Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Finding the Right Community

I have quite a few thoughts and questions brewing about Humboldt County right now. In the northern sector of the county, which community is the best to live in and why? I have lived in Eureka for 3 1/2 years and have come to realize it is not adequate. So I am faced with the decision of where to move my family. I thought the answer to this problem was quick and simple: since I work in Arcata, move there. But finding housing has proven far more difficult than I anticipated, since I am so very picky as to require washer/dryer hookups and to bring my cat.

While this house hunt stretches on into the summer, I have begun to analyze the various north county communities so much that I no longer know anything. Is Eureka as hopeless as I thought? Is Arcata really preferable? What about the other communities like Blue Lake, McKinleyville, Freshwater, and Fieldbrook? What are they really LIKE?

It is hard indeed to find the answers to these questions. Because the answer is, of course, "it depends." What it depends on in our case is this set of questions: are the streets safe, are the adults accountable, are the authorities honest, and is the rent affordable? And there a million little sub-questions, barely articulated questions like will the atmosphere foster a strong, successful boy with good self-esteem and self-control? What are the other kids like? Are they aiming for college or growing pot or just trying to survive?

I wish, I wish, I wish Eureka would be a better place, that I could return to my former state of ignorance about it. Now I just feel sad for all the teens I see trying to make a life here with the odds stacked against them. Maybe it would have been different if I could have afforded a house in a better part of town, the outlying areas perhaps like Ridgewood or out past the golf course.

How does one go about finding out about neighborhoods when the question, "What's it like?" means so many things to so many people? I was about to write that it took me 3 years to discover how bad Eureka is, but actually I recognized it immediately; I just thought I could counterbalance some of the ill influences of the city with my love and parenting. But when kids are teenagers, the environment is very, very influential.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


I have been reading a lot about gangs at the same time a lot of graffiti has been appearing in my neighborhood. I have no evidence that said graffiti is related to gang activity in my neighborhood, but I do know there is gang activity in this town. I have seen some of it with my own eyes. It is worth some attention, especially considering how many young people I care about around here.

I can't make "heads nor tails" of it, as my mother would say. I can't even say if it is letters or numbers. The one I just noticed yesterday is red, which is the color sported by the gangs I have seen: red clothes, red cars, red bandannas.

I found this article from January 2004 in the North Coast Journal. Interesting that the main cover story is about the Devil's Playground, a place I photographed back in May. It is an old railway tunnel, covered in colorful graffiti and eerily apocalyptic. I see it as art, but the graffiti in my neighborhood doesn't feel like that.

The sidebar of the NCJ article is about a former gang member who works now (then 2004) for the EPD gang task force. He can decipher tags. From what I read there, markings like what we see here this week are just what I thought, someone in a gang marking territory, like a dog peeing on a hydrant. I live in gang territory. So glad to be moving.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Sorry for the sparseness of recent postings. I've been involved lately in reading dialog in local blogs; the conversation is fascinating. I've been contributing regularly I have thought of giving the link to my blog to Eric of SoHum Parlance and Heraldo of Humboldt Herald. But am I really ready for the negativity that seems to pop up? I can handle it on their blogs, where my identity is relatively closeted. But here, is my skin thick enough? I don't know.

There has been a lot of discussion on the Herald about news, like a meta-news news discussion, debating the merits of local news sources. The difficulty of getting fire info is what got me thinking about it. I finally found a good "interactive" satellite map on the Redding Record Searchlight. But for Jakki over in Butte County, not being online is a real disadvantage.

The internet really has had a profound impact, just as Brian Velasquez told me back in 1999, that I really needed to get the Indie online because that was the future. I believed him of course, although I really had no clue how that would look in the future and what it would mean. Nor did I have time to give it any attention; my hands were quite full just trying to get the paper out every week.

Back then I had a partnership with Estelle, the news director at KMUD. We shared information freely, and in my mind it worked like this: she covered the immediacy while I covered the depth. It was perfect. Now, with forums, newspapers can cover the immediacy too. But do they?

Monday, July 14, 2008

John McWhat?

According to a recently released book The Real McCain, presidential candidate John McCain has a bad temper and a hell of a pottymouth. Why didn't we hear about this on national media news when it allegedly happened a couple of years ago? This video explains it all.