Category Archives: Eureka

Your Tax Dollars at Work: John Christianson’s Biofeedback Spa

spa packages-biofeedback

Tucked away behind the hospital at the North end of Garberville, you’ll find a county facility unlike any other. Disguised as the Garberville Branch of the Humboldt County Library, this expensive county facility actually functions as a private spa for just one county employee, John Christianson.

john christianson

If you visit the building on one of the four days a week that it is open, you’ll see that on the inside, it looks, superficially, like a library, albeit the tiniest, most pathetic excuse for a public library you’ve ever seen. It has a few stacks of book, mostly for children, a rack of magazines and newspapers, and a small selection of old movies and albums. These things contribute to the appearance of a library, without actually providing much value to the community, with the exception of providing a dry, temperature controlled environment, and restroom facilities for people who otherwise lack access to such things.

gville library

The library also has two computer terminals that access the internet, that people may use, for up to 30 minutes, if they are willing to wait their turn, and one computer terminal that only accesses the the county library’s database, from which library patrons can request or renew books, Again, these modest amenities create the visual illusion of a library, without providing the services the community really needs.

library-illusion-book-truck

If you spend any time at all there, however, you will hear about the service this community desperately needs. All day long, people come into this alleged library, carrying a laptop, tablet, or other device and ask: “Do you have wifi?” or more assumptively, “Do I need a password to use the wifi?”

wifi password

to which, our alleged librarian responds, “No, I’m afraid we don’t have wifi here.” He then recommends they try one of the two cafes in town which do offer wifi, for customers only, along with loud background music, blaring TV sets, limited table space, and an overpriced selection of food and beverages they may, or may not wish to purchase.

loud cafe

These days free public internet access is the single most important service that modern libraries offer. While you may, or may not be able to find the information you need in a book in the county’s collection, you will probably have to wait at least a week or two to have that book delivered to Garberville from the main library in Eureka, or from one of the larger branches up north.

book mobile

On the other hand, you will almost certainly find what you need, almost instantly, online, and with wifi, you can easily download the information to your own device. The internet has become the single most important information service in the world, for communication, research, and participation in civic life. For public libraries to remain relevant in the 21st century they must provide a way for patrons to access the internet with their own devices.

wifi smart phone

In our small rural community, we desperately need free public wifi. At least 700 customers in Southern Humboldt still depend on a dial-up connection for access to the internet. Even more of us live off-the-grid, without a telephone or electricity. We will never have internet access at home, but the State expects us to pay our state sales tax on line. We cannot access many public documents or participate in public processes without access to the internet.  As citizens, we can hardly participate in public debate or even communicate with each other anymore, without access to the internet. Yet, as far as I know, there is no free public wifi, anywhere, within a 40 mile radius of Garberville. Talk about “The Digital Divide.” We live it here in SoHum.

digital-divide-cartoon

About 80% of the people who visit the building marked “Garberville Branch of the Humboldt County Library” ask about wifi in one form or another, and after John Christianson sends them away, confused and disappointed, they rarely return. I’ve asked this question more persistently than most, and through my inquiries, I have discovered that the Garberville Branch of the Humboldt County Library is not a library at all, but instead, serves an entirely different purpose altogether.

moes pet shop

I began to realize that this “bait and switch” had occurred when John Christianson told me emphatically that he did not want wifi at the library at all. Until then, I had assumed that our lack of access was due to budget constraints, or some other complication. I could not imagine why a librarian would oppose wifi at the public library. Then, one day, John asked me, to repair a sophisticated computerized device, the likes of which I had never seen before. I was able to get the machine to work again, but it provided the clue that allowed me to unravel his devious plot.

repair electron device

Most people assume that public libraries exist primarily to provide people with the information they need to understand their world, and participate in society. That’s why, as taxpayers, we fund them. We expect libraries to provide internet access, and most people assume that free wifi is part of the package.

wifi library

If you asked our local Board of Supervisors for a quarter-of-a-million dollars a year in taxpayer money for an air conditioned room and staff to house and guard a collection of Dr. Seuss books, they might look at you funny, but if you call it a public library, that conjures another image entirely, and apparently that’s enough to keep the money flowing in, allowing our alleged librarian, John Christianson, free reign to use the building for his own purposes.

imaginary library

John Christianson believes strongly in the powers of biofeedback. Do you remember biofeedback? That’s the idea that you can learn to consciously control things like your heart rate and blood pressure by using technology designed to provide you with feedback about these biological functions that would not otherwise impose themselves on you conscious mind. The imaginary library in Garberville provides John with a quiet space, relatively free from interruptions, where he can use his biofeedback machines to focus his energy on the mastery of his own bodily functions. The device John asked me to repair, was one of his biofeedback machines.

biofeedback machine

I fixed one of these for John Christianson

If you visit our alleged library, you will notice that John often has wires clipped to his earlobes, or perhaps an unusual elastic strap around his midsection, depending on which biofeedback machine he is hooked-up to at the time. You may also notice small, not very decorative, mobiles dangling from the ceiling, or small symbols mounted above the windows. These tiny devices provide visual biofeedback that help John retrain his eyes to improve his eyesight.

Eye-Exercises

In the Garberville Branch of the Humboldt County Library, John has created an ideal environment for him to practice his biofeedback techniques. By keeping the library relatively uncluttered with books, John has room to stretch his eyes, and by not providing needed services, John has more time to focus on himself, and his biological functioning.

focus on yourself

I can understand why John appreciates the quietude and the tranquility, not to mention the salary and creature comforts that this taxpayer subsidized facility provides him, but I’m sure he gets tired of answering the constant stream of people who inquire about wifi. Perhaps he could just put a sign on the door that said “No Public Wifi. Don’t Even Ask,” but it would probably be easier to to remove the sign that says “Public Library” and replace it with a sign reading “John Christianson’s Biofeedback Spa.”

gville library jc bs

Of course, instead of replacing the sign, we could replace John Christianson with someone more interested in providing us with the information services this community needs to compete in the global economy and participate in civic life, than in learning to control his blood pressure with his mind.

robot-librarian

Postscript.  This morning, 2nd District Humboldt County Supervisor Estelle Fennell told me that she was working with John Christianson to get wifi at the Garberville Branch of the Humboldt County Library.   I’ll believe it when I see it.

seeing is believing


Island Mountain and the Truth About the War on Drugs

truth about the war on drugs

They say truth is the first casualty of war, and that’s certainly true of the War on Drugs. News reports and public statements about the recent raids of cannabis flower-forcing operations on Island Mountain point out just how far from reality both sides have gotten lately.

far from reality banner

I heard Humboldt County Sheriff’s Deputy Lt. Wayne Hanson explain that they “went to Island Mountain to eradicate marijuana just like we’ve done for the last 30 years.” They still haven’t gotten the memo that cannabis is legal in California, or that millions of Californians have the right to possess it, and businesses all over the state have licenses to distribute it. It’s only been 18 years since prop 215 passed. You can’t expect them to change overnight, especially considering how dependent they’ve become on asset forfeiture for their budget.

Hansen_Lt Wayne Humboldt County Sheriffs dept-tile

At some point, though, someone needs to point out that these kinds of raids no longer constitute law-enforcement, but instead cross over into armed robbery, home invasion, vandalism and terrorism. Like Lt. Hanson said, they’ve been doing this for 30 years. They’ll do it for another 30 years, regardless of what the law says, unless we stop them. No arrests were made. The DA will probably not bring charges, because a jury would not convict, and the jury would not convict because no one complained, no one was injured, and no crime was committed. That is, unless you count what the cops did, as a crime.

cops are badguys

Still 100 cops spent all week, including a generous amount of overtime I’m sure, out at Island Mountain making criminal mischief with their newly allocated Measure Z funds. They’re like, “Hey, we’re cops, it’s summertime, what else are we going to do?” This is how cops justify the continuation of the War on Drugs these days. Heavy-handed assaults on unarmed vegetation have always been pointless, but now they have become a cherished tradition that they intend to preserve for future generations.

okra raid

Hanson made sure to talk up the environmental crimes they uncovered at Island Mountain, like water diversions, illegal grading and water theft, and they dragged folks from the Water Quality and Wildlife Departments along for show, but this raid had all the hallmarks of an old fashioned Drug War style marijuana raid: unnecessary, excessive, and expensive. Obviously our Sheriff’s Department has entirely too much money at its disposal.

marijuana-bust-1

I have no doubt that those industrial grow operations on Island Mountain have an enormous impact on the environment, but I’m also sure that Hanson exaggerated the impact, at least as he perceived it, by claiming that each of the plants they eradicated used six gallons of water each day. I saw pictures of those plants. They were all small plants with big flowers, probably potted in 5 gallon containers. You cannot put six gallons of water into a five gallon pot on any day, let alone everyday. Despite the large scale of the operations they raided, Hanson still felt the need to exaggerate, just like in the good ol’ days of Drug War hysteria.

mass-hysteria

On the other side of this counterfeit coin,

counterfeit coin

we see the pervasive dishonesty of drug-dealers on display as well. LOCO reports that three people in the upper management of California Cannabis Voice Humboldt, or CCVH owned properties involved in last week’s raids. CCVH is one of those new groups lobbying to protect the incomes of local dope yuppies from the scourge of legalization. For months now, these groups have all recited the same mantras: “Preserve family farms,” “Protect Mom and Pop growers,” and “Support sustainable agriculture.”  They’ve all reacted with indignation about the raids on Island mountain.

Lobbying to Keep Pot Expensive

Lobbying to Keep Pot Expensive

Hezekiah Allen wrote at length about how these raids breached the trust that they had worked so hard to build.

hezekiah allen

He mentioned the Mendocino County system of institutionalized bribery as an example.

mendo bribery

He criticized law-enforcement for targeting people who were “working to come into compliance,” as though those Island Mountain monstrosities were shining examples of the “best practices” he talks so much about.

grow funk island mtn-tile

Those were not little “Mom and Pop” operations. Those were not homesteaders growing a little herb to put new tires on their old truck. Nor were they “small family farms” To me, they look like industrial mono-crop operations, newly hacked out of prime forest habitat. Even if they got all of the water for these grows from rainwater catchment ponds, the sheer size of these operations, the number of them, and the density of them, constitutes a real threat to wildlife because of how they fragment forest habitat

fragmentation habitat

We hear a lot about the need to conserve water in these drought times, but widespread cannabis farming in the forest impacts wildlife in many different ways. Every clearing, every road, and every truck on the road has an impact.

truck on dusty road

Large operations like the ones on Island Mountain punch big holes in the forest canopy, and turn the animals that live there, like deer, bear, mountain lions, coyotes, gophers and woodrats, into pests, to be exterminated, or at least excluded.

forest animals-tile

Fertilizer runoff, erosion, light pollution, noise, traffic, pesticide contamination, all of these things accompany industrial agriculture wherever it happens, and I daresay, all of it was, and is still, happening on Island Mountain.

island mtn

Those Island Mountain operations offer a glimpse into the future of the cannabis industry, and that future looks a lot different from its past, for which Humboldt County is so well known. Back in 1995, for instance, if you could manage to harvest five pounds of weed, which wasn’t easy, you could probably make your land payment, pay your taxes and feed yourself all year from the money you made. Back then, if you grew a hundred pounds, you were a big shot. If you did it outdoors, you were Houdini. This year, 2015, if you don’t harvest at least a hundred pounds, people around here will consider you a hobbyist.

stoner hobby

The scale of grow operations in the area has exploded by orders of magnitude in recent years, and in this year in particular, as exemplified by the totals tallied in the raids on Island Mountain. The cops seized over 4,300 pounds of processed, packaged bud. That’s over TWO FUCKING TONS of high-grade marijuana, ready to smoke.

tons of weed

They eradicated more than 86, 000 plants, most of them in full bloom. That’s got to be another couple tons of bud. All tolled, this one raid might have taken 10,000 pounds, or five tons, of weed off the market. How do you like that for a price support system?

Discovery Channel

I’m not saying that large scale cannabis farming is inappropriate. Quite the contrary. I hope I see operations ten or twenty times the size of the ones raided on Island Mountain, but on established farmland, all over America. I like cannabis. I think everyone should have plenty of it, and we should grow it everywhere.

weed-everywhere

However, I am saying that these large scale cannabis operations are a totally inappropriate use of forest habitat, and their economic viability is likely to be short-lived, at best. It took the insanity of prohibition to drive industrial agriculture into the forest to begin with. It would be colossally stupid to encourage it to remain there, after we change the law.

brainless

Yes, these Island Mountain raids should remind us that there are no “good guys” in the War on Drugs. You can’t trust cops, and you can’t trust drug-dealers either. The War on drugs is being waged by heartless, lying, mercenaries on both sides, and their short-term agendas threaten our long-term survival. The sooner we take this industry out of the hands of the cops and the drug dealers, and put it into the hands of honest farmers with real farms, the sooner we can heal our country, our communities, and our watersheds from the ravages of the War on Drugs.

meanwhile in colorado


Who Buys All of This Weed?

bags of weed

I hear a lot of talk around here about the potential impact to our local economy from the impending legalization of cannabis. Suddenly, dope yuppies who, just a few years ago, weren’t even registered to vote, now spend money on lobbyists to convince lawmakers to construct a legalization framework that keeps the money pouring into the pockets of the same people who have profited from prohibition for more than 30 years.

pot grower

Dope yuppies have never cared about anyone but themselves, and the bankers and merchants who make dire predictions about our local economy, would be every bit as concerned about the potential loss in revenue if this county’s chief economic export were underage prostitutes and child-pornography. Money is money, after all.

teenage prostitutes

I don’t hear any mention, however, of the people who buy and consume all of this weed. As one of those proud pot smoking Americans, I am even more fed-up with the outrageously high price of black-market weed than I am with cops sticking their noses in places they don’t belong. While everyone pays for narco cops and prison guards, only cannabis consumers pay these ridiculous prices. Let’s take a look at the people who buy the cannabis grown in the Emerald Triangle, to see where all of this economic prosperity we enjoy, comes from.

owes buys

A recent study found that half of all cannabis consumers have not graduated from high-school. Some of those kids don’t have a high- school diploma because they are still in school. I mean. why do you think they call it “high” school?

kids getting stoned

Some of those kids dropped out of school to grow or sell cannabis as a career, but most of them end up in shitty low-wage jobs. The people who cook and serve your food, wash your dishes, change your oil and clean your offices and hotel bathrooms all smoke weed, and they all pay way too much of their hard-earned money for it.

work form weed

The people who work at Walmart smoke weed. The people who work at McDonald’s smoke weed. Almost every low-wage worker in America smokes weed, or they would, if they could afford it. Low-wage workers often spend more money on pot than they do on food. They do without basic necessities like clothing, like housing, so that they can afford marijuana, because marijuana makes their lives tolerable. High prohibition prices keep them poor and insures that they can never afford to buy their own home, start their own business or get more education. The people who buy marijuana today pay for it with their lives. They pay for it with their futures.

smoke weed at work

Other low-wage workers turn to alcohol, because under prohibition, a few dried cannabis flowers costs more than a big bottle or brewed, fermented, distilled and bottled liquor. People literally choose to sacrifice their health to alcohol, rather than the precious income it would cost to switch to cannabis. A lot of people have quit drinking, by switching to cannabis, and it has saved their lives.

weed beats alcohol

A lot more people would do the same, if cannabis didn’t cost so much. All across America, the people who can least afford it, pay way too much money for marijuana, or do without, when it could really help them. High cannabis prices cause an enormous amount of unnecessary suffering especially among the poor.

homeless-family

People all over America consume cannabis to relieve stress, but high prohibition prices make cannabis itself, unnecessarily stressful. Artificially inflated, prohibition pricing completely undermines the ability of cannabis to relieve stress in the vast majority of it’s consumers. Unless you grow your own, or have more money than you know what to do with, you don’t know what it means to have plenty of weed, and not to have to stress about how much it costs. Cannabis is only effective as medicine, if people can easily afford it.

price of weed too damn high

Millions of Americans enjoy cannabis, millions more rely on cannabis for medicine, and still millions more of us do both. We deserve a break! We are the ones who dragged this state, and the unholy cadre of drug-dealers turned special interest group, kicking and screaming towards legalization. Both the state, and drug dealers have taken advantage of us for decades. We’re sick of it! Now that legalization will finally happen, no thanks to them, they act as though they are still entitled to our money.

Entitled

The Nerve!

entitled not


SAMF 2015

SAMF-2015 poster

I really didn’t intend to write about this, but I ran into Randy Clark, the drummer for the Garberville Town Band recently, and he recounted his horror story about trying to unload his drums at Summer Arts and Music Festival this year. He said it was the worst experience he’s ever had at SAMF. I had to concur. When I told him my story, he recommended I write it up and send it to Jimmy Durschlag who was handling this responsibility for the Mateel Community Center.

mateel sign

Cool, I thought, Jimmy’s a musician. He’ll understand. So, I wrote this letter to Jimmy Durschlag, who plays in at least three bands, hosts two radio shows on KMUD, and is now apparently, the designated shit-catcher for the Mateel too.

Shit-Catcher-Job

It turned into a kind of a long letter. I’m sure he’s got nothing better to do. Now that I’ve gone to the trouble of writing it, it seems like a pretty good blog post. Since I haven’t got anything better for you this week, here ya go.

here-ya-go

To: Jimmy Durschlag
From: John Hardin
Re: SAMF 2015

Hi Jimmy,

I don’t want to make a big deal about this, but…

a big deal1

Amy and I arrived at SAMF right around 5pm for our 9pm gig in the Belly Dance Tent. We anticipated parking complications, so we arrived early with a positive and flexible attitude. The first person who approached our vehicle on our arrival informed us that we wouldn’t be allowed on-site until 30 minutes before our stage time. OK, whatever, we still needed to check-in. I was finally able to convince them to let me into the temporary lot.

Let-me-in

At check-in they told me I wasn’t on the list. Not at all. No one by that name, no one listed in that time-slot. Sorry. An oversight, I’m sure. I explained that I was listed in the program guide, and offered to show it to them, but luckily, someone we knew, Kelley Lincoln was there to vouch for us, so we got our wristbands.

not on the list1

I asked about load-in, and got the same story I heard from the parking guy, that they would not let us take our truck on-site until 30 minutes before our stage time. I asked if we could leave the truck on-site while we played. The answer was “No.” I asked if I could go unload early so I would have time to find someplace to park off-site, and then walk back. That answer was “No.” At that point I began to think: “Maybe they have enough entertainment at this festival. Perhaps we should go home.”

maybe we should just go home

So, we drove back to Garberville, with all of our gear, to weigh our options. I was booked as John Hardin Electric Didgeridoo, but Amy was going play Theremin and sing a few tunes as well. All together, it’s not ton of gear, but it’s more than we can schlep in one trip. It’s always fun to bring out the Theremin, even if it is a bit unpredictable, and Amy and I have some good material that we do together, but, through a decent sound system, I sound amazing, all by myself. I have more than enough material to fill the set. We opted to leave the Theremin and its accessories, in the car, parked in G,ville, and the two of us schlepped all of the stuff that I needed to play solo, to the site, via the shuttle bus. It was as much as we could carry and it was awkward to wrestle it on and off of a crowded bus, but we managed to get on-site with enough gear to play a gig.

A bus is driven past a market in Maidan Shahr, capital of Wardak Province, July 5, 2009.  REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov (AFGHANISTAN SOCIETY) - RTR25CAL

A bus is driven past a market in Maidan Shahr, capital of Wardak Province, July 5, 2009. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov (AFGHANISTAN SOCIETY) – RTR25CAL

At 8:40pm, 20 minutes before the start of my performance, the last troupe of belly dancers finished their set and cleared out, right on schedule. I moved my gear in and started setting up. My rig isn’t super-complicated, but it takes a few minutes to hook it all up and make sure it works. To be heard at all, I needed to play through a sound system, and there was one there, but the sound-person was nowhere to be seen.

meow mix

Sunshine Tresidder, of Lakshmi’s Daughters Belly Dance Troupe, welcomed me to the Belly Dance Tent, as she poured out some rose petals on the ground in front of me. I thanked her for that. Then she proceeded to tell me: “When you’re done, you need to put the tarp up in front of the tent. You’ll have to move these speaker stands back inside the tent, because, you know, if we leave them out, they’re liable to walk away. So, let me show you where we keep the rope that you’ll need to use to hold the tarp up, and there’s this special way that it attaches, and I need to show you how to do it.”

Lakshmi's-Daughters 2015 l

At that point Amy, who, because of the load-in hassle, had nothing better to do, followed Sunshine around, taking note of how we were supposed to close down her tent. This responsibility came as a surprise to us. We did not volunteer for it, and we were not asked to do it, politely or otherwise, but, you know, we’re flexible, positive, helpful people. We don’t like being talked to like unpaid employees, but whatever, it’s a festival and I wanted to play.

I came here to play crop

Still no sound person. I asked Sunshine, as she was walking away, if she knew who the sound person was, and where they might be. She replied: “Oh, she’s gone. I don’t know when she’ll be back.”

aint-no-sandwich-when-shes-gone

At that point I noticed that it was getting dark. I spotted two clip-on utility lights that I assumed were provided for my nighttime performance. I tried to turn one of them on. Nothing. I followed the cord to the end to discover that it was not plugged it. Then, I started looking for an electrical outlet, one for the light, but I also needed one for my music rig. I found myself staring at a 12 channel PA board resting in a puddle of cables.

mess of cables

Every single electrical outlet had something plugged into it, and every single channel of the mixer had something plugged into it. I didn’t want to screw anything up, or mess with someone elses gear, but I was supposed to play through this system in about seven minutes, and I needed some light to see what I was doing.

need some light

In the fading light, I spotted a portable CD player with a wall-wart AC adapter that was plugged into both an electrical outlet, and the PA. I knew that I didn’t need a CD player for my set and figured that I could easily unplug the CD player, from the electrical outlet, to free an outlet for my rig. I also began to think that if I could find the right adapter, I might even be able to tap into the PA through the CD player input, if I had to. Still no sign of a sound person. I was expecting the sound person to provide me with two DI boxes that I could plug a pair of 1/4” phone plugs into, but I saw no DI boxes, and no open channels.

DI boxes

I carry an assortment of adapters. It took me a while to figure out how to make it work. Finally, I made the connection using a 1/8th” female to female stereo headphone adapter. Do you carry a 1/8th” female to female stereo headphone adapter? If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have been able to play.

female to female headphone adapter

Amy figured out how to turn one of the lights on, and I asked her to stand out in front of the house to check the levels.  The volume was good without my having to touch any of the sliders or knobs on the PA. My lucky day! I used my own headphones for monitors and pointed the floor wedges at the audience to prevent feedback.

floor wedges

Then I rocked that place for an hour-and-a-half. I channeled all of the frustration I felt about how we had been treated, into high-energy dance music. The audience got so hot and sweaty that I had to tell them to take a break and get some water because I thought they might hurt themselves.

sweaty dancers

After about a half-hour, the sound-person showed-up. I knew she was the sound-person because she just stood there for a moment, staring at the PA, with a puzzled look on her face. Then she came over and gave me a hug, while I was playing, and said “You’re amazing!”

youre amazing

“That’s looking on the bright side.” I thought. And on the bright side, the sound system must have sounded good because the audience dug it. As a 53 year old man in a committed long-term relationship, I don’t get that many opportunities to get hot and sweaty with a bunch of nubile young women. I think I appreciate that even more now, than I did at 23. I had a great time playing and really enjoyed the time I had to perform.

had fun playing crop

After finishing my set, sweaty and exhausted, I packed-up my gear. Then Amy and I moved the speakers, got out the rope and hung-up the tarp, as we had been instructed, and after that, we schlepped all of my gear back to the entrance to catch the shuttle. It was about 11:00pm by the time we got to the end of the enormous line of drunk people waiting to catch the shuttle back to G,ville. We waited in that line until 12:30, when we finally boarded the bus. That was a long fucking time to wait for a bus. I was scheduled to engineer at KMUD at 8am the next morning, I could have used the extra hour of sleep.

long line

I enjoyed the applause, and making hot young women sweat. I made $50 in tips and CD sales, as well as some nice nugs from appreciative listeners, not a bad gig from that perspective, but sheesh! We had planned to go back to SAMF on Sunday, just to enjoy ourselves, but we were so put off by the way we were treated on Saturday that we decided we didn’t need any more abuse.

no more abuse

That’s what happened to us at SAMF this year. It sucks to have to recount it like this, but I know that you are a musician, and I hope you understand. I don’t expect to be paid, and I don’t even expect to be fed, although that would have been nice, but Summer Arts and Music Festival is supposed to be a celebration of our local art and music scene, and the Mateel is supposed to be a local arts non-profit.

treat plumbers like musicians

If the Mateel does nothing else to help local musicians the rest of the year, they should at least treat us with respect at the one festival each year where they invite us to donate our time, energy, expensive specialized equipment and years of preparation. It is in the Mateel’s best interest to cultivate an appreciation of music within the community, and one way to do that is to set a good example by treating generous local musicians, and their music, with the respect they deserve.

respect

The Mateel makes a lot of money from SAMF these days, and they provide free food, camping, a T-shirt, and admission to the festival for all of their volunteers. As a performer, donating my time and effort, as well as my unique musical expression, all I got was a wristband, and I only got that because I knew somebody at the check-in booth. Festival staff were not at all accommodating to my needs, and instead, we were treated like domestic servants.

treated like servants

Last year, the Mateel treated us very well, and we looked forward to performing again this year. I realize that what happened to us was not intentional, and that everyone involved was doing their best under the circumstances, or at least, just being themselves. Like I said, up front, I don’t want to make a big deal about this, but this seems like an area where there is some room for improvement. Thanks for listening.

thanks for listening

Sincerely, John Hardin

John Hardin electric Didgeridoo

photo by Bob Doran


Oh, So You’re a “Farmer” Now.

green-acres

I picked up a brochure the other day from the Small Farmers Association. Their logo showed an old hippie bus with pot-leaf bumper-stickers, parked in a big ol’ farm-style barn. The faint green image of a full size cannabis leaf appears, like a ghost, peeking in from the lower right-hand corner, just in case you missed the bumper-stickers. Every day, it seems, a new group like this pops up, working to cloak the ugliness of cannabis prohibition in the quaint wholesome imagery of the American family farm.

Green-Acres farm

As we move forward towards the inevitable legalization of cannabis, we can expect those who profit from the destructive,cruel, wasteful, but highly lucrative, War on Drugs, to lobby for regulations that preserve the economic advantage they gained by cheating the system and taking advantage of us for so many years. From narco cops to drug kingpins, a lot of people made out like bandits in the War on Drugs. The War on Drugs is, by far, the longest war in American history. For generations now, people have taken the War on Drugs for granted. They bet they’re lives on it, and up until now, that bet has paid off for them, while it consumed the lives of so many of their contemporaries. Now that the Drug War is ending, many people have no idea how to live without it, so they will fight to the death to save every last scrap of it regardless of the damage it causes.

war on drugs

That’s why dope yuppies are working so hard to rebrand themselves as “small farmers.” They want to advocate for regulations that will preserve their livelihoods, and prevent “large corporations” from driving them out of business. They know that legislators, as well as the voting public, have a much better opinion of small farmers than they do of drug dealers. Farmers feed America. Drug dealers destroy communities. Everyone knows that. So, dope yuppies would rather we think of them as unusually prosperous small family farmers, whose hard work built this country and feed its teeming millions, rather than run of the mill drug-dealing parasites who exploit our vulnerable youth, make people feel unsafe in their own neighborhoods, and breed crime, corruption and violence everywhere they go.

drug dealing dog

As much as our local dope yuppies would like to convince us of their proud agrarian heritage, drug dealers and farmers have totally different skill sets, motivations and proclivities. You should keep that in mind when thinking about who should grow cannabis in a legal environment. Real farmers know how to produce an agricultural product economically. That’s why they survive as farmers. That is their skill set. Sure, dope yuppies know something about growing cannabis, but they don’t know much about growing it economically. Prohibition has insured that the kinds of decisions that make or break legitimate farming operations, remain only peripheral concerns to pot growers.

real farmer

We compensate drug dealers for the legal risks they take, and for their skill at evading, or bribing, law enforcement, not so much for their economic efficiency. The job requires a degree of stealth and duplicity, so we expect a certain amount of dishonesty from drug dealers. Drug dealers specialize in gaming the system, being sneaky, and taking advantage of people.  Dealing drugs requires a completely different skill set than that required of a farmer.

skill set

For instance:  Drug dealers often need to lie about what they do for a living. It becomes second nature to them, so rebranding themselves as farmers is as easy for them as changing color is for a chameleon. Once upon a time, they told people they were carpenters. Then they told people they were in the medical profession, now they say they’re farmers. What’s the difference?

whats the difference

Drug dealers need to know how to evade law enforcement. This is where drug dealers excel well beyond the average American. Cannabis cultivators have a long history of finding ingenious ways to avoid detection, and moving here, was just part of that rich history.

pot farm4

The Emerald Triangle remains one of the most rugged, inaccessible places in the US. All of the factors that make it difficult for narco cops to enforce marijuana prohibition will also make it difficult for agricultural inspectors to verify compliance with strict regulations. I don’t understand why anyone would believe that the people who have most successfully evaded law enforcement throughout the War on Drugs, will now eagerly and honestly submit to strict regulation. They’re already looking for ways to game the system, and the system doesn’t even exist yet.

cheating

There are other ways to tell farmers from drug dealers as well. For example:

For Example John

Real farmers buy land because it has fertile well drained soil, suitable for agriculture.
Drug dealers buy land in places where they know that it will take at least an hour for a cop to get there.

farm vs drug

Real farmers make a phone call to the Ag board for advice on what will grow best in their soil.
Drug dealers make a phone call to have soil delivered, like pizza, with the toppings of their choice.

soil delivery simplified

Real farmers grow their crops in the soil under their feet.
Drug dealers grow marijuana in Sri Lankan coconut coir and Indonesian bat guano.

sri lanka coco crop-tile

Real farmers wear overalls, drive tractors and work from dawn to dusk just for the privilege of farming.
Drug dealers wear Hawaiian shirts, drive luxury SUVs and spend the Winter in Belize, just because they suck.

hawaiian shirt guy

I’d like to see what real farmers can do with cannabis. If they can produce broccoli for less than $5 a pound, I don’t see why they can’t produce good organic cannabis for less than $50 a pound, and it’s high time we let them try. As a low-income artist and long term cannabis user, I’m even more tired of subsidizing greedy dope yuppies, than I am of subsidizing greedy narco cops. Half the reason for legalizing cannabis is to put drug dealers out of business. We should let real farmers use their skills at producing agricultural products economically and efficiently to weed the drug dealers out of the cannabis industry, once and for all, and the sooner the better.

the sooner the better


Dime Bag Day

dime bags of weed

Lemonade Day is coming up this Saturday June 6th. Have you heard of Lemonade Day?

Lemonade-Day-Logo

Lemonade Day was designed to teach kids about capitalism and running their own business by encouraging them open a lemonade stand. They’ve had Lemonade Day in the northern part of the county for a few years now, but our 2nd District County Supervisor Estelle Fennell introduced me to a woman named Lynette who told me that they received a $3,000 grant to help get Lemonade Day off the ground in Southern Humboldt.

3000 dollars

How about that! We can get $3,000 bucks to convince a bunch of kids to have lemonade stands all on the same day, but we can’t get wifi at our local library. I never made anything like $3,000 from all of my childhood lemonade stands put together. Maybe we should have Grant Writing Day instead. Certainly more people around here make their living by working for non-profits than do by selling lemonade.

NonProfit_

Then Brian Elie told me a story of an inspiring young entrepreneur. I don’t know his name, and I’m sure I wouldn’t use it if I did, but Brian showed me a picture of a rather pissed-off looking young man, about 20, with a shaved head wearing a white, wife-beater T-shirt. I didn’t recognize the kid in the picture.

shaved head wbt

“He hit me!” Brian exclaimed, and proceeded to tell me about this young go-getter. One day recently, as Brian approached his office, behind the bagel shop in Garberville, he noticed this young man involved in what appeared to be a drug transaction, behind his office.

drug-deal1

Brian said he yelled at the kid: “Hey, don’t do that around here!” to which the kid replied “Fuck You Asshole!” Then, Brian said he saw a cell phone laying on the ground. He picked it up. That’s when the kid attacked Brian physically, and slugged him. I guess it was the kid’s phone.

punch_in_the_face

The cops eventually caught the kid, and sent Brian the photo, to see if Brian recognized his assailant. He did. Brian said that all of the text messages on the phone were notes like “I ned n 8th.” Can you believe it? That kid was hustling nickle bags of weed in Garberville! That’s like selling bottled water to fish living in the ocean. “What a spunky young businessman.” I thought.

fish buy water

Then I thought to myself: “Where would this community be without thousands of energetic, self-motivated young men, just like the one Brian told me about, who work so tirelessly, all across this country, to sell the product for which Humboldt County is so well known?

street dealer

I’ll bet a good percentage of Humboldt County’s successful businessmen began their career as one of those young men. It must take an enormous army of resourceful, motivated young street dealers to insure that every Jr. High and High School student in America has access to Humboldt County’s most famous export.  Yes, this community owes its prosperity to the hard work, determination and can-do spirit of young entrepreneurs just like the kid who punched Brian Elie outside of his office.

Drug-deal-school

All over this country, every day, nice people like Brian Elie get cursed at, punched and worse, by the wonderful people who work so hard to make this community prosperous. Talk about aggressive marketing! As the price of cannabis continues to fall, marketing will only become more important. That’s why, here in Southern Humboldt, we need to rethink Lemonade Day.

lemonade day_humboldt

The Lemonade Stand is cliche and passe. Nobody around here makes money on lemonade, but more than 500 families have made more than a million dollars each, thanks to an army of drug-dealing street thugs just like that enterprising young man who slugged Brian Elie. You can find them operating in every single town in America.

drug dealer1

Besides destroying communities and terrorizing neighborhoods, every year, an alarming number of this tremendously successful marketing team die violent deaths well before their time.

Police officer walks past the body of a drug dealer who was killed in a crack deal gone bad in Minneapolis

Police officer walks past the body of a drug dealer who was killed in a crack deal gone bad in Minneapolis

More still find themselves incarcerated, serving long work-related prison sentences.

Crime , drug traffic . Police action . Drug dealer being searched after report from neighbours .

Crime , drug traffic . Police action . Drug dealer being searched after report from neighbours .

I cannot stress how important it is to the economy of Humboldt County that children growing up today learn the skills they need to fill those empty shoes. That’s why I encourage all of you to join me in making this Saturday June 6, the first official Dime Bag Day in Southern Humboldt.

dime bags day Humboldt county

Here’s how it works:

heres how it works

If you grow weed, you can sponsor a child on Dime Bag Day by fronting them an ounce of pot. The child then takes the marijuana home, splits it up into quarter, and eighth-of-an-ounce bags, and decides how much to charge for them. By doing this, children learn about math and fractions, weights and measures, materials costs and profit margins. Then on Saturday, June 6, all of the kids come to town and try to sell their weed. Anyone can participate, and we encourage everyone to come out and support the kids.

kid smokes weed crop

This Saturday, on Dime Bag Day, if a kid comes up to you and offers to sell you some weed, say “Yes, Please.” Even if you have plenty of weed, or don’t smoke weed at all, buy some weed from a kid on the street on Dime Bag Day. We want these kids to have a positive experience, and for this early success to bolster their confidence. Just give them your money, and don’t haggle too much about the price.

build up your child

This is a great opportunity to teach kids about business and how the economy really works, so get the whole family involved in SoHum’s first Dime Bag Day. Your kids will learn the value of a dollar, gain valuable business experience, and get a taste of the exciting fast-paced life of a street dealer. They’ll also give those Lemonade Day sucka’s something to spend their hard-earned money on.

drug dealer sloth


A Busy Weekend

too busy

This will be a busy weekend for my partner Amy and I.

john and amy

Starting Saturday we will perform on electric didgeridoo and Theremin at the 39th Annual Summer Arts and Music festival at Benbow Lake State Recreation Area.

SAMF-2015-

We are scheduled to perform starting at 9pm in the Belly-Dance tent.

Bellydancers

No, we won’t belly-dance, but you are welcome to. If you haven’t heard us play before, this is a great opportunity. The belly-dance tent has a nice sound system, and we’ll rock the place like nothing you’ve ever heard before.

lets_rock_this_place

I hope to see your bouncing belly-button there.

belly button

Just a few hours later, we’ll be at KMUD’s studios in Redway for Amy’s radio show: The Living Earth Connection.

living earth connection

Amy will read a great monograph by visionary author Daniel Quinn called The Book of the Damned.

book of the damned

The Book of the Damned will change the way you think about culture, civilization and the future. Please listen.

please listen

Then, early Monday morning, I’ll be back at KMUD to engineer Monday Morning Magazine from 7-9AM with host Pat Higgins, after which, I’ll have a new essay to post.

writing gif


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 124 other followers