With summer vacation officially kicking-off for hundreds of North Coast families, area tourist attractions are girding for an influx of eager nature-lovers.
Sure to be found atop many itineraries will be the glorious sights and sounds of the Sequoia Park Incarceration Facili – er, the Sequoia Park Zoo.
The first thing you'll notice upon entering the zoo is that each of the graceful, long-legged birds in the Pink Flamingo Exhibit is lovingly tagged and tracked by zoo staff with its own, individually numbered leg band, evoking absolutely no parallel whatsoever to the "numbering" of prison inmates — nor, for that matter, the numbered tattooing of concentration camp victims
So don't even go there, Mr. Aleksan Solzhenitsyn.
And no, smarty-pants, that wire fence you see surrounding the entire perimeter of the flamingo pond is not intended to harm the birds in any manner whatsoever! It is there for the birds' own protection, Sherlock.
It is simply installed to ensure that not a single, solitary flamingo — which natively would enjoy a glorious tropical habitat stretching tens of thousands of acres through unbridled, sun-drenched wetlands — will ever escape the gloomy, parking-lot confines of its exhibit. Even though said exhibit is slightly smaller than nature would intend, measuring — based on this columnist's rough calculations — about the size of the continental breakfast bar at the Redding La Quinta Inn.
Now then, all that walking around the security perimeter got you hungry? Look no further than the zoo's Funky Monkey Cafe. There, visitors are invited to lovingly bite into the butchered, seared flesh of any number of our furry and feathered friends. Try a chicken sandwich, then "walkoff" lunch as you take the family over to the petting zoo.
There's really nothing quite like that satisfied, omnipotent feeling of strolling among a barnyard stocked with sheep, goats — and, yes, chickens and hogs — whilst digesting the chicken-bacon club sandwich prepared for you by zoo staff, a mere five minutes hence.
But do mind your manners: As the website for the Sequoia Park Concentra — I mean, Zoo — is quick to admonish its guests: "Refrain from chasing or holding barnyard animals (including chickens)."
Don't tell PETA, but handling the chickens is all good if they come wrapped snugly within a hoagie roll and garnished with tomatoes, lettuce and mayo.
Blue Lake Headed For Epic "Fall"?
If Santayana's maxim about history's doomed repetition holds true, the city fathers of NoHum's dinky, casinoed outpost should take heed: The riverfront burg appears headed down the same dark corridor trod by Caesar Augustus.
True, the decline and fall of the Roman Empire remains something of a whodunit to this day. But beard-scratchers who have studied the matter tend to lay blame with three primary culprits: Bread, circuses and rent-a-cops.
The wealthy Roman populace was lulled into complacency by too many MMA-style gladiator fights, basically, and by a governmental decree allowing every citizen a daily loaf of Roman Meal.
Well-fed and entertained into a passive stupor, the Roman citizenry contracted-out border defense — a privilege formerly reserved for only gentry and high-government officials — to Barbarians, or mall cops, essentially.
The bottom line is that Nero fiddled while the corpulent, robed masses slept off a food coma.
Well, take some dirt-cheap grub, mix in a couple tough-guy cage fights and hand over peacekeeping duties to the sheriff and — voila! — I'm looking right at you, Blue Lake. It's no secret that the town's municipal budget lives and dies on revenue from its behemoth casino (read: circus).
A few generations from now, Chinese archeologists will note that Blue Lake eliminated its police department a half-dozen years ago. To facilitate the continued feeding of dollar bills into the Lucky 7 machine unfettered, Humboldt's green-shirted mall cops — er, deputies — confirmed in a press release last week their ongoing duty of policing the city of Blue Lake.
The "bottomless plate" breakfast buffet at Alice's Restaurant completes the grizzly trifecta.
What OJ and Bodhi Know
It was 20 years ago this month that O.J. Simpson's white Bronco led a crawling stampede of squad cars down Los Angeles' 405 freeway, captivating a global TV audience in a spectacle that — following the televised Trial of the Century — culminated in the Juice's acquittal for the alleged fatal knifing of his ex-wife and her beau.
Lost amid trial judge Lance Ito's freak-show media circus was an overlooked O.J. Dream Team defense strategy that carries an eerie echo for the plight of Bodhi Tree, Humboldt's frizzy-haired homicide suspect. Perhaps even more crucial than Johnnie Cochran's infamous stunt with the ill-fitting bloody glove, the main reason Orenthal walked was because those closest to the crime scene simply couldn't talk.
It would appear Tree was taking notes.
In the days following the Brentwood double-homicide, Robert Kardashian — the late patriarch of everyone's favorite reality TV siblings — was the closest person on the planet to Simpson, secluding O.J. in his Los Angeles McMansion, where, one imagines, they commiserated over Michelobs.
As law enforcement bore down to effect the Heisman Trophy winner's arrest, Kardashian even was photographed ditching a garment bag that cops believe held the football great's blood-soaked clothes.
Kimye's dad would certainly have been subpoenaed to divulge the contents of that bag in Ito's courtroom, but for a stunning technicality: Sensing his imminent 15 minutes of fame as the prosecution's star witness, Kardashian — a retired attorney at the time — quickly re-upped his law license so he could pose as one of O.J.'s defense team.
Defense attorneys (under virtually all circumstances, anyway) cannot be forced to take the stand against their own clients.
Ergo, you literally can get away with murder if you surround yourself with people who won't — or in Tree's case, can't — squeal. It's no coincidence that the snake pit of corruption that is our nation's capitol contains vastly more attorneys per square foot than any other locale in the U.S. (Grand jury insurance, anyone?)
No, deadbeat Bodhi Tree isn't mobbed up with attorney buddies. But if the Garberville native ends up walking on his double-homicide rap, he'll owe his freedom to the reality that crucial witnesses — like Kardashian in O.J.'s case — can't be compelled to testify.
As reported in the Mad River Union, a pair of key witnesses in Tree's alleged attempt on the life of Eureka's Rhett August — one being August himself — "don't remember" or "don't recall" really much of anything, largely due to the testimony-thwarting effects of "heroin-induced memory loss."
In other words, for all the utility of their corroboration, the most vital figures in People vs. Bodhi Tree might just as well be the defendant's own attorneys.
And with the scene of the Arcata double homicide producing no pertinent eye witnesses — they're either dead or weren't present for the shootings — and no weapon having ever been located, witness testimony is the only glue holding this thing together in the first place. Tree's prosecution is expected to go to the jury later this month.
Should his speechless-witness gambit work, Tree could be out on the Eureka Municipal Golf Course "searching for the real killer" sometime this July.
Ryan Hurley is a Eureka-based attorney. Follow him if you dare: @BuhneTribune.