Tags >> politics
Dec 30
2009

"When the Rivers Ran Red"

Posted by Bruce Robinson in wine , Sonoma , politics , Napa , law enforcement , history , government , farms , families , economy , author , agriculture

Bruce Robinson

It's well known that many of the oldest wineries in Sonoma and Napa Counties predate Prohibition, but the story of how they got through the 14 dry years when the 18th amendment was in effect is only now being fully told.

 

 

 

Dry laws were never supported in northern California. Several statewide ballot initiatives were unsuccessful, due in part of strong opposition in San Francisco and the surrounding counties. So when Prohibition was enacted in far-off Washington, D.C., author Vivienne Sosnowski says that folks in the north bay almost unanimously took to bootlegging.

Our poularized cultural history paints Chicago as the epicenter of the battles between federal prohibition enforcement agents and rumrunner, bootleggers and others who flouted the law. But similar episodes played out in many areas. Sosnowski recounts one she was told of, which happened near Geyserville.

Sosnowski (left) was able to talk with a number of elderly members of Sonoma and Napa county wine-making families, collecting their oral histories of the Prohibition years. She says she came away from the project with a great admiration for what they all went through.

 

 

 


 

 

Dec 28
2009

"Tamalpias Walking"

Posted by Bruce Robinson in speaker , parks , open space , ocean , Marin , history , environment , coast , author , art

Bruce Robinson

Marin County artist Tom Killion has spent his life portraying different views of Mount Tamalpias--but filtered through the techniques of Japanese woodcut printmaking.

 

When he set out to draft the text for Tamalpais Walking, Killion discovered he had a lot to learn about the history of Mount Tamalpais.

   Tamalpais Walking is the most recent in a series of collaborations between Killion and poet Gary Snyder, Their previous joint effort was The High Sierra of California in 2002. Killion will be at Copperfields Books in Sebastopol on June 3 to talk about their books.

 

Even though Japanese woodcuts are distinctly stylized, Killion says he was also intrigued by the accuracy of detail that the masters were able to incorporate.

 

Killion's website shows and sells many of his prints, including the samples reproduced below. There is also a page explaining his technique, including this favored hand-powered press.

 

 

 

Dec 16
2009

The New Madrid Earthquakes

Posted by Bruce Robinson in water , research , media , housing , history , families , environment , children , author

Bruce Robinson

The most powerful earthquakes in American history didn’t happen in California or Alaska, but almost 200 years ago in Missouri.

 

 

 

As Santa Rosa novelist Sally Watson set out to research the details and circumstances surrounding the New Madrid Earthquakes, she found an important source and ally at the town museum there.

 

Reports vary on the number of houses destroyed in the initial quakes, Watson says, as do the accounts of the number of people who fled afterward.

   

  A more contemporary view of the New Madrid Fault

 

Dec 02
2009

Modern Piracy

Posted by Bruce Robinson in youth , transportation , public safety , ocean , news , law enforcement , international , history , economy , coast , Africa

Bruce Robinson

Terrorism in the 21st century is not confined to hot spots in the middle east or attacks on urban centers elsewhere. The upsurge in piracy in waters off Africa and Malaysia can be seen as another form of terrorism, but one that is driven by economic pressures rather than ideological concerns.

The pirates of east Africa, many of them former fishermen who have lost their traditional livelihood, almost always seek ransom for the ships they commandeer. But history professor Richard Kirk, who has made a special study of piracy over the past nine years, notes that the fate of captured vessels in the South China Sea is often much more dire.

 

It’s quite rare for passenger ships to be targeted by pirates, but Kirk knows of at least one instance in which a modestly sized cruise ship came under attack.

 

The original swashbuckling buccaneers of the 16th century are the basis for the romanticized image that has endured, and Kirk says their era lasted almost two centuries.

 

Pirate attacks in 2007

 

Pirate Attacks in 2008