Category Archives: Arcata

Pisaster Disaster

starfish_quoteThis starfish wasting syndrome is not funny folks. In case you haven’t heard the story, an epidemic of disease among Pacific starfish, specifically pisaster ochraceous, or Ocher Starfish, the big orange “stars” of beaches and tidepools, is causing them to waste away, fall apart and die in alarming numbers.

alarming numbers
Humans have adored these strangely beautiful creatures for eons, and their popularity hasn’t waned one bit, but within the tidal ecosystem, the ocher starfish is a feared predator, at least to the degree that a bivalve mollusk can experience fear.

fearful-clam-

Frightening or not, the ocher starfish plays the same role in the intertidal zone as lions do on the Serengeti, or that wolves do in Yellowstone National Park. The ocher starfish is the apex predator of Pacific tide-pools. In fact, scientists have learned a lot of what they know about apex predators, like lions and wolves, from studying ocher starfish.

starfish look and learn

Ecology, especially ecosystem ecology, is a very new field of scientific inquiry. It seems hard to believe today, but before World War II, nobody really gave a rats ass about how ecosystems worked. The story of civilization has been one of “plunder first, ask questions later,” and so it goes that the science of studying ecosystems didn’t get under way until well after most of the world’s ecosystems had been severely impacted by industrial exploitation. As a result, we may never know how a healthy ecosystem operates. In a sense, studying ecosystem ecology today, must be a lot like trying to learn about antebellum life and culture by observing a confederate field hospital towards the end of the Civil War.

confederate_field_hospital-600x374

Still the nascent field of ecosystem ecology can teach us a few things about what happens to an ecosystem when you remove a keystone species. In fact, one of the landmark studies in the field of ecosystem ecology looked at the effects of removing just this particular species, pisaster ochraceous from a tide-pool ecosystem.

tidepool anemone-horz

The scientist in this study, Robert T. Paine, marked off two equal sized patches of tide-pool habitat. A couple of times a month, Robert would go to one of those marked off areas, and within it he would meticulously remove every single ocher starfish from that area, and hurl them, as far as he could, into the surf. In the other marked-off area, he did nothing but observe.

bob paine w starfish

Every two weeks or so, for a year, Robert went down to his little marked-off areas and began chucking starfish. Doesn’t this make “ecosystem ecologist” sound like a pretty sweet job? Spend your days splashing around on the beach skipping starfish across the water. How do I sign up? I guess his hands got pretty torn-up from the abrasive skin of starfish, but it still sounds like a pretty good job to me.

good job

Over the course of the year, Paine observed the results of his strange new obsession. In the area where Paine had removed all of the ocher starfish, the ecosystem collapsed. Initially Paine observed dozens of different species living together in that area. Within a year, half of those species had disappeared completely, and those that remained, did so only tenuously. Before long, all but one species completely vanished from the experimental area.

vanished where

The only species left inhabiting the area, had completely taken over. Every square inch of the marked off area was covered with large mussels, mytilus californianus, the ocher starfish’s favorite prey. In absence of starfish, nothing could stop the mussels from squeezing everyone else out of the picture, leaving a desolate monoculture where there was once a thriving, diverse ecosystem.

mussel

Paine published the results of his experiment in 1966 in the scientific journal American Naturalist, and it has become a foundational work in this emerging new field. Paine’s experiment revealed that certain species, specifically predators, have a greater effect on their ecosystem than their numbers suggest.

big impact

Paine’s work with starfish eventually led to federal protection of keystone predators like the spotted owl, and to the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park. Paine had demonstrated that predators are critical to maintaining healthy ecosystems, and that without them, complex and diverse ecosystems quickly collapse into desolate wastelands overrun with pests.

desolate-wasteland

Like I said, ecosystem ecology is a new field, and its progress has been greatly compromised by the impacts of industrial exploitation. As a science, ecosystem ecology remains in its infancy, especially regarding marine ecosystems, but when it comes to the question “What happens to intertidal ecosystems when ocher starfish disappear?” thanks to Robert T Paine, science can give us a pretty good answer. Unfortunately the answer itself is neither pretty nor good.pisaster starfish-bob paine


Sexy Street Kids, Homeless Hotties Revitalize Downtown Garberville

Photo by Kevin McShane. http://mcshanephoto.com

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.

love

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.

nobody_loves_you_

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.

Woman-Love-

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.

Chicago-Bob’s-Hot-Dogs-

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

 


SoHum Drug Dealers Demand More Cops (Continued)

got drugs-horz

This week we continue our coverage of the recent Town Hall Meeting I pretended, that took place a couple of weeks ago at the Redway Elementary School. 2nd district Supervisor Estrelle Fennell called the meeting to address the public outrage at a recent burglary in which some very nice bongs were stolen from a local head-shop.

nice bongs

Despite an ongoing epidemic of murders, disappearances, and drug related violence, this minor burglary, undertaken by a Humboldt teen, has sparked a powder-keg of pent up rage. Unfortunately, the rage is all directed at the poor, the homeless, and young travelers eager to see redwood trees and smoke Humboldt’s famous marijuana, none of whom had anything to do with this crime.

People protesting for squatters' rights at the home of the justice minister, Ken Clarke

Last week I shared Supervisor Estrelle Fennell, and Sheriff Morton Downey’s opening statements at the meeting. After the opening statements, they released the hounds, so to speak, and the mob of angry townsfolk had their opportunity to ask questions and make statements. Here are some highlights:

highlights

The procession began with Cinnamon Sugar O’Toast, the sweetest woman to ever work for the Garberville Redway Chamber of Commerce. She presented a stack of petition signatures. She had hoped to present a stack of hand-written letters, but their letter writing campaign only generated three letters (and one of them was from me). Cinnamon Sugar presented her petition, and demanded that a Sheriff’s deputy be available 24/7 in Southern Humboldt, and that the Sheriff’s Department institute foot patrols in Garberville and Redway.

foot patrol1

“My daughter shouldn’t have to walk through three smoking circles, two drunks passed-out on the sidewalk and a crazy guy screaming curse words at no one in particular, every time she walks from one end of town to the other.” Cinnamon Sugar exclaimed. “ This town is not safe! You need to do something about this Sheriff Downey!”

not safe anywhere

“What do you want me to do, lady? Should I gouge your daughters eyes out with a red hot poker?” Sheriff Morton Downey asked. “This country is falling apart.” Sheriff Downey continued, “I don’t mean to sound insensitive, but have you been up to Eureka lately, or Arcata, or McKinleyville for that matter? It’s a goddamned freak-show from one end of this county to the other. I’ve never seen so many pathetic, fucked-up people in my whole life as I see on the streets of Humboldt County right now. Most of them aren’t doing anything illegal, and a lot of them were born and raised here. I know it ain’t pretty, but there’s no law against being ugly in public, and it’s not illegal to ask for spare change.”

freak show coming to town

“Well I happen to know, Sheriff Downey, that we collect 25% of the County’s total sales tax down here in Southern Humboldt, and we are not getting our fair share of county services!” Cinnamon Sugar shot back.

shoot back1

“What? You think that because you overcharge people for everything down here you deserve special treatment?” Sheriff Downey responded, adding: “You may collect 25% of the sales tax, but you don’t comprise 25% of the population, you don’t have 25% of the roads or infrastructure, and you don’t have 25% of the crime. When it comes down to it, we collect about 90% of our sales tax, county-wide, from about 1% of the population, and that 1% of the population, always wants more cops, and wants them to get rid of the undesirables.

Burns-1 percent

Fascism costs real money lady, and the sales tax you collect doesn’t cover the costs of bringing back the Third fucking Reich.” with that Sheriff Morton Downey moved on to the next question.

Adolf Hitler's campaign to unite Austria and Germany, 1938

“Why don’t you bust the drug dealers who are selling meth and heroin on the streets of Garberville?” came the question from a man wearing a Foxfarm Fertilizer T-Shirt.

foxfarm_tshirt lg

Sheriff Downey let out a snort of a chuckle, “You want us to go after drug dealers, huh?” he began, but could not contain himself, and he burst out laughing, sending a tiny droplet of spittle over the podium and into the audience. His guffaws grew to full bellied convulsions as he doubled over in hysterical laughter, gasping for breath, his face turning bright red and tears streaming down his cheeks. As he struggled to control his laughter he said. “Oh my god… You people really crack me up. I just about peed my pants.” Sheriff Downey took a moment to compose himself, wiping his face with a handkerchief.

dog-laugh-funny-lol

“Listen,” Sheriff Downey began, “If I want to bust a street dealer in Garberville, I’m going to have to assign an undercover cop, and he’s going to need backup. Do you really want undercover cops on the streets of Garberville?” Sheriff Downey asked, adding, “Because I’ll tell you what will happen if I do. If I put an undercover cop on the streets of Garberville, it’ll be your kids who get busted. I guarantee it. I don’t want to bust your kids.

bust your kids

When I bust a street dealer, I’ll find an insignificant amount of drugs, maybe one gun and almost no money, and I’m liable to get jabbed with a dirty needle during the frisk. I’d rather bust you. When I raid a pot farm in the hills, I know I’ll find hundreds of pounds of marijuana, and we’ll seize guns, land, vehicles, and generators, not to mention thousands of dollars in cash. It’s a no-brainer really.” Downey explained.

Drugs guns money seized

Next, a woman told her story about coming home from work late one night, and finding a man she had never seen before, lying in her bed and wearing her makeup and underwear.

transvestite in bed

“When I saw him I screamed, and ran over to my neighbor’s house where I called the Sheriff. They told me that it would be several months before they could do anything about it. Then they told me that they would only come out during regular business hours, and that I would have to pay them $275 first, so I should do my best to convince the man to leave voluntarily.” the woman explained. “ How can you stand there, Sheriff Morton Downey, and tell me that you are doing anything to protect the public from dangerous criminals and sexual perverts when it takes you several months to respond and you charge $275 for the service?” she demanded.

don-t-just-stand-there-bust-a creep

“Where have you been?” Sheriff Downey responded. “We’re the fucking Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department for God’s sake! We’re the guys who pointed machine guns at your kids. We swabbed pepper spay into the eyes of idealistic young non-violent protesters. We showed the FBI where Judi Bari’s car was parked. Where would you get the idea that we protect anybody?”

cop machine gun-horz

Sheriff Morton Downey continued, “We protect property ma’am, real property. If you can prove that you own the house, and you get a judge to sign an eviction order, and you pay us $275, we’ll come down there and put that freeloader out on the street. That’s what we do ma’am, and that’s why we have a Sheriff’s Department here in Humboldt County. We evict people from homes all the time, and we’re happy to do it for you, but you have to have all of the paperwork in order so it’s nice and legal.”

evictions

“But I rent the apartment I live in.” The woman inserted.

MyApartments

“Well then,” Sheriff Downey replied, “It looks like you found yourself a new roommate. I hope that’s OK with your landlord because I’d evict both of you for the same $275. Next question.”

roommate-

Another visible angry man, shaking with rage, rose to his feet, approached the podium and yelled: “You have to do something about all of these homeless transients hanging around town! They hang around town all day! They crap everywhere! They’re smoking cigarettes, and flying signs! They’ve got dogs! They smell bad and THEY DON’T BUY NOTHIN’!!!”

buy nothing day

“Well” Sheriff Downey responded, “None of those things are actually illegal. What do you sell?”

what do you sell

“Real Estate” the angry man said.

suckers wanted

“Let me handle this one Morton” Estrelle Fennell injected, “I’m very upset by this whole situation. The nerve of people showing up in Southern Humboldt without at least a quarter of a million dollars in their pocket really galls me. I strongly agree with the sentiment expressed here tonight that unless you can afford your own home or a piece of real-estate, you probably belong in jail. After all, that’s why we have jails in the first place, and laws for that matter, but clearly we don’t have enough laws, or jails to adequately address this problem.”

Jail-overcrowding

Supervisor Fennell took a sip of water and continued, “Some have suggested that we pass a new county ordinance, that would target these nogoodnics, like maybe an ordinance to prohibit smoking in the presence of a dog. We could call it ‘third degree cruelty to animals.’ I’ll bet the Sheriff could nail a lot of ‘em for that, but the problem is that because of ‘realignment’ we just don’t have room at the county jail. We don’t have the facilities to lock up every street kid who subjects his dog to second hand smoke. Look, you people have mostly owned your homes and land for thirty years or more. Thanks to Prop 13, you hardly pay any property tax, and cops and jails cost big money.”

big-money

“So, I’ve been working with the Garberville Redway Chamber of Commerce on some new signage that we think may ease the problem a bit. We think that it’s very important that we communicate the right message to the many people who visit Garberville each year. We want people to feel welcome, but we also want them to respect our local merchants so we have devised these new signs that you will soon see popping up all over town.”

Garberville welcome to buy

“We think this succinctly describes our feelings towards the people who visit Southern Humboldt. We are glad they’re here, so long as they spend money. When they stop spending money, it’s time for them to leave. It’s a very simple message that anyone can understand. We would like to see everyone adopt this friendly greeting when they meet someone who is new to Southern Humboldt, just say ‘Welcome to Garberville, buy something or get the fuck out of town!’ it’s a simple, honest way of saying, ‘Hey, we don’t care what how you make your money, we just want you to spend it here, and then go away.’” Supervisor Estrelle Fennell explained.

give us your money

Of course, lots of people asked questions and made statements at this recent Town Hall Meeting, but I don’t have time to imagine all of them. From what you’ve read here, I’m sure that you can. The tension in town remains extremely high as the Garberville Redway Chamber of Commerce continues to scapegoat the poor and homeless for current economic conditions, and their own bad business decisions, while they goad the rest of this frustrated, confused and resentful community to pile on.

confused mind


The Living Earth Connection Airs Sunday at 9:30AM on KMUD

living earth connection

My partner, Amy Gustin has been up to her eyeballs in library books for weeks now, in preparation for her quarterly radio show, The Living Earth Connection, which airs this coming Sunday at 9:30 AM on KMUD Community Radio. Amy is the smartest and most interesting person I know, and her reading habits reflect that. Lately, it’s been books about ecosystem ecology, carnivore behavior and wolves.

Wolves-stand tall

Right now she’s in the middle of the final rewrite of her show, which means that I’ll spend the rest of the week recording, editing and assembling it in time to air this coming Sunday morning. We produce The Living Earth Connection, in it’s entirety, including the original theme music, at home, off-the-grid, using solar power and our own equipment.

solar powered recording gear

If you haven’t heard The Living Earth Connection, you should check it out. If you have heard The Living Earth Connection before, you know that Amy always puts together a great show, and often finds very creative ways of conveying her message. I’m sure this episode will be no exception. I hope you’ll tune in.

tune-in-

The Living Earth Connection airs on the fifth Sunday of the month, in months that have five Sundays, at 9:30 AM on KMUD Redwood Community Radio. You can stream the program live or listen to an archived version at http://www.kmud.org and you can learn more about The Living Earth Connection at www.livingearthconnection.wordpress.com


Sometimes Recycling Pisses Me Off

recycle-symbol-numbers-key
We have a lot of free newspapers and magazines around here, and most of them are hardly worth the cover price. I pick up the North Coast Journal because they cover local arts, barely, but at least you can open the NCJ and read about a local artist, see who’s playing this week, and who is showing where for Arts Alive.

local arts

Lately, the NCJ seems to have undergone a complete talentectomy, and now appears to be written entirely by interns with the aid of the janitorial staff, so I find that fewer and fewer features in the NCJ get past my “dreck” filter.

dreck mag

I didn’t notice Thadeus Greenson’s piece until I was getting ready to recycle it, and I should have just sent it to the shredder, but it pissed me off that this guy would compare medical marijuana patients, sick people who need medicine, to oil company executives bent on destroying the earth to satisfy their pathological greed.

marijuana v oil companies text

Anyway, the following letter appears in the latest edition of the NCJ

NCJ BANG

Dear Editor,

I just stumbled across Thadeus Greenson’s piece Behind the Brown Act in the May 8 edition of the NCJ. In that piece, Thadeus Greeenson compares local citizens, upset about a proposed ordinance that would prohibit them from growing their own medicine, to oil company executives bent on fracking.

fracking_gas flare

In an effort to match this level of hyperbole I ask: “What If homeowners in Willow Creek were complaining about Jews, and the distinctive smell of gefilte fish, not to mention the impacts of visible Mezuzahs and Menorahs? Would the county be considering an ordinance to treat Jews like any other destructive, polluting and extractive industry?”

arbeit-macht-frei camp

The ordinance in question would prohibit private citizens, living in residential neighborhoods, from producing the medicine they need. These people didn’t ask to get glaucoma, cancer, epilepsy or any number of other serious conditions. If the county won’t provide these people with free medical marijuana, the county should, at least, not bother patients who grow their own medicine, in their own yard, regardless of size.

Medical-Marijuana-Protester10

Whether it’s lawn mower exhaust, toxic fumes from dryer vents, smoky barbecue grills, or trucks left idling in the driveway, suburban residents constantly assault each other with foul smelling clouds of toxic gas. If medical marijuana patients have to put up with their neighbor’s leaf blowers and dryer fumes, those neighbors can also tolerate the non-toxic smell of marijuana.

smokey lawn mower

To stop medical marijuana patients from growing more than they need, and diverting the surplus into the black market, the obvious solution is complete legalization. Until then, we should understand why anyone involved with marijuana in any way, would be very cautious about revealing their identity, considering the long history of government persecution that marijuana users have endured, and the social prejudice against them that remains.

prejudice-child of ignorance-horz


Forget Schools, Declare California “For Adults Only”

adults only beach

I was glad to learn that our local school bond, “Measure N” failed in our recent primary election. Schools seem like a lost cause to me. Really, why should taxpayers waste their money on subsidized daycare for the offspring of people who are too stupid and irresponsible to use birth control. With 7 billion+ people on the planet, I don’t think it makes sense to subsidize parenthood.

child care subsidy

Seriously, what are the chances that anyone stupid enough to bring children into a grossly overpopulated world, in the midst of the greatest extinction event in 65 million years, at a time of unprecedented government surveillance and economic oppression, has enough brain power to participate in a meaningful way in their child’s education? No amount of school funding will ever help stupid, selfish, irresponsible people raise smart, generous pillars of the community. Besides, public school is what made their parents into the dimwitted monsters of capitalist conformity that they’ve become.

conformity hazard

We should remember that, just like short people, who have kids solely to make themselves look taller, stupid people have kids specifically so that they will have someone dumber than them around, to make them feel smart. As long as we continue to subsidize moron and midget reproduction through taxpayer funded public schools, we’ll remain locked in a race to the bottom, both in altitude and intelligence.

race_to_ the bottom

What do we think we have to teach kids anyway? We should know by now that our way of life is destroying the planet, and that we have no freaking clue how to live sustainably. Children raised by wolves would have more survival skills than today’s high school graduates, but of course, there are no wolves around here anymore.

wolves

I think we should put a “wolf bond” on the ballot. If it passes, the school board will spend $10 million to reintroduce wolves into Humboldt County. Then parents could tie a pork chop around their kid’s neck, send him out to stand in the woods and tell them to wait for the school bus. Let the wolves decide who’s worth educating. Problem solved.

raised by wolves

School bonds are such a ripoff anyway. It makes no sense to borrow money from a bank, and then have the taxpayers pay it back with interest. Taxpayers end up spending two, three or five times as much money as they get value, while bankers make a fortune from these low-risk investments.

bankers fleece school kids

It makes much more sense to pass a school levy. In a school levy, the taxpayers finance the schools directly and cut the bloodsucking banksters out of the equation, but thanks to Prop. 13, no one can muster the votes necessary to pass a school levy. Prop. 13 has turned California from the best state in the nation for public education into the worst.

California1-broke

Really, if you want decent public education, move to Mississippi or Alabama.

welcome to  mississippi

People come to California for the sunshine, the surf, the gay sex and the drugs, not because they want to get smarter. If we were smarter, we’d declare California an “Adults Only” state.

adults only bw

Think about it: Surfers don’t have the time, or sense of responsibility, to raise kids. Gay people have a foolproof method of birth control and drug addicts make terrible parents. In short, nobody in California should be having kids.

californians

If we made California “Adults Only,” we’d never have to spend another dime on public schools. We’d never get stuck behind slow school buses that stop every 300 feet. They could sell cigarettes and candy from the same display rack, and put porno magazines out with the comic books. We could leave loaded guns, Draino and dangerous pesticides anywhere we felt like, and we wouldn’t continue to ignore homeless adults while we built more playgrounds and ball-fields for kids with no future.

no future

Instead of listening to parents whine about their kid having to walk past a homeless adult, who might be smoking or drinking, homeless adults could report any children they see to the proper authorities, and a cop would pick up the kid and put him on a bus to Alabama. Pregnant women would still have a choice: abortion or deportation.

deport abort

I am so sick of irresponsible parents thinking that they have a right to tell grown adults what they can and can’t do, because of how it will affect their children. The time to change the world is BEFORE you have kids, not after. If you didn’t want your kid to see a naked schizophrenic humping a stuffed giraffe on the sidewalk maybe you shouldn’t have gotten knocked-up in a world as crazy as this one.

sick fuck

If you can submit your kid to the horrors of this sick world, then your kid should also see what this sick world does to people. If you aren’t willing to do anything to make the world better for the people who are already here, then you shouldn’t bring any new people into the world, at least not until we pass the wolf bond.

wolves protected


I Entertain Children

bored-girl

I hope you caught my performance in the belly dance tent on Saturday night at the Mateel’s Summer Arts and Music Festival, the weekend before last. With my partner Amy Gustin on Theremin, Patrick, who I just met earlier that day, and don’t even know his last name yet, on Djembe, and Yours Truly on electric didgeridoo, we rocked that belly dance tent! Didn’t we?

i-rock-the-house

As a didgeridoo player, I often find myself playing at herb shops, tea houses and yoga retreats. I don’t get to play through a bumpin’ stereo PA, for drunk people who want to dance, nearly often enough. That was a real treat. I am grateful to the Mateel Community Center for giving me that opportunity.

mateel

The Mateel treated us really well, all weekend. The Mateel knows how to treat musicians, and they treated us right. We had a great time at the event. I especially appreciate the talent coordinator, who booked us to play both in the belly dance tent, after dark, and on the kids stage, early in the day. It’s hard to know what to do with a didgeridoo player, but they gave us a broad opportunity to connect with an audience.

Connect-With-Your-Audience

We were a little surprised to discover that we were booked to perform The Big Picture on The Youth Stage, sandwiched between two clowns, and a puppet show. I’m not complaining, or even poking fun here. I appreciate the gig. It’s just that we never thought of The Big Picture as children’s entertainment.

childrens-books

We don’t have children ourselves, or even like them much. Entertaining children is just not something we think about. I enjoy living an R rated life. I prefer not to check my language, limit the scope of my humor, or refrain from abusing drugs, so most people know better than to let their kids anywhere near me.

malboro costume

As a musician, I consider it my role in life to encourage people to ingest mind-altering substances, and then to make them glad they did. I consider it noble work and I take it seriously, but even I understand that recreational drug use is not appropriate for small children.

baked baby

Amy conceived of The Big Picture for her Sunday morning radio show, The Living Earth Connection which airs on KMUD at 9:30 AM on the fifth Sunday of the month. Amy’s show is usually quite intellectual, and requires a bit of concentration. It’s probably over the heads of half of the adults around here, let alone the children.

Gallagher-Over-Your-Head

We got the idea of blending my psychedelic druggie space noise didgeridoo music, with her thought provoking ideas, after listening to one of our favorite albums: Albedo 0.39 by Vangelis. Specifically the final song on the album, coincidentally also titled Albedo 0.39.

vangelis_albedo

For this song, Vangelis found a clever way of adding a vocal track to his, otherwise instrumental, synthesizer music, without having to write lyrics. On Albedo 0.39, we hear a soft spoken English gentleman, with a sonorous voice and excellent diction, recite a list of statistics about Planet Earth. These include the length of the day and year according to two different measurements, the Earth’s mass, density, diameter, distance from the sun, speed, escape velocity, etc, concluding with “Albedo 0.39.”

vangelis albedo.poster

Albedo is the percentage of light striking a non-luminous object that gets reflected back out into space. The Earth’s albedo is 0.39, or at least it was in 1973, when Albedo 0.39 came out. In other words, 39% of the sunlight that strikes the Earth, gets reflected back out into space. With the poles melting, and the Asian Brown Cloud spreading, the Earth’s albedo may have changed in the intervening years.

EarthAlbedo

Swirling around this vocal track, we hear one of Vangelis’ trippiest analog synthesizer soundscapes. I always liked that piece because it makes you glad that you got good and high before you listened to it, and even though you were totally wasted, you still learned something.

learning beyond

We assume that most KMUD listeners are already baked at 9:30AM on Sunday morning. We thought we might try the same approach with the radio show. We would combine something over your head, with something for your head. That was the inspiration for The Big Picture.

??????????????

We thought it came out pretty well, and the audience let us know that they liked it, so we decided to take it on the road, and to perform it live. That’s how we found ourselves on The Youth Stage at Summer Arts and Music Festival, performing a piece designed for KMUD’s wake-and-bake listeners, to small children who were not stoned. I learned a lot about children’s entertainment that weekend, and I got to witness some great performances by some really talented artists:

talented artists

A OK The Clown devised a great interactive game that illustrates the problem of Global Climate Change. Riding a very tall unicycle, AOK pretended to be the atmosphere, while a circle of eager children surrounding him, pelted him with rubber balls, pompoms and hula hoops that symbolized the smoke, smog, and other airborne pollution that contribute to Global Climate Change. Frantically pedaling his unicycle, A OK endured a relentless shitstorm of hurled objects that brilliantly symbolized the assault on nature waged by industrial society.

A OK the clown

Following A OK, came Mickey The Clown, an old school circus clown who was as kindly and gentle as he was entertaining. Mickey had a great song about suburban sprawl and habitat loss, told from the perspective of a frog named Freako. Freako the Frog was so catchy that I still can’t get it our of my head.

frog cartoon

Then came our drugged out head trip, The Big Picture, with Theremin solos. After us, the Kinetic Paranormal Society Puppet Troupe took the stage. This very talented puppet troupe included a band, great puppets and terrific voice actors. Their, very funny, production also had an environmental message as well, but we never heard the end of it because we had to go get lunch before they shut down the kitchen.

lunch backstage

Environmental education seemed to be the overarching theme of all of the acts that performed on The Youth Stage, including The Big Picture. I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, I think it’s great that clowns and puppets are educating children about environmental issues while their parents are getting smashed on overpriced beer.

mommy daddy and me

On the other hand, I think, “Can’t a kid throw stuff at a clown without turning it into some kind of learning experience?” Today’s children are going to have to deal with the consequences of environmental crises, that they had no part in creating, for the rest of their lives. Do they really need to be lectured about it by a sock puppet when they are four years old? The parents need lectures not the kids.

irresponsible parents drugs

That’s why we created The Big Picture, to lecture adults about what a fucking mess they’ve made of the planet, and where we went wrong as a society. It’s a tough message, but it’s easier to take when you’re stoned. I don’t know what the kids thought of us.

confused kid 1

I don’t really see how you can educate kids about the environment without implicating their parents. If kids today knew how stupid, crazy and wrong their parents were, and how much damage they’ve already done to the planet, those kids would run screaming back to their mother, claw their way back up her vagina and into the womb with the admonition “Fuck you! You stupid, selfish, irresponsible idiot! Now quit fucking around and clean up this mess, and I am not coming out until you do!”

Mom says Clean Up_Your_Mess

That’s what happens to kids who spend any time at all around me, before long they cuss like sailors and hate their parents. We’re happy to perform The Big Picture for birthday parties, and children’s events of all kinds, for children of all ages. You provide the drugs.

tim leary gif


Bring The Clippers to Humboldt!

Humboldt NEEDS CLIPPERS

Well, NBA Commissioner David Silver lowered the boom on L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling for the racist comments his sneaky, weird-looking girlfriend recorded in a conversation he thought was private. This raises one important question: Are all of the suits who run the NBA named after a white precious metal?

white precious metals

This also means that an NBA franchise will soon go up for sale. This is an unbelievable opportunity for Humboldt’s status seeking dope yuppies. Can you think of a better way for one of Humboldt’s successful entrepreneurs to gain prestige for themselves, and for their community, than by buying the L.A. Clippers, and bringing them to Humboldt? Wouldn’t that be awesome?

clippers cheerleaders

Really, where else but Humboldt does a team called “The Clippers” belong? Houston has it’s Oilers, Pittsburgh has it’s Steelers, and Nebraska has it’s Cornhuskers. Humboldt deserves it’s Clippers, and The Clippers deserve Humboldt.

HUMBOLDT HEART CLIPPERS

I know that this would work out great. It just takes the right dope yuppie, or group of dope yuppies to put up the money to make it happen. It doesn’t take any brains or talent to own an NBA team. All it takes is money, and by golly we’ve got plenty of that here in Humboldt County.

HUMBOLDTS GOT CASH BRING

Everyone knows that you haven’t really “made it,” unless you own your own NBA franchise. Face it, without that team, you’re just a low-life, sleaze-ball drug dealer, jerking off on a mattress full of cash, in a house full of toys, in the middle of nowhere. You need this team. Humboldt needs this team. Nothing would put Humboldt County “on the map” like our own NBA franchise. Imagine it.

humboldt county map

The first time the Humboldt Clippers make the NBA Playoffs, the world will wake up and take notice. People in places like Chicago, Detroit, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Miami will know that Humboldt’s got game. Without that team, we’re just some hick backwater full of pea-brained yahoos riding around on ATVs.

hicks on ATVs

Is that how you want people to think about Humboldt County? So quit wasting your money on $4 beers at parties for piss-ant local non-profits. You could be sipping single malt scotch, court-side at a Humboldt Clippers game. Surrounded by cheering fans, everyone would know that you were the one who transformed Humboldt County from a great place to catch Lyme Disease into a great place to catch “Clipper Fever.”

HUMBOLDT CLIPPERS FEVER

We’ll give The Clippers a total Humboldt makeover, and they really need it. How many NBA fans know the difference between a clippership, a friggate and a dinghy? What do boats have to do with basketball? …or L.A. for that matter? An L.A. Team should have an L.A. name, like The Quake, The Smog, or The Traffic. If they had to name the team after a boat, they should have called them “The Container-Ship Full of Chinese TVs.”

container ship

The Clippers were obviously meant for Humboldt, and here in Humboldt, we know what clippers are, what they do, and what they look like. We don’t really want the team to resemble clippers in any way, but clippers are an essential, but often overlooked and unappreciated part of Humboldt’s marijuana industry. Having a local NBA franchise named after them will help them take pride in their work, and recognize their contribution to the industry, without having to pay them any more money.

HUMBOLDT CLIPPERS DESERVE RESPECT

The Clippers mascot could have a ferocious pair of Wiss-Clips for a head with a big eye in the finger hole. His whole body would be a mass of shaggy buds. Call him “Snippy.”

MASCOT HUMBOLDT CLIPPERS SNIPPY

We may not have the major population center, sports arena, or even the international airport, but Humboldt’s got heart. I know we would support an NBA franchise. I mean, I personally would never go to a Clippers game, but I know that a lot of people around here are into that crap.

HUMBOLDT GOES IN FOR THAT CRAP

I’m sure that lots of people around here would buy tickets to see the Humboldt Clippers play, because they have plenty of money, and nothing else to do with their lives. They’d buy T-shirts, jerseys, ball caps and hoodies with the Humboldt Clippers logo, because they don’t have any better taste than that, and you can bet that they’d attend the home games, getting shitfaced on overpriced beer while they yell and scream and jump up and down, just like they do at music concerts, because they have no manners. How much more support do you need than that?

HUMBOLDT NO SENSE NO TASTE

Yes, Humboldt County is full of people who would make great sports fans. Look at them. They already put the word “Humboldt” on almost everything they own.

HUMBOLDT SUPPORTS CLIPPERS

These are people crying out for a team to support. Bringing an NBA franchise to Humboldt County would give fulfillment and purpose to their otherwise meaningless lives.

HUMBOLDT CLIPPERS BELONG

 

Can you think of a better way that you could serve your community? Then go ahead and DO IT! Buy the L.A. Clippers and bring them to Humboldt!

HUMBOLDT BRING CLIPPERS


Celebrating Three Years of Stoned Thinking at lygsbtd

stoned hominid

Today we celebrate the biting social criticism, the outside-the-box perspective and the occasional joke that you’ve come to know as Like You’ve Got Something Better To Do. For the last 156 weeks, I’ve brought you Humboldt County’s funniest, most irreverent and intellectually challenging blog. I realize I don’t have a lot of competition in those areas, but it’s nice to be the big fish in a very small pond. I just hope some dope yuppie doesn’t decide to drain it, to water his marijuana crop.

water pot plants

Speaking of marijuana, which we never stop doing here in Humboldt County, if marijuana is a consciousness expanding drug, how do you explain all of the small minded people in Humboldt County? Yes, we have plenty of marijuana around here, but not nearly enough stoned ideas.

stoned brilliant

Anywhere else, people spend enormous amounts of money on small quantities of marijuana, just so they can think stoned thoughts. Here, we have plenty of marijuana, and all people think about is money. That’s why lygsbtd is so vital to this community. Without stoned ideas, Humboldt County is just West Virginia with pot farms instead of coal mines.

west virginia

Here at lygsbtd, I know that marijuana is for getting high, not for getting rich. No one gets rich from marijuana; people get rich from prohibition. While drug-war profiteers drain salmon streams and destroy habitat just to squeeze a few more drops of blood from prohibition as it heaves its last dying gasp, I use marijuana as fertilizer, to raise a bumper crop of stoned ideas, because stoned ideas have the power to change the world. That’s why I started lygsbtd, wayyyy back in May of 2011.

wayback machine

Stoned ideas matter. Stoned ideas matter, because stoned ideas are natural ideas. Stoned ideas tell the truth because stoned ideas are too stoned to lie. You don’t learn stoned ideas in school. You don’t get stoned ideas from advertizing, and you sure won’t hear stoned ideas from politicians. You might find stoned ideas in books, hear them in music or read them in blogs like this one, but you’ll only recognize a stoned idea if you are stoned enough yourself.

stoned enough

On the auspicious occasion of the third anniversary of this blog Like You’ve Got Something Better To Do, I hereby renew my sacred vow to keep stoned ideas alive, and I ask you, Dear Reader to do the same. These days, our minds face a constant assault from toxic, synthetic corporate concepts, pop-media junk thoughts and stale old-fashioned prejudices. Only by vigorously thinking stoned thoughts can we protect ourselves from developing a crippling thought disorder, like Beatlemania, Libertarianism, or Christianity.

beatlemania

We need stoned thoughts, and we need each other. Every time you read one of these posts, stoned thinking grows stronger. Every time you read a post at lygsbtd, the forces of darkness diminish. Every sentence you read here liberates a consciousness from the slavery of corporate brainwashing. Thank you Dear Reader for making this blog a beacon of stoned thinking, shining unto the world.

Lighthouse1

Every week, thousands of you, from all over the English speaking world, park your browsers at this URL. Even though you can’t be bothered to leave a comment, or even click the goddamned “like” button, I know from my statistics that you are out there, staring silently, impassively, like rubbernecking gawkers at a bad traffic accident, looking for blood.

rubbernecking

…And I give it to you. Every week I open this vein. Every week I pour myself out for you, because I know thirst. I know what it is like to search for stoned ideas, for kindred spirits, for signs of life among the ruins of our shattered culture. I know how barren, vapid and desolate the internet is. I know that you need this blog, and cling to it the way a drowning man clings to a life preserver.

life preserver

That’s why I never miss a week.  I see the impact that lygsbtd has on people’s lives. For instance:

impact

1. Two years in a row, lygsbtd has ranked in the top 5 blogs in Humboldt County in the North Coast Journal’s “Best of Humboldt” readers poll.
2. Posts from this blog have been republished in such diverse outlets as Fifth Estate Magazine, Vermont Progressives, Thai Style Living and Lost Coast Outpost.
3. If you “google” lygsbtd, you’ll find at least 9 pages of web results that reference this blog.

web impact

This blog matters, and because this blog matters to you, it matters to me.

laughing matters
So, as we move into the fourth year of lygsbtd, let’s make a mountain of this molehill.

molehill

Email your favorite lygsbtd post to a friend who may not have discovered it yet. Share a lygsbtd post on fb.

share nice

Tweet about something you read here.

like share tweet

Don’t just passively consume this blog…

passive consumer

…become a Like You’ve Got Something Better To Do activist.

better activist

Stop sitting on the sidelines gawking at the destruction,

sitting on the sidelines

and help stoned thinking go viral.

go viral not

Share these stoned ideas and help change the world.

change_the_world_

Like you’ve got something better to do.

love-lygsbtd


I Weigh-In on the Humboldt County DA Race

scales_of_justice

Everyone should already know that justice is a joke here in Humboldt County, so I thought a look at this year’s crop of District Attorney candidates might be good for a laugh. Personally, I’m just glad to see our current D. A. Paul Gallegos step down. Hand-picked, and financed by Humboldt County’s dope yuppies, Paul Gallegos seems like the kind of D. A. that organized crime would support.

capitalism-is-organized-crime

Paul Gallegos always struck me as a showboat. Whenever I saw Paul Gallegos in the halls of the county courthouse, I expected to see a camera crew following him around. He always dressed “to the nines,” bearing this feckless expression that makes him look like they hired him to fill the suit. He looks more like a TV anchorman than a District Attorney. I have no idea whether he’s any good at his job, but I doubt that he is, because I don’t trust anyone who devotes that much energy to their appearance.

gallegos-

No, the County of Humboldt has never charged me with a crime, so I have no experience with the criminal justice system here, but I do enjoy a good civil lawsuit every once in a while. As a result, I spent a fair amount of time at the county courthouse in Eureka back when all of the current candidates haunted it’s hallowed halls. Lawyers do more of their work in the hallways of the courthouse, than they do in actual courtrooms, so I had the opportunity to watch them all, in action.

Humbolt-County-Courthou

Visiting the county courthouse always reminds me of why I live in the country: florescent lights, tile floors, people who smell like dryer sheets, people who just smell, women wearing make-up and high-heels, men wearing dry-cleaned suits, cops, and an endless parade of humanity who go there to have their souls crushed. No one looks happy. No one looks healthy. No one looks like they want to be there. “This is what civilization is all about,” I remind myself, “an oppressive, artificial environment full of bad vibes.”

bad vibes

I pity the people who work in that environment, especially the clerks, secretaries, and court reporters, but also the commissioners, officers and department heads who work in all of the county offices, and even the lawyers, prosecutors, judges and County Supervisors. A lot of people would call those good, high-paying jobs, or at least relatively secure jobs with decent benefits, but go to the courthouse and look into their eyes. Do these people look happy to you? In the long run, how and where you spend your day matters a hell of a lot more than how much money you make, and security = death.

security

Good-looking people are few and far between at the courthouse. Interns and entry-level office help tend to look the best, but they go downhill fast in that environment. In that environment, the eyes grow hungry for a pleasing form, and anything less than grotesque will do. In the courthouse, Elan Firpo looks pretty good.

elan firpo cu

Anywhere else, she’s just another mom in a minivan, but if the D. A.’s race were a beauty contest, Elan Firpo would win, hands down.

beauty pageant

Here in SoHum, Elan Firpo seems to be winning the yard sign vote, and the Firpo signs seem to occupy the same places that previously sported Gallegos signs. In an area so dependent on criminal activity, it seems that many people around here prefer an ornamental District Attorney.

sexy D A

Personally, I wouldn’t vote for an attractive D. A. Jobs don’t come any uglier than that of District Attorney. The D. A. deals with murderers, rapists, child molesters, wife beaters, and every other low-life sleaze-ball in the county, and needs to know every little detail of their grisly crimes. Being immersed like that, in the worst of the worst, takes it’s toll. A few years of that could turn Elle McFerson into Angela Merkle. No one wants to see that happen to a pretty face.

Humboldt County DA  before after

I’m not saying that a woman couldn’t handle the D. A. position, or that Elan Firpo is not qualified for the job; I’m saying that no one should take the job of D. A. unless they’re already ugly, and have proven that they know how to handle it.

got ugly

I don’t remember what Maggie Fleming looks like, but with over 120 jury trials under her belt, I can imagine. Maggie Fleming also gets points with me for her writing. Of the three candidates who managed to get a blurb in my sample ballot, Maggie Fleming did the best job of writing hers.

maggie-flemming looks too good

I don’t think well of people who can’t write. I figure that if you can’t write well, you probably don’t think very well either. I imagine that writing skills, knowing how to convey information clearly, articulately, and gracefully, helps greatly when presenting a case before the jury, and I’ll bet Maggie Fleming does a great job of that.

maggie-fleming smile

I’ve seen a few of Maggie Fleming’s signs, mostly on property belonging to “old money,” the ranchers, descendents of the original settlers, and the people who made Roger Rodoni an unbeatable force for so many years. Although these days, I feel nostalgic for our old cowboy County Supervisor, I still don’t trust the political machine that got him elected.

rodoni zombie dead

I’m suspicious of Allan Dollison for other reasons. I don’t know why, but every time I see Allan Dollison, he reminds me of someone involved in the JFK assassination. I don’t know whether he looks like someone in the Zapruder Film, someone on the Warren Commission or maybe one of the actors in the Oliver Stone movie, but he always reminds me of the assassination of President John F Kennedy. I know that President Kennedy was long dead before Allan Dollison was even born, but I still don’t trust him.

JFK allan dollison

Allan Dollison is proud to have served in the Iraq War. No one should be proud to have served in the Iraq War. I realize that people take pride in serving their country, and that the military builds certain skills, but the Iraq War was the biggest crime against humanity of the 21st Century, at least so far. Participating in it is nothing to be proud of. Allan Dollison promises to shake up the D. A.’s office, but I just can’t get behind an admitted war criminal with connections to the JFK assassination.

allan dollison-grassy knoll

Which brings me to the fourth, final, and my personal favorite candidate for District Attorney, based on my personal experience at the courthouse, Arnie Klein. If you think of the 2nd floor of the county courthouse as a coral reef ecosystem: lawyers are dolphins, their clients are tuna, and the court reporters, clerks, and secretaries are angelfish. In this scenario, the judges would be large groupers, each ensconced in their own little cave, while the cops are barracudas constantly circling the scene. The criminal defendants, on the other hand, are just chum. If you imagine the Humboldt County courthouse that way, Arnie Klein was the big shark.

big_shark_

In reality, the courthouse is nothing like a coral reef ecosystem. There’s nothing natural about a courthouse, and nothing about it nourishes life. Quite the contrary. The courthouse is a place of dispute, violation, and punishment, and it consumes the lives of those who inhabit it.

consume your life

You can immediately see what working at the courthouse has done to Armie Klein’s face. The guy has more wrinkles than a relief map of the King Range.  Arnie Klein doesn’t just look like he’s been to hell and back, he looks like that’s his daily commute. That’s what a District Attorney should look like.

arnie klein wrinkles

I understand that Arnie Klein has been sick. That doesn’t surprise me a bit. If he gets the D. A. job, I bet it will kill him. That’s OK. Arnie Klein probably wishes he were dead already, and his family has got to be sick of looking at him.

arnies-retirement family1

From watching Arnie Klein in action, it became clear to me that he loved his job, and was very good at it, despite the toll it took on him. Arnie clearly belongs at the courthouse. When he dies, they should stuff him and mount him on a pedestal in the hallway on the second floor.

arnie klein memorial

I can’t tell you about Arnie’s writing ability, because he failed to get a blurb in my sample ballot. I had to look for his ad in Savage Henry to make sure I spelled his name correctly. Apparently, Arnie believes he can win the D. A.’s race solely on the strength of his popularity with illiterates. That might seem like a bold strategy, but not that many people in Humboldt County read, and those that do, tend to ask embarrassing questions, so it’s best to ignore them anyway.

we cant read

After hearing him on Ed Denson’s KMUD radio show, I worry that Arnie Klein has more personality and charisma than the entire Board of Supervisors put together. He might be able to rally enough public support to pressure the supervisors to pump up his budget, at the expense of social programs for the poor. Social programs, even the few that remain, do far more to protect the property owning public than any amount of money spent on new Deputy D. A.s. I’m sure Arnie doesn’t see it that way, but don’t forget, Arnie is a shark, and all he sees is chum.

pardon chum

Well, chum, that’s my take on the 2014 Humboldt County District Attorney’s race.

D As race


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 106 other followers