Category Archives: SoHum

Two SoHums

SohumLogo[1]-horz

The bluffs between Redway and Garberville have been closed for a few weeks now. This two mile stretch of road hugs a sheer cliff of crumbly sandstone which descends precipitously into the churning waters of the Eel River below. With this narrow pass closed to all traffic save kayaks and canoes, these two tiny towns, Redway, and Garberville, which once orbited each other like binary stars, now face separation and isolation.

bluffs closed REDWOOD DRIVE

More than just a major inconvenience for everyone in Southern Humboldt, this severed link may forever mark a division point in SoHum culture. Evolutionary biology and island bio-geography can tell us a lot about what happens to populations and cultures who become isolated from each other. They tell us that subtle differences within connected populations, can lead to marked differences between closely related, but isolated populations.

galapagos finches

Today, the subtle cultural differences between Eastern Southern Humboldt, including Garberville, and everything that drains into it down the Alder Point Rd, and Western Southern Humboldt, including Redway, and whatever hasn’t already fallen into the ocean West of it, seem small. For instance, people from Eastern Southern Humboldt are more likely to push a junk car over a steep cliff, whereas people in Western Southern Humboldt generally set fire to junk cars along the roadside. Over time, however, and in isolation, these minute differences often evolve into distinguishing characteristics. Unless the bluffs are repaired soon, the difference between East and West SoHum may become as stark as the difference between North and South Korea.

North-KOrea-Vs-South-Korea minerals

Today, the differences are subtle, but noticeable. In Garberville, for example, when someone sees someone else passed out on the sidewalk, they call the Sheriff. They say: “There’s someone passed out cold on the sidewalk in Garberville. Isn’t that illegal? Can you come down here and arrest them?”

cop with drunk

Whereas is Redway, if someone comes across the same scene, an unconscious person in the sidewalk, they would call an ambulance and say something like: “Hey man, there’s, like, somebody laying here unconscious on the sidewalk. I just thought that this kinda seems like one of those health-things that you guys help out with.”

ambulance

Over time, these subtle differences may become magnified. In the future, Garberville may get 35% of the electricity it uses from the alcoholics it incinerates, while everyone in Redway will get CPR certified, but hope they never have to use it because they were pretty high when they took the course.

smoke pot

Another subtle difference between G,ville and R,town has to do with self image. Garberville is a much more image conscious town than Redway. I think there are about five guys in Garberville, including the Jehovah’s Witnesses who wear a sport-coat and tie. Karen Miclette and her crew at Karen Miclette Insurance always dress professionally, as do the people at the banks and credit unions. When you add them all up, that’s a whole bunch of people in uncomfortable shoes and stiff scratchy collars, wondering why the rest of us can’t make more of an effort to look presentable when we’re in town.

dress-for-success

Besides the people who “dress for success” around town, there are quite a few people who have an idea about what Garberville, and specifically, people in Garberville should look like, and they put a lot of effort into keeping up appearances.

keeping up appearances

Redway, by contrast, just makes itself comfortable. The polyester uniforms worn by the employees at the Shell station might be the most formal attire you’ll see on your visit to Redway, where most people can’t even keep their ass-crack covered.

ass crack

In the future, Garberville might have hidden cameras all over town, and big screen monitors on the back-side of street signs. When you pass one of them, you will see the least flattering picture they took of you with a caption like, “Do you see what you’d look like on TV?” or “What would your mother say if she saw you dressed like that?”

looking bad in town on tv

Eventually, bouncers will come and escort you to the the edge of town. Meanwhile, Redway will look like a clothing optional retirement community with lots and lots of dogs.

let the dogs out

These are just a few of the ways that long-term closure of the bluffs between Redway and Garberville could negatively effect our unique SoHum culture. We need each other, East and West, to survive, and thrive as one whole community. Redwood Drive must be repaired, now, before it is too late.

redwood drive bluffs loader


This Spring, Just Leave The Dirt Alone for a Change

leave_it_alone_

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

hands off our field

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

squirrel suit

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

freud quote alone

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

small garden

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

theres more to life than eating garbage

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

tired of working in the garden

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

ugly garden

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

groundhog

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

deer eating

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

fat couple with rifles

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

Something_Better_To_Do_by_supadave_3

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

the devils garden 1970

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

die sprout die

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

yuck broccoli

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

toilet dinner

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

anthony-hopkins-liver and fava beans

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

Helicopter Used to Insecticide and Fertilize Wheat

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

stand tall

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

leave planet earth alone


The Return of Gulch Much

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

MulchLogo

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

gulch mulch back issues

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

paul modic crop

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

check-it-out


Make the Connection

the connection

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

living earth connection

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

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

keystone species sea otters

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

keystone species biomass

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

biodiversity cities

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

biodiversity basics

Does biodiversity matter?

biodiversity loss

Why?

Biodiversity laid off

That’s the topic. Please tune in.

kmud logo


Advice for Adventurous Ears

ear to bell

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

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

wildlife matters radio show-kmud

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

medicine baul 9c

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

medicine baul 7c

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

medicine baul drummer4


My Record-Breaking New Guitar

record-breakers

I just finished building myself a new guitar. In itself, I don’t think that sets any new records, except perhaps for some personal records for myself. For instance: This new guitar, with four strings, has more strings than any instrument I’ve built so far. I don’t expect that record to last long, because I’ve already begun work on a crude electric harp. This is also the first stringed instrument I’ve built that has a fret-board, although I didn’t set the frets, and it’s the first electric stringed instrument I’ve built that has a built-in amplifier.

personal record

Aside from these personal records, I can’t even claim to have recorded any new records with this guitar. I just finished building it, after all. I’m just getting to know the instrument. I wanted to build an instrument with a unique sound, and I’ve achieved that, but I expect it will take a while before I learn to speak its language fluently enough to compose music for it. Although it has a unique sound, I can’t say it’s uniqueness breaks any records.

unique2

You could see my new guitar as a kind of phoenix, rising from the ashes of an older, if not unique, at least unusual guitar. My new guitar began with an listing on the SoHum Buy-Sell-Trade Facebook page where I let people know that I was looking for junk guitar parts, especially tuning machines. Felix Omai responded to my ad by generously offering to give me the remains of an old Harmony brand arch-top, four-string, tenor guitar. I was delighted to receive it.

pheonix

The guitar was in pretty sad shape. It’s arch had fallen, the back of the body had come off, the front of the body detached from the sides, and the fret-board fell off of the neck. One of the tuning pegs turned to dust between my fingers as I tried, for obviously the first time in many years, to turn it.

crumbled tuning peg1

I googled the guitar online, and found a nice picture of what it must have looked like in its heyday, and I have to admit that it was a pretty sharp-looking guitar, considering that it retailed for $79.00 in the Sears and Roebuck Catalog. Even in 1962, that was a pretty cheap guitar.

harmony_tenor_guitar

The online reviews, however, all panned the guitar’s sound as “muddy,” “undefined,” and “bottom-heavy,” so I didn’t feel bad about salvaging the parts I could use to make a new and unique instrument. After I reattached the fret-board to the neck, and replaced the broken tuning peg with a little slab of deer antler, I salvaged the whole neck assembly, as well as the tailpiece and part of the rosewood bridge.

headstock tuner-horz

I replaced the body with a crude rectangle of wood I salvaged from a shipping pallet.  I built an electric pickup of my own design using an upcycled mint tin, a piezoelectric disc I salvaged from an electronic toy, some compression springs I got at Scrap Humboldt, and the rosewood string saddles from the bridge of the old Harmony. This unique acoustic-electric bridge pickup, with built-in spring reverb gives the guitar its unique sound, at least partially.

mint tin pickup

My new guitar’s other secret weapon is its on-board amplifier, with a speaker mounted directly beneath the strings. I built the amplifier around an LM386 8-pin amplifier chip, and powered it with a 9-volt battery.

lm 386 amplifier

The amplifier has an on-off switch, input volume, and gain control, which allows me to play it as an “acoustic’ instrument, that is, without plugging it into an external amplifiers, and to overdrive the amplifier producing distortion and feedback, whether it is plugged into an external amplifier or not.

DSC_0005

Still, I did have to break two records to build this guitar, and no one will ever listen to this copy of Iron Butterfly’s 1960’s rock anthem, Inna-Gadda-Da-Vida,

inna gadda da vida

or Billy Crystal’s hit single You Look Marvelous again.

you look marvelous

Instead, you can listen to to me play them like this:


Garberville’s Visionary Artist Ron Machado

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

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

Garberville welcome to buy

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

Unsavory-Characters

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

Tragic Pathos

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

lotus

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

ron machado3

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

ron machado crop

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

assault

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

burning tent

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

ron machado2 bright crop

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

capitalism boring

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

Eureka_artsalive-tile

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

 


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