John Ross passes

From skippy:

Submitted on 2011/01/18 at 10:48 pm

Tad and readers, John Ross, Arcata’s legendary author, activist, journailst, and poet, passed. Some of you Arcata old-timers may remember him. John Ross was a great man.

An obituary of John Ross’ life and times was thoughtfully prepared by Counterpunch’s Frank Bardacke and quietly referenced below. It underscores Mr. Ross’ keen awareness of the impermanence and suffering inherent in this world, a subject he frequently wrote of.

Mr. Bardacke describes this best: “…bags of misery and compassion under his eyes, offset by his wonderful toothless smile and the cackling laugh that punctuated his comical riffs on the miserable state of the universe. He was among the last of the beats, master of the poetic rant, committed to the exemplary public act, always on the side of the poor and defeated.”

“His tormentors defined him. A sadistic prison dentist pulled six of his teeth. The San Francisco Tac Squad twice bludgeoned his head, ruining one eye and damaging the other. The guards of Mexico’s vain, poet-potentate Octavio Paz beat him to the ground in a Mexico City airport, and continued to kick him while he was down. Israeli settlers pummeled him with clubs until he bled, and wrecked his back forever.”

There’s more. I encourage you, the dear reader, to please give it a read; Mr. Ross, our traveling Humboldt ‘investigative poet’ and first rate journalist, would have liked that.

~peace, Mr. Ross. skips

If you knew Mr. Ross or would like to read a sample of his first rate journalistic work about a famous Humboldt case here back in 1982 (“Virgil Payne and Many Others: Homegrown Racism”) visit the Humboldt Herald below. You can also add your comments if you like.

Thanks, Tad. Tad, You would have enjoyed Mr. Ross very much. Both of you were very alike.


35 Responses to “John Ross passes”

  1. skippy Says:

    Thank you, Tad. That was very kind of you. I’m humbled. Can I relate another John Ross story, here? It was just finished in his memory. Sorry it’s long, hopefully an interesting read? Both of you are very alike! peace, skips.

    Finding a quiet place to study in Nelson Hall at Humboldt State University in the early 80′s, yours truly was nearly booted out by an out-of-the-area special interest group coming in to lecture– but allowed to stay, “as long as I was quiet.”

    The group was a small gathering of 40-50 year olds, looking very conservative in their attire and outlook. This national group, Accuracy in Media (AIM), led by chief-fat-cat Reed Irvine suspiciously dressed in a tailored three piece suit and looking rather out of place, was here not only to collect his hefty salary and per diem expenses but to present their premise: setting the record straight on important news and media issues that have received, in their view, biased and slanted coverage. Mr. Irvine and AIM called onto citizens to contact newsmakers, reporters and news corporations to end perceived and deliberate liberal media bias, giving a few examples.

    A voice from the back of the room immediately questioned their intent and agenda.

    “Who are you, Pilgrim?” Mr. Reed asked.

    “I’m John Ross,” the voice answered.

    “And, Pilgrim, what do you do?”

    “I’m an Investigative Poet and Journalist!” came the reply.

    “Oh, do you write Letters to the Editor, Pilgrim?” Mr. Reed condescendingly asked.


    John Ross boldly stood up. He wasn’t about to take this sitting down. Nor coyingly be referred to as ‘pilgrim.’

    His voice firm and thundering, John laid down his qualifications. Without missing a beat, he then thoroughly peppered AIM’s connections to its own bias and slants in the media, questioned their funding from right wing conservative groups ranging from the Republican Party to John Birchers, having unfavorable editors fired and forced retractions made, and AIM’s deliberate role in massacre cover-ups in El Salvador and other incidents leading all the way up the ranks to the Reagan Administration. All the while barely coming up for air. John Ross unequivocably knew his details, facts, people and questions… and his direction. His tempo was spot on, too.

    This was not going well for AIM. In fact, it was teetering quite sideways on its lone wobbly wheel.

    Like a train wreck, AIM’s meeting came to a grinding and spectacular halt. Mr. Irvine was at a flabbergasting loss to shut Mr. Ross, Investigative Journalist, up. John continued until Mr. Irvine finally threw down his last ace card in desperate exasperation.

    “I’ll have you arrested!” Mr. Irvine roared, “for disturbing the peace! Call the police! Call the police now!”

    Mr. Ross roared back, “Call the police. I’ll have you arrested– for violating civil liberties, freedom of speech, the press, and of assembly! AIM is a dishonest sham, a front group for propaganda, and you’re deceptively telling lies to everyone! You’re not revealing your right wing ties and agenda to our citizens here, the People, even when asked! AIM won’t– and doesn’t– allow free speech! What kind of fairness and accuracy in media is this? Go ahead, call the police! Have me arrested!”

    Uh-oh. Here’s a fine test of democracy, I thought; something bad’s gonna happen and the wobbly wheel fell off long ago.

    “Call the police!”

    The campus police came all right. Pronto. They stood by and refused to arrest Mr. Ross once both sides were aired and explained; or more precisely, vociferously argued and yelled over. AIM and Mr. Reed, his three piece suit and his supporters, promptly packed up and left town unceremoniously indignant and bewildered. They’ve never returned. After that kind of welcome, would you?

    Pleasantly amazed and shocked over this drama unfolding before my very eyes and ears, Mr. Ross stood up for a righteous and just cause; he wasn’t merely our local Humboldt poet-journalist, he was a complete fire-breathing dragon that roared– as thin and diminutive as he initially appeared.

    At that moment I knew Arcata was a very special and unique place– and this wouldn’t be the last we’d hear of Mr. John Ross.

    Rest in peace, my friend. Many owe much to you.
    …peace, skips

  2. transient Says:

    thanks for posting this. I listened to John talk once and felt inspired to put up as much of a fight against injustice as possible, no, more than possible. Thanks John.

  3. skippy Says:

    Mr. Ross was legendary for many reasons: beat-poet-journalist, agitator, activist, author, and ground-breaking reporter. Upon passing, his obituary was carried by over 300 sources and newspapers ranging from the Chronicle to The Nation to the Wall Street Journal. Here’s a small reason why.

    “John Ross dies at 72,” from the SF Bay Guardian, by Tim Redmond, part I:

    “When John Ross left Terminal Island, the federal prison in Los Angeles, after serving a couple of years for refusing the Vietnam draft, the warden shook his head and said: “Ross, you never learned how to be a prisoner.”

    I’m not writing the epitaph for whatever gravestone he has or doesn’t have, wherever it might be in the world, but that’s what I’d put on it: “John Ross, 1938-2011. Never learned how to be a prisoner.”

    John, who died over the weekend, was a poet, author, activist, agitator and uncontrollable shit disturber, utterly and sometimes insanely fearless, pure of heart and devoted to the cause of social justice so deeply that he could never let up, even for a minute. He was also my friend.

    John was a tenant organizer in San Francisco in the 1960s. He ran for supervisor once on a platform of rent control and ending the war; he was kicked off the ballot on the basis that he was a convicted felon. He never got his filing fee back.

    After a while, he headed north for Arcata, back to the land, so to speak, and became something of a farmer. He wrote poetry, self-published maybe half a dozen books, most of which I have, some of which are probably lost forever. He wrote freelance for the Guardian, but he had no phone; you’d call him at a bar in Arcata (he swore later that Thomas Pynchon was one of his barmates), leave a message and he’d check in when he got it.

    Then in 1984, he showed up at our office in San Francisco, fleeing the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting, which had raided his plot, trashed his house, thrown his typewriter out the window and missed capturing him by a few minutes. He sold the last of the crop in the city, found a room and started writing for us regularly.

    He was one of the single most talented writers I’ve ever met — and a reporter willing to go anywhere for a story. He was also an absolute pain in the ass to work with. Every John Ross story I ever edited was a nightmare. He hated editors, almost as a matter of religion; every single word was sacred, and anytime I tried to mess with what he’d created he’d threaten to quit. “Take my name off the masthead; I’m never working for you again” was almost a mantra with us. It got to the point where I had to say: No, John. You can’t quit. You’re part of this operation forever, like it or not. And he always came around.

    But it’s not a surprise that he never held down a real job for long…”

    …to be continued

  4. skippy Says:

    …Continued, “John Ross Dies at 72,” SF Bay Guardian by Tim Redmond, part II:

    “…Sandy Close at Pacific News Service sent him to Mexico City after the big earthquake in 1985, and he wound up at the Hotel Isabel, where he lived for the next 25 years. He took on stories nobody else would do or could do; he’d go places nobody else would dare. “Tim,” he’d always tell me, “you have to go where the story is.”

    When the Zapatistas began their rebellion, he hitched a ride south from Mexico City, then hiked into the hills in Chiapas with a bag of granola and a couple of bottles of water, found the rebels in a little hamlet, met Subcommander Marcos and got interviews and information that left the rest of the media in the dust. In the first story he sent me, he described seeing a couple of reporters from the San Francisco Chronicle zipping by in a fancy rented jeep, with about $1,000 worth of camera gear, totally befuddled. They were out of their league; John was right at home.

    He called me once, late at night, to ask if I knew any doctors in town. Turns out he’d been beaten pretty badly by the Mexican authorities just before getting on a plane to SF. I asked him how it happened, and he told me that he’d decided, on his own, to stand in the Mexico City airport and make a speech denouncing the government. The cops didn’t respond kindly.

    He went to Iraq before the war to serve as a human shield in Baghdad (his emails were all signed “John Ross, humanshield”), left after having some clashes (imagine that) with his Iraqi government minders, travelled all over the world writing and selling his books, sent me pieces from everywhere, lost his eye to an old injury from fighting with the SFPD (his email signature became “Juan Eye”), won and refused an award from the City of San Francisco, wrote a major investigative piece on the death of journalist Brad Will and kept writing until the very end. When he was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer, he started signing his emails “John Ross, not dead yet.”

    The last message I got was on Nov. 4. After complaining some more about the cops, he wrote:

    “it appears ive written my last articles for the bay guardian — the doctors have given me six months on the outside and then its goodbye this cruel world — we raised some hell when i was here.” It’s signed: “insolidarity johnross enroute.”

    Yes, John: We raised some some hell when you were here. Good luck enroute. And I will miss you forever.

    John Ross leaves a son, Dante A. Ross, a daughter, Carla Ross-Allen, and a granddaughter, Zoe Ross-Allen, as well as a stepdaughter, Dylan Melbourne and her daugther Honore, as well as a sister, Susan Gardner. Memorial info is pending; I’ll keep you posted…”

  5. moviedad Says:

    Hey Man, if your not careful you might make this blog a useful source of information for the “Left”. Who do you think you are….Tom Sebourn?
    (in case it’s unclear, this is an attempt at humor..)

  6. skippy Says:

    …just helping keep the blog warm and alive for all, until Tad returns. He will when he’s ready. Hope he doesn’t mind too much. I’m not perfect– far from it.

    As John Ross once remarked, “The bare bones are remarkable enough.”

  7. skippy Says:

    John’s service will be at Ross Memorial Saturday, February 26, at 3-5 pm at the United Mission Presbyterian Church
    23rd St. and Capp.
    Reception to follow: 5-8 p.m. at Cafe La Boheme
    24th and Mission.


    Some poetry by his loved ones on his dearly beloved website :

    Dawn without john

    There is no long hand attached to that sassafras cane

    There is no bulging yellow eyeball behind that
    magnifying glass reading la jornada

    That toothless mouth is not sucking on a joint.

    There is no black pen cradled in the other hand ready to

    That fine fine brain can´t remember the history of mexico

    Those new York ears can´t hear Coltrane or parker


    My youngest daughter gabriela won´t be receiving a
    birthday present from her beloved godfather or dogfather
    as he liked to say.

    And zoe won´t be skyping with her abuelo tonight.

    The apple trees are still blooming

    The sun rose again and the moon is full

    Our neighbor is threshing his harvest of wheat

    And the roosters are crowing

    48 hours ago I held you in my arms as you struggled and

    And then for the first time in your life you
    surrendered, gave in,

    And took your last breath with the rising sun.

    24 hours ago as the day dawned we cried and arminda and
    the saxophone of Oscar el vampiro; street musician from
    mexico city; wailed over your cold lifeless body ,and
    in one last act of defiance, Oscar and I smoked a joint
    of the humboldt grass you smuggled into mexico , making
    it doubly illegal and especially irreverent, blew the
    smoke over you, and stuck the roach in your mouth.

    Before you were baked we placed a pen in your hand

    Compadre, I saw that smile on your face as you went up
    in flames with a joint in your mouth and a pen in your

    It took two hours to turn you into ashes.

    This dawn I am alone with those ashes, the flowers, the
    candles and Coltrane.

    The beret, the magnifying glass, the leather vest, the
    keffiyeh, and the sassafras cane are all wondering?


    Kevin Quigley Santiago Tzipijo jan 19 2011

    San Francisco
    Ross Memorial Saturday, February 26 at 3-5 p.m.
    at the United Mission Presbyterian Church
    23rd St. and Capp
    Reception to follow: 5-8 p.m. at Cafe La Boheme
    24th and Mission

  8. skippy Says:

    I hope Tad returns soon. Sigh. Don’t know where he went or how he is. I hope all is well but I just don’t know. He used to be so passionate about his site and work. He’s been gone for a long and lonely sojourn. Would John Ross have had a poem? Yes.

    Here’s one, a poem by John, frozen deep in the archives.

    From “Running Out of Coast Lines” (1985): “Ohio”

    The snow is sooted

    with the scrapings of burnt toast

    and the crumbs of industry.

    There are citizens asleep beneath it,

    buried alive inside dark cocoons,

    out of work and under the quilts

    alarm clocks left unwound

    to roll back the boozy winter,

    just a deep snooze in February

    the drifted fields and streets,

    unscuffed, untraveled,

    unhitched trailers,

    going nowhere, no one

    can find their car in Toledo anymore.

    Snow is stasis, it sticks in Cleveland,

    it freezes the veins of venom

    inside the Cayahuga, gases

    are suspended until further notice.

    A man who once turned tractor tires

    big as a house both of them

    rolls over in the white bed

    in Sandusky and tries to dream

    only of the good parts.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    ….come back soon, Tad

  9. skippy Says:

    Just keeping the web-house here warm until Tad returns. He hasn’t come back up yet and I hope he does soon. Until he comes back and changes the subject– here’s some news from Arcata. Tad, I’m hoping, doesn’t mind this, Mr. Ross would likely agree. Maybe that’s a quorum?

    From The Humboldt Herald website comes this article:

    Salzman Threatens Arcata with Lawsuit
    [Press Release]

    Contending that Arcata’s panhandling ordinance is unconstitutional, resident Richard Salzman informed the City Council that he intends to file a lawsuit unless the ordinance is amended.

    As written, the ordinance makes it a crime to merely hold up a sign asking for money. By denying citizens constitutional right of free speech, Salzman contends the City Council overstepped its authority.

    “If first they silence the poor and the homeless, and I say nothing, who will speak up when they try to silence me?” Salzman asked.

    He noted that the section of the ordinance against “aggressive panhandling,” including blocking one’s path, any physical contact or yelling, would be left unchallenged by this legal action.

    (see attached letter by attorney Peter Martin in the next post)

  10. skippy Says:

    The following letter by attorney Mr. Martin is an adjunct to the above post and lifted from The Humboldt Herald website explaining in detail the unconstitutionality of Arcata’s panhandling ordinance– and the basis of Mr. Salzman’s potential lawsuit. The letter, though lengthy, is a thoughtful explanation.

    * * * * * * * * * * *

    February 14, 2011

    Susan Ornelas, Mayor
    Michael Winkler, Vice-Mayor
    Shane Brinton, Council Member
    Alexandra Stillman, Council Member
    Mark Wheetley, Council Member
    Randy Mendosa, City Manager
    Nancy Diamond, Esq., City Attorney

    City of Arcata
    736 F Street
    Arcata, CA 95521

    Re: Unconstitutional Panhandling Ordinance enacted April 16, 2010, as Arcata Municipal Code [AMC] Sections 4280-4282.

    Dear City Council, City Manager and City Attorney:

    Please take notice that Mr. Richard Salzman, a resident of, and taxpayer within, the City of Arcata, has retained the undersigned to bring an action against the City of Arcata to declare its panhandling ordinance unconstitutional and to enjoin the City from any further enforcement of said ordinance. The purpose of this letter is to invite the City to amend its panhandling ordinance as set forth herein, and thereby avoid the expense, uncertainty and unpleasantness of contested litigation.

    Specifically, Mr. Salzman contends that AMC Sections 4282B, 4282C, 4282D, 4282E, 4282F and 4282G are unconstitutional. The overall impact of these sections is to criminalize begging in most of the City where it would be fruitful to beg. Begging is a charitable solicitation. The First Amendment clearly protects charitable solicitations. No distinction of constitutional dimension exists between soliciting funds for oneself and for charity. The fact that a beggar keeps the money she receives does not strip the speech of First Amendment protection. A speaker’s rights are not lost merely because compensation is received; a speaker is no less a speaker because she is paid to speak.

    To be lawful, the ordinance must serve a compelling interest that is narrowly drawn to achieve its end. The City’s compelling interest, if one exists, is well-served by the ordinance’s ban on aggressive panhandling, to which Mr. Salzman does not take exception. Mr. Salzman objects to the near-total ban on begging in public fora, the justification for which can be little more than avoiding “annoyance” to the public, hardly a compelling interest in First Amendment jurisprudence. Moreover, the ordinance’s ban on begging is not “narrowly tailored;” indeed, it is embarrassingly broad. To achieve the City’s goal of criminalizing the speech of a few beggars, the City has criminalized all solicitations for money. A girl scout cannot sell cookies on the City’s streets. Nor may any charity solicit money in most of the City. A beggar cannot even hold a sign up to ask for money; a more clearly content-based restriction on speech is difficult to imagine.

    The City’s attempt to justify these draconian restrictions on speech under the so-called “captive audience rule” is unavailing. The City’s expansion of that concept to include almost all public space within the City perverts the intent of the rule and strikes at the very heart of discourse in a democratic society- the right to communicate with one’s fellow citizens on the public commons.

    Other constitutional concerns are implicated in the City’s ordinance. The criminalization of solicitation implicates equal protection concerns, to wit, the ordinance targets the First Amendment rights of the City’s poorest and most downtrodden residents, while it remains legal to accost members of the public to ask the time of day, or to sign a petition. The complexity of the ordinance, with its crazy patch-work of places where it is illegal to beg, implicates notice and due process concerns. A reasonable citizen of the City lacks adequate notice as to where she may beg and where she may not beg. Likewise, the ordinance’s definition of “panhandling” leaves questions unanswered: Is a check or credit card transaction on the City’s streets illegal, or just a cash transaction? This renders the ordinance subject to challenge for vagueness.

    Mr. Salzman would prefer to resolve this matter without litigation, and to that end, invites the City and its attorneys to meet with the undersigned to work toward resolution of the issues raised herein.


    Peter E. Martin

  11. skippy Says:

    An important event for readers to note:
    What: 20th Annual Indian Island Candlelight Vigil
    : Saturday, February 26, 5 to 6:30 p.m.
    Where: Over the Samoa Bridge, West end of Woodley Island, Eureka (near the Marina on the island).
    For more information on Saturday’s event, call 733-5055.

    From the Times-Standard’s diligent Donna Tam:

    “As the community gathers to remember the Indian Island tragedy this weekend, the Wiyot Tribe is making progress on restoring the land.

    The 20th annual Indian Island Candlelight Vigil will be held Saturday on Woodley Island. The event attracts hundred of people each year, rain or shine, and ends with a potluck at Runeberg Hall, located at Wabash Avenue and Union Street in Eureka.

    The vigil starts at 5 p.m., and the potluck starts at 7 p.m. According to the tribe, attendees should bring a candle.”

  12. skippy Says:

    As reported in Tom Sebourn’s and Highboldtage site:


    Survival Temperatures Hit Record Low Maximums in Arcata, McKinleyville and Crescent City: Cold Weather Emergency in Eureka, Arcata & Humboldt County

    The forecast for the next two days is for rain, hail, snow and sub freezing temperatures down to 23 degrees in Eureka and colder in the mountains.
    Please if you are a church or a civic organization in Eureka and Humboldt that can take in a homeless person, or family please post your information below. Our governments seem to be unable to provide this simple humanitarian assistance to our homeless brothers and sisters so churches must step forward. This is the kind of weather that kills people.

    have a peaceful day, Bill

    …Send me an email:

  13. Anonymous Says:

    It’s like I can still smell him.


    Hey Tad,

    Your appreciated.

    Jeffrey Lytle
    McKinleyville – 5th District

  15. skippy Says:

    Brinton speaks out for First Amendment
    March 25, 2011 (From the Humboldt Herald)

    “Arcata City Councilman Shane Brinton responded to the city’s recent 4-1 vote that reaffirmed support for its controversial Panhandling Ordinance. The ordinance makes it a crime for any person to hold a sign that asks for money.

    “The purpose of the First Amendment is to protect free speech, even speech that makes some people uncomfortable,” Brinton said in a press release. “Panhandling is a problem that we should address as a community, not by denying citizens their constitutional rights.”

    Brinton said he was disappointed that his fellow councilmembers failed to take the opportunity to repeal the ordinance and work together to pursue real solutions.

    Arcata may be facing a lawsuit by resident Richard Salzman who says the ordinance is unconstitutional.”

  16. skippy Says:

    This was lifted with the greatest of respect fromMr. Sebourn’s blog.

    The site needs you, Tad.

    “Planet Tapperass does a local Bloggers Tournament that started sometime after the very last blogger picnic. The picnic hasn’t been held for three years as I recall.

    They pick 64 local blogs just like the NCAA has a bracket with 64 teams. They square off and end up with two. That is where we are today. Two blogs.

    This one against Tad at The Plazoid.

    I don’t know how this thing works. There were some blogs that I thought were better than mine that got eliminated before I ever had to face them.

    I do know that come Monday night, either Tad at the Plazoid or I will be crowned Champion!

    I’m up against some tough competition because Tad is employing an unusual strategy. He refuses to post. “

    … Say it ain’t so, Joe.

  17. skippy Says:

    Just keeping the place warm for the time being. Tad has been running this site for 6 years now, since 2005. This is more of a commitment and consistent effort than most have done.

    Advocating a different side and voice for the vulnerable, less fortunate, or those who have little say, Tad has been both outspoken and critical of either the ‘powers that be,’ established authority, or simply vain attempts of what he could readily term, ‘bullshit.’

    Whatever you felt of his opinion (abrasive and prickly as it sometime could be), Tad and The Plazoid had the unusual ability to look at issues from the ‘other side of the coin’ of and often filling us in… on the rest of the story.

    Here’s one of Tad’s earliest pieces on this site, drawn from the archives of April, 2005:

    Arcata’s Homeless Task Farce
    April 4, 2005

    “On Feb. 2, 2005, the Arcata silly council appointed 14 people to the homelessness task farce. Included were 3 unhoused persons; Tad, Verbena and Paul. Excluded was ranger Bob (housed), by order of the mayor of Arcata, Michael Machi (housed).

    Follow the Dollars:

    The $42000 that the city got from the federal government to help those in need was given to Humboldt State University, and the task farce was given no dollars. The goal of the grant is to eliminate homelessness in 10 years. Some “homeless” people don’t want to be “eliminated.”

    So where is the money to feed people? Where is the money to house people?

    Arcata’s valiant branch of FOOD NOT BOMBS! (707-822-4014) continues to serve healthy and tasty vegetarian meals on Sundays around 5pm on the Plaza (or under the awning of the closed movie theater if it rains) and maybe also Saturdays, and do so on practically no budget. They are a perfect example of what just a small group of individuals can do to help out, spread the love, and bring people together in the spirit of harmonious solutions.

    A note to accentuate the positive: there are 3 unhoused persons on the task farce, and so perhaps a broader audience will hear the voice of those who live outside the box.”

    Good point, Tad. Now, who else would’ve brought this up if not you, Tad?

    No one.

  18. skippy Says:

    Tad, just to let you know, the website Planet Tapperass had some good things to say about The Plazoid and you in competition with other wonderful Humboldt blogs. You may not care and you have more important social justice issues to consider; however, with respect, they were gently lifted– stolen, perhaps– and placed here for you and your readers.

    “Tad the Man! … who would have guessed that the Plazoid would steal the headlines this weekend and topple a giant? Can Tad and the Plazoid keep going to the Final Four?”

    “The Plazoid continues to shock the world as well. Tad has sent the runner-up from last year home.”

    “If not for Captain Future, it would be Tad and the Plazoid with the tournament’s most compelling story. However, the Plazoid had knocked off the top seed in the region, and the over-all runner up from last year prior to this match with the defending champion.”

    “Tad is an activist, whether you agree or not.”

    “He takes a stand for what he believes in, and his blog, the Plazoid, reflects it. The Plazoid is deeply rooted in local issues. Tad has tackled pot growing. He has also written about police harassment. Tad has also used his blog to express his issues with a few of the local papers, going so far as to post his unpublished letter that he sent into a local paper once. Tad once called for a boycott of a local radio station because one of the station’s employees had started a blog that Tad felt targeted a certain sector of the local population in a negative way.

    What Tad is by far the most famous for is being removed from a Humboldt County Board of Supervisors meeting which led to his stint in the county jail. It was during this jail stint that he reportedly had a hunger strike. Tad tries to represent the views of the poor and less affluent people of our community.

    At this time, it is unclear if Tad has stopped writing on the Plazoid for good, or if he is on a break. He never returned an e-mail I sent to him requesting an update on his whereabouts.

    I hope he gets back to that Plazoid, because whether you like him or not, Tad’s ideas have a place in our community.”

    The Plazoid defeats Dreaming up Daily
    “The unexpected run of Tad and the Plazoid continues. Perhaps somebody can tell Tad that his blog is one victory away from winning the whole thing. He has yet to respond to my e-mails.”

    “We are down to the final two blogs in the tournament. It has been a tournament full of surprises, but now we are down to the Championship Match. After all the match-ups and all the predictions, we are down to Tom and Tad.”

    …Thanks, Mr. T.
    Not sure how you did this, Tad, but congratulations and peace be with you

    (To note, Mr. Sebourn also had nice things to say, too)

  19. skippy Says:

    Another archive piece by Tad and The Plazoid, August 2009. If Tad wasn’t reporting on this, who would?

    “Arcata Cops Find New Ploy to Fuck the Unhoused”
    August 27, 2009
    Peace be with you

    “Today I was waiting in line at the court clerk’s office in the Courthouse. It was a long line and everybody in it was having “a great time . . . talking about crime, mother stabbing, father raping, all kinds of groovy things that we was talking about.”

    The person at the front of the line said to the clerk, “I got this ticket and it gave today as the date to appear and I wasn’t on the schedule.” This is real common. When the cops write you a ticket, and if you want to fight it you have to set it for a court date. The date they put on the line that says “appear on or before this date,” is just a date to encourage you to just pay it. I have been tracking camping ticket cases through the Humboldt courts since 2003. I’ve seen it take up to three months before they even get the tickets in the County’s computer so you could set a court date. In fact today I was checking on three different camping cases and the court clerk told me they were just now entering June’s tickets into the computers.

    The person in the front of the line, whom I’ll just call El for now, (I don’t have his permission to tell his story yet), was issued a ticket July 14, 2009. The appear on or before date was August 27, 2009. Though today is August 27th, the clerk told him he had a warrant out for his arrest. He was fucking dumbfounded! I was fucking dumbfounded!

    They had to bring a supervisor clerk to explain to El why he had a bench warrant out for his arrest when he followed the instructions on the ticket. It seems that the City of Arcata automatically has a warrant issued on any ticket not resolved in 30 days. I am still dumbfounded, so I really don’t know what to make of this. I have a meeting with El, and a lawyer next week. Hopefully I will learn more.

    If it is in fact the case that the City of Arcata, by placing appear dates 45 days out, but warrant dates 30 days out, then they are playing way the fuck unfair!

    Like I said, I am just beginning to research this obvious travesty of justice. But if I uncover any more proof that such an evil trap has been laid for those who have the least chance of avoiding it, then Arcata’s fucked. Have you forgotten City Hall? I haven’t, see you in the funny pages.

    “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, . . or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

    love eternal

  20. Arcata Lumberjack letter Says:

    “In the five years that I have been a student/friend/community-builder/student leader here at Humboldt State University, I have heard from many that this is a wonderful place full of redwoods, liberals and a caring atmosphere.

    While I have been able to experience all of these aspects, it is the latter that I am having the most trouble agreeing with wholeheartedly.

    As a woman of color who not only attends this university but also lives in this community, I have been faced with many instances that have made me question exactly who is safe and for how long?

    I have been called a nigger, told that I shouldn’t be in Eureka or McKinleyville after 5 p.m. for fear of how these communities treat people of color, and even stared at in stores as though the color of my skin automatically equals theft…

    I am extremely enraged by the fact that there are issues of racism, oppression, and violence towards those of us who are deemed different, and that these acts continue to go unnoticed by leaders in the community. I personally have had conversations with the many higher-ups on this campus, and I often leave their offices thinking that they understand a little of what I’ve just shared in regards to being a student of color on this campus. Yet I only find that my words went through one ear and out the other…

    I would not still be a student at HSU without the allies that are here, however it’s a different story when I leave campus. The surrounding community is filled with many different opinions about who should and shouldn’t be here…

    Please note that I am not trying to slander Arcata, but rather point out that this is a community that has issues that need to be addressed. To continue to pretend that this is a happy-go-lucky wonderland for everyone is false.

    Headlines should really point out that unless you are a part of the mainstream, then brace yourself for what could come your way. Frankly, I am tired of people who …telling me what a wonderful place this is for all.”

    — Karmen-Rita Chase is a women’s studies and psychology senior at Humboldt State University.

  21. skippy Says:

    Once upon a time,
    when I was just an angel child
    lo these many light years ago,
    I took Baby Dodds’ drumsticks
    to my lips and kissed them on the tips,
    the ones that back up Louie Armstrong
    and the Hot Five all the way to the Royal Garden,
    the south side of Chicago, 1919.
    Now I’ve grown quite as old
    as those sticks — but you know,
    the drummer has never stopped flailing,
    the tenor player has never stopped wailing,
    the freedom songs of Trane, Miles, Monk and Bird
    have never prophesied more

    When I was a young fool of a buck
    and what I said was what I did
    they locked me up in jail because
    the Vietnamitas
    were not my enemies.
    The deeper they buried me
    in that terminal penitentiary,
    the freer I became
    and the day when the prison gates flew open,
    the P.O. walked me to the door.
    Ross, he told me with a look of disgust
    written all over his smarmy mush,
    you never learned
    how to be a prisoner.

    Put that on my tombstone, chump!

    Chisel it in deep in the block
    and stack it up in
    the Trinidad town cemetery
    right next to my old comrade
    “Murdered By Capitalism”
    E.B. Schnaubelt.
    It’s the epitaph I signed on for —
    but one caution, compañeros,
    don’t put me under that stone,
    oh no, better you should bury my bones
    far away in an unmarked hole
    because I always need to stay
    at least two addresses
    ahead of the government.

    from “Poem On His Birthday” — John Ross, “Against Amnesia”

  22. skippy Says:

    John Ross Memorial Reading


    The late, great investigative poet John Ross, a resident of Humboldt for a decade or so in the ‘70s and ‘80s, will be remembered by friends on Friday April 29 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Northtown Books, 957 H St., Arcata. John’s compadre the poet Jerry Martien will take the lead as fellow writers read John’s stories and poems, some of them set to the music of SquarPeg, a trio that John never got to hear, but that he surely would have liked.

    A memorial ceremony follows on May Day, the worker’s holiday, Sunday May 1 in Trinidad. Meet in front of Trinidad Elementary at 2 p.m. — rain or shine — and bring a single red flower.

    Be prepared to walk a quarter mile to the Trinidad town cemetery. Arrangements will be made for anyone unable to walk the distance (please email in advance). Peace.


    Dates Today, Friday, April 29
    Time 7 p.m.-8:30 a.m.
    Phone 707-822-2834
    Venue Northtown Books, Arcata

    Cost: Free

  23. skippy Says:

    BeenThereAndBack posted this on the Humboldt Herald site concerning the Arcata panhandling ordinance. Readers may appreciate his story and point of view:

    “Several years ago, during the Bush/Cheney administration, a few members of congress decided to live on the approximately $427 of food-stamp benefits provided to the poor. They reported regularly on how they managed to stretch this meager amount across the entire month in order to feed their families.

    I attended the Arcata City Council in 2010 meeting when the aggressive panhandling ordinance was passed in a 3-2 vote with Shane Brinton and Susan Ornelas voting against (Ms. Ornelas seemed prepared to vote in favor but was swayed by the ground-swell of public comments against, hence the 3-2 vote rather than a 4-1 vote).

    I wonder if any members of the Arcata City Council would be willing to shed their homes, hot showers and ‘normal’ lives to live for just a few months on the streets of a strange town with no money–just as many of the folks targeted by this ordinance do? I myself had been living a comfortable, well-insured and highly functional existence paying not one but three mortgages and preparing for retirement alongside other ‘American Dreamers’ when suddenly I experienced an extremely embarrassing and shameful psychotic break from reality.

    A period of complete and udder madness which quickly led to multiple “5150′s,” months in and out of fancy and not-so-fancy psychiatric hospitals, and finally homelessness after being prescribed a prescription drug with a known side effect of psychosis (similar to well-publicized accounts of our armed forces who are required to take prophylactic doses of anti-malarial drug mefloquine).

    Within a short time, although I owned several homes, I was living on the streets and in the parks of San Francisco and eating out of trash cans. Finally I was placed in a locked-ward of Napa State Hospital for the criminally insane. No one expected to ever see or hear from me again. Not one family member came to visit or called to inquire how I was or answered my mail.

    I can personally attest to the fact that however a person becomes homeless, once there you quickly come to understand how cruel and uncaring other humans and their laws can be. Helpless, vulnerable, broke and suffering from untreated mental illness hardly equip one to better their circumstances. Thoughts of suicide are constantly on your mind. And police officers can trigger a panic attack upon site.
    As I walked the streets in a daze and looked through the windows of other people’s homes, my only wish was that one kind person living behind one plate-glass bay window trimmed with expensive, custom-made curtains in their well-heated homes would reach out to me and offer me a shower.

    I had been working since I was 14-years old and remained well-employed for most of my adult life. That low-point was not the life I worked so hard to attain. But it happened to me anyway, without warning, without time to properly prepare. Without the ability to find homes for my dogs. I never saw my puppies again.

    I hope the City Council members of Arcata will consider ways they might better understand the plight of these fellow human beings who live on sidewalks across American perhaps by committing to walking a few blocks, for a few months, in their moccasins.

    The experience of street and park living and dumpster-diving with no money is so traumatizing and damaging that I can guarantee you will never look at ‘solutions’ to the problem of homelessness or at panhandlers the same way again.

    There IS a solution to homelessness. It’s called homes, not sidewalks, folks.”

  24. skippy Says:

    Some things rarely change. A walk down Arcata’s memory lane, courtesy of the Arcata Union newspaper:

    April 29, 1920
    “A petition was circulated this week among the boys at the Arcata high school for signatures to wear overalls, and between 15 and 20 students signed up and have since appeared in the workingman’s garb. The prevailing style seems to be with the bottoms turned up about half way to the knee …”

    June 19, 1930
    “On the front page, ‘Girl Makes Leap Into Bay’: … The attempt occurred, according to passengers aboard the seven o’clock launch to Samoa, just as the boat was pulling away from the dock at the front of F street. The girl is said to have walked out on the dock, removed her fur coat, her shoes, hat and necklace and plunged off into the water. She had laid a purse containing $80 on top of the pile of clothing.

    Captain Ray Hemblock immediately swung the launch toward the point where the girl was struggling in the water … and brought the boat alongside. W. L. Fridericks … pulled the girl aboard.“Oh, why didn’t you let me die?” the girl is reported as saying when she was rescued …”

    April 8, 1955
    “Front page item: This is a little story which, according to a Sheriff’s deputy, is absolutely true and which accounts for the few persons booked on vagrancy charges in the City of Arcata.

    … A vagrant would be picked up in Arcata Local police would load him in a car, head south, and let him out at the Eureka City limits. Where he’d be picked up by the Eureka cops. Wondering why there was such an increase in the number of vagrants being picked up, they asked a few how they happened to be in Eureka, and the “vags” told them the whole story.

    The Eurekans, said the deputy, plotted revenge. They found a solution. Holding back until they had a car full of vagrants, they headed north and dumped them at the Arcata city limits. since that time, the ‘vagrant specials’ have ceased their scheduled trips, both to and from Arcata.”

    May 20, 1960
    “Front page news, ‘Council avoids McKinley’, will meet departments:” The City Council last might tactfully sidestepped the issue of whether or not costumes and other decorations should adorn Arcata’s President McKinley statue, by assigning a special committee, composed of Howard Clark, William Graves and Gordon Miller, to wrangle with the problem. There are two sides:

    The American Legion claims that the statue, as a representative of our government, is being degraded when Santa Claus costumes and halos are placed on it for decoration purposes during holidays.

    On the other hand, merchants answer that the plaza, as Arcata’s center and showplace, should be decorated, and it is therefore appropriate to decorate the McKinley statue also .”

    June 24, 1960
    “Arcata police nabbed five 18-19 year old boys, two juveniles and one juvenile girl this week for possession of alcohol. A routine patrol check of Jill’s drive-in resulted in the confiscating of a case of beer from a parked car. ”

    May 25, 1970
    “Photo caption: Timothy G. Howe solved Arcata’s housing problem by setting up housekeeping in a stump.

    The 20-year-old junior drama major from Orinda, explained simply that about a month ago he tired of paying rent and thus spent a couple weekends building a home in a hollow redwood stump near the campus. “All it took was $10,” said Howe. “My home.”

    For a bathroom, Howe has many acres … His home is equipped with a gas light, cot and radio. Besides his constant companions — banana slugs — Howe’s friends visit to play frisbee and talk. …”

    May 1, 1975
    “Front page news: The extended grudge battle between residents of 29th Street and the Sun Valley Bulb Farm, continued last week as the residents unsuccessfully tried to block an emendment to the Arcata zoning ordinance which could allow the farm to continue to operate. …

    Residents of 29th Street adjacent to the bulb farm have a long-standing battle going which stems from a severe drainage problem the residents feel was caused by the bulb farm. While the city has installed a drainage system which has stopped severe flooding in the area, it hasn’t repaired the relations between the residents and the farm.

    Lawrence Truitt, attorney representing 29th Streeters, told the commission, ‘Life was sweet on 29th Street before the bulb farm went in; the bulb farm went in and suddenly there was flooding.’

    He also cited problems with dust and spraying of pesticides and herbicides which drift onto adjoining properties …”

    History does have a habit of repeating itself…

  25. Anonymous Says:

    it’s dead skip, let it go……

  26. skippy Says:

    Yeah, you’re right.
    This dog had its day, the ghost is given up.
    Time to turn off the lights, lock the doors, walk away, call it a day.

    Until we meet again, my friends: adios, sayonara, au revoir, ciao, auf wiedersehen, good bye and good luck.

    Much peace to you and yours… skippy

    “Once upon a time there was a tavern
    Where we used to raise a glass or two
    Remember how we laughed away the hours
    And dreamed of all the great things we would do

    Then the busy years went rushing by us
    We lost our starry notions on the way
    Through the door there came familiar laughter
    I saw your face and heard you call my name
    Oh my friend we’re older but no wiser
    For in our hearts the dreams are still the same

    Those were the days my friend
    We thought they’d never end
    We’d sing and dance forever and a day
    We’d live the life we choose
    We’d fight and never lose
    For we were young and sure to have our way.
    Those were the days, oh yes, those were the days”

    –‘Those Were the Days/Endless Road’ by Russian Folk Composer Boris Ivanovitch Fomin, (1900-1948)

  27. Anonymous Says:

    The article about 29th Street does no justice. The bulb farm was allowed to illegally operate for many years, they recon formed the surrounding land to no longer drain into the Janes creek drainage, and the pesticides killed several local domestic animals. The powers to be at city hall, condoned the abuse, but when confronted with a law suit in 1972, they agreed that they were in the wrong, and that is why the pump was installed at the end of 29th street.

    If I had known about the 1975 problem, I would have returned with the all the information that I had collected while working for the city, that showed they allowed the bulb farm to operate in violation. The story was given to the Union that was located off the plaza, and all supporting documents were sealed and stored after the city agreed to take responsibility in 1972.

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  34. skippy Says:

    Just a note to Humboldt readers and beyond: While this blog is dead– and many others, too, have succumbed– The Humboldt Sentinel blog is still around, alive, and kickin’ it.

    I think you’ll like some of our stuff, a collection of different and interesting things. Check it out.

    Come by and see us sometime, here:

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