Hoe Road

Arnold dropped by today with the soundtrack from, "Love," the new Cirque du Soleil/Beatles production. Sir John Martin and his son Giles put the music together from the Beatles archives. Sir John is sometimes called "the fifth Beatle," because he produced the recordings.
As a tribute to his generosity, I ad-libbed a story about Arnold MacDonald (Ronald's brother) who was a poverty stricken clown at a hamburger joint that never replicated itself, and had a sign: "Dozens and dozens sold."

"Clowns are very strange," Arnold said in the British accent that is hard wired into his throat. "They're not really funny ... what would be the opposite of a clown? Sad I suppose. They're a strange mix of the comic and the tragic, really. Frightening things; I never liked them."

I am working out the story of Arnold MacDonald. "The story of the MacDonald Clowns is the story of contemporary America," I said. "It's East of Eden, but with clowns. One of them envisions an America filled with self-replicating hamburger joints, ruled by the Ham Borg Queen. The other is the rugged individual, refusing to capitulate, like Ionesco's Berenger in Rhinoceros. He flips the burgers in a clown outfit, runs them out to the car, crackling with one-liners."

"And of course he falls down and spills everything."

"Hey, what do you expect from a clown?" I dinked around with the ballad of Arnold MacDonald for awhile, and then Arnold said, "I sold the property on Hoe Road. We finalized the sale yesterday."

It was several years back when Arnold and Karen bought the Mendocino property that fronts onto Hoe Road. We had plenty of jokes about why Arnold was drawn to that particular location. "There's just something that draws me there; some ethereal force ..." When they got married the celebration was at the property, which of course is in the pot growing region. Pot is the largest cash crop in the United States now, bigger than corn.

Arnold has mentioned when he was first showing the property he was getting some people looking at it who seemed like they were thinking in terms of growing pot on it. Then he finally realized why. "I got a call from somebody," he said, "I never knew who it was. He said, 'You named that price for a reason, didn't you?' I said I didn't know what he meant, and he said, 'Two hundred and fifteen thousand? Come on. Two fifteen was the proposition to legalize marijuana.'

"I thought, 'No wonder I'm getting growers looking at it.' But it sold to some very nice people who have invited us to use the property whenever we want. Not that growers aren't nice people, it was the odd terms of sale they were looking for. It seemed they were looking at how they could get in and then back out, as opposed to having long term plans for development of the land."

As we talked and the story of Arnold MacDonald began to sink under the weight of terminal silliness, Arnold mentioned that he knew somebody who is unable to leave the United States now, because he was turned back at the Canadian border. "He had a marijuana conviction in the sixties. Now you have to have a passport," he said, "and it appears that they are going to use past convictions, even for for marijuana, as a way to not allow people to leave the United States."

"It's hard to realize, when you live in the Bay Area, that things that are illegal in other places are just everyday here, and they're not a problem. But the rest of the country wasn't always under occupation. My dad said when he was young you could go to the store and buy marijuana cigarettes, and nobody cared. He recalled the brand as El Tigres. Coca Colas were nicknamed 'Dopes,' because they had a little cocaine in them. Now it's all out of proportion. It's the same with the War on Terror. We've always had and always will have political radicals, but now they've shut them out of the legal world, so they'll get concentrated and lethal, like crystal, or crack. The pot sold now has more THC in one puff than five joints of Mexican imports back before prohibition laws were passed."

"I know what's good and what's evil; Let's separate them for identification purposes, and then we'll capture the evil and put it in a holding cell, or kill it, and we'll be left with ..."

"Just good people. Why didn't anybody think of that before? Finally, a solution to moral ambiguity."

We sat in silence for awhile, considering how unthinkable this would have been before the suspension of civil rights by the Bush administration. What is even more shocking is the percentage of people who still don't have a clue as to why we got bombed, even when they watch on television as our bombs hit other people without the capacity to attack us with an army or air force. They have to depend on criminals so despicable they even break the laws of thermodynamics.

"So if pot is the biggest cash crop in the United States, and a conviction for using back when it was a felony is enough to take away your civil rights, then the War on Drugs and the War on Terror have converged into the War on non-conformity."

"Exactly, yes. It's just a scam, like setting up mobsters with income tax laws. They set up foreign or subculture people with laws they can selectively enforce. Everybody who wants to know it knows Bush was a cocaine addict, but he doesn't get stopped at the border."

"Yea. It's funny how many people just assume we're still a democracy, even after we've lost habeas corpus, the right to be secure in our dwelling, the freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, and even the right to be confronted with our accuser. I heard about somebody in Arizona who has some kiddie porn on a computer. Now, this person was not charged with molesting anybody, or even having any inclination to do so, other than these downloaded images. So who is the accuser? The state, right? Lenny Bruce said, 'Not one person bought a dirty book last year. Every case was initiated by the police department.' You know how much jail time this person got for downloading these pictures?"

"A hundred years or something?" He laughs.

"Two hundred years in prison, for possession of dirty pictures. Far more time than for killing somebody. Each picture is one count, ten years a count, twenty counts. It's now legal to put you away for the rest of your life for what is essentially a banned book. And on top of that, if you want to put somebody else away forever, all you need is access to their computer and the number of the police department. There's no need to demonstrate any offended party. It's just like if you can't afford an attorney, the state appoints one. If you have no accuser, the state provides that."

"That has to be unconstitutional."

"Sure it is. It's unconstitutional to not let somebody vote because they were convicted of a crime, once they've served their time. But they're doing that, too, even though so much ordinary behavior is illegal, they can pretty much criminalize anybody they want. In Florida they won't let you vote if you have the same name as somebody who was once convicted of a crime."

"Is there a super hero who can save us? Captain America's dead, shot by a sniper."

"Arnold MacDonald?"

"Maybe, but he has some very big shoes to fill."

Posted: Fri - March 9, 2007 at 07:11 PM