Last evening I came to one of my favorite haunts to find several of the other regulars discussing a front page article in the Times-Standard, of which the gist was that Wes Chesboro was proposing that California name the Alton overpass for Roger Rodoni in recognition of his many fine contributions to the county.
Folks were a bit riled. In fact, people were yelling things like, "We should have sent Rodoni and his owner Hurwitz to prison years ago!" or "Prison? Hell no! Hanging would have been too good for 'em!"
Well, truth be told, I have some reservations myself as to the deceased supervisor's career, but I was shocked by this display of blatant disrespect. But as I was about to express my feelings, I was given pause by, "It would be outrageous. Alton is next door to Stafford, destroyed by a Hurwitz flood with nary a peep from his Rodoni creature," quickly followed by, "Not to mention the pension money Hurwitz stole from the mill workers in Scotia, with nothing but hypocritical hand wringing from the other monster." These things I knew to be the sad truth as to Hurwitzes actions, and I was also very suspicious as to Rodoni's support for Maxxam's presence in the county.
At this point, I had to break in. "Shouldn't the man get something, some kind of memorial for his contributions to the county? For all his shortcomings, he did in many ways contribute much to the county's welfare."
There was a silence, a silence which I felt was due to a certain respect which I have among the frequenters of the place, and due as well to the calm and sagacious tone of my implied reproof. The silence remained for several seconds. But then, alas, came, "Put him a plaque on one of them public latrines! A fecal matter house memorial for a creep who helped Maxxam fecal matter all over the county."
With this last, I began to feel a numbness creeping into my guts, due I suspect both to the content of the fellow's proposal and to its assault on proper English usage. As well, a sorrow came over me as I realized that what for years I had believed was respect from the younger people in the place for my learning, my intelligence, and my superior judgement, not to mention the many services I had rendered them with my pen, was in fact an old man's fantasy.
"But we don't have a public latrine building in Arcata," someone observed.
"Ah," I thought to myself, "an ally, certainly, in my efforts to bring reason to this discussion."
"But there is that alley around the corner from the Minor," continued my hoped-for ally. "It's pretty much like a public latrine, especially on Friday nights. We could put a plaque on one of the walls."
"Oh, dear," the voice of my mother sounded in my head.
"Yeah, it's a latrine for the victims of the Hurwitzes of this country and their Rodonis, for those who've been robbed of even the proverbial pot to fecal matter in! Hang the bastards, both of 'em!"
But an objection arose from several others, "No! That would ridicule the homeless!"
And then, "Yeah, any place we put that plaque is gonna be one o' them places of shame and obloquy, and if I was a homeless person using that alley to deal with nature's calls, I sure wouldn't want that plaque there. Nope, I wouldn't want a monument to Hurwitz or Rodoni, either of them, where I fecal matter."
"So where," I found myself asking as my attempts at objectivity crumbled, "where to put that plaque?"
"What about the place where the fecal matter comes to the marsh?" came from somewhere across the room. Looking up as a body from our deliberations, we saw the speaker. A child it was, about eight. Again as one, the crowd averred, "Out of the mouths of babes!" And, after claiming that they were getting some facts from Google on a nearby computer, the mob claimed that it had found that on its way through the waste treatment system, the fecal matter of Arcata is first dumped into a vat. A bit more discussion produced an agreement on an alternative to Chesbro's proposal, to wit, "That the state of California have inscribed and placed on the Arcata Wastewater Treatment Plant Fecal Matter Vat a brass plaque reading:
To the Memory of Humboldt County Supervisor Roger Rodoni
And His Many Contributions to Our Environment
Frankly, my response to this was that it was harsh, unfair, and even frivolous, but later, consulting within my heart of hearts, I had to admit, although somewhat grudgingly, that while as a monument to Mr. Rodoni it would be unfortunate, the plaque and its location would indeed be a fitting monument to man's ability to keep his sense of humor, even in the face of the horribly obscene.