When news broke last Friday that Arcata's world-famous Cypress Grove Chevre had sold to the multinational Swiss dairy giant Emmi for an undisclosed but surely significant sum, some local business-watchers instantly began to get the jitters. They furiously shot electrons at one another through copper wire and fiber optic cables, and when those electrons reassembled themselves on LCD displays across town they tended to spell out one word more than others: Yakima.
Years ago, a hedge fund bought out that massively successful local manufacturer of sports racks for automobiles and shipped it out of the county piece by piece, leaving a hole in the heart of the business community. How long, the business-watchers fretted, would our new Swiss overlords suffer Humboldt County's absurd transportation infrastructure, our somewhat roasted workforce, our generally lackadaisical nature? Cypress Grove's founder and guiding light, Mary Keehn, the person who put Humboldt goat cheese on the map and into boutique groceries across the nation and beyond ... she is one of us, so she understands and can cope. But the consensus was that a country that made its manufacturing bones on precision timepieces could only take so much of the Humboldt groove before bailing out. Let's say five years, max.
Not so fast, says Gregg Foster, executive director of the Redwood Region Economic Development Commission. He thinks there's every reason to take Emmi at face value when they say they plan on staying and investing. For one, "Humboldt" is right there in the name of the company's flagship product -- not a huge safeguard in itself, but better than nothing. More importantly, though, Emmi isn't a merciless hedge fund with its eye locked on the short term, and it's harder to move a food-related business, based on perishable raw material, than it is to farm out machine work that could be done in any maquiladora.
Bottom line, according to Foster: We've got the goats.
The Journal has been in Eureka over a month now. The grace period has expired. Forthwith, some crabby suggestions to improve the workaday environment of our beloved city.
First complaint: Given the number of wage slaves milling about downtown and environs all day, there is a shocking paucity of $6 lunch spots hereabouts. This, it must be admitted, is one area where the snotty Arcatans have us all-the-way beat.
Do you have an expense account? Are you looking for a sit-down power lunch, executive-style? You have myriad excellent options on every block. Do you, on the other hand, just want to grab something to take down to the Boardwalk and chowder on while you leaf through a magazine and stare at the seals? Your options grow very thin, very quickly.
Arcata has long grasped the easy solution to this problem. Taco trucks. Plant one or three in the vacant lots across the pedestrian walkway from Bayfront One and I guarantee you that this will instantly be the most hopping part of the city between 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.
I hereby command likeminded readers to start a "Get Old Town a Taco Truck" Facebook group.
Second complaint, plus a call to arms: As far as I can see, there's exactly one upside to our city's totalitarian new smoking ordinance -- see Ryan Burns & "Seven-O-Heaven," elsewhere in this paper -- and that is the fact that Old Town is blessed with classy old-school alleys just waiting for someone to come along and put them to productive use.
This is the season. I envision a hazy moveable feast, a convivial tobacconist social club, hours 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Let's start with Opera Alley between F and G. Drop by on your break and join the endless party. I want to send up a wall of smoke thick enough to overwhelm the fire department switchboard.
There might be more upsides to the new ordinance that I haven't thought of yet. Ask my friend @CiggyButtz about it, if you want. (#FF!)
Time is running out. You have until noon Friday to submit your vote in the NCJ's Annual "Best of Humboldt" Reader's Poll. If you miss that deadline, you are screwed -- voting will be closed for approximately 49 weeks thereafter, and as everyone knows: If you don't vote, then you can't complain. If you have already voted, please resist the temptation to vote again and again. Trust me: I will ferret you out and nuke all of your ballots minus one, and the resulting excess of black bile in my earthly humours will cause me to lash out senselessly at your favorite politician.