1. It's not what it used to be. This according to veteran biker Craig "Sundog" Barnette, who pulled a sour face at the paltry array of bikes in front of the bars in Garberville. "There used to be hogs up and down this street. Now it's a ghost town." Nonetheless, local bartenders said they made a fair amount in tips. Last year, the Run coincided with the Garberville Rodeo Parade, resulting in some panicky horses. This year, the leather chaps crowd will be coming into town as the leather jacket sets leaves.
2. Bikers are a friendly bunch. If you're looking for brawls, you're better off at home watching Sons of Anarchy. It was a sunshiny Southern Humboldt Day in Piercy, and the majority of the black-clad revelers were talking gear, slapping backs and catching up. Cries of "Hey man, how have you been!" were common. In one overheard exchange, two friends realized they had gotten drunken tattoos together four Runs past. ("I woke up with a tattoo on my ass and I couldn't remember who had been with me. It was you!") Down on the river bar, one man helped another out of a wheelchair and onto the back of an idling hog. The bluffs across the water amplified the noise of gunning engines, making a sound like a thunderclap.
Were you looking for the Mestizos Califas? Because they're right here.
3. Weed use is much more blatant now. This according to a hospitality volunteer backstage, who said when he worked the event 15 years ago, people were "sneakier" about toking up. "Harley riders, you know, they're doctors and lawyers. They used to be more concerned about how they'd be perceived. But weed's going to be legal soon. It's way different." The volunteer then knocked his $400 bong off the table, breaking its stem.
Backstage hospitality. Butts on the left, roaches to the right.
4. Some things you can merch ... like Hells Angels brand gear, Crazy Bitch brand T-shirts, even cheap highs in the infamous "nitrous alley," where tattooed men filled yellow and red balloons for wobbly party folk. Counterculture evidently equals plenty of cash. The wet T-shirt contest was rumored to have brought in $4,000.
Warrant prepares to rock.
5.... and some things you can't. As darkness fell over the Eel, '80s superstar glam-metal band Warrant took the stage. A brief spatter of mic checks preceded an epic bout of mic-twirls as lead singer Robert Mason strutted his way through "Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich," his feathery coif of long blond hair following him like a flag in full wind. The crowd went crazy, screaming along to the band's most recognizable hit, "Cherry Pie." A trim, tan older woman wearing nothing but a pair of leather shorts shook her teacup-sized breasts in time. Most of the crowd was overcome with rock n' roll frenzy, but two dour young men watched the show unimpressed. One shouted something to the other that got lost in the sound of the wailing guitar. "WHAT?" asked his friend. The shouted reply came, "I SAID, NOT ENOUGH TITS THIS YEAR!"
Sure, it’s not technically summer yet, but this year’s overcast skies remind us of the Humboldt coastal summers of our youth.
If you’re like us, the permafog has you longing for the sunny embrace of Blue Lake. But you’ve been burned before: throw on your trunks, hop on the bike, the promise of cold beer on your tongue and — damn, it’s cold and cloudy in Blue Lake, too. For years the solution was to call Stardough's (guilty) or another Blue Lake business for a quick weather assessment.
Now there’s an even easier (and less disruptive) solution: The Blue Lake Sun Cam.
The Moonshine Banditos capsize shortly after entering Humboldt Bay during the second day of the 2015 Kinetic Grand Championship.
Things got downright damp Sunday, as the Kinetic Sculpture Race's second day began with the ever feared water entry. Some sculptures launched, where others merely wobbled and tipped, before a lively crowd near Eureka's Wharfinger Building. The first waves of racers are expected to approach the finish line on Ferndale's Main Street at about 1 p.m. today, so if you're still itching to catch a piece of the race up close and personal, it's not too late. Check out our Kinetic Primer here for tips on what today's final leg of the race will bring. In the meantime, here's a look back at Day Two's angst-inducing water entry, courtesy of Journal contributors Mark Larson and Mark McKenna.
Steampunk Shark chomps its jaws for the crowd and the glory.
The 47th annual Kinetic Grand Championship is underway, with dozens of teams traversing 40 miles of asphalt, sand and water in pursuit of the glory. A trio of Journal contributors — photographers Alexander Woodard, Mark McKenna and Mark Larson — are following the madness. Here's some of what they've shared so far... and be sure to check back early next week when we'll package the best images from the three-day race.
The Blue Oyster Cult nears the starting line on the Arcata Plaza at the Kinetic Grand Championship 2014.
“Kinetics is for everyone,” according to the official rules for Humboldt’s human-powered sculpture race, and Rule A reads, “Amusement is the gift we give and get, so all KGC participants, volunteers, spectators, and innocent bystanders must try their best to have FUN at all times.”
This preview guide to the 47th annual Kinetic Grand Championship was prepared for spectators and innocent bystanders with Rule A in mind. It contains our advice on how to have fun and where to best watch the Kinetic action during the three-day race. Be sure to get a copy of the Kinetic Rules and a race maps before you start your weekend. (Follow the hyperlinks for PDFs of both.)
Photo courtesy Patrick Magee's 'Primal Rage" Kickstarter site
That foot looks familiar ...
First there’s just cheery bird-chirp amid the sunshine. Then deep breathing, and the video camera takes us into the dark forest. Heavy, deliberate footsteps, crunching sticks, more breathing, menacing music, towering redwood silhouettes that interrupt sprays of light, a few ferns glowing bright … and the beast, walking quickly, then loping, splashing through a creek, then breaking into an all-out sprint! Away from you? At you? Aghhhhhh!
So much for hunting for Bigfoot. Because, he seems to be hunting you. Or someone.
This is a scene from a trailer for a new, indie Bigfoot movie in the making, Primal Rage: The Legend of Oh-Mah. It’s “a love project” of director Patrick Magee, says Humboldt-Del Norte Film Commission’s Cassandra Hesseltine. Magee’s the genius behind the special effects in some major movies, including Spiderman, Jurassic Park III and Artificial Intelligence. The film crew’s been filming this week, and wraps up next week, on private land amid second-growth redwood forest near Crescent City (too many old-growth restrictions on state or national park land, says Hesseltine). Hesseltine recently saw some of the action, and says the main character of the film — Bigfoot — is an animatronic creation of Magee’s that is truly impressive.
“It breathes, and there are different things the face can do,” she says. “The special effects were just crazy. They looked real. I believed what I was watching.”
Magee spent six years creating the Bigfoot suit and co-writing the script with Jay Lee, who's also the cinematographer and editor. On the Stan Winston School of Character Arts webpage for Primal, Magee calls the project a life-long dream, a “character-based Bigfoot thriller, as Bigfoot has never been seen before. It's PREDATOR meets FIRST BLOOD meets PUMPKINHEAD, with this re-envisioning of the Bigfoot legends.”
It’s a serious Bigfoot movie, he writes, with none of those modern visual effects but rather “a man in a creature suit, gruesome kills, make-up driven characters, animatronics, self-mechanized masks, armor and more.” It involves “survival, action, horror, love and characters that the audience will truly care about.” Yeah, he implies, CGI can just step aside, because his film brings us back to the days of “GOOD, PRACTICAL, monster-movies. We want to bring the trend of REAL monsters, REAL effects and REAL characters back to an audience who is yearning [for] them.”
He’s most proud of the “ultimate Bigfoot suit” (outta the way, cheeseball Bigfoot hoaxters with your modified gorilla suits and wooden feet): “Every little detail, from sculpted toe-prints to the nose hairs individually punched into the face were thought out and executed to perfection. With a team of mold-makers, casters, fabricators, hair punchers and mechanics at my side, I sculpted and painted every inch of the suit.”
As for the story: A wife picks up her husband when he gets out of prison, which is “deep in the forest” of Northern California, and they get attacked by a sadistic, warped Oh-Mah (“Bigfoot” in an unspecified Native American language). Fun, ahem, ensues. And terror.
Magee calls it a strong story with strong characters. “Bigfoot is a strong character,” he says in one of his videos promoting the film to potential Kickstarter donors. “This is an intelligent, stealthy, thinking being, and so it’s all character-driven. … The location is a character in itself.”
Yes, it is. With dark, spooky, lovely trees. And shadows. And bright splashes of light.
You can watch the trailer here and read a synopsis of the story on Magee's Kickstarter site. And, check out Magee's video about making the suit and plans to shoot on the North Coast below.
The equivalent of a photo album of multiple generations of family members could be found among the body art on this person (who chose not to share his full name). He was helping staff one of the many tattoo booths at the Inked Hearts Tattoo Expo in the Sapphire Palace at the Blue Lake Casino on Feb. 8.
As I entered the Inked Hearts Tattoo Expo, I was immediately struck by buzzing of tattoo guns and the unusual sight of many people lying passively on tables, receiving their latest ink.
I enjoyed my visit to the sixth annual tattoo expo held in the Blue Lake Casino’s Sapphire Palace on Feb. 8, partly because it makes me feel closer to our daughter Hillary, a tattoo artist living in Brooklyn. She’s the product of Arcata High School and an expensive art school education.
But mostly I enjoy the social scene at this event because I get a chance to talk to the tattoo artists — who come from all over the country to attend — as well as to meet those present who choose to get inked. The attendees are a visual overload of wide ranging body types, displaying a mix of standard “flash” to original tattoo designs located on a variety of body parts.
Humboldt County’s most famous fire-spewing octopus is at it again, having traveled into the Rockies to flame it up at Colorado’s Telluride Fire Festival.
El Pulpo Mecanico, the 26-foot-tall brainchild of local artist Duane Flatmo is one of the festival’s headliners and, with the event dubbings itself a “community celebration of excellence in interactive fire arts,” it seems a perfect fit.
To read El Pulpo’s full story, including how much work it takes to ship that thing hundreds of mile for an event, see the Journal’s prior story here. For more on the festival, check its website here.
And, if you’re in the camp that believes the only good octopus is the edible kind, give Jennifer Fumiko Cahill’s recipe a try.
North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman’s first term in office has been no cakewalk. In fact, it’s involved a lot of elbow grease and heavy lifting. Don’t’ believe it? Well, check out this handy infographic The Huff put together to show you just how much he’s accomplished over the past two years.
See? He’s sent 92,709 letters and emails responding to constituents. That’s about 128 a day! Not impressed? Well, consider that he’s spoken to some 6,631 constituents on the phone, an average of nine a day, every day of his two-year term (that includes TWO Christmases!). Almost 4,400 of his constituents have toured the White House and the Capitol Building (six a day!), and he’s helped 2,889 of them close casework, solving real life problems that they needed a little government help navigating. And, somehow, he even found time to author three bills that were ultimately signed into law (not including another to stiffen penalties on trespass pot growers that the federal sentencing commission then took up on its own), and cosponsored almost 500 more.
The graphic — which doesn’t even bother to mention Huffman was slowed for part of his term by an unfortunate baseball accident — even notes the congressman found some time between Capitol tours and constituent emails to sit down for an interview with Stephen Colbert.
Wait a minute. He can’t have this much time, can he? Is he some kind of shape-shifting, super congressman that can slow time by flying around the planet?
Unfortunately, no, he’s not. Huff spokesman Paul Arden informs us that the numbers used in the infographic represent the work of Huffman’s entire 19-person staff. That's like, what, a half a constituent phone call per-staffer, per-day? Sigh. Who wants to bet Huffman didn’t even push a pixel on the graphic itself?
Kidding aside, it’s worth noting that Huffman has just put the bow on a pretty solid freshman term. Stephanie Burkhalter, a professor of politics at Humboldt State University whose research focuses on Congress, said Huffman’s first term in office has been an impressive one. She pointed not only to his three bills that ultimately garnered the president’s signature, but also a February 2014 letter to Attorney General Eric Holder asking him directly to work to reclassify marijuana from a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act. The letter was signed by a diverse group of lawmakers, Burkhalter said, and spoke to Huffman’s willingness to seek out partners and take bold stances.
He also pushed forward with the plans for dam removal on the Klamath, and took up the task of badgering the Department of the Interior into recognizing Humboldt County's rights to 50,000 acre feet of water from Trinity Lake.
All in all, for a freshman representative from a small, mostly rural district, the Huff has held his own with an agenda his constituents can get behind, Burkhalter said.
Now, think how much he could get done if he could only master that shapeshifting thing.