Sunday, 14 August 2022

Arts & Life

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

There is a stretch of childhood that can be filled with such vivid images, yet it is often hard to determine whether what is being recalled is memory of our experience, or a memory of what we have been told.

Jessica Abughattas’ poem, “Watching My Mother,” ends with such optimism and confidence, even though the details of what she remembers are a stylized and beautiful version of disquiet.

In this elegant poem, she enacts the strange magic of how we often organize memory in a manner that allows us to survive.

Watching My Mother
By Jessica Abughattas

Beside the Ford Thunderbird,
a suitcase splayed open.
She collects her clothes
from the driveway.
The yellow jumper collapses
into a million threads of saffron.
She keeps dropping them.
They wither and dissolve,
petal by petal
into pavement.
Her hands are rivers.
Her eyes, mascara bats.
Her hair is crying.
I am five and perfect.


American Life in Poetry does not accept unsolicited manuscripts. It is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2020 by Jessica Abughattas, “Watching My Mother” from Strip (University of Arkansas Press, 2020.) First Published in Nelle, Issue Two, 2019. Introduction copyright ©2022 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Kwame Dawes, is George W. Holmes Professor of English and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska.

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. — Barry “The Fish” Melton brings his all-star band back to Lake County on Sunday, June 5, at 2 p.m. outside at Cache Creek Vineyards and Winery for a benefit for KPFZ, Lake County Community Radio.

Cache Creek Winery has donated the venue to KPFZ and is located at 250 New Long Valley Road, just off Highway 20, 2.5 miles East of the Clearlake Oaks roundabout.

The gate opens at 1 p.m. Bring lawn chairs. There are no advance ticket sales, just $20 admission at the winery. There will be wine, beer, water and food for sale.

Renowned guitarist Barry “The Fish” Melton is co-founder of the 1960s band Country Joe and The Fish.

This is his band’s fourth benefit for Lake County Community Radio and the first three (2015, 2017 and 2018) were sellouts at the Soper Reese Theatre.

The Barry Melton Band has been playing together since the early 1980s, and continues to uphold the tradition of 1960s San Francisco Rock and Roll.

Melton lives in Lake County and has had dual careers: rock musician and defense attorney. He is now retired as a lawyer, but juggled both careers for 40 years.

He is one of the few lawyers in California who studied law on his own (while touring as a rock musician) without formally attending law school.

Peter Albin is on bass and co-founded Big Brother & The Holding Co., which featured Janis Joplin. Their album “Cheap Thrills” is one of the masterpieces of the 1960s San Francisco psychedelic era and was No. 1 on the charts for eight weeks, and the best selling album of 1968. Albin has played with Melton for about 50 years.

Lowell Levinger, aka “Banana,” is a founding member of the Youngbloods, whose most famous recording is the classic “Get Together.” Banana plays mostly electric piano, but he is a multi-talented musician who also plays guitar, bass, banjo, mandolin and mandola. He toured and recorded for over 20 years as the sole accompanist to Mimi Farina, the sister of Joan Baez. He recently toured Europe and the United States with Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul.

Drummer Roy Blumenfeld co-founded the Blues Project and Seatrain, and has played with many famous musicians, including Chuck Berry, Santana, John Lee Hooker, Elvin Bishop, Al Kooper, Steve Katz, Danny Kalb and Nick Gravenitis.

David Aguilar has played guitar with the Doobie Brothers, Big Brother & The Holding Co., Norton Buffalo, Jackson Brown, Lester Chambers, Bo Diddley, Bonnie Raitt, Roy Rogers and Maria Muldaur. In 2013 he was recognized as Sonoma Treasure Artist of the Year.

The band is being joined for the first time by tenor saxophonist Nancy Wright, who has her own band, the Rhythm and Roots Band, plays regularly in the Bay Area, and has performed numerous times in Lake County at the Soper Reese Theatre and the Blue Wing Saloon.

She has played with John Lee Hooker, Elvin Bishop, Joe Louis Walker, Tommy Castro and Big Brother & The Holding Co.

If you find yourself in the mood on Sunday, June 5, to spend the afternoon outside, listening to a bunch of rock and roll legends, dancing and supporting KPFZ, head out to the beautiful Cache Creek Vineyards and Winery for a 2 p.m. show.

No advance sales, $20 at the gate, bring lawn chairs, and the gate opens at 1 p.m. Sorry, no pets allowed.





Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

Poets often have the insight to see, in a sin­gle detail or fea­ture, a com­plex uni­verse of mean­ing. Melis­sa John­son, in ​“Mama’s Hair,” fix­ates on an ordi­nary detail of our lives — the hair that we car­ry around as exten­sions of our skins — to tell a ten­der and painful sto­ry about the rela­tion­ship between a moth­er and a daugh­ter.

Con­tained in this small pock­et of verse are moments of care, regret, guilt, humor, ten­der­ness, ill­ness and hurt that are all trig­gered by a med­i­ta­tion on hair.

Mama’s Hair
By Melissa Johnson

Heavy, slick-straight, black as coal,
Mama’s hair could be pulled
over the headrest as she drove,
gathered and stroked in the back seat.

When she cut it, I thought
it was my fault, maybe she told me so.
Every year she went shorter.
It never passed her nape again.

The last time she reached out to me,
she mimed clipping my curls with scissored
fingers, her mouth determined
as I leaned to lift her back to bed.

American Life in Poetry does not accept unsolicited manuscripts. It is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2019 by Melissa Johnson, “Mama’s Hair” from Cancer Voodoo (Diode Editions 2021.) First Published in Nelle, Issue Two, 2019. Introduction copyright ©2022 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Kwame Dawes, is George W. Holmes Professor of English and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska.



‘THE LINCOLN LAWYER’ ON NETFLIX

A television series can’t get much better than having a police procedural or a legal drama based on the books of prolific author Michael Connelly, and “The Lincoln Lawyer” proves to be eminently watchable over the period of its 10 episodes.

For this series on Netflix, Connelly serves as executive producer to bring his iconoclastic criminal defense attorney Mickey Haller to the small screen almost a dozen years after Matthew McConaughey played the smooth-talking counselor in the movie of the same title.

No small measure of success for “The Lincoln Lawyer” goes to creator David E. Kelley, a graduate of Boston University with a Juris Doctor degree, who practiced law only to find his hobby was writing a legal thriller screenplay.

The rest is history for Kelley as he first wound up as a writer and story editor on Steven Bochco’s NBC legal series “L.A. Law,” and eventually became the creative force for other series like the courtroom drama “The Practice” and its spinoff “Boston Legal.”

That Michael Connelly is gifted at creating notable characters is well-established with a series of books about LAPD detective Harry Bosch, a character so brilliantly brought to the small screen by Titus Welliver in “Bosch” and now “Bosch: Legacy.”

With Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller steeped in the turf of the Los Angeles police and legal establishments, one would hope for some crossover plot lines to bring them together but that is not to be, at least for this first season.

As “The Lincoln Lawyer” opens, Mickey Haller (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, a charismatic character in his own right) is first seen at the beach, wistfully staring at the ocean waves and thinking back to an accident that derailed his life for more than a year.

Fate was apparently not kind as Haller became addicted to painkillers following the accident, putting his career on hold. Known for working from the back seat of his Lincoln SUV, Haller at least didn’t have to keep up with office expenses.

Now sober, he’s dealing with two ex-wives, the first one being Neve Campbell’s Maggie McPherson, nicknamed “McFierce” for being a tough prosecutor, who is the mother of their teenage daughter Hayley (Krista Walker).

The second former spouse is Lorna (Becki Newton), who steps in to help Haller get his professional life back on track as the best defense attorney in Los Angeles once a fortuitous circumstance drops unexpectedly in his lap.

After old colleague Jerry Vincent is gunned down in a parking garage, Haller is summoned to the chambers of presiding Judge Mary Holder (LisaGay Hamilton) to be informed that Vincent bequeathed his entire practice to the Lincoln Lawyer.

Understandably for being aware of the lawyer’s recent history, Judge Holder is wary of handing over all of Vincent’s cases unless Haller agrees to being monitored with weekly meetings to validate his competency.

The Vincent portfolio consists of a variety of cases, some of them low-level criminal offenses and the pro bono case of Izzy Letts (Jazz Raycole), a recovering addict charged with theft of an ostensibly valuable necklace.

There is, however, one very substantial criminal case that has all the makings of a celebrity media clown show that is tabloid fodder. An obnoxious rich, white guy billionaire is charged with the murder of his wife and her lover.

The high-profile murder trial of videogame developer Trevor Elliot (Christopher Gorman) takes on immediate urgency for Haller since his client insists that his courtroom drama must start as soon as possible, even if more time is needed for the attorney’s preparation.

The court of public opinion has already tried the odious tech entrepreneur to be guilty as charged, and the evidence appears overwhelmingly to point to a slam dunk guilty verdict.

Having to juggle some other cases at the same time while also dealing with ongoing family issues, such as sparring with the prosecutor's ex-wife and trying to be more involved in his daughter’s life, Haller’s charm can only do so much.

To spend more time on his homework, Haller hires Izzy to be his chauffeur, because he claims to work better when his Lincoln is in motion while listening to jazz music. Indeed, he’s not your typical counselor.

Not all legal work is motor-driven. Haller has taken over Vincent’s downtown office with Lorna as the assistant and his best friend Cisco (Angus Sampson), a motorcyclist who once rode with a gang, acting as sidekick and private investigator.

Haller’s world is populated with colorful characters, reminding one that he’s almost like a legal version of James Garner’s private eye on “The Rockford Files,” and even more so when having to deal with skeptical, hard-nosed police detective Griggs (Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine).

“The Lincoln Lawyer” works best off the charm of its leading character and those in his orbit. The plot moves at a nice pace and the courtroom dialogue is often riveting. Overall, this is a series deserving of an encore.

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. — Local author, Jordan O’Halloran, will begin teaching weekly writing workshops at the Main Street Gallery in Lakeport.

Beginning Saturday, May 28, her writing workshops will be offered to the public every week on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. $10 per class. Registration is not required.

This workshop will aim to make writing accessible and fun! Suitable for all ages, this writing class will help participants learn writing aspects such as: putting your story into pages, the basics of constructing a story and just making writing fun.

All are welcome to this inclusive, supportive, positivity only group. Learn about the excitement of writing in a safe, artistic environment.

O'Halloran is a self-published writer located in Kelseyville Riviera. Her first book, “Clean Up on Aisle Three,” tells the story of teenager Lucy McBride.

When getting ready for work one morning, Lucy finds her boss, Raymond, dead on aisle three. Lucy is ready to leave Arizona after graduation, but with Raymond's murder, she's stuck between being there for family or finding her own happiness.

This book has amassed a great deal of success and O’Halloran would love to share her love of writing with the community.

“I am teaching a writing workshop to bring my love of words and storytelling to Lake County,” said O’Halloran. She was inspired to teach after writing her book and being approached by locals who would tell her they have always wanted to write. She wants to bring her own joy of writing to the people and help them see that their stories are important.

Learn more about the Main Street Gallery at https://lakearts.org/.

Georgina Marie Guardado is Lake County Arts Council literary coordinator.



‘THE MISTY EXPERIMENT’ ON PUBLIC TELEVISION

The consequences of the Vietnam War remain arguable and controversial. Nearly 50 years after the infamous fall of Saigon, one can easily debate why victory proved unattainable or how we ended up in an unfortunate quagmire.

Was it the failure of political leadership? After all, Vietnam figured mightily in Lyndon Johnson’s decision not to seek reelection for the presidency in 1968. Was it the struggle of fighting an enemy that uses guerrilla tactics and the dense jungle for cover?

Airing on public television stations across the country in time for Memorial Day, “The Misty Experiment: The Secret Battle for the Ho Chi Minh Trail” tells the largely unknown story of U.S. Air Force pilots volunteering for a treacherous secret mission.

By 1967, American forces in Vietnam had entered a stage of expanded air and ground battles throughout Southeast Asia during a time of increased southward flow of weapons and supplies from North Vietnam.

Convoys of trucks carrying Chinese and Russian supplied weapons traveled on newly carved or expanded roads through the jungles of Cambodia and Laos, known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

Traditional intelligence flights, the Air Force’s Forward Air Controllers, were hobbled by slow aircraft that made them easy targets. It became clear the U.S. needed to fly closer and faster to gain the advantage.

Quietly, an elite squadron of combat-seasoned pilots was recruited, supported by on-the-ground intelligence and ancillary personnel. Referred to by their radio call sign, the so-called “Mistys” would spend months flying into danger.

The select pilots knew they had a 30 percent chance of being shot down, killed or taken as prisoners of war. The latter possibility was not a good one, as the horrors of internment were well-known. The late Sen. John McCain was a poster boy for POW torture.

“The Misty Experiment” chronicles how judgments by American military leaders resulted in not being allowed to hit ports where supplies to North Vietnam were coming in. The decisions were made to keep Chinese forces from moving into the battle.

As supply routes were left open for North Vietnam to exploit, the U.S. government became convinced a new approach was necessary. Air Force commanders designed an experimental method that needed pilots with steely nerves.

As seen in the film, Misty pilot Don Sheppard, who flew 58 missions and later became Major General, says when the nation was not willing to bomb the harbors, “we were the ones who had to pick them off, truck by truck.”

The pilots “were a bunch of guys who would do anything to accomplish the mission we were given … an impossible mission to stop the flow of arms and material coming south,” Sheppard says.

Unlike today’s automated drones and satellites that pinpoint target areas, the Mistys relied on human observational skills to root out enemy movements.

The pilots developed “Misty eyes” in the ability to spot signs of enemy troops such as dust accumulations on tree leaves indicating nearby movements, tell-tale splash patterns on creek beds pointing to truck traffic, or too-perfect canopies that suggested man-made camouflage.

The Mistys flew hours-long daily missions, putting their bodies through extreme physical stress from G-forces during quick evasive maneuvers, while also taxing their eyes and brains to identify and remember enemy locations.

Upon their daily returns, and often finding their planes riddled with battle damage, the pilots would debrief for hours with intelligence officials to create detailed maps with the crucial information they recounted.

“There was an atmosphere of innovation,” says Misty Intelligence Officer Roger Van Dyken in the film. “One flight reconnaissance fed into the next. The next day’s group of pilots tested the theories from the day before. There was constant pressure.”

The missions began showing results after just a few weeks, and the thrill of flying risky sorties proved undeniable to the plots. The physical and mental strains of flying F100s caused the Mistys to be limited to 100 missions in 120 days.

“There were a few of us thought ‘gee, this is so much fun. How can I can back to South Vietnam? This is where the action is,” says Misty pilot and military history author Dick Rutan, who appears in the film and was himself shot down and then rescued.

Of the 157 Misty pilots who served, 34 were shot down; eight were killed and four became prisoners of war. About half of the men who served are living; many are in their late 70s and 80s.

The discipline required for these missions translated into other successes after leaving the missions. Two pilots became Air Force Chiefs of Staff; two more became astronauts. Many became industry CEOs. One Misty alumnus received the Medal of Honor for his service.

Those interested in history and military history buffs, in particular, are bound to find “The Misty Experiment: The Secret Battle for the Ho Chi Minh Trail” a fascinating look at the bravery of men called to duty in a war that divided the nation.

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.

Upcoming Calendar

15Aug
08.15.2022 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Community Visioning Forum Planning Committee
16Aug
08.16.2022 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
16Aug
08.16.2022 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Rotary Club of Clear Lake
18Aug
08.18.2022 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
20Aug
08.20.2022 7:30 am - 3:00 pm
Yard sale to benefit Sponsoring Survivorship
20Aug
20Aug
08.20.2022 9:00 am - 11:00 am
Junior Ranger Program: Weather and climate
20Aug
08.20.2022 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
20Aug
08.20.2022 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
Weekly writing workshop
20Aug
08.20.2022 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Taste of Lake County

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