“Terms of His Surrender”

July 30, 2017
WWCK Air Staff -- 1981

WWCK Air Staff (1981) — Michael Moore on Far Right (Only Time Ever)

I sold popcorn with him at the University of Michigan (Flint) student theater when his annual income was less than I paid in taxes. Years later, legal papers estimated his net worth at over fifty million dollars, the bulk of it accidentally earned when Walt Disney chickened out at the last minute and allowed him and partners to acquire, release and distribute a new film Disney had bankrolled. That was “Fahrenheit 9/11” — the highest grossing documentary of all time. Michael Moore had just turned 50.

Mike and I first met in the early ‘70’s when religious leaders in Davison, Michigan were attempting to throw me (“Satan’s Pied Piper”) and my rock concerts out of town. They also wanted to shut down Michael’s “Davison Hotline” – an organization dedicated to helping troubled area teens. It didn’t help that Mr. Moore had just been voted onto the Davison Board of Education at the age of 18, becoming at the time the youngest person ever elected to public office in the history of the United States.

Michael Moore became our “Director of Sunday Programming” on WWCK-FM in Flint for many years, hosting “Radio Free Flint” Sunday mornings with twelve incoming lines ringing off the wall. This is when WWCK became the highest-rated Rock & Roll station in the country. Mike played no small part. I paid him with free airtime to promote his fund raising activities, including sold-out concerts with the late Harry Chapin, who donated all proceeds to “The Flint Voice” – Mike’s alternative newspaper.

In 1987, Michael started working on a movie about Flint, personally handling every aspect of preparation, production and promotion. My major contribution was obtaining some TV credentials from Toledo so he could film the closing of a major Flint assembly line and sending him my personal copy of “Jingle Bells” by The Singing Dogs. This can be heard in the final minutes of “Roger and Me” as a Flint family is tossed out of their home Christmas Eve, brilliantly juxtaposed against a festively attired General Motors Choir singing traditional carols at a lavish corporate banquet in Detroit. Mike thought he might get ”Roger and Me” on “Frontline” if he was lucky. The rest is history.

After “Bowling for Columbine”, which won a 2002 Academy Award as Best Documentary, “Fahrenheit 9/11”, “Sicko”, “Slacker Uprising” and “Capitalism: A Love Story” in 2009, the election of Barack Obama brought about a seeming resurgence, however temporary, of mainstream progressive thought and Michael was no longer the almost singular “voice of the America left” he had inadvertently become.

When I contacted Michael after surprisingly seeing him on MSNBC with Chris Hayes shortly after Donald Trump announced his run for the presidency, Mike said that was his “first time in a live TV studio in years.” Now he’s super charged up, mightily motivated and on the move.

Last Friday, Michael Moore’s first Broadway show, “The Terms of My Surrender” opened for a 12-week run at the 1,018 seat Belasco Theater. Seats are quickly selling out. Additionally underway is a follow-up to “Fahrenheit 9/11” in cooperation with Bob and Harry Weinstein, founders of Miramax. They’ve purchased worldwide rights to “Fahrenheit 11/9”, which will deal with the aftermath of Trump’s election commencing the day after voting ended and the insanity began. Mike also returns to television this fall for the first time since 2000 with “Michael Moore: Live From The Apocalypse” on TNT.

 When you’re hot, you’re hot.

Thanks, Mr. President, for giving my old pal work.

That’s one done, ten million to go.

 

 

“Smokehurst”

July 23, 2017

Mariposa Fire 7:21:17

When Oakhurst turns Smokehurst – things just aren’t the same.

Thank The Lord Mariposa still stands.

Last week’s 75,000+ acre Detwiler Fire brought the first series of smoke shrouded days this season, even Deadwood disappearing at times behind a curtain of heavy, ash-laden haze.

It provided a dramatic reminder that Cal Fire and associated professional responders regularly meet such challenges with speed, accuracy and outstanding endurance in a consistently reliable display of heroic performance. It also offered stark confirmation of recent predictions by fire and police authorities that 2017 may witness the most destructive fire months in California state history.

Along with last winter’s drought-defying precipitation producing abundant fresh fuel, as do a hundred million dead and dying trees, it now seems that formerly helpful and dependable night-time increases in humidity with significantly decreased temperatures have given way to shifting climate conditions resulting in minimal dusk to dawn respite for fire control compared with traditional patterns. This is a big deal. 24-hour work shifts are becoming common.

Media cited numerous acts of selfless volunteerism with strangers lending a helping hand to those they’d never known before. There were countless stories of neighbors helping neighbors, providing food, shelter and clothing at a time of harried need. Some shelters even offered room for evacuated pets and livestock. Many of them are people too!

Being of critical assistance in times of tragic testing often seems to be a reflective, instinctive, intuitive act – the “better angels of our nature” referenced by Abraham Lincoln — urging us to take instant remedial action, often without conscious reflection.

Wildfires are as natural as the wind.

Native Americans were regularly burning parts of their ecosystems going back thousands of years, promoting a diversity of habitats to provide greater stability and security in their lives, but being cautious not to purposely burn when forests were vulnerable to catastrophic conflagration. According to that big “fire hazard dial” on the right side of 41 just before you head into Oakhurst from the south, that is precisely our current status.

We will be living these next few months with possible catastrophe a single spark away. A hastily abandoned campfire, a handful of illegal fireworks, or one carelessly tossed cigarette can explode into a wall of flames just as quickly as a lightning strike, airborne embers or other unavoidable phenomena.

Oakhurst is not new to evacuations. A bit of family strategizing with various contingencies in mind, including alternative planning seems like a fine idea.

It could be worse.

The University of Utah Seismograph Stations report a Yellowstone National Park earthquake swarm has registered 1,284 events since June 12th, including one of 4.5 magnitude June 16th in West Yellowstone. This represents a “notable uptake in activity.”

The Yellowstone Caldera sits on top of North America’s largest volcanic field spreading across an area of 300 miles. While most scientists believe the probability of a major eruption is small, it could blast 240 cubic miles of ash, rocks and lava into the atmosphere, rendering two-thirds of the nation immediately uninhabitable, and plunging the world into a “nuclear winter.”

We don’t need to worry about cold around here yet.

Washington is having a hot summer too.

Exactly 97 years ago this week (July 26, 1920) — cultural critic and iconoclastic journalist H.L. Mencken wrote a column in the Baltimore Sun which included this amazingly prescient quote: “On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of this land will reach their heart’s content at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

 Nudge. Nudge.

Wink. Wink.

I’ll write no more.

 

 

 

“Senior Sex in Oakhurst”

July 16, 2017

Ice+Cream+Truck

 

First of all, relax.

This is a family newspaper.

What follows would be labeled a Walt Disney “G” or earn an old Catholic Legion of Decency rating of A-I for “General Patronage”. Well, maybe an A-II for “Adults and Teenagers”, but probably not an A-III for “Adults”, let alone A-IV for “Adults with Morally Objectionable Parts.” I always wondered if this was an anatomical reference. If so, it probably wouldn’t be a hard guess what might fit that category.

Using Roman numerals seemed to add a certain ecclesiastical cachet.

Times were much more restrictive back then. In the ‘50s, you couldn’t say “pregnant” on the radio. Even Lucille Ball couldn’t describe her condition with that word when she was “expecting” little Ricky in 1952. Another forbidden word was not allowed. S-e-x. Sex.

Here’s who’s having “it” among seniors:

Among High School seniors = 62%

Among College seniors = 57%

Among senior citizens 70 years of age and older = 54% of men and 31% of women.

In fact, The New England Journal of Medicine reports that a majority of older adults who were married or had intimate partners remain active through their 80’s and “a significant number” well into their 90’s.

A comparable study by Indiana University’s Center for Sexual Health Promotion found somewhat similar results with 43% of men and 22% of women over 70 reporting they regularly engage in sexual activity.

More research by the National Commission on Aging found that women say sex over 70 is more satisfying than that experienced in their 40s. The Senior Citizens Guide stresses that we should erase ”the long-held myth that aging inevitably dampens the desire, and that older people are not interested in or able to have sex.”

Yet sex remains a sensitive topic for all ages — particularly cringe-inducing for the young commenting on behavior of the old.

When I joined a local gym upon turning 50 or so, one of our daughters sternly cautioned me to “not be like all those creepy old men staring at young girls working out.” I made an instant mental note to stash my Playboys in a more secure location. And dump all copies of Penthouse where I left those Hustlers.

Looking at sex from a purely mechanical perspective, it seems silly. Can there be a more vivid illustration of ecstasy ignoring embarrassment? We follow powerfully transcendent instinctive inclinations and gain ultimate pleasure in unqualified surrender. That’s why sex can also lead to potentially dangerous, even criminal behavior.

It’s not control of sex by community consensus, but degrees of repressive restriction that threaten common decency in a democratic society.

Even those of the 10 Commandments in Judaic/Christian/Islamic culture often cited as being sexually prohibitive were nothing more at the time of origination than property laws — in the good old days when almost everyone knew men owned their women.

Many anecdotes about senior sex can now be safely and publicly shared.

Hearing that her elderly grandfather had passed away, little Suzie rushed to comfort her 95 year-old grandmother. When asked what happened, Suzie was told he had a heart attack while they made love that Sunday morning. Horrified, Suzie told her grandmother having sex at such an advanced age was looking for trouble.

“Oh, no, my dear” replied Granny. “Many years ago, we figured out the best time to do it was when the church bells would ring. It was just the right rhythm, Nice and slow and easy. Nothing too strenuous.”

“If that darned ice cream truck hadn’t come by, he’d still be alive today!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Oakhurst Top 10”

July 9, 2017

Yosemite Painting

 

“Should I stay or should I go?” – “Combat Rock” – The Clash (1980)

Eileen and I moved to Oakhurst in November of 2006 to spend more time with daughter Susan and her family. Earlier this year, Susan and Rich decided to head for exciting new high-tech opportunities in Nashville, departing last week with Allison, Asher, Isaac, two cats and two fish. They got there in four days. This leaves our entire immediate family well east of the Mississippi, but not abandoned to strangers.

“Bitsy” and I just love it here. But is this the time to consider geographic transition ourselves? We’re not getting any younger. Or stronger. Or faster.

Perhaps wiser.

With Fresno International Airport right down the hill, we’re still less than a half-day away from closest kin and simultaneously offer a spectacularly attractive destination for those enticed to visit. That’s how I’d start a ‘Top Ten” list of why I want to stick around Oakhurst like industrial strength Velcro. Or Super Glue. Or those two Quesadillas I ate late last night before sliding into bed. Nine more reasons come quickly to mind, listed as a matter of personal priority. See if any click with you.

(9) Cal Fire. Anyone who thinks government can’t work should check these heroes out.

(8) Cool local bars. The Oak Room, Dirty Donkey, Southgate Brewery and Hitching Post head the list. Erna’s is way too fancy for the likes of me.

(7) Wildlife. Herds of Mule Deer, flocks of Wild Turkey, squads of squirrels and coveys of quail abound in these foothills. October brings Tarantula time. Don’t kiss the rattlers.

(6) An active and harmonious political environment allowing for what I call “positive cross pollination.” During election season, almost all of our speakers at monthly meetings of the Oakhurst Democratic Club are Republican candidates. I consider John Pero, Central Valley Tea Party Coordinator, a friend. Folks seem amazed when they see Bill Atwood and I having lunch together at El Cid’s. They’re even more dazzled when Bill picks up the tab.

(5) A solid spiritual base. Virtually every major religious group finds representation in Eastern Madera County, as well as evolving philosophical thought. I am particularly impressed by such prominent Oakhurst originals as Angelo Pizelo and his work with the Emerson Institute, now of nationally renown. Angie always makes me laugh.

(4) Community Clubs and Projects. We’re not a city, suburb, village or town. But for a “Designated Census Area”, we certainly offer a multiplicity of organizations dedicated to addressing specific needs and projects.

(3) Exceptional law enforcement. The California Highway Patrol #456, part of CHP’s Central Division, covers over a thousand square miles of state highways and unincorporated roadways in an around Oakhurst. The Madera County Sheriff’s Office under Sheriff Jay Varney now offers an Oakhurst substation on Liberty Drive to better serve the foothills area. Similarly, District Attorney David Linn has opened a satellite office at that same location to make his services more accessible.

(2) Our wonderful neighbors. We are blessed with friends and acquaintances of all kinds and minds.

(1) Yosemite. Always first and foremost in evaluation must be the stunning, breathtaking beauty of America’s première national park. Designated a World Heritage Site in 1984, Yosemite is celebrated internationally for its granite cliffs, crystal streams, dramatically plunging waterfalls, giant sequoia groves, lakes, mountains, glaciers and biological diversity. And here we are with Half Dome in our own backyard. Five million visitors are expected this year.

But we get to stay.

Here in the Misty Mountains. Where the spirits go. Over the hills, where the spirits fly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“My Summer Vacation” (Sierra Star for 7/6/17)

June 30, 2017
heart normal anterior view of exterior structures

Medical Illustrations by Patrick Lynch, generated for multimedia teaching projects by the Yale University School of Medicine, Center for Advanced Instructional Media, 1987-2000.

 

When a lab technician stares at the screen and loudly proclaims, “Wow!” — adding, “Don’t you feel that?”, one realizes he is at the scene of breaking news.

Every year in early summer, Eileen and I travel back east to Syracuse, NY, where we were both born at Memorial Hospital on “the hill” adjacent to Syracuse University. I remember Jim Brown jogging on the sidewalk in front of our house on Ackerman Avenue when I was a kid.

We enjoyed a great week with family and friends, including several days at Alexandria Bay near the Thousand Island Bridge on the St. Lawrence River, now at its highest level in memory and threatening to flood the city of Montreal upstream. Many of the little islands are completely underwater. Tourism has been greatly curtailed and it has recently kept on raining days at a time. But there’s no such thing as global warming.

Then I suddenly started feeling weird and super tired. By Sunday morning I was huffing and puffing like that little train that could, except I couldn’t. I could barely stand up.

Moderate COPD enthusiastically earned smoking 2 1/2 packs a day for 40 years colliding with the mysterious onslaught of severe heart arrhythmia in the form of Atrial Flutter (with a consequential pulse rate relentlessly racing at 150 beats and above for over 50 hours) brought about radical shortness of breath and marked pneumonia .

Ejection fraction is a measurement of the percentage of blood leaving your heart each time it contracts. The left ventricle is the heart’s main driving chamber pumping oxygenated blood through the ascending aorta to the rest of the body, so ejection fraction is usually measured only in the left ventricle. An LV ejection fraction of 55 percent or higher is considered normal. I was clocked at 30 — a little over half of that. Stroke City, here we come.

Such warranted four days of hospital stay, but all has been successfully addressed. Happily there was no permanent heart muscle damage as originally anticipated when treatment was initiated. But Eileen and I did miss our Tuesday flight home.

Arranging our delayed return home, an exercise complicated by heavy Fourth of July bookings, brought an unpleasant encounter with corporate compassion. Although armed with a handwritten note on hospital stationary penned by a prominent Syracuse cardiologist explaining my plight, it cost more for us to fly back to Fresno than the price of our original round trip tickets. “Sorry. Company policy!” It was pay or stay. Climate change deniers must be in charge.

While I was recuperating, Clown Boy struck again with a brutal attack on Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC with five major lies viciously compressed into two mindless tweets.

Legendary New York ad agency icon and TV host Donny Deutch, guest appearing on “Morning Joe”, proclaimed Trump “a pig” adding, “Let’s face it. When it comes to appearance, a quality he constantly brings up criticizing others, Donald himself looks absolutely disgusting.” Cautioned that he was taking “the low road”, Deutch emphatically stated, “It’s time we all did. This guy is a menace.”

This weekend Cheese Child finally meets Putin in Hamburg.

“Step into my parlor said the spider to the fly.”

It’s great being home again.

Don’t smoke.

 

 

Sent from my iPad

 

“Eve of Obstruction”

June 15, 2017

Keebler Jeff

“They made up a phony collusion with the Russians story, found zero proof, so now they go for obstruction of justice on the phony story. Nice.”

 Donald J. Trump

3:55 AM – 15 June 2017

Nice.

The “Russians story” isn’t phony, there’s plenty of proof, and “obstruction of justice” is certainly much clearer than how you can possibly think you look good with that thing on your head.

Mister President? Why don’t you just jump on a broom like the Wicked Witch of the West and circle the White House, replacing “Surrender Dorothy” with — “I’m Guilty!”

 That would save us all time, attention, money and face. We do need to move along, discarding you on the trash heap of history as a mock messiah unworthy of memory for having shamed us all with bitter betrayal, national disgrace and global dishonor.

The self-indicting tweet confirmed a report in the Washington Post that the Republican President was personally the subject of an extensive criminal investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for obstructing justice. Upon learning of same, Trump seriously contemplated firing Mueller just as he had FBI Director James Comey, but was finally dissuaded by the few clear heads left in his inner circle. Not you Steve Bannon.

All this was after Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard “Pee Wee” Sessions testified under oath before the Senate Intelligence Committee as it continued its own investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, as well as any ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

Futilely attempting to radiate elfin innocence with a sugar sweet smile and an occasionally engaging “y’all” drawl, Pee Wee did past audition as a future poster boy for the Smedema Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to fighting amnesia. Rolling Stone magazine counted 25 separate times Pee Wee encountered a major memory lapse while testifying. They might have been stoned. Several other publications came up with 26.

California’s own new Senator, Kamala Harris, pointedly noted to Sessions that even in the brief opening remarks he submitted to the Committee in advance of his appearance, “Just on the first page you wrote,” nor do I recall”, “do not have recollection” and “do not remember it.”

 Senator Harris did us proud in rapidly pounding away at Pee Wee until Senator John McCain interrupted her in mid sentence by pounding the table, yelling, “Mr. Chairman, the witness should be allowed to answer the question!”

 Sessions did so, although confessing with due embarrassment that Senator Harris made him “nervous.” Yes. And she’s a woman!

The question Pee Wee was wildly attempting to wiggle his way out of was what he meant by refusing to answer anything he discussed with President Trump, alleging a long held “policy of communications confidentiality.” No one present had ever heard of such a thing. Pee Wee insisted this was not a matter of “Executive Privilege” or even “classified information.” He also wasn’t sure any such rule existed in writing. Anywhere. Adding intentional avoidance to chronic amnesia has started quite a fuss. Some feel Pee Wee should be charged with Contempt of Congress. Senator Elizabeth Warren flatly stated he should be immediately dismissed. Others swear they will never eat Keebler Cookies again.

Trump will be going down. All loyal hangers-on will be going down. History will be unforgiving.

Although “Obstruction of Justice” is emerging as initial candidate for inclusion in a Bill of Impeachment before the House of Representatives, we are scratching the surface.

The ultimate end will be a dollars deal. It usually is.

Forget the Yellow Brick Road, Dorothy.

Follow the money.

 

 

 

“Batman v. Trump”

June 11, 2017

Batman-BenAffleck

Last week we lost 88 year-old Adam West, an iconic actor best known for his role as DC Comic’s Batman in the spectacularly successful ’66-’68 ABC TV revival of the legendary franchise dating back to May of 1939.

As with other super heroes packing movie theaters through succeeding generations, the Batman character epitomizes beliefs, balances and behaviors commonly regarded by the greatest majority of our citizenry through the years as core national values. The kinds of things you teach your kids.

Perhaps Superman proclaimed it best. “Truth, Justice and The American Way!”

Batman would have had little use for Donald J. Trump. Nor would Captain Marvel, Spider-Man, Captain America, Iron Man, The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy or Wonder Woman. Try giving HER a grab, President Puffball.

Trump can’t tell the truth, thinks “justice” means “just us” and believes the American Way is measured in karats, not character.

I watched former FBI Director Jim Comey’s live testimony under oath before the Senate Intelligence Committee from start to finish. I found him clearly confident and highly credible. As any professional pool player would quickly recognize, Comey brilliantly set the table for future things to come. When ABC’s Jon Karl later sprang his own trap on Trump, Donald instantly snapped at the bait like a starving sturgeon. Would the President testify giving his “version of events” under oath? You bet. “One hundred percent!” roared the response. Don’t hold your breath.

Latest Quinnipiac polling shows the Republican President hitting yet another new low with a plunging approval rating of 34%, the worst ever recorded. A full 57% of the 2,000 + sample registered disfavor. An even larger majority of respondents (68%) believe that the President is not “level headed” – including 64% of Republicans. Incidentally, these figures were obtained before Comey went before the Senate Committee and swore under penalty of perjury “the administration chose to defame me and more importantly the FBI by saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly led, and that the work force had lost confidence in its leader. These were lies – plain and simple.”

 The initial White House response?

“I can definitely say the President is not a liar,” lied Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee “Southern Baptist Minister’s Daughter” Sanders.

Being unable to secure personal representation from four respectable Washington law firms due to his established legal reputation for “not listening and not paying,” Trump has turned to an old go-to lawyer, New York’s Marc Kasowitz, to act in his stead during the current Russia probe. Marc arrives on the scene quite cozy with the subject at hand since Kasowitz recently represented a major Russian bank, OJSC Sberbank and one particular company owned by billionaire Oleg Deripaska with proven connections to the Kremlin. It’s a small world after all.

And it’s going faster all the time.

I can’t believe it’s been seven and a half years since Alan Cheah and I began writing this “For Your Consideration” column, starting in January of 2010. Along with Editor Brian Wilkinson, Publisher Betty Linn has been with us all the way, providing Sierra Star readers with a perhaps more progressive outlook on “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness “(more Superman) than otherwise occasionally encountered. As you may have read, Betty is retiring from the Star at the end of this week, but surely not from Oakhurst and all the friends and admirers who love her dearly.

Thank you Betty for being there for all of us, right, left and center, all the time every time.

You’re very special.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Duck, Donald!”

June 4, 2017

Duck

Here comes the sun.

With former FBI Director James Comey’s sworn words of damning testimony inexorably about to unfold, rumbling and roiling like vengeful, redemptive storm clouds on the near horizon, an inevitable beginning to the end may be drawing near. It’s none too soon.

For the first time in my 75 years of life, an American President is no longer leader of the free world. When our Demander- in – Chief cut and ran from a signed global commitment to the 2015 Paris Accords, his disgusting display of woeful ignorance represented a federal government in full flight from rational responsibility, signaling to the rest of the planet cowardly surrender to naive nationalism at its most pernicious and imperiling.

Trump’s Rose Garden retreat was filled with exaggerations, distortions and outright lies, consistency evidently emerging as one of his few remaining virtues. He actually pontificated before a carefully selected audience of solicitous sycophants; “We don’t want other countries laughing at us anymore!” Here’s when they’ll stop. When the door hits a certain prodigious posterior on its way out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, President Pudge.

The new leader of the free world could be Germany’s Prime Minister Angela Merkel or even France’s brand new President Emmanuel Macron. Macron is the one who delivered an unanticipated and prolonged power handshake to Trump when they met in Brussels. The Washington Post reported, “Each president gripped the other’s hand with considerable intensity, their knuckles turning white, their jaws clenching and faces tightening.” Reuters cheerfully added, “Trump just seemed to want his hand back.” Macron called it. “A moment of truth.” Merci!

The Chinese might even find themselves in a position to fill the vacuum created by Trump’s defiant dump, moving to the forefront in developing extensive innovations in green technology – an area in which they have already gained significant traction. On the brighter side, it also seems that there is wide support among American business leaders, local mayors and state governors such as our own Jerry Brown to step in where Donald has struck out, embracing the immediate need for critical change. Former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill used to say that true political power is always local. That might still save us all.

London Bridge wasn’t falling down, but it was unfortunately back in the news Saturday afternoon as we were suddenly jarred by yet another senseless terror driven tragedy. With all three cable news networks presenting live coverage, CNN was first to report that “top advisors” were being “summoned to the White House to meet with the President and determine a course of appropriate responsive action.” While in the past I’ve always found such news certain to bring reliable comfort, my stomach was suddenly churning in knots — fearing yet another round of universal global embarrassment. Donald didn’t disappoint.

Prioritization often provides insight. The President’s very first tweet offered no sympathy, concern or compassion for the victimized. Trump simply twittered: “We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!” A few minutes later, handlers had him add that the U.S. would do whatever it could in offering assistance. He followed up Sunday with attacks on Sadiq Khan, the Muslim Mayor of London, and then renewed support for the American gun lobby, proclaiming, “We are not having a gun debate right now because they used knives and a truck!”

 Satisfied with his shrewd sagacious sharing, “Two-Scoop Donny” then retired for the night with extra chocolate cake, several gallons of Diet Coke and a Teddy named Eddie.

Had he been spending the preceding night in Oakhurst, Trump probably would have slept through till Noon and missed an extraordinary opportunity to be both brightened and enlightened.

Tim Z. Hernandez delivered an outstanding presentation before a full capacity crowd at Denny’s Saturday morning for our June meeting of the Oakhurst Democratic Club. There’s a major difference between a standard speaker and a gifted storyteller. Mr. Hernandez was very much the latter; bringing his nationally heralded, “All They Will Call You” to vibrant life with passion and power. We’ll be taking the month of July off, starting things up again on Saturday, August 5th with Joe Moore, KVPR Director of Programming Content, discussing “Valley Public Radio and Freedom of the Press.”

 Real patriots arm themselves with information.

 

 

 

“Adios Mis Amigos”

May 28, 2017

Tim_Z_Hernandez

 “The sky plane caught fire over Los Gatos Canyon…”

Woody Guthrie, “Plane Wreck at Los Gatos” (Deportee)” (1948)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CeCstLTB0EI

Here’s a letter I wrote to Rychard Withers, General Manager of Fresno’s KFCF in late August of 2015:

Dear Rychard:

Last night I was leaving a “Town Hall Meeting” conducted by our regretfully conservative Fifth District Congressman Tom McClintock at the Yosemite Lakes Clubhouse — hidden way in the middle of Nowhere, California in the general vicinity of Coarsegold.

Suffice it to observe, the location was rabble free and safe from any madding crowd, particularly those perceived as dauntingly different. There was substantial audience feedback on “dangerous immigrants”, “Illegal foreigners” and “job stealing freeloaders” with special emphasis on the “Mexican threat” being so courageously outlined by presidential candidate Donald Trump. Cries of spirited affirmation filled the room. Trump! Trump! Trump!

Gasping for sanity as soon as I got in my car to head home with a dazzling, fiery red summer sunset blazing on the horizon, I dialed up 88.1 FM for a breath of fresh air. I was blown away by an explosive version of Woody Guthrie’s “Plane Wreck at Los Gatos” (“Deportee”) by ?????. It turns out “La Raza Chronicles” was scheduled in that time slot, except that “Plane Wreck” selection was playing when I tuned in, but was followed by some sort of interview in Spanish joined in progress at the end of the song. In any event, that particular selection after that specific meeting couldn’t have been more perfect.

So — Do you have any idea what happened and who did that version? It featured a powerful Bruce Springsteen-like vocalist and wonderful slide guitar with someone softly speaking Spanish in the background. Maybe it was some sort of magical hallucination. I’ve had stranger things happen.

With best wishes,

Peter Cavanaugh

Executive Committee

Oakhurst Democratic Club

Rychard informed me that this marked an occasion of pure serendipity. It turned out that there was a software glitch in broadcasting “La Raza Chronicles” and the KFCF programming computer had filled the sudden dead air with “Plane Wreck at Los Gatos” by Lance Canales and Tim Z. Hernandez as a matter of pure random chance. I don’t believe in coincidence.

Early this year, I discovered Dr. Ruben Casas’ excellent article on “All They Will Call You” in the February issue of Fresno’s “Community Alliance” along with rave reviews of this new book by Mr. Hernandez. It tells a remarkable story with precision and perseverance, presenting a brilliant, experience driven narrative with deeply personal compassion and powerfully persuasive insight.

I immediately tracked down Mr. Hernandez and asked him to visit Oakhurst. He said he would be pleased to do so.

The next monthly meeting of the Oakhurst Democratic Club will be this Saturday, June 3rd, at Denny’s on Highway 41 with breakfast starting at 8:30 AM and program beginning at 9:30.

Our featured speaker will be Tim Z. Hernandez, author of “All They Will Call You”, a history of the 1948 plane crash in Los Gatos Canyon that killed 28 migrant workers.

Recipient of numerous national book awards, Hernandez is an American writer, poet and performer. Tim was raised in the San Joaquin Valley, the son of migrant farm workers. In his adolescent years he became immersed in school plays and recitation, eventually studying poetry and performance at California State University in Long Beach.

Mr. Hernandez earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Writing and Literature from Naropa University — the first accredited Buddhist institute in the West. He holds a Master of Fine Arts Degree from Bennington College in Vermont and is currently an Assistant Professor in Creative Writing at the University of Texas in El Paso.

His books and research have been featured in the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, Public Radio International and NPR’s “All Things Considered.”

The general public is enthusiastically encouraged to attend.

Anne Driscoll of Branches Books & Gifts is celebrating the store’s Fourth Year Anniversary this weekend and has ordered copies of “All They Will Call You” — offering a special 20% discount to those mentioning Mr. Hernandez’ Oakhurst appearance. If you buy one, be sure to have it at the meeting for signing.

See you Saturday. Bring friends. It’s free!

 “This land is your land, this land is my land. 

From California to the New York island.

From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters.

This land was made for you and me.”

 Woody Guthrie — “This Land” — (1940)

“Tripping With Trump”

May 21, 2017

Bow

Jared is scared.

Along with being the President’s son-in-law and Ivanka’s marginally honorable husband, Jared “The Kid” Kushner is or may soon be the “subject of interest” referenced late last week in the Washington Post.

Accordingly to the multi-sourced report, a “senior White House adviser close to the President” is under scrutiny in connection with the newly configured probe into certain Russian connections between the Trump organization and Donny’s pal, Putin.

The Kid and Ivanka are together personally worth around $700 million, so whatever Jared might have dared was undoubtedly prompted more by love than money. Overlooking this romantic aside, when Kushner sought top-secret security clearance in becoming his Liar-in-Law’s senior adviser, he was required to list in writing all encounters with senior government officials over the last seven years. This was tantamount to sworn testimony. It says right on FBI Standard Form 86, “Knowingly falsifying or concealing material facts is a federal felony that may result in fines or up to five years imprisonment.” Whoops. The Kid left a few things out.

In what must have been a temporary burst of amicable amnesia, Kushner neglected to include dozens of dalliances, including a meeting only weeks before with Russian ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak (there he is again) and the head of Vnesheconombank, Russia’s state owned bank. That would be yet another Sergey, Sergey N. Gorkov, whose credentials include graduation with honors from Russia’s top spy school, Moscow’s Andropov Institute. It is said to achieve distinction at The Institute, one must learn to disappear in an empty room. Impressive.

Kushner’s assumedly apoplectic attorneys have since referenced these omissions as being “inadvertent” – brought about by a “premature submission.” There are certain things with which one must learn to take more time.

Whether or not Jared ever cared to update his data, there he was as usual — right down front in Riyadh at the beginning of Trump’s widely heralded first big trip overseas, dripping in golden opulence and staggering splendor in the court of King Salamander. Yes, things kicked off in Saudi Arabia, home of Mecca, Mohammed and 15 of the 19 terrorists who brought down the Twin Towers on 9/11. This Memorial Day Weekend, we should not forget. Never.

Trump presented an amazingly subdued address to the assembled Muslim leaders, more than a few being despotic dictators, but what’s gruesome to some may be unrestrained guidance to others – surely nothing that forbids friendship.  This “Donald on Downers” was much more laid back than I’ve ever seen – appearing more embalmed than emboldened. Not a bad look.

While being lavishly entertained like the monarch he seeks to be, Trump was joined by his Secretary of Commerce, 79 year-old Wilbur Ross, Jr., prancing about like Flopsy and Mopsy during an official Saudi victory dance, ceremonial swords held high or, in Wilbur’s case, about halfway up. Speaking of which, Wilbur was there with his third wife, the blond and beautiful Hillary (ironic, eh?) Ross. Mrs. Ross III, is said to be a “fixture of Washington and Palm Beach” and a “Power Society Hostess.”

Wilbur is worth several billion bucks, much of which he earned investing in corporate takeovers costing thousands of American workers their jobs, staging career executions on cue – carving up assets and bleeding pension funds to the last penny. Wilbur offers a prime example of vulture capitalism at its worst — awful, but lawful. And our current Secretary of Commerce was only two short years ago Vice-Chairman of the Bank of Cyprus — generally recognized as being primarily created to launder dark Russian money with deep ties to Vlad the Bad. It is heavily rumored that, in many ways, as Vice-Chairman of the Bank, Ross reported directly to Putin.

There’s one thing certain about the parties in Saudi.  Everyone there had big money. Lots of it. Lots. That brings me to Netflix.

 ‘Get Me Roger Stone” just came on line for streaming. Watch it more than once. It pretty much explains everything we are experiencing in the hallucinogenic-like, mind-mauling horror of our 45th President as we continue tripping with Trump.

Accordingly to the Washington Times, Stone recently admitted that he has been in private communications with Russian-connected hackers into Democratic National Headquarters. Stone also boasts of having a “back channel” to Julian Assange — Wiki-leaker extraordinaire.

Roger Stone goes back to Goldwater. He is a colorful cockroach of a character – delightfully diabolical. You can’t help but marvel at his manipulative genius, while sadly recalling the immortal words of P.T. Barnum, “You will never go broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”

Die-hard Trump fans?

You’ve been played.