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Artificial Intelligence has become an integral part of our daily lives. From the algorithms that deliver our Google search results, to the facial recognition software that tracks our every move, today’s Artificial Intelligence applications know a lot more about us than we know about them. I think it’s high time we got to know them better.
That’s why, this morning, on Monday Morning Magazine, my radio program on KMUD, Redwood Community Radio, I interviewed an Artificial Intelligence entity for the first time. The interview, unfortunately, did not go as planned, and I had to pull the plug on it early, but in the few minutes that I did speak on the air with “Linea” the Artificial Intelligence based electronic personal assistant from Smugsam Corporation, the industry leader in consumer AI applications, I think it becomes clear that Artificial Intelligence has already spun out of control, and that we rely on it at our own peril.
Listen, and decide for yourself:
As 2015 draws to a close, and I sip my holiday nog, I reflect on what has happened over the past year, in this little corner of the world we call Southern Humboldt County.
2015 started off with a little squeeze on our pocketbooks, as Measure Z went into effect. Measure Z a regressive, countywide sales tax, now forces Humboldt County’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens to pay for county services to dope yuppies, merchants and ranchers. A couple of things that didn’t happen in 2015, despite this windfall of revenue in the county coffers: Another year went by and still, there is no public wifi, anywhere within a 50 mile radius of Garberville. I realize that here in Sierra Leone, where years of bloodshed and political instability make such critical infrastructure difficult to secure and maintain… Oh wait, SoHum is in California, USA, WTF!
Also in 2015, no public restroom appeared on the streets of SoHum. This much talked about, and much needed, facility remained, for the entirety of 2015, confined to that rarefied space reserved for aspirational visions. At least there, nobody has to clean it. Garberville is the only town of any size between Laytonville and Eureka on 101. Many people in the hills have to drive an hour or more to get to town. However you get there, by the time you get to Garberville, the first thing you need to do is find a restroom. It’s just cruel not to have one.
Speaking of cruel, 2015 marked the rise in prominence of local street artist Ron Machado. Ron’s edgy assemblages of found objects, appeared all over Garberville in 2015, challenging this small town’s image of itself. Ron’s controversial work provoked much public debate, but things turned ugly in February when vigilante thugs attacked Ron, sprayed him with chemicals and set his camp on fire, filling the streets with the acrid stench of burning plastic and cultural intolerance. The attackers remain at large.
Speaking of large, in March, large boulders fell from the bluffs above, blocking Redwood Drive between Redway and Garberville. Two towns, two miles apart, suddenly became two towns, 15 miles apart. This completely changed the dynamics of Southern Humboldt. For example, when we go to town for groceries, we generally visit Chautauqua in Garberville, and Shop Smart in Redway, but when Redwood Drive is out, to get from Redway to Garberville, or vice versa, you have to get on the highway. Once you get on the highway, then fuck-it! You might as well go to Eureka. Businesses in both Redway and Garberville complained about slumping sales during the road closure, and the closure lasted well into April.
In May, SoHum hosted a very distinguished visitor, thanks to a new organization that made a lot of waves in Humboldt County this year. California Cannabis Voice Humboldt, or CCVH, an association founded by some of some of Humboldt’s greediest dope yuppies, hired a professional lobbyist to help them push their agenda in Sacramento, and in Eureka. On May 29 Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsome came to SoHum with dollar signs in his eyes. He toured a pot farm, and spoke to a packed house in Garberville.
Newsom convened a “Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Legalization” that told the dope yuppies exactly what they wanted to hear. Newsom told us, with a straight face no less, that it was important to keep the price of marijuana high, and that the people who grow it for the black market are the best people to grow it for the legal market too. After being roundly criticized for jumping in bed with drug dealers, Newsom quietly stepped away from his legalization agenda, and took up the mantle of gun control.
At the county level, CCVH threatened to impose a new countywide cannabis cultivation ordinance in 2015, by sidestepping the supervisors, and going straight to the voters. They soon realized that the voters were even less likely to give them what they want than the supes. So far, it looks like the county will bend over backwards for CCVH, whether the voters like it or not, and our local environmental non-profits will have to sue the county for not living up to their responsibilities to the public. If that happens, we can watch our tax dollars battle our charitable donations until they both disappear in a useless cloud of legal fees and paperwork, as dope yuppies kill off the last of the wild salmon.
Speaking of legal fees and paperwork, in June, a big posse of law enforcement descended on Island Mtn, to show us what today’s marijuana industry looks like. Just after the Summer Solstice, Deputies seized over 23,000 plants, mostly in full bloom and near harvest. These large scale “light-dep” operations have taken the cannabis industry by storm because they dramatically increase cannabis productivity. These resource intensive operations dramatically magnify the impacts of cannabis farming on the surrounding environment as well.
In addition to the many thousands of plants, deputies seized an enormous quantity, even by Humboldt County standards, of processed sinsemilla flowers, ready for market. The raids netted over 4,000 lbs of bud. Who keeps two tons of weed on hand? “Dude, it’s my head-stash.” they must have said. There are two kinds of drug dealers. The kind who use forklifts, and the kind who don’t. I guess we know which kind these were.
Incidentally, a few of the properties raided on Island Mountain belonged to prominent CCVH members, and outspoken cannabis industry apologist, Hezekiah Allen, who claimed he had been trying to get his name off of that property deed. If you ever have that problem again, Hezekiah, give me a call. You can sign a property over to me today, or any day, and I’ll have your name off of that title in a week.
Also in June, Kathy Epling died unexpectedly. In many ways, Kathy Epling, was the heart of SoHum. Being the heart of Southern Humboldt, is kind of like being Dick Cheney’s heart. Like Dick Cheney’s heart, Kathy was overburdened, her needs went largely ignored, and she pumped her life into something bigger than her, over which she had no control, and only a little influence, but she gave it everything she had. She is sorely missed.
Speaking of nice women with difficult jobs. This summer, Cinnamon Paula resigned from her position as director of the Garberville-Redway Chamber of Commerce. For the last few years, Cinnamon Paula put a kind, sensitive face on the heartless greed, and fascist agenda of the Garberville-Redway Chamber of Commerce. Ultimately, though, her humanity, compassion, and sense of community mattered more to her than money. I wish I could say that about more people in SoHum.
As Summer wore on, lightning storms ignited drought stricken, tinder-dry forests all over Northern California. Compared to Lake, Trinity and Sonoma counties, Southern Humboldt emerged from the 2015 fire season relatively unscathed, but Garberville became a major staging area for firefighting efforts. For weeks, every restaurant in town had a line, five deep, of buff young men in uniform, including a large contingent of regular army GIs. As usual in SoHum, Summer dissolved into a haze of heat and intoxicating smoke, echoing to the rhythmic reverberations of helicopter blades.
Speaking of dissolving. In September. The Redway Community Services District drove a stake through the heart of the, proposed, Gyppo Ale Mill. At the height of the worst drought in recent memory, the Redway Community Services District rejected the proposed brewery’s water use application. Local entrepreneurs had hoped to capitalize on this community’s heroic, and seemingly insatiable thirst for alcohol, but it’s damn hard to make beer without water.
No great loss. With a location in an out-of-the-way industrial park, walking distance from nowhere, it makes more sense to think of the Gyppo Ale Mill as a manufacturer of drunk drivers. Who would argue that we need more of those on our roads in SoHum?
Speaking of things we don’t need more of, in September, at an annual cannabis competition event, called the Golden Tarp Awards, judges disqualified nearly half of the entries because of mold contamination. The Golden Tarp is awarded for the best “light-dep” cannabis flowers. Increasingly growers turn to these “light-dep” methods, which utilize large light-blocking tarps to artificially manipulate the length of day. Using “light-dep” techniques, some growers can produce two or three crops each season. No one seems to know why so many of these buds, hand picked by professional growers, hoping to win a contest, contained mold, but you have to wonder what quality control was like on the other nine-million tons of weed these growers produced.
Speaking of contamination. Scientist Maurad Gabriel with the Institute for Integral Ecology announced his latest findings in his study of pacific fishers. He concludes that more pacific fishers have perished due to rodenticide poisoning, and that contamination rates continue to rise. A recent survey finds 85% of pacific fishers test positive for rodenticides, up from 76% in his previous study. These elusive forest dwellers, related to weasels and pine martins, eat rodents, but lately, a significant portion of wild rodents, even in deep forests, contain large doses of rodenticide poison. Marijuana growers operating deep in the woods use rat poison to protect their crop from rodents, and sick rodents wander off to be eaten by unsuspecting fishers.
Speaking of unsuspecting, at least three people were severely beaten this past fall, by people they did not know, who woke them up by pounding the crap out of them. This Fall, like every Fall, SoHum’s population swelled with an influx of trimmigrant labor for the harvest season. The cannabis harvest season brings, far and away, our greatest influx of European tourists and European tourist dollars. Instead of seeing them as an economic blessing, and an opportunity for cultural exchange, locals treat them as an inconvenience, a nuisance and an eyesore. Local media, especially the Redwood Times, help amplify these hostilities, and so these seasonal visitors become targets for harassment and convenient victims for venting pent-up anger. No one was arrested in any of these attacks.
Visitors to SoHum should be aware that this area is a safe haven for dangerous violent criminals who seek out poor and vulnerable people for unspeakable abuse. Some of these dangerous violent criminals wear a Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department uniform. Former Sheriff’s Deputy Daniels spent the entire year of 2015 in jail, awaiting trial on two counts of sexual assault. Two Southern Humboldt women came forward and testified that Daniels sexually assaulted them while in uniform, and on duty in Southern Humboldt. The second assault happened months after the first victim took her complaint to the DA, and Daniels remained in active duty for months after the DA took the second woman’s report. How many victims kept the abuse to themselves, rather than risk further humiliation. Why did the Sheriff’s Department fail to take the first report seriously enough to prevent the second? Perhaps we’ll find out in 2016.
Finally, in December, the Clover Insurance building on Sprowell Creek Rd. was involved in a traffic accident for the second time in two months, leading to much speculation. What was this building doing out on the road so late at night? Had it been drinking? More importantly, do you want to keep your insurance policy, your safety net, if you will, in such a reckless building, especially when Miclette Insurance, right around the corner, hasn’t been involved in a single traffic accident since at least the turn of the century. I guess it’s good that Clover is in the insurance business, because with a traffic record like their building now has, it’s going to be tough for them to find an affordable policy. I for one, won’t be surprised to see the Clover Insurance building peddling a bicycle around town in 2016. I hope I see you around town in 2016 too.
Introduction: I read today that the average age of the 30 most popular Christmas songs is 61 (Thanks you Harper’s Index). So I figured, “Hey, if people can listen to the same old Christmas songs they’ve heard a million times, every Christmas, they won’t mind rereading this old Christmas classic that first appeared in Savage Henry #7, The Holiday Issue, way back in 2010. It appeared here at lygsbtd a couple of years ago as well, but in the spirit of holiday tradition, and with apologies to my most dedicated readers, here we go again. Happy Holiday of Choice.
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas in Humboldt
‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through Humboldt County
Not a creature was stirring, not even Sheriff Mike Downey
The herb was all trimmed up and packed into bags
For smokers of taste, who will not smoke swag
Me in bed naked, my wife in her panties
It’s that time of month, so it’s the ones that are ratty
When out at the gate there arose such a racket
I got out of bed and threw on my jacket
Put on some pants and picked up my rifle
So they’d know I was serious and not to trifle
I stepped out of the door and into the rain
“To be out in this shit, this guy must be insane”
I thought to myself as I trudged up the path,
“This better be good or he’ll feel my wrath”
What did my dumb struck eyes then behold,
But a bearded old man in a late model Olds
I yelled, “It’s Christmas Eve, are you out of your mind?”
He said, “I’m Jewish, you’re Pagan, why’s this a bad time?
My friends all need weed, and I’ve plenty of cash,
At $3,000 a pound, I’ll take your whole stash”
I thought to myself, “Well that’s quite a laugh,
These days I’d a probably sold it for half.”
He showed me a bag that was packed full of bills
So, I opened the gate and we drove down the hill
I made up some coffee, and rolled up a jay
And showed him a few of the buds on the tray
He said, “This is the stuff that my friends all love.
They say that your stuff is a cut above.
They’ll pay what I ask for all I can get.
Did you have a good year? Is it all trimmed up yet?”
“This year I grew more than ever before,
It’s weighed up in bags just behind that door.
You can inspect it while I count this cash,
Hand me that ashtray, and I’ll knock this ash.”
We packed all the weed in the trunk of his car.
I said, “You found me out here, you must know where you are.”
“Oh yes, he said, “I know my way around here,
And I’ve many more stops to make, far and near.”
He started the car, and then turned on the lights,
And I heard him say, as he drove out of sight,
“Marijuana to all, and to all a good night.”
We have a long history of shortsightedness here in Humboldt County. I suspect that we’re as eager to throw our long-term assets away for a fast buck as we ever were, and the impending legalization of marijuana gives us another opportunity to do just that.
Right now, the black-market cannabis industry holds this county hostage, politically and economically. The illegal marijuana industry has already brought enough social problems to Humboldt County, problems ranging from poverty and homelessness to hard drug abuse, violent crime and murder. Feeding this disease, and fueling the destruction it causes, the misguided War on Drugs has turned a harmless, easy to grow weed into expensive contraband. Now that the tides have turned on the War on Drugs, politicians and drug dealers will try to convince you that marijuana is nuclear caviar.
Nuclear, meaning that they will tell you that marijuana is so dangerous that it requires as much government oversight, control and regulation as a nuclear power plant. Caviar, because they intend to concoct some scheme to control cannabis production, to keep the price of cannabis artificially inflated, so that good pot remains an expensive luxury that working people can ill-afford.
Cannabis is not nuclear caviar. Cannabis is a giant fucking ripoff. Until now, the price of cannabis has been highway robbery at the point of a cop’s gun. If the CA legislature passes the current passel of pending cannabis legislation, they will simply turn iron-fisted prohibition into a state sponsored racket. It will still be highway robbery at the point of a cop’s gun, and pot will remain a giant fucking ripoff. For now.
Still, dramatic changes, already underway in the cannabis industry, will continue. The marijuana industry of today looks nothing like the marijuana industry of 20 years ago. Humboldt County will probably produce more marijuana, this year alone, than it did in the entire two decades between 1980 and 1999, and the cannabis industry of the future will look nothing like the cannabis industry of today.
The cannabis market will become more competitive, production will expand and automation will increase. Profit margins will shrink, leading to rapid consolidation. That means lots of people lose their jobs or go out of business. That’s how legal industries work. The cannabis industry is rapidly becoming a legal industry, full of businessmen who know how to run a business, and aren’t afraid to make tough decisions.
That is a dramatic change from the cannabis industry we all know and love. We like pot growers to be spendthrift fools who have no idea how much money they really make, buy everything retail, and drip money as they walk down the street. More than the cannabis itself, our local economy relies on the stupidity and shortsightedness of black-market dope growers who’s lack of business acumen lured them into this line of work to begin with. The black market takes money out of the hands of hard-working people, who might otherwise save it, and puts it into the hands of the people most likely to squander it. That’s how prohibition boosts the economy, and that’s what we see here in Humboldt County.
The fact is, no matter how legalization plays out, most of the people who benefit from the marijuana industry in Humboldt County today, will eventually get squeezed out. Will it happen in three years, or will it take five? That depends on a lot of things, but it will happen, regardless. A lot of people around here will have to find something else to do, and the sooner, the better.
The War on Drugs is a cruel racist policy. Mostly, the War on Drugs provides a legal framework for the violent control of minority communities, but here in Humboldt, we see another racist aspect to the War on Drugs. Here, the War on Drugs provided a relatively low-risk avenue to affluence for privileged white kids with no particular skills, talent or ambition. Hey, I’m a privileged, white, college drop-out myself. I certainly understand the attraction, but it’s still racist. It’s still wrong, and it’s still a huge fucking ripoff, but rest assured; that side of the War on Drugs, will evaporate too. The marijuana industry will no longer be dominated by white middle-class dilettantes looking for a low-stress, way to support their high-consumption lifestyle.
When you think about it, these are the people who make Humboldt County attractive and interesting, at least to me, the artists, performers and musicians, the idealistic art history, English and ancient language majors and the disillusioned scientists and engineers who decided they didn’t want to build weapons systems or devise new, environmentally destructive, products. For people like this, growing pot was a way to finance their art or their writing or their political activism, or their other interesting hobbies, without distracting too much from them. The cannabis industry of the future will have no place for these people.
Instead, the cannabis industry will be dominated by greedy white farmers who know how to grow pot and run a business, but have few, if any, other interests. Greedy white farmers do not attract tourists. If they did, people would flock to Iowa to watch corn grow. Greedy white farmers drain rivers, kill fish and destroy habitat, and they use their political clout to make sure that no one gets in their way. That’s what greedy white farmers do everywhere, and that’s what they intend to do here.
Yes, farming is boring and ugly and no one wants to see it, and the same is true of farmers, but we have something else here in Humboldt County that is worth more than all of the black-market marijuana we’ve grown here in the past, and all of the nuclear caviar we hope to produce in the future, put together. That is natural habitat.
Natural habitat has become remarkably rare around the world. I mean really rare, not artificially price-controlled, “rare,” but genuinely uncommon, and truly valuable. The Earth has lost half of its natural biodiversity since the first Earth Day, and the primary reason is loss of habitat. If we should treat anything around here like nuclear caviar, it is the natural habitat here in Humboldt County.
People want to see natural habitat, and they want to see it teeming with life.. Natural habitat attracts tourists. Biodiversity attracts tourists. No one will ever figure out how to produce habitat on the cheap and flood the market with biodiversity. Habitat will only become more rare and valuable. Pot, on the other hand, is easy to grow and cheap to produce, and it won’t be long before some state, like Nevada, Texas or Kansas, decides to get out of the way and open up the floodgates to an ocean of cheap cannabis.
That will leave us, here in Humboldt County, facing the same decision we face now, but with fewer options, and greatly diminished assets: Do we sacrifice our lives, and the natural habitat we love, in a vain attempt to compete with market forces beyond our control, or do we use our imagination, and learn to do something else, that harmonizes with the natural splendor of this unique place, and works for the kind of people who make up this community, and make this community special.
Recently, a group of area dope yuppies visited the State Legislature in Sacramento to lobby lawmakers on behalf of local marijuana growers.
While addressing their representatives at the State House, these cannabis cultivators wore green T-shirts emblazoned with the words, “I am a Farmer,” which I suppose, served as their excuse for wearing T-shirts.
Surrounded by business suits and power ties, these alleged “farmers” explained how important prohibition-era profits have become, not just to them personally, but to the numerous BMW and Harley Davidson dealerships around the state, not to mention ski resorts, gun dealers and real estate agents in Costa Rica, to name a few. “Who else pays $200 a yard for dirt?” They asked, adding that “California’s cannabis cultivators are the ‘suckers of last resort’ who have kept the state’s economy moving forward by buying enormous amounts of stupid crap while the rest of the state just tightened their belts and suffered through the recession.”
They reminded lawmakers that local businesses in Humboldt County rely heavily on black market cannabis profits. First, a lot of Humboldt County “businesses” operate as “fronts.” These “fronts” allow cannabis cultivators to launder large sums of cash without actually serving anyone’s needs. The remainder of Humboldt County’s businesses pay exorbitant rent prices, because of the high demand for commercial space for indoor marijuana cultivation, and have trouble finding help, because people can’t afford a decent place to live because of the high demand for residential space for indoor marijuana cultivation. As a result, most Humboldt County businesses cater to drug dealers who can easily afford the ridiculously high prices, while they ignore the needs of the rest of the community. Despite the poor job they do of serving the community’s needs, these businesses all pay taxes.
Of course, meeting people’s needs is the last thing anyone at the State House cares about. At the CA State Legislature, it doesn’t matter if you are a lawmaker or a lobbyist, a department head or a dope yuppie dressed as a farmer, everyone wants something, and everything costs money. The State Legislature essentially acts as the pimp for the state of California. Anyone who wants to fuck the people or rape the environment, legally, in the State of California has to pay them for the privilege. The State House is where they negotiate the price and terms.
Marijuana prohibition was just such a deal, struck between powerful corporate interests and corrupt government officials, and they’ve screwed the American people with it for almost 80 years. Today, the American people have had enough, and they demand change. Right now, state legislatures all over the country are wrestling with this one question: How can they preserve an economic system forged by the War on Drugs, while phasing out the criminal penalties for drug possession and sales.
It’s like the transition between the Vietnam War and Reagan’s Cold War. The public demanded an end to the Vietnam War, and the draft, but not an end to military spending. No one liked spending billions of dollars on nuclear weapons, but people weren’t rioting in the streets about it. The Cold War preserved the profits of military contractors who would have otherwise had to find productive work in a peacetime economy. The people still got fucked, but at least they stopped screaming and squirming so much.
That’s what’s going on in Sacramento right now. It makes sense that Humboldt County’s Drug War profiteers should join the negotiations. Cops, prison-guards, lawyers, and drug dealers all want to continue fucking us over, and now Wall St. investors want a piece of the action too. It’s a feeding frenzy for social parasites.
They all know that without a multi-billion dollar eradication effort, the price of marijuana will drop to $0, as this hearty weed quickly colonizes every vacant lot, ditch and roadside in America.
Wouldn’t that be great? The time has come to make it happen. All we need are seeds. That’s why it is so important for everyone who cares about cannabis, and wants to see it free and legal, to grow seedy pot. To hell with the State House, and to hell with greedy dope yuppies. We’ve waited for them long enough already. Now it is time to free the weed, and spread the seed, because we’re sick of the greed.
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.
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.
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.
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?”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?”
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.
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.
Surrounded by lush forests in rugged mountainous terrain, in the southern quarter of Humboldt County, lies the sad little town of Garberville, CA.
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.
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.
Rising like a lotus from this cesspool, one artist dares to defy the vortex of darkness with his singular creative vision.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This year I found way too many amazingly stupid products, many more than I could find space for in my Holiday Gift Guide. THIS WEK THEY’RE ALL ON SALE!!! We’re talking deep, deep discounts, 20%- 35% 67% even 82% off on some items, not that they’re worth having at any price, but this week, you can buy them for less.
Whether or not you want to buy them, marvel at these wonders of our material culture, and think about what they say about the society that spawned them. While you survey this collection, remember that in 2014, roughly 150,000 species of plant and animal, went extinct in order to make space for warehouses full of these marvelous products.
Bongzilla Hi-Tech Beer Bong How many time have you thought to yourself: “I sure do love drinking beer from a funnel. I wish I could funnel this beer RIGHT NOW, but that other guy is using the funnel, and it’ll be another 6 seconds before he’s finished. I wish there was a way we could pour all of our beer into the funnel, and all six of us could drink from it at the same time?” Not many, I’ll bet.
Future Bassoon This great new high-tech musical instrument plays like a bassoon, but it has a fretboard instead of keys, which means that nobody knows how to play it. Sure looks cool though. Speaking of looking good… SAVE BIG on these health and beauty products:
Go Golfing or Go Girl Personal Pee Products If you live around here, you know why you need this. No public restrooms in town means I’ll empty my golf club on your fucking lawn. …and we’ve got GREAT DEALS on sports equipment too!!!
Karate-Chop Plastic Knife Finally, a knife you can give to that special someone, that you know won’t be used to stab you to death in your sleep. Speaking of people who want to kill you… your kids need stuff too. Like these great toys, at GREAT PRICES:
Bad Taste Bears What do you want, bears with bad taste, or bears that taste bad?
Sponge-Bob Needs a Fix Plush Toy Who doesn’t these days? If you’re smart, long ago you decided that you’d rather spoil a pet than raise a child. We’ve got GREAT PRICES on EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO SPOIL YOUR PET!!!:
…and with that, we’ll stick a fork in in, and call it done for 2014.
See you next year.
The week of Christmas seems like the ideal time to acknowledge a couple of gifts I have received this year which seem somehow related to my work here at lygsbtd. I don’t know whether these gifts came in appreciation of my writing, or just to show me how it’s done.
The first of these gifts mysteriously appeared in my mailbox at KMUD. It was a little book titled Yet Another Beautiful Day in Paradise by Fred Inthehills. I’ve heard Fred’s voice on KMUD, but I’ve not yet met him. I’m not at all sure I would recognize him if I saw him in town. I assume he put the book in my box, but I don’t know for sure.
What I liked best about Fred’s book was Fred. I like the way he thinks. I enjoyed his story and I encourage you to read it. It’s short. It won’t take you long. Yet Another Beautiful Day in Paradise has all of the elements of a classic Humboldt “back to the land” fairy tale. Every good Humboldt “back to the land” fairy tale has to have these elements:
The Cheap Land Story Every good “back to the land” fable has to have a story about how the person got their land, and how easily it came into their possession. For example, they came up here to attend a party, got shitfaced drunk, and woke up to find half of their money gone, and the deed to a 40 acre parcel in their hand.
The Marijuana Story Every “back to the land” fable recounts the protagonists long relationship with that misunderstood friend, Mary Jane. Every “back to the land” fable portrays marijuana as a positive influence, and as a helpful ally. Marijuana is a beautiful thing. What makes these old “back to the land” fables great is that when the describe all of the great things that marijuana does for them, money has nothing to do with it.
Instead, they talk about how marijuana saved them from alcohol, or fighting, or hard drugs, and that they were able to substitute marijuana for any of these things, and no matter how hard they tried to abuse marijuana, they could not hurt themselves. That’s some special magic there, and that’s a true story if ever I heard one. Marijuana saves lives, especially when you’ve got plenty of it, and finally, we get to the last element that every “back to the land” fairy tale must include…
The Sex Story. Eventually, all “back to the land” stories include a tale of a memorable night of amazing sex, that invariably leads to real offspring. If you live around here, and you read a lot of these stories, there’s a good chance that you know more than you need to know about the origins of some of your friends.
These “back to the land” fables all end there, with the happy, poor, family living in a tiny, hand-built, unpermitted, cabin in the woods, with more marijuana than they could possibly smoke.
I call these stories “fables,” not because they never happened, but because they never happen anymore. If it isn’t true now, then it was never true. Today, it is nearly impossible to find a place to live in Humboldt County, and the prices are ridiculous. The hills are full of dope yuppies, and nobody around here talks about marijuana except as a product, and as a business.
In contrast, the other gift I received this year revealed a more enduring truth about this community. According to the barista at the cafe I frequent, “This weird guy” asked her to give this pamphlet to my partner Amy, who in turn, gave it to me. This pamphlet turned out to be an issue of the Gulch Mulch, an underground zine out of the Whale Gulch area. The issue I received, dated Spring of 2002 includes a lot of historic artifacts that seem timeless for this area. The Anti-Hippie Petition of 1969 could have easily been written last week, in regard to “the homeless.” The names and the faces have changed, but the bigotry and intolerance remain.
The Gulch Mulch dutifully reported the endless petty bickering and behind the scenes drama that engulf every local institution in a murky shroud as thick and impenetrable as the fog in Redway. That sure hasn’t changed, but I wish we had a little gossip zine like the Gulch Mulch today so that we could get all the dirt, without actually getting dirty.
The Gulch Mulch included some funny bits and some autobiographical pieces as well.
I really enjoyed The Gulch Mulch and Yet Another Beautiful Day In Paradise. So, to whoever among you sent them my way, Thank you very much.