Roger Rodoni




I think the last time Roger and I talked was almost a year ago. We bumped into each other at the Courthouse Market, where he was a regular. The Tamara Falor matter was the big thing in the news at the time. Everyone was trying to figure out why the county had signed a confidentiality agreement and handed $300,000 to its chief legal counsel to get rid of her. (No one's figured it out yet.) So what's the deal? I asked Roger, knowing that he couldn't answer. Was it that the county lost the Tooby Ranch case? The "Pepper Spray 8" case? What's going on? Eh?

Roger saw an opportunity to bust out with his cowboy Zen routine. His eyes lit up as he prepared to make mischief. He took up his umbrella and grandiosely pointed off to the left, into the imaginary distance. "Everyone's lookin' over there," he said. He swooped over to the right: "They're lookin' over there." Then he tapped the tip of the umbrella on the ground in front of him. "Right here," he concluded. And then he may have allowed himself to smile, pleased to have befuddled me further while at the same time, no doubt, telling me some version of the truth.

This morning, the morning after the horrifying car crash that took his life, a group of five or six Arcata political activists was gathered around a table at Cafe Brio to plan some kind of campaign. I didn't quite catch what it was, and I didn't bother to go up and ask. They had blank forms out on the table. One mentioned that his website gets x number of hits per day. The phrase "guerrilla marketing" floated into the air. I imagined that Roger would be regally amused at such a spectacle, at the earnest folks whose politics were served up in these bloodless terms -- statistics, messaging, interest groups. Run through an up-to-date dictionary of political campaign jargon. See if you can find anything in that vocabulary that carries the stench of humanity: love, struggle, glory, death. You won't.

Roger, I guessed, would have recognized that this is the way things are headed, and that in this world honor and handshakes and horsemanship will come to mean less and less. But since the ornery son-of-a-bitch was always so sure he was right, he'd just keep on doing things his way, pausing once in a while to cackle at the fools who won the county but lost their souls.

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