Category Archives: art

LOCO, Me, and the Truth About Southern Humboldt

loco logo

I take pride in my work, and I enjoy seeing my essays published each week at LOCO. I can’t say I read LOCO much. I use the excuse that I don’t have internet at home, for not reading LOCO, but the truth is, I don’t have internet at home because I have better things to do. Still, Hank Sims and the folks at Lost Coast Communications have put together a great resource for this community. I know that a lot of people rely on LOCO as their number one source for information about life in Humboldt County, and I’m proud to be a part of it.

proud people work harder

Of course, not everyone who reads LOCO likes what I have to say. Some people have described my work as “hateful” or as “sensationalist click-bait.” Nothing could be further from the truth. I don’t hate dope yuppies for becoming drug dealers any more than I would hate a woman for becoming a prostitute. I pity her. I don’t care how much money she makes. I pity her, and I pity the dope yuppies in the same way.


Prohibition has a corrosive effect on everything it touches, including the lives of the people who profit from it.  I don’t care how much money they make at it, dealing drugs is a shitty, low-status, high-stress occupation, and growing weed is a lot of boring hard work. Even the money they make, causes them problems.

money causes problems

Not everyone sympathizes with white people who have too much money, but I do. I know that many of our local dope yuppies suffer from an inferiority complex. Deep down, they can’t face the fear that they just don’t have what it takes to succeed honestly, so they overcompensate. I see how hard they work to fill that hole, and how completely clueless they are about their situation. That’s not evil; that’s pathetic, so I pity them; I don’t hate them.

pity not hate love

That said, as we move towards legalization, and draw back the curtain on this whole writhing pile of maggots known affectionately as “the cannabis industry,” we must always remember that the War On Drugs did this to people. The War on Drugs was a shameful chapter in this country’s history, and it forced a lot of people to do ugly, sneaky and illegal things, just to get cannabis into the hands of the people who needed it most. You could, perhaps, describe those efforts as heroic, but over time, it changed people, and they became increasingly addicted to black-market profits.


Those were dark times, but as the War on Drugs comes to an end, so does the excuse for this inexcusable behavior. Now comes the time for truth and reconciliation, and I’m here to help. I’m here to remind you of what you lost in the War on Drugs, and what we stand to gain by ending it. I sympathize, and I care. I only want the best for our whole community, and I do my best, as a writer, to to highlight the truth, and make it entertaining to boot. It’s honest work, LOCO pays me for it, and every day, people introduce themselves to me, to tell me how much they appreciate it.

thumbs up

Sure, it’s a lot of work for the money, and no, I don’t make as much as the dope yuppies I ridicule, but I still have my self-respect. Self-respect can save you a lot of money in the long run, because no matter how much money you sell your self-respect for, you can never buy it back, no matter how hard you try. Dope yuppies tend to blow a lot of their money that way.

respect money

Why do you think dope yuppies over-tip at restaurants, buy shit they don’t need, and go to spas so much? They know that the merchants they patronize, treat their customers with respect, and keep their opinions to themselves, so dope yuppies spend a lot of money, in a vain attempt to buy back what most people instinctively know is too precious to sell.

self respect dont lose it

Consequently, the merchants in the Garberville shopping district know that, more than the goods and services they provide, they sell respect itself to people who sorely lack it, and they charge a premium for it. That’s why everything costs so much here, and why you’ll get so little of it, unless you spend a lot of money. We even have a store in Garberville called “Got Respect?” I kid you not. I have no idea what they sell there because I’ve never stepped inside. I just wish Wildhorse Records still occupied that space.

got respect

“Sensationalist click-bait?” Please! How is that different from, “a damn good read?” Some people read my work because they know that it’s about them, and they just can’t get enough of themselves, even if they don’t like what I have to say about them. Others read my work because they know I speak the truth about what goes on around here. They’re glad someone has the nerve to say it, and the skills to say it well. I may not indulge you in your illusions about yourself, or avoid reminding you of things you’d rather forget, but at least I pay attention to you, Southern Humboldt, and I care. That’s why I write this column, and that’s why you read it.

thats why life

Humboldt Pot, a Petroleum Product

sour diesel skull

I don’t know why we worry so much about Big Tobacco getting into the marijuana industry when the industry has already sold out to Big Oil. When you consider all of the hash labs littered with thousands of empty butane canisters,


all of the lit-up greenhouses and the indoor grows,

grow room big

the big generators,

diesel generator exhaust

the earth moving equipment,

excavator digs

the quads,

quad atv

the giant 4×4 vanity trucks

4x4 truck

and the endless snorting, stench-spewing caravan of soil and water trucks crisscrossing our watersheds,

Image of red colored truck with very dark exhaust, possibly polluting the environment.

it’s no wonder all of the weed we grow around here stinks of diesel fuel. Truth be known, Humboldt weed is primarily a petroleum product, and the industry becomes more oil intensive every day.


The cannabis industry’s thirst for fossil fuel has only grown since coming out of the closet, at least judging by auditory evidence. I’ve never heard so much racket coming out of these hills as I have in the past year, and it’s not just my neighborhood. Yesterday, in town, I heard three different people, independently, complain about loud generators disturbing their peace and quiet in three separate watersheds.

diesel generator camo

In the Redway Post Office, I saw a flier posted by yet another angry forest dweller encouraging people who value their peace and quiet to to report their noisy neighbors to the CA Air Quality Management Board. The flier also reminds people of the health risks associated with noise pollution, like tinnitus, ear damage and hearing loss. I doubt the bureaucrats at CAAQMB want any more than to collect a fee from the offenders, but why not make them pay any way you can.

make them pay

Now that the marijuana industry has come out in the open, apparently, so has the greed. The sun just can’t shine bright or long enough to satisfy our dope yuppies anymore, so they flood the forest with noise pollution and air pollution so they can make light pollution. Besides annoying neighbors, stressing wildlife, degrading the environment and creating a public health threat, every year, a few of these generators blow up and start forest fires. Dope yuppies don’t care, unless it’s their house that burns.

forest fire

Dope yuppies don’t care about anyone but themselves and their own greedy scheme to get rich off of prohibition. All Summer, their soil and water trucks pounded the county roads out in the hills, to rubble, in yet another sacrifice to their insatiable greed. Humboldt’s marijuana industry destroys roads because, every year, all new “farmland” has to be trucked in, as well as a substantial portion of the water needed to grow the crop. Thanks to prohibition, and the massive taxpayer subsidies that go along with it, Humboldt’s dope yuppies make so much money from marijuana that they still turn a profit despite their disgracefully wasteful farming practices.

HOOPA, CA - NOVEMBER 15, 2012 --  Aaron Pole, a wildlife technician with the Hoopa Tribal Forestry, walks inside the forest where marijuana growers left piles of trash after vacating the area on the Hoopa Indian Reservation in eastern Humboldt county on November 15, 2012.  The grow was raided by the sheriff in August and deputies cut down 26,600 plants in eight interconnected clearings along Mill Creek.  Pole and Mark Higley, a wildlife biologist on the Hoopa Indian Reservation, suspect that the huge marijuana grows are killing wildlife in the area. (Photo by Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times)

Meanwhile, Supervisor Estelle Fennell has the nerve to remind us that homeless people and working single mothers who shop in town, will pay to fix those roads, so that dope yuppies can continue to have Amazon deliver everything they need, right to their door, avoiding the Measure Z sales tax completely, and effectively externalizing yet another business expense to the poorest taxpayers. Way to go Estelle! That’s how you steal from the poor and give to the rich, and that’s why the dope yuppies love her.

estelle fennell quote

Yes the weed around here depends heavily on Big Oil, but it’s not just a matter of contamination, I believe there’s also an element of imitation. I think that cannabis itself responds to our obsession with fossil fuels. Think about it. We know that cannabis responds to its environment. When hippie gardeners grew marijuana by hand, it smelled like fruit and sage, because hippie gardeners love fruit and burn sage,

hippie gardeners

but now, the people who grow pot around here love their big trucks and their quads and their generators. The weed can smell the trucks, and the generators, and all of the exhaust fumes, and the weed thinks we like those smells, so the weed expresses those aromas in its attempt to please us. That’s why so much of the pot around here smells like diesel fuel. How apropos!

this stinks skunk


Cannabis can be a lot of things, but right now cannabis thinks we want a stupefying anesthetic that stinks like diesel fuel, and she is doing her level best to satisfy us. How long do you think it will be before cannabis realizes that we don’t really care about anything but money, and starts to smell like that? Unfortunately, marijuana already smells like money to too many people. That’s the problem.

smelling money

Class, or Class War


In recent weeks, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to vent my spleen about the people who cause the most problems in my community, especially because I hear so much poisonous rhetoric on the other side, targeting the poor. I’m not a fan of class warfare, but when served, I will answer. It’s always shameful and small to pick on someone weaker than you, and it’s always heroic to stand up to a bully. The way I see it, in this current class war, unless you are squarely allied with the poor, you work for the rich.

join the elite

If you take sides with the rich, in this war, you deserve a punishment a thousand times worse than my stinging words. In this war between the rich and the poor, the middle-class becomes the battlefield, and no one deserves to be pounded into a smoking heap of rubble and ash more than the American middle-class, because the middle-class acts as the mercenary army of the super-rich.


The poor have nothing to lose, and everything to gain by standing up to their oppressors, while the middle-class face trauma and disillusionment, as they slowly wake up to the fact that, in this war, they were the bad guys all along, who wasted their lives, and the planet, on a fantasy lifestyle, that became an economic and environmental monstrosity beyond their darkest nightmares.

game over

When you’ve sold your life for trinkets and find yourself on the wrong side of history, denial becomes a coping mechanism For the rich, losing the class war compares to losing the civil war. Resentments and prejudice will linger, as today’s middle-class conservatives becomes the bitter poor white crackers of the future.


But it doesn’t have to be that way for us here in SoHum. Here in SoHum we have no class, and that’s a kind of poverty that unites us all, from the richest dope yuppie, to the most wretched street urchin, so why should we let class war divide us? We shouldn’t! We should recognize that we’re all poor. Really, I pity us all.

pity us all quote

Why do we work so goddamn hard? Why do we break laws and sell our weed to out of state drug dealers? We do it because we don’t have enough money, right. If we don’t have enough money, it means that some of our wants and needs will go unmet. Am I wrong? Unmet needs equals poverty, and poverty means you’re poor. So face it! We’re all poor. It’s really true. I don’t care how entranced you are with your trinkets, or how jealous you are of anyone else’, we all live in poverty, and our lives are being stolen from us right before our eyes.

a ztolen life

That said, everything we do to make life easier for poor people, makes life easier for us. Think about it. What are the chances that you, or any of your progeny will find yourselves counted among the nations wealthiest one-tenth of one percent? It could happen. You could hit the lottery. Your new cannabis start-up could blow-up big, or your daughter could marry a rich old guy with a heart condition, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

hold your breath

On the other hand, what are the chances that you, or any of your kids or grandchildren might find yourself short on cash with no place to crash, or be blessed with a personality ill-suited for gainful employment, or fall victim to alcoholism, or become addicted to drugs, or for some other reason, fail to thrive, economically? I don’t know the exact odds, but I’d bet on it, if I were you.

safe bet

That’s why it always makes sense to make life easier for poor people. When you make life easier for poor people, you make life easier for yourself. I’m not saying we have to spend a lot of money to help the poor, but if we at least stop paying people to punish, harass, and humiliate them, we’d all be ahead. If we could recognize that a lot of people who live here will never earn enough to money to afford a place to live under our current system of building codes and zoning ordinances, we could begin to solve a lot of problems by changing the system, instead of trying to change people. People don’t need more money; people need a place to be. Life is hard enough, let’s not make it any harder.

life is hard enough

When you make life easier for poor people, you make life easier for your self, and you make the world richer for everyone, because making it easier to be poor, lowers everyone’s stress level, which benefits everyone, and makes it easier to be an artist, craftsman, musician, poet or writer; you make it possible for the people who don’t care so much about making money, to put their energy into the things that really matter to them. When you make life easier for poor people, you make life better for everyone, and you encourage a flourishing culture. That’s why they call New Orleans “The Big Easy.” and that’s why people love it.

the big easy

People who appreciate an easy life and a flourishing culture, have class. Punishing the poor for their poverty only fuels their resentment, and perpetuates class war. So, we have a choice: We can have some class, or we can have class war. We’re all poor, and we all need somewhere to get out of the weather this winter. We can solve this problem together, or we can make more problems for each other. It’s up to us.

buy some class trump

Marketing Premium Cannabis

marketing cannabis

As we move towards legalization, and pot becomes even more ubiquitous and banal, it will become more important than ever to remind the non-cannabis consuming community, why we find this common weed so uncommonly attractive. It’s just a matter of marketing. If you want to sell a high-end luxury product like appellation controlled, Humboldt grown, fair trade, organic, salmon-friendly sun-grown sinsemilla for a premium price, it really helps if your customer A) has the money, B) can read the label, and C) cares.

hey look someone cares

That means you need well educated, higher income people to want your product. Current statistics show that the higher your income, and the more education you have, the more you gravitate towards alcohol, while low-income, sub-literate people invariably smoke weed. How do we convince someone who is bright, successful, has plenty of money, and feels optimistic about the future, to make time for marijuana?

time for marijuana

It won’t matter how good your weed is, if the people who can afford it, don’t want to get high. Cannabis is the ticket, not the main attraction. Getting high is the main attraction. Here in Humboldt County, we focus a lot on the quality of the ticket, and how much money you can make selling tickets. Drug dealers have always run the box office, but what’s going on in the theater? What’s so great about getting high, that it’s worth buying these expensive tickets? Do you think people pay $10 a gram for weed, just so they can cough and hack on smoke that tastes like diesel fuel? You can do that for free, any day of the week, just by standing on the sidewalk downtown.

rolling coal

We’re losing the media battle. TV and movies portray drug dealers as gangsters, or business-people, two of our primary cultural archetypes. On the other hand, high people, that is, people portrayed as being under the influence of cannabis, usually appear vacant, generally seated on a couch, in front of a TV, surrounded by empty junk food wrappers. If they say anything at all, they’ll do it inarticulately, and punctuate it with giggles. Who wants to be that guy?

stupid stoner

Is that what getting high is all about? How stupid do you have to be, to begin with, that that even looks attractive? I mean, if that’s what people do when they get high, it’s not just a waste of good weed, it’s an insult to good weed, and a waste of a good life. No one aspires to become a vacant half-wit; so why would anyone spend money on a drug that promises to transform them into one.

stoned dude

When I was growing up, I only saw high people portrayed in the media, on anti-drug propaganda that I knew could not be trusted, but I knew that Miles Davis smoked weed, and I knew that Bob Dylan smoked weed. If you asked me to give you one example that showed off the very best of human intelligence. I’d probably pick something like The ESP Sessions, by Miles Davis and his band. I’m not even a jazz fan, but I cannot deny the genius and the passion so beautifully expressed on that record. Do I want to smoke what Miles was smoking then? Fuck yeah, even if it was the same brown seedy weed the rest of us were smoking, because Miles was smokin’ back then.

On the other hand, do I want to smoke Snoop Dog’s special Chemdawg Reserve strain of premium sinsemilla. Fuck no, because Snoop Dog is a no-talent drug-dealer with atrocious taste. I don’t want to be like him at all. Miles Davis was a man of music. He was shaped by music, and music poured through him. Snoop Dog has got his mind on his money and his money on his mind. It shows, Snoop. It shows.

Is today’s high-tech sinsemilla really better than the brown seedy weed we all used to smoke in the 60’s and 70’s? I think that all depends on how you look at it, and I’m afraid that bright, successful optimistic people are not going to see anything very inspirational, exciting or special about our current cannabis culture, and as a result, might just choose to skip cannabis altogether.

marijuana a special kind of stupid

That would be a shame, because cannabis has a lot to offer everyone. Stupid people cause fewer problems when they smoke weed instead of drinking alcohol, but bright, talented people often find they have better ideas, greater sensitivity, and a higher level of coherence when they smoke weed. I just wish I could point to more contemporary examples.

your inner genius

P.S.  Just a little more Miles, cause he was so fucking cool!

This is NOT a Bomb Either

this is not a bomb either

I’ve written before, about how few Americans are capable of making anything for themselves anymore, but the story of MacArthur High School freshman Ahmed Mohamed, who was detained at school, and eventually arrested, because he brought the digital clock he built from a kit, to school, blew my mind. First, it blew my mind that there’s still a 9th grader out there who would rather build an electronic kit than slaughter virtual aliens while driving recklessly through cyberspace.


Second, it blows my mind that teachers were alarmed, rather than delighted by this. A decent science teacher would have asked Ahmed how he built his clock, and how it works, and then ask him if he’d be willing to put the clock on the wall, where they would use it to tell time for the rest of the semester. You never know, another kid might find himself staring at that clock, counting down the minutes till the end of class, and think:”I wonder if I could build a clock like that.” At worst, it sells educational electronic kits, at best, it launches technical careers.


Finally, it blows my mind the most to imagine the cognitive dissonance between Ahmed who saw an electronic kit and thought, “That looks cool! I want to build that clock”, and teachers and cops who thought, “Why would anyone want to build a clock? Why doesn’t he just look at his phone if he wants to know what time it is?” Clearly the defeat of human creativity is complete. We have become such passive, conformist consumers that we now consider building your own clock a form of dangerously deviant behavior. It’s a brave new world.

brave new world1

I’m sure the entire experience traumatized Ahmed in ways that even a trip to the White House and a personal visit with President Obama won’t entirely erase. The kid likes circuit-boards, but now he thinks that he is freakishly weird for liking circuit-boards. This will become a defining moment of his life, and he will probably always feel self-conscious and nervous about how people might react to him, a Middle-Eastern man, buying electronic components, for instance. His innocence is lost.

innocence lost1

I sympathize. I loved circuit-boards as a kid, and I still do. I loved taking radios apart, and I assembled a few electronic kits, but not many of my projects from that era ever worked as well as Ahmed’s clock. As a kid, I didn’t quite get the hang of soldering electronic components.

bad soldering

In the past decade, however, I have rediscovered my inner nerd, mastered my soldering technique and built myself a small collection of electronic musical instruments and audio gear, including a Theremin, a suitcase full of circuit-bent toys, an all tube guitar amplifier, and a stereo tube pre-amp. This past Summer. I built my most ambitious project yet:


WARNING: This is going to get nerdy!

talk nerdy
This is a highly idiosyncratic, if not completely original, modular, analog synthesizer of my own design. I call it, The Geosafari Synthesizer because I mounted all of the circuitry inside the plastic housing of Geosafari, an electronic, educational game popular in the eighties.


I found this Geosafari game at our local thrift store and bought it for $1, In it, I saw the perfect housing for my synthesizer. I recycled the rectangular red and green LEDs from the game, and remounted them in the original holes. On the left, the LEDS display the clock speed, and step number of the sequencer. On the right Red LEDs indicate “power on” to each of three primary oscillators, and one noise generator, and a green LED indicates decay time of the envelope generator.


The circuitry fits into the space originally occupied by the Geosafari game cards.


I was also able to utilize the battery compartment, for battery, and extra patch-cord storage, and the built in speaker still works too. I even recycled a transistor and a capacitor from the original Geosafari circuit-board. Other than that, I completely replaced the guts of this Geosafari game.


Here’s what went inside, to replace the original electronics: Two “Atari Punk Consoles” this famous circuit originally devised by Forrest Mimms, has a lot of musical potential, and two of them together more than doubles the fun. With a flip of a switch, they can be heterodyned. Heterodyned oscillators effect each other in interesting ways that can’t be recreated by mixing them through an audio mixer.


Beneath them, I included a white noise generator. I got the white noise gen schematic from an old website that suggested we build these devices to prevent malignant forces from using low-frequency radio waves to reprogram our brains. If it does that too, I’ll consider it a bonus. Rounding out the signal generating circuits, I included a simple 555 based, audio frequency oscillator, just to have one very straightforward oscillator without the built-in frequency divider.

white noise plan

In the middle section of the control panel, you’ll find all of the signal modifiers, starting at the top with a voltage controlled filter. I built the filter from a schematic I found online. The filter is a critical section of any analog synthesizer, and I like the way this 741 based filter sounds. This was the first resonant filter amplifier circuit I’ve ever built, and I chose this schematic for it’s simplicity, and easy availability of parts. It does what a filter is supposed to do.

filter schematic

Beneath the filter, I have a simple, one-stage envelope generator. I had planned to skip the envelope generator, because a standard four-stage ADSR envelope was just too complicated. Then I found this nifty little circuit from the folks at How could I resist adding this simple one-stage decay envelope to my synth. It only took three transistors and a capacitor, all of which I had on hand, so I built it on the edge of the filter circuit board, and added the controls to the control panel.

synthesizer architecture

Beneath the envelope generator, I included a Low-Frequency Oscillator, to add modulation to the filter, the amplifier, or any of the oscillators. I got the Low-Frequency Oscillator circuit from a youtube video. The guy was using this particular circuit to make an LED gradually light-up, then gradually fade out, and repeat the process at a steady rate, that you could increase or decrease by turning a knob. He used the circuit to add lights to his X-wing fighter, Millennium Falcon, and USS Enterprise scale models. I attached the LEDs to photoresistors, with shrink tubing, and used the same circuit to control the oscillators and filter on this synthesizer.

uss enterprise model

Below the LFO, a simple Voltage Controlled Amplifier allows me to modulate the volume of the signal with the LFO. In the future, I hope to add some accessories to this synthesizer, like a keyboard, and a light-sensitive gestural controller, which I could also use to control volume, through the VCA.

geosafari guts

Consuming the entire left third of the control panel, a ten-step voltage controlled sequencer allows me to cycle any of the on-board oscillators, or any voltage-controlled analog synthesizer, through a musical pattern of up to ten steps. I can change the speed of the pattern, the frequency range of the pattern, and the number of steps in the pattern from 2-10. The two columns of five knobs at the far left allow me to change the pitch of each individual step.


I found a youtube video that showed me how to convert a commonly available, and very inexpensive electronic kit, the Velleman brand LED chase-light kit into a pretty cool sequencer, so I decided to build one myself. As it turned out, not all inexpensive electronic chase-light kits are created equal. Mine turned out to be a different kit altogether, but with a little research, I was able to figure our how to make it into a working sequencer as well.

chase light

How does it sound? Take a listen! In this video I took it for a test flight.

By next spring, you might hear it in some new music.

Choice and Change in Humboldt County


People talk about homelessness as though it were a choice. How many times have you heard someone say, “If that’s how they choose to live…” when talking about homeless people? What a ludicrous idea! Homelessness happens to people. They don’t aspire to it. They don’t plan it, and few are well prepared for it when it happens to them. People don’t choose homelessness. Homelessness is what happens to people who run out of options.


On the other hand, people do choose to become middle-class. The aspiration to become middle-class is so pervasive that it has acquired a nickname. We call it the American Dream. Yes, people choose to become middle-class. They aspire to join the middle-class. They work to achieve middle-class status, and even after they’ve established themselves within the middle-class, they never quite feel middle-class enough.

not middle class enough

A lot of people choose to live a middle-class lifestyle, and it’s a choice most people make without giving it a lot of thought. It’s an expensive choice. The middle-class lifestyle consumes people’s lives as greedily as it consumes the earth’s resources. The middle-class lifestyle doesn’t happen by accident. It takes dedication and lifelong commitment to join the ranks of the middle-class.

chance of middle class

At the same time, the middle-class lifestyle has a very poor record of making people happy. As anyone raised in a middle-class home can tell you, the middle-class lifestyle ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. Still, people throw themselves at the middle-class, like proverbial lemmings over a cliff. Even real lemmings aren’t that stupid. What gives?

another way to go

You see, most people don’t choose a middle-class lifestyle because it looks particularly attractive. Most people choose to become middle-class because the prospect of homelessness frightens them so much. In this way, the middle-class are a lot like Christians, who abstain from earthly pleasures, not so much because they dream of someday flying through the clouds playing a harp, but because they fear the fires of Hell.

hell fear

This kind of fear grows into resentment. In the same way that deeply frustrated Christians vent their resentment at gay people and women seeking abortions, the middle-class vent their resentment at the poor and homeless. In both cases it’s a gross display of stupidity, gullibility and cowardice aimed at the most vulnerable. Like Christians, the middle-class have been frightened into believing a fairy tale that controls their lives and makes them resentful of non-believers.


No one forces them to become middle-class. I’m sure they feel a lot of pressure from family and friends, not to mention the media, and society at large. Even the government tries to enforce a middle-class lifestyle through policy, sanction, and ordinance. However, the decision to pursue a middle-class lifestyle remains a personal choice, and one that can only be realized through dedication and hard work. Still, it’s a choice most people make without much serious thought.

choice consequences quote

We know that most of the serious crises we face today, like global climate change, habitat loss and the extinction crisis, result directly from too many people choosing a conventional American middle-class lifestyle. From a scientific perspective, it seems clear that the single biggest threat to our long-term survival, is our global infatuation with becoming middle-class. If we actually thought about it, we’d realize what a destructive, high-maintenance, low-satisfaction lifestyle the middle-class have chosen. Few of us would eagerly repeat their mistakes. But instead of thinking, we blindly perpetuate a culture of fear and oppression that serves only the super-rich, while it pushes us all relentlessly towards extinction.

extinction c n h

Who do we blame for this? Invariably, we blame the poor. We blame the poor for not pulling their weight. We blame the poor for frightening children, driving off tourists, blocking sidewalks, and especially for not going away. Then, when they finally crack, under the pressure of poverty, lack of sleep, poor diet, constant harassment and social isolation, we blame their poverty on mental illness. How does this make sense?

no logic exists

If you ask me, I say, “Blame the middle-class.” Blame the sniveling cowards who turned their backs on humanity and stuck their tongues deep into the rectum of the super-rich, just for the chance to spend the future, today. Blame the middle-class for their greed, stupidity, and cowardice. Blame them for their choices, because the choices were all theirs to make.

thats so middle class

Whether it was their lack of imagination, their gullibility, or their infatuation with bright shiny objects that lead middle-class people to make the dreadful decisions that define their lives and shape our world, ultimately, blaming people doesn’t solve the problem. To solve this problem, people have to learn to live differently.

learn to live differently

I realize that you’ve heard this before. “Create a sustainable lifestyle” has been a mantra of environmental organizations for decades, environmental groups that rely mainly on the middle-class
for their support. Still, if we manage to survive this century as a species, it won’t be because we developed some new clean energy source, it will be because we learned to live differently.


Do you remember that part of our Humboldt County heritage? You’ve seen the experimental houses, the strawbale, cobb, ferro-cement, and wattle-and-daub buildings, the yurts, tepees, wikiups, and benders, the domes, tree-houses, house-trees, and the thousands of funky, idiosyncratic little wooden dwellings that grace our Humboldt County hillsides. Those houses exist because a lot of people came to Humboldt County to experiment with different ways of living, not to become middle-class yuppies by growing dope.

funky tree home humboldt

We’ve seen how these experiments pay off economically. The Solar Living Center in Hopland, and the Schottz energy lab in Arcata come to mind immediately, as examples of how a modest cultural experiment can catalyze change and create real economic opportunities.

solar living center

We have a long history of experimental, owner-built housing in Humboldt County. We need housing now more than ever, and we need housing that works for people, rather than vice-versa. We need to learn to live differently, and few things reflect the way we live more than the homes we live in.

tiny home-tile

Here in Humboldt County, we have the opportunity to take a humane approach to our housing shortage, and open a door to the future, or not. People need a place to live. We can continue to deny our neighbors the dignity of privacy and a place to escape the elements, or we can create the kind of cultural incubator that solves problems, sets trends, and creates the economic opportunities of the future.


Class War against the poor will never succeed, and the middle-class will never be happy with what they have. We need to find another way to live, and if we want to know what that looks like, we need to allow the people who need it the most, an opportunity to build it for themselves.

build it yourself1

Humboldt County’s Nuclear Caviar

nuclear caviar

We have a long history of shortsightedness here in Humboldt County. I suspect that we’re as eager to throw our long-term assets away for a fast buck as we ever were, and the impending legalization of marijuana gives us another opportunity to do just that.

chase the fast buck

Right now, the black-market cannabis industry holds this county hostage, politically and economically. The illegal marijuana industry has already brought enough social problems to Humboldt County, problems ranging from poverty and homelessness to hard drug abuse, violent crime and murder. Feeding this disease, and fueling the destruction it causes, the misguided War on Drugs has turned a harmless, easy to grow weed into expensive contraband. Now that the tides have turned on the War on Drugs, politicians and drug dealers will try to convince you that marijuana is nuclear caviar.


Nuclear, meaning that they will tell you that marijuana is so dangerous that it requires as much government oversight, control and regulation as a nuclear power plant. Caviar, because they intend to concoct some scheme to control cannabis production, to keep the price of cannabis artificially inflated, so that good pot remains an expensive luxury that working people can ill-afford.

luxury marijuana

Cannabis is not nuclear caviar. Cannabis is a giant fucking ripoff. Until now, the price of cannabis has been highway robbery at the point of a cop’s gun. If the CA legislature passes the current passel of pending cannabis legislation, they will simply turn iron-fisted prohibition into a state sponsored racket. It will still be highway robbery at the point of a cop’s gun, and pot will remain a giant fucking ripoff. For now.


Still, dramatic changes, already underway in the cannabis industry, will continue. The marijuana industry of today looks nothing like the marijuana industry of 20 years ago. Humboldt County will probably produce more marijuana, this year alone, than it did in the entire two decades between 1980 and 1999, and the cannabis industry of the future will look nothing like the cannabis industry of today.

the future

The cannabis market will become more competitive, production will expand and automation will increase. Profit margins will shrink, leading to rapid consolidation. That means lots of people lose their jobs or go out of business. That’s how legal industries work. The cannabis industry is rapidly becoming a legal industry, full of businessmen who know how to run a business, and aren’t afraid to make tough decisions.


That is a dramatic change from the cannabis industry we all know and love. We like pot growers to be spendthrift fools who have no idea how much money they really make, buy everything retail, and drip money as they walk down the street. More than the cannabis itself, our local economy relies on the stupidity and shortsightedness of black-market dope growers who’s lack of business acumen lured them into this line of work to begin with. The black market takes money out of the hands of hard-working people, who might otherwise save it, and puts it into the hands of the people most likely to squander it. That’s how prohibition boosts the economy, and that’s what we see here in Humboldt County.

spendthrift economy

The fact is, no matter how legalization plays out, most of the people who benefit from the marijuana industry in Humboldt County today, will eventually get squeezed out. Will it happen in three years, or will it take five? That depends on a lot of things, but it will happen, regardless. A lot of people around here will have to find something else to do, and the sooner, the better.

find something better to do

The War on Drugs is a cruel racist policy. Mostly, the War on Drugs provides a legal framework for the violent control of minority communities, but here in Humboldt, we see another racist aspect to the War on Drugs. Here, the War on Drugs provided a relatively low-risk avenue to affluence for privileged white kids with no particular skills, talent or ambition. Hey, I’m a privileged, white, college drop-out myself. I certainly understand the attraction, but it’s still racist. It’s still wrong, and it’s still a huge fucking ripoff, but rest assured; that side of the War on Drugs, will evaporate too. The marijuana industry will no longer be dominated by white middle-class dilettantes looking for a low-stress, way to support their high-consumption lifestyle.


When you think about it, these are the people who make Humboldt County attractive and interesting, at least to me, the artists, performers and musicians, the idealistic art history, English and ancient language majors and the disillusioned scientists and engineers who decided they didn’t want to build weapons systems or devise new, environmentally destructive, products. For people like this, growing pot was a way to finance their art or their writing or their political activism, or their other interesting hobbies, without distracting too much from them. The cannabis industry of the future will have no place for these people.

no room for you damob

Instead, the cannabis industry will be dominated by greedy white farmers who know how to grow pot and run a business, but have few, if any, other interests. Greedy white farmers do not attract tourists. If they did, people would flock to Iowa to watch corn grow. Greedy white farmers drain rivers, kill fish and destroy habitat, and they use their political clout to make sure that no one gets in their way. That’s what greedy white farmers do everywhere, and that’s what they intend to do here.

Silly Greedy Farmer

Yes, farming is boring and ugly and no one wants to see it, and the same is true of farmers, but we have something else here in Humboldt County that is worth more than all of the black-market marijuana we’ve grown here in the past, and all of the nuclear caviar we hope to produce in the future, put together. That is natural habitat.

natural habitat humboldt

Natural habitat has become remarkably rare around the world. I mean really rare, not artificially price-controlled, “rare,” but genuinely uncommon, and truly valuable. The Earth has lost half of its natural biodiversity since the first Earth Day, and the primary reason is loss of habitat. If we should treat anything around here like nuclear caviar, it is the natural habitat here in Humboldt County.

habitat loss

People want to see natural habitat, and they want to see it teeming with life.. Natural habitat attracts tourists. Biodiversity attracts tourists. No one will ever figure out how to produce habitat on the cheap and flood the market with biodiversity. Habitat will only become more rare and valuable. Pot, on the other hand, is easy to grow and cheap to produce, and it won’t be long before some state, like Nevada, Texas or Kansas, decides to get out of the way and open up the floodgates to an ocean of cheap cannabis.

habitat disregarded

That will leave us, here in Humboldt County, facing the same decision we face now, but with fewer options, and greatly diminished assets: Do we sacrifice our lives, and the natural habitat we love, in a vain attempt to compete with market forces beyond our control, or do we use our imagination, and learn to do something else, that harmonizes with the natural splendor of this unique place, and works for the kind of people who make up this community, and make this community special.

sohum people-tile


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