My hair is longer than it has ever been before, and I’ve been considering going rasta and trying dreadlocks again, or maybe allowing dreadlocks to form, since I’ve heard that if I don’t do anything—including combing or brushing it—dreads will happen with no effort on my part. “You see what can happen when you don’t brush your hair?”
I met a young woman once whose dreads were neat and orderly enough to satisfy my old-school leanings, and I complimented her. She was old-school enough to respond politely and new-school enough to give me some new information. She said that a friend of hers had cautioned her about referring to them as “dreads” or “dreadlocks,” because of the words’ etymology. She said the terms had come about because the Europeans, presumably English, who first encountered people with hair like that had found the look “dreadful.” So her friend had told her that she shouldn’t say “dreads.” Silly. I don’t know if any of it is true, and it’s silly anyway.
No sane person thinks of dreadlocks as “dreadful.” I used to, but I’m not so crazy anymore. I remember approving of dreadlocks primarily because I thought they made me look better for lack of them.
Last year my son made dreads for me. My hair wasn’t very long then, and I didn’t find the pickaninny look flattering, but the dreads had to go for a different reason altogether—dreadlocks are a lot of work. Making each dreadlock is as tedious as one might want, and after hours of work it’s still not over because, left alone, the dreadlocks would start to come apart. I had thought that with a head start the dreadlocks would be delighted to stay that way, if they were on their way there anyway, but no. The initial teasing and wrapping and massaging is the beginning of what looked at the time like a lifetime of careful tending, which sent chills down my spine, and after a week or so I undid all his good work and settled for a tiny ponytail. My ponytail is a few inches long now, and I might be ready to try dreads again, but probably not. Now my son has dreads, as does his lover and their housemate. I admire their hair.
I watch a lot of stuff on YouTube and Netflix and sometimes Hulu, and I’ve run across some gems that you might not like and that I’ll tell you about anyway. I love Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and “Veep” is as well written and smart as she deserves. Tony Hale as her assistant is a bonus.
“True Detective” is dark and gritty and as well done as anything that’s ever been. I admit cringing occasionally and putting off an episode until I thought I was ready, but I couldn’t stop watching altogether. It’s as good as “The Sopranos.” It’s as good as “Breaking Bad” or “Rome.” It’s probably as good as “Game of Thrones,” but I haven’t seen it yet.
I have a penchant for British television, and there’s hardly anything better than “QI” or “Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge” or “The Catherine Tate Show” or “Mock the Week” or “Clatterford” or “Absolutely Fabulous” or “A Bit of Fry and Laurie” or “That Mitchell and Webb Look” or “Black Adder” or “Never Mind the Buzzcocks.” Take heed.Leave the first comment ▶
This year I’m especially thankful for the autumn colors. Back in Chicago when I was learning to make photographs, I made an annual trip out to a particular wooded area because the trees there were reliably spectacular. Now, I can be as awed by a particular leaf as by a forest, and a November Ginkgo can make me laugh out loud.
I’m thankful for the birds in the flyway—American Coots, Snow Geese, Turkey Vultures, Black-crowned Night Herons, Greater White-fronted Geese, House Sparrows, Ross’s Geese, Canada Geese, Herring Gulls, American Widgeons, Gadwalls, Eurasian Widgeons, Mallards, Blue-winged Teals, Buffleheads, Northern Shovelers, Cinnamon Teals, Ruddy Ducks, Red-tailed Hawks, Sandhill Cranes, Ring-billed Gulls, Snowy Egrets, Red-winged Blackbirds, Sandpipers, Bald Eagles, Redheads, and Northern Pintails. I really like the way they’re just themselves, unlike many of us.
I’m grateful for rain, especially here and now. I’m hardly ever aware that the water I drink is practically as old as Earth. That whatever water there is on Earth is all there’s ever gonna be, be it polluted, pure, or inaccessible, seems harsh and fair, and whenever it rains, I’m glad.
I’m grateful for my car, which runs well at eighteen. I think it knows that it’s only a big repair away from a junkyard, because gas and insurance are all I can afford. Meanwhile, I try to keep it clean and talk nice to it. So far, so good. Say hello if you see it.
I’m grateful for my family and friends. You may be one, but probably not. If you aren’t a friend of mine—Facebook doesn’t count—don’t sweat it. You’re likely not missing much, and I have plenty of friends, and by plenty I don’t mean many so much as enough for me—not very many at all. You handful of stalwarts make all the difference.
I’m grateful for my stuff generally and my bike specifically. I think I have a lot of stuff, although I know I’m a piker next to many. Lately, when I think about my stuff it’s generally been with an eye to getting rid of it, which is still a goal. Now I try to pay attention to the stuff I most enjoy and appreciate whatever pleasure it provides me. Sometimes it doesn’t, and out it goes. My laptop is my main thing and takes precedence over my car. A carless life is easier to imagine than a computerless life, although I could do without both. Yes, I could too.
I love my books. I’ve gotten rid of stacks of books, and, though I stringently restrict the influx of new books, I still have stacks on shelves and the floor of books I have yet to read. Something makes me want to read what I have before I bring any more in the house, maybe my mother, now that I think of it. I don’t keep a count, but I have fewer books than I did, say, five years and more than I had last summer. I fluctuate.
I’m thankful for Hobbes, our cat. He’s friendly and good-natured and a constant model of how to just be. Hobbes eats and plays and pokes around into things, and still he’s mostly just being, lying there in the sun.
I’m mostly grateful for being able to write this, and thank you for reading it. A lot of things have to go just right for this to happen, and a missed connection between any number of nerve endings could render me null and void right now and I wouldn’t even get to save the file.5 comments so far, add yours ▶
Politicians all over the country are trying to decide how to spend government revenue, including the Chico Silly Council. That’s mostly what they do anyway, but there’s not nearly as much to spend as there used to be just a few years ago, so something’s got to go, mostly poor people.
I want to try deep democracy, where we vote with our tax dollars the way corporations vote for legislators with their dollars. We would directly choose the way our taxes will be spent, as opposed to leaving everything up to a politician we’ve never met and wouldn’t want to be around anyway.
So I could send money for, say, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Endowment for the Arts and nothing for the White House—no maids, no cooks, no groundskeepers. Anything for Social Security, plenty for national parks and community radio and public television. Nothing for the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the National Security Agency, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and all government public relations departments—nothing.
I’d gladly pay for real universal health care, as opposed to the mandatory health insurance we’ve got now. Nothing for juntas here or there, enough for public schools run by parents, a lot for private tutors and apprenticeships. Nothing for the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marines—nothing. A little for the Coast Guard and local police, but no domestic tanks, especially in Butte County.
Corporate taxes can serve as proportional matching funds to allow lower individual income-tax rates, so we’d get more bang for our half-a-buck. Politicians clearly don’t care what we think, so if we all pay the same amount we’d pay anyway except we pay it directly to the people doing what we want done, we can send the bozos home for good. We just need the right app.
I’d eliminate pension plans for all government employees, especially elected officials, in favor of a ramped-up Social Security system for everybody, even scum. Governments and I will settle up once a year, like we do now, and that’ll be that. No deductions, only popular wars, less flim-flam.
Local deep democracy means that you can direct your exorbitant parking fine as you see fit, ditto for property and sales tax. With salaries displayed on government workers’ uniforms and i.d. badges, we’ll all be in a better position to know who’s useful and who isn’t.
Meanwhile, my family are determined to stand tall in the face of worldwide threats of terrorism. We will, of course, continue to upgrade our arsenal, probably moving this year to fully automatic weaponry capable of firing more bullets faster than ever, and we’ll certainly be wanting the newest, most patriotic ammunition to keep ourselves in line. This is no time for freedom.
At my house, it’s too bad about our food budget, but after our teeth fall out we won’t be able to eat so much anyway, so I expect it’ll all turn out good in the end, which might be sooner than we think.2 comments so far, add yours ▶
The capitalists swept into office, and the Chico Silly Council is about to be sillier than ever. The exploiters must be licking their lips.
I bet we’re gonna see higher parking rates, and then they’ll find a way to build another parking structure and eliminate the Green Line and screw the Farmers’ Market and raise the height restriction and turn us into Reno. Watch and see.
First, we’ll be lucky if we don’t end up with a permanent swat team downtown to find parking for Zucchini & Vine’s suckers. There’ll be no sitting except at new metered benches. For a quarter you can sit for fifteen minutes, then steel bands will pop out and hold you until another quarter is inserted in the slot, which you now can’t reach.
We’ll no doubt get more cops, and I bet they won’t be professional social workers—which they totally should be—and will instead be poorly trained and ill-suited to dealing with people in extremis. They may also be privately paid for and directed.
I’m don’t expect transparency in city government, although we deserve it. I’d like to see all of the council’s expenses online every month. That’s not hard to do. I also want to know where the council members live, not their addresses, although that ought to be public information and probably is. I just want to know in what part of town they live. Does any council member live in Chapmantown? In Barber? Downtown? Why is that?
As staunch capitalists, the Silly Council majority is bound to look for ways to get other capitalists to bring holy capital to Chico, where the Silly Council members can at least smell it. There’ll be tax incentives all over the place. The deals are in the air.
Poor people are gonna have to suck it, as always, because most of the Silly Council don’t know from poor and don’t care. The way Sean Morgan feels about feeding the hungry—and perhaps the other extremes of Jesus of Nazareth—the homeless are in for a hard winter in these parts. A fresh crop of ordinances is just around the corner. Do not sit down. Do not dare to lie down. Don’t eat, either. Maybe we could hire the homeless to police the homeless. They’d probably work cheap, and capitalists like that.
I support paying poor people— obviously the only people who’d want such work—to clean the streets, with brooms and carts like the old days. That nerve-racking din from the ugly white behemoth that cleans our streets now would go away. People cleaning would be quiet, or we’d fire them, and wouldn’t pollute nearly like a street-cleaning truck does. Some of those people on the streets anyway could make themselves useful and make a buck at the same time.
As much as anything the Council might even consider, I want city employees’ salaries printed on their uniforms or i.d. badges. There’s no good reason not to.2 comments so far, add yours ▶
The End Of The World As We Know It. I found that on a survivalist web site when I was browsing “moneyless societies.” Money-obsessed society we know well, and
it sucks there’s room for improvement.
Janice didn’t much like money and would have loved to live without it. Based on our bank balances over the years, she damn near did. She liked to barter, introduced me to thrift stores, and I bet would like Copiosis. I hardly ever guess about what Janice would or wouldn’t like or think, but I’d put money on this one, at least for the time being.
A friend mentioned Copiosis some months ago as an economic system without money, which it is, mostly. It also incorporates anarchism, and that self-reliance, freedom, and shared responsibility appeal to me even more than killing the Federal Reserve Bank, which appeals to me a great deal.
I’ve been talking and conference-calling about Copiosis for a while now, and I’m only just starting to think I might know a couple of things. First, it’s enormously complex. Everything depends on the Algorithm (from a book by Al Khwarizmi, the Persian scholar who refined algebra and explained Hindu numbers and mathematics), the formula that attempts to quantify social reputation for every person. That’s right.
The idea is that we’d all be rewarded individually by society to the extent that each of us benefited other people or the Earth. How can that be reasonable and fair? That’s what we’re trying to find out.
Fortunately, it’s also open-source, and enough people can handle the data involved. Actually, that everything about Copiosis is open-source and available for anybody’s scrutiny makes a big difference to me. There’s so much government secrecy, from the National Security Agency to the Chico Silly Council, that complete transparency—I think government employees’ pay should be on their uniforms and i.d. cards—is all I’m interested in.
Copiosis requires no government. Nobody’s in charge, even now. There’s a founder, and a little working group and that’s about it, maybe fifteen people. The founder, Perry Gruber, directs things more or less, but just barely. Things are starting to stir, and I suspect he’s mostly just keeping up. The plan calls for some sort of organization to assign each person’s reward as determined by the Algorithm, but the people involved have no authority and no other responsibility.
Copiosis also promises everyone access at no cost to what are considered the necessities of life—healthcare, clothing, education, shelter, and food. It sounds far out, and that’s fine with me. It’s got to be far out to be worth a damn. Fiddling with the system we’ve got is like painting a sinking ship.
Frankly, I’d be surprised if a Copiosis society as planned ever thrives worldwide. I’d also be surprised if Copiosis doesn’t turn out to be the impetus for big changes in the way we do things. The discussions I’ve had and the little I’ve read make me think that, win or lose, Copiosis is an idea worth refining. Perry Gruber is gonna talk at 1078 Gallery, 820 Broadway in Chico, Wednesday, November 5, at 6. Come decide for yourself, before the SHTF.6 comments so far, add yours ▶
I collect political flyers and whatnot whenever an election is imminent, though they’re never eminent or immanent. I don’t keep them, I just want to see how the local printers are doing. This year’s cards and brochures are the fanciest yet, all of them four-color on heavy stock. Forough Molina’s material was the smallest, and so far Mark Sorensen and the money slate—Sorensen, Fillmer, and Coolidge—have the biggest propaganda with letter-size heavy card stock. I think of Coolidge, Fillmer, and Sorensen as the money slate because they seem to care more about money than anything else on Earth.
Why do the candidates think that bright colors will work for them? Maybe because they do. Running for office is said to be expensive, and apparently the more spent, the better the chances of winning. I haven’t seen any data, though, and I wonder if it’s just hearsay. Mark Sorensen has spent quite a few dollars on a slick presentation. At least he doesn’t dye his hair, although he’s still kinda whiny and blamey and drear.
I saw all of the candidates a couple of weeks ago at a League of Women Voters forum, and I made snap judgments as I saw fit. First, Heidi Hall might be too sharp for the people who have been supporting Dough LaMalfa, although she’s got some big, flashy cards that might sway them. I got some mailing or other from Dough that I think I repurposed to scoop cat litter. He’s not one of us, except in the most cosmic way.
I can’t imagine being persuaded to vote for someone because of the high quality of his flyers. I can imagine you doing it, though, and that’s why Dough sent me only one flyer and gave up, although it was pretty stiff and water-resistant, just the thing for big clumps in the litter box.
I still think if money, well spent or otherwise, is that big a deal in determining the outcome of an election, we’re screwed, as if you didn’t know. We the people are easily led, entertained, distracted, deceived, and bamboozled if you spend enough money, or you could just say you could do it if you wanted to because you’ve got all this money, and corporate media would anoint you anyway.
Andrew Coolidge might be a hologram. Reanette Fillmer is blonde, mostly, apparently a successful capitalist too, and still mainly a blonde. I like Lupe Arim-Law’s concern for the homeless, and I like Rodney Willis’s hat.
I’m still trying to like Scott Gruendl, although he once crossed the street to avoid me. His final spiel at the forum in the Silly Council room asked for our vote to keep the bad guys—Mark Sorenson, Sean Morgan, and Mary Goloff, I guess—from gaining a majority with the election of another candidate from the Tea Party slate—Fillmer, Coolidge, and Sorensen. I suppose Gruendl is better than any of them, although he’s turned into a politician, and we don’t need any more of them. I also got a flyer that called for the firing of Scott Gruendl, an usual mailing not obviously tied to any other candidate.
Hell no on A. Oh, well, I suppose so on B. No on 46.4 comments so far, add yours ▶
I saw my first jail in the early fifties with Cub Scout Troop 3588. Mr. McDowell—who later turned out to have a daughter too fine to shit—took us. I don’t remember much except the gloom and the astonishing thickness of the bars. It was just the lockup at our local police station at 93rd and Cottage Grove, but for eight- and nine-year-olds, it was San Quentin.
I next saw the inside of a jail nearly twenty years later with Pudgy Thompson in Chicago on a tour of the Cook County Jail. It was huge, grimy, dark, and loud. Pudgy knew Winston Moore, the notorious warden who took us around, and we got a good look at whatever he wanted us to see. The bars didn’t seem as thick as they had when I was nine, though plenty thick enough to contain any human. It once again occurred to me that whatever else I might do in life, one of the main things I wanted to do was stay the hell out of jail, and I consider that one of my major accomplishments to date.
I recently got a look at the Butte County Jail on a tour with the Butte County Behavioral Health Advisory Board. I was surprised. First, there ain’t any gloom in the Butte County Jail, other than the occasional attitude, I suppose. All of the walls and ceilings are light-colored and everything is brightly, fluorescently lit, and spotless.
The decor and spaces are Institutional Bland, which is understandable and unimaginative. I wonder what, say, Frank Gehry might do for a jail. Meanwhile, I’ve got to say that the Butte County Jail seems to be doing a reasonable job, given what the job is. Of course, everybody had known for a month which hour that Wednesday we would be there, so there wasn’t gonna be any blood on the walls.
Lately I had been thinking that locking people up is mostly a racket fed by biased prosecutors and judges and seen to mostly by bullies, goons, sadists, and now corporations. Now I’m not so sure. I thought there was a better way to deal with human transgression, and I daresay there might be, but I don’t know what that is.
We didn’t know what anybody had done to be there, although we did learn the code that determines what color clothing an inmate wears, fashionably orange more often than not. We saw a lot of inmates in various stages of their stays, intake and assessment and solitary and the protected populations alone and together.
I’m hardly ever afraid of anything or anybody, but when I saw one inmate in a little cell with his face at the glass and got close enough to look in his eyes, I was immensely grateful that he was on the other side of a serious steel door. He might be a genius or a budding saint, fine, just don’t let him out just yet. I’m real sorry he’s in that little room. That couldn’t be helping him much, except maybe keeping him from being hurt or killed by somebody who saw him coming and was in a position to do something definitive about it, but meanwhile please keep him behind that door, thank you. Don’t hurt him and don’t let him out.
We can’t know what it’s like for inmates with various mental illnesses. We heard mostly how things are set up and how the process works. It all made sense, of course, the way they explained it. We had several professional whatnots, a few lieutenants, a captain, and the sheriff his own self, and they all know how to explain. We even got a few words from the guy who owns California Forensic Medical Group, the company we—and twenty-six other counties—pay to handle mental health issues at the county jail. This guy’s got at least twenty-seven contracts and gets to Oroville about once a quarter.
I’m sure the Butte County Jail could be better and worse for people who’d do better as mental patients than inmates, and I think that’s more people than we know. I hope the Board can help institutional evolution along and get people with a mental illness what makes sense for them, courtesy of Butte County. Did you know that Medi-Cal stops when you go to jail? That’s absurd.3 comments so far, add yours ▶
I first saw Forough Molina (fuh-ROO mo-LEE-nah) when she asked for my support at the Farmers’ Market one morning, and I promised to look her up online. I liked her, although she looked me right in the eye, an old trick. I once met a governor of Illinois who was later convicted of some shenanigans, or maybe folderol, and I most remember his piercing stare. It was nearly hypnotic and he was a thief and a charlatan the whole time. Molina didn’t seem like that, just direct.
I saw her the next time at the forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters in the Chico Silly Council room, and then she and I talked on a bench at One Mile. I was thinking of writing about her candidacy, but for the hour or so we sat there and the week since I haven’t thought up words to do her justice. She’s a benign tsunami, kind and warm and relentless. I bet she’s a tough teacher.
Here’s where I get to mention Miz Richie, an English teacher I had at the end of high school. We knew Miz Richie was immaculately dressed and accessorized and made-up, and looking at my yearbook fifty years later I realized she was also mighty fine, though just out of range for sixteen-year-old perceptions. Miz Richie has nothing to do with Forough Molina, except she was a tough teacher, too, and I wanted to give her late props.
Molina asked me why I wanted her to win, and I said because I got a good vibe from her at the Farmers’ Market, and she seemed like a regular person, believable, with manageable neuroses, and tough, too.
Sometime there on the bench she mentioned having raced bicycles, and so what I thought was a certain temper, as with steel, was exactly that. Bicycle racers are tough mothers. Another snap judgment supported. She was also riding a 1970s-era Schwinn, my hometown brand. I’m a certified Schwinn Service Specialist, so her wheels gained her a lot of cred with me.
Molina grew up poor in Chico, which I bet no other candidate can claim and which is reason enough to vote her onto the Silly Council. We didn’t talk about many issues. She actually knows what public schools are for and that police need better training, and that’ll do for the time being. Forough Molina strikes me as someone who might not last long as a Silly Council member and who will be a big help while she’s there.
As much as anything, I trust her. I don’t mean I’d rely on her in all situations. With my child? Absolutely. In a gun fight, maybe not. I don’t expect to agree with her decisions on the council all the time, though that would be nice. I trust that how she votes will be because of what she feels is best for ordinary people in Chico. The wealthy and business owners have plenty of influence on, in, and throughout the Chico Silly Council. I trust Forough Molina to represent those of us with no business, few skills, half-assed healthcare, and no cash reserve. When she wins.One comment so far, add another ▶
I haven’t paid much attention to politics the last few years. Actually I’ve avoided it more often than not, but local politicians’ shenanigans interest me, and I went to the candidates’ forum done by the League of Women Voters in the Chico Silly Council room last week. The place was packed.
I went to see Heidi Hall and Dough LaMalfa, who are running for the House of Reprehensibles, and I accidentally hit the jackpot. I didn’t know about any other participants until I got there and found that the League of Women Voters had included candidates for the Chico Unified School District Board and the Chico Silly Council. Mark Twain allegedly said, “In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made school boards.” He said that a long time ago, too.
I got to sit for three hours listening to mostly blather, and even when it wasn’t blather it sounded like blather—and now and then, drivel—because everybody used the same frame of reference and agreed on the basics. Some of them seemed sincere, which I know can be practiced, and some of them were obviously full of it, or maybe themselves. They all believe in the essential goodness of the system although they think it’s broken in some way that they can fix. My kind of politician is anybody who supports eliminating the body to which she wants to be elected.
Three candidates for the Chico School Board showed up, as did seven candidates for the Chico Silly Council. What a bunch. There had been four candidates for the CUSD board, but one of them withdrew her candidacy, perhaps the wisest of the lot.
Dough LaMalfa is not one of us, unless you’re him. He said, “I’m from the neighborhood.” but I don’t think he was talking to you. He’s fine with fracking—never mind all the water used and the poisons involved, it makes us less dependent on foreign sources. Saying that Dough LaMalfa might be simple might be libelous, so I won’t.
LaMalfa’s also not so sure about this global-warming flap, temperatures have always varied, et cetera. I can’t argue with that last bit. Some talk about climate-change deniers like heretics and, like Ms. Hall, cite numbers to back up the notion that people have made the Earth hotter. I don’t put much stock in numbers on a little screen, no matter what they’re supposed to mean. I think that’s part of my fogeydom, and I’m delighted.
I don’t care whether Earth is warming up or not. Nor do I care what role people played, and I definitely don’t care that an organization of Catholic bishops has agreed to blame global warming on us—small potatoes next to original sin—which Ms. Hall thought worth mentioning, along with the concurrence of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense. It must be so. All the experts say so. What flavor is the Kool-Aid™?
I think the adjustments thought necessary to counteract global warming make sense and seem mindful of the effects of materialistic capitalism and capitalistic materialism. That’s why I recycle and don’t let the water run while I brush my teeth. I don’t care what Homeland Security says, or ninety-seven per cent of the scientific climate-change experts in all of Creation, for that matter.
You want to be careful voting for the candidates for the Chico Silly Council, because a couple of them are a little loose around the edges, not quite tucked in all the way. They would liven things up, though, which would be worth the risk, and they can count on my vote.
Where the hell are the socialists when we need them? Or any other “-ist,” for that matter, including communists—communism didn’t fail; the Soviet Union failed—though no damned “-arians,” except vegetarians. I’d vote for a vegetarian.4 comments so far, add yours ▶