FORTUNA POLICE arrested a marijuana guy driving a Toyota and pulling a trailer on Halloween. The stop inspired the following exchange on Lost Coast Outpost:
"Anybody driving a Toyota truck that is towing is a dope grower. People that work for a living and need to tow don't even consider using a girl's truck to do it with.These silly dope growers profile themselves with Toyotas, stickers on the back glass, smelly pit bulls in the cab, sunglasses on the back of a tap-out hat, and clean carharts on."
That remark elicited this response:
"Other silly dope growers wear wranglers, cowboy boots and a cowboy hat and drive a flatbed diesel truck. Some wear nice clothes because they work a 9-5 job and drive an Acura. Some drive diesel trucks with headache racks and wear all sorts of different clothes. Some look just like loggers with their cut-off-sleeve shirts and drive toyotas or nissan trucks with dog kennels in the back for bear hunting. Some wear different uniforms and drive government cars. Some wear uniforms and drive company cars. Some dress like grandparents and drive nice cars. Anybody towing a trailer is a dope grower. Anyone seen outside of work on a weekday afternoon is a dope grower. Anyone with short hair is a dope grower."A COUNTY PRESS RELEASE announcing Tuesday's discussions at this week's meeting of the Supervisors, said the Supervisors will discuss assurances to new businesses that local nimbys won't get in their way. "Manufacturers and other industries are 'often' discouraged from establishing operations in Mendocino County 'by local residents who have located themselves near to an industrial zone and who ardently object to any disturbance to their lifestyle,' according to the staff report." Dear County Government: Please give us so much as a single name of a single business that was scared off Mendocino County because of neighbor complaints.IN OTHER SUPERVISOR BUSINESS, "the board will consider appointing two of its members to an ad-hoc committee that would be tasked with reviewing all currently available information regarding the operation and releases of water from Lake Mendocino as well as downriver diversions in Sonoma County. The ad hoc would look at information that isn't immediately publicly available and make recommendations "on what information the Mendocino County Water Agency needs to fully understand the releases and diversions in the Russian River in both Mendocino and Sonoma counties, and take no further action beyond meeting with Sonoma County officials to request said information."
WE NOMINATE SUPERVISORS PINCHES AND GJERDE. Pinches because he knows as much about how the wildly unfair-to-Mendocino County water releases are, and Supervisor Gjerde because he represents the district least affected by inland water policies. Gjerde is also thorough and fair. Supervisors McCowen and Brown, and we're speculating here, are reluctant to take on existing water arrangements because their districts are home to major users who, essentially, have enjoyed virtually free water for a hundred years. Supervisor Hamburg is too busy investigating why Building 7 collapsed to look into water policy.IT'S ESTIMATED that the latest cuts to the Food Stamp Program, now called Calfresh in California, will cost the average family $36 worth of food a month, or about six meals a month. Republicans, of course, have always claimed that the program was rife with the undeserving, and name a Republican who's ever missed a meal and we'll get the Mendocino Democratic Central Committee to take you to lunch with Wes Chesbro. Which is both a cheap shot and an expensive one since Democrats largely went along with cuts to the Food Stamp Program as they gear up to "compromise" with Republicans to cut Social Security and Medicare. Fact is, the largest bloc of food stamp recipients are children, but in the bipartisan war being waged on the poor, children are just more collateral damage. At last count, Mendocino County had about 10,000 people, or 12% of its total nearly 90,000 population, receiving food stamps. The available data does not say how many of those 10,000 are children. According to those same statistics, the 10,000 food stamp recipients are only about half of the approximately 20,000 living in family with less than 125% of the federal poverty level of annual income.SPEAKING of the war on the poor, Ukiah's only homeless shelter, the Buddy Eller Center, has lost a big hunk of federal funding because, according to Tiffany Revelle's story in today's Ukiah Daily Journal, the shelter "no longer provides services for those with mental illnesses, making Ukiah's shelter less competitive in a world where it needed more of an edge -- not less of one -- to vie nationally for a shrinking pot of federal dollars."ADVICE FOR TRIMMERS
A READER WRITES: I've been trimming for an old retired couple for about 25 years. They lent me out to a new group where I saw the following announcement on the wall. "If you own and use a cellphone, please leave it at home or disconnect the battery before driving here. If you cannot remove your battery and refrain from cellphone usage while en route, and while working here, we cannot hire you. Never take an active cellphone on your person or in your belongings, to the patch, or trim sites. Taking an active cell phone with you to a work site is like wearing a FED-sponsored GPS, tracking your route. Always remove your cellphone battery while working for us. Please also leave your cars at home; carpool or get a drop-off to work. Have someone drop you off and pick you up at designated pre-arranged times. We work from 10-2pm. When the Sheriffs cruise our neighborhood for the DEA, we don't want our scene seen in cyberspace. Please, for prompt payment, don't be sloppy with the confidentiality of our livelihood. Please refrain from discussion of the nature of our business outside of work, or that you are privately paid to work for us. That extra $5 of your hourly pay is for your silence! Thank you." That's that WWII mentality for you. A little more careful. And don't hang out and blab at the coffeehouses!DINNERwhich includes lending money (which he is now repaying), cooking for us and for three potluck events weekly, being involved in the downstairs space which is the campaign headquarters office, and countless other details. At this point I have given all that I have, and am looking to move on to my next highest good. One woman whom I interact online with in Washington DC today asked me to stop sending her the same message over and over again she suggests that I essentially regroove my life to get out of the poverty-activist-without- necessary-solidarity-from-others who wants to be back in Washington DC on a permanent basis, and who has no housing in the District of Columbia, due to a couple of reasons, all of which are difficult to accept. So therefore, I am sending out a new message. I want you to do whatever you can to assist me in moving on to my next highest good! I am doing all that I can do now. Whereas you must certainly be able to positively influence this situation of mine in postmodern America, I am asking you to do so. Thank you very much for allowing me to ask you for this, when so much more is possible.-- Love and peace, Craig Louis StehrLOU REED & THAT JUNKIE LIFE
The Spike in Our VeinsI was five years old when was released in 1967, so it wasn't really high on my rotation or my radar. As a matter of fact, the only thing I knew of Lou Reed prior to the early 1990s when I discovered Velvet Ground & Nico was his infamous song "Walk on the Wild Side."
As a girl who spent her teen years on the streets, ran with androgynous queers, queens and other sexual misfits, and displaced my own sexuality onto drugs and punk rock, I thought "Walk on the Wild Side" was an anthem of my rebellious spirit that bucked against all systems, screamed for freedom, and flipped a big middle finger to anyone who wanted to put me in a box. That song, Lou Reed, and the Velvet Underground were proto-punk and changed the sound and face of rock forever. Though I didn't know much about them, they certainly influenced my life on many levels whether I knew it or not.
Other than my love for "Walk On the Wild Side" and Velvet Underground & Nico, I'm no expert on Lou Reed, and I'm not going to pretend to be. What I can tell you is that when I discovered the album Velvet Underground2) Joy Division Closer; 3) Joy Division Unknown Pleasures; and 4) Velvet Underground2) its ability to capture a cohesive experiential moment in a multi-track LP; 3) its poetic lyrics that capture both the literal reality of life on the streets and the abstract sensation of getting high; 4) finally, and most importantly, because it is the album above all other albums that most effectively captures life on the streets and, more specifically, the life of a heroin addict. It's like the music equivalent to the film Panic In Needle Park (1972) which so perfectly captures the ups and downs of the life of the junkie. On the VU album, the layered sound of the music and the poetic lyrics capture so perfectly what it feels like to live the life of a dope addict -- the dream, the drug, the space of being propelled into a numbed nothingness that heroin delivers.
I will state straight out and without apology that I know first-hand the life of the street junkie. I spent a good chunk of my teenage years putting a needle in my arm and hunting for my next fix. I can say, as any living former junkie can tell you, that shooting heroin feels like nothing else. You never stop wanting it, no matter how many years of sobriety you have under your belt. Heroin is the Great Seductress. Once she has you in her clutches, it is almost impossible to let go. It feels so damn good that all you want is more, more, and then more, and you'll do anything to get it. Heroin is the "Femme Fatale" of all drugs. She gets you in her grip, lures you into her bed, covers you with a blanket of dark kisses that lead you into the darkness of oblivion, and then she keeps you groveling for more.
Here she comes, you better watch your step . She's going to break your heart in two, it's true.It's not hard to realize.Just look into her false colored eyes . She builds you up to just put you down, what a clown.
I will pull no punches here when I say what I'm about to say about Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground. The more conscious I became of class, the less enamored I became of the whole idea of Andy Warhol's Factory. In my early years, I totally fetishized it. Imagine the glitter-glam world of art films, art bands, false eyelashes, and endless dope floating in silver balloons. I thought if I could ever go anywhere in the past, it would be a party at The Factory.
But now, after years of understanding the nuances of class and, in particular, class divisions within the art scene, I can say that if I went to a party at Andy Warhol's factory, I'd probably be pretty miserable. What The Factory produced was a lot of elitist art snobs. It was a very elite insulated culture created by artist insiders wearing the guise of outsiders.
Lou Reed liked to play off his sexuality as being "bisexual" or "homosexual," but the truth of the matter is that Lou Reed was straight as a ruler. He used "alternative sexuality" as a marketing scheme. His true lover was his drugs, but that can be said about any junkie, so this is no condemnation of Lou Reed. The only "lay" the junkie wants is the one with a needle in his or her arm. Lou Reed may have been hanging out with queers and trannies, but when it came time to getting penetrated, he was getting it on with the needle. That's largely why he was still alive to produce art in the 80s and 90s when the queer art world was dying off from AIDS.
But this doesn't mean that Lou Reed was not a ground-breaking artist. This is just a sign of the times when sexual identity was often manipulated and exploited for art and profit (see David Bowie and the New York Dolls for examples). So let me cast no stones here.
This brings me to why I love Velvet Underground & Nico so much even though it was produced by a very elite school of artists from which I would have felt completely excluded and alienated.
The needle is a great class leveler. Regardless of where you come from and where you are, when you put that needle in your arm, every junkie is the same. Whether shooting up in a back room at Andy Warhol's Factory or a skid row hotel, the feeling of the drug is absolutely the same and universal. That feeling and the experiences that accompany it are what this album captures so completely through poetic lyrics and beautifully crafted sound. The album is like a Romantic ode to heroin carved out of poetry and layers of sound. Transpose Samuel Coleridge to late 1960s New York, and he could have written the lyrics.
The Wikipedia entry on the LP describes it as an album with "a focus on controversial subject matter expressed in many of its songs including drug abuse, prostitution, sadism and masochism and sexual deviancy."
Sure, on the surface, you can give the album this read. The content is all there. But, if you listen to the album from the perspective of a junkie, the entire album is about the experience of being a heroin addict. The drug is the sex, the perversion, the deviancy. The prostitution is double-edged. Every junkie is a prostitute to the drug, and the drug often leads to prostitution for its acquisition. Velvet Underground & Nico is above all else an epic album about the heroin lifestyle and all it encompasses on a sensory and experiential level.
No doubt, Lou Reed's iconic song "Heroin" completely embodies the experience of shooting dope. The sound of the music perfectly mimics the feel of heroin coursing through your veins, from the first shot to the rush to the lull into nothingness. I can get high just listening to its build, its ebb and flows. I feel the "spike" go into my vein. I feel the rush go through my body. Even today, over 30 years after I last put a needle in my vein, I can still feel high listening to that song.
Heroin, be the death of me . Heroin, it's my wife and it's my life . Because a mainer to my vein.Leads to a center in my head.And then I'm better off than dead.Because when the smack begins to flow,I really don't care anymore.
But this isn't the only song about using heroin on the album. Every single track captures the junkie lifestyle on some level, even when you think it's Velvet Underground Lite or playing on sexual perversion.
Take "Venus In Furs." I think this might be the most accurate song about being a junkie on the album. In fact, the title of my drawing of Lou Reed is taken from lyrics to this song.
DIFFERENT COLORS MADE OF TEARS
The song title refers to the sado-masochistic novel written by Sacher-Masoch, from whom the term masochism was derived. On the surface, the song may seem like a simple parable of sexual perversion (a sexual slave being dominated by his lover), but the truth is that the mistress in this song is a drug not a human, and the slave is the junkie held in her clutches. ("Heroin -- It's my wife and it's my life.")
I am tired, I am weary.I could sleep for a thousand years . A thousand dreams that would awake me.Different colors made of tears.
Kiss the boot of shiny, shiny leather. Shiny leather in the dark . Tongue of thongs, the belt that does await you . Strike, dear mistress, and cure his heart.
Heroin, above all drugs, delivers the opiated dream, the life of sleep. You tie off your arm with the leather belt and get kissed by a tongue of thongs. You "dream the sleep of a thousand years," and you become a slave to the only thing you desire. The next high. The next spike. The belt strapped around your arm while you let your alluring mistress take over your body. Heroin is the great dominatrix, the lover you will give anything for. And you consummate that love with a belt and a needle.
Heroin is the great "Femme Fatale" - the ultimate tease who will keep you begging for more and "break your heart in two" with her "false colored eyes." She is your mistress, and you are her slave. And it feels good to give over to her so completely. If you are entirely enslaved to the drug, the rest of the world no longer matters. You can lose yourself "in a thousand dreams" until you run out, and you're left high and dry. Until you're "out on the streets again" selling your body and soul for your next high
There she goes again . She's out on the streets again . She's down on her knees, my friend . But you know she'll never ask you please againNow take a look, there's no tears in her eyes.Like a bird, you know she will fly, fly, fly away . See her walking on down the street
or standing on the corner "waiting for the man"
I'm waiting for my man . Twenty-six dollars in my hand . Up to Lexington, 125.Feeling sick and dirty, more dead than alive.
Shooting heroin is all about being dead and alive at the same time. It's about flirting with the dark side and pushing the envelope while you push in the needle. And the sound and the lyrics of this album beautifully and perfectly capture that place between life and death, where you ride the limbo land of heroin's dark waves, and everything you do is centered on keeping the waves coming. The risk is part of the thrill -- knowing that you are pushing right to the brink of death and that the danger of falling over the edge and never coming back is real. Because death is part of life for the junkie like in "Run Run Run":
Seasick Sarah had a golden nose . Hobnail boots wrapped around her toes . When she turned blue, all the angels screamedThey didn't know, they couldn't make the scene.
Even songs that seem bright and light like "Sunday Morning" are actually dark dreams of what could be and isn't because everything is shrouded in the lows of the high. Junkies aren't always passed out with needles in their arms. There are always these moments of euphoria where everything seems absolutely perfect. The glimpses of hope that at the end there really is a rainbow, but inevitably the clouds come back and the rain comes down.
Sunday morning rain is falling.Steal some covers, share some skin . And clouds are shrouding us in moments unforgettable.
What this album does so beautifully is seduce us just like a drug. The way Warhol pushed the levels to the max causing the layers of sound to blur and warp perfectly captures getting high, and the music becomes its own drug. The sound, the lyrics, the play between sex, dreams, and the reality of the street life all combine to a sensory experience that seduces us into feeling high. The music becomes the great seductress. The album is our mistress as we listen to over and over want more and more. The thrum of guitar and bass mesh like blood coursing through our veins.
The entire album - every track, every lyric, every sound embodies the life of the junkie, and that life is pretty much the same no matter who or where you are. It involves highs and lows, prostitution and desperation, sex displaced onto needles, and needles penetrating you like sex. It is living death and dreams layered on dreams. It is the great escape even when you have to go through hell to get there. You will sell your body. You will sell your soul, just to feel that spike in your vein and that rush of escape.
Lou Reed knew that feeling, that life, and he put it into lyrics with poetic brilliance.
Even after 30 years of sobriety, the feelings of getting high on heroin -- the warm burn of the first shot, the rush as the drugs go to my brain and heart -- are still real when I listen to this album. I can't listen to "Heroin" without unconsciously scratching the veins on my inner arm or feeling a wave of nausea.
What's interesting is that the album was created within an elite environment, but the aesthetics and poetics of the music transcend class. The overall "feel" of the songs is one that any junkie can relate to. The needle is the great leveler, and interestingly being a junkie transcends class on an experiential level. We're all the same with the spike in our vein.
So now, 46 years after the album came out and 30 years drug-free in my life, I can still listen to the album and feel "high." The music itself has becomes my drug even in my sobriety. I play the album and feel my body chemistry change just by immersing myself in the sound of the music. Couple the way the music feels with where I "go" when I'm making art, and the high I experience is undeniably one of the best highs of my life, especially because I am sober, and everything I do and feel is coming straight from me and not induced by synthetic external chemicals. I'm mainlining my own internal "art chemistry" combined with the sensory experience of the music. It's a kind of Art Speedball. I don't need to go "meet the man" to get what I need to get high. I get it from within myself with the soundtrack of Velvet Underground giving me a boost to push me through to the other side.
I listened to the entire Velvet Underground & Nico LP multiple times while drawing my tribute portrait of Lou Reed. And between the music and channeling my own "art chemistry" into the drawing, I was as high as I've ever been. I felt myself on the streets. I felt myself sitting in a hotel room priming the syringe for a fix. Yet, I also felt the euphoria of being alive and sober now. I was completely immersed in the present and rocking my sobriety hard as I vigorously scratched away at my drawing. The only thing I was "shooting" was a lot of black ink out of pens onto a big old piece of paper.
Interestingly, Lou Reed was sober just about the same amount of time I have been when he died this past Sunday. Yet, he never stopped channeling what he put into his music back in 1967. He just learned that you can tap the vein without the drug. I tap the vein every time I pick up a Cheap Ass Ballpoint Pen and put it to paper. I tapped the vein when I drew Lou Reed. I am tapping the vein right now as I write this. I am my own mirror:
I'll be your mirror.Reflect what you are, in case you don't know.I'll be the wind, the rain and the sunset . The light on your door to show that you're home.
When you think the night has seen your mind.That inside you're twisted and unkind.Let me stand to show that you are blind . Please put down your hands,'Cause I see you.
Sadly, it is the "source" of this great album that ultimately did Lou Reed in when his drug and alcohol abuse killed his liver. He got sober. He learned how to mainline life, but it was too late. I've been lucky. I kicked heroin cold. I kicked alcohol. I learned how to get high on life, love, art and the thrill of my own survival rather than the flirtation with my own death.
Here's to Lou's legend and to many more years of mainlining life for this old girl. Here's to you Lou Reed for giving me a place in music to understand my years on the streets and my years as a drug addict. Here's to Lou Reed for giving me a soundtrack to understand my past while also transcending it in the present. It's funny to think that Lou Reed and I shared experiences since we came from such different worlds, but the world of the junkie is the world of the junkie. Thankfully, I have discovered a clean and clear place within myself where I can channel my own chemistry into a sober high that is far better than anything I shot into my vein for a twenty dollar bill that cost so much more than the numbers printed on that green piece of paper. Here's to celebrating life in the wake of Lou's death.
(Kim Nicolini is an artist, poet and cultural critic living in Tucson, Arizona. Her writing has appeared in Bad Subjects, Punk Planet, Souciant, La Furia Umana, and The Berkeley Poetry Review. She recently published her first book, Mapping the Inside Out, in conjunction with a solo gallery show by the same name. She can be reached at .)
ADVICE FOR TRIMMERS
A READER WRITES: I've been trimming for an old retired couple for about 25 years. They lent me out to a new group where I saw the following announcement on the wall. "If you own and use a cellphone, please leave it at home or disconnect the battery before driving here. If you cannot remove your battery and refrain from cellphone usage while en route, and while working here, we cannot hire you. Never take an active cellphone on your person or in your belongings, to the patch, or trim sites. Taking an active cell phone with you to a work site is like wearing a FED-sponsored GPS, tracking your route. Always remove your cellphone battery while working for us. Please also leave your cars at home; carpool or get a drop-off to work. Have someone drop you off and pick you up at designated pre-arranged times. We work from 10-2pm. When the Sheriffs cruise our neighborhood for the DEA, we don't want our scene seen in cyberspace. Please, for prompt payment, don't be sloppy with the confidentiality of our livelihood. Please refrain from discussion of the nature of our business outside of work, or that you are privately paid to work for us. That extra $5 of your hourly pay is for your silence! Thank you." That's that WWII mentality for you. A little more careful. And don't hang out and blab at the coffeehouses!WATER BOND CAMPAIGNER REVEALS MEASURE WOULD LOSE 'PRETTY DRAMATICALLY'Joe Caves, a "campaign manager" for three successful water bonds, told attendees at a dinner of the Southern California Water Committee (SCWC) on October 24 that the bond that is currently on the 2014 ballot would lose "pretty dramatically."
The legislature doesn't have a very good record of passing successful water bonds, according to Caves. ()
"The one passed in 2009 was the first one they even managed to get a 2/3rds vote on since 2000," said Caves. "And that one was constructed in a way necessary to put legislative compromises together, but also created elements of it that created opposition to the bond."
"The polling that we did after that bond passed was such that it started out with so much baggage, it was so large, and the opposition was so significant that all of our polling showed it going down in 2010. It showed the same thing in 2012, and it's showing today that the bond that's on the 2014 ballot would go down pretty dramatically," he explained.
"The Delta opposition to the current BDCP is great enough in the Delta communities that particularly in the Bay Area and Northern California, it tends to translate into this north-south water grab issue that fundamentally doomed the peripheral canal back in 1982," said Caves. "All of our polling indicates that if that's the message that Northern California has and if there are credible messengers pushing that, it's very easy to defeat a bond, any bond."
Responding to Cave's comments, Restore the Delta (RTD), opponents of Governor Jerry Brown's peripheral tunnels that would drain the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and doom Central Valley salmon and other Pacific fisheries, called on the governor to abandon his proposed tunnels.
"Voters are not going to stick ourselves with a $7 billion bill to mitigate damage from the proposed water export tunnels," said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta. "The tunnels can't go forward without a certain source of funding to mitigate its disastrous effects."
"If voters won't approve that funding, and water-takers won't pay for the damage they'll do, then it's time to abandon this unworkable project. What now, Governor Brown? How are you going to spin the tunnels going forward?" she asked.
Tunnel opponents say the BDCP is a badly-conceived Nineteenth Century "solution" to Twenty-First Century problems that will cost Californians an estimated $54.1 billion.
The construction of the peripheral tunnels would hasten the extinction of Sacramento River Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt and green sturgeon, as well as imperil salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers. It will take vast quantities of fertile Delta farmland out of agricultural production, under the guise of "habitat restoration," to facilitate the diversion of massive quantities of water to irrigate corporate mega-farms on toxic, drainage impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, according to tunnel opponents.
Bay Delta Conservation Plan officials announced on Monday that the release of the BCCP documents, originally slated for release in mid-November 2013, has been delayed to December 13, 2013, the result of the federal shutdown. ()
Southern California Water Committee (SCWC) Background: According to the Committee's website, , "The Southern California Water Committee (SCWC) -- established in 1984 -- is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public education partnership dedicated to informing Southern Californians about our water needs and our state's water resources. Through measured advocacy, SCWC works to ensure the health and reliability of Southern California's water supply." The group is "being paid by the Brown Administration to push its tunnels," reported Restore the Delta.
For more information and action alerts, go to:IN CASE YOU FORGOT: Clocks are (were) set back one hour at 2am Sunday morning.