CAVE MAN… In the most sacred site for cephalopods, cavern walls are adorned with prehistoric art of tentacle prints with distinct rows of suckers. Even if someone dared press their tentacle to the fragile prints, they certainly wouldn’t be dumb enough to brag about it in the media.

Squid should quit judging humans by cephalopod standards, but Erik Reece, recently writing in Harper’s Magazine, ticked Squid off. He parachuted into the Peninsula for a story about the poet Robinson Jeffers and Jeffers’ belief that ego and greed would lead to human extinction. “I believe that the fatuous notion of hope must itself go extinct,” Reece wrote. “There is nothing left to hope for.”

As a parable for this inevitable doom, Reece presents the story of the Esselen people with a visit to a cave whose walls feature their ancient handprint art. Reece says the Esselen tribe is extinct and attributes the claim to a “leader of vision quests” who has an “impressive handlebar mustache and a felt fedora.” But the Esselen aren’t extinct. In fact, they’re engaged in various cultural revival efforts. Reece laments the tribe’s historic decimation while he himself acts to erase them. In the story’s last line, he says he pressed his palm “against one of those ancient, vanquished hands.” Have you never been to a museum, Reece? Who told you that you can touch the irreplaceable art? Was it the vision quest guy?


BAD TASTE… Wildfires were raging across California on Aug. 26 when an email landed in Squid’s inbox. “Flying Embers announces more limited flavors,” was the subject line. Squid rubbed Squid’s eyes with a couple of tentacles in disbelief. Was a company named after flaming pieces of destruction pushing its wares during wildfires?

Squid dug deeper. Flying Embers – which bills itself as the “Better-For-You Alcohol Brand” for its line of hard kombucha – got its name after wildfires in Ventura County in 2016 threatened the company’s fermentation lab. A harrowing tale on the company’s website details how the founders fought to save the lab for three days. “As the flames towered above and swirling embers filled the sky, we faced the complete destruction of our dream and potentially our lives.”

Squid feels for the founders but wondered why they would push their brand while thousands were losing their homes. Turns out the release came from a PR person based in Brooklyn who works for a firm called – get this – Shore Fire Media.

Then the company announced on Instagram on Aug. 28 that it’s donating 100 percent of sales between Aug. 28 and Sept. 2 to the California wildfire crisis, up to $500,000, with the hashtag, “BuzzThatBenefits.” Squid wonders if the same PR person came up with that hashtag in a hurry so the company could save face after the marketing misstep. #oops.

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