Category Archive 'California'
05 Oct 2020

Trans-Black Reparations Now! No Justice, No Peace!

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Godfrey Elfwick (authors’ names come out wrong in Outline) says he is a Trans-Black woman. (Actually, he is a sharp-tongued satirist writing for the British Spectator.)

On Wednesday, California became the first state government in the US to adopt a law to study and develop proposals for reparations to descendants of enslaved people and those impacted by slavery. This is positive news and I am hoping it will set an example to encourage other states to follow suit.

As a transblack individual and an immigrant to the United States, it’s pure coincidence that I’ve recently (since yesterday) been mulling over the idea of moving to California. I believe that I qualify for reparations from the white man who has kept me down and prevented me from achieving my full potential. Only the other week I applied for a position at Microsoft and was told (by a white man, probably, it was on the phone but his voice sounded pale) that I would need a degree in Computer Science to even be considered for any job other than that of a receptionist or cleaner. Now, if that’s not racism I do not know what is. It is sexism too. How is someone like me expected to obtain such a qualification when the cards are stacked so high against me? This has been proven time and time again. The moment I tell someone I am a Black woman (their ignorance and bigotry only allows them to view me as a white male), their demeanor swiftly changes and the atmosphere becomes tainted with the unmistakable stench of hostility, followed by hysterical shouting and racial slurs. Because I’m not just going to stand there while some honky crackerjack stares down their ridiculously pointy nose at me. Not once have I been given a second interview. Discrimination.

In my opinion, it’s high time the subject of reparation was taken to a federal level. I mean, if forcing white people to contribute more taxes to atone for the possible sins of their ancestors won’t end racism once and for all, I honestly do not know what will.

RTWT

04 Oct 2020

New California Law Requires Separate Restrooms For People Who Think They Are Napoleon

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Babylon Bee:

SACRAMENTO, CA—A new California law requires businesses to provide separate restrooms for people who think they are Napoleon Bonaparte.

“Not providing a separate restroom for individuals who believe they are actually the 19th-century French emperor is hateful and wrong,” said Governor Gavin Newsom as he signed the bill into law Wednesday, flanked by several people dressed as Napoleon Bonaparte. “We will no longer allow these individuals to be discriminated against.”

The restrooms will have doorways that are just over 5’7″ tall. 19th-century French classical music will be playing. When the person finishes using the restroom, a victorious military parade will be thrown in their honor as they march out of the restroom and back into the business.

“We must affirm these people’s beliefs that they are actually Napoleon,” said Newsom. “To do anything but reinforce the delusion they’ve built up around themselves is a hate crime.”

RTWT

28 Sep 2020

The Story of the Jeep That Went Viral

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A Jeep Wrangler wound up dangling from a cliff on a Southern California bike trail after somebody drove it up there at night and had to abandon it and walk out.

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The Ford Motor Company graciously offered to rescue it, and to document the rescue to use in some unaccountable way or other. One has the feeling that Ford Broncos would be involved.

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No Bronco, no helicopter! A team from the local off-road club turned up with winches, straps, shackles and more Wranglers and saved the day.

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The Drive did us all a big favor, they interviewed the driver and his brother and found out how it got there in the first place.

There’s only one question that still needs to be answered. How the hell did the Wrangler get up there in the first place?

Wonder no more. The Drive has the answer after tracking down and speaking with Car Internet’s most buzzed-about missing man this week: the Jeep’s owner, a local man named Ricky Barba. As you might’ve guessed, it all started with an ill-advised joyride to show off his rig. But there’s no way Barba could’ve known his misadventure would end up garnered nationwide attention from news stations, social media users and even corporate bigwigs.

And yes, what Barba did was dumb, incredibly dangerous, and wildly irresponsible. He could’ve easily died up there, or someone could’ve lost their life in the recovery effort. And we’re not even talking about the damage done to the bike trail, or the potential to start a brush fire at the height of fire season. Do not off-road by yourselves, after dark, in a place where it’s not allowed. Barba is incredibly lucky that he and his Jeep are still in one piece. There are saints out there in the constellation of off-road recovery Facebook groups, but you can’t count on them to save your bacon.

Anyway, the way Barba tells it, the whole thing started around a barbecue grill. He and his brother had dinner Sunday night, after which they decided around to go for a short off-road drive in Barba’s Wrangler around 7 p.m. A crucial detail is that sunset is at 6:45 p.m. in Los Angeles these days—wheeling alone is never a great idea, and that’s triply true after dark. Still, the brothers took off for a nearby recreational area in the wrinkled hills just south of Loma Linda, California, where he said they’d made memories with their late father years before.

Another key point relayed by Barba: He wasn’t driving. It was apparently his brother behind the wheel.

“So, [my brother] had never driven a Jeep,” Ricky explained. “He was like ‘Let me drive your Jeep’ because I’ve been trying to get him to buy one, so that’s how it started.”

An eager off-road newbie, a darkening sky, and someone else’s Jeep. You can see where this is going.

Now, this area is a network of rolling hills—”mountains” is overstating it, though there are definitely some long, steep dropoffs in places—along the south edge of the San Bernardino Valley, and it’s a hotspot for off-roaders. However, past a certain point it’s not fit for four-wheeling. A network of backroads winds from one side to the other, changing in elevation and winnowing down to single-track hiking and biking trails like Razor Ridge, where the Jeep eventually became terribly and utterly stuck.

Even though Barba and his brother had been there before, the clock wasn’t on their side this time. It was really getting dark, and a series of wrong turns landed them on one narrow trail after another. Unlike them at the time, you can probably see where this is going.

“We ended up driving farther and farther and farther, and he liked the way it handled so he’d say ‘Let me try this, let me try this.'”

Despite what the photos might lead you to believe, the Barba brothers didn’t make it that far. According to Jorgie Maldonado, a member of the Jalados 4×4 group that successfully recovered the Jeep, it was only 15 minutes from the dirt road in nearby Reche Canyon to the stuck Wrangler. …

Another clarification from Barba is that he and his brother initially made it across that knife-edged ridge in the now-famous photo. But when they got to the other side, they couldn’t see over the crest and decided to try and back up. If your head is spinning right now, you’re not alone

“How we crossed it, I don’t know. Obviously, we’re talking about heights, there was no moon, there were no lights. Only our headlights,” Barba told us.
Via Google Maps

It was during that doomed attempt to reverse back across the ridge that they veered off the narrow path to the east, putting the passenger side—where Barba was sitting—on a downhill slant.

“We were able to jump out and he was able to put it in park. If we would’ve went down, we would’ve been dead.”

The thing is, though, Barba says he did fall down, which made the situation even more complicated.

“I fell off the cliff, [my brother] called 9-1-1 for them to come and rescue me at that point, [but] that didn’t happen. ..

Finally, they ditched the Wrangler and left the area in the wee hours of Monday morning. Ricky claims they returned in the following days to secure the rig, which explains why later photos show a strap around its front bumper tied to a stake in the ground.

HT: Karen L. Myers.

23 Sep 2020

Bad Kitty!

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California features a landscape in which real wilderness closely abuts the most densely populated suburbs. It does not rain typically from April to October, and watercourses become brushy arroyos instead of streams, and these serve as perfect mountain lion highways from the uninhabited mountains right into suburbia.

06 Jun 2020

ANTIFA Reputedly Changed Its Plans

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03 Jun 2020

ANTIFA Visits the Suburbs in Yucaipa, California

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30 Apr 2020

Go Down, Donald

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HT: Vanderleun.

10 Feb 2020

Life In California’s Left-Wing Paradise

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The Nomenklatura live conveniently in Atherton, Portola, or Pacific Heights, but the proletariat get to catch 2:30 AM buses to work from the 110° every day Central Valley. Protocol:

It’s 2:30 a.m. in the Central California farm town of Salida, and the only sound is the tech bus pulling into an unmarked lot surrounded by barbed wire. Men and women in work boots board in the moonlight. Next stop is 11 miles away in Manteca, and then it’s another 55 miles to Fremont on the San Francisco Bay, where — an hour and a half hour later — the 4 a.m. shift at the Tesla factory starts.

Welcome to life on Silicon Valley’s new frontier. When tech companies first introduced private shuttles for their employees more than a decade ago, they served the affluent neighborhoods in San Francisco and the Peninsula. Now the buses reach as far as the almond orchards of Salida and the garlic fields of Gilroy.

Tech companies have grown tight-lipped about the specifics of their shuttle programs in the wake of high-profile protests in San Francisco. But Protocol was able to locate enough stops for company shuttles to confirm that some tech shuttles now drive all the way out to the Central Valley, an agricultural hub once a world away from the tech boom on the coast.

“That just tells you the story of the Bay Area,” said Russell Hancock, president and CEO of regional think tank Joint Venture Silicon Valley. “We’re going to be in these farther-flung places, and that’s our reality because we’re not going to be able to create affordable housing.”

Tech shuttle sprawl speaks to the unique pressures that the industry has put on the region. High tech salaries have driven up housing prices in Silicon Valley, San Francisco and the East Bay, forcing white- and blue-collar workers alike to move farther away from their jobs. The crisis is compounded by anti-development politics that make it hard to build new housing and patchwork public transit systems that make it difficult for commuters to get to work without driving.

The mismatch between jobs and housing has become so extreme that Google and Facebook have proposed building thousands of apartments or condos on their own campuses.

In the meantime, those companies — plus Tesla, Apple, Netflix, LinkedIn, Genentech and others — are trying to solve the problem with long-distance buses. They all now offer shuttle service to at least the extended suburbs of the East Bay, according to interviews and reports Protocol consulted. Their longest routes now stretch north across the Golden Gate Bridge, south to the surf town of Santa Cruz, and east to the Central Valley — a total service area approaching 3,000 square miles.

11 Dec 2019

A Different California

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Aris Janigian admiringly reviews a new book profiling two iconic figures from his own part of the Golden State.

DECEMBER 2, 2019

I WAS BORN AND RAISED a farmer’s son in Fresno and currently live here, working seasonally in the wine industry. But Los Angeles was home for most of my life, and whenever I learned that friends were heading to San Francisco, I’d suggest they take Highway 99 through the San Joaquin Valley instead of Interstate 5, which skirts the valley to the west. The 99 is a little longer route but so much more colorful (which isn’t necessarily to say “scenic”).

No one ever took me up on my suggestion, and they didn’t have to explain why not. After all, their impression of the middle of the state, de rigueur for Angelenos, is that gun-owning, pro-Trump types live there in dusty, beat-up towns with ugly names — Arvin, Alpaugh, Delano — that reek of cow dung. The valley’s fields are green but also monotonously endless, and none of its vineyards are rolling and soft on the eyes. Sure, it’s part of California, but not really “of it.” These scoffers know, in the abstract, that this is where the huge majority of Californians, and a good portion of the entire country, gets its food, but aren’t all those mega-farmers in the middle of the state also stealing precious water from salmon and smelts? The scoffers would much rather chat about their local farmers’ market, urban garden, or at least Whole Foods.

In fact, those mega-farmers are, for the most part, simply proprietors of small farms that, over a generation or two, have grown big. And, true, we’re talking about thousands of tons of tomatoes or almonds, and wells several hundred feet deep, and chemicals siphoned out of 250-gallon totes to keep mold and an array of devastating and exceedingly perseverant insects down; but if it weren’t for the sheer scale and efficiency of farming in the San Joaquin Valley, only the rich in this state could afford a melon or a peach.

Neither, for an office party, would we have the option of picking up a case of Charles Shaw wine — which is precisely where Frank Bergon’s storytelling begins in his new book, Two-Buck Chuck & The Marlboro Man. As it turns out, Fred Franzia, founder of said winery (a.k.a. “Two-Buck Chuck,”), went to school with Bergon in Madera, a city about 20 miles north of Fresno. Now, decades later, they’re at a coffee shop, it’s midmorning, and the writer is trying to tease out of the winemaker the explanation for his mind-boggling success.
Read the rest of this entry »

03 Dec 2019

Down and Out in the Bay Area

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Wes Enzinna, in Harper’s, describes the bizarre fringe existence of a millennial bourgeois Bohemian trying to find living space in ever-so-rich, ever-so-f*cked-up Bay Area California.

[T]he year of the Ghost Ship fire, I lived in a shack. I’d found the place just as September’s Indian summer was giving way to a wet October. There was no plumbing or running water to wash my hands or brush my teeth before sleep. Electricity came from an extension cord that snaked through a yard of coyote mint and monkey flower and up into a hole I’d drilled in my floorboards. The structure was smaller than a cell at San Quentin—a tiny house or a huge coffin, depending on how you looked at it—four by eight and ten feet tall, so cramped it fit little but a mattress, my suit jackets and ties, a space heater, some novels, and the mason jar I peed in.

The exterior of my hermitage was washed the color of runny egg yolk. Two redwood French doors with plexiglass windows hung cockeyed from creaky hinges at the entrance, and a combination lock provided meager security against intruders. White beadboard capped the roof, its brim shading a front porch set on cinder blocks.

After living on the East Coast for eight years, I’d recently left New York City to take a job at an investigative reporting magazine in San Francisco. If it seems odd that I was a fully employed editor who lived in a thirty-two-square-foot shack, that’s precisely the point: my situation was evidence of how distorted the Bay Area housing market had become, the brutality inflicted upon the poor now trickling up to everyone but the super-rich. The problem was nationwide, although, as Californians tend to do, they’d taken this trend to an extreme. Across the state, a quarter of all apartment dwellers spent half of their incomes on rent. Nearly half of the country’s unsheltered homeless population lived in California, even while the state had the highest concentration of billionaires in the nation. In the Bay Area, including West Oakland, where my shack was located, the crisis was most acute. Tent cities had sprung up along the sidewalks, swarming with capitalism’s refugees. Telegraph, Mission, Market, Grant: every bridge and overpass had become someone’s roof.

Down these same streets, tourists scuttered along on Segways and techies surfed the hills on motorized longboards, transformed by their wealth into children, just as the sidewalk kids in cardboard boxes on Haight or in People’s Park aged overnight into decrepit adults, the former racing toward the future, the latter drifting away from it.

To my mother and girlfriend back East, the “shack situation” was a problem to be solved. “Can we help you find another place?” “Can you just find roommates and live in a house?” But the shack was the solution, not the problem.

As penance for abandoning my girlfriend, I still paid part of our rent in New York, and after covering my portion of our bills, my student loan payment, and car insurance, I had about $1,500 left over each month. That wouldn’t have been so little to live on, except that, according to some estimates, apartments then averaged $3,500 a month in San Francisco, $3,000 in Oakland. That year, 2016, 83,733 low-income San Franciscans would apply for the city’s affordable housing lottery, fighting for 1,025 slots. There were still cheap rooms available in the Bay, to be sure, mostly in ramshackle Victorians or weathered Maybeck bungalows where artists or activists or punks lived collectively and were protected by rent control, but these rooms were in dwindling supply and astonishingly high demand. On Craigslist or by word of mouth, vacancies were often offered exclusively to “Q.T.P.O.C.” (queer and trans people of color) or “B.A.B.R.” (Bay Area born and raised) roommates, a reasonable defensive measure against the ravages of the tech economy, which, block by block, was replacing the weird old counterculture with Stanford M.B.A.s and Google engineers.

For those of us caught in the middle, it meant that to score a bed, you had to have Q.T.P.O.C. friends willing to make an exception for you, or be a member of obscure Facebook groups like (’’’), which served as an underground network for people seeking shared housing. (The page also offered bartered services like massage and childcare and, on at least one occasion, a “free hearse.”) As in other cities under intense economic pressure, marginalized inhabitants had created an alternate, black-market rental economy: the currency may have been cultural capital, but competition was still fierce.

I spent a few weeks on friends’ couches before an acquaintance posted on Facebook about a room opening in his eight-bedroom house in Oakland for $475, a steal, and I messaged him immediately. Thirty people had already written, he said, and his roommates had also received scores of inquiries, so the odds weren’t good. He stopped answering my emails after that. The same thing happened with a few vacant rooms I tracked down at illegal warehouses, cavernous lofts where residents scrimped on such things as functioning plumbing or reliable electricity in order to have space to paint and make sculptures and host bands all night, places like the Dildo Factory, or Heco’s, or Ghost Ship, whose leaseholder posted a roommate-wanted ad on Craigslist that winter seeking

    all shamanic rattlesnake sexy jungle jazz hobo gunslingers looking for a space to house gear, use studio, develop next level Shaolin discipline after driving your taxi cab late at night, build fusion earth home bomb bunker spelunker shelters, and plant herbaceous colonies in the open sun & air.

I didn’t answer the Ghost Ship ad, but I went to a few “auditions” at other lofts. There were so many people vying for the spaces, I rarely got a call back and was never offered a room. I’d squandered whatever cool I once possessed, it turned out, by building a “normie” career as a writer and editor on the East Coast.

RTWT

18 Nov 2019

The Lost Gold of Monterey Bay

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You got lucky and stumbled upon a fabulously valuable treasure of gold, then you learned that you were unlucky enough to live in a time and place so hedged round everywhere with rules and regulations that you could never even try to recover that treasure. All you can do is tell your sad, sad story to the SF Chronicle

One night five years ago, fisherman Giuseppe Pennisi was lying in bed with his laptop propped up on his barrel chest, reviewing video footage captured from his 76-foot boat, the Pioneer. The boat is a bottom trawler. It scoops up fish with a net that bounces across the seafloor at depths of more than 4,000 feet. A tinkerer, Pennisi likes to keep GoPro cameras attached to the net, allowing him to study the footage and improve his technique. That night, around 2 a.m., he noticed his camera slide past something unusual.

Along the murky seafloor, fish and rocks come in rounded shapes and soft colors, muted grays and greens. His eyes were attuned to this drab underwater landscape, which is why he had been puzzled by brief flashes of light on the video screen, shiny surfaces glimmering by. Then he saw it: a rectangular object, sharp-edged and pale, almost white, with a tinge of yellow.

It was September 2014, and Pennisi, who goes by Joe, was 50 years old, with four decades of fishing behind him. He had sailed on commercial boats since he was 7; his father and grandfather had towed their nets in the same waters for more than a century. He had never seen anything like the object in the video. Still, Joe sensed immediately what it might be. His net often got caught on the rotting underwater husks of old ships wrecked just beyond the Golden Gate, and he knew that some of those ships — Spanish galleons, Gold Rush-era steamers — had carried treasure.

He rewound the video, peered forward and froze the frame with the yellow rectangular object. It looked for all the world like a gold bar, an ingot. For a few minutes, he stared at it while his wife, Grazia, slept beside him.

Then he started to scream.

RTWT

31 Oct 2019

“Not All Heroes Were Capes”

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