Entries tagged with “Janine Warner”.

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. I turned 71 Sunday, which was probably a good decision, but I threw out my back earlier in the week, which definitely was not a good move. You never realize how much use you have for something until you throw it out.

Just standing up is now a pain, and walking is even worse.

Doug Hill, president of the Berkeley City Commons Club, relays a member’s question to me at the end of my talk. (Photo by Dave LaFontaine)

As it happens, Morton McDonald, who has a home at Duck Cove in Inverness, had invited me to tell the Berkeley City Commons Club what I knew about Synanon from the cult’s days in West Marin. I had agreed to go last Friday but had to strut and fret my hour upon the stage from an overstuffed chair.

I’ve tried to portray my injury as caused by rugged work, telling friends I threw out my back while working with a chainsaw. “What were you cutting?” they ask. “Daisies,” I sheepishly reply. They’re inevitably startled. “No one throws out his back cutting daisies,” they say, “and no one cuts daisies with a chainsaw.”

It’s a long story. Former Point Reyes Light reporter Janine Warner and her husband Dave LaFontaine drove up from Los Angeles for my birthday and are staying for five days. My stepdaughter Kristeli, who is in her last year at New York University, will fly in Tuesday and stay for five days over Thanksgiving.

Vegetation was hanging over the railing along the outdoor steps, and I wanted everyone to be safe when they used the stairs. When I cut four or five dead fronds off a palm and three dead branches off a couple of pines, the chainsaw went right through them. But when I bent over to cut some woody branches from dead sections of two daisy bushes, a muscle spasm locked onto my back with all four feet.

Heating pads, back braces, and a ball-bearing-filled massage machine are helping, and I’ll no doubt recover in a week or two although post-traumatic-stress disorder could be a lingering problem.

I sign a copy of The Light on the Coast for Morton McDonald. The book includes a section on the paper’s investigation of Synanon, an investigation that led to a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. (Photo by Dave LaFontaine)

In the “best of times” category, The Light on the Coast: 65 Years of News Big and Small as Reported by The Point Reyes Light, which I wrote with Jacoba Charles as coauthor, is now in its third printing. The Tomales Regional History Center is the publisher, and the book can be ordered online using the History Center link in the righthand column.

Two blacktails butting heads outside my kitchen window last week. I’d think a deer could easily get an eye poked out that way, but I’ve never seen a buck with an eye patch.

During an open house and reunion Saturday, a happy throng of Point Reyes Light readers, staff, and columnists joined with former staff and correspondents to celebrate the 66th anniversary of the newspaper’s first issue.

The reunion drew staff and contributors who had worked at the paper at different times during the past 44 years. A number of former staff traveled hundreds of miles to attend. A couple of them arrived from out of state.

From left: Laura Lee Miller, David Rolland (who drove up from San Diego), Cat Cowles, Wendi Kallins, Janine Warner (who drove up from Los Angeles), Elisabeth Ptak (back to camera), Gayanne Enquist, Art Rogers (talking with Elisabeth), Keith Ervin (who drove down from Seattle), B.G. Buttemiller, and (in blue shirt with back to camera) Víctor Reyes. (Photo by Dave LaFontaine) ______________________________________________________________

The party was also a celebration of the Tomales Regional History Center’s publishing The Light on the Coast: 65 Years of News Big and Small as Reported in The Point Reyes Light.

Stuart Chapman of Bolinas, a former member of the staff, shot this photo, which he titled “Dave, Proud Father” because I authored the book.

My co-author was Jacoba Charles. Jacoba reported for The Light under its previous ownership and is a member of the paper’s board of directors under its present ownership, Marin Media Institute.

The colored Post-its, by the way, mark selections that I, along with others, would be reading to attendees. ____________________________________________________________

From left: Co-author Jacoba Charles, photographer Art Rogers, scientist Corey Goodman, photographer David Briggs, editorial consultant on the book and former member of The Light’s ad department Lynn Axelrod, and Spanish-language columnist Víctor Reyes. (Except where noted otherwise, the photos in this posting were shot by former Light reporter Janine Warner)

Michael Gahagan (left), who drove down from the Sierra Nevada town of Columbia to attend, published The Light from 1970 to 1975. Here he reminisces with historian Dewey Livingston of Inverness. Dewey for many years provided a weekly historical feature titled “West Marin’s Past.”

During the Gahagan years, Lee Sims (left) was the newspaper’s main typographer. This was back in the days before offset printing, and each page that went on the press had to be composed in lead.

In a piece written for The Light’s 30th anniversary in 1978 and reprinted in The Light on the Coast, Michael Gahagan’s former wife Annabelle comments, “Poor Lee, he had the disadvantage of being a friend of ours. One can always depend on friends — and we did lean on him! He was always underpaid and overworked. (Weren’t we all?)”

Catching up on old times are (in foreground from left): former news editor David Rolland, who drove to the reunion from San Diego, former typesetter Cat Cowles of Inverness, and former reporter Joel Reese, who flew in from Chicago. Standing behind them are current reporter Christopher Peak (left) and Matt Gallagher, who filled in as managing editor from February through July 2011. _____________________________________________________________

Samantha Kimmey (on the left) has been a reporter at The Light for the past year. With her is Tess Elliott of Inverness, who has been The Light’s editor for the past eight years   ____________________________________________________________

Gayanne Enquist was office manager during much of the 27 years I owned The Light. She was there when I arrived in July 1975, and she was there when I left in November 2005. (I was away reporting for the old San Francisco Examiner between September 1981 and the end of 1983.)

Former reporter Michelle Ling trades stories with Don Schinske, who was business manager during the 1990s and was co-publisher from 1995 to 1998. At left is her father, Dr. Walter Ling who teaches at UCLA. With his wife, May, Dr. Ling drove to Point Reyes Station for the celebration. In the background, Mary Papale listens intently to Laura Rogers.

Ingrid Noyes of Marshall (left) tells a story to my co-author, Jacoba Charles, outside The Light office.

Former staff recall the days of yore. From left: artist Laura Lee Miller, news editor David Rolland, typesetter Cat Cowles, reporter Janine Warner, and San Geronimo Valley correspondent Wendi Kallins. (Photo by Dave LaFontaine)

Sarah Rohrs was a reporter at The Light in the late 1980s. When several of us took turns reading aloud selections from The Light on the Coast, I read Sarah’s wonderfully droll account of a county fireman in Hicks Valley having to get a cow down out of a tree. (Photo by Joe Gramer)

Larken Bradley (left), who formerly wrote obituaries for The Light, chats with librarian Kerry Livingston, wife of Dewey.

Photographer Janine Dunn née Collins in 1995 traveled with news editor David Rolland to Switzerland’s Italian-speaking Canton of Ticino and to war-torn Croatia in doing research for The Light’s series on the five waves of historic immigration to West Marin. Here she chats with the paper’s current photographer David Briggs (center) and her husband John Dunn.

Former Light graphic artist Kathleen O’Neill (left) discusses newspapering in West Marin with present business manager Diana Cameron. _____________________________________________________________

Former Light reporter Marian Schinske (right) and I wax nostalgic while photographic contributor Ilka Hartmann (left), looks on and Heather Mack (center), a graduate student in Journalism at UC Berkeley, takes notes. ____________________________________________________________

Former news editor Jim Kravets (left) jokes with photographer Art Rogers.

John Hulls of Point Reyes Station and Cynthia Clark of Novato have in the past worked with The Light in various capacities. In 1984, Cynthia set up the first computer system for the newsroom and ad department.

From left: Stuart Chapman of Bolinas, who formerly worked in The Light’s ad department, swaps stories with journalist Dave LaFontaine of Los Angeles and Light columnist Víctor Reyes.

Historian Dewey Livingston (left), a former production manager at The Light, poses with former news editor David Rolland while former business manager Bert Crews of Tomales mugs in the background.

In preparing to shoot one of his signature group portraits, Art Rogers directs members of the crowd where to stand. With the throng crowded into the newspaper office, getting everyone in the right place to be seen was such a complicated operation that some of the photographer’s subjects began photographing him. _____________________________________________________________

In shooting a series of three-dimensional photos, Art had to use a tall tripod and balance precariously on a window ledge and ladder.               _____________________________________________________________

Art’s wife, Laura, who didn’t have to work nearly as hard, pages through a copy of The Light on the Coast. _______________________________________________________________

The party was in part a book-signing, and I signed copies off and on all afternoon. ______________________________________________________

Light editor Tess Elliott reads Wilma Van Peer’s 1998 account of working for the paper’s founders, Dave and Wilma Rogers half a century earlier. The newspaper was called The Baywood Press when it began publishing in 1948. The paper’s fourth publisher, Don DeWolfe, changed the name to Point Reyes Light in 1966.

Originally the readings were scheduled to be held in the newspaper office, but so much socializing was going on they had to be delayed until the party moved around the corner to Vladimir’s Czech Restaurant where the banquet room had been reserved.

Among those reading besides Tess were Dewey Livingston, David Rolland, Matt Gallagher, and I. Anyone wishing to watch me read former publisher (1957 to 1970) Don DeWolfe’s account of his initiation to running the paper can click here.

It was a grand party, and I want to thank present Light staff, who made arrangements for the party, and former staff, some of whom traveled significant distances to attend the reunion.

Two other book readings are also scheduled. At 3 p.m. Sunday, March 9, in Point Reyes Presbyterian Church, Point Reyes Books will sponsor readings from The Light on the Coast and from Point Reyes Sheriff’s Calls, Susanna Solomon’s book of short stories inspired by Sheriff’s Calls in The Light.

At 4 p.m. Sunday, April 27, in its Corte Madera store, Book Passage will sponsor readings from The Light on the Coast. Refreshments will be served.

A minister bought a parrot from a pet store, as the story goes, but after he took it home was dismayed to discover the bird had been taught to cuss a blue streak. The minister liked the bird but not the cussing, so every Sunday he would drape a cloth over the parrot’s cage to simulate night and prevent the critter from stirring.

The scheme did a pretty good job of keeping the Sabbath holy, but it broke down when a group of church ladies dropped by on a weekday to discuss the parish’s annual potluck dinner. As they arrived at his door, the minister quickly threw the cloth over the parrot’s cage, only to have the bird squawk as the ladies came into the room, “It’s been a damned short week.”

In the San Francisco Bay Area, it’s been a damned short spring, summer and fall. Winter weather is back before the end of the school year. On Sunday, snow fell on Mount Hamilton near San Jose. In West Marin, the story was not snow but rain.

On Monday night alone, 0.59 inches of rain fell in Point Reyes Station. Just down the road, Olema picked up 0.85 inches. Marin Municipal Water District this week reported that as of Sunday, its seven reservoirs were at 98 percent of capacity — compared with 87 percent at this date in an average year.


I was sitting at the desk in my loft a week ago when a raccoon looked in my second-floor window, hoping to attract my attention so I would go downstairs and give it some peanuts. I immediately went out on my deck to take a photo of the raccoon on my roof but couldn’t see it in the dark. So I did what I could. I pointed my camera toward one end of the eaves, and was lucky enough to catch the raccoon illuminated by the flash.

The rains on Monday night were accompanied by high winds, which blew over my garbage container before Redwood Empire Disposal could empty it, so raccoons volunteered to do the emptying themselves. I discovered the mess Tuesday morning when I went to the bottom of my driveway to pick up the morning Chronicle.

My timing was fortuitous. No sooner had I put all the garbage back in its container than the garbage truck came along. If I’d waited another five minutes to retrieve my newspaper, I would have been stuck with a full container of garbage and not enough room for another week’s worth.

Before the recent rains started, the fields around Mitchell cabin had been getting pretty dry, which raised fire-safety concerns, so my friend Terry Gray of Inverness Park agreed to take a Weed Whacker to the grass immediately around the house on Monday.

But it turned out to be an exercise in futility. While Terry was cutting grass, a drizzle started, and it soon turned into rain, which drove Terry indoors. Not a lot of fire danger for the moment, we concluded.

My oldest stepdaughter Anika Zappa Monterroso (left) and Lynn Axelrod at Nicks Cove in January. On Saturday, Anika, 24, received a bachelor of science degree in Retail Merchandising from the University of Minnesota’s College of Design.

One project that did get finished before the rains began was digging up and cutting down thistles. My lady friend Lynn Axelrod and I spent four days doing this, both on my property and on four neighbors’ properties. (Their thistle problems can quickly become my thistle problems.) In all, we filled 19 contractor’s bags with thistles — enough to keep outgoing green-waste containers full for the next three months.

Anika, who grew up in Guatemala, worked her way through college at Best Buy stores in the Minneapolis area. With her in my dining room two years ago is Janine Warner of Los Angeles. Janine was a reporter at The Point Reyes Light when I owned the newspaper, was later the editor of all online editions of The Miami Herald, was subsequently on the faculty of USC, and now works as an internet consultant and author.

Janine, who is scheduled to visit here next week with her husband Dave LaFontaine, has written more than a dozen books — many of them in the computers for Dummies series — and has sold more than 500,000 copies.

As a former college English instructor, it occurs to me that Herman Melville in contrast sold only 3,000 copies of Moby Dick during his lifetime and earned a mere $556 from the novel. Most of his other books sold 1,200 copies or less. Melville’s writings while he was alive brought in just over $10,000, and at one point he was forced to declare bankruptcy.  When he died in 1891 at the age of 72, he was a mostly forgotten author.

Obviously, what’s selling in the publishing world has changed drastically in the past century. Ironically, it appears that books geared to readers who consider print media passé are now among the best sellers.

Perhaps if Melville had written Harpooning for Dummies, he would have had a larger following during his lifetime. “Whenever it is a damp, drizzly, November in my soul,” to borrow a phrase from old Herman, I long for May, but this year come May, we’re instead getting another dose of November.