Tuesday, 23 July 2024


UPPER LAKE – The premiere of a new music and arts festival will take place later this month.

The Rainbow Bridge Festival is set for June 26, 27 and 28 at 10568 Bachelor Valley Road, Upper Lake.

The organizers say the festival is intended to bring people together through a common experience, involving a connection with nature and valuable interaction with community expressed through music, yoga and healthy lifestyle exploration.

There will be workshops and demonstrations on green building, gardening, alternative energy and yoga, with drumming circles and activities for children.

A main component of the festival will be performances by world-class performers, including Pato Banton, the Annie Sampson Band, Elijah Emanuel, Mitchell Holman, Karma, Levi Huffman, Rootstock and Side of Blues.

Speakers will include Jeane Manning, author of several books including “The Coming Energy Revolution” and “Breakthrough Power.” Manning will share information and compelling stories about brave inventors and breakthrough technologies from around the world that are green and sustainable. She makes the case for open sourcing, clean energy inventions such as magnetic motors, zero point energy, water-as-fuel and other new paradigm advances.

Harvey Wasserman, author of “Solartopia, Our Green Powered Earth,” will share his wisdom and vision of making the bridge to a solarized world. Wasserman's widespread appearances throughout the major media and at campuses and citizens gatherings since the 1960s have focused on energy, the environment, the truth about nuclear power, United States history and election protection.

Another speaker will be Anodea Judith, whose books include “Wheels of Life” and “Waking the Global Heart.” Judith holds a doctorate in health and human services, with a specialty in mind-body healing, and a master’s in clinical psychology. Her best-selling books on the chakra system, marrying Eastern and Western disciplines have been considered groundbreaking in the field of transpersonal psychology and used as definitive texts in the U.S. and abroad.


The festival also will pay tribute to the late Marla Ruzicka, a Lake County native and human rights activist who died in Iraq in April of 2005.

Kevin Danaher of Global Exchange, who knew and worked with Ruzicka, will speak about her, and also will present ideas from his book “Building the Green Economy, Success Stories from the Grass Roots.”

For tickets and more information, visit the festival Web site, www.rainbowbridgefest.com .

LAKE COUNTY – Local health officials on Friday issued an environmental health advisory regarding the recent appearance of a type of blue-green algae.

During the past several days, Department of Health Services, Division of Environmental Health has received numerous inquiries regarding suspected raw sewage along the shores of Clear Lake near Austin Park, Clearlake Highlands and the inner harbor area of the City of Clearlake.

Upon initial investigation, the substance appears to be a blue-green algae species known as Aphanizomenon. The appearance of this form of algae easily can be mistaken as raw sewage.

According to the Lake County Water Resources Division of Public Works, recent weather and water conditions have been conducive to this type of algal growth.

Further analysis is in progress to confirm the exact species and to clarify any potential health impacts.

As a precaution, it is recommended that individuals of all ages and pets avoid swimming in or ingesting lake water in the affected areas.

Families should exercise caution in keeping children and pets away from the water.

For more information, contact Lake County Environmental Health at 707-263-1164 during regular business hours; after hours call 707-263-2690.

CLEARLAKE – A judge on Thursday sentenced a teenager to seven years in state prison for the fatal May 2008 stabbing of a Clearlake man.

Judge Steve Hedstrom handed down the sentence to Erik Michael McPherson, 19, following a two hour and 40 minute sentencing hearing in Lake County Superior Court's Department 4.

McPherson was convicted in late April of voluntary manslaughter for the stabbing death of 40-year-old Nicolai Chukreeff on May 4 of last year at the Harbor Lite Resort in Clearlake. He originally had been charged with murder.

Hedstrom gave McPherson the middle, six-year term for the voluntary manslaughter charge and an additional year for his conviction for using a knife to commit the crime.

The trial – from jury selection to deliberations and verdict – lasted 38 days and included the testimony of approximately 30 witnesses, Hedstrom said.

According to details of the case recounted in court on Thursday, McPherson's girlfriend drove him to the resort, where Chukreeff and several friends, including Dave Meadows, were having drinks in the resort's gazebo.

Chukreeff reportedly flicked a lit cigarette at McPherson, who didn't react, and then according to testimony by witnesses Chukreeff lunged at McPherson, which started the fight.

McPherson – only 5 feet 4 inches tall and 124 pounds at the time of the stabbing – allegedly used a belt to ward off Chukreeff, who was 5 feet, 6 inches tall and 160 pounds.

Although the main witnesses didn't see him with it, McPherson used a knife to stab Chukreeff in the chest. The defense alleged that McPherson didn't bring the knife to the fight, but his girlfriend testified to seeing him wrap a knife into a red bandanna some time before the fight.

Chukreeff – who collapsed and died at the scene – suffered a chest wound that was five inches long, with a second stab wound that went through his sternum and pierced his heart. The two wounds could have been caused by one motion or two separate actions, based on the testimony of a pathologist.

McPherson then fled from the scene in his girlfriend's car, and was later arrested on a grand theft charge. The knife was never found.

Shortly after the hearing began, Chukreeff's family came forward to offer victim impact statements.

His sister, Michelle Giguiere – accompanied by family members and a Victim-Witness advocate – explained that he went to work at age 16, and was the only one of the five Chukreeff siblings to get his high school diploma.

Chukreeff was a devoted fisherman who enjoyed the lake, and who was dedicated to his friends and family. “Nick shared his life with a lot of people who loved him,” Giguiere said.

He had open heart surgery not long before he died. Giguiere said he'd gotten a clean bill of health just days before the fatal stabbing, and came to tell her the news.

Giguiere said she still struggles with the idea that her beloved brother is gone. She said she sat in the courtroom for many days, watching McPherson draw, make faces and try to make eye contact with her, and she couldn't scream out how much she hates him.

“You cheated him of his life,” she said of her brother and friend.

Now, McPherson is getting “a slap on the wrist” for the death. However, Giguiere also blamed her brother's friends for not intervening to stop the fight.

Giguiere brought with her a golden-framed picture of her brother. She walked up to Hedstrom and handed him the picture.

Hedstrom took the portrait, sat back and held it up, looking at it carefully for several moments before putting it back in Giguiere's hands.

Marieanne Lassen, Chukreeff's partner of 12 years, told the court, “It's been a long road.”

Two days after Chukreeff's death, Lassen said McPherson – who hadn't yet been identified as the suspect in the case – came up to her and said, “Sorry for your loss.”

She called Chukreeff “the greatest gift in my life.”

Early in the hearing, Hedstrom stated that he was against granting McPherson probation. “If you're arguing for probation you're going to have a very high fence to get across.”

Defense attorney Stephen Carter emphasized that none of the witnesses disagreed that Chukreeff had instigated the fight and attacked McPherson. He alleged that another person introduced the knife used to fatally stab Chukreeff into the fight.

“That's your client's version now,” said Hedstrom, who noted there were at least four versions of the story that McPherson had given in interviews with law enforcement.

Carter argued for probation, or at the very least the lower, four-year term, saying that the stabbing resulted from “great provocation.” He accused the Probation Department report of being “extraordinarily biased” for bringing up several petty prior records when McPherson was 6, 12 and 16 years old.

Hedstrom said he was was only giving a certain amount of weight to one case when McPherson was 12.

McPherson had many “fine people” who wrote letters in his support, including his grandparents from Colorado and other community members, said Carter.

The teen has challenges that emerged from his home life, said Carter. “A lot of the negatives about him have come from being raised in an environment where his mother was using drugs and doing everything that went along with it.”

He added, “Mr. McPherson didn't ask for this fight. It came to him and he happened to finish it.” Carter said McPherson is very sorry for Chukreeff's death.

McPherson's actions didn't show a high degree of viciousness or callousness, only a response to being attacked, said Carter.

Hedstrom said he didn't buy the allegation that another person had introduced the knife into the fight. “This is like another version,” he said, noting he'd received no credible evidence that anyone would have a motive to throw a knife into the fight.

The judge also noted that the jury rejected a finding of involuntary manslaughter as well as the allegation that Chukreeff fell on the knife during the fight.

Carter said there's a very clear reason why someone would try to introduce the knife. He said it may have been thrown in to help Chukreeff, but McPherson picked it up instead.

In countering the defense statements, prosecutor John DeChaine stated, “The defense conveniently continues to try to push culpability onto the victim.”

DeChaine said McPherson changed weapons – from the belt to the knife – during the fight. He said there was no evidence that it was necessary for McPherson to pull a knife to defend himself.

“This wasn't his first time with knife play, this wasn't his first time using a knife in a violent manner,” said DeChaine, referring to a 2002 incident in which McPherson allegedly held the point of a knife up against a juvenile's ribs.

Hedstrom noted that letters to the court on McPherson's behalf portrayed “someone with redeeming qualities.”

He gave McPherson the seven-year sentence, with credit for 458 days, of which 399 were for time served.

Hedstrom told McPherson there was no doubt that he had difficulties in his upbringing, but ultimately he was accountable for his life and actions.

“You need to think long and hard about how you're going to live the rest of your life,” Hedstrom told him.

Following court, Chukreeff's friends and family remembered him as a caring, friendly man who helped keep the neighborhood tidy and cared for others.

They also were united in believing McPherson's sentence wasn't long enough.

“His loss will be felt in our community,” said neighbor Art Frazee, who knew Chukreeff for about 10 years. Frazee sat through the sentencing with his wife, Arlette Buckholz.

Buckholz called the situation “really sad.”

Frazee said he hopes McPherson straightens out his life.

Lassen, who agreed that the prison term wasn't enough time, nonetheless said that they should pray for McPherson.

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




I love getting wine release invitations. It’s the closest thing a foodie freak like me gets to a red carpet movie premier.

Wine release parties are held in a variety of venues, whether it is a tasting room, vineyard, or sometimes even in the winemakers’ actual home. Six Sigma Winery held their spring release party last Saturday on their ranch just outside their cave. Instead of being a long red carpet you get to travel a long dirt road, which is much more fitting for the event.

The Six Sigma ranch can be a little bit intimidating upon entering since just after the “welcome” barrel is a sign saying that you only have two more miles to go. You will drive slowly down the one lane road looking at the vineyards, then the vineyards turn to cattle ranch, and just before you hit vineyard again you see the cave. To a guy who has never owned a plot of land that I couldn’t throw a rock across, it’s quite an impressive place.

Kaj Ahlmann, the owner of the Six Sigma ranch, was there talking to everyone as we tasted his wines accompanied with many different cheeses and crackers.

Christian Ahlmann surprises me every time I see him. Every time we meet, Christian remembers my name and where he saw me last, even if it’s been years. If my wife goes on a trip and comes back a week later I have a problem recognizing her so he’s definitely got an ability that I lack.

The first wine I tasted was the 2007 Sauvignon Blanc from the Rooster Vineyard, which is aged in stainless steel vats. This is a very subtle wine that has a very light color and fruity flavor with what I thought was just a hint of lemon. If someone had never tasted wine before in their life this would be the perfect wine to get their proverbial toes wet with. I would want to pair this wine up with a halibut steak poached in a court bouillon.

The 2006 Tempranillo, arguably the most popular Spanish wine grape in Spain and gaining popularity everywhere, is aged in oak. I noticed a slight peppery start with black cherries and cinnamon. Being a tannic red wine it would pair well with meats but it is a little lighter than say a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Zinfandel, so I feel it would be a good pairing with barbecued pork.

The 2008 Tempranillo was being tasted right out of the barrel using a wine thief (a special siphon used to sample the wine from the barrel, which I can only not too eloquently describe as a glass turkey baster minus the bulb.) This was a very young tasting wine that I know is going to age into something great.

If you ever get a chance to taste a finished wine right next to a young wine still in the barrel, jump at the chance. It is quite an educational experience. I’d compare it to looking at professional photographs of a 25 year old supermodel right next to her high school class picture.

On the whole winemakers are very generous people and I have personally experienced that generosity on many occasions. For instance, Six Sigma is one of the wineries that donated to the inaugural Catfish Cook-off. At this release party I was again the beneficiary of this generosity as Michael Ahlmann was kind enough to let me sample a couple of wines that weren’t widely available.

The 2007 Sauvignon Blanc from the Michael vineyard isn’t ready to be released but is oak aged. It is now my favorite wine with its peach nose (fancy wine guy speak for smell) and rich color without having an overbearing oakiness to it. This is a wine that I thought should be brought to a potluck dinner (I attend them frequently) because this wine would go well with all of the dishes that you associate with potlucks: ambrosia, asparagus in cream sauce, fruit salads, ham, cold cuts, even sweet potatoes with those little marshmallows. I hope the Ahlmanns take that comment as the compliment I intend it to be.

The 2006 Rose is a Cabernet Sauvignon/Sauvignon Blanc mix that is the perfect wine to encourage a white wine drinker to start dabbling into reds. It’s far from the cloy Rose that you can get at the kwik-e-mart in a jug. This is a wine that as I sipped I thought would be the perfect wine to sit on the porch and drink after a day of gardening, because it’s so refreshing and drinkable.

These are just the wines that are being released now. If you’d like to learn more about the wide variety of their entire line, take a look at their very informative Web site, www.sixsigmaranch.com .

Visit Six Sigma Ranch and Vineyards at 13372 Spruce Grove Road, Lower Lake, telephone 707-994-2086 or toll-free, 888-571-1721.

Ross A. Christensen is an award-winning gardener and gourmet cook. He is the author of "Sushi A to Z, The Ultimate Guide" and is currently working on a new book. He has been a public speaker for many years and enjoys being involved in the community.

A small group of about 20 protesters gathered in front of the courthouse on Friday, June 12, 2009, to protest the prosecution of Bismarck Dinius. Photo by Gail Salituri.




LAKEPORT – On Friday, as protesters gathered on the courthouse steps, Lake County's district attorney informed a judge that he intended to move forward with prosecuting a Carmichael man in connection with a fatal 2006 sailboat crash.

District Attorney Jon Hopkins, appearing in a 13-minute trial readiness hearing in the prosecution of Bismarck Dinius, said his office intends to continue with the case.

Visiting Judge J. Michael Byrne also set a June 30 hearing on motions to recuse the District Attorney's Office from the case and to enforce a stipulation for independent forensic analysis, which will delay the trial.

On May 19 Deputy District Attorney John Langan told the court that the case might be dropped because investigators didn't have enough time to evaluate new information before the June 30 trial date.

Langan did not appear in court on Friday; he had notified the defense last week that Hopkins was taking over the case, as Lake County News has reported. Hopkins will be the third prosecutor to handle the case since it was filed in May of 2007.

Dinius, 41, is being charged with vehicular manslaughter involving a boat and boating under the influence.

He was at the tiller of a sailboat owned by Willows resident Mark Weber on April 29, 2006, when the boat – which the District Attorney's Office alleges was under way without lights – was hit by a powerboat driven by Russell Perdock, an off-duty sheriff's deputy.

Dinius is alleged to have had a blood alcohol level of 0.12 at the time of the crash, with Weber alleged to have a blood alcohol level of 0.18. Weber has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

Weber's fiancee, Lynn Thornton, was mortally injured in the crash and died a few days later. Perdock was not charged, although the investigation concluded that he was traveling too fast for conditions. Estimates of the speed of Perdock's powerboat have ranged from 45 miles per hour to more than 60 miles per hour.

Weber attended the hearing along with about 20 other people – friends, family members and supporters of Dinius.

Some of those watching the courtroom proceedings had held signs in front of the courthouse protesting the case's handling, demanding Perdock be charged and calling for Hopkins' ouster.

Victor Haltom, Dinius' attorney, had filed two motions that he wanted the court to consider – one to have the District Attorney's Office recused from the case, the other to enforce a stipulation that Perdock's original blood sample be provided for independent testing, as the District Attorney's Office had agreed to do.

Byrne, who has been handling the case for several months, noted that he hadn't received answers to Haltom's motions from the District Attorney's Office. Hopkins said the motions had arrived this week, and he didn't have the statutory time to prepare.

Hopkins said he received a phone call from the state Attorney General's Office, who Haltom had contacted in regard to his motion to have Hopkins' office removed from the case.

He related that Gerald Engler, the supervising deputy attorney general, said he also would not be able to be prepared to address the motion in the statutory time.

Engler appeared in Lake County Superior Court in August of 2007 when Haltom previously had attempted to have the District Attorney's Office removed from the case, citing close relationships with the sheriff's office. At that time, the Attorney General's Office opposed the motion, which Judge Robert Crone ruled against.

Hopkins suggested a convenient date be set for hearing all the motions. “I think that makes sense,” said Byrne.

Haltom relayed to the court that Engler had said he was available for a hearing either on June 29 or 30.

Last month, Haltom pulled a time waiver that means Dinius' trial must start by July 7 at the latest. But that deadline now comes into conflict with the need to hear the motions, a point Byrne made during the brief hearing.

He said the defendant will “have to bend” on the speedy trial provisions because of the motions. “We deal with conflicting rights on a regular basis,” said Byrne.

DA: No change in position on the case

Byrne said one of the reasons for the Friday hearing was to discuss if the District Attorney's Office planned to move forward on the case.

“That's correct,” replied Hopkins.

Byrne said it was his understanding that if a reason arose not to proceed with trial that it was good to know that in advance in order to prevent the jury commissioner from summoning a large number of jury candidates.

“We have not come to that conclusion,” Hopkins said, referring to the idea of not moving forward.

Haltom said he expected that, if he called all of his witnesses in the recusal motion hearing that it could take more than a day.


Byrne said it's necessary to hear the motion before the trial, which can start as soon as possible afterward. Due to media and local interest, Byrne noted that it would take a “substantial number” of people to get a jury.

Haltom also wanted his motion to enforce the stipulations for the blood tests to be considered.

Byrne asked Hopkins for his position. Hopkins said he would need to look into it to see if a hearing was needed. If it was, it could be scheduled the same day as the hearing on the recusal, he suggested.

Noting that Friday was the last day to begin summoning a jury panel for the June 30 trial date, Byrne said they had to move forward with hearing the recusal motion.

“It does appear to have a sufficient seriousness that it should be heard,” he said, noting the District Attorney's Office has a right to respond.

“I'll find good cause to delay the trial,” he said.

Byrne set June 30 as the date for hearing the motions, saying the trial would begin as soon as possible afterward, noting it would start as soon afterward as possible. He added that if the Attorney General's Office did take over the case, they would need additional time to prepare.

The judge asked Hopkins when he planned to file his responses to Haltom's motions. Hopkins said he hoped to have them filed by June 23.

Haltom said a number of the witnesses he plans to call in the recusal hearing are employees of the Lake County Sheriff's Office and District Attorney's Office. He said that Langan had previously stated in court that the Haltom wouldn't have to subpoena their testimony, that they would be made available. Haltom said he wanted the same assurances from Hopkins.

Hopkins said he didn't have the witness list to which Haltom was referring – and which features Hopkins' own name – “so I can't give him any assurances at this point.”

Byrne said the court still didn't know if the District Attorney's Office was planning to move forward, having missed Hopkins' statement previously.

“We have not come across anything in the investigation so far that would be a reason not to proceed to trial,” Hopkins replied.

Last month Langan indicated that District Attorney's Office investigators likely couldn't complete their investigations into new information in the case in order to be prepared for the June 30 trial date.

That new information includes witness statements placing Perdock at Konocti Harbor Resort & Spa in the hours before the fatal crash, and testimony by sheriff's Deputy Mike Morshed supporting statements by former sheriff's Sgt. James Beland that he was ordered not to give Perdock a breathalyzer test at the scene.

However, on Friday Hopkins indicated no issues with time constraints.

Rather, he said the purpose of the investigation was to find if there was any information that required his office to change its position, which it hadn't.

After the hearing, Dinius said he was frustrated. “It's been three years of my life and it continues on,” he said. He'd hoped officials would “come to their senses” and drop the case.

Everything that's happening in the case is overshadowing the fact that Thornton lost her life, said Dinius. “That's the biggest thing I take away from this.”

Weber criticized the prosecution for more delays, saying of the hearing's outcome, “It sucks.”

He accused Hopkins – who he called “Mr. Perdock's attorney” – of a coverup in the case.

Weber hasn't been to previous hearings, but he promised to come back to support Dinius. “It's time to make noise.”

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




Finley resident Phil Murphy was among protesters calling for changes in the District Attorney's Office on Friday, June 12, 2009. Photo by Gail Salituri.




Bismarck Dinius, following the court appearance, noted he was frustrated that the case wasn't dropped. Photo by Harold LaBonte.




Mark Weber, whose fiancee, Lynn Thornton, died in the April 2006 crash, attended the hearing in the Bismarck Dinius case on Friday, June 12, 2009. Photo by Gail Salituri.

LAKE COUNTY – The unusually cool spring weather will continue through the weekend in Lake County, with a slight chance of rain on Saturday, but some forecast models predict a return to normal temperatures next week.

According to the National Weather Service in Sacramento (NWS), Lake County will see an increase in clouds and chances for thunderstorms after noon Friday, with a chance of rain at 20 percent with high temperatures in the mid-70s.

On Saturday, the possibility of showers increases to 30 percent, but decreases into the evenings the NWS states, with temperatures ranging from a high of 72 to a low of 50.

Daytime temperatures are predicted to return closer to normal on Tuesday reaching into the mid-80s with a slight chance of rain, but Monday will remain in the 70s according to the NWS.

Forecast models from the NWS and The Weather Channel (TWC) differ for the remainder of the week with TWC predicting a return to normal temperatures with highs in the mid- to upper-80s, while NWS forecasts partly cloudy skies with temperatures topping off in the low- to mid- 80s.

For more weather information, visit the link on the home page to US Weather Service.

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

The late, great Percy Mayfield. Courtesy photo.



I lay awake nights and ponder world troubles

And my answer is always the same

That unless men put an end to this damnable sin

Hate will put the world in a flame, what a shame…

Poet Laureate of the Blues, Percy Mayfield from his song “Please Send Me Someone To Love,” Circa 1950

In about 1979, I had backslid into the town of Hayward from where I’d graduated high school some 11 years prior to that. Wandering aimlessly downtown one day, I noticed that the marquee on the Brickhouse nightspot proclaimed, “Percy Mayfield, One Night Only.”

At the time my Blues well didn’t run very deep, but I did know that Percy Mayfield had written a couple of poignant tunes that I was familiar with, one of which was “Hit The Road Jack,” one of many large hits for Papa Ray Charles.

I didn’t even know what Percy looked like. One thing is for sure. My nose was wide open for this man of the Blues. Unbeknownst to me at the time, my life path had already taken a serious detour into Blues territory and this excursion to the Brickhouse was to be one of many.

That evening when I entered the club, the house band was already rockin’. (For the faint of heart and parents of minor children, please be advised that it gets a little kinky, probably in the next paragraph. You have been forewarned and disclaimed!)

Furthermore, CyberSoulChildren, this account is not meant to slander or besmirch the genius of Percy Mayfield. I was there and this is how it went down.

When Percy Mayfield was let out of the crooked booking agents white Cadillac in front of the club, he was very drunk. He also thought he was in Oakland, which, mind you, happens to entertainers who do a lot of one nighters, all the time.

Trouper that he was, Mr. Mayfield sauntered up to the stage, took the microphone and cued the band into a slow Blues. He then sang the following:

“You know I cried last night baby

and I cried the night befo’.

‘said I cried last night baby

and I cried the night befo …

Then to most folk’s astonishment, Percy Mayfield sat down not to far from me. He was done. The band played on and I struck up a conversation with him. Strangely enough, I don’t recall even addressing his abrupt performance. Neither he nor I, or for that matter even the club’s management said anything about it.

At some point a cocaine-addled person of the Brickhouse citizenry offered Percy a toot or three. To my surprise he accepted the offer. I followed them into the bathroom. To my further surprise, I took a couple of snorts myself. (Mind you, I’ve been clean 10 years. If I wasn’t would I be so blatant?)

When the little toot session was over, I noticed Percy about to go back into the club with a dirty nose.

“Percy, you can’t go out there like that,” I said. “Man you are a legend. Clean yourself up for your public.”

“You right, little brother,” he said. “You right.”

In that moment I became his guide for the evening.

We hung together until the club closed at 2 a.m. Blues legend or not, they bum rushed Percy Mayfield and I out of the club before the clock stuck 2:01 a.m.

I thought my guide shift was over. As I bade Mr. Mayfield farewell, he appealed to me solemnly, “Don’t leave me, little brother.”

“You right, man,” I said. “You’re a legend. I can’t leave you.”

I don’t remember much conversation in the two and a half hours I stood in the doorway of the Brickhouse with Percy Mayfield. I remember it getting pretty cold though.

Finally, after 5 a.m., the crooked booking agent in the white Cadillac pulled up and scooped up the Poet Laureate of the Blues, taking him, I imagine to the fify-leven hundred thousandth motel of his career. Percy thanked me as I shook his hand.

I watched the Cadillac carefully navigate down Mission Boulevard. I turned up B Street and headed home in the pre-dawn chill. A pickup truck cruised by at some point. The occupants slowed down to nonchalantly spew the N-word in my direction. The sting of it was deflected by my Karmic Muse.

About a year or so later, I read what was titled “The Last Percy Mayfield Interview” in the Pink Section of the Chronicle. It might’ve been written by Joel Selvin. I do remember that Percy Mayfield was terminally ill during the interview and it was published posthumously. To this day I feel righteously honored and blessed to have been in his presence that night.

One of the most detailed biographies on Percy Mayfield that I found on the web is at the following location: http://home.earthlink.net/~v1tiger/percy.html .

Keep prayin’, keep thinkin’ those kind thoughts.


Upcoming cool local events:

Blues Farm with Dave Broida, Blues Monday, 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. June 15, Blue Wing Saloon & Café, 9520 Main St., Upper Lake. Telephone, 707-275-2233, or online, www.bluewingsaloon.com .

Open mike night, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, June 18. Blue Wing Saloon & Café, 9520 Main St., Upper Lake. Telephone, 707-275-2233, or online, www.bluewingsaloon.com .

Chicken & The Defenders play the Lakeport Summer Concerts at Library Park on Friday, June 19. Library Park, 200 Park St., Lakeport.

Pablo Cruise Friday, June 19. The Charlie Daniels Band Saturday, June 26. Cache Creek Casino Resort, 14455 Highway 16, Brooks. Telephone, 888-77-CACHE, or online, www.cachecreek.com .

Chris Botti in concert, 8:15 p.m. Saturday, June 20. Konocti Harbor Resort & Spa, 8727 Soda Bay Road, Kelseyville. Telephone, 800-660-LAKE, or online at www.konoctiharbor.com .

Smokey Robinson in concert, 7:15 p.m. Saturday, July 31. Konocti Harbor Resort & Spa, 8727 Soda Bay Road, Kelseyville. Telephone, 800-660-LAKE, or online at www.konoctiharbor.com .

The Four Tops in Concert, 9 p.m. Saturday, July 31. Cache Creek Casino Resort, 14455 Highway 16, Brooks. Telephone, 888-77-CACHE, or online at www.cachecreek.com .

T. Watts is a writer, radio host and music critic. Visit his Web site at www.teewatts.biz .

A late night visitor pays his respects at the Moving Wall on Thursday, June 11, 2009, at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Lakeport. Photo by Harold LaBonte.






LAKEPORT – A short and solemn procession on Thursday morning led a memorial for the Vietnam War to the Lake County Fairgrounds on Martin Street, where it will be on display until early next week.

“The Moving Wall,” a half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., was escorted to the fairgrounds by the Patriot Guard Riders.

Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 951 brought the wall to Lake County.

On Thursday morning volunteers set up the memorial in about two hours. Earlier in the week volunteers had put up supporting structures and installed other features including statuary and the Avenue of Flags.

The effort to bring the wall to Lake County began in September of 2006, when VVA submitted an application to host the memorial, said chapter President Dean Gotham.

“It wasn't until 2008 that we received notification that we were on the list,” he said. “We began the preliminary planning early on and really started to hit the decks in October 2008.”

Gotham said the chapter considers bringing the wall here “an act of love.”

He added, “We worked hard because we have an opportunity as veterans to show respect to our fallen brothers and sisters, and we can offer the public an opportunity to show their respect and honor them as well.”

The opening ceremonies for the wall's stay in Lake County will be held at 9 a.m. Friday. It will be open around the clock until it departs from Lakeport on June 15.

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



The first part of the escort for the wall

COBB – A day after The Geysers experienced a 3.1-magnitude earthquake, a 3.0-magnitude quake was recorded in the Cobb area.

The quake was recorded at 2.48 a.m. Thursday at nine-tenths of a mile, the US Geological Survey reported.

US Geological Survey records placed the quake's epicenter two miles west of Cobb, four miles northeast of The Geysers and six miles northwest of Anderson Springs.

No local residents reported feeling the quake, although the US Geological Survey received reports from Oakland, Shingle Springs and Vacaville.

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Reaching out to the past: Children visit The Moving Wall at the Lake County Fairgrounds on Friday, June 12, 2009. Photo by Harold LaBonte.




LAKEPORT – Hundreds of community members gathered on Friday morning for the solemn opening ceremonies for “The Moving Wall” Vietnam memorial visiting the county this week.

The 9 a.m. ceremony took place at the Lake County Fairgrounds on Martin St.

The event drew men and women of all ages, and veterans from many wars and generations – from Pearl Harbor survivors up to veterans of the wars in the Middle East.

This is the only Northern California stop for the wall for the rest of the year. Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 951, which is hosting the memorial, is expecting visitors from all over this state this weekend.

The Moving Wall will be open for visitation 24 hours a day until the closing ceremonies on June 15.

Speakers at Friday's event included Supervisor Jim Comstock, a Navy veteran who served during Vietnam veteran. Comstock noted that there was “no better place to be than right here, right now.”




Supervisor Jim Comstock, himself a Vietnam veteran, spoke at the opening ceremony on Friday, June 12, 2009. Photo by Harold LaBonte.



Dean Gotham, president of VVA Chapter 951, the organization which is hosting the wall, thanked the community for its support and for making the wall's visit a success.

A table with a single place setting stood in front of the stage, representing prisoners of war and those missing in action. Each object represented a notion for POW and MIA soldiers: the white table-cloth represents the purity of intentions to respond to the call; the red rose represents blood and the family and friends who keep faith; the lemon represents fate; the salt the countless volunteers and families involved in the POW and MIA’s life; the Bible, strength of faith; the candle, the light of hope in loved ones' hearts and the illumination of the path home; and the overturned glass represents the fact that they can not toast with us today.

Three sculptures by local artist Rolf Kriken stand in the field before the wall. Each one has a strong tie to the meaning of The Moving Wall and all that it represents.

Chaplain Herman W. Hughes, LT, USN took the podium to share a few stories and a poem he wrote after Vietnam, entitled “The Street Without Joy.” He introduced the poem, explaining it was named for a stretch of Highway 1 from Dong Ha to Hue that came to be called “The Street Without Joy” during the French-Indochina War. Hughes was in Vietnam in 1968 and wrote the poem, which he dedicated to the people whose names appeared on the wall.

Street Without Joy

Verdant fields like manicured gardens,

Laced delicately with blue and

Starkly contrasted against barren

Dunes and rust hills, flash by

As cool monsoon rains pepper

The windows of the Huey

That carries me high above

The Street Without Joy.

Far below me unimposing.

Ancestral homes are carelessly

Sprinkled across a patchwork of

Rice paddies and stately hedgerows.

Majestic churches lift their

Spires in silent prayer as

Children tend water buffalo on

The Street Without Joy.

Peace and tranquility seem to

Pervade this pastoral scene,

The pain and ravages of war

Long past and almost forgotten.

But, alas, it’s only a sad

And transitory illusion, for

I know that Charlie still walks

The Street Without Joy.




Hughes then read the benediction.

The ceremony ended with a dedication and everyone rose to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, as a bugler with the United Veterans Council Military Funeral Honors Team played “Taps.”

Following the ceremony visitors began walking the length of the wall, with the Avenue of Flags – composed of 50 flags that had adorned the caskets of veterans – flying close by. Mementos – flowers, poems and pictures – had already begun to gather along the base of the wall.

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Dean Gotham, president of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 951, thanked the community for its support. Photo by Harold LaBonte.




Chaplain Herman "Woody" Hughes read a poem about his time in Vietnam. Photo by Harold LaBonte.




The United Veterans Council Military Funeral Honors Team offered a salute and rifle salvo. Photo by Harold LaBonte.




Jim Harris (center), a World War II veteran who saw action at Pearl Harbor and D-Day, attended The Moving Wall's opening ceremony on Friday, June 12, 2009. Photo by Harold LaBonte.




People walk along the wall, which is being displayed at the Lake County Fairgrounds from June 11 through June 15, 2009. Photo by Harold LaBonte.




Visitors pause to view one of local sculptor Rolf Kriken's original works, on display at The Moving Wall. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 951 President Dean Gotham (left) works to arrange decorative plants for The Moving Wall display on Wednesday, June 10, 2009. Photo by Harold LaBonte.


LAKEPORT – Final preparations are under way for the opening this week of “The Moving Wall” Vietnam memorial.

The Moving Wall is a half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.

The monument was set to arrive in Lakeport on Wednesday, according to Dean Gotham, president of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 951 (VVA).

VVA is bringing the wall to the county for its only Northern California stop for the rest of this year.

On Wednesday Gotham and about 15 volunteers continued their preparations at the Lake County Fairgrounds. Earlier this week, a supporting platform and the Avenue of Flags were put in place.

On Thursday at 8 a.m., the truck and trailer transporting the wall will be escorted by the Patriot Guard Riders motorcycle group through downtown Lakeport to the fairgrounds on Martin Street.

There, it will be assembled – beginning at around 9 a.m. – in preparation for the opening ceremony, scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday, Gotham said.

The assembly is estimated to take close to four hours. Afterward, the public will be able to view the wall.

After Friday's opening ceremony, The Moving Wall will be accessible 24 hours day until the closing ceremony on June 15.

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Divisional flags, representing some of the divisions that Lake County veterans were attached to during the Vietnam War. Photo by Harold LaBonte.




Local sculptor Rolf Kriken's statue honoring injured warriors. Photo by Harold LaBonte.




The Avenue of Flags includes 50 American flags, each representing one of the nation's 50 states. Each flag covered the casket of a veteran before being folded and presented to the veteran's. Each flag has the name and number identifying fallen soldier; families donate the flags for use in the avenue. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

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