Eric Kirk, is the kid, our local liberals are the dog, and appearing as the stick, we had Eric’s guest, Saul of Hearts, a young Portland hipster, self-described liberal, and cultivator of a ponytail. I don’t know why these count as credentials in Eric’s book, but apparently they do.

credentials dog

The crux of this guy’s biscuit, was that genetic engineering really doesn’t seem that scary to him, at least compared to some of the diabolical things that scientists have been doing to plants for decades, such as using ionizing radiation and chemicals to induce genetic mutations.

three boobs

The show’s engineer, and local liberal, Michael McKaskil immediately snatched that stick and broke it to pieces, pointing out that genetic engineering was, in fact, qualitatively different than induced mutation. Michael pointed out that because genetic engineering involves adding DNA from completely different organisms, it alters the genetics of plants in ways that mutation never would or could, and of course Michael was right about that.


Eric’s guest then turned the argument into one of “where do you draw the line?”, pointing out that between mono-cropping, pesticide use, aquifer depletion, chemical fertilizers, habitat loss, global climate change etc, etc, we have bigger problems with agribusiness than genetic engineering. Of course, Eric’s guest is not an agriculture reform activist. In fact, he only mentioned about half of the above, no where near exhaustive, list of ag related crises. Eric’s guest didn’t call for us to get up off of our sofas to do anything about any of these issues. Instead, he simply suggested that liberals are making too big of a fuss about GMOs.

draw the line somewhere

No, he’s not an activist. He’s a liberal blogger, much more concerned with his own career as a writer, than anything else. In other words, he’s a conservative, with a ponytail. Not that I have any great love of liberals, or political activists for that matter, quite the opposite.


I feel the same way about our political system as I do about professional wrestling. It’s obviously fake. It’s embarrassingly stupid to watch, and you know that as long as it remains popular, humanity’s future looks bleak. Still, unless you’ve worked on a citizen’s campaign, you have no idea how much time, money and effort it takes to bring an issue like GMOs to the attention of the general public, not to mention the difficulty of explaining a high-tech problem to a poorly educated populace. That’s part of the reason that democracy has failed.

pro wrestling2

One caller to the show accused him of being an industry shill. I don’t think so. I just think him an opportunist. Right now, a lot of unpaid, volunteer activists are putting in a lot of time and energy to raise the issue of genetic engineering in the eye of the general public. By taking advantage of the fact that most people don’t know very much about big agribusiness, Saul of Hearts found an angle that allowed him to capitalize on the hard work of real activists.


So much for the stick, but I must agree with him on one point, and that is: Agriculture is fucked! Agriculture is destroying the world. Even without GMOs, the single biggest reason that this planet is going down the shitter is agriculture. Agriculture is the leading cause of habitat destruction, both world wide, and locally. Agricultural runoff has created “dead zones” in parts of the ocean that once teemed with life, and agriculture fuels the human population explosion. Agriculture doesn’t make life better; agriculture merely insures that there will be more of us to share the misery of an increasingly impoverished world.


Agriculture is bad news! It now covers a third of the Earth’s total land mass, and it continues to grow! Agriculture was undoubtedly the biggest mistake in the history of humanity, and people have known this since the beginning. If you were wondering where to “draw the line”, I think the authors of The Old Testament got it right.


Agriculture is the “original sin” in the biblical story of Adam and Eve. If you recall the story, God provided everything for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, until they ate the “forbidden fruit”. After that, Adam had to spend the rest of his days toiling in the fields, while Eve had to repeatedly endure the pain of childbirth. In other words, whatever that “forbidden fruit” was, Adam and Eve’s punishment was to live like farmers.

adam tilling2

The writers of the Old Testament make it abundantly clear that God does not like farmers. In the story of Cain and Abel, God shows favoritism towards Abel, the herder, over his brother, Cain, the farmer. This so enraged Cain, that he killed Abel, and watered his fields with his brother’s blood.

cain and abel

Now, I’m not a Christian, or a Jew, and I don’t “believe in” the Bible, but this is what the witnesses of “the agricultural revolution” thought of the world’s first farmers. Thousands of years before the first written language, those ancient people would have known nothing about DNA, germ theory or the scientific method, but they weren’t stupid. Thousands of years ago they recognized farmers as vicious murderous people who were damned by God.


They watched those vicious, murderous, damned farmers turn the “Fertile Crescent” into a desert. They watched those damned farmers spread all over the world, systematically wiping out or assimilating every other culture they encountered, claiming new territories, replacing natural habitat with farmland and watering their crops with the blood of their brothers.


Those damned farmers gave us overpopulation, genocide, slavery, and the environmental crisis. They replaced our natural love of nature, and all living things, with “the work ethic”, and lives of endless toil. Farmers have transformed the “Garden of Eden” into hell on Earth, and the destruction continues to this day. Farming destroys the natural environment, and replaces it with an abundance of dull-witted, mean-spirited people who don’t know any other way to live.


Farming is also addictive. The more habitat you destroy, the fewer game animals you leave. The more crops you grow, the faster your population grows. The more we do it, the harder it is to stop. Unless we stop, farming will kill us all. On the other hand if we stopped all agriculture right now, that would kill almost all of us. These are not biblical prophesies. That’s what science tells us, should we ever decide to listen.


The Bible tells us that God punished those damned farmers by sending plagues. Today, we call them pests, and we understand why they continue to plague us. In nature, there is no such thing as a pest species, but when you disturb the natural environment, plow it under, and plant crops, you disrupt the natural balance of life. As a result, populations of some species, like locusts, frogs, vermin and disease causing microbes, explode, while others, like wild game animals, become extinct. What those ancient people saw as “God’s punishment”, we now see as the natural consequences of converting habitat to farmland.


These “plagues” continue to vex farmers to this day, but we still don’t get the message. We still think we can outsmart “God”. We believe the world belongs to us, to remake in our own image. We think we rule the world, and we’re hellbent to prove it. That’s why scientists created GMOs in the first place, but even they know that today’s GMOs won’t be able to suppress God’s wrath for more than a few years, because organisms adapt. Bugs learn to tolerate BT, and weeds learn to drink Round-Up.

BT resistant-bugs

We don’t trust science when it tells us that sacrificing the natural environment for farmland causes insoluble problems. Instead, science has become the false religion of the damned, and genetic engineering, its latest assault on nature. Genetic engineering, like the high-tech organochlorine pesticides of the plastic age that proceeded it, is bound to fail spectacularly, and profitably. So, yes, agriculture is a goddamned sin, and no, genetic engineering is not going to fix it, or make the world a better place to live.

gmo lie

If you’re going to draw a line, you might as well draw it at the place where we made the wrong turn in the first place. It can be very helpful to know where we first went wrong. There’s an old Turkish saying: “If you realize that you’ve made a wrong turn, no matter how far you’ve traveled down the wrong road, turn back.” I realize that this whole discussion is a long way from the current political debate, but unless you look at the big picture, you’ll never make sense of the puzzle.

turkish proverb

The Humboldt Hash-Makers Fair


The Humboldt Hash-Makers Fair

hash marker-Faire

Today (written on Sat. Feb 15) in SoHum, an unusual event is taking place behind the Renner Petroleum Station between Garberville and Redway. I’m not there, of course, because it’s pouring rain, but today, SoHum’s hardier hash-makers have gathered in a rain drenched parking lot to experience the very first (so far as I know), SoHum Hash-Makers Fair. I’m helping them out with the name, but this is a real event.

real event

Officially, they call the event the Garberville Grass Concentrate Awareness Vender Fair, which rolls off the tongue like a mouthful of extra-chunky peanut butter mixed with epoxy,

peanut butter mouth

…but whatever you call it, right now, a bunch of very wet people are demonstrating the latest hash-making technology in a parking lot behind a gas station on the outskirts of town. I’m excited about this! I’ll bet the Garberville Grass Concentrate Awareness Vender Fair, despite the sticky name, is the only hash-makers fair in the entire US. I wish I could be there.

wish i could be there 2

I mean, I’m glad I’m snug and warm at home on this very rainy day, but I hope the show does well, despite the much needed rain. I think I would really enjoy the event, and imagine that it could become quite popular. I, like most American cannabis enthusiasts, prefer to smoke cannabis herb, rather than hash, but hash will do in a pinch, and if made well, hash can be delightful.

stoners delight

In fact, most cannabis consumers would rather have a small quantity of very good hash, rather than a big pile of really shitty weed. That’s why people around here make hash. In Europe and Asia, they make hash for ease of transport, for smuggling. Here in Humboldt County, hash is about recycling.


Hash is about using the whole plant, not just the manicured sinsimilla buds. I’m into recycling and everything, but the real reason I think the hash-makers fair sounds fun, is the people it would attract.

attracting people

SoHum’s dope yuppies, the land-owning dope growers, don’t usually mess around with hash. They grow cannabis as a cash crop, and the cash comes from the flowers. Sinsemilla flowers are always in demand, anywhere in America, while hash is a harder sell, at least in the US.

hash selling prank

Dope yuppies need that cash flow, so they focus on producing those flowers, and don’t worry much about what happens to the rest of the plant. A lot of them don’t even grow or process their own weed anymore. Instead, they have sharecroppers, trimmers, and pot slaves to do it for them. They might never even see the weed from seed to harvest to sale. They just take the cash.

dope yuppies suck

Those sharecroppers, trimmers and pot slaves make all of the hash around here. That’s why the hash-making crowd is a much friendlier, funner and less stuck-up bunch of folks than you are likely to run into on any given night at The Mateel. The hash-makers I know around here are some of the nicest people I know, and they’re always eager to share a bowl really good hash, and the hash around here is outstanding.


These scrappy, resourceful artisans really appreciate marijuana. They hate to see all of that leaf and trim go to waste. They know there’s not much of a market for it, but they make hash anyway. A lot of these people take their hash-making pretty seriously, and produce top-notch hashish in a variety of forms, and by a variety of methods. Thanks to them, we seem to have entered a new hash-making renaissance, centered right here in Humboldt County, as evidenced by today’s fair.


Several of the companies demonstrating their wares at the fair, base their operations right here in Humboldt County, founded by former pot slaves who posses a passion for concentrated cannabis. I wish them all the luck in the world. I hope their hash-making start-ups succeed, and that the SoHum Hash-Makers Fair grows in the future.

hash bash-background-photo

Sure, I would enjoy seeing live demonstrations of hash-making technology. I’d like to see them haul out a couple of truckloads of shake and turn it into hash before my very eyes.

truckload of pot plants (flip)

Of course we’d all love to sample the finished product too,


…but this is just the beginning. Imagine where the SoHum Hash-Makers Fair could go from there. They could have an “Iron Lung competition” to see who could smoke the most hash without coughing, while the rest of us hack and spit like angry camels.


They could serve a variety of throat-soothing beverages. At the hash-makers fair, you’ll need them.


What about hash edibles? With the fair falling so close to Valentines Day, I’d think hash chocolates would be a natural. While the chlorophyll in cannabis herb clashes with the taste of chocolate, good hash contains no chlorophyll, and blends nicely with dark chocolate. Who wouldn’t like a box of hash chocolates for Valentines Day? …and what would compliment a nice rich hash chocolate better than a piping hot hashaccino? Mmmm coffee with hash. I’m getting stoned just thinking about it, or maybe I’m just thinking about it because I’m getting stoned.


How about belly dancing? Belly dancing and hash go together like coffee and chocolate. I’ll bet we have as many belly dancers in Humboldt County as we have hash-makers, and I’m sure there’s some crossover there. February might be a little cold for belly dancers, but a couple of good heaters should solve that problem. Do you see the potential?

belly dancers1

…and that’s just the beginning. Imagine what could happen if this fair got really successful. Maybe some of the companies that sponsor it could set up some big attractions.


For instance, the people who make equipment for cold-water hash extraction could bring a water flume ride.

water flume1

The folks who make kief tumblers could set up a Ferris Wheel,

ferris wheel

…and the company that makes butane extraction tubes could sponsor a fireworks display.


In fact I think the whole butane extraction part of the fair could be like Burning Man. They could have all kinds of wild fire-art displays that also make hash.


The whole butane hash oil extraction process seems more than a little crazy to me, but it’s all the rage right now. If you gave me a choice between extracting hash with ice water, and doing it by emptying an entire can of butane lighter fuel into my immediate environment, I’d choose the ice water every time. That’s just me.

hash butane

I’ll bet if you randomly took people off the street, handed them a brand new can of butane and told them to go sit in a room and empty the can into the air around them, then light a match, no one would be stupid enough to do it. Somehow, adding marijuana to the equation makes it seem like a good idea.

hash lab explosion

Some people hate to do anything unless there’s an element of danger involved. So, now we have a hash-making method for thrill-seekers and pyros. At least they could offer a safety course at the fair.


Think about it… fireworks, rides, belly dancing, chocolate, coffee, contests, hash-making and safety meetings. That’s a fair with something for everyone. I hope I see you there next year.

hope to see you there

Work, Wealth and The Good Life; Living Earth Connection #8


Work, Wealth and The Good Life


Please tune in to The Living Earth Connection, hosted by Amy Gustin, today, Sunday Dec. 29th at 9:30AM on KMUD. The Living Earth Connection is unlike any radio show you’ll hear anywhere. The Living Earth Connection looks beyond politics, philosophy and religion to examine the culture which is foundational to them all, and from which they all spring. The Living Earth Connection airs on the fifth Sunday of the month, and only in months that have five Sundays, in the “Spiritual Perspectives”, Sunday 9:30-10:30AM time-slot on KMUD, Redwood Community Radio, Garberville, CA, and online both streaming and archived at


In this episode of The Living Earth Connection, Amy Gustin examines how we think about “work”, “wealth” and “the good life”. How we think about work, wealth and “the good life” effects how we live in the world, and how we live in the world determines the contents of our lives and our footprint on the planet. These ideas are foundational to our culture, but in fact, most of us work way too hard, far too few of us enjoy the benefits of the “wealth”we create, and sum total of all of our work is killing the planet. The show looks at why this is, and how it can be different.

Workers clean up oil spilled by the refr

Work, Wealth and The Good Life is the eighth episode of The Living Earth Connection. You can download or listen to Work, Wealth and The Good Life, as well as all of the previous episodes of The living Earth Connection at The Living Earth Connection blog.livingearth back cover

Murder v Money


Murder v Money

murder and money

In response to last week’s post about marijuana prohibition, I received a notable comment from Joel Meilke. I found the comment notable not because it was especially well thought out, or because it brought up a fresh perspective, quite the contrary. Joel’s comment was notable because it articulated the most common knee jerk reaction to any discussion about ending marijuana prohibition around here. Joel described Humboldt County’s tradition of almost weekly, prohibition related homicides and disappearances as “a conundrum”, weighing them against the amount of money the black market marijuana industry brings into Humboldt County.


I like Joel, I mean, I’ve never met him, but I enjoy his cartoons in the North Coast Journal, and he did post the very first comment in this blog, back in May of 2011, so I appreciate him as a reader, but money ain’t everything folks, and counting the dollars is no way to measure the effects of prohibition on Humboldt County. Joel lamented that the local economy might contract by as much as one-third without the massive government subsidies that pay for the arrest, conviction and incarceration of millions of innocent, mostly poor, mostly minority, and mostly young Americans across the country.

kids in prison

They say “Money talks”, and I’ve lived behind “The Redwood Curtain” long enough to know that most people here really don’t give a rat’s ass about what goes on in the rest of the country, and couldn’t care less about the people who pay for Humboldt County’s marijuana crop, so long as someone shows up with the cash to buy it from them. That’s why I wrote about the ways marijuana prohibition negatively affects us, the predominantly white, middle-class residents of Humboldt County, despite the influx of illicit funds it brings.

humboldt county line

Even so, last week’s post barely scratched the surface of the negative side-effects of prohibition on our local community. It would take many volumes to analyze to real cost of prohibition here in Humboldt County, but we all suffer the consequences of marijuana prohibition, and often in ways you might not consider.

consider this

For instance: Haven’t you noticed the proliferation of overpriced mediocre restaurants around here? Aren’t you tired of paying through the nose for disappointing meals out? If so, you can thank marijuana prohibition. How’s that?”, you ask.

disappointing restaurant

Simple. Drug dealers are the quintessential nouveau riche. They don’t mind being overcharged, so long as they get to flash the cash. Drug dealers spend money much more indiscriminately than working people. They also tend to value convenience more than quality, appearance more than substance and generally lack good taste. The restaurants in Humboldt County reflect that.

nouveau riche

Were it not for prohibition, we might have fewer restaurants, but we would certainly have better restaurants, and we would have cheaper restaurants. Besides that, the restaurants would have much less trouble finding decent help, and the people who work at the restaurants would have an easier time finding a place to live that they could afford, because half of the available housing would not be full of grow lights and pot plants. That’s how marijuana prohibition makes restaurants in Humboldt County suck.


Fewer murders, better restaurants, cheaper eats and more affordable housing are just a few of the ways that ending marijuana prohibition would improve the quality of life for the residents of Humboldt County. Sure, less money will come into the county, but most of that money ends up in the hands of a few rich, greedy bastards who mostly use it to fuck the rest of us over. Besides, without the financial incentive that marijuana prohibition provides, a lot of those bottom-feeders would move out of the county to search for some other dark, murky slime-pit in which to lurk.

Bottom Feeder Food

So don’t worry about the economy. The economy will not suffer. The economy never suffers. Grieving mothers suffer. Crime victims suffer. Children who see their parents hauled away in handcuffs at gunpoint suffer, but the economy does not suffer. People who pay too much for mediocre food suffer. People who work for a living but can’t find an affordable place to live suffer, and people who pay too much for pot suffer, but the economy doesn’t suffer. Salmon suffer, the environment suffers, and the community suffers, but the economy does not suffer. The economy never suffers because the economy is not alive. The economy doesn’t feel a thing. No matter how much we suffer for the economy, the economy will never return the favor.

Bees and the economy cartoon 1

Remember, Reagan broke the unions to help the economy. Bush relaxed environmental standards to help the economy. Clinton signed NAFTA to help the economy. Bush II cut taxes on the rich to help the economy, and then we all bailed out the bankers to save the economy. How stupid can we be that we haven’t figured out that when they tell us something is helping the economy, that means it’s hurting most of us?


So fuck the economy! If you want forests and salmon and a place to live, and you think there should be plenty of marijuana for everyone, then work to end marijuana prohibition. If you want overpriced mediocre restaurants full of nouveau riche drug dealers, murderers, and greedy slimeball bottom-feeders, because it’s “good for the economy”, I suppose there should be a place for you. Call it Hell, and go there.

On The Money; What is Money, and Where Did It Come From?


On The Money;

Economics for the 99%

What is Money, and Where Did It Come From?

where and what is money

Money is a pretty weird thing if you think about it. Money can level forests and move mountains. Money can drill for oil on the bottom of the ocean, land a nuclear powered car on Mars or hunt people down and kill them with remote controlled aircraft. Money can turn your life upside down, make your tap-water catch fire and drive you out of your home. When people talk about their problems, money, or lack thereof, is usually at the top of the list. So, what is money, and where did it come from?

what smart people do with money

For most of human history, people had no money. People still had to work to get the things they needed, but the work was much more direct. If you wanted meat, you had to hunt and kill an animal. If you wanted a home, you had to build it from whatever you could find around you. All of this stuff was just hard enough to do that you wouldn’t want to do any more of it than you needed to, but easy enough that most of us could accomplish what we needed to do to survive.


Before money, trade was a much smaller part of people’s lives. If you wanted to trade, you had to find someone who had what you wanted, and you had to have something that they wanted. This might happen once or twice a year. The rest of the time, you made do with what you could find around you, all of which was free for the taking.

Indigenous People Amazon

Before money, nature was “the bank”. People made withdrawals, in the form of the plants and animals they ate and made their clothing from, the trees they made their homes from and the stones from which they crafted tools and weapons, and they made deposits in the form of shit, piss, food waste and eventually, their own bodies, which nature would rapidly recycle into more plants animals and minerals. The system was so well balanced that no one needed accountants, tax preparers or lawyers, and so stable that it lasted for hundreds of millions of years, including over a million years of human habitation, without outside intervention or regulation.

Portrait Of Hivshu RE Peary

If the natural system worked so well, why was money invented in the first place? The answer is beer. Sure, you can find plenty of food, water and stuff to build a house from in nature, but beer is pretty hard to come by. Occasionally, people could collect enough grass seeds, soak them in water for long enough to produce prehistoric beer, but not nearly often enough to satisfy the thirsts of the ancient Sumerians, who lived in the Middle-East, where it gets mighty hot in the summertime.

sumerian beer

The ancient Sumerians were the first people in the world to domesticate wild grasses, and begin farming. They burned huge tracts of forest land that had sustained them for eons, in order to grow wheat and barley. This took an enormous amount of work, and led to major headaches, like plagues of frogs, locusts, and flies, as well as turning a lot of habitable forest land into barren desert, but it did give them beer, and beer was very precious to them. It must have been, or why else would they have worked so hard and sacrificed so much in order to make it?

babylonian beer

So it should not surprise you that the first unit of money was the price of a beer, the Shekel. A shekel is equal to 180 grains of barley, roughly the amount needed to produce one beer. While everything else in the natural world was free, beer was expensive. So people counted their shekels, traded shekels and bought things with shekels of barley. Making shekels was no fun at all, but everyone liked beer, so shekels became the currency of the Sumerians, and that is how money was born.

1 shekel sumer

In economics classes they will tell you that money is a medium of exchange that facilitates trade. They’ll tell you that money is a technological advance that made trade more efficient, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, money was invented to facilitate alcoholism.


Many people, economists especially, overlook the central role of alcoholism in civilization. Archeologists have discovered ancient Mesopotamian recipes for beer, and friezes depicting beer drinking on Egyptian pyramids. It was only after beer-making had evolved to a high art, that people began eating the yeast-risen loaves of grain, what we now call “bread”, that were originally used to make to make individual batches of beer.


People eat cereal grains, sure, but compared to a fat steak from a wild antelope, a bowl of cream of wheat is nothing to get excited about. On the other hand, you can’t make beer out of a deer. The psychoactive effects of alcohol, no doubt, made cereal grains especially prized, and as people became habituated to alcohol intoxication, their craving for it grew.


As is the case with alcoholism, the more you drink, the less you care about anything else, until the quest for alcohol becomes the central focus of the alcoholic’s life. The more focused you become on alcohol, the more the rest of your life tends to fall apart. In order to feed their craving for alcohol, people worked long hours to cultivate grains. As grain farming expanded, farmed fields replaced natural habitat, and wild game became more scarce. With less wild game available, grain farmers increasingly traded with traditional hunter-gatherers, who themselves fell under the spell of alcoholism, making them dependent on the grain farmers for their beer. Thus, grain became a precious commodity. People who had a lot of grain, grew more powerful, and those with the most shekels, ruled.

ancient mesopotamian plow

So we see that money is, quite literally, a drug, and addiction to it has shaped, and continues to shape, the course of civilization. money is a drug


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