Category Archives: Redway

God, Einstein, Kant, Darwin, and Me

God-horz

I’ve been really busy on a couple of new radio projects. One of these radio shows relates to this blog, and will air this Sunday. I really enjoyed doing it, and I’m excited to share it, so let me tell you a little about it:

let me tell you a story

Sunday, August 31, at 9:30 AM Pacific Time on KMUD Community Radio,

kmud-radio-logo
I will appear (if one can be said to “appear” on radio) as a guest on:
The Living Earth Connection:
A Show That Examines the Root Causes of the Ecological Crisis and Seeks to Change Our Vision of Our Place in the World

livingearth back cover

On this show I talk about classical music, Einstein, Kant, Darwin, the phenomenology of the organism and the metaphysics of ecology, in that order. You know, just a regular “off the cuff” interview. We prerecorded the interview last week, and finished editing it last night.

off the cuff stuff

I know this material pretty well, but it’s quite heady. I had the rare privilege, as an interviewee, to edit the interview as well. I did my best to eliminate the long pauses and unnecessary digressions to make it as pleasant to listen to, and easy to understand as possible. Some great bits didn’t make the cut. We only have an hour of airtime, after all. This show was entirely Amy Gustin’s idea, but now that we’ve completed it, we’re both happy with how it came out. We may even post some of the outtakes as additional material on the Living Earth Connection blog.

living earth connection

I got invited on the show because of an essay I wrote that first appeared on this blog. Well, that, and the fact that I sleep with the producer, got me invited on the the show to talk about the essay titled: You Don’t Have To Call It God, But Don’t Pretend It Doesn’t Exist. Amy really liked the essay, because it points out that the best available science supports an animist, or indigenous worldview, while it indicts objective science, technology and the dominant culture.

future indictments

The essay has nothing to do with God. It’s about science, perception and phenomenology. Religion gives God such a bad name, that I hated to use the G word in the title, but “A Short Essay on Phenomenological Metaphysics” has no hook. God is still a celebrity with SEO gravitas, so I went with the stupid title.

seo stupidity

This essay elicited the most inspiring comment I have yet received in three-and-a-half years of blogging:

Frank Josef Orange
May 28th, 2014 at 1:22 am | Edit

This in regards to your essay You Don’t Have to Call It God: I’ve been a searcher all my life, read Relatively for the millions at around 11 but I was never able to do the math but I came to understand the principles.
Looked for god in LSD ,weed ..got closer
The strange thing is that recently I’ve been having some health problems, the kind you know will be the end ..ya just know, the odd part is that answers have been just showing up, I happened to watch a documentary DMT the spirit molecule And your essay, and all of it is coming into clarity.
That all of us and everything ever,was and forever well be One.
And it is simplicity and perfection and oneness and ..Self ?

Although there is still the problem how this thing came into existence. Something can’t spontaneously exist from nothing.
Could be we are just one of many beautiful shinning entities.
Oddly I’ve come to not care.

To conclude though, there were many things that lead me to the conclusions I’ve come to, but I have to say your essay just about puts the dot at the end…….

What can you say about a comment like that? Words matter! I write!

words have power

Frank read the essay about a week earlier than most of you, because I accidentally hit “Publish” when I meant to hit “Schedule.” The post appeared on the blog early, for about 10 seconds, but because he subscribes, the post went right to his email. When he came back to post a comment, it ended up under the previous week’s post. I’m telling you this, because, hey, sometimes there are bonuses for subscribers.

bonus

There are bonuses for listeners too. I always find it easier to understand something when someone explains it to me, than when I read it. On the radio show, I go into much more detail about the science behind the essay, and the implications of this world view. I’ll be the first to admit that a lot of what you read on this blog is just pointless drivel. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do, but this radio show is different. This radio show can change the way you see the world. At the very least it will give you something to think about. I hope you’ll tune in. 

tun in loungeclick this link to stream or download Part 1 of the show

click this link to stream or download Part 2 of the show

 


Drugs and Razors Don’t Mix

war against razors

A tweaker asked me for spare change on the street the other day. He was in bad shape. His eyes were bugging out. He was twitching. His clothes were dirty and torn and I could barely figure out what he was asking me. However, he had recently shaved his face, and most of his head, except for a thin Mohawk strip that was also cut pretty close to the scalp. That just boggled my mind. “What is wrong with kids these days?” I thought.

mohawk homeless

I mean, if I knew, when I woke up, that by 11:00AM, I’d be standing in front of the Shell station incoherently begging for spare change and weed, I sure as hell wouldn’t have bothered to shave first. Obviously this guy lost his job, his home, his mind, his dignity and his toothbrush months ago, but he’s still got that razor. What is he thinking? Where are his priorities? What’s he got against hair?

hate my hair

If I don’t absolutely HAVE TO shave, and I mean literally required, mandated or threatened with poison gas, I would never shave, or cut the rest of my hair for that matter. I never liked shaving. If it wasn’t required by my boss, or necessary to insure that my respirator fit tightly enough to protect me from welding fumes, I would never shave. I can’t understand why people shave so much, even when they don’t have to.

shaved-sorry-the-weight-of-manhood-was-just-too-much

Granted, it’s a little weird that we, as homo sapiens have so much hair on our heads and so little anywhere else, but that’s how we are. We’re weird looking apes with really hairy heads. That’s life. “Get used to it;” I say, but kids today don’t listen. Young people seem much too eager to divest themselves of their evolutionary hairitage, and this worries me.

caveman

Barbers have got to be making a killing! Every guy I see around here, under thirty, looks like they got their hair cut this morning, and there isn’t more than two weeks growth anywhere on their entire head. If they’re not completely clean-shaven, they’ve got some sculpted little high-maintenance topiary of a goatee. If they have it done, that’s way too much money thrown away like so many quarter-inch long pieces of hair around the barber’s chair. If they do it themselves, that’s too much time for a guy to spend staring at himself in a mirror. Either way, it’s too much.

barber attacks

I suspect this follicle-phobia also afflicts young women.

brazillian five cents

I’ve seen multiple ads for local salons offering Brazilian bikini wax service, and read recently that emergency room visits for “pubic grooming accidents” have skyrocketed in recent years. Emergency room visits… Remember, that’s how our parents found out what drugs were popular with us kids.

emergency room

Unless my young female readers start sending selfies, I’m not likely to have the opportunity to survey what young women are doing with their pubic hair, but now that the idea has occurred to me, I would very much like my young female readers to send selfies showing their pubic hairstyle. I need to know more.

 

send to:  sendselfieshavedorbushy@gmail.com

send to: sendselfieshavedorbushy@gmail.com

I suspect that these statistics reveal a trend, and the fact that this trend sends young people to hospital emergency rooms should trouble us all deeply. Do they think this looks good? A shaved head looks like a thumb with wings.

thumb with wings

A shaved pussy looks like Homer Simpson’s maw. Is that a hot look?

homer thong

Believe me, if I can see you pussy, it’s a hot look. Whether it’s shaved, bushy, braided, dyed, permed, sculpted or dread locked, if you are showing it to me, that’s hot. I can think of a couple of things I’d rather not see on a pussy, like sutures, an infected wound or even little dots of toilet paper with a spot of blood in the middle, so if you absolutely must shave your pussy, please be careful.

shavethebaby

Personally, I have never been offended by a woman’s body hair. Underarm hair definitely turns me on, and I don’t even care if you shave your legs.

hairy legs

I certainly wouldn’t complain about sex with a shaved pussy, but I’m not so sure about 5 o’clock shadows, or five-day stubble. I don’t want to get razor burn from a pussy.

razor burn remedies

I imagine that once you start shaving your pussy, you probably have to shave it again, pretty soon, no doubt increasing your chances of suffering one of those pubic grooming accidents that lands you in the hospital.

shaved here

Is any of this necessary? Any time you cut your hair, you bring sharp metal objects dangerously close to your own flesh. If you want to cut an eight-inch piece of hair down to four inches, you can hold the scissors four inches away from your body, giving you a four-inch safety margin.

hair cut safety margin

When you constantly, day after day, trim your one inch hairs down to half an inch and that sixteenth-of-an-inch of stubble that grows everywhere else down to nothin’ flat, you’re bound to cut an artery sooner or later.

shaving accident

This seems like risky behavior. I worry about people who cut their hair too much the way I worry about people who wash their hands too often. It seems a little neurotic. When kids cut themselves intentionally, that’s a sign of serious emotional problems. Young people who habitually wield sharp objects within an inch of their own flesh are clearly “at risk.” Something needs to be done.

youth at risk

Everyone should try to be as hair-positive as possible. Hair is a good thing. It’s a natural thing. Tell kids about the Indian trackers recruited by the army. The US Army recruited the best Indian trackers they could find, but once the Indians joined the army and traded their long hair for the standard military crew cut, they lost their ability to track. Hair is power. Hair is strength. Hair is healthy.

hair

I’ll do my best to set a good example, and whenever I can, I’ll remind young people that it’s OK to skip shaving. I’ll let them know that if they’re going on a drugged out bender, that’s fine, as long as they stay away from sharp metal objects. Drugs and razors don’t mix! There will be plenty of time to shave in rehab.

shave head-horz

If you were to express my philosophy of life in just one sentence it would be: Don’t mess with nature, or nature will mess with you. Nature gave me a hairy head, and I don’t mess with it. I can’t say I’m unhappy with the result. Looks have never been my strong suit, and the less I think about how I look, the happier I am. I imagine there’s a reason we have so much hair on our heads, and I trust the forces that shaped us as human beings through eons of evolution to be my personal stylist.

lygsbtd frace t-shirt


SOLUTIONS

solutions probs

Ok, I’ve had a lot of fun with the whole situation in Garberville, and I think the levity was completely in order, but a lot of people are very frustrated with the situation, and they want SOLUTIONS. So, I’m here to help, seriously, but we don’t get to solutions without doing some analysis first, and that includes taking responsibility for the disastrous consequences of our consumptive middle-class lifestyle, and it means taking responsibility for economic policies that have kept wages low, while housing, health-care, fuel and other costs soared. I don’t care whether you voted for Reagan or not, if you want solutions, take responsibility, otherwise we can just play the blame game till we’re blue in the face.

blame_game

The middle-class really needs to get over their Boomer era Populuxe expectations, especially the expectation that they will be surrounded by only middle-class people. We can’t all be middle-class, and really, not that many of us should be middle-class, ecologically speaking. It takes a lot of working-class people to support a single middle-class person, so we should expect to have many more working-class people than middle-class people. Get used to it folks, there are a lot of poor people around.

being-poor-3

On the other hand, it shouldn’t suck so much to be poor. Ever since Reagan, we’ve had this attitude that we should punish and humiliate the poor as much as possible, so that we might thereby motivate them to work harder to become middle-class. In reality, punishing the poor drives down wages and keeps housing prices high for everyone. Seeing desperately poor people on the street makes middle-class people feel less secure, and the super-rich exploit that insecurity.

plutocrats book

This is why grown adults with full-time jobs need a roommate to afford an apartment.  This is why so many salaried employees put in 60 hour weeks to meet their work load.  This is why fewer Americans than ever can afford their own home.  This is why so many healthy able-bodied adults have decided that the jobs they can get don’t pay enough to be worth their time.  That’s how the super-rich uses the dirt poor against the middle-class.

trickle down economics

Look at where punishing the poor has gotten us. Still we have plenty of resentment to go around. We punish the crazy, because we don’t want halfway houses in our neighborhoods.  We don’t want to see them and we don’t want to pay for them. We punish the addicted for their weakness. We punish the young and adventurous because they remind us of our lost youth and we punish the lost and confused because we just don’t have time for other people. We punish them all because we see them as blemishes on our middle-class dreams, but the ones we resent the most don’t have any excuse, do they?

no excuse washington

I’m talking about the healthy young people who have decided that the jobs they can get, don’t pay well enough to be worth their time, and that their time is better spent learning to live without a job and without a home. More and more people are making that decision, not because it looks like an attractive option, but because it looks like a better option than any of their alternatives.  They would rather sleep outside in the rain and scrounge for food then work themselves to death, and kiss ass all day for a rented room, a TV and enough beer to ease the pain.  These people have resentments too. Just sayin’

job-vs-homeless fu

We all like having someone to punish. It makes us feel better about how much we punish ourselves in this stupid economy. We punish the poor, because we want poor people to suffer more than we do in our struggle to be middle-class. The struggle to be middle-class sucks so much because being middle-class is a totally unsustainable lifestyle. It has nothing to do with the poor, except that every person now struggling to be middle-class makes the whole world poorer, and helps the super-rich enslave us all. That’s what middle-class people do. It’s nothing to be proud of.

class war

Thanks to three decades of trickle-down economics, welfare reform, and the Great Recession our population of punishable people mushroomed. Despite the economic pressure, despite the social stigma and open hostility, they have learned to live outside of mainstream society, and there are now enough of them that they have their own society. The more they talk to each other, the more they identify with each other. The more they identify with each other, the more they support each other, and the more they support each other, the more insulated from, and immune to the punishments of, the mainstream culture they become. So, we become like the Israelis and the Palestinians, or like Black and White America, two segregated societies that hate each other, living in the same place.

class war gif

This problem is not going away, and it’s never going to get better without compromise, leadership, foresight and understanding. Knowing this community as I do, that means it ain’t gonna happen, and instead, things will go from bad to worse. The whole situation is very revealing. Poor people can’t afford to conceal their ugliness, and having ugly poor people around brings out the ugliness of the middle-class. We now see just how ugly and dysfunctional American society has become. The situation is so pathetic that probably the best that will come from it was the small amount of humor, and insightful analysis I was able to glean from it for this blog.

'I like 'gleaning' better than 'reaping'.'

But just imagine for a moment… What if we had some thoughtful, enlightened, cultural creatives among our local gentry? What could they do to make the situation better for everyone, and to make Garberville a much better place to live?

imagine passion

Right now the number one need in this community is housing. We need housing more than we need ball fields, schools, parks, roads or anything else. By ignoring that need, in favor of perks for the middle-class, like ball fields, concert venues or the town square, we provide adequate reason for the homeless to despise the gentry. Everything we do to relieve that pressure, will also reduce that hostility, and pay off in better life for everyone in Garberville.

tiny shelter-horz

SoHum prides itself as the heart of the “back to the land” movement, where once upon a time, people bought cheap land, and built their own homes without permits. The Boomers now make sure that no one ever gets a deal on land like they got, but a lot of people would still like to build their own tiny cabin, somewhere where a landlord won’t evict them, and the cops will not come tear it down.

hippie cabin

If you’ve been to Oregon Country Fair you’ve no doubt noticed how harmoniously hippie architecture can blend into a natural environment. It doesn’t happen by accident. OCF has volunteer building inspectors that look for genuinely dangerous or particularly ugly structures, and cites them, but mostly, people can build what they want. A lot of people would really appreciate an opportunity to build their own little home, and would have a lot of motivation to make it work. Half Habitat for Humanity, half Oregon Country Fair, part campground, part tree-fort residential subdivision, entirely innovative, entirely SoHum, we could make it happen if only someone with some land around here actually gave a fuck.

hippie architecture1-horz

Even without building a single other structure, we could probably solve our housing problem another way.

another-way

Right now, about half of this county’s available residential housing has been converted to indoor marijuana farms. Why are half of our residential houses full of marijuana plants, while thousands of people sleep outside? That’s insane. Every grow house is a crime against humanity, and a crime against nature, and if there is any role for the cops it should be to bust every indoor grow scene in Humboldt County.

indoor grow2-horz

Frankly, I don’t think the cops will be much help. Cops aren’t going to solve this problem. This is a “crumbling society” problem, not a “law and order” problem. If our social problems could be solved by a pin-headed red-neck with a gun, they’d have all been solved a long time ago. These problems were created by pin-headed red-necks with guns. We need unarmed hippie solutions, the kind we used to have when pot was cheap and it all came from Mexico, before we got greedy and decided we wanted to be middle-class.

greed is the knife

The pressure should come from the community. We should hear PSAs on KMUD about how to recognize a grow house, how much damage to the environment comes from growing marijuana indoors, and especially about how many families go homeless because greedy drug dealers have taken over our residential neighborhoods. Homes are for people! Get the pot farms out of our residential neighborhoods. This isn’t just common sense, it’s common decency.

common-courtesy-

Another common sense, absolute desperate necessity is a reasonably priced campground with bathrooms and a coin-operated shower. State campgrounds charge $35 a night for camping, which is highway robbery (Fuck You, State of California!). That’s why you only find rich retirees camping at them anymore. The county charges $15 dollars a night for their campgrounds. That’s closer to reasonable. Reasonable does not mean, “competitive,” reasonable means a price that people will actually pay, rather than take their chances finding a place where they can crash for free.

free place to crash

We get a lot of budget conscious tourists who are resourceful enough that they don’t ever have to pay tourist prices for camping. Currently, the only people who welcome them are the homeless. If the townsfolk welcomed them with the kinds of services they need at a price they’re willing to spend, these tourists would not so quickly identify with, and become a part of the local subculture, and local entrepreneurs would make money from them. Again, this is just common sense.

common sense

Here’s something a little more ambitious, but desperately needed, an affordable, cannabis-therapy-based treatment and recovery camp. We all know people who have beat serious addictions to alcohol, narcotics, tobacco,cocaine or speed, by using cannabis. Decades of prohibition have deeply enmeshed cannabis users and growers alike into the black-market drug trade. A large part of the money that comes into this county, comes from individuals and organizations that deal in other, more addictive substances, along with Humboldt’s finest cannabis.

drug dealer

Addiction is a huge problem both among SoHum’s housed community as well as the unhoused. A very rustic, drug-free, cult-like, cannabis intensive retreat, built around a culture of recovery, mutual support, mutual-sufficiency and community service has enormous potential around here. We have the rustic. We have the addicts. All we need is one good Pot Doc with cult-leader aspirations.  At the very least, it would help a lot of people quit hard drugs, take a lot of pressure off of the community, and do a lot of research on cannabis and addiction.

cannabis therapy institute

And while we’re dreaming…. Here’s another good idea: Economic diversity, and by that I mean, make space for tiny businesses, and local artists. Support them. Celebrate them, don’t just exploit them, or force them out of town.

local arts

Eureka and Arcata both have rocking Arts Alive nights every month. Garberville could do it too, but it would take planning, and some commitment to make it happen.

make it happen

Now, I expect most of the people who own land around here to think: “Why should I do anything for them?” Here’s why: Doing all of these things helps to shrink that “problem population,” and it creates the illusion that people actually give a fuck about their fellow human beings. That makes it harder for people like me to make fun of the situation, and it gives people more options, which makes it harder to take sides. In reality, it’s a diabolical strategy designed to subdue insurgents. They call it Psy-Ops.

psyops1

Every time you put someone in a home, you cut the homeless population by one. Every time you get an addict off of drugs and into a cult, your problem shrinks. Every time a tourist sees an entrepreneur bending over backwards to accommodate them, the less likely it is that they will camp with the homeless, get to know them and and decide to stick around. And of course, every artist who can count on reliable local work because someone at the C of C makes Arts Alive a priority, means one sarcastic critic with a sharp pen, has something better to do.

something_better_to_do


Boomer Karma

boomer-karma-horz

This vein is just too rich to ignore, so today I’m mining the irony of the whole sad situation in Garberville yet again. I realize that this situation has upset many people, and I think people should be upset. In fact, people should be outraged, just not at the poor, the young and the homeless. Instead, I think we should blame it on the Baby Boomers.

boomers Jake Dimare quote

Never before have so many taken so much, and yet demanded so much more as the Baby Boomer generation, and it couldn’t be truer here in SoHum. Here in SoHum, a small community of Baby Boomers bought land here dirt cheap, and took advantage of the Drug War to turn enormous profits growing black-market marijuana. Today a small community of Baby Boomers still control most of the real estate in SoHum, and they make damn sure that no one ever gets a deal like they got. They supply half of the nation with marijuana, which turns people into hippies, but the money they got for it, turned them into yuppies. Now that they have become crotchety old geezers, what do we hear them complain about?

boomers cynical

Hippies! The Baby Boomers in Garberville are complaining about hippies!

hippies on sidewalk

You know what folks, what goes around, comes around, and sometimes the karma runs over the dogma. You might not be old enough to remember this, but there was a time when there were even more scuzzy, smelly, obnoxious hippies around than there are today.

boomers-grow-old-horsey

Back in the late 60’s and early 70’s, you wouldn’t believe how many filthy, dirty fucked-up hippies there were. They were everywhere. They took every imaginable drug, meth, heroin, cocaine, LSD, PCP, Quaaludes and anything else they could get their hands on.

hippies turn on collage

They freaked-out spectacularly. They fucked-up catastrophically, and they passed-out in their own vomit. Not only were they totally “in your face” everywhere you went, they had to have their loud music blaring all the time as accompaniment.

hippie BW-tile

And talk about attitude. They treated the whole world as if it belonged to them, exclusively, right from the start. They rioted, for God’s sake, big raucous riots where they turned over police cars and set fire to buildings. They’d never shut-up and sit down at music concerts, and they’d never turn their music down anywhere else. They wore faded, ripped, shabby clothing and they never took a bath. They were disgusting, repulsive, and obnoxious, and they took over every park, square and sidewalk in the whole country.

hippies take over park

They didn’t like how anyone else did anything. They wanted a revolution so they could do everything their way, and “their way” meant “at a party and on drugs,” and they thought that that made them cultural revolutionaries. To this day, SoHum Boomers still believe they can solve all of their problems at a party and on drugs.

hippies_and_hipsters-tile

To be fair, the boomers did change our culture. They changed us from a culture of stilted, stiff, sexually repressed, uptight consumerism into a culture of dumbed-down, hyper-sexualized, casual, convenient consumerism. Spirituality replaced religion. Positivity replaced compassion, and self-serving non-profit organizations replaced charities.

self inc

The War on Poverty became the War on Drugs because suddenly Americans hated hippies more than they feared black people. With cocaine, they turned a rich man’s drug into a poor mans drug and annihilated a generation of inner-city youth. With marijuana, they turned a poor man’s drug into a luxury only the rich could afford, and they made income discrimination more socially acceptable than racial discrimination.

colorblindideology

Go ahead and ask any of our local Baby boomers about the 60’s and ’70s and they’ll tell you how long their hair used to be. They’ll tell you about all of the drugs they used to take and all of the crazy shit they used to do, and they’ll tell you it was the best time of their life. My how times change.

hipies love free earth

One thing hasn’t changed however, Baby Boomers thought they owned the whole world then, and they still think the whole fucking world belongs to them. Now that they’re all shriveled-up, they don’t think anyone else deserves the opportunity to be young and irresponsible, and no one else has the right to come here and make a home in the woods without giving them a quarter-of-a-million dollars first. I guess they’ve still got some lessons to learn because it’s their bad karma that keeps bringing more hippies to Garberville, and I don’t think anyone deserves them more.

hippy chick beer


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


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