Looking at the State Assembly Race between conservative Frank Bigelow and liberal Robert Carabas , Mr. Bigelow won by 154 votes in Mono County as the incumbent with a much larger war chest (nearly 10:1 over Mr. Carabas). Interesting but ultimately unsurprising was that Mammoth Lakes voted for Mr. Carabas with a 25% majority.
This echoes the Presidential results as well, where Mammoth Lakes had a total of 2,450 voters and nearly 2:1 voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump.
Prop 64 (legalizing marijuana) also lead with nearly 2:1 passage in Mammoth Lakes (1540 yes to 818 no).
(It’s 9:00pm west coast, and it looks like Donald Trump will win… results are coming in)
I’m taking a break from watching what seems to be more and more likely: President Elect Trump. Numerous states have not closed but the odds are increasing that in January of 2017 we will have a Trump executive branch, a GOP senate, and a GOP house. Coupled with GOP appointments to the Supreme Court.
For those opposed to Trump, there will be soul searching. There will be rage. There will be anger at Hillary Clinton: why couldn’t Sanders have run and possibly won? There will be a general hangover that will cloud the minds of anyone who did not support Donald Trump.
But tonight, before you go to sleep, I want you to think about this. Edman Vance Cook:
It’s nothing against you to fall down flat,
But to lie there — that’s disgrace.
By all means, feel like shit for a while. Be angry at the racists, misogynists, and bigots. Forget the long arc of American progress that by any measure has, over the long run, improved the outlook of every segment of our society. Believe that it’s all over and America as we know it is gone forever.
Then get up off the floor.
I try not to patronize as a general rule, but when someone prays for something, it’s hard for me to hold my tongue. You go pray for a sandwich and I’ll head to the kitchen and open the fridge: let’s see who eats first. Work is what fixes things, and nothing else.
I know decent and kind people who are Trump supporters. You may not want to handle that reality, but it’s true. It’s hard to square that with the anti-semites and xenophobes who also support him. Painting them all with a brush that spans half the country is much easier on the mind.
But a very large chunk of American society thinks that Donald Trump is the answer to their problems. Two things that won’t help the matter: (1) Your mockery of them and (2) you sitting on your ass.
I care about this country because I, like you, benefit from a long line of people of who put their nation first. Today is the day when you determine what you’ll spend your evenings on: Hulu, Facebook, or America.
Be mad. Feel let down. And when you’re done doing all of that please join me in putting this country back on the arc it has always managed to stay on: one that allows us to provide equality and opportunity moreso today than we did yesterday.
Our leaders are really our followers as they embrace ideas that have already come to fruition across our nation. We the people, as corny as that sounds, must now dig in for the long fight. There will be no trophies, and there will be no glory. While we work we will witness the bad ideas of others come to fruition that will hurt decent Americans.
And in this work is our opportunity to grab the helm and aim our nation towards a future we can be proud of. Together, we can do this. I’m starting tomorrow, and I hope you will join me.
Skimming through the Mammoth For Rent group the telltale signs of housing shortages is readily apparent with posts like this guy, looking to sleep on a floor:
Or this couple with jobs who is willing to be split up to live in town:
These are not wealthy vacationers. Rather these are the folks working the chair lifts, the kitchens, the ski schools, and all other essential functions that people living in and coming to Mammoth rely upon. And it’s not that there isn’t space available to rent. Rather, a quick hop over on AirBnB shows that there are over 300 listings for Mammoth. For Mono County in total there are over 1,000 so the number in Mammoth is very likely closer to that 1k mark.
As is often the case in life, decisions that hurt normal people aren’t a vast conspiracy crafted by money grubbing officials in smoke filled rooms. More boringly it’s a steady march down a path of self interest.
For home owners in Mammoth, short term rentals are great. They allow you have a more affordable second home, being able to subsidize a mortgage. And instead of a long term rental you have a place you or your friends can drop in pretty much whenever. Even if you don’t do short term rentals you you benefit from others that do. Having homes in Mammoth be more affordable reduces home inventory and keeps property values up.
For the town, they rake in the TOT tax of 13% on short term (AirBnB, VRBO, etc) stuff but not a dime on typical long term rentals. My hopefully reasonable question:
Exactly how motivated is the Town of Mammoth Lakes to reduce short term rentals, thereby lowering home prices, lowering property taxes, and lowering the revenue of the Transient Occupancy Tax?
Everyone cares about affordable housing. Whether or not you do anything to materially impact the situation in a positive way is a whole different bag of potatoes. And really, when was the last time you saw an organization do something that wasn’t in its fiscal interests?
I was walking to work one day and a young man standing in front of a community college handed me a flier. It, and I assume he, was full of vegan propaganda. Perhaps you haven’t heard the joke before:
How do you know someone is vegan [and/or into crossfit]? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.
I said “thanks” and kept walking, thumbing through the papers looking for typical arguments that meat is murder and I will enjoy tofu as much as an In-n-Out burger: obviously a lie, peddled by anti-Americans raised in some communist country.
But instead I encountered a rather balanced and realistic approach. “Cows are hard on our environment and health. Consider minimizing your use of them.” I was taken aback.
Rather than be confronted with zealotry, the statement was honest and reasonable. After all, I think most of us know that if we’re not going to absolutely reduce less-than-terrific habits like alcohol consumption that we learn how to achieve a sustainable balance.
…there is clear evidence of adverse human health consequences due to resistant organisms resulting from non-human usage of antimicrobials.
And let’s unpack “adverse human health” a bit of clarity from the CDC:
Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections. Many more people die from other conditions that were complicated by an antibiotic-resistant infection.
Now of course we can’t lay 100% of the blame of antibiotic resistant deaths at the hooves of cattle production. But it’s clearly a significant cause as outlined in this Frontline documentary.
Tracing this all back to the nice vegan man handing out fliers, I’ve found that like alcohol, pot, and staying up late watching shitty movies the point is not to remove these things entirely from your life (less you become an absolute bore).
I’ve removed most of the beef from my diet by asking a simple question:
Do I actually want to eat beef right now or am I just hungry?
If I’m going to In-N-Out, I’m happily participating in the wholesale murder of cows with a smile on my face. But if I’m just scarfing some food down in a hurry, I’ll toss some Boca spicy “chicken” patties in a pan.
Before I grab a beer, I ask myself if I really want a beer or if I’m actually just thirsty and want some water. Trust me: most of the time I want the beer.
I would posit that most of our daily habits are not consciously planned out. They look mysteriously like what we did yesterday and the week before, and also echo how our parents raised us. But it’s a brave new world out there and there’s new information to contend with.
If you want to do things that aren’t so great for you, me, or the environment that’s fine: we all do things like that. But perhaps consider regulating it a bit. It’s one thing to be a little selfish because you’re too lazy to stock your shopping cart with something better. It’s entirely different to be selfish when your teeth sink into a wonderful juicy burger. in the latter example, selfishness never tasted so good.
…it doesn’t matter who the Republicans nominate, this is always gonna happen. … There isn’t a Republican nominee that they are not gonna demonize.
We can safely assume that “they” is the main stream media, which effectively includes anyone critical of a Republican. Mr. Limbaugh goes on further to explain why steadfast Trump supporters are indeed sticking with the real estate developer:
The Republican primary voters had grown weary of nominating and electing people that were not gonna fight back against any of this defamation and slander and libel against all of us, and Trump is, and that’s why his supporters are not abandoning him.
This feeds nicely into Trump’s attempt to explain how everyone not supporting him is part of a vast and complex conspiracy. From the guy who charges him too much at the coffee shop to the FBI to the Clinton Foundation to the Federal Reserve to reporters to Paul Ryan: they’re all meeting in smoke filled rooms comparing notes on how to take down Donald Trump and his supporters.
The reality is a bit different. If you compare Secretary Clinton’s campaign challenges, they generally rely on reporters to sift through mountains of data and interpret second hand sources (like John Podesta). Trump on the other hand has dumped piles of data on the table and is his own worst enemy. Combing through the Podesta Wikileaks emails takes serious journalism and there’s a lot of room for selection bias and interpretation. Compare that with Donald Trump for which the below video was probably stitched together over the course of an evening, using only Trump’s own words.
More to the point, the very nature of many Trump supporters isdeplorable. With slogans like “Trump that Bitch” and xenophobia concealed like an elephant in saran wrap, a candidate who appeals to people like that should be slandered by their own words.
Regarding Mr. Limbaugh’s claim of demonizing, I would object to that practice in general, because demonizing puts you on a path whereby you automatically distrust someone and mold every statement and action into your pre-shaped concepts. As an example, any independent thinker should be able to rightly acknowledge and support Trump’s plan for tough lobbying restrictions announced in mid October. You still don’t need to vote for the person, but if you find yourself blindly hating any person or party you had better not get upset when someone paints you with a massive brush as you’re doing it yourself to them.
The alt/far right of our country is shrinking, and to steal from Christopher Hitchens, is ratcheting its voice up to a screaming volume to ward off the growing silence. I once had an opossum in my yard, and it ran into the corner of a building. Cornered, knowing somewhere deep in its mind that death was imminent, it pulled out all the stops and was prepared to kill or be killed.
What’s missing from Mr. Limbaugh’s assessment is exactly that: the alt/far right is embracing views farther and further out of league with what the majority of Americans want in this country. As such, opponents of them must simply turn on a camera, record their vitriol, and sit back as the country alternates between shocks and groans.
Before I moved up here, I did what any Internet savvy citizen would do: tried to creep on Mammoth Lakes and learn everything I could. Confusingly, Mammoth denied Internet norms: there is no Craiglist, just Reno, “Gold Country“, and even some junk on Bakersfield. The messageboard is broken and doesn’t allow new members. The subreddit is a digital ghost town.
But in general I had to learn all this the hard way, so with no further ado let me key you into Mammoth’s social media:
Mammoth Buy Sell Trade. This is the facebook group that nearly everyone with a phone or computer uses to buy and sell in Mammoth or Bishop. I’ve bought bikes, furniture, and tires from here. Likewise we’ve sold a car seat, storage racks, and housewares. Also, this is where up-to-the-minute town drama happens. Did you hear an explosion? Did a bear get into someone’s house? Did the police cite a guy for picking up trash? It’s all on Mammoth Buy Sell Trade.
Mammoth For Rent. Unable to figure out where the hell the rentals are? Well, here you go. Before the snow season starts, this is 10% listings and 90% people with $500 a month looking for a place slopeside that will take them and their dog.
Butt Hurt Owens Valley. This is primarily for folks who love along the 395 as there is a distinct difference between Mono residents and those down in Inyo/Kern/wherever. In general this is full of people from Bishop complaining about homeless people the Vons parking lot sleeping in their cars.
As an interesting note, I believe social media allows us to connect with each other (big shocker!). When you live in a small town, however, you end up being really connected. Very quickly you end up knowing everyone and everyone knows you. This also forces a large degree of civility because you either will get along with neighbors who are on different ends of the political and religious spectrum from you or you will shut off half the town and retreat to a very small group of like-minded individuals.
In Manhattan, you can easily fill a high school auditorium with raw-food vegans whose favorite color is green and share the first name of Ben. In Mammoth, just finding some folks who like the same movies as you might take a lifetime to discover. As such, there’s a lot of getting along going on. Not the echo chamber kind, but the kind where civility and neighborliness is prized. There’s just not enough people around here for you to only associate with the kind you agree with. Honestly I find it a refreshing change of pace from the larger city life.
Well, down here in Mammoth Lakes, CA, we don’t get mail delivery. Why? Well, the snow of course! To be fair it’s not just the USPS. Being the middle class white American that I am, I ordered a package on my Amazon Prime subscription. A different delivery truck service rolled up and the driver had a conversation with me as I grabbed my box:
“So, you’re the new owners here?”
I looked back at the house, and failing to deliver a funny joke I replied, “Yeah, either that or I’m going to get arrested I suppose.”
She just stared at me with that townie-who-hates-everyone-else look and said, “Well just so you know, I won’t go up this hill in the winter. So consider that.”
There was a part of me who wanted to fire back: “Look, pal. I ferried a god damn $15 fridge part across the Sea of Cortez for some dude I never met and have smuggled more shit across the border than a low level narco trafficker. Sure, it was generally blue masking tape and watermaker membranes, but that’s not the point.”
But instead I thanked her for the advice, realized this was one of those times when I should probably holster my opinion until I have more information on the subject, and have proceeded to try to secure all my winter belongings from the Internet before the snow starts dumping. To be clear though, I’m not the only person to notice the third-world-nature of package deliveries in Mammoth: here’s a good article from June 2016 in The Sheet News.
So off we went to secure our new PO Box. Because the USPS doesn’t deliver, after proving that indeed we are residents in Mammoth Lakes, we got a cigar-box sized box for free. There are a couple of rules. First, every year we need to prove that we’re residents.
Second, and perhaps most hilarious, we need to check our box every three days. Mind you, these are the same people saying that they (as a professional delivery service) lack the ability to get to you six days a week, but they do require 8,000 people (+/- a few) to schlep their asses to the post office 100 days a year. Some old lady in a Civic apparently has better chops to getting her mail than the USPS can get it to her.
All Postal Service employees reported to work on Monday morning [following Hurricane Sandy], according to USPS spokeswoman Darleen Reid, and while certain routes will be disrupted (such as evacuated areas of New York City), and a handful of coastal offices are closed, everywhere mail can be safely delivered, it will be. As far as Reid knows, the Postal Service has never failed to deliver mail to an area for a 24-hour period in its entire 237-year history, unless there were physical obstacles — mounds of snow, flooded streets — that made it impossible.
Sure, in some areas of Mammoth Lakes there will be “mounds of snow”, but for plenty of the town the roads are cleared quite quickly. Indeed, the entire snow-spots thing only works if in the midst of the gnarliest conditions visitors can get into town, do some shopping, hit the slopes, grab dinner, and get to their hotels. Mammoth Lakes’ Public Works Department even has a rather well thought out snow removal policy, and bolsters its ranks with part time drivers to supplement the full time staff.
And taking it an obvious step forward, it’s only “dumping snow” typically ~5 months a year, leaving the other 7 safe enough to ride a unicycle through town.
The real reason as I see it is because of the obvious difference between Mammoth Lakes and Long Island: one has the New York attitude towards functioning, somehow, every day, regardless of what the hell is going on. Terrorism, heat waves, blizzards, hurricanes: everyone has a job and needs to get to work.
Mammoth, on the other hand, is a place visitors (and most residents) go to on vacation, for retirement, or to spend more time in a relaxed setting. The amount of people who need their mail delivered on time up here is small. Yes, I know the winter weather is brutal. But I posit that if everyone up here needed to work a 9-5 and get their mail on time in order to pay the bills (including property taxes), this would have been resolved a while ago.
It’s 5:03am, which means I have 47 minutes to write this and nurse my coffee before the morning routine begins. This afternoon will mark our first week of living up here in our new house. For now, here are a few items that stand out.
It’s beautiful up here.
I’ve lived in some beautiful places and been to even more but the Eastern Sierra is really just spectacular. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating that about six miles east of here is where Ansel Adams photographed some of the most beautiful landscapes on Earth.
And being surrounded by that beauty impacts you in certain ways. There’s the general jaw-dropping nature of just driving or walking around, with monuments to Earth’s violence and majesty looming all about. But there are more practical and brass tacks effects as well.
Around these here parts you haul your trash to the transfer station: a bunch of dumpsters near the outside of town where for ~$20/month you are allowed to throw your trash and recycling. True, there technically is curbside service but it’s quite rare to see and it’s cautioned against even by the people who provide it:
[curbside trash service] is less common because of difficult winter conditions and bear activity.
So even if you don’t want to haul your own trash, you have to contend with bears and the reality of a place that can get six feet of snow per day.
Don’t worry: as a tourist or visitor you won’t have to see any trash or landfills anywhere. Other than “Dump Road” off the 395 and a bulldozer sitting on a hill near Bishop, you can do what we all do and just pretend that there’s a magic fairy shepherding all of our trash into some mystical realm. Keep up the Amazon orders, don’t put packaging materials and waste generation into your calculus when you buy products: the magic fairy will just take care of it all.
The numbers are suspect. The 2010 census has the town at 8,234. The guy at my gym says it’s really like 5,000. Town boosters will claim it’s more like 9,000 or 10,000. During peak holiday seasons up to 50,000 tourists can flood in. Still, similar to most tourist towns the tourists tend to stay in certain areas.
Even with 50,000 tourists you can be sure none of them are buying lumber at the local yard. They’re not paying their water and sewage bill. They’re not at the elementary school play rehearsal. Those 50,000 tourists are on the mountain, in the village, in AirBnB’s, in hotels, at the lakes, spending money on Mammoth’s many ridiculously overpriced eateries, and stopping their cars along the roads to take pictures out the window of a deer standing in a field.
But pretty much everyone you meet knows three other people you already know, and that’s just as a guy who’s been here for one week.
The class divide is glaring.
The pejorative term for Mammoth Lakes High School is that it is filled with “millionaires and Mexicans”. That you are essentially in one of two class structures with very little cross over:
You are a white person with enough money and means to live up here and enjoy all that the place has to offer.
A sub category here is that you are a young-ish white person, with a family safety net that allows you to make minimum wage as a lift operator because you always have something else to fall back on if push comes to shove.
You are a Latino and work in the service industry. You are cleaning the the rooms at the hotels of the wealthy people who stay there. You are cooking the food that the wealthy people are eating.
As someone who’s lived in Mexico for two years, has a dual citizen (Mexican and American) daughter, this topic is one I tend to zoom in on.
I see the microexpressions when I ask something like “You mean the Mexican guy over there?” Because in white America “Mexican” is not on par with “Canadian” as merely representing someone from a different culture. It has baggage and means something more than just someone’s heritage.
This topic is one that I’m sure I’ll keep harping on. Politicians often say that we need a “national dialogue” on race, and I agree. It’s not a pleasant topic and similar to trash management it’s not anything a visiting tourist wants to really pay attention to. Even leftist-green-progressives coming up here to go backpacking would probably never put the issue of class division in Mammoth on their radar: they’re here to have a good time, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
But specifically to the boosters of Mammoth Lakes, I would simply say that a community is not defined by hiding its problems and erecting Potemkin villages. Communities gain strength by being honest about their issues and tackling them head on.
It’s past 6:00am, time to get started on week number two.
I like to think I’m pretty up to speed on homelessness, at least in San Diego. I did some reporting on it earlier in my life. I know that the bums holding up signs represent a small fraction of the “homeless” population. I also know that people end up homeless through a variety of mechanisms: some self inflicted, some by no fault of their own, some by a mental health problem, and many by a sticky and re-enforcing combination.
As a lower-rung-but-on-the-ladder emergency medicine guy, I can see the physical hardships that create and exacerbate illness and disease for those lacking proper shelter. Check it yourself one day: the next time you have the flu and feel like absolute shit, go spend your night under a bridge with roaches crawling about, people walking past your head, and a constant threat of violence about.
The last number I heard from a member of the Alpha Project was that roughly 5% of homeless are bums. That’s not hard science, but it’s what I heard quoted from people who’ve worked directly in the homeless services world for decades here in San Diego. And before you freak out on my use of “bum”, let’s use the official definition:
I’m tired of seeing a tweaker with his pants half off, on my sidewalk in front of my home, with his penis hanging out, and his filthy bag of belongings next to him.
Worse, I’m tired of not even being bothered anymore. As a first responder, I hate having to turn a blind eye to it and not care about an unresponsive person on the ground. I hate knowing that there is nothing I can medically do for this person because they have so many untreated conditions and existing constantly in a dangerous environment.
And they are threats. Don’t think so? How about you let your six your old daughter walk around by herself next to some of these guys. She has a right to walk around her city more than they have a right to shit on my sidewalk, contribute nothing to our economy, and function as a literal parasitic organism.
Want me to volunteer on an effective team to right this problem? I’m in. Want to raise my taxes so an effective and results-proven program can be put in place to effectively remedy this stain on our society? I’m in.
But San Diego won’t do that. The County Board of Supervisors, who really this problem should be addressed by, doesn’t care in any practical sense. They manage health and human services, for which homelessness is about as dead-center in their court as possible. But, the actual problem is in the metro area, and the suburbanites who stay relatively insulated in their lives throughout the county aren’t about to cough up money to solve someone else’s problem.
And in an extremely sad and grown up way, I get it that we can only care so much. There’s so much horrible shit going on this world is just impossible to care about all of it, let alone try to get anything done and have some enjoyment along the way before you die.
So we can get into existential arguments and get super wonky with policy initiatives. We can debate this all night long.
And while we’re having that debate, there’s probably some bum on spice taking a shit on my sidewalk or trying to break into my truck. So sorry for being a little selfish but I’d like to just step out of this problem now. Someone else can spend $2,000/month in rent to live like this: have fun.