Early this morning, at the ungodly hour of 4:30, we were standing in front of the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas, waiting for a cab, when a young gentleman appeared, looking slightly disheveled from a night of pre-Halloween partying. He was in his stocking feet, carrying one Timberland boot in his hand.
"Where's your other shoe?" I asked him.
"I dunno, somewhere on the Strip," he replied shaking his head.
The conversation continued with the hotel doorman making mention of Cinderella. Then, the one-shoe guy asked us, "Where are you from?"
"Northern California, the coast," said Ryan.
"Humboldt," I added to clarify.
There was the expected knowing nod, and some appreciative word from the doorman, who then asked if we'd seen where "that guy from The Hangover" sparked a joint on Bill Maher's show (Real Time with Bill Maher). No one had, but someone knew that the guest was Zach Galifianakis.
It was not mentioned this morning, but the subject of Humboldt came up right after the smoking incident. Another guest, Reihan Salam, said he has some "friends who have been growers in Humboldt" and they were getting out the vote to defeat Prop 19. You hear Maher's reaction and the rest of the discussion in this clip:
With only two days until the election, and polls showing your lead widening against opponent Meg Whitman, c'mon Jerry, do you really need to make that out-of-the-way trek up to Humboldt County? Really?
For whatever reason, Jerry Brown did.
At 8 a.m. Sunday morning, around 150 presumed supporters of the California gubernatorial candidate sardine-packed themselves into the banquet hall at the Samoa Cookhouse for the opportunity to get "stumped on" by California's 34th, and likely 39th, Governor.
Humboldt County Democratic Central Committee Chair Milt Boyd kicked things off and welcomed excited Humboldt Dems before inviting Wiyot elder Cheryl Seidner to bless the event. Breakfast was served. Biscuits and gravy, French toast, sausage and eggs. Delicious.
After the grub, Assemblyman Wes Chesbro fluffed the crowd a bit more, mentioning the effectiveness of the recent "Why I Came to California" Brown campaign ad, before introducing the candidate who entered to chants of "Jerry, Jerry, Jerry," from the energetic crowd. Jerry warmed up by proclaiming "It's good to be back in Humboldt, where the air is pure… until you exhale," to uproarious laughter. After that and for the duration of his brief speech, Jerry kept the atmosphere loose while still managing to hit most of his campaign's talking points -- jobs, clean energy, etc. -- before thanking his extremely gracious audience for their support. There was no question/answer period. Brown shook a few hands, while making his way through the crowd and exiting the building.
He was scheduled to to meet with voters in Chico at 11 a.m.
[UPDATED 11/1: See Treasurer/Tax Collector information below.]
Many Humboldt County employees made more money last year than the stated maximum salaries for their positions, including several workers whose incomes were more than twice the amounts listed for their job titles, according to newly released information from the State Controller's Office.
Thanks to a salary scandal in the City of Bell, Controller John Chiang this week unveiled a website that lists the salaries, pension benefits and other compensation for more than 594,000 city and county employees throughout California. Chiang noted the importance of public scrutiny, saying that, "The absence of transparency and accountability invites corruption, self-dealing and the abuse of public funds."
A search of Humboldt reveals that more than 70 county employees earned six-figure incomes last year, with the top wage-earner -- a physician/psychiatrist working in the Mental Health Department -- hauling in nearly a quarter of a million dollars ($246,255). Three physician/psychiatrists ended up making more last year than the director of the Health and Human Services Department, Phillip Crandall. Nevertheless, Crandall's 2009 salary somehow exceeded $215,000 despite the fact that his position's maximum annual salary is listed as $161,692 -- a difference of more than 50 grand.
And Crandall wasn't alone. The county's 2009 personnel director, Rick Haeg, earned $208,142, which exceeds that position's stated max by more than $90,000. An information technology analyst somehow doubled his/her stated salary max of $70,515, taking in a total of $143,597 in 2009. And three deputy sheriffs managed the same feat -- each earning in excess of $111,000 when their annual salary max is less than half that amount: $55,780.
Asked how public employees can earn more than their theoretical maximum salaries, County Administrative Officer Phillip Smith-Hanes said there can be a number of contributing factors. For example, he said, when an employee retires (as was the case with Haeg last year), he or she collects unused vacation time and may receive other deferred compensation. Employees in law enforcement and nursing can earn incentives for overtime, shift differentials (ie. working the night shift) and professional certificates. And many positions reward longevity, Smith-Hanes said.
Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Brenda Godsey echoed those statements, saying the three eyebrow-raising salaries for deputy sheriffs last year likely represent payouts for retirees.
The reported numbers also shed a light on rising pension costs. One hundred seventeen county employees received $10,000 or more from the county in pension benefits last year with hundreds more employees in the four-digit range.
The salaries of county supervisors have been the subject of controversy this year, with the Grand Jury recommending a salary reduction in April. The report lists the supes' 2009 salaries ranging from $71,437 to $85,078. (Names are not attached to any of the salaries in the report.) Shockingly, the maximum listed salary for a Humboldt County Supervisor, according to the report, is $150,291. Smith-Hanes said that was a mistake; the actual max is $81,576.
Some other county employee incomes of note:
District Attorney Paul Gallegos -- $147,794 (listed salary max, $150,291)
An employment/training manager -- $144,625 (listed salary max, $85,230)
Sheriff Gary Philp -- $130,559 (max, $150,291)
Public Works Director Tom Mattson -- $129,367 (max, $117,044)
Assistant District Attorney Wes Keat -- $124,903 (max, $113,256)
Auditor/Controller Michael Giacone -- $119,909 (max, $150,291)
Treasurer/Tax Collector Stephen Strawn John Bartholomew -- $118,869 (max, $150,291) [John Bartholomew took over from Strawn on May 25, then won the June 8 election to serve the next term. His current salary is $111,128.]
Assessor Linda Hill -- $117,178 (max, $150,291)
Recorder Carolyn Crnich -- $117,178 (max, $150,291)
[Update: 3:20 p.m.] Faulk left his position as second-in-command in the T-S newsroom earlier this year, taking a voluntary leave of absence from which he never returned. Managing Editor Kimberly Wear told the Journal in July that the departure was Faulk's choice, adding that she was unaware of his reasons. [Disclosure: Faulk was a colleague of mine during my tenure at the T-S, and we had classes together at HSU.]
After arresting Faulk, EPD officers searched the apartment complex, where they allegedly found approximately five grams of tar heroin, a digital gram scale, drug packaging materials and drug paraphernalia including "cooker spoons" and hypodermic syringes. Three people inside the apartment were also arrested.
From the release:
California Attorney General Jerry Brown, the once and would-be future Governor of California, will be making an appearance at the Samoa Cookhouse on the morning of Halloween day, just about 48 hours before polls open.
Local Democratic Party apparatchik Andrew Bird will be organizing Brown's North Coast appearance, and confirmed the date to the Journal moments ago. The Humboldt County Democratic Central Committee also posted the news to its Facebook page, wherein it seeks dedicated Dem volunteers to work the event.
The program is still being worked out, Bird said, but since space at the Cookhouse is so tight -- it seats 150, max -- it seems unlikely that this will be a come-one, come-all kind of event. At least during the breakfast portion of the festivities.
The folksy old Cookhouse is a beloved venue for political theater. Current Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger made his first public appearance as a candidate there, soon after an official announcement was made on Jay Leno's Tonight Show.
Marty L'Herault is back shepherding tourists around Old Town following this summer's horrific accident. But where is Cinnamon?
A PACIFIC STORM WILL PRODUCE SIGNIFICANT RAIN ACROSS NORTHWEST CALIFORNIA SATURDAY NIGHT. RAINFALL AMOUNTS WILL GENERALLY RANGE BETWEEN 2 AND 4 INCHES. HOWEVER...TERRAIN FAVORED AREAS LIKE THE KING AND SOUTH FORK MOUNTAIN RANGES WILL LIKELY HAVE 5 TO 7 INCHES OF RAIN. THE RAIN WILL BE HEAVY AT TIMES...AND MAY CAUSE PONDING...ROCK SLIDES...AND REDUCE VISIBILITIES. GUSTY WINDS WILL ACCOMPANY THIS STORM...AND FALLING LEAVES AND DEBRIS MAY CLOG CULVERTS AND DRAINS...RESULTING IN LOCAL STREET FLOODING.
My second day in New York started off kind of slow, but grew throughout the day. Things didn't really get moving or shaking till about 7 p.m., when I went to a press mixer hosted by Big Picture Media, the publicist for CMJ. I didn't really know what to expect besides a bunch of press people standing around giving each other their cards and discussing their careers. My thoughts were pretty off. I felt like I walked into an afterparty at Fashion Week or something. There was a line to get in, a full-on guest list and a photographer standing at the door. When I walked through the crowds, I honesty didn't know where to go but to the bar, which is where I met my first networking contact -- Keith, a music blogger. Keith than introduced me to Alex, who works for AOL, and our crew was complete. We then mingled in the crowd, saw tons of interviews going on with tiny camera crews, and just people straight-up partying. There didn't seem to be much networking or card exchanging going on at all. Not too many of the people seemed approachable, which I found kind of odd, to be honest. Needless to say, the networker in me was highly disappointed.
Keith, Alex and I were planning on attending a showcase at Webster Hall in the Village. Surfer Blood and The Drums were headlining. This show conflicted with the largest show of CMJ -- Phoenix, Wavves and Dirty Projectors at Madison Square Garden. I really wanted to go to both, which was impossible, so I choose to go to The Drums show. I had heard a few of their songs, and it seemed much easier to get into. Boy oh boy was I mistaken by that fact. The crew and I thought since we had press passes we were granted access to all things CMJ-related. This was false. Apparently, you needed an extra ticket on top of your pass, and your pass literally meant nothing. So the three of us get through security thinking we are okay, head up the stairs all smiley and excited that we made it through against the odds, and bam! Denied. We needed a new plan.
Webster Hall has three floors, all consisting of different venues. Since we were already there, we decided to just check out one of the other showcases going on. Alex had known that all the floors were connected to one another through staircases and suggested that we just try to get in any way possible. We started at the basement and got to the second floor, thinking it was the right venue ... sadly, we were wrong again. We then tried to concoct a plan to get upstairs from the second floor, but all the exits and staircases were heavily guarded by large security men. We immediately pulled the move of just trying to walk past them. As you can guess: denied! Then went to a different staircase, tried the same thing ... yet again, denied! I even pleaded with security, expressing that this was my job, and my boss told me this pass would get me in, that my job depended on writing this piece. You guessed it correctly. Again: Denied. Nobody cared, or would even budge about this topic. Luckily, Alex somehow snuck his way past the guard, but left Keith and I to figure our own sneaky way in. I felt defeated. There was no way we were gonna make it. We had exhausted all possibilities.
Until, of course, we found the secret staircase. Ahh, the secret staircase hidden behind two velvet ropes, behind another door, near a dingy area way in the back of the second floor. It looked like only staff or band members could even go into this area. Nobody was around so we pulled on the door, it opened and just walked up the stairs. There were three men standing around, one on the phone and the other two were talking. I was convinced we were doomed. To my surprise they didn't even give us a second look, and just like that we were in! We made it into one of the hardest ticket in town, and all by our cunning ways. We celebrated our victory with many high fives and then $8 Stellas.
I only got to catch the last song of the first band, and it was nothing to write home about. Then the second band, The Dewars, took the stage. There were seven members, all looking very Mad Max-esque with black trenchcoats and messy hair. They spoke as if they were from the 1920s and in an odd British type of accent. Which I gotta admit was humorous. Their music was interesting, to say the least. The sounded like a grunge version of The Kinks mixed with Dr. Dog. It was fun to watch the keyboard player, who seemed to have more fun than anyone else in the band. I can see this band making waves on the music blog scene, but not really going too much further than that. Maybe they will be a hit in 20 years, when kids are looking back for obscure music of 2010.
Surfer Blood took the stage next, which I honestly was surprised about. They have several singles on the radio and seem to be gaining commercial success. I assumed they would be the headliners. I always have compared them to Pavement, based on the single "Swim," but last night there was no tone of Pavement at all. If anything, they were a mix between The Smiths and The Shins. John Paul Pitts, the lead singer, had the same flamboyance and swagger as the mighty Morrissey while he sang to the audience. These actions were off-putting at first, but then I got into it. He was so into his songs, and the band really seemed to be having fun performing for us. Their set of songs started to blend into one another, and by the fifth song or so I was over it and ready for The Drums to take the stage.
When The Drums came on, satin jackets and all, the crowd went wild. It was obvious they were the sought-after act of the evening. As soon as the first chord was played, the audience and band were on fire. I thought Surfer Blood's lead singer was too much like Morrissey, but yet again I was mistaken. Jonathan Pierce banged the mic and slithered all over the stage. All he was missing was flowers in his back pocket. Its very clear this band has the influences of 1980s English Pop. The best way to describe this band is to blend together Morrissey, Echo and the Bunnymen, Suede and Joy Division. Kind of my dream band to be honest. I always wished to have seen one of those bands, and last night I feel like I got as close as I could. Unless, of course, I get a time machine. There even is the irony that those British bands evoke. Pop, uplifting music taken over by depressing lyrics. Two descriptions given of songs were "This one's about my best friend, who is dead" and "This one's about a girl I hate very, very much" followed by such upbeat, fun dance music. I strongly urge you to listen to this band, if you are a fan of the British pop music of the ~~~80s, you will not be disappointed. I could go on and on about them, but I won't. This blog is long enough.
Final thoughts on yesterday; CMJ is amazing, I'm blessed to be here, look forward to tonights events, and last but not least I know how to sneak into hard venues, so Arcata Theater Lounge better watch out on their next sold out event!
6th and F, Eureka.
KSLG DJ Melissa Culbertson is covering the CMJ Music Festival for the North Coast Journal and KSLG. Follow her at @silygirl0.
By Melissa Culbertson
Melissa Culbertson here in New York City all week long to attend the CMJ Music Marathon and Film Festival. (If you have no idea what I'm talking about go here and read all about it.) Yesterday was day one of this 5 day long five-day marathon, and it is indeed quite the marathon. With over 1,200 bands playing at various venues through out throughout the boroughs, along side alongside interesting panels and films, I seriously didn't know where to begin. I think I need a secretary to help keep my plans in order.
I started off my day by taking the subway down to get my credentials and just check out the over all overall scene at NYU, which is the main head quarters headquarters of the event. There were hundreds of people coming and going, all dressed up in their best hipster gear, ready to prove their coolness and overall knowledge of the scene. I was a bit out of place, being older and inexperienced with the whole process, but I quickly adapted and joined the ranks of the masses their ranks .
I didn't know where to begin, so I decided to start my time day by attending a panel en titled "American Hardcore and the Rise of Modern Rock. ". It was an informative and interesting hour. There were panelists such as The panelists included Jack Rabid, who started the magazine The Big Takeover, and Steven Blush, author of American Hardcore: A Tribal History. The panelists mainly They talked about how the DIY (aka d "D o i I t y Y ourself" ) movement got started and how it has affected today' s record industry. It was very interesting, but yet not so informative to me, being as though i grew up in that scene, and have helped many bands and zines do it themselves. [Comes off as bragging, Melissa -- Ed.] It was refreshing to see so many students and young college music directors listening to these words of wisdom. Hopefully the next generation will take cues and keep producing their own publications, and albums in the future. If you are interested in reading more about this topic, check out Blush's book, which is available online and in most book stores.
There weren't too many bands I specifically wanted to see on the first night , so I decided to just wander around the East Village and see what came my way. Luckily I stumbled across an artist named Jeff Taylor who put on quite the an incredible live show. Every song went in such a different directions, as well as his vocal range . Jeff Taylor would make these moans, and screams out of nowhere, blended blending them with his lovely melodies and honest song writing songwriting .
I was lucky enough to snag a quick interview with him and ask him about his performance and writing process. My first question to him was about this unique sound he has created, . and h H e explained that it isn't really planned he doesn't really plan it while writing the songs, that -- it just sort of comes out of him while performing during the performance . You can see w W hile watching him on stage, you can see that he is sincere and filled with emotion with every note . During one of the final songs he was playing piano, and you could actually see tears in his eyes.
I asked him what happened to evoke so much emotion, . Jeff Taylor explained that his father had passed a while back, and always wanted the best for him, but it wasn't exactly what he wanted to do. So he feels the pull to try to follow his parents' wishes in life, and just go on his own path, and that song was inspired by these emotions. [Unclear, please rephrase -- Ed.] It was nice to see an artist really expose themselves himself on stage, and just be real .
Tonight's line up lineup promises to be even more exciting and jam packed jam-packed than yesterday's events. I will do my best to go to as much as possible, and then inform you of all the happenings out here on the east coast East Coast .
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