Mendocino in the Seventies
The year 1970, by my calculations, took place only 36 years ago. Why, I can still remember dances in the dusty meadows, swimming at Toad Hall Pond, or saying good morning to a friend leaning out his apartment window on Main Street, Mendocino.
A new book by long time local Nicholas Wilson brings that era to blazing life once more. It's time travel at its funniest and most poignant, especially for those of us who were there.
Mendocino in the Seventies is the name of Nicholas Wilson's new self-published book of photographs of "people, places and events of California's Mendocino Coast."
Nick dedicates his book to musician Bob Smith, who died too young in San Francisco, 1991. In the 1970s in New York Bob Smith with his brother Roy founded Cat Mother & The All-Night Newsboys and brought the band here at an especially propitious moment. The boogies were amazing, the vibes, well, unforgettable.
Nick writes, "Back in the seventies... Mendocino was beautifully funky! Many old buildings had weathered, unpainted redwood siding and wood-shingled roofs, or they were coated in a limited palette of flaking paint... Most Mendocino houses were still homes back then, with local folks living in them.
"This book is intended as a pictorial memento of an earlier, simpler time, created especially for those who lived on the Mendocino Coast back then, or wish they did."
Only recently has it been practical to produce high quality, short-run print-on-demand books that rival the productions of major publishers. Nick worked closely with the people at Blurb, Inc. to produce this excellent book.
As a bookseller, my experience with print-on-demand (or POD) has been mixed. POD covers can look like they were produced by a copy machine. Text is not as clear or well-spaced as traditionally printed books. Nick's book is the first I've seen that is indistinguishable from any other art book.
You can find out more about Blurb and the work of Nicholas Wilson by visiting Nick's web site: www.nwilsonphoto.com
Reading Mendocino In the Seventies is a bittersweet visit to a time we imagined could last forever, but was gone in the space of a decade or so.
I'd forgotten Mendocino had a sort-of Jewish community center even then, named B'nai Boo in religious double entendre. "You didn't have to be Jewish to be Booish" Nick notes under a photo of a beach celebration with flutes and bongos in Mendocino, April 1973.
Another caption describes the original Mendocino All-Stars band: "There were frequent personnel changes, and this photo became obsolete in a matter of weeks. Hey, it's tough working with a band that's all stars!"
Wistful caption: "Scene by the pond during the 1973 Albion People's Fair at Azalea Acres, Albion Ridge. Public skinny dipping was considered completely normal."
Nick's photos also document "The Mendocino Whale War" that began in 1976 with Byrd Baker's impassioned protest and grew into an internationally recognized movement. Today's pallid "Mendocino Whale Festival" is put to shame by the people and works represented here.
Also pictured: Bill Zacha, Judy Mahan, Bonnie Raitt, Cat Mother, Horse Badorties, Ramblin' Jack Elliot, Alvin & Jeanette Mendosa, Mooncoin, Le Camembert, Hit & Run Theater, the Ruby Darts, Dirty Legs, The Weasel Brothers, the Caspar Flats Jug Band, the D-Faults (or at least their poster), the Seagull, fallen redwoods, the original Corners of the Mouth crew, and so much more.
Thanks to Nicholas Wilson for setting out to document our times, and for doing it so gracefully. If you can find a copy of Mendocino in the Seventies by all means grab it. Right now it exists in a one-time-only short run edition of 200 copies.
I own copies 22 and 23 and consider myself a very lucky man.
Aired Sunday December 17, 2006 at 10:55 am and Wednesday December 20, 2006 at 1:00 pm
Mendocino In The Seventies: People, Places and Events of California's Mendocino Coast by Nicholas Wilson, photographer. Nicholas Wilson hardcover limited edition (200 copies) $59.95.
Nicholas writes: "The book is a hard cover coffee table book measuring 10 in. wide by 8 in. tall, with 160 pages and a full dust jacket. It's printed on heavy 80 lb. semi-matte coated paper on a modern four-color digital printing press using real ink, with full color available on every page. Of course, some of the best photos of the era were done in black and white, but many of those are color toned in a variety shades appropriate to the subject matter. Photo reproduction quality in the book is excellent, and the printing and cloth cover binding are of 'bookstore quality.' "
Blurb, Inc. is here: www.blurb.com
Check out the programming on KZYX, Mendocino county's own public radio station.