Monday, 05 June 2023

Arts & Life



For a change, the headlines are ripped from the book.

In Lakeport, "City won't host BoardStock." The city council decided to pass on the water sports events plus on-shore bands and festivities after a long public meeting when "a majority of local business owners and residents spoke of their concerns that the event would bring to the city violence and underage alcohol drinking on a massive scale."

In Windsor, "Windsor High students snub strictly regulated dance."

Author Barbara Ehrenreich, in "Dancing in the Streets: A Collective History of Joy," (Metropolitan Books, $26) documents countless times in history when officials have made similar decisions to discourage or ban exuberant gatherings, usually citing fears that music would incite high-spirited crowds to "orgies."

It's a groundless fear, she says. What the music and movement actually lead to is a shared consciousness of delight in their own bodies and each other, a mass bonding that can (horrors!) lead to disdain for the officials and their rules.

The Windsor students, in boycotting a dance that required signing contracts not to engage in "explicit dancing," declared their right to enjoy their bodies as they wish. The Lakeport Council, fearing a repeat of last year's event when security forces couldn't control the crowd, admitted they're powerless over masses of people having fun.

There's no question these gatherings have sometimes gotten out of control, with excesses of drug and alcohol use leading to violence.

Could that be at least partially because our couch potato nation has so few occasions for collective joy? Maybe we just need more practice in making our own fun?

Control's the issue, Ehrenreich says, and carnival spirit's the danger. In the ancient tradition of carnival, masks and costumes grant anonymity, mockery of rulers is frequent and the participants are equal.

Today, she says, the closest we come to this is in sports, where the fans use costumes, body paint and mass movement like the wave. And owners of teams and stadiums have done their best to co-opt it, by selling the costumes and memorabilia.

The spectacles staged by Hitler's regime embody the official stance: The only music is martial, the only movement is marching and team gymnastics. The crowd becomes an audience, not participants.

The book's overlong, but Ehrenreich has given us valuable background on what's really behind official control of festivities. Who knows where it might lead if people get the idea they can control their own bodies and lives, even for a few hours?

Ehrenreich also wrote the popular "Nickel and Dimed," in which she worked at minimum wage jobs around the country, and found you can't live on minimum wage.

E-mail Sophie Annan Jensen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



Mary Wilson put on a stirring performance Friday at Robinson Rancheria Resort & Casino. Photo by Thurman Watts.



NICE Lake County News came pretty close to an exclusive with "The Original Dreamgirl" Mary Wilson this past Friday in conjunction with her performance in Lake County. Unfortunately, Ms Wilson's flight was late and the interview was scuttled.

Nonetheless, for your entertainment correspondent and the two-thirds capacity crowd at Robinson Rancheria Resort & Casino Wilson performed in the exemplary manner one would expect from a professional of her legendary stature.

Looking fit and beautiful, the founding member of the Supremes took the stage wearing an irridescent, sheer wrap, over a hot pink, sexy evening dress and launched into a medley of 60s Supreme hits; "Love Child," "My World Is Empty Without You" and "Reflections." These songs were, of course, all sung originally with Diana Ross singing lead, but Mary Wilson definitely showed the crowd that she can handle the tunes out front as well.

In her opening monologue, she introduced herself as one of the original Supremes and promised to sing all of the old songs for us "old, old, old, old teenagers." She then launched into an hilarious skit with her male backup singer to the strains of "Back In My Arms Again" which was reminiscent of the cabaret style the Supremes employed in their live shows.

Though some of us knew her age, many jaws dropped when Ms. Wilson announced she'd recently celebrated her 63rd birthday and was the proud grandmother of eight! She then segued into a duet with her guitarist, reprising the Sting-penned, "Field Of Gold." She followed that with her rendition of the Bonnie Raitt hit, "Can't Make You Love Me" to rousing applause. At this point in the performance Wilson left the stage with the promise to return to rock & roll.

She was back in a flash in black dancing attire and swung into Martha & The Vandella's "Dancing In The Street" and the crowd danced into action. So many people started dancing that soon Ms. Wilson had a second line cadre of dancers on stage with her.

Wilson then acknowledged the success of the film Dreamgirls and reminisced about seeing the Broadway stage production of it some years ago. She spoke of how even then it was seen as loosely based on the story of the Supremes. So loose, she mused, that she didn't get paid, either time.

As a tribute to the late Florence Ballard, the founder of the Supremes, Wilson stated that the Effie character in the play and film was really a fictionalized version of Ballard and that the song "I'm Changing" was the song that Flo Ballard would have sang in real life. Wilson then brought the house down with her heartfelt version of the song.

The Supremes had 12 singles that sold a more than a million copies and Mary Wilson as a solo artist had one, "I Ain't Gonna Walk That Line" a seemingly autobiographical song that powerfully revealed victory over the challenges of life.

As she attempted to end the show with "Someday We'll Be Together," the crowd would not let her. "The Original Dreamgirl" came back for two encores, pulling out all the stops on "Satisfaction," "I Want To Take You Higher" and "Brown Sugar."

Wow! How sweet it was.

E-mail Thurman Watts at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..





Some performers come into our lives and we listen to them, seemingly forever. They become superstars and put out box sets.

Take David Crosby. Great voice; he was the horse's ass on the cover of the Byrds' "Notorious Byrds Brothers." Sang with some guys called Stills and Nash and (Sometimes Y and Young). Good group. Right outside my place singing "My House" right now.

Crosby wrote some good songs; put out an unforgettable LP I've been trying to forget for years. But it just came out as a box set. He could not even remember his name in either version.

Fathered two kids for Melissa Etheridge's wife and got a new liver, the 21st Century everybody who's anybody has to have one trend fast replacing multiple rehab.

I don't mean to pick on Crosby. I still listen to the Byrds and even saw Crosby, Stills and Nash (with

Sometimes Y and Young) once. They were pretty good but not as good as the Beach Boys. The Beach Boys literally raised off the roof on the former now newly rebuilt rebuilt County Stadium in Milwaukee.

By contrast, Stills, when he used the restroom, had more bodyguards to do it for him than County Stadium has johns.

Which brings us to Karen Dalton, sadly dead lo these many years. Kind of like Miles Davis was when you finally heard him.

I won't go on and talk about Phil Lesh, another liver transplant and the only member of the Grateful Dead to blackball Dylan's joining the group.

I once saw the Blind Pew of rock 'n' roll going into the Mill Valley Film Fest and, let me tell you, he was going into the Mill Valley Film Festival like only a member of the Grateful Dead, who hasn't had his liver transplant yet, could.

Jerry, I don't think ever had one. But he is jamming with Karen Dalton way up there in the real Rock 'N'

Roll Hall of Fame, the one without so many rehab repeaters and Cabo Wabbo guys.

Speaking of jamming. There's a photo of Bob Dylan, Fred Neil and Karen Dalton jamming at the Cafe Wha? in 1961, years before the Summer of Love and its many anniversaries - god(des) willin' and the creek don't rise full of claw toed African killer frogs who can only be kept in check by crocodiles and magic mud drying machines).

Dylan, in "Chronicles, Vol. 1" which I'm sure Usher, who didn't know his name was Bob when he gave him his Album of the Year Award in 1997, has never read, nor have all the members of Van Halen both in and out of rehab said: "My favorite singer ...was Karen Dalton. She was a tall white blues singer and guitar player, funky, lanky and sultry ... Karen had a voice like Billie Holiday's and played the guitar like Jimmy Reed and went all the way with it ..."

There's a picture of Mr. Dylan and Fred Neil and Karen Dalton on her second reissued CD, "It's So Hard To Tell Who's Going To Love You Best." On that one a true legend not a legend in Eddie Money's "mind"? has it that Fred Neil tricked the notoriously shy Karen into coming to one of his recording sessions and bringing her instruments along.

There, Nic Venet (Capitol Records, Beatles, Beach Boys, need I say more), who had been pursuing Karen Dalton for several years, turned on a tape recorder and another Karen Dalton CD is now available for less than the price of the box sets of "I Can't Even Remember My Name" and "Cabo Wabbo Gone Wild," combined.

Sticking with the first CD, produced by the bassist's bassist, Harvey Brooks, which you will likely not stop playing until you wear it out, I will only say a few more things.

In Nick Cave's liner notes, "The Understanding of Sorrow," Cave, the "grocer of despair" of Australia

says he listened to this CD, "In My Own Time" during most of the three years he traveled with it in his

suitcase at all times, all through Brazil. The other thing he listened to in that triumvirate of time was

Samba music.

I will just challenge you to read "The Understanding of Sorrow," Lenny Kaye's "In Her Own Time," or

Devendra Banhart's "A Stream Outside of Time," the other liner notes on this CD and not lose it, as in

losing it.

When I first heard and re-heard "Katy Cruel," with Karen Dalton on banjo, I was totally incapable of

getting up and walking around the room for a great deal of time.

Nick Cave says he listened to Karen's version of Dino Valenti's "Something On Your Mind" for most of his three years in Brazil.

You could try Richard Manuel's "In A Station" or Paul Butterfield's "In My Own Dream" or anything else on here.

Next thing you know you'll be trading in all your CDs on for $1, 75 cents shipping and something else you really want or need even if you don't know it yet.

There's a third Karen Dalton, a five song live set. I'm not even sure you can get.

But you can try. "How Sweet It Is."

P.S. "Katy Cruel" is available as a free download on

E-mail Gary Peterson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Mendocino College theater professor Reid Edelman and writing professor Jody Gehrman announce auditions for Fifth Annual Festival of New Plays. Photo by Ross Beck.


UKIAH -- The Mendocino College Theater Arts Department will hold auditions for the eight new plays that have been selected to be produced this spring in the Fifth Annual Festival of New Plays.



The eight plays, each with an approximate running time of 10 minutes, will be directed by student directors under the guidance of theater professor Reid Edelman and writing professor Jody Gehrman.


After putting out a call to the community, Edelman and Gehrman received over 70 original scripts from local writers. Some were students in the college’s English and theater classes, and some were writers in the area who decided to submit their work.


“We’re extremely pleased,” said Gehrman. “Once again, the entries were wonderful the quality of the submissions seems to be getting better and better each year! Deciding which ones to produce was extraordinarily difficult.”



The selected plays include: “5000 Cigarettes” by Max Oken (directed by Sarah Walker), “How To Pick a Winner” by Paul Kubin (directed by Jim Williams), “Landscape Post-Modern” by Andrea J. Onstad (directed by Margie Loesch), “Oh Baby!” by Natasha Yim (directed by Jonathan Whipple), “Pissing on Your Shoes” by Bill Walls (directed by Chris Dill), “MU” by Frank Bari (directed by William French, Jr.), “No Matter What,” by Corinna Rogers (directed by Joel Shura), and “The Space Between Us” by Keith Aisner (directed by KC Dill).


According to Edelman, “This annual festival of new plays has become a highlight of the college theatre season.”


In recent years, the festival has played to sold out audiences. “I think the public will really enjoy these performances, but even more importantly, the collaboration between directors, actors and playwrights provides an invaluable learning experience for everyone,” said Gehrman.


Open auditions for all seven plays will be held Monday April 9 from 6 to 9:30 p.m. in the Little Theater on the Mendocino College campus.

All interested actors should arrive at 6 p.m. and plan on staying until the auditions end at 9:30 p.m. The auditions will involve reading short scenes from the selected plays.

No preparation or experience is required for the auditions; however, scripts for the new plays are on reserve in the college library for those who wish to read them before auditioning.

Performances are scheduled for May 18 and 19 at 8 p.m.

For more information, please contact Reid Edelman, 468-3172 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..




In the book The Osama bin Laden I Know: An Oral History of al Qaeda's Leader, author Peter L. Bergen extends his personal interviews of bin Laden with interviews of over 50 other people from a spectrum of society, all of whom have known bin Laden at various times in his life. The result is a verbal documentary of the Islamic terrorist's life.


Given the ongoing failures of American military intelligence, this is probably the best biographical data extant on bin Laden. This becomes more evident when the reader studies Bergen's qualifications as an Islamist, a journalist and an academic; he is probably as, or more, qualified than any CIA staff member.

Bin Laden's changes throughout the book are interesting, though not unexpected if considered from a Muslim standpoint.

He is a quiet reticent bland religious youth, a rich kid who refuses to be spoiled by family wealth. At first, he runs the family business when he has to, including construction of a road in the Tora Bora Mountains of Afghanistan. Later, he goes to Afghanistan to work in refugee relief, then to combat the Russian invasion, as a religious duty, somewhat in an Islamic version of "Onward, Christian Soldiers."

His wealth empowers him to raise his own fighting unit, much as well-to-do Americans used to enroll their own militia units. His combat experience emboldens him. He insists on keeping his unit together as a fighting force small in number though large in publicity. He commits them to audacious but militarily inconsequential battles. As a result, he is regarded as a showoff with little military talent. He draws no backing from Pakistani or American covert operators.

Nevertheless, emerging from the battle against the Russians with a reputation among Muslims as a warrior for his faith gives him the standing to consolidate his brand new organization with other Islamic terrorist organizations. He loses his native Saudi citizenship, is disowned by his family and moves to the Sudan. While there he sponsors the attack against American Army Rangers depicted in Black Hawk Down. His subsequent move back to Afghanistan, and his jihad against the United States, are well known.

This is an anvil of a book, heavy with fact and jargon. It also references a whole library of supporting information that appears to elucidate almost every facet of the interviews.

This reader emerged with some insights that are dismaying, and don't bode well for America. I present them in no particular order.

The Middle Eastern concept of citizenship is a much more fluid one than ours. A man is a Muslim first, a Lebanese or Iraqi or Saudi second. As a result, Muslim citizens seem to travel throughout the Arab world relatively easily.

Muslim ideology also spreads easily. Al Qaeda's ideological roots are as much Egyptian as Saudi or Yemeni.

Our intervention to free Kuwait is a major cause of bin Laden's anger against our country. He believed that Muslims should have freed Kuwait, and that the American presence in Saudi Arabia is an abomination.

Bin Laden hated Saddam Hussein. He claimed that because Saddam was a socialist, he was a traitor to Islam.

Our present invasion of Iraq is considered to be an advantage for al Qaeda. It eliminated a dictator opposed to them, supplies combat training for its fighters and stirs up such discontent it serves as a recruiting tool for their cause.

Israel is regarded by Muslim militants as virtually an American colony. Only its extinction will satisfy al Qaeda and its ilk.

There is probably much much more than this to be gleaned from this book. Certainly, anyone who wants to grapple with the realities of our war in Iraq can benefit from reading it.

E-mail George Dorner at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..




CLEARLAKE Lake County's inaugural International Women's Day, organized by county poet laureate Sandra Wade, gathered writers and artists at Redbud Library March 8.

Wade opened the event with a brief reading of poetry, then welcomed several local writers: Janet Riehl, Fran Ransley, Torrie Quintero, Joyce Anderson, JoAnn Sacccato, Carol Batho, Laurelee Roark and Linda Drew.

They read from both their own works and writings by admired poets, and presented historic background on women's wisdom.

Wade ended the evening with a poem in Spanish and English by Claribel Alegria, a moving childhood experience by Mary Tall Mountain and notes for a poem on women's experiences in the military based on a radio interview she did that morning with Sgt. Ellie Painted Crow.

Artist Mary Schossler showed recent paintings and drawings, and a collection of back issues of Ms. magazine and the British feminist journal Spare Rib were offered free.

An exhibit of newspaper articles and posters featured Native American women, Muslim women in Afghanistan, Iran and Somalia; herbalist Juliette de Bairacli-Levy, and local twin sisters Madge Johnson and Foddy Rowland, who celebrated their 97 th birthday last year.

Writers Mary McMillan and Chris Kirkwood attended. Hiram Johnson videotaped the event for airing on PEG channel 8 at a later date.

"Next year, we hope high school and college students will want to join in this joyful day to mark the creativity, courage and perseverance of women through the ages," Wade said.


Upcoming Calendar

06.07.2023 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
East Region Town Hall
06.08.2023 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
Middletown Art Center
06.09.2023 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Crafters group
06.10.2023 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Crafters group
06.10.2023 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Ladies of the Lake Quilt Guild
06.10.2023 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
06.12.2023 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Ladies of the Lake Quilt Guild
Lakeport Senior Center
Flag Day
06.15.2023 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
Middletown Art Center

Mini Calendar



Award winning journalism on the shores of Clear Lake. 



Enter your email here to make sure you get the daily headlines.

You'll receive one daily headline email and breaking news alerts.
No spam.
Cookies! uses cookies for statistical information and to improve the site.

// Infolinks