Mendes, Kemp, Stancliff, and NYT Amos Kamil Offer Good Reads
AVA Bruce Anderson Throws Down the Bari Bombing Gauntlet, Too
We’ve had a few breezy afternoons following some rare June monsoons this week. Knee deep in various reads, we caught up with some of the local talent lending their pen to topics of interest. Here’s a few of the week’s better ones– three local and two not so much– that we liked. If you haven’t seen them yet, one can take in the easy view from here.
Deric Mendes Of Northtown Books penned his observations of the ghostly Bayshore Mall in two parts:
Eureka’s Bayshore Mall is bathed in a hue of desperation no amount of sunlight pouring through skylights can brighten. Shoppers are scarce. Roof tiles are dangling. Employees are daydreaming. More than half the storefronts are vacant. Several spaces have been taken over by roadside vendors, peddling rugs and tapestries featuring pot leaves, Bob Marley and wolves howling at the moon…
And in his second followup story, Mendes opines whether WalMart can save the day for struggling and sluggish sales in a depressed economy:
Wal-Mart is officially open at the Bayshore Mall, and so far the impact on the rest of the mall has been … well, slight. On a Thursday afternoon, just one day after last week’s grand opening, only a few more patrons walked the corridors of what was once a consumerist haven.
In the food court, toothpicked chunks of orange chicken were still being twirled at Chinese Gourmet Express. A group of Six Rivers National Forest firefighters were eating lunch. An elderly couple was having a cordial argument about how to operate their new cell phone. A few high school girls wearing “Pink” Victoria Secret T-shirts giggled as they marched past the Tilt. School is out for summer, and though it has brought a few more teens to the mall, they don’t dominate as they once did…
You can read both of Mr. Mendes’ pieces appearing in the North Coast Journal recently: “Bayshore Mall, before … A Former Shopping Haven, on the Cusp of Change” and “After Wal-Mart …Can the New Anchor Store Change a Struggling Institution?” Enjoying the cultural and social history of our life and times, Mr. Mendes brings us a local Polaroid snapshot captured for posterity.
The next piece we came across was an unusual subject. A well written and short voyeuristic thriller having an unusual combination of bedfellows: marijuana and counterfeit cash, brought to us by Redheaded Blackbelt’s Kym Kemp. An excellent author in her own right who weaves a good story, Ms. Kym starts her opening paragraph of “Crime Appears to be Increasing Against Growers” this way:
“The only way you can be an outlaw is to be honest,” claims Erin who rode along with her friend Bess to sell some pounds in the Bay Area this last year. Selling cannabis is a way of life for many here on the North Coast of California but recently those who grow and sell marijuana appear to wind up as the victims of crime more frequently. The code of honor that allows growers to hand over tens of thousands of dollars worth of product safely, walk away for a day or a week, and come back to cash in the exact amount specified is either being broken more or possibly being reported more. In any case, press and law enforcement are reporting an increasing number of crimes where growers are the victims of theft either by fraud, stealth or violence…
You can read the rest of Ms. Kemp’s interesting piece of intrigue article here– before her fine firsthand account makes its way down the memory hole forever. it’s truly a slice of Humboldt Pie that only Kym can deliver.
Whether you agree with him or not, As It Stands Dave Stancliff pens a persuasive column concerning the lies and expense of our last three wars:
War became a business when we entered Vietnam. We went there for the wrong reasons. Defense Secretary Robert Strange McNamara admitted years later that he followed the flawed “Domino Theory” out of loyalty, and said it was the main reason for entering the Vietnam War…
…We were told our freedom at home was threatened and the war was necessary. I call that misleading message the first “Big Lie.” Fifty-eight thousand American men and women died for that lie…
You can read more of “How 3 Big Lies Have Crippled America’s Economy” to find out why war is a dirty business. Mr. Stancliff reminds us of what shouldn’t be forgotten in all the hoopla rallying ’round the flag, boys. He was there.
The last good read of the week comes from one of the last great newspapers still standing, The New York Times. On the eve of the Jerry Sandusky/Penn State child abuse trial, former Horace Mann high school student turned New York Times writer Amos Kamil ventured back to his alma mater to uncover the aftermath of sexual molestations occurring there 30 years prior, and now covered up in a shroud of secrecy. His words are poignant and strangely sad as he slowly pries open the door of shame, guilt, and regret of students by a prestigious educational institution for all to see.
Mr. Kamil eloquently writes:
From the elevated platform of the No. 1 train’s last stop at 242nd Street, you can just about see the lush 18-acre campus of the Horace Mann School. The walk from the station is short, but it traverses worlds. Leaving the cluttered din of Broadway, you enter the leafy splendor of Fieldston, an enclave of mansions and flowering trees that feels more like a wealthy Westchester suburb than the Bronx. Head up the steep hill, turn left, then walk a bit farther, past the headmaster’s house. From the stone wall that runs along Tibbett Avenue, you can see practically the whole school: Pforzheimer Hall, Mullady Hall, the auditorium, the gymnasium and, right in the center, the manicured green expanse of the baseball field, home of the Lions, pride of the school…
…I have similarly conflicted feelings about Horace Mann. It was in many ways an amazing place filled with inspiring teachers and smart, funny students, with a sense of enthusiasm and possibility. Despite all I’ve since learned about it, I still look back on my years there with affection and gratitude, as do so many former students, even some who shared their harrowing stories with me. But that gratitude is part of what makes these stories so painful. We were at such a vulnerable moment in our lives — just beginning to make the transition from childhood into early adulthood, struggling to come to terms with the responsibilities of sexuality and trying to decide what we were willing to stand up for. We needed strong and consistent role models. In many cases we got them. But in too many other cases, we got models of how to abuse authority, how to manipulate trust, how to keep silent, how to fix your eyes forward…
Mr. Kamil presents his story honestly and forthrightly, a well-done and fact-checked expose by a Horace Mann’s alumnus who happened to become a literary force for social justice upon growing up and coming unto his own. The Horace Mann administrators, Kamil reported, ‘lawyered up’ and remained silent about the school’s past sexual abuse upon finding out that their former student was writing an article for the New York Times. Kamil got the article anyway, talking to his former classmates and learning what transpired all those years ago.
You can read the rest of Mr. Kamil’s “Prep-School Predators: The Horace Mann School’s Secret History of Sexual Abuse” here.
If you’re in the mood for more, here’s a bonus: don’t miss Anderson Valley Advertiser Bruce Anderson’s contentious take of the Judi Bari/Darryl Cherney/Earth First! 1990 bombing, focusing on the surprising background of Mike Sweeney, Judy Bari’s ex. Rattling cages, Mr. Anderson is sure to touch some raw nerves and raise a few eyebrows in his explosive column of who-was-ratting-out-whom in the highly publicized bombing– and why. Mr. Anderson makes no bones naming names in this crusade, even throwing Wes Chesbro and Dan Hamburg into the mix along with others.
The mystery continues, however, and Mr. Anderson’s fearless, bold, and unrepentent stance in his recent column today seems to be an invitation to all players, and Mr. Sweeney in particular, for bringing matters to a head, throwing down the proverbial gauntlet and proving him wrong in person, print, or through the filing of a civil complaint– and thereby returning the controversial case back to the courtroom.
These are some of the better reads we’ve come across this week offering the reader a little something of everything
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Speaking of good reads, the Humboldt Sentinel welcomes author’s submissions. If you would like to contribute an article or a few paragraphs of thoughtful prose, please contact editor@HumboldtSentinel.com.