- April 2014
- March 2014
- February 2014
- January 2014
- December 2013
- November 2013
- October 2013
- September 2013
- August 2013
- July 2013
- June 2013
- May 2013
- April 2013
- March 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- August 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
Arthur Mommi was a legend in the Nevada County music scene of the nineteen sixties and seventies. I first met him when we were seated next to each other in the baritone section of the high school band. He was a sickly kind of kid, always had a runny nose, and wore ill-fitting hand-me-down clothes. He told me he played guitar as well as the baritone, so I suggested to my band mates in The Children Of Stone that we audition him. The other guys were reluctant at first; there was more to being in a band than musicianship. You had to look the part, and Art was the antithesis of cool.
Even so, all the cool guitarists in Grass Valley were playing with other bands, so we gave him a shot. It didn’t take long for us to see that Arthur was a natural. He could make sounds on that shitty $25 guitar that we could not imagine. Once the other bands heard him, there was stiff competition for his talents. The Children of Stone eventually morphed into Merging Traffic, and I gave up trying to be a musician. I could look the part, but I couldn’t even tune a guitar, much less make it sing.
Somewhere along the line, Arthur went on a camping trip with the boy scouts. He took a drink of water from an NID ditch and was later diagnosed with Hepatitis. There were the good days, when his skin had a yellow hue to it, and the bad days, when he actually looked green. It limited his ability to endure long practice sessions and gigs, but he kept at it as much as his health would allow.
I couldn’t stay out of the music scene either, and turned my attention toward writing lyrics. Arthur and my former mates from The Children Of Stone became Absalom. (Absalom, being a biblical character who was strangled by his long hair.) Eventually, there was a split in Absalom; Guitarist Jon Schwartz, keyboard player San French and drummer-vocalist Myc James went in one direction while guitarist-vocalist Charlie Williams and I went on to found the Carrie Nation band with Doc Halstead. Arthur would end up playing with both bands at different times.
Carrie Nation left Nevada City for Atlanta in 1972. We talked Arthur and San, along with bass player Bill Smart, into joining us in our new endeavor. We did some recording sessions at American Studios, but then Art got frisky one day and jumped into a fountain. He caught a bad cold and was forced to return to California.
Arthur recovered somewhat, rejoined Absalom as their bass player. The band became Nevada County’s “super group” gathering the talents of all the finest local musicians in the area. They recorded some demo tapes, but like Carrie Nation, never made it onto vinyl. Those sessions, along with a few live recordings, were finally collected onto a CD. (And no, I don’t know where you can find one.)
Carrie Nation returned to Nevada City in the waning days of 1975. One of the first things on my agenda was to set up a concert featuring both bands. I booked the Nevada Theatre and set about trying to navigate the egos of the musicians involved. Both bands laid claim to Arthur’s songs, which led to some bad blood between some band members. Eventually, I talked the Nation into setting aside their differences. I literally ran to Jon Schwartz’s house to give them the good news.
But when I arrived, I found the band in a state of shock. Arthur had passed away earlier in the day, from kidney failure. The concert would never happen.
Years later, after both bands were long gone, Doc Halstead gathered up all the Carrie Nation tapes we could find and collected them onto a CD. (Not available anymore.) Two of Art’s songs, “It Ain’t Easy” and “Lacy” were included on the recording. Another song written by Doc and Arthur, “One Good Man, One Good Woman”, was recorded by Doc before he passed away.
I listen to those songs today and wonder what might have been, had Arthur not taken that fateful drink all those years ago. The songs unwritten, the life unfulfilled. I am thankful that some small vestige of his life and legacy remains, and that I had some small part in keeping his memory alive. I will never forget him.
I’ve noticed that in many posts and articles scattered around the internet, “white men” are regularly singled out as the source of all evil on Planet Earth. Being a white man myself, (and harboring the added baggage of being an “old white man”) I find this trend disturbing, and dare I say it…racist!
Now I agree that the white race has caused a lot of mayhem and ill will in our climb to the top of the heap, and many white dudes are responsible for the economic downturn that has plagued the ongoing inequality in society. The vast majority of power brokers are white men. Even so, would it be any different if the culprits in charge were black, yellow, or brown?
As the illustration above points out, the three California Senators who recently disgraced their office and betrayed their constituents just happen to be black, yellow and brown. If you look at the nations around the globe, are those ruled by people of color deaf to the siren call of corruption? Is it white men who bury women up to their necks and pummel their unadorned heads with jagged stones? Or force children into slavery, prostitution and military conscription? Human nature is mostly color blind.
I also find it troubling that much of this criticism comes from white men and women. While I, as an editorial cartoonist, will gladly skewer my own kind, I try to point out that they should be condemned and ridiculed because of their actions, not their race. The same goes for those offending Senators. I actually enjoy the company of other white people, just as much as I enjoy the company of any other race. If I cringe in front of the mirror, it’s usually because of a zit, not my pasty pale complexion.
My advice to my self-loathing white brothers and sisters is to consider jumping off a cliff and thus ridding the world of your loathsome caucasian selves. I would tell you to fuck off, but don’t fuck each other. You’ll only make more white people that way.
This was the cover art (front and back) for the 16 to 1 Mine’s 1998 stockholder report. One of the last operating mines in the Gold Country, the 16to1 has weathered many a regulatory storm and is always on the brink of financial ruin, and yet Michael Miller and his crew somehow manage to keep the old mine alive.
I did this cartoon back in 2007. At that time everyone thought Hillary was a sure bet to succeed George W., but then that upstart Obama came along and screwed up my timeline. Nevertheless, HRC is expected to run again in 2016, and it appears that little brother Jeb will fulfill his family destiny and make a run for the brass ring. Of course, by that time Millennials may have other ideas about the next presidency. As for Chelsea, I know she married some other dude, but by the 20′s she could divorce and marry a Bush, maybe even a female Bush. (Pun intended!)