The AVA

My favorite weekly newspaper is a rollicking small town paper out of Mendicino County California called the Anderson Valley Advertiser. It is run by Bruce Anderson, with a couple of dozen contributing writers.

Anderson has no fear. He rakes the local government over the coals. He goes after judges. He goes after school boards. He attacks the local radio station. He attacks environmental wackos as vigorously as he slices up right-wing nuts.

Anderson publishes several left-wing national writers, and lots of local ones of every stripe. Two weeks ago, he published an article by Rush Limbaugh. The week before, he published a picture of a young Arnold Schwartzenegger with a nude woman on his shoulders. The police report often starts, "Several drunken morons were seen..." Anything goes. It's refreshing to see somebody exercise their First Amendment rights to the hilt. It doesn't happen often enough.

The AVA never fails to have over two full pages of letters, many of them running into the thousands of words. Some come from convicts. Some ramble incoherently. Some are brilliant. Sometimes Bruce will write a withering response that's twice as long as the original letter.

The first thing I read in the AVA are the filler italicized quotes at the top and the bottom of the page. You can usually tell what Bruce (or somebody at the paper) has been reading by who he quotes in a particular week. H. L. Mencken, who for a long time was my favorite writer, is a frequent guest. But Anderson's tastes are eclectic: Pitcher Curt Schilling, boxer George Foreman, Jesse Ventura, Garrison Keillor, Frederich Nietzshe, singers, actors, philosophers, wise men and idiots--all might find their way onto the pages of the AVA.

Bruce even prints my column every now and then, which is a pleasant surprise. My writing is lukewarm milk compared to the 100 proof stuff he serves up in the rest of his paper. I mean, I am from Minnesota. We trip over ourselves to be nice. Even when we get mad at somebody, we cover it in sugar.

I get the impression from the AVA that their little valley somewhere in northern California bustles with colorful characters. I would like to visit there someday to see if I am right. Bruce put the address for this website on the tail end of my column last week. If any AVA readers stop by, please say hi. This weblog is probably a little bit mild-mannered for you, but thanks for clicking here anyway. Enjoy the warm milk.

In particular, is Lee Reynolds out there? She's a lady who writes wonderful articles for the AVA from her retirement home in Tucson. Tucson is my favorite city, and she does it justice. Like most of the AVA writers (and I suspect, readers) she's got spark.