Category Archives: Arcata

This Spring, Just Leave The Dirt Alone for a Change

leave_it_alone_

Here’s a novel idea for my neighbors in Humboldt County this Spring: It is OK to just leave the dirt on the ground. You don’t need to dig it up. You don’t need to plant anything in it. Something will grow there. You don’t have to worry about what it is. Just leave the fucking dirt alone for a change.

hands off our field

You don’t have to water it. You don’t have to fence it. You don’t have to feed it a special blend of organic nutrients. Just leave it alone. Too much gardening has a dulling effect on the mind. That’s why farmers are so fucking boring. Do something different this year. Cultivate an interesting personality. Cultivate an unusual hobby, like whelk racing, amateur rhinoplasty or squirrel-suit diving,

squirrel suit

or better yet, cultivate an original idea for a change. When was the last time you had one of those? Well here’s one for you: The dirt on the ground is just fine as it is. Leave it alone.

freud quote alone

Don’t get me wrong. I like gardens, if they’re small. I mean real small.

small garden

I have a three foot by four foot cactus garden that I love dearly. I might give it as much as 50 gallons of water in an entire year. It takes up about a half-hour of my time, maybe once a month, but that’s plenty. It never seems like a burden. I get all the benefits of nurturing living plants, and I get to enjoy some exotic greenery around my home. What more can you ask of a garden? Really, there’s more to life than gardening.

theres more to life than eating garbage

Besides, there’s no shortage of greenery around my home. Like most of us here in Humboldt County, I’m surrounded by green. I’m 50ft deep in green. Green I got, and all of it producing food. I get pelted with acorns every Fall, I’ve got more huckleberry bushes than I’ve got time to pick, not to mention madrone berries, manzanita berries and wild raspberries to name a few. Everywhere I look, it’s all green, and it’s all producing food. Why would I want to cut that down, dig it up and replace it with Lima beans, Brussels sprouts, and hours and hours of backbreaking work in the hot sun?

tired of working in the garden

Contrary to popular belief. Gardens are not attractive. I’ve never seen a garden that looked better than anyplace that has been left alone for twenty years. I find vegetable gardens especially ugly. They look like desolate wastelands all winter, and then all Summer they look like a rag-tag army of plants, all lined up in straight rows, and as the season wears on, they start taking casualties, as they get eaten, either by the people who planted them, or by nature’s guerrilla army of insects, rodents, lagomorphs and ungulates in their relentless battle to reclaim the stolen territory. By the end of the season, everything is dead, and the field is full of corpses. Every vegetable garden is just another battle in a long ugly war, and gardeners are not the “good guys” in this war.

ugly garden

That’s why I don’t have a vegetable garden, and that’s why I don’t want to hear about your vegetable garden. I don’t want to know what you do to get rid of Japanese beetles. I don’t want to know what you do to stop gophers.

groundhog

I want Japanese beetles. I want gophers, and deer, and rabbits. If I see an animal in my yard. I want to watch it, maybe take a picture of it, maybe even shoot it and cook it for dinner. The last thing I want to do is chase it away. These animals are my neighbors, and I don’t want to have conflicts with my neighbors over broccoli.

deer eating

If you were smart, you’d plant just enough of a vegetable garden to attract deer, and then, the first time you see a deer in your garden, shoot it, dress it and eat it. You’d get more food out of one deer than you’ll get out of your whole garden. Really, if you subtract all of the calories you burn working in your garden, from the total calories in the food that you eat from your vegetable garden, you’ll be lucky to break even, but if you throw a few seeds on the ground and sit on the front porch with a rifle in your lap all summer, you’ll put some real food on the table with a fraction of the effort.

fat couple with rifles

I realize that here in Humboldt County, gardening has become a cornerstone of our rural lifestyle, and that it won’t be easy to give it up. Around here, if people simply gave up gardening, their lives would revolve entirely around reckless driving, violent crime and drug abuse. People really need to find something better to do with their time.

Something_Better_To_Do_by_supadave_3

That requires imagination, and thought, so dust off your imagination, and tune up your thought process and find something better to do this year. I know that it seems like gardening is the most wholesome thing you do with your time, but in reality, gardening destroys the environment and enslaves humanity. When you work in the garden, you do the devil’s work.

the devils garden 1970

Think about it. Over 100 species of plant and animal go extinct every day. Rhinos, orangutans, manatees, wolves, kit foxes and coho salmon all teeter on the brink of extinction. Who is pushing them over the edge? Farmers and gardeners, that’s who. And what are they replacing all of those wild animals with? Lima beans, or some equally repulsive vegetable like Brussels sprouts.

die sprout die

Who wouldn’t rather eat a big fat rhino steak, which would still be plentiful if farmers hadn’t run them off all of the arable land, rather than a bowl of Lima beans, for dinner. No one in their right mind would ever eat a Lima bean if farmers hadn’t already destroyed most of the world’s natural habitat, and replaced it with their gross and disgusting vegetables.

yuck broccoli

As if digging up Mother Earth weren’t bad enough, gardeners then fill these open wounds with the most foul-smelling stuff they can find. They actually buy the filthy crap they sweep out of commercial chicken coops, and then bury it in the ground. They bring in truckloads of cow manure, boatloads of rotting fish guts and they pay people to go spelunking for 5,000 year old bat shit. Then they expect us to eat the Lima beans they grow in this filth. The next time you bite into a Lima bean, remember that that pasty, nauseating green goo is made of chicken poop, cow pies, and fossilized bat-shit. Mmmm, mmm, no wonder they taste so good. You might as well eat out of the toilet.

toilet dinner

As if Lima beans aren’t bad enough, now they’ve got these new, upscale, yuppie Lima beans. They call them Fava beans. Fava beans taste every bit as disgusting as Lima beans, but they’re even bigger and grosser than regular Limas. As a kid, I was forced to eat Lima beans, against my will. I learned to eat them by swallowing them individually, like pills, with a glass of water. I could not stand to chew them. I still can’t. Fava beans are too big to swallow like pills. You will choke to death on them if you try. Fava beans give you no choice but to chew them, which is sick and cruel.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Do you remember the scene in Silence of the Lamb where Anthony Hopkins says: “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.” Personally, I like liver. I’ve never eaten a human liver before, but I’d give it a try. I don’t mind a glass of wine on occasion, but the fact that he intentionally ate fava beans, in any context, totally grossed me out. Those beans have forever prejudiced me against psychopathic cannibals.

anthony-hopkins-liver and fava beans

All kidding aside, this issue is serious. 38% of the Earth’s land mass has already been stripped of rhinos and orangutans, and planted in Lima beans. Most of the land that’s left is barren desert, tundra, salt flats, inaccessible mountain peaks, or steep, unstable forest-land situated over major seismic faults. All of the wild animals in the world now have to live in these inhospitable places, because greedy Lima bean farmers have taken over all of the good real-estate.

Helicopter Used to Insecticide and Fertilize Wheat

It’s time to take a stand, and to stand up for wild animals.  You might want to be one yourself someday.

stand tall

Say NO to Lima beans, and leave the fucking dirt alone for a change this year.

leave planet earth alone


The Return of Gulch Much

The other day, I found a business card in my mail box at KMUD.  The card was completely blank, except for one URL in the lower right-hand corner of the card.  gulchmulch.com was all it said.  Of course I knew what it meant.  This card meant that Paul Modic’s classic SoHum rag, the Gulch Mulch has been reborn in cyberspace.

MulchLogo

If you remember the Gulch Mulch, you can stroll down memory lane in the archives section, where you’ll find every issue of Mulch Gulch there for your perusal.

gulch mulch back issues

If you are new to SoHum, the Gulch Mulch is a great place to get the back story on all of the weirdness you encounter here.  Either way, I encourage you to check it out, and check back regularly, because Paul is back at it.

paul modic crop

That’s right, SoHum’s original desperate bachelor is back with more tales of sexual frustration, more gossip from the hills, and more humorous anecdotes about life in this Northern California backwater.  Check it out!

check-it-out


Make the Connection

the connection

By now you should realize that the 5th Sunday of the month means you should turn your radio on first thing in the morning for a stimulating, thought-provoking, in-depth discussion of the issues that define our times. If you are not already hip to The Living Earth Connection, and you have an IQ just slightly higher than the average garden slug, you owe it to yourself to listen to one of the most interesting hours of radio programming you are likely to hear anywhere at any time.

living earth connection

The Living Earth Connection airs on the fifth Sunday of the month, in those occasional months that have five Sundays, at 9:30 AM on KMUD, Redwood Community Radio. That’s THIS Sunday, March 29 at 9:30 AM Pacific Time. My partner, Amy Gustin, hosts the show. She does an enormous amount of research for her show. She usually reads 20 to 25 books in preparation for each show, and this one is no exception.

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For this upcoming edition of The Living Earth Connection, Amy examines the dynamic relationship between agricultural development and biodiversity. In 2014, the Living Planet Report cited a 52% decline in global biodiversity since 1970. In a discussion that encompasses biology, ecology, and island bio-geography, Amy reveals that the key to our collapsing ecosystems lies in the habitat requirements of certain “keystone species.”

keystone species sea otters

These “keystone species” tend to be relatively small populations of relatively large carnivores. Although few in number, as individuals, these “keystone species” require an enormous “home range,” and much of the biodiversity in their ecosystem depends, in one way or another, on their presence. Developing land for agriculture punches holes in the habitat that these animals need to survive. When development crowds out the “keystone species,” most of the natural biodiversity in the area disappears as well.

keystone species biomass

This is a show about natural science. I know you all like science when you get to watch them put a nuclear powered car on Mars, or when you think it means we understand how the universe works.

biodiversity cities

Are you still interested in science when it tells you that agricultural development is causing mass extinction on a global scale?

biodiversity basics

Does biodiversity matter?

biodiversity loss

Why?

Biodiversity laid off

That’s the topic. Please tune in.

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Advice for Adventurous Ears

ear to bell

It’s been a very busy week of radio work for me, so I don’t have much of an essay for you, but I strongly encourage you to listen to my latest radio show featuring a really great band from Arcata called Medicine Baul.

This will be the official debut of my new music-themed public affairs radio show called The Adventurous Ear.   The show will highlight music of exceptional originality, and focus primarily on musicians in our local area and region.  The Adventurous Ear will air on KMUD on Thursday, March 26 at 5pm, and on the fourth Thursday of every other month, alternating in that time-slot with my other public affairs show, which I co-produce with my partner Amy Gustin, called Wildlife Matters.

wildlife matters radio show-kmud

You may recall that I wrote this review of Medicine Baul’s performance at Jambalaya last year.  If you haven’t heard Medicine Baul before, you’ll get a chance to hear their music and listen to them talk about how and why they make it.  Every Medicine Baul performance sounds different because the band composes their music on the spot at each venue.  I recorded their performance at Synapsis in Eureka, CA on Dec. 13 2014, and interviewed them after their performance at Siren’s Song on the previous Nov. 3.

medicine baul 9c

Besides creating amazing music, I found the members of Medicine Baul I talked to,  Willoughby Arevalo, Ishan Vernallis, Vinny DeVaney, and Laura Corsiglia, all to be articulate, interesting and thoughtful people.  From talking to them, it is clear that they each bring a highly evolved sense of intent and purpose to their work, but they don’t compete with each other for control.  Instead, they value each other and honor the moment in a spontaneous collaborative effort.  As a result, the music is bigger than all of them, and encompasses the audience as well.  To fully appreciate their music, you have to be there to share it with them as they create it.

medicine baul 7c

Still, I think you’ll enjoy this episode of The Adventurous Ear.  You’ll hear a range of sounds from Medicine Baul’s 75+ minute set, interspersed with snippets of interview.  In one half-hour show, I offer listeners a pretty good introduction to the band and their approach to music.  I hope you’ll tune in.

medicine baul drummer4


Garberville’s Visionary Artist Ron Machado

visionary artist The-Witness-By-Adam-Scott-MIller

Surrounded by lush forests in rugged mountainous terrain, in the southern quarter of Humboldt County, lies the sad little town of Garberville, CA.

Garberville welcome to buy

Infamous as a global drug trafficking hub, Garberville has become Mecca for drug dealers, and drug addicts alike who flock here in droves to pursue their lifelong ambition to make money and get high. The huge sums of money associated with the illegal drug trade, draws other unsavory characters to this little burg as well.

Unsavory-Characters

Real-estate agents, bankers, and greedy businessmen eager to hitch their wagon to the prohibition gravy train, line Garberville’s main drag offering overpriced mediocrity served with heartless indifference. In recent years, Garbervile’s pathos has become even more famous than its pot, and with good reason. After all, you can grow good pot anywhere, but watching the stagnating black-market economy turn this self-selecting community of callous, greedy, small-minded people into a cauldron of seething resentment, open hostility, and violence evokes that special blend of pity and disgust like no place I’ve ever been before.

Tragic Pathos

Rising like a lotus from this cesspool, one artist dares to defy the vortex of darkness with his singular creative vision.

lotus

Ron Machado challenges this small town’s image of itself with assemblages of found objects which spring defiantly from the oppressive landscape of commercial exploitation. Like Banksy, the famous, albeit anonymous London street artist, Machado eschews the rarified atmosphere of galleries and museums, preferring instead to transform the stifling homogeneity and crass utility of the small Northern California town he has called home for more than two decades.

ron machado3

Machado’s artworks often appear overnight, in unexpected, but very public places, usually in Garberville’s business district, where he carefully reveals the madness concealed within the mundane. Machado’s angular, assertive and unapologetic artworks occupy parking spaces, take over vacant lots, and sometimes even appear in the middle of major thoroughfares. They look almost functional, but overflow with playful frivolity, physical non-sequiters and mind-bending juxtaposition.

ron machado crop

Like many artists of exceptional vision, Ron Machado is mocked, misunderstood, and unappreciated in his hometown, where he is more often described as a homeless, mentally-ill, pain-in-the-ass, than as an artist. Local townspeople have repeatedly removed and destroyed Machado’s artworks, and this past week, an unknown assailant attacked Ron Machado physically.

assault

The assailant sprayed Ron’s face, and his belongings with flammable liquid, and attempted to set both on fire. Fortunately Ron escaped serious injury, but the ensuing blaze engulfed Ron’s belongings, filling Garberville with the acrid stench of burning plastic for most of the afternoon.

burning tent

While Ron has been arrested numerous times, and is well known to police for making public art, the arsonist who attempted to murder Ron remains at large, blending into the community, who appear to be protecting his identity. Undaunted, Ron has returned to his work, and continues to create art in Garberville with the reckless passion of a true visionary.

ron machado2 bright crop

I encourage all art enthusiasts to make a trip to Garberville to see Machado’s latest work. To view Machado’s work before local townspeople dismantle it, it pays to arrive early in the morning. It is hard to know where a Machado original will pop up next, but in a town mostly devoid of interesting art, Machado’s installations stand out conspicuously against the dull backdrop of repressive commercialism.

capitalism boring

Pack a lunch, because the restaurants in Garberville mostly suck, and don’t bother shopping, because the prices are ridiculous, but Machado’s creations make the trip worth while. While you’re up this way, be sure to visit Eureka, one of America’s great small art towns, only 65 miles or so to the North. With lots of public art, many fine galleries, and a vibrant local art scene, not to mention better restaurants and lower prices, Eureka is a great place to spend the rest of the day, and your money, after a Machado morning in Garberville.

Eureka_artsalive-tile

Arts Alive, held on the first Saturday of every month in Eureka

 


Wildlife Matters #5 Debuts Today, Thursday, Feb 26 @5pm PST

Sea otters

Today, Thursday, February 26 at 5pm, KMUD Redwood Community Radio will air the latest installment of Wildlife Matters.  On this month’s show Amy Gustin and I will talk about Sea Otters, and the crucial role they play in maintaining healthy coastal ecosystems.

sea otter hurray

We’ll hear from sea otter biologist Dr. Jane Watson

dr jane watson

…and noted ecologist Dr. James Estes.

dr james estes

They talk about sea otters’ peculiar adaptations which allow them to flourish in the chilly waters of the North Pacific.  they’ll teach us about “trophic cascades,” a fancy word to describe the consequences of eating habits on ecosystems, which explains how sea otters can turn a barren sea floor inhabited by nothing but sea urchins, into a lush kelp forest teeming with biodiversity.

sea otter eats urchins

Wildlife Matters airs on the fourth Thursday of the month on KMUD, and is available to all Pacifica Affiliates through audioport.org.  In the future, wildlife Matters will alternate the fourth Thursday at 5pm time-slot with my other new radio show called The Adventurous Ear.

ear to bell

Next month, The Adventurous Ear, a radio show highlighting music of exceptional originality, will bring you the music of Arcata based improvisational ensemble Medicine Baul.  I hope you’ll tune in today at 5pm for Wildlife Matters, and March 26 at 5pm for some wild music on The Adventurous Ear.  Just remember the fourth Thursday at 5pm as the time for something wild on KMUD Redwood Community Radio, or listen online at http://www.kmud.org

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Sour Diesel

sour_diesel_pump crop

I’m the kind of guy who’s happy to have weed, and I’m happy to have whatever kind of weed I happen to have.

weed befrore and after

I like weed, but there are plenty of things I’d rather do than pursue weed, so I don’t try a lot of the popular new strains. Only recently did I have the opportunity to sample the strain, or by now, whole class of strains called “Sour Diesel.”

sour-diesel super silver-horz

Sour Diesel enjoys much popularity with commercial marijuana cultivators, and has become a staple in the industry.

staples

I can understand why people grow it: It’s heavy, hashy, and it gets you real high, but who wants pot that smells like diesel fuel? Sour Diesel reminds me of working in a garage, and smells like a greasy truck engine, or an environmental disaster. Does anyone really like that smell? How did we make pot smell so awful?

smell bad

I thought they called it “diesel” because of its suitability to that kind of off-the-grid, indoor grow scene, dependent as they are on big, diesel fuel guzzling, generators. I had no idea that the pot itself stank like diesel-fuel, and if I didn’t know better, I would have assumed the bad smell was the result of exhaust fumes in the grow room. Not so. The “Cali Sour Diesel” I tried was grown organically, outdoors in the fresh clean country air. Still, it smelled like a New York City bus station. Why?

Bus_Station

Pot can smell like so many different things. Pot can smell like pine trees, or blueberries, or bubblegum, or pineapple, or even fresh baked cookies. Why do we grow so much pot that smells like diesel fuel? People around here grow a ton of it, or more accurately, many tons of it, and an accurate scale may well be the key to its success.

accurate scale

What Sour Diesel lacks in bouquet, it makes up for in mass. For some reason, the greasy-truck-engine-smell makes pot weigh more. Why do people care more about how much pot weighs than about how nice it smells? More pointedly: What does this tell you about the marijuana industry when so many people in it obviously care more about quantity than quality?

quality-vs-quantity

Remember Sour Diesel the next time someone tries to sell you this bullshit about how the marijuana industry is developing luxury niche markets for the true cannabis connoisseur.

cannabis connoisseur

The marijuana industry doesn’t care if pot smells like a truck stop men’s room, so long as they can put more of it on the scale. That’s because the marijuana industry knows that, thanks to prohibition, marijuana consumers generally have very little choice in what they smoke.

we-have-no-choice-but-to-carry-on

If you know someone who deals herb, whatever herb they deal is the herb you’re going to smoke. If you don’t know someone who deals herb, you have to pay money to see a doctor, and then go to a dispensary where you may have more choices, but you’ll pay more than if you knew somebody. Unless you grow your own, you pay through the nose for herb, and you pretty much have to settle for what you can get, even if it smells like it’s been stuck in traffic for hours.

stuck in traffic

The marijuana industry still depends on an artificial shortage, created and perpetuated by expensive government oppression, intimidation and violence. The products they sell still reflect this paradigm. Overpriced, bred for weight, not for flavor, grown according to economic principles, not ecological principles, and marketed for maximum profit, rather than maximum benefit. No wonder it smells like diesel fuel. If you wanted to make marijuana smell any uglier, you’d have to frack it.

Frack-cartoon

What’s next, pot that smells like money? Obviously it already smells like that to too many people.

smelling money


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