Compiling this year's roll call of premeditated trash behavior wasn't easy. Not because there weren't enough vindictive choices, selfish decisions and playground bullies to go around, but because we have a surplus of attention-seeking dicks in our county constantly popping up and waving like inflatables outside a car dealership, seemingly campaigning to make the list. So those of you handing out pamphlets, tagging us in your every waking thought, please know that inclusion below doesn't come with a cash prize, only collective scorn and head-shaking strenuous eye rolling. Without further ado, here are this year's finest moments of prickish pettiness.
10. Brett Watson stans. The trail of awfulness Watson hauls behind him as his tenure on the Arcata City Council closes is too long and too tangled in mental illness, addiction and abuse for this list. However, shoutout to the four people among his alleged fanbase whose support we were able to confirm in emails (one of whom Watson himself felt compelled to alert police about), the couple of people online we don't think were manufactured and the weird little crowd — far too large for our taste — that actually voted for him. We get that the misogyny really spoke to some of you but when you see someone spiraling, don't cheer them on. That's always a dick move.
9. The seal-nappers. How many times do we have to tell people not to touch the marine wildlife? Kevin the seal was minding his own business by the Samoa Bridge, likely waiting for his working mom to return with food, when a couple of geniuses grabbed him and tossed him in an aquarium in their car. Luckily, Kevin was saved by a call from a witness, but now orphaned, the Northcoast Marine Mammal Center had to take him in. Separating baby animals forever from their families is a cross-species dick move. If you see a marine critter you think needs help, leave it alone and call (707) 951-4722. And if you see those seal-napping tools, tell them we hope they serve time in a mildewed aquarium.
8. The Earth. We're normally fans of the planet but on Dec. 20, the tectonic plates slid into our DM list at the last minute with a 6.4 in the wee hours. Injuries, related deaths, loss of power, gas and clean water took their toll around the county. But concentrating the damage in Rio Dell and parts of Fortuna and putting folks already low on resources out of their homes was even ruder than tossing my skinny clothes down from the top of the closet. Mar-a-lago is right there but sure, hit the Eel River Valley. Not cool.
7. Linda Stansberry and Jennifer Fumiko Cahill. There was no way we were going to endure the multi-hour bro-down of that extended podcast interview (I won't name the source here to avoid passing it on like the video in The Ring and compounding the dickery I've already committed). Instead of hunkering down for the shitshow, my colleague and I rolled our eyes from the very edge of the rabbit hole ... and pushed the Journal's news editor Thad Greenson in. We knew his curiosity and completionist compulsion would have him suffering all the way through, and we sent him the link anyway, like monsters. He'll never get that precious weekend family time back. And that's on us.
6. Mask protestors who put South Fork High School on lockdown. In February, parents and students protesting (that's the American way!) school masking policy entered school grounds without permission (that's trespassing that hits scarier in an era where we refuse to effectively address school shootings!), tearing down masking signs (that's vandalism!) and cussing out kids in masks (that's ... what the hell, people?). You know, for the children. The children who had to go through yet another lockdown because of unauthorized people busting into their school like they're already worried enough about. Dicktastic, folks.
5. Homophobic protesters. Speaking of protecting the children, it's been a big year for people with bad eyebrows and unsupported theories attacking drag events. Not sure where that energy is when actual children are actually endangered — as they are disproportionately in this county, now and back when the Catholic Church's Santa Rosa Diocese funneled 10 of its alleged pedophile priests here. Oh, wait, actual abusers don't give bigots the opportunity to scream, pound their chests and menace the LGBTQ+ community that makes them so angry by existing. The protesters at the Redwood Pride Halloween party ended up scaring the hell out of the kids in attendance, too. In honor of the queens and kings and pretty things who don't bat a false eyelash and keep showing us what unconditional love of ourselves and others is, my new drag name is Dick Move.
4. Arbitrator Bonnie Prouty Castrey. In the ruling reinstating Sgt. Jason Daniels, who was criminally charged with two counts of sexual assault on duty, to the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office, Castrey said "sexual banter" appeared so widespread and unchecked that it was unfair to hold the supervisor and training officer accountable for his part in a racist and sexually explicit (n-bombs, she filed under "racially charged") text messaging scandal. Abdicating responsibility and pushing aside the public good because, in the words of middle schoolers in detention everywhere, "everybody does it," goes beyond a single dick move, reinforcing a culture of reverberating dickishness.
3. Lead buckshot elk poachers. Ugh. We hate poachers of all stripes: abalone, game, burl. The only thing worse is using lead ammo that can contaminate the food web and poison other animals that feed off the carrion they leave behind. Wait, even worse are the dicks who illegally shot elk that could have been fed upon by the newly released condors in November. Really? They're just getting back in the air — a monumental comeback decades in the making, a landmark moment for local tribes and conservationists — and you're leaving out poison feed. Hoping a massive condor turd finds its way to you with your hat off.
2. Schneider, Bongio, Bohn & Co. The debacle around the Planning Commission was like a Russian nesting doll of dicks. The first dick move being Travis Schneider's flagrant disregard for the rules of his building permit regarding his home's size, location and the preservation of the land around it. Then there was Commission Chair Alan Bongio's undisclosed work there, his biased support of the project and his pivot to racism and anti-Native dog whistling. (That was a far less savvy move than resigning between a major earthquake and the Christmas holiday.) Inside that was Supervisor Rex Bohn's assertion that "I can't fire my friend, I'm sorry" — a wild take for an elected official. And down in the core, almost overlooked, was the call from people like Greg Gardiner to keep Bongio aboard because of his 24 years of service and the decades his father held the post on the Humboldt Community Services District Board. But hear me out — maybe holding power for generations isn't a good reason to keep holding it.
1. Tom Jackson Jr. Framing Title IX from the perspective of the alleged perpetrator, as Cal Poly Humboldt's President Jackson did in his welcome address, fretting about accusations making national news, was not great. It sent a clear, intimidating message to those who are thinking of coming forward. But later claiming in a campus message that's not what he meant when he said, "As we scrutinize each other, let's recognize that today we may be scrutinizing someone but tomorrow that someone may be us. And the [Title IX] process is designed to be behind the door so that we can resolve it for the individuals that are involved, not to celebrate it or promote it or use it for personal gain later on," was a gaslighting dick move. Jackson stated "We're a campus filled with secrets." But for all his concern about bad publicity, he's the one making it look like a campus filled with dicks.
Jennifer Fumiko Cahill (she/her) is the arts and features editor at the Journal. Reach her at (707) 442-1400, extension 320, or email@example.com. Follow her on Instagram @JFumikoCahill and on Mastodon @jenniferfumikocahill.