The Flintstones in California

You may have seen the house on your way to or from San Francisco International Airport. Its general appearance is of large boulders painted purple and orange. It overlooks I-280, about a dozen miles below SFO. Built in 1976, the home soon became popularly known as the “Flintstone House” because of its perceived resemblance to the “Modern Stone-Age Family”’s Bedrock residence.

The house recently sold for $2.8 million, well below the surrounding town of Hillsborough’s median $4.1 million. The former publisher of the former newspaper the San Francisco Examiner purchased it in 2017 and began a redesign of the outside landscape. The transformation included 15-foot dinosaurs, a giraffe, a mastodon and sign declaring “Yabba Dabba Doo.”

Neighbors were not appreciative. Complaints to the town resulted in an inspection that determined the owner had done the work without necessary permits. The owner paid a $200 fine but as yet has ignored the town’s order to remove the unapproved embellishments. The matter is now in civil court.

The controversy is reminiscent of a Seattle building affectionately known as “The Blob.” Its last tenant was a Greek restaurant before the structure was demolished in 1997.

Meanwhile, seventy-five miles north of the Flintstone House, a homeowner in my erstwhile hometown Santa Rosa built a fence around his property. Jason Windus erected the six-foot-high enclosure to contain his dogs. A neighbor’s complaint brought out a city inspector who advised Mr. Windus that the code required a fence bordering a sidewalk could be no higher than three feet. The owner complied and installed a garden-party tableau, easily viewed from the street over the now three-foot fence, of five nude mannequins. A sign resting on a vacant lawn chair read, “Reserved seat for the nosey neighbor that complained about my fence to the city.”

A thief absconded with two mannequins a couple nights later, but Windus has four more on the way to increase the number of naked partygoers to seven.

Solidarity – Oregon Style

A person who is in the position to do something about the human-caused rapidly-changing climate has assured us that it’s all a hoax. Just in case he’s wrong, though, vintners and grape growers in over-heating California have been buying up vineyard properties in Oregon, where the climate is getting more like what Napa and Sonoma used to be. Kendall-Jackson is one high-profile name investing in Oregon.

Others do it differently. Copper Cane Wine & Provisions – “provisions” include women’s swimwear and cigars – is a marketing behemoth selling a “collection of brands that are personally crafted to uphold a lifestyle of luxury and enjoyment.” Last year they faced legal action from Willamette Valley Vineyards for the labeling of their “Willametter” Pinot Noir. Another Copper Cane brand, “Elouan” Pinot Noir, is from “three diverse valleys along Oregon’s coast,” the Willamette, Umpqua and Rogue. They apparently expect their customers to be unfamiliar with Oregon geography. In the end, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission stopped them from selling the wines in the state because of mis-labeling.

Perhaps out of spite, Copper Cane refused to accept 2,000 tons of grapes from the 2018 harvest that they had contracted to buy from Rogue Valley growers.They claim the grapes were unacceptable, that they had been tainted with smoke from wild fires.
Oregon growers and winemakers disagreed. Led by Willamette Valley Vineyards and King Estate Winery a group of Oregon vintners purchased the grapes and are now marketing Oregon Solidarity Rosé of Pinot Noir. A Chardonnay will be released in May and Pinot Noir in August.

Take that Napa!

Monica Lewinsky’s Legacy

Smartphones don’t make people smarter; in fact, a smartphone in the hands of a dumb person makes it easier for a dumb person to suffer the consequences of dumbness.
Luca Mangiarano walked into a bank in Austin Texas and handed a note to a teller: “This is a robbery, please give me all your 100’s and 50’s in a envelope and everything will be ok.” The bank employee complied. Mangiarano left the bank, hopped on an electric scooter and rolled away.

(If you haven’t yet been nearly run over by scooter or had to walk around one abandoned on a sidewalk, you soon will. There are several companies scattering their for-rent scooters around various cities. You download an app to your smartphone to rent one.)

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Johnny Otis at the Powerhouse

The Powerhouse Brewery in Sebastopol California – so named because the building was originally a power-generation plant — had a succinct code of conduct posted on its wall: “Be nice or leave.” The Powerhouse had a ten-year run beginning in 1994. Along with good beer and food, it was also a fine live-music venue. (It was sold in 2004 and became the HopMonk Tavern. HopMonk has since expanded to four locations.)

Johnny Otis for a while broadcast a Sunday-brunch radio show from the Powerhouse. A live audience ate and imbibed while he acted as disc jockey, telling stories about the music he was playing. He retired from this final gig with the closing of the Powerhouse and perhaps his failing health.

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Fifty Years of Snoopy’s Home Ice

Santa Rosa, the largest city between San Francisco and Portland, has been home to celebrities Dan Hicks, Robert Ripley, Luther Burbank, Guy Fieri. (And me for 20+ years.) Sightings of Tom Waits are occasionally reported. Probably the most celebrated is Charles M. Schulz.

The Peanuts creator moved to Sebastopol in Sonoma County in 1958. A decade later he moved eight miles east to Santa Rosa where he worked and lived until his death in 2000.

Travelers today fly into the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport and visit the Charles M. Schulz Museum. (Highly recommended by me.) Across the street from the museum is the Redwood Empire Ice Arena, built and owned by Schulz. He regularly ate lunch at the Warm Puppy Cafe while watching the skaters. He met Jean, his second wife, when she brought her daughter there. (Jean Schulz’s home was one of more than 5,000 burned in the 2017 fires. Lost was Schulz and Peanuts memorabilia.)

The arena, popularly known as “Snoopy’s Home Ice”, is celebrating its fifty-year anniversary. The festivities include a day of skating at 1969 prices: 75¢ for children and $1.25 for adults. The Warm Puppy Cafe will serve its 1969 Snoopy Special (hot dog, chips and jello) for 75¢.