Category Archives: wildlife

I Watch the Supes Make Sausage

 

cher-make28-  -  Cher-Make Sausage employee Eve Rutherford works on processing brats in the Manitowoc plant on Wednesday, February 24, 2010. Cher-Make has revamped its product labels with photos of real people on its products. Photo by Mike De Sisti/MDESISTI@JOURNALSENTINEL.COM

cher-make28- – Cher-Make Sausage employee Eve Rutherford works on processing brats in the Manitowoc plant on Wednesday, February 24, 2010. Cher-Make has revamped its product labels with photos of real people on its products. Photo by Mike De Sisti/MDESISTI@JOURNALSENTINEL.COM

I went to the Supes Meeting last Monday to watch them make sausage. It wasn’t pretty. I applaud Steve Lazar and staff at the Planning Department for coming up with a draft medical marijuana land use ordinance that offered significant environmental protections. I especially liked one provision that limited the location of new licensed grows to within one mile of a paved county road. That provision would have done a lot to protect wildlife and prevent further habitat fragmentation.

forest-fragmentation-1949-1991

 

Fragmentation threatens endangered fishers, and other creatures who depend on deep forest habitat. Sediment from the hundreds of miles of poorly maintained dirt roads that criss-cross Southern Humboldt severely impact watercourses and threaten endangered salmon. Black market growers generally prefer to be as far from the pavement as possible, and many of our largest grows have ten miles or more of shoddy, poorly maintained, dirt road between them and the nearest county road. Unfortunately, the one mile limitation got struck from the ordinance almost immediately.

rat poison dead fisher

An important provision about water forbearance made it to the final ordinance, so licensed growers will have to collect and store enough water for the entire growing season before May 15, and they will not be permitted to use generators or artificial lights. I know I’m sick of the generators and the lights, and I sure won’t miss them. Also language made it into the ordinance that prohibits new grows on timber land, so at least there’s that.

diesel generator exhaust

The industry turned out to lobby for larger grow sizes, and largely got them. Robert “Woods” Sutherland of HUMMAPS advocated for a 2,000 sq ft limit for the basic permit, arguing that 2,000 sq ft was as much as a couple working together could handle, but other, mostly younger growers insisted they could handle much larger grows.

big grow humboldt county

On one hand, it cheered me to see so many ambitious young people eager to invest their futures in this fledgling industry. On the other hand, not many of them looked like farmers to me. Woods looks like a pot farmer, and so does Kristin Nevidal. I saw a couple of other guys in feed-caps who looked like they could handle a shovel, but who were all of those women with the hairdos and the makeup and the fingernails? They don’t work on no farm.

fingernails and makeup

Don’t get me wrong, I want the legal cannabis industry to thrive, and I even want it to thrive here, to the degree that it doesn’t negatively impact natural habitat. I don’t fault growers for advocating for larger grow sizes. No one knows what the market for legal cannabis will look like in five years, let alone ten, so it’s hard to know what it will take to remain competitive in this business in the future. Those folks are setting out on treacherous uncharted waters, and I hope they succeed. I think the Supes want them to succeed too, because they approved grows up to 5,000 sq ft with a basic permit.

pot grower

OK, like it or not, we’ve got an ordinance, that goes into effect in 2018, that, so far, only about 300, of an estimated 8,400 growers have even expressed interest in. Try as we might, I don’t think we can regulate our way out of this mess, and ultimately, I doubt this ordinance will have much impact.

low impact

Contrary to Luke Bruner’s declaration that “The Drug War is over,” over 800,000 people were arrested for marijuana across the country last year and at least five times that many people had their pot confiscated by police, customs, airport security etc. The insane policy of prohibition that gave rise to our vigorous black market marijuana industry remains in effect at the federal level, and in 45 other states. I expect black market growers to continue to serve those markets so long as they remain profitable, and so I expect the unregulated environmental destruction associated with the black market marijuana industry to continue, and even worsen, despite this new ordinance.

unpermitted grow

Ultimately, the things that made Humboldt County attractive to black market growers, should make this place noncompetitive in the legal market. Like I said before, most of our big grows are located a long way down a dirt road, that’s a long way down a winding county road, that’s at least 100 miles from the nearest interstate. The soil there sucks, so you have to truck in all of your topsoil. Most of the land is way too steep to use, covered with trees, and prone to fire and earthquake. Also, your cell phone won’t work there. How long does pot have to be legal before people realize how crazy this is?

crazy pills

Sure, the Humboldt name might mean something to cannabis consumers, probably not as much as the name “Marley,” “Willie Nelson” or even “Indo,” but something. Because of the black market marijuana industry, we have a lot of the talent and infrastructure necessary to support the legal cannabis industry, but talent and technology are mobile. What remains here is the remote location, bad roads, expensive gas and poor soil. I can see how that makes the pot we grow here more expensive, but I don’t see how it makes it better.

expensive shoes


The Myth of Mom and Pop Grower

 

mom and pop grower

I love living in Southern Humboldt and I feel good about my niche here at LoCO. I realize that not everyone appreciates my work, but I’m happy to offer my perspective, nonetheless. I think some people in SoHum find my opinion so shocking because I say things that have been left unsaid for far too long. Dope yuppies never hear this perspective from the merchants they patronize, the non-profits they support, or the people who work for them, and they certainly don’t say these things to each other. Instead, SoHum remains an enigma, full of sneaky, dishonest, but gullible, people who have been feeding each other bullshit for decades. There’s still a lot of truth buried beneath that bullshit, so I still have a lot of work to do.

bullshit1

I tell the truth about Southern Humboldt because we will never solve our problems as a community, until we understand our problems, as a community. I live here. I care about this community. Back in 1990, when National Guard troops were pointing guns at your kids, I was one of the people who stood up to say that the War on Drugs was wrong, and that no one should go to jail, or lose their home, for growing marijuana. I was on your side then, and I’m on your side now.

on your side

It took an enormous effort to turn the tides in the War on Drugs, pass Prop. 215, and bring us to where we are today. To do that, it became important to convince the public that marijuana growers were decent All-American people. It wasn’t enough to convince them that growing a green plant does not constitute criminal behavior; we also had to convince the public that the people who grow, and use marijuana, were, in fact, likable, otherwise law-abiding, citizens.

law abiding citizen

We found some “poster children,” and we propagated the myth of “Mom and Pop Grower,” the “small family farmers” and the “back to the lander.” Sure, we made broad, overly positive, generalizations about the industry, and the industry was happy to help us propagate them. The industry remained underground, however, so the public had to take our word for it. Of course we overlooked some things back then, and kept our mouths shut about others, while we searched for evidence of this myth we concocted for political purposes.

big lie

 

Fast forward to today. The industry continues to propagate these myths enthusiastically, while the amount of stuff they expect us to overlook, ignore, and keep our mouths shut about has grown to such gigantic proportion that it is now visible from space. Ignoring the reality of the cannabis industry in SoHum is like trying to ignore a hash lab explosion in the apartment next door. You heard it. It shook the building, but you just don’t want to know how bad it is.

hash lab explosion

We don’t want to see the results of the recent explosion in the cannabis industry. We don’t want to see the clear-cuts. We don’t want to know how much water it uses, or tons of soil, or miles of plastic film, or what all the trucks that haul it do to our roads and environment. We don’t want to know about the pesticides, herbicides and rat poison, and we don’t want to know what happened to Chris Giauque or Ray Maniaci, or half-a-dozen others. Instead, we recite those wholesome old myths about Mom and Pop Grower, the “small, family farmer” and the “back-to-the-lander,” that we concocted thirty years ago to stop the government from throwing us in jail. Those stories weren’t entirely true then, but they’re laughable now.

laughable cats

As long as we continue feeding each other the same old bullshit, we never will address the issues that we can and should tackle as a community. The black-market economy undermines community values, and devalues honest work. It contributes to our high murder rate, suicide rate, and drug abuse rate, not to mention our housing crisis, among other problems. That’s a high price tag for those black market profits, but the dope yuppies don’t pay that bill. The rest of us do.

look good paying bills

The War on Drugs has crippled this community, and left our streets littered with human wreckage. We’ve got to quit treating people like it is OK to make money off the violent oppression, and brutality inflicted on millions of their brothers and sisters in the War on Drugs. The War on Drugs is wrong, and a lot of the people in it are cut from the same cloth as other war profiteers, like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. They don’t care about anything but getting more for themselves. Their money will not solve our problems. Their money created our problems, and the more money they make, the more problems we will have.

mo money mo problems

The War on Drugs creates a vortex that sucks greedy opportunists into Southern Humboldt, where they exploit the land, water and the community. It’s time we stopped mythologizing them, and faced facts. I know you don’t want to hear it, but you might as well hear it from me.

'Take it from me, son - those thrilling days yesteryear weren't thrilling for everybody.'


I Give Thanks

bird chills

This week we celebrate Thanksgiving, and of course, I’m very thankful to live here in Southern Humboldt. I’m thankful for my partner Amy with whom I’ve shared the past 19 years, and for our modest home in the woods. I’m thankful for the firs and the redwoods, the madrones and the tan oaks, the manzanitas and the huckleberries, and all the myriad wildlife who inhabit them. I’m thankful for the rivers, the salmon, the sturgeon and the lamprey and I’m thankful to live in a community that values them.

salmon in forest

I give thanks for every day I live to enjoy this marvelous place, which I’m sure you can easily understand, but in the time that I’ve lived here, I’ve learned to appreciate another side to life in Southern Humboldt that I never thought I’d be thankful for. Let’s call them “acquired tastes.” For instance:

acquired taste
I’m thankful to Estelle Fennell for making me miss Roger Rodoni.

fennell rodoni

I’m thankful to CCVH for turning SoHum’s criminal low-lifes into corporate sleaze-balls.

ccvh corporate sleaze balls

I’m thankful for hash-lab explosions because I like it when the bass goes BOOM.

hash lab explosion

I’m thankful to dope yuppies for giving me so much to write about.

hiaasen quote

I’m thankful for bankers and real estate agents for reminding me that there are less ethical ways to make a living than by dealing drugs.

fat-banker1

I’m thankful that there remain a few businesses in the greater Garberville/Redway area that Steve Dazey does not own.

dazeys supply panel

I’m thankful for the Garberville-Redway Chamber of Commerce and the Town Patrol for reminding me that there are uglier things in this world than poverty, homelessness and drug addiction, like intolerance, bigotry and vigilantism, for instance.

Garberville welcome to buy

I’m thankful for our local tweakers because they act as urban scarecrows, scaring mainly tourists, and because they provide local youth with a cautionary example of what can happen to you if you use meth. If our tweakers don’t scare them straight, nothing will.

tweaker-tilemeth before after

I’m thankful that my friends, who lack adequate housing, remain here, year after year, despite inclement weather, open hostility and police harassment, because without them, this town has far too few likable people.

speak 4 languages

I’m thankful for my friends who have adequate housing for the same reason.

friends 3 stooges

I’m thankful for the prices at Shop Smart in Redway and Ray’s in Garberville because they make it worth the drive to Eureka, to shop somewhere else.

shop smart

I’m thankful for the Humane Society Thrift Store in Garberville because I like knowing that the money I blow on stupid second-hand electronic toys gets used to rip the genitals off of small furry animals.

No, no, not this one.  The other one. down the street from where this one used to be.

No, no, not this one. The other one. down the street from where this one used to be.

I’m thankful for our local non-profits like KMUD, the Mateel, Sanctuary Forest, Friends of the Eel and Bird Ally X because without their T-shirts, I’d have nothing to wear.

bird ally x t shirt-horz

 

I’m thankful that the local workforce isn’t more ambitious or competent, and that those eager-beavers from Fortuna have to drive so far to get here, because if I have to take a shitty job, the last thing I want is competition.

incompetence1

I’m thankful for ALL of the people of Southern Humboldt, if for no other reason, than at least for the fact that there are so few of us per square mile.

sohum people-tile

Finally, most of all, I’m thankful for you, dear reader, for taking the time to read these words, regardless of how they make you feel. I appreciate your time, and hope you find the experience rewarding in some way. On behalf of Amy and myself, I wish you and yours a happy Thanksgiving.

Happy-Thanksgiving


Humboldt Pot, a Petroleum Product

sour diesel skull

I don’t know why we worry so much about Big Tobacco getting into the marijuana industry when the industry has already sold out to Big Oil. When you consider all of the hash labs littered with thousands of empty butane canisters,

butane-lab-pollution

all of the lit-up greenhouses and the indoor grows,

grow room big

the big generators,

diesel generator exhaust

the earth moving equipment,

excavator digs

the quads,

quad atv

the giant 4×4 vanity trucks

4x4 truck

and the endless snorting, stench-spewing caravan of soil and water trucks crisscrossing our watersheds,

Image of red colored truck with very dark exhaust, possibly polluting the environment.

it’s no wonder all of the weed we grow around here stinks of diesel fuel. Truth be known, Humboldt weed is primarily a petroleum product, and the industry becomes more oil intensive every day.

oil-well-

The cannabis industry’s thirst for fossil fuel has only grown since coming out of the closet, at least judging by auditory evidence. I’ve never heard so much racket coming out of these hills as I have in the past year, and it’s not just my neighborhood. Yesterday, in town, I heard three different people, independently, complain about loud generators disturbing their peace and quiet in three separate watersheds.

diesel generator camo

In the Redway Post Office, I saw a flier posted by yet another angry forest dweller encouraging people who value their peace and quiet to to report their noisy neighbors to the CA Air Quality Management Board. The flier also reminds people of the health risks associated with noise pollution, like tinnitus, ear damage and hearing loss. I doubt the bureaucrats at CAAQMB want any more than to collect a fee from the offenders, but why not make them pay any way you can.

make them pay

Now that the marijuana industry has come out in the open, apparently, so has the greed. The sun just can’t shine bright or long enough to satisfy our dope yuppies anymore, so they flood the forest with noise pollution and air pollution so they can make light pollution. Besides annoying neighbors, stressing wildlife, degrading the environment and creating a public health threat, every year, a few of these generators blow up and start forest fires. Dope yuppies don’t care, unless it’s their house that burns.

forest fire

Dope yuppies don’t care about anyone but themselves and their own greedy scheme to get rich off of prohibition. All Summer, their soil and water trucks pounded the county roads out in the hills, to rubble, in yet another sacrifice to their insatiable greed. Humboldt’s marijuana industry destroys roads because, every year, all new “farmland” has to be trucked in, as well as a substantial portion of the water needed to grow the crop. Thanks to prohibition, and the massive taxpayer subsidies that go along with it, Humboldt’s dope yuppies make so much money from marijuana that they still turn a profit despite their disgracefully wasteful farming practices.

HOOPA, CA - NOVEMBER 15, 2012 --  Aaron Pole, a wildlife technician with the Hoopa Tribal Forestry, walks inside the forest where marijuana growers left piles of trash after vacating the area on the Hoopa Indian Reservation in eastern Humboldt county on November 15, 2012.  The grow was raided by the sheriff in August and deputies cut down 26,600 plants in eight interconnected clearings along Mill Creek.  Pole and Mark Higley, a wildlife biologist on the Hoopa Indian Reservation, suspect that the huge marijuana grows are killing wildlife in the area. (Photo by Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times)

Meanwhile, Supervisor Estelle Fennell has the nerve to remind us that homeless people and working single mothers who shop in town, will pay to fix those roads, so that dope yuppies can continue to have Amazon deliver everything they need, right to their door, avoiding the Measure Z sales tax completely, and effectively externalizing yet another business expense to the poorest taxpayers. Way to go Estelle! That’s how you steal from the poor and give to the rich, and that’s why the dope yuppies love her.

estelle fennell quote

Yes the weed around here depends heavily on Big Oil, but it’s not just a matter of contamination, I believe there’s also an element of imitation. I think that cannabis itself responds to our obsession with fossil fuels. Think about it. We know that cannabis responds to its environment. When hippie gardeners grew marijuana by hand, it smelled like fruit and sage, because hippie gardeners love fruit and burn sage,

hippie gardeners

but now, the people who grow pot around here love their big trucks and their quads and their generators. The weed can smell the trucks, and the generators, and all of the exhaust fumes, and the weed thinks we like those smells, so the weed expresses those aromas in its attempt to please us. That’s why so much of the pot around here smells like diesel fuel. How apropos!

this stinks skunk

 

Cannabis can be a lot of things, but right now cannabis thinks we want a stupefying anesthetic that stinks like diesel fuel, and she is doing her level best to satisfy us. How long do you think it will be before cannabis realizes that we don’t really care about anything but money, and starts to smell like that? Unfortunately, marijuana already smells like money to too many people. That’s the problem.

smelling money


Choice and Change in Humboldt County

choose-change

People talk about homelessness as though it were a choice. How many times have you heard someone say, “If that’s how they choose to live…” when talking about homeless people? What a ludicrous idea! Homelessness happens to people. They don’t aspire to it. They don’t plan it, and few are well prepared for it when it happens to them. People don’t choose homelessness. Homelessness is what happens to people who run out of options.

no_equity_no_options

On the other hand, people do choose to become middle-class. The aspiration to become middle-class is so pervasive that it has acquired a nickname. We call it the American Dream. Yes, people choose to become middle-class. They aspire to join the middle-class. They work to achieve middle-class status, and even after they’ve established themselves within the middle-class, they never quite feel middle-class enough.

not middle class enough

A lot of people choose to live a middle-class lifestyle, and it’s a choice most people make without giving it a lot of thought. It’s an expensive choice. The middle-class lifestyle consumes people’s lives as greedily as it consumes the earth’s resources. The middle-class lifestyle doesn’t happen by accident. It takes dedication and lifelong commitment to join the ranks of the middle-class.

chance of middle class

At the same time, the middle-class lifestyle has a very poor record of making people happy. As anyone raised in a middle-class home can tell you, the middle-class lifestyle ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. Still, people throw themselves at the middle-class, like proverbial lemmings over a cliff. Even real lemmings aren’t that stupid. What gives?

another way to go

You see, most people don’t choose a middle-class lifestyle because it looks particularly attractive. Most people choose to become middle-class because the prospect of homelessness frightens them so much. In this way, the middle-class are a lot like Christians, who abstain from earthly pleasures, not so much because they dream of someday flying through the clouds playing a harp, but because they fear the fires of Hell.

hell fear

This kind of fear grows into resentment. In the same way that deeply frustrated Christians vent their resentment at gay people and women seeking abortions, the middle-class vent their resentment at the poor and homeless. In both cases it’s a gross display of stupidity, gullibility and cowardice aimed at the most vulnerable. Like Christians, the middle-class have been frightened into believing a fairy tale that controls their lives and makes them resentful of non-believers.

angry-and-resentful

No one forces them to become middle-class. I’m sure they feel a lot of pressure from family and friends, not to mention the media, and society at large. Even the government tries to enforce a middle-class lifestyle through policy, sanction, and ordinance. However, the decision to pursue a middle-class lifestyle remains a personal choice, and one that can only be realized through dedication and hard work. Still, it’s a choice most people make without much serious thought.

choice consequences quote

We know that most of the serious crises we face today, like global climate change, habitat loss and the extinction crisis, result directly from too many people choosing a conventional American middle-class lifestyle. From a scientific perspective, it seems clear that the single biggest threat to our long-term survival, is our global infatuation with becoming middle-class. If we actually thought about it, we’d realize what a destructive, high-maintenance, low-satisfaction lifestyle the middle-class have chosen. Few of us would eagerly repeat their mistakes. But instead of thinking, we blindly perpetuate a culture of fear and oppression that serves only the super-rich, while it pushes us all relentlessly towards extinction.

extinction c n h

Who do we blame for this? Invariably, we blame the poor. We blame the poor for not pulling their weight. We blame the poor for frightening children, driving off tourists, blocking sidewalks, and especially for not going away. Then, when they finally crack, under the pressure of poverty, lack of sleep, poor diet, constant harassment and social isolation, we blame their poverty on mental illness. How does this make sense?

no logic exists

If you ask me, I say, “Blame the middle-class.” Blame the sniveling cowards who turned their backs on humanity and stuck their tongues deep into the rectum of the super-rich, just for the chance to spend the future, today. Blame the middle-class for their greed, stupidity, and cowardice. Blame them for their choices, because the choices were all theirs to make.

thats so middle class

Whether it was their lack of imagination, their gullibility, or their infatuation with bright shiny objects that lead middle-class people to make the dreadful decisions that define their lives and shape our world, ultimately, blaming people doesn’t solve the problem. To solve this problem, people have to learn to live differently.

learn to live differently

I realize that you’ve heard this before. “Create a sustainable lifestyle” has been a mantra of environmental organizations for decades, environmental groups that rely mainly on the middle-class
for their support. Still, if we manage to survive this century as a species, it won’t be because we developed some new clean energy source, it will be because we learned to live differently.

l2ld

Do you remember that part of our Humboldt County heritage? You’ve seen the experimental houses, the strawbale, cobb, ferro-cement, and wattle-and-daub buildings, the yurts, tepees, wikiups, and benders, the domes, tree-houses, house-trees, and the thousands of funky, idiosyncratic little wooden dwellings that grace our Humboldt County hillsides. Those houses exist because a lot of people came to Humboldt County to experiment with different ways of living, not to become middle-class yuppies by growing dope.

funky tree home humboldt

We’ve seen how these experiments pay off economically. The Solar Living Center in Hopland, and the Schottz energy lab in Arcata come to mind immediately, as examples of how a modest cultural experiment can catalyze change and create real economic opportunities.

solar living center

We have a long history of experimental, owner-built housing in Humboldt County. We need housing now more than ever, and we need housing that works for people, rather than vice-versa. We need to learn to live differently, and few things reflect the way we live more than the homes we live in.

tiny home-tile

Here in Humboldt County, we have the opportunity to take a humane approach to our housing shortage, and open a door to the future, or not. People need a place to live. We can continue to deny our neighbors the dignity of privacy and a place to escape the elements, or we can create the kind of cultural incubator that solves problems, sets trends, and creates the economic opportunities of the future.

Future-is-full-of-opportunities

Class War against the poor will never succeed, and the middle-class will never be happy with what they have. We need to find another way to live, and if we want to know what that looks like, we need to allow the people who need it the most, an opportunity to build it for themselves.

build it yourself1


Humboldt County’s Nuclear Caviar

nuclear caviar

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.

chase the fast buck

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.

bud-horz

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.

luxury marijuana

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.

its-a-rip-off-its-a-scam

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 future

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.

business-shark-

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.

spendthrift economy

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.

find something better to do

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.

social_disease-horz

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.

no room for you damob

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.

Silly Greedy Farmer

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 humboldt

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.

habitat loss

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.

habitat disregarded

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.

sohum people-tile


SoHum in August: Come for the Smoke, Stay for the Helicopters

Helicopter-Water-Drop

I love August in Southern Humboldt, triple-digit temperatures, the air hazy and thick with the ever-present smell of smoke and the hellish red tint it lends to the sunlight. Everybody’s nervous, nervous about fire, nervous about water, nervous about fish, nervous about their crop, and nervous about helicopters. Don’t forget the helicopters. Ya gotta love helicopters.

i_love_helicopters

Yes, to see SoHum in all of its glory, come in August. They say sunlight is the best disinfectant, and one August afternoon in Garberville will remind you why. Nothing can survive there. In Garberville, every fiber of your being will tell you that the sun wants to kill you. You will try to accomplish whatever you went there to do, but you will become ever more stressed, fatigued, irritated and confused, by the minute, as the sun steadily beats the shit out of you, until you finally realize you must flee for your life.

flee for your life

For miles around, the forested hills mitigate the harmful effects of solar radiation, but Garberville has the only substantial assemblage of concrete and asphalt in the area, and it concentrates sunlight like a magnifying glass. The locals have cut down damn near every last tree in town to insure maximum solar gain. They really don’t like people hanging around town.

Garberville welcome to buy

The proliferation of wildfires in our area seems like a wet dream for our local merchants. Every cafe and restaurant in town has a cue of at least six clean cut young men in uniform, just the kind of customer they’ve always wanted. Now they’re everywhere. I had to wait in line for lunch behind a whole platoon of regular Army GIs. I don’t think that ever happened to me in Garberville before.

GIs in line

2015 is shaping up to be an exceptional summer for smoke in SoHum. We love smoke in SoHum. As anyone who lives here will tell you, we have the best smoke in the world here in SoHum. Pot smoke, cigarette smoke, diesel exhaust or good ol’ wood smoke, whatever your favorite flavor, we’ve got plenty of it here in SoHum, and we’ll happily set fire to a car, a homeless person or an RV to spice it up for you.

RV-on-fire-350x263

Personally, I really love the smoke. I know it’s killing me, but for some reason I appreciate the air more when I can see it, and I find warm smoky air particularly comforting.  It might remind me of something from my childhood. I vaguely remember that my grandfather smoked a pipe and kept the thermostat too high.

smokes a pipe

Speaking of too high. I love smoking weed so much that I hollowed out my toothbrush, and attached a bowl to it so I can smoke pot while I brush my teeth. That’s how much we love smoke here in SoHum, and we’ve become connoisseurs of the finest smoke. We’ve developed our appreciation for smoke to a high art. We prefer to call ourselves “smokiers,” rather than “smoke snobs,” but it’s just our way of celebrating the pure joy of breathing contaminated air.

breathing apparatus

And nothing compliments the light-headedness that comes from breathing contaminated air on a hot summer day like the ominous reverberations from the incessant beating of rotor blades. Few sounds strike more fear into more hearts around the world than the sound of an approaching helicopter. Locally, decades of conditioning by CAMP have effected us deeply. This year, the choppers are all fighting fires, but they remind us of our PTSD. …all day.

ptsd pot

So, please, visit SoHum in August and you’ll get a warm welcome. You’ll see us at our best, and taste the air when it’s thickest and creamiest.

Firefighters walk under smoke from fires along Morgan Valley Road near Lower Lake, Calif., Friday, July 31, 2015. A series of wildfires were intensified by dry vegetation, triple-digit temperatures and gusting winds. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)


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