Category Archives: sarcasm

Balancing “The Economy” with “The Environment”

environment economy balance

Everyone seems to be looking for the right balance between “the Economy” and “the Environment,” as though they could find some sweet spot there. As if lawmakers could craft a policy that spurs economic growth, prevents habitat loss, and promotes biodiversity, all at the same time. Even our local environmental groups want to get in on this balancing act. They preface their appeals for tighter environmental regulation of the marijuana industry with the admission that they recognize the importance of the marijuana industry to our local economy, and ask for a “balanced approach.” In truth, they aren’t asking the Supes to balance the needs of “the environment” with the needs of “the economy.” Instead, they’re asking the Supes to balance the demands of growers, for less regulation, with the demands of the environmentalists who support their organization, for regulations to protect endangered species, preserve forest ecosystems and limit pollution and other impacts.

environmentalists

We should remember that when we talk about “the Economy” vs “The Environment,” we’re not talking about two parts of a whole. “The Economy” and “The Environment” are two opposing ways of seeing the world. Scientists, educated people, and people who watch The Discovery Channel recognize that the natural world functions as its own economy.

discovery channel

In nature, every creature takes what it needs of what it can find in the world around it, and in death, every creature returns those nutrients to the system that gave it life. That’s how the natural economy works, but that’s not what we mean by “economic activity.” The world’s natural economy has nothing to do with “the Economy” at all. All of that natural economy stuff happens in “the Environment.”

environment natural economy

For most humans “the Economy” is also an environment. When a businessman talks about “the business environment,” he’s not talking about the forest; he’s talking about “the Economy.” If you live in the city, very little of what you see, belongs to the natural world, and almost everything you see is for sale. Even in the suburbs, people largely inhabit “the Economy.” Most people have to spend money to visit “the Environment” in person, but most just look at it on TV, which they also pay for.

planet Earth

So, “the Environment” is really the ultimate economy, and “The Economy” is the environment most people live in. It’s very confusing. Even though we civilized people inhabit “the Economy,” more than “the Environment” we still, ultimately, rely on the natural economy, for our survival. That’s why people care so much about “the Environment” Get it?

we get it

We find this hard to understand because it’s still culturally alien to us. The idea that any part of the natural world should remain unbent by the hand of man, is a very new one, in our culture. Civilization was founded on the principle that the natural world belongs to us, as human beings, to use as we see fit. Religion tells us that God thinks we humans are special, and that he gave us dominion over his creation. Science tells us that we are much smarter than the rest of creation, and that we, and only we, have the capacity to understand how the universe works. Therefore, it makes sense that we would, with our new, secular, scientific, understanding of how the universe works, radically transform the surface of the Earth for our own purposes.

tar sands before after

Of course, the harmony, justice and equality we see in cities all over the world provides clear objective evidence of our superior wisdom, and using the very best science, we can demonstrate from our 10,000 year history, as masters of our own destiny, that we have crafted a culture suited for the ages, as sustainable, resilient and regenerative as nature herself, only better. If your sarcasm meter hasn’t gone off, it needs new batteries.

sarcasm meter

At least religion had the nerve warn us of the current apocalypse. Science remains in denial, choosing rather to search for the Higgs Boson, gravitational waves, or other such angels that dance on heads of pins, even as it reports that civilization has triggered a cataclysmic, era-ending global extinction event, and forecasts dire consequences from, human-caused, global warming.

global warming landscape

Whichever of our cultural myths you prefer, they all tell us that the Earth is putty in our hands, to be shaped as we see fit. Unfortunately, the truth of our time tells use that our culture was wrong. For ten-thousand years, our culture taught us to despise nature and to deny our natural instincts. In exchange, it promised us enlightenment, salvation, and wisdom. Today, we see what our culture has really delivered: extinction, pollution, endless technological warfare, poverty, crime, addiction, and global environmental devastation, just for starts. For hundreds of generations, we bet our lives on the myths of this culture. Just look around. Anyone with eyes can see that it’s time to cut our losses and face reality.

Cutting Your Losses with a Cleaver and Cutting Board.

 

We inherited a bankrupt culture. Our myths lie and our gods have forsaken us. Our culture, civilization, has been at war with nature for about 10,000 years. Now that we have defeated nature so completely, we realize that we have wrecked our lifeboat. We scramble for survival on an increasingly inhospitable planet, enslaved by the ultra-violent, all-consuming culture we inherited from our parents, and fuel with our lives. The truth stares us in the face, but we have no Plan B.

back to the drawing board

When we talk about “the Economy,” we’re talking about, our culture, civilization, that machine that turns our lives into toil, and the natural world into waste, based on those lies that promised us wisdom, salvation, enlightenment and leisure time, but delivered extinction, waste, poverty, and addiction. “The Economy” is itself, an addiction. We’ve become dependent on it, and we know it’s killing us, but we can scarcely imagine what our lives would be like without it. When we talk about balancing the “the Environment” and “the Economy,” it’s like balancing the needs of the man, to be cured of his alcoholism, with the needs of the alcohol, to be drunk by him.

drink takes you

It doesn’t make sense to talk about the “health” of “the Economy” because “the Economy” is a disease. The only question that remains is: Is this disease fatal to humanity, or can we defeat it, before it defeats us. “The Environment” is the only thing that can sustain us. We cannot afford to lose another inch of it. These are new ideas in this culture, but their truth becomes more apparent every day.

truth the new hate speech

That’s why we need environmental protection far more stringent than anything we’ve seen before, and that’s why we should not tolerate new development that encroaches on the Earth’s little remaining natural habitat or impacts delicate forest ecosystems. I’ve heard a lot of local dope yuppies say. “Hey, look at the damage the logging industry did. Look at how much water those vineyards use. What’s wrong with my little three-acre conversion? Why are we pot farmers being singled-out for all of this regulation?”

singled out

It’s not your industry being singled-out. It’s our whole generation being stuck with the mess left by five-hundred generations of people who chose arrogance over respect, and mistook ego for intelligence. It’s about facing facts, and coming to terms with the truth, or it’s about denial, and suicide, but it’s not about your industry being singled-out. That’s just you being paranoid and egocentric, and those are just bad habits of ours, culturally.

stop codling of bad cultural habits

 


I Know Where the Bodies are Buried

'And then there's Jeffries... He's been with the company longer than anyone. You know where all the bodies are buried, eh, Jeffries? Ha Ha! Keep up the great work!'

It seems that I have become a lightning-rod for for a whole lot of negative truth about about the marijuana industry in Southern Humboldt. This negativity has accumulated over years, and gone unnoticed, probably because it got buried in piles and piles of groundless positivity. People really value positivity here in SoHum. We preach positivity. We expect positivity, and we want positive vibrations all around.

positive vibrations

I hate to break it to you folks, but as a musician and a radioman, I can tell you this with some authority. There is no such thing as a positive vibration. Every vibration needs a little positivity, and a little negativity, in equal proportions, one right after the other. That’s what makes vibrations vibrate, and all of the positivity in the world won’t do anything if it isn’t grounded.

ungrounded symptoms

When you focus too much on the positive, you let a whole lot of negative stuff slip by without noticing. It doesn’t cease to exist because you didn’t notice, and it doesn’t go away, It builds up, year after year, until, eventually, KABAAM. It hits you, week after week, every Monday morning.

kabaam

From my perspective, I was just looking for humorous angles on life in Southern Humboldt. This is a funny place; it seems to me, and I wanted to find out what makes SoHum so funny. Then I stumbled upon this yawning chasm of irony we call the marijuana industry. The marijuana industry is the biggest snow job I’ve ever seen in my life. To me, as a humor writer, it looked like fresh powder.

fresh powder

It was fun for a while, to carve that slope, and we had a few laughs at Savage Henry, and in the first few years of Like You’ve Got Something Better To Do, but eventually I realized why the snow is so deep here. The snow is so deep here because this is where the bodies are buried. I knew that I was just skimming the surface of a mountain of bodies, and those bodies are the casualties of the War on Drugs.

drug war casualty rachel hoffman

It’s not funny anymore. This is a crime. I don’t care how comfortable you are with it, or how badly you think you need it. Marijuana money is blood money. People all over this country pay for your decadence, greed and smugness, not to mention your land, home, vehicles, vacations and drug habits with their lives, and with their blood. Here’s an example:

heres an example

A friend of mine used to have a pretty good job in the HVAC industry. He worked hard and took pride in his work. One day, on the job, a duct slipped, and a sharp piece of metal sliced his hand and arm open. The wound bled severely and required medical attention. Since this accident happened at work, it became a Workman’s Compensation claim. Workman’s Comp. required him to submit a urine sample which revealed that he had smoked a joint sometime in the previous three weeks or so. As a result of that urine test, Workman’s Compensation denied his claim, and the company he worked for, fired him. This happens to millions of Americans, who never get arrested, but pay a truly inhumane price for cannabis.

casualties demoralizing

Not only did my friend pay too much for the weed he smoked, but he got stuck with a hospital bill that his boss should have paid, lost his job, and had his reputation as a worker smeared. That’s what happens to honest hard-working people who smoke pot, all over the country. It’s that suffering and oppression that keeps the price of pot so high, and it’s that suffering and oppression that puts money into dope yuppies pockets. The price of pot is not determined by how good your weed is; the price of pot is determined by how badly the government treats the people who smoke your weed.

tommy-chong-mugshot

The War on Drugs is a real war, and it’s a real war against the American people, especially American workers. It’s been going on for decades and there’s goddamned mountain of bodies to prove it. I mean it when I say, “We’ve all, already, paid way too much for marijuana.” You don’t want that blood on your hands. Good people should not want to be involved in this kind of business.

drug-war_victims

If you love marijuana, and want to make a career of it, that’s great. I encourage you to go for it in a big way, but don’t do it in one of the last large contiguous stretches of wild habitat in the lower 48. Find someplace flat, and focus on efficiency. Figure out how to grow the best bud at the lowest price. I wish you only the best of luck, and hope you become fabulously wealthy by disrupting the black market.

colorado pot field

If you love living in Southern Humboldt, on the other hand, it’s going to take a little more imagination than it used to. We have good people in Southern Humboldt, who love living here, and love marijuana. Nobody will take our marijuana away, but then again, if the Drug War ends, nobody will take our marijuana away. We’ll have to find something else to do, and most of us should find something else to do, anyway. Do you really want that much blood on your hands?

bloody hands

It’s time to stop glorifying our outlaw status. Instead, recognize the War on Drugs for what it is, a real war, and a crime against humanity. Recognize the pain and suffering it has caused, and let’s work together, as a community, to become less dependent on it.

war on drugs cartoon


2015 SoHum Year End Recap

2015 female-wrestlers1

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.

egg_nog

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!

sierra leone soldiers

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.

trump restroom

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.

ron machado in the rain crop

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.

bluffs closed REDWOOD DRIVE

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-gavin dollar signs

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.

Newsom declares war

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.

smoke a fish wide

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.

island mtn-tile

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.

picture of forklift moving marijuana in warehouse

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.

hezekiah allen1

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.

kathy epling

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.

cinnamon paula

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.

Helicopter-Water-Drop

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.

gyppo ale mill

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?

drink and drive1

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.

golden tarp awards

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.

Mourad_fisher_UCDW-716x1024

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.

trimming pot

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.

daniels sargent

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.

clover wilson insurance bldg


SoHum, It’s More of a Casino Than a Community

casino

Now that the weather has turned cold and rainy, I worry about my friends here in SoHum who lack adequate housing. I know it looks like we have a bunch of houses and a few trailer courts around here, but most of those structures have been at least partially, if not entirely, converted to indoor cannabis cultivation. Nobody lives there. Because of that, a lot of the people who work at the restaurants, stores and hotels in town, and on the pot farms in the hills, live in their cars, or camp in the woods.

camp in the woods

They really don’t have a choice. There’s just not enough housing available for the number of people who work here, so people make do. The cannabis industry, by nature, does not create a lot of steady, reliable jobs. Instead, it suckers people in with the promise of big profits, which rarely turn out as planned. It’s a gamblers game, and everyone has their ups and downs.

gamblers

Our corrupt Sheriff sees thousands and thousands of illegal, habitat destroying, salmon killing dope farms on “google earth,” but sends his deputies out to harass poor people for talking to their friends on the sidewalk in Garberville. We have dozens of unsolved murders, countless other violent crimes occur here daily, and multiple global organized crime networks operate here with impunity, but Sheriff Downey sends his Deputies down here to act as bouncers for the merchants in the Garberville business district, and to evict people from their makeshift shelters.

sheriff-in-gville

 

A lot of people see no problem with this. They think the sheriff shouldn’t worry so much about crime, and should instead focus on sweeping poor people out of town. Really, we don’t care about crime. We like crime. We are crime. We take pride in our outlaw status, but we prefer to cater to more upscale felons, and we expect the Sheriff’s Department to rid us of the riff-raff, whether they’ve committed any crime or not.

riff raff rocky horror

It’s a strange attitude, considering how much Southern Humboldt relies on, and takes advantage of poor people. Poor working people grow, process and sell almost all of the millions of pounds of cannabis grown in SoHum. Besides doing most of the hard labor and taking most of the risks, they pay most of the hotel bed tax. Poor working people, who can’t find a place to live, often rent hotel rooms to avoid inclement weather, shower, do laundry, charge cell phones etc. Poor local homeless people keep our SoHum’s hotels in business, and clean the rooms every day, besides.

hotel maid Change-Sheets

Last year, the county passed another tax, specifically targeting the poorest taxpayers in Humboldt County, Measure Z. The new sales tax, targets the poor in more ways than one. First, it taxes the poor when they buy necessities, like clothing and toiletries. Then it gives that money to the sheriff, who uses it to harass them, evict them from their makeshift shelters, and drive them out of town. I know Measure Z is a county-wide tax, but folks in SoHum loved the idea and pushed it hard. I’ve never known people to work harder to screw poor people than they do here in SoHum.

measure z homeless-family

You will hear a lot of rhetorical references to “community” in Southern Humboldt. We have the world famous Mateel “Community” Center, the equally famous Redwood “Community” Radio, and we talk about “this community” a lot, but we use the term euphemistically. What happens here in SoHum is something else entirely.

something else

SoHum has become a “Mecca” for greedy, self-absorbed drug-dealers who make their money by destroying communities all over America. Ordinarily, drug dealers lead secret lives, alienated from the community around them by the clandestine nature of their occupation. They tell lies to avoid arousing suspicion and keep a low profile, while they undermine community values and enrich themselves.

hey-kids-wanna-buy-some-weed_

Drug dealers parasitize communities the way ticks parasitize dogs. Here, however, we have thousands upon thousands of ticks, piled on top of each other, posing as a dog. From a distance, it looks like a dog, but when you get close enough to touch it, you’ll find nothing but a mass of blood-suckers eager to feast on you.

tick bite

Sure, drug dealers feel a camaraderie with each other, here, that they don’t often find elsewhere, and they are always eager to make connections, especially profitable ones, but that doesn’t make them a community. Instead, think of them as card players in a poker game. On the surface, they maintain a “poker face,” and appear friendly and cordial, but beneath the calm exterior, they are all scheming to take advantage of each other.

poker players

That’s not really what you call “community.” Communities work together to take care of each other. That’s not what goes on here in SoHum. People come here to play “the game” and make money. They’re not interested in any “seventh generation” bullshit, and they don’t give a damn about the “common good.”

common good

“The game”, of course, is the cannabis industry. Some people win at this game, but a lot of people lose. Merchants and non-profits create lots of opportunities for “high-rollers” to get drunk and blow their winnings, and, of course, we kick the penniless losers out on the street. Doesn’t that sound like a casino to you? If you ignore all of the hollow talk about “community” and think of SoHum as a gambling casino it becomes easier to understand the dynamics of this place.

understanding-power-dynamics

For instance:

for instance

We don’t do charity here. No one wants to help the less fortunate. Everyone here wants more for themselves, and the people who have the most, want more still. Instead of charity, we have “community non-profits” where the richest people in this community decide what ridiculously expensive luxury they would enjoy most, and then convince everyone else to donate time, money and energy to make it happen.

socialism for the rich

You might have noticed that we have a top-shelf concert hall, a high-powered radio station, a fancy new town square, and a huge new community park with an organic farm and soon an athletic field infested with soccer moms. Imagine those things as crystal chandeliers suspended over the gaming floor of a huge casino. You know how casinos are. Casinos overdo the luxuries, until everything reeks of too much money and not enough taste. Casinos spend money on extravagant luxuries, like crystal chandeliers, in a futile attempt to conceal the general sleaziness of the place. We do the same thing here in SoHum.

chandelier in casino

Those chandeliers do nothing to dignify the activity going on beneath them, but that’s why so many people around here can find money for a new “chandelier,” but have nothing but contempt for the people who do most of the work around here, pay most of the taxes, and still have no place to live.   Clearly, the people who live here, have the resources to solve SoHum’s housing crisis, but in the casino we call “SoHum” people obviously have other priorities.

other priorites cheney


Understanding SoHum’s “Local Economy”

cannabis tops

In most of America, people understand that drug dealers destroy communities. Neighborhoods either band together to drive them out, or they fail to do so, and drug dealers take over, bringing violence, crime and poverty with them as they undermine community values, corrupt innocent youth, and drive property values down.

drug ghetto

Here in SoHum, when the drug dealers arrived, both property, and community values had already hit rock bottom, and the youth they corrupted were largely their own. Today, after a couple generations of cultural inbreeding, our population now skews strongly towards the greedy, myopic, and ethically challenged, and have united around their shared willingness to exploit the injustice of cannabis prohibition, rather than stand against it.

hey kids wanna buy weed

For some, it has been a very profitable strategy, and now that they’ve become successful, they don’t like to be reminded that their success has come at the expense of millions of poor working people who could ill afford it. They don’t want to see how good people, who make very little money, have to live, in order to afford their medicine. And they especially don’t want to see the refugees of the War on Drugs, the ones who lost their jobs, lost their homes, and lost their way, and then show up here, hoping for some kind of break in the sleazy game that has already cost them so much of their lives.

help i need money

Drug dealers create poverty all over the country, and then complain about all of the poor people around. Drug dealers just don’t care. Either they take drugs that suppress empathy, or they lack the faculty for it. Either way, they have intentionally chosen a path of personal gain at the expense of the larger community. They should not be trusted. They’ll say or do anything, so long as they believe it will benefit them.

truth lies

At first glance, they seem like decent people, and they talk a good game. They spew platitudes like a squid spews ink, and for the same reason, to conceal their sucking tentacles and genuine sliminess. “Community blah blah blah, sustainable, blah blah blah, positivity, blah blah…” they say, but to them, “community” means: “me and my drug dealing friends,” “sustainable” means: “maintaining a high-consumption lifestyle, indefinitely” and “positivity” means: “no matter how gross and slimy we are, I can always find something nice to say about us.” That’s what “community values” means to SoHum’s dope yuppies.

squid spews ink

Still, a lot of people rely on them. Merchants love them. Merchants love stupid people with too much money because they easily become infatuated with shiny objects, and purchase them. Non-profits love people with too much money, and a guilty conscience. Where would community non-profits be without the boundless guilt of rich liberals? So the dope yuppies take advantage of working people, the merchants take advantage of the dope yuppies, and the non-profits take advantage of everyone’s guilty conscience, and they call it “the local economy.”

buy freedom sell conscience

Then they have the nerve to complain about all of the poverty they created, and wonder why no one wants to work for them. Oh, right, I want to work for one of our local merchants for $10-$15 bucks an hour, waiting on rude, obnoxious dope yuppies all day, just so I can spend half of my income on rent, if I’m lucky, and a quarter of it on overpriced cannabis that I need, just to cope with the stress. Fuck that! I’d rather shit and piss on your front step, and beg for beer money on the sidewalk all day.

begging for beer

Why not? Do SoHum’s dope yuppies want cannabis consumers to continue to pay ridiculously high prices for cannabis? You bet they do! They’re lobbying right now for a regulatory framework that preserves prohibition prices and requires more law enforcement activity than ever.

armored truck for pot

Will Humboldt’s merchants, landlords, bankers and real-estate agents do anything to make SoHum more livable, comfortable, or affordable for working people? Fuck no! They’ll squeeze every last dime out of everyone in town, and then complain that it was such a bother, and barely worth their time.

greedy-bastards

Will any of the non-profits, who have gladly accepted thousands upon thousands of hours of free labor, donated by people who lack adequate housing, ever launch a campaign to make housing affordable, and available to the people in this community who need it? I wouldn’t hold my breath. The non-profits around here are much more likely to buy up homes in the area, and build new structures, not to house people, but just to have a place to store all of the other crap they own. Besides, our local non-profits have more important things to do, like protecting endangered cannabis from salmon extinction, or looking out for some people’s civil rights, or providing subsidized entertainment for bored dope yuppies.

concert at mateel

If you aren’t part of that dope yuppie/merchant/non-profit clusterfuck, they don’t even know you exist, except in the vaguest sense. By that I mean, they understand that all of their money and labor comes from somewhere, but they have no idea where. Together, they’re trapped in a death-spiral of greed, consumption and guilt that feeds on itself, while it sucks the life out of the the rest of the community.

economic-death-spiral

The War on Drugs has ravaged this country, killing millions, and leaving millions more scarred for life, but here in SoHum, the War on Drugs is highly addictive, and too many people remain far too intoxicated by the money it brings in to recognize the damage it does right here in our own community.

dope yuppies suck


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


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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