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November 23, 2006

 In the News

Scare quotes


Those Humboldt County residents who p'shawed the initial reports of the tsunami that hit Crescent City last week can and should be forgiven. At first, the only news available was that the dreaded wave was about 6 feet in height. Many people have surfed bigger swells than that. So it's natural that there would be derisory talk of a "tsu-mini," accompanied by chest-thumping declarations of personal fearlessness in the face of such a "natural disaster."

That was before it was known that the wave had in fact destroyed much of the Crescent City harbor. Sorry about that. And it was before, too, it had been learned that the state Office of Emergency Services had dropped the ball, failing to alert Crescent City officials that a wave was headed their way. The San Francisco Chronicle carried a good package on the bureaucratic snafu on Friday, including a story entitled "Tsunami-wary town wants to know why it wasn't warned."

Now, faithful Journal readers will say, "What do you mean, you weren't warned?" After all, about a year ago we gave prominent space to Southern Humboldt's Prophet Mark, who for some time has been relaying news about God's plan to smite the Pacific Coast with a tsunami ("31 Questions for Prophet Mark," Jan. 5). Warning straight from the Top -- wasn't that good enough for our sister city to the north, or is town government controlled by a bunch of atheistic heathens?

Hold on, though. If you remember rightly, Mark specifically foretells that the tsunami in question will wipe out much of the Pacific Northwest, but that the California coastline has been safeguarded by a heavenly "hedge of protection." This revelation is contained in "A Big Family," one of the Prophet's epic poems: "A Pacific Ocean tsunami is soon to see / Around a year after a Indian Ocean tsunami / This coming to California's coast will not be".

On last week's edition of "Thank Jah It's Friday," KMUD radio's weekly chat show, Prophet Mark confirmed that the Crescent City tsunami was not the tsunami that God was talking about. In fact, the Prophet begged to differ with the scientific community -- the so-called Crescent City "tsunami" was not a tsunami at all, in the scriptural sense. But God's tsunami is still a-comin', Mark said, and is now rescheduled to hit sometime before Christmas. But as Crescent City still technically belongs to California, the hedge of protection should see it through. Thank goodness nothing ever came of that "State of Jefferson" nonsense.

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Here's a little tip for you aspiring North Coast Journal freelancers: It doesn't help to suggest that failure to publish your proposed article amounts to proof positive that the Journal is in thrall to Rob Arkley. You'd think that would be a selling point, wouldn't you? You'd think that would really clench the deal. Alas, it does not, and here's a case in point.

Such was the demand made recently by one failed freelancer -- Jake Pickering, late candidate for a seat on the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District. In a long voice mail left on the Journal's answering machine last weekend, Pickering informed us that the word on the street is that the Journal refuses to run any sort of articles at all critical of Arkley, his newspaper (the Eureka Reporter), his candidates or any of his multifarious business deals. This was reportedly due to some dark back-room dealing, Pickering relayed. He strongly suggested -- nay, demanded -- that in order to counter this notion, the Journal must pick up and run with his long, meandering, incoherent rebuke to Reporter editor Glenn Franco Simmons.

Had you been following that? Probably not, since there seems to be a grand total of two people in the county who find it at all interesting: Simmons and Pickering himself. In short: Pickering ran for Water Board. As soon as he entered the race, his campaign centered on accusations that the Arkley Machine was on all-out alert to suppress his candidacy in favor of the incumbent, Bruce Rupp. Mysterious fliers appeared all over town. They featured a Cherie Arkley quote praising Rupp's work, along with pictures of George Bush and a crying baby. "Vote for Bruce Rupp, the best Republican money can buy!!!!!!!" they proclaimed. "If Cherie Arkley wants Bruce Rupp, then you must vote for Bruce Rupp too!! Long live Arkleyville!!!!" (The posters omitted reference to Rupp's endorsement by Eureka City Councilmember Chris Kerrigan. Lack of space, surely.)

Then came the election, and Pickering's crushing defeat. Simmons sent off an e-mail to the candidate. "How come you got your ass kicked so bad?" it read. This e-mail was forwarded to every media outlet in the county, including bloggers. Simmons was recalled to the principles inculcated by his journalism school education -- he offered a quick apology, wrote that the e-mail was "meant in jest" and, presumably, thanked his lucky stars that the item didn't make Romenesko. But Pickering was not satisfied -- the editor's outbreak of simple, unfiltered humanity had to be further punished, he felt. Hence the op-ed ultimatum to us.

The failures of the proposed Pickering op-ed are many. For one, the North Coast Journal does not publish guest editorials of any sort, and hasn't done so for some time. This would have been obvious if Pickering ever read the paper, which he plainly does not. But this technicality pales in comparison to the essay's most serious flaw. That is, it does not answer the central question: Why did he get his ass kicked so bad? On that key point, he is mum.

So, no deal, Jake! It's back to 9/11 revisionism for you -- and no, we won't publish that either. However, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, we will point out that the McKinleyville Press' kind-hearted Jack Durham did publish the Pickering piece in full this week, and we will point interested readers to that fine publication. The Press is one of the lesser-known members of the Axis of Arkley -- an association first hypothesized by Shawn Warford in his late, demented Humboldt Advocate -- though it's every bit as worthy as its Arcata and Eureka rivals.

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CONFIDENTIAL TO "MAVERICK": Hey, if you're trying to pretend that you're not really having a power lunch with that person you officially "don't really know that well," you're going to have to be a little quicker on your feet. Don't stand in the door of the restaurant hemming and hawing with a frightened look on your face, then suddenly remember that you have an urgent appointment elsewhere. Instead, breeze casually past your lunch date, shake the journalist's hand and wish her and her family a happy holiday season. Your compatriot will know to play it cool.

Don't worry -- it'll all come with time.



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