Category Archives: Redway

SoHum’s Post-War Potential

war potential

Some people will tell you that the people of Southern Humboldt are too stupid to do anything but rape the environment, deal drugs, or both. I’m not one of those people. Despite our inglorious legacy, we have a lot to be proud of in our past, and we have a lot of potential for the future, but we have a lot of work to do right now to get there.

dealing with loss

Change is coming. It’s happening as we speak. As the War on Drugs comes to an end, the cannabis industry will undoubtedly go through dramatic upheaval. We should expect difficulties and challenges we’ve never faced before, and we should expect that these challenges will be made more challenging because of what the War on Drugs has done to us as a community.

after the war

The War on Drugs has done terrible things to this community, and, like soldiers returning from war, we won’t know how profoundly the War on Drugs has affected us, until it is really over. Some of us may find successful careers in the post-war cannabis industry, but we’re all still bleeding from wounds we got from thirty years of the War on Drugs, and a lot of people around here simply cannot imagine any other way to live.

cant imagine living without

Humboldt County may or may not own the future of the cannabis industry, but we do own the War on Drugs. No one can take that away from us. What Lexington and Concord are to the American Revolution; what Gettysburg is to the American Civil War, Humboldt County is to the War on Drugs.

war hero1

The War on Drugs lasted for more than 30 years, and you would be hard pressed to find a community anywhere in the US on whom the War on Drugs has had a more dramatic and lasting effect. No one likes to dwell on anything so terrible as war, but people die in them, people suffer through them, and they define people’s lives. We shouldn’t just try to brush it under the rug.

sweep_under_rug_xlarge

The War on Drugs has affected us all. We need to understand what happened to us in the War on Drugs more than anyone else. We need to understand how the War on Drugs impacted this community, and how it effected the whole country. We need that understanding this to heal ourselves. If we can find that healing for our own community, we can offer it to the millions of survivors carrying trauma from the War on Drugs.

traumatized

Seriously. A Drug War Museum. It should have a plaque or something with the name of every American who died in the War on Drugs. Make it a place where Drug War Vets can be honored for the time they served… in jail. Tell the story of what happened to this community, honestly, but make it a compelling narrative, and don’t skimp on the details. Honor the herb, and honor the people who risked their lives in a war zone to keep America high during the War on Drugs. I’m not kidding. That is our claim to fame, as a community, and it’s our wisdom to share.

Wounds Into Wisdom_0A

Take tourists on day-hikes that simulate the treks guerrilla growers had to make deep into the woods to tend their hidden patches. Have exhibits showing some of the sneaky tricks people used to hide their plants. Make each tourist carry a sack of chicken manure in their backpack for the whole hike, and hide some speakers in the woods that intermittently play the sounds of helicopters, to simulate an impending CAMP raid, for added realism . Show people what it was like here.

Marijuana raid w/ helicopter

A trip to Southern Humboldt could become a therapeutic part of healing the traumas inflicted by the War on Drugs. When people come here, we should remind them that there’s nothing wrong with consuming cannabis, but that the War on Drugs is a crime against humanity that has taken a toll on all of us. We should show the War on Drugs for what it is: a dark chapter in American History that must never be forgotten because it must never be repeated.

war never again

Garberville should become the place where people come to heal the wounds of the War on Drugs, but we can also make Garberville a place to explore the healing powers of cannabis as medicine. We have a strong community of healers here who already have a lot of experience with cannabis as medicine. I imagine that we’ve barely scratched the surface of cannabis’ many therapeutic uses, and that the potential for new products, therapies and treatments involving cannabis is huge. Look, cannabis feels good. Feeling good is good for you. Therefore cannabis is good for you. If you ask me, that’s all the recommendation anyone needs to enjoy cannabis. Now that cannabis is going to be legal, and cheap, let’s see how many imaginative new ways we can find to use it.

cannabis -tile

Cannabis is not wine. It is not a decadent luxury for the well-to-do. Cannabis is medicine. Cannabis is tonic. Cannabis is good for you. That’s why everyone needs cannabis. We can’t possibly grow enough cannabis here for everyone, and we shouldn’t even try, but we can dream up new ways to use it, and we can use it to heal ourselves, our economy, and our community from the traumas inflicted by the War on Drugs.

cannabis is my medicine


The Cannabis Economy

cannabis economy

Some people say that legalizing cannabis will ruin our local economy here in Humboldt County. I think it’s too late for that. The War on Drugs has already done it. Not only has it ruined our economy, it has ruined our community. All of the serious problems we face, or refuse to face, as a community result from economic forces set in motion by the War on Drugs.

war-on-drugs money and jobs

You can see it any day of the week in Garberville. You see lots of poor people, and the contempt for them is palpable. Merchants mostly cater to tourists or dope yuppies. Few pay a living wage, fewer still offer benefits like health insurance, so few people work regular jobs in town.

shitty hours and pay

Local non-profits exploit the poor even more than the businesses.  They rely on the unpaid efforts of hundreds of idealistic volunteers with limited economic opportunities. These volunteers happily work a four hour shift, or more, for a T-shirt and a meal, or less, even though they have no safe place to sleep, can’t afford one, and the people who they volunteer to help, would call the cops on them any other day of the week, just for being poor in public. The dope yuppies point to the non-profits as evidence of the generosity of cannabis growers, but the non-profits mainly serve the interests of the growers, while they ignore the needs of their volunteers, let alone the rest of the community.

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

Dope yuppies, on the other hand, exploit people much more directly, and with much more coercion. They rely heavily on taxpayer subsidized violence, both to inflate the price of their product, and to insure that they have an endless supply of cheap labor. Mandatory drug screening disqualifies most pot smokers from pretty much every field except drug dealing and the arts.  If you’ve been busted, you’re doubly screwed.  Who else would “hire” someone convicted of a drug felony?

felony franks

I say “hire” in quotations, because dope yuppies rarely pay people for their time and trouble. Instead, they take on “sharecroppers;” people who do all of the work, and take all of the risk, for a share of the crop, which they then have to sell, along with the dope yuppie’s share, before they get paid. Or they “hire” house-sitters. Dope yuppies think that house-sitting is it’s own reward. They expect people to watch their property, do their chores and take care of their menagerie of pets, while they jet off to Belize, just for the privilege of staying in their home while they are away.

need a housesitter

Dope yuppies want people to be that desperate. Just watch how shocked and disappointed they become if you turn them down. It’s not enough for them to have plenty of money. They know that they are only rich, so long as they can bend the poor people around them to their will. They like economic inequity That’s why they vacation in Central America. They don’t wish you well. Don’t forget that.

dont forget

So, the non-profits need volunteers. The merchants need serfs and the dope yuppies want slaves.  The non-profits have their mission statements. The merchants just want to make money, and the dope yuppies want people to do their work for them. None of them care about the people they exploit.  Then they have the nerve to complain that most people would rather live on the street and shit on the sidewalk than work for any of them. Who can blame people for opting out? Just because you have three shitty offers, doesn’t mean you have to make a deal.

shitty deal street

No one likes it. People hate the whole situation so much they voted to increase taxes to pay for more police. How bad do things have to get before drug-dealers demand more cops? So now the whole sad, ugly mess is crawling with cops. That’s what the cannabis economy looks like in Garberville: punk-ass kids in in brand new trucks, poor people with no good options and nowhere to go, and a bunch of cops just looking for trouble. Lovely, isn’t it?

lovely fucking

Who cares how much money is involved, if that’s what it looks like on the ground? Just because the War on Drugs brings a lot of money into Southern Humboldt, that doesn’t mean it makes life better here. Quite the contrary. Look around, SoHum. Look at what the cannabis economy has done to your community.

SoHum triptych

It takes millions of dollars to cultivate this level of social dysfunction. It takes big money to create the kind of poverty you see wandering the streets of Garberville. All over the country the War on Drugs has turned vibrant communities like, and including, Southern Humboldt into drug ghettos, to feed the insatiable greed of Drug War profiteers. You’d have to be a fool or a cad to want it to continue.

We love the cannabis economy!

We love the cannabis economy!

Therein lies the true heart of our real economic problem. For more than 30 years, the War on Drugs has made Southern Humboldt extremely attractive to cads and fools. Fools don’t understand; cads don’t care. Both of them measure everything in dollars and cents, either because they fail to comprehend, or they fail to care about, anything else.

dont fuckin care bear

Think about it. What would we lose if this county never saw another dollar of pot money? First we’d lose the cads. They know they can’t compete on a level playing field, so they will jump ship first, on their way to the next big scam. They’ll make a lot of noise before they go, but we’ll be better off without them. The fools won’t know what hit them, but they’ll get used to whatever comes next.

they-ll-never-know-what-hit-them

We’d lose our housing shortage, as property owners realized that they better find a new way to make money from all of the residential floor space they own. They’ll begin, for the very first time, to rent it to people to live in. What a novel idea! Others will simply liquidate their Humboldt County holdings, creating opportunities for nicer people who just want to live in the forest.

real estate signs

We’d lose the illegal water diversions,

illegal water diversion

the clearcuts,

clearcut grow

and the illegal grading,

unpermitted grading

not to mention the rat poison,

rat poison dead fisher

Humboldt County Sheriff Mike Downey examines California fisher who died from ingesting rat poison set out by cannabis farmers

the fertilizer runoff,

fertilizer runoff

and all of the garbage they leave in the forest,

grower garbage1

as people realize that there’s no point in growing more weed than you can smoke.

grow your own2

We’d probably lose 5 or 6 murders each year, not to mention countless other violent crimes, ranging from home invasion robbery to kidnapping and rape. We’d lose CAMP. We’d lose the helicopters, the law-enforcement convoys, and the raids. We’d lose the lawyers. Would anyone miss them?

miss you cat

We’d lose the soil trucks and the water trucks and all of the damage they do to our roads. We’d lose the endless parade of brand new giant pickup trucks. I miss the rusty old ranch wagons, don’t you? And of course, we’d lose the money, but most of us don’t see much of it anyway. The main thing that pot money does for most of us, is make it harder to afford a home, and allow local merchant to focus on meeting the needs of people with more money than us, rather than us.

wealthy interests-vert

When you add it all up, it amounts to a hell of a lot of money that this community would have been better off without. It’s high time we said “good riddance” to the cannabis economy. Instead of worrying about the inflated incomes of the greedy bottom-feeders who ruined our economy, lets work on making this community a better place to live for the people who have been hurt most by them, namely, the poor and working people of Humboldt County.

bottom feeder cannabis


Making Dots in Shelter Cove

bird a1 This past weekend, I participated in an art workshop for kids in Shelter Cove. The event was sponsored by SCARF, and held at the “Community Clubhouse” right next to the airstrip and the golf course. I have no idea what SCARF stands for, Shelter Cove Arts and Recreation Foundation is my best guess, but whatever their acronym means, they have some pretty cool stuff going on in Shelter Cove. kanga snakes ct1 cp Any kid could attend the workshop, free of charge. They served free pizza and juice boxes, and SCARF provided all of the art materials, including an envelope full of take home art projects for each kid. Paige Wygant led the workshop, all about painting with dots.

paige wygant dot painting workshop crop

Paige Wygant leading dot painting workshop

She showed the kids some Australian aboriginal dot paintings, and talked about some of the symbols and colors they use in their art. dot painting She also brought a poster of the famous painting by Georges Seurat: Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, and talked about pointillism and impressionism. Georges_Seurat_-_A_Sunday_on_La_Grande_Jatte_--_1884 Paige invited me to to the workshop to play the didgeridoo and talk a little bit about it. I’m always happy for the opportunity to play for people, but until now, I’ve never done an educational presentation about the didgeridoo. I play the thing because I like the way it sounds. I don’t really know much about the culture that spawned it. As soon as she told me about it, I knew I wanted to do it because I wanted to learn to paint with dots, so I had to put together a presentation about the didgeridoo.

didge presentation sc2

photo courtesy of Paige Wygant

I’ve never been to Australia, but I have a library card, and occasional access to the internet, so I looked some stuff up. The kids ate it up. Kids love the didgeridoo. It really speaks to them, and kids are especially open to it. I started by playing a bit, and that immediately got their attention.

didge presentation sc3 crop

photo courtesy of Paige Wygant

After a little opening jam, I told them that music was probably older than words, and that before we had language, people communicated through music. That set the tone for a talk that was more about our shared musical heritage, of which I know a little, than about Australian aboriginal culture, about which I know almost nothing. It went over OK.

didge presentation sc5

Photo courtesy of Paige Wygant

I explained that the fossils we find from prehistoric humans are usually made of rock or bone, and that a wooden didgeridoo or a wood and skin drum would decompose rapidly, so we have very little fossil evidence of early musical instruments, but the didgeridoo was undoubtedly one of them. I explained that although we think of the didgeridoo as an Australian instrument, we know there must have been something like a didgeridoo in our distant cultural past, because we have instruments like trumpets and trombones and tubas. Those instruments must have evolved from something like a didgeridoo. Makes sense, right? I played a little more. The kids seemed to buy it.

didge presentation sc4 crop

Photo courtesy of Paige Wygant

Then I told the story of how the instrument got its funny name. This is a true story, and it surprised me to learn it. The term “didgeridoo” was coined by a guy named Herbert Basedow writing for Smith’s Weekly magazine in 1925, who published the following sentence: “The aborigine has no music in him, save for the infernal didgeridoo, which makes but one sound didgery, didgery, didgery, ad infinitum.” Didgeridoo_player I explained that this was a mean-spirited and untrue thing to say, and that the British were not very nice to the aboriginal people. I told them that the aboriginal people have lots of music, and that they can do things with music that we can’t. I told them that the aboriginal people know how to use music as a GPS device, or like a map, and that they use songs to find their way around. I swear! I saw it on a Discovery Channel documentary. I found it in a book too, but hey, if anyone wants to straighten me out about this, I’d love to hear from you. arunachala I played a little more to remind the kids that didgeridoo music sounds pretty cool, and to gracefully change the subject. I told an aboriginal dreamtime story of how the instrument was created. NOT the one about the giant’s penis. I found a family friendly didgeridoo creation story without any reference to genitalia. I’ll save it. I played a little more, and then talked about how to play the instrument, and played one more piece to finish. A whole room full of kids sat quietly and listened for half-an-hour, so I guess it worked. cu2 Then it was time to paint! square crop2 They gave each kid a nice canvas panel that Paige had prepped for them. Some panels just had a background coat, and some, for the younger kids, had a cool kangaroo design marked out on them. kangaroo4 The older kids, including me, I was the oldest kid in the class, by 40 years or so, picked from a selection of Australian themed designs and transferred them, with a pencil and graphite paper, to the canvas. We used fabric paint, which comes in little plastic squeeze bottles perfect for squeezing out tiny drops of paint. snakes3 I had a lot of fun painting with dots, and so did the rest of the kids. Paige did a great job, and I applaud SCARF for helping to make it happen. cu1 Thanks to them, I have a new shtick: didgeridoo presentations for kids. If you’ve got a room full of kids and you need to kill some time, give me a call. dot cartoon1


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


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