July 18, 2004

The police blotter at the Arcata Eye

Following up on Arnold Zwicky's discussion of police blotter hedges, it occurs to me that some readers may not be familiar with the police blotter at the Arcata Eye. This journal serves Arcata, CA, some 300 miles north of Arnold's location, and its police blotter has been a popular enough web fixture for the past few years that a sample from the archives has been published in book form.

Some of the entries could be from anywhere:

Friday, June 25 12:43 p.m. Police performed a background check for the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office.

Others describe routine incidents, but with a certain style (date and time stamps removed from now on):

A man said that as he turned onto Buckley Road, a bearded man waved his fist and scared him.

Following numerous complaints, an I Street resident was asked to have houseguests do less yelling.

A driver really didn’t need a "glass smoking pipe" to navigate Blue Lake Boulevard, so it was taken away from him.

A K Street dog demonstrated excessive arfistry.

When you or I drive down Foster Avenue with an alleged pound of dope in our car, we normally try not to attract a traffic officer's attention. And if Officer Gatty were to pull us over whilst we was totin' that ell-bee, we'd surely brush any telltale weed vestiges off the passenger-side seat before he walked up and greeted us, right? But not this driver, who wound up popped and potless in the Pink House.

Travelers blocked the H Street sidewalk, again, and a businessperson said she was tired of calling about them every day. The clumpage of fuzzies motated away, but soon another call came in from a nearby hardware store, reporting the group having alighted in an adjacent carport. And on they moved again.

A Valley West argument ended when the guy who’d hurt his arm punching the wall decided he’d take a walk and "cool off."

For hours the man in a cowboy hat and shades sat in his yellow pickup truck outside a 12th Street home, staring. He left before police arrived.

A man sat with a dog four to six feet from one of the signs that says "NO DOGS" on the Plaza. He claimed an officer said he could sit there and dog up the place, but a City ranger said he’d warned the man to remove his dog a half-hour earlier. He was cited, while the dog’s uncomprehending face glowed with unconditional love for all concerned.

Sometimes the stylization advances to the point where the content is obscured, at least for those who are not regular readers:

For the second weekend in a row, a 911 call came in from a Railroad Avenue facility maintained by a local world-renowned school of physical theatre. But all the clown larvae are gone for the summer and when police arrived, no one was there, just like last time.

Among its other claims to fame, Arcata is the site of Humboldt University, which is not named for a linguist (though it is indirectly named for the brother of a linguist).

For many netizens, including me, Arcata is best known as the home of Grady Ward, author of the Moby lexicon project, who was sued by Scientology over their secret scriptures.

Grady's website, www.gradyward.com (IP, seems to be off line -- does anyone know what he's up to these days?


Posted by Mark Liberman at July 18, 2004 04:46 PM