I don’t travel much. In fact I hardly ever leave town, but this week I’m flying across the country to visit some friends on the East Coast, which means I’ll miss everything I write about this week — and there’s a lot going on, including a big event in right my neighborhood.
As you may or may not know, Saturday is Earth Day. People have been celebrating environmental things of one sort or another on our planet since 1970. This year the celebration is a bit different, the usual save the Earth folks have joined forces with scientists and their allies for a nationwide March for Science, “the first step of a global movement to defend the vital role science plays in our health, safety, economies, and governments.” The plan is to swamp Washington D.C. with a massive gathering on the National Mall, with satellite marches all over, 450+ and counting.
Why are we talking about science now? The organizers explain, “Science, scientists and evidence-based policymaking are under attack. Budget cuts, censorship of researchers, disappearing datasets and threats to dismantle government agencies harm us all, putting our health, food, air, water, climate and jobs at risk. It is time for people who support science to take a public stand and be counted."
According to a report from today's New York Times podcast, The Daily, we are at a crucial point in history, with the Trump Administration taking a second look at a major global climate agreement — the so-called Paris accord -- and wondering if they want to follow through with a campaign promise, to pull out of the accord, basically to make the coal industry happy. Will they or won't they? We don't know.
The Humboldt March for Science is centered in my ‘hood at the D Street Neighborhood Center. The plan is multi-part starting at 9 a.m. with a Science Expo, with local sciencey organizations and students putting together something like a Science Fair where brainiacs young and old will show their stuff.
Ross Taylor, who spearheaded the local effort, explained, “We have a full house of exhibitors that will be tabling and also filled all the available space for student science posters, a mix of high school, undergrad and grad students.”
Ross is a scientist of sorts, “A fish biologist. Run my own small consulting business. Fish passage assessment and project monitoring. Office is in McKinleyville.”
How are the fish doing? They always seem to be threatened. “Not so good,” said Ross. “Especially Klamath salmon with the disease levels in juveniles the past few years.”
I wondered if what's going on in Washington DC worries him and if the anti-science cabal could that affect his work. “Yes — lots of federal funds for watershed and salmon restoration come via NMFS via NOAA and their budgets are taking a big hit.” (That’s the National Marine Fisheries Service part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.) “Very unsettling times, on many fronts,” he conceded. “We will be addressing health care, and women's health issues at the Expo and rally too.”
Topics of interest to locals include climate change implications on Humboldt Bay, Klamath River dam removal and local water and air quality, when they move into speechification at 2 p.m. with a rally featuring teachers, students, politicians, representing local tribes and yes, more scientists on a stage in the D Street cul-de-sac.
Around 2:45, the crowd takes off to march to the Plaza. Expect a colorful melange as March Marshals (and Marshas) will be awarding random prizes for creative and unique posters and signs.
Then it’s back to the Center for discussions where you can figure out what’s next. At 4:30 p.m. Women's International League for Peace and Freedom Humboldt presents "Crude Beyond Belief,” a documentary about “the devastating effects of petroleum and natural gas production (fracked and otherwise) on the people and environment of Kern County.” (Those motherfrackers.)
All this is with our beloved planet in mind. Remember, this Mother Earth is the only one we get. Take care her. Science is here to help.
For something a bit more earthy that evening, you have Va Va Voom's sixth year “burlesque-iversary” at the Eureka Theater with Kitty Cox and Ophelia Cox and many more including guest performances by Jamie Bondage from Ragdoll Revue, “Humboldt's King of Drag” Huge Johnson serving as host/emcee. A portion of proceeds benefit the Eureka Theater's Restoration Project and to support Planned Parenthood, which is under fire in the Trumpocalypse.
Or, if your looking for something different, there’s the Fifth Annual Cirque Du Schwazee, a “comedy circus variety show” that Earth Day eve at the Arcata Playhouse with a midway sideshow outdoors (starting at 6 p.m.) with Bandemonium and the Playhouse Giant Puppets, a strong man, a fortune teller etc. And, as they say, ‘Much more right inside; step this way.’
The Great Schwazah (aka Zuzka Sabata) is the impresario of the big show with silk dancer Leslie Castellano, Dell’Arte Clowns, Sean's Shadows, wild-man David Ferney, Playhouse Spring Break Camp Kids, and music by Calliope. The whole thing benefits various Playhouse youth programs: a good cause. Expect “fun for the whole family,” but that doesn’t mean grownups won’t have fun too.
Earth Day Eve
Is Friday Earth Day Eve? Whatever. The community minded Bayside Grange #500 hosts a “Community Dance” with music by Kenny Ray and the Mighty Rovers. I’ve been dancing to music by Ken Jorgenson and his wife Maria for decades, I believe starting with a band called Roly Poly, but there may have been an earlier one. Ken plays guitar, Maria stand-up bass. (Does she still have a softball on the spike to protect floors?) They’ve worked with a bunch of musicians over the years (including their kids) focusing on music for dancing.
I ran into them at the Redwood Music Festival where they were dancing to Gator Beat. “We don’t get out dancing much, we’re too busy playing for other dancers,” said Ken. The Grange folks call their music “roots country, honky tonk and big band swing,” but I’d just call it Western Swing, a la Bob Wills. (“Roly Poly” was a song by Mr. Wills.) In addition to swinging western music, the Grangers promise “fine wine, beer and other beverages, along with fresh good grub (dinner and desserts) for your enjoyment.” So bring some extra cash for eats and drinks.
That same Friday, the Eureka Chamber Music Series has a concert at Calvary Lutheran Church by the Arianna String Quartet, joined by pianist Tian Ying, “both long time favorites of the ECMS!!!!” (That’s Pearl Micheli, the impresario of ECMS, using multi exclamations for emphasis.) Typically the chamber world supplies a set list ahead of time, so you know they’ll be playing “Quartet in A Major, Op.20, No.6: by Haydn, “Quartet in A Minor, Op.5, No.2” by Brahms, and the “Piano Quintet in A Major, Op.81” by Dvorak. For some reason they seldom got around to titles, just sticking to keys and numbers, but that’s okay, it’s beautiful music. Classic.
That time again
As you may recall, Thursday is 4/20, which means clouds of smoke here and there around 4:20 and beyond. The Mateel has an all day (noon until midnight) “420 World Fest” hosted by the Maui Pranksters (who may or may not be connected to the Islands). The ad hoc Maui Pranksters band has locals Norman Bradford and Brian “Swiz” Swislow with Dave Napier and someone who calls himself Troll Garcia. There’s also a solo set by “acousti’lectric" guitarist John Kadlecik (a Dead friend: Furthur, Phil and Friends, DSO, etc.) Also Camo Cowboys (local rockers who sing about pot) Good Ol’ Boys, and the proverbial ‘much more.’ Plus, since it’s a ganja thing, a Joint Rolling Contest, which they note is “215 required.” I thought we passed a new law legalizing it, but what do I know.
This is one of many events associated with Humboldt Green Week in some way. Also on their 4/20 calendar: a Farm to Table Dinner at Gabriel’s, the Americana/soul/funk band Ghost Train (with a bunch of players I know) in a Pints for Nonprofits night at Redwood Curtain Brewing Co. And there’s annual Banff Mountain Film Fest presented by Adventures Edge at the Arcata Theatre Lounge. (Think xx-treme sports.) Me? I’ll be in flight at 4:20 p.m. in one time zone or another. God knows what United would do if I lit up, so no ceremonial puff this time.
Speaking of film fests, the 50th annual Humboldt International Film Festival is this week, April 19-22. After five decades, they have this down to a science: experimental and animation on Wednesday, documentaries on Thursday, narrative shorts on Friday and the Best of the Fest Saturday. Good stuff you won't see elsewhere. Check hsufilmfestival.com for details including a complete list of the films shown each night.
Touch the Earth
Returning to our Planet Earth theme, you have the Wake Up The World Tour put on by Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples on Wednesday (April 19) starting at 7 p.m. at Outer Space. This is something unusual, a hip hop show with Native artists and activists.
Headliners are Witko from Pine Ridge and Nataanii Means, Oglala Lakota, Omaha and Diné, born and raised in the Navajo Nation in Arizona, the son of the late activist Russell Means. Also on the bill: Art Vee, Tufawon, Yaz Like Jaws, JayOhCee and Chad Charlie. They’ll rap and share their experiences in direct action defending Standing Rock. Proceeds benefit SGF's Rights of Mother Earth Initiative in support of Land Defenders and Water Protectors. The idea: “a night of resilience and responsibility in protecting Mother Earth.”
As I said before, we only have one Mother, it’s up to us to defend her. Peace.
And now for something completely different:
Do you think of yourself primarily as a singer or a poet?
Oh, I think of myself more as a song and dance man, y'know.
What are your hopes for the future?