The Ax Falls in Palo Alto – Ripple Effect in the North State.

PaloAltoHouse4

Sometimes you feel yourself to be a part of history. The wrenching changes that the cyber revolution has wreaked in Silicon Valley are coming home- to the North Coast- to roost. But let me begin at the beginning.

My aunt and uncle moved from Eureka to Palo Alto in the ’50’s when Ma Bell transferred him to the “Puzzle Palace” in San Jose.  (The house they vacated in Eureka is the third house north of 14th and H, the one currently sporting  a wheelchair ramp.)  They bought a house in Palo Alto, a 3/2 with an attached studio unit. They paid $16K.

That place was my second home for the next 60 years. That was where we spent holidays, where prospective spouses were introduced, where I stayed my first few weeks after college.  You get the idea. I always had a place to stay in the Bay Area. But when change comes, you’re never prepared for it. My aunt and uncle died and last summer the house was sold to a nice Indian couple.  The husband works for Microsoft and they paid $2.2M .

(Incidentally, during that time Palo Alto changed beyond recognition.  Once a liberal bastion, it recently decided to cooperate in evicting 400 poor, mostly Hispanic residents from the city ‘s only trailer park, which will be redeveloped for more extremely expensive housing.)

One of my cousins had already left the area for Minneapolis, the other did what so many other folks are doing-moved north to Sonoma, where housing prices have doubled in the past few years due to refugees from the high prices further South. If people are paying half a million dollars for small houses in Sonoma (which according to Zillow, they are) what does that mean for us?

I doubt we will ever  see the instant millionaire phenomenon up here, although I don’t see how there cannot be pressure on prices. But the demand here will never be enough to send prices skyward,  although I think anything in a decent neighborhood here is a good investment. People who have the option are moving to Seattle from the Bay Area if they’re still working and want a tech industry environment. What do we have? Weed. And it’s far from clear whether the prosperity generated by weed- pardon me, cannabis- will be pervasive or only for the few. 

Which brings us to last Friday. A Palo Alto neighbor sent us pix of the old house being torn down.  Along with it went the rhody my aunt had planted when they bought the house and a whole lifetime of memories. 

And so it goes.

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The REAL High Crime Counties

The data crunchers at FindTheHome have an interesting approach . If you count robbery as a “violent” crime as opposed to a mere property” crime,  the “high crime” areas shift and San Francisco becomes the highest crime area in the State! Take a look at this great interactive graphic that shows, among other things, that Del Norte’s crime rate is twice ours.  I always knew Crescent City was a pit.  I just didn’t have proof.

I think this statistic-  how likely are you to be a victim of crime in general- is a lot more useful than splitting it up.  YMMV.  It’s a great map.  Have fun with it.

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Have Kids? Take Them to ACV June 9th.

In a local version of the Harmonic Convergence, our still NOT renamed airport will host BOTH the Wings of Freedom air meeting AND the Goodyear blimp on Tuesday June 9.  The Wings of Freedom event offers a chance to tour vintage Word War II aircraft,  and the blimp!! Well, what can you say about the blimp other than that it is the most recognizable American icon, apart from the Statue of Liberty. 

The festivities actually start on the 8th and the exact date of the blimps’ arrival is unclear (it takes several days to get here from Long Beach) .  Check the papers or  the Fly Humboldt Facebook page for updates.

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“Best of the North Coast”? Yeah, right.

The Times-Standard published its “Readers’ Choice Awards” this morning. We’ve had a lot of fun with these lists in the past and they will never be credible until the T-S starts publishing their tabulations (and a system to prevent duplicate voting).  Still,  they’re a basis for discussion. And some of them are actually well-deserved. 

I was pleased to see that Bob’s Footlong retained its rightful place on the top of the hot dog pyramid. I don’t know what it is about Bob’s that makes their dogs taste so good but I rarely go to Fortuna without stopping by.  It is gratifying to see Eureka’s AA Bar & Grill retain its rightful place at the head of the “steak” list and CC Market is definitely a great caterer. But I have a quibble with listing Hole-in-the-Wall as BOTH “Best Delicatessen” and “Best Sandwich Shop”.  It is a great sandwich shop but if you’ve ever been to Cantor’s or David’s or Katz’s,  you know that Hole-in-the-Wall is a sandwich shop, not a deli.  We are long overdue for a REAL kosher deli up here. I don’t know if I’ll live to see it.

I was really surprised  to see Ferndale’s Ivanhoe listed as the “Best Restaurant, (Overall)”. Really? Anyone been there? What do you think?

Finally,  I was pleased to see Redwood Acres recycling receive some recognition. This is one of my favorite businesses in  Humboldt County.  Great people, and they make the recycling experience almost fun. 

So what do you think of the “Best of the North Coast”?  Did they get it right?  Did they leave out your favorite? Let us know what you think!

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A New Way To Fly?

An interesting development is reported by the Sacramento Business News.  Surf Air, a private membership airline headquartered in Santa Monica and flying out of the old McClellan AFB,  is flying round-trips between Santa Rosa, Hawthorne and San Carlos beginning next month, and will add service between Monterey and Hawthorne and San Carlos in July.  On August 24,  they’ll begin round-trips between McClellan and Hawthorne, San Carlos and Santa Barbara. Then in November they’re adding service between Palm Springs and Burbank and Oakland.

A private airline? Affordable?? Well, maybe.  Surf Air’s customers pay a flat monthly fee starting at $1750 for membership and unlimited flights.  If you’re doomed to fly more than three or four times a month, it starts looking downright reasonable.  Add in the sheer pleasure of not having to deal with the major airlines and…well, I’d sure like to try it.

In another development, Pen Air, which is supposed to start service beween Crescent City and Portland later this year, is making nice with the Redding airport folks and has been heard to say they are interested in flying out of AVC.  We’ll see. Stay tuned. 

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Happy Easter? Bah, Humbug!

Easter is my least-favorite holiday.  At Christmas you get good chocolate and lots of presents.  At Easter you get Peeps. No comparison.

As a kid growing up in Eureka, I was subjected to all kinds of barbaric treatment by well-meaning family members. I HAD to have a new coat, made from scratch by a lady on “A” Street, Audrey Hansen and her mother. Anyone remember them? Every coat involved two or three fittings all of which involved repeatedly being stuck with pins. These days we’d call it child abuse. The ladies were still in business when I was in sixth grade and had to have a Tiger Lily costume for the Christmas Pageant. More pins.

My normal hair wouldn’t do for Easter, either. My grandmother would march me down to Daly’s to have my hair permed. Remember that salon on the mezzanine level?  The sulphurous fumes from the frying hair filled the whole store.  Ah, the good old days.

Like it or not, Easter is a big holiday for retail spending. The National Retail Federation tells us each of us will spend $140 on Easter this year.  I’m not even close. I bought some Reese’s and a Paas egg coloring kit.  Don’t ask.  Our Easter Dinner will be a pork roast rescued from the freezer. I like to slow-cook them so that the house smells good for hours.  

That NRF article includes some fascinating data on how people plan to spend the holiday. almost half of you will be in church.  Which is good.  I don’t go myself, but I definitely  approve of church. Almost a third of you will be surfing the web on Easter, maybe doing some online buying. I asked the friendly staff at Partrick’s the other day about their holiday sales and they reported that while their big days are Christmas and Valentine’s,  Easter comes in a close third,  representing maybe 15% of yearly revenues. That’s pretty much the same as on the national level.  

So Happy Easter, everyone.  Support your local candy store and don’t make your kids get their hair fried. And go to the Zoo. It’ll make you feel good.

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No Silver Lining

I was surprised,  as was airport management, apparently,  to hear that the Silver Lining restaurant at the Humboldt County Redwoods whatever airport is closed. That’s a big step backward for the folks who have been promoting the airport and while I don’t think many flyers would cancel a flight because their destination didn’t have a coffee shop, it still doesn’t say much for the infrastructure we offer our visitors.

According to the NCJ,  an attempt will be made to find another operator.  That might be difficult.  Most airport restaurants overlook a busy runway where diners can observe takeoffs and landings more often than four times a day. Maybe the County should contract with Dell’ Arte or Access Humboldt or someone else who can produce a light show to resemble a busy airport. At least it would LOOK like the return of normalcy. Stay tuned. 

Henderson Center is Hoppin’

…and we don’t just mean celebrating Easter. Here’s a summary of recent events in my favorite part of town.

Little Japan, which used to be on 4th Street across from where Liu’s used to be, is open for business at their new home on F Street next to the BofA. Harvey says they are yet to have a full-on grand opening but they’e already had the Chamber ribbon cutting and a cash mob. The new store is gorgeous and well-stocked.   I bought some miso and realized how much I had missed this store as I tucked into my soup with the March winds blowing outside. No website, but they do have a Facebook page.

Next door, in the old pharmacy are signs indicating a Eureka Planning Commission hearing concerning four parking places in the adjacent lot. The parking is for a Chinese restaurant named Zoe,  which will  be a welcome addition to the neighborhood.  Converting  a drugstore to a restaurant is expensive so this is a massive investment for someone. 

Another massive investment is contemplated for the space now occupied by Glow, a facial and nails salon that has taken its operation to an appointment-only model. A gentleman from Fortuna has advertised his intention to open the Diver Bar and Grille in the Glow space but the fictitious business name statement was filed back in December and it doesn’t look like much is happening.  Stay tuned. And if you figure out the difference between a ‘grille’ and a ‘grill”,  kindly inform me. 

Lastly, the space vacated by the short-lived Caribbean Picnic operation is now occupied by Nourish Bistro and Catering  which has a website up although it’s awfully heard to read. They will have their grand opening tomorrow,  Friday,  at 10am, and according to the Times they will be serving beverages and appetizers so there’s a chance to sample their wares.  Wish I could make it. 

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The Durst Saga

I  got interested in the Durst story because he had lived in Trinidad, although I still don’t know where or for how long or whether he actually owned property there. Someone should do a book about famous people who have sojourned in Humboldt.  I know there was a MLB ballplayer who lived there for awhile, no idea who.

Anyway, I watched the entirety of the HBO series “The Jinx” just for that reason. It was an AWFUL series, well below usual HBO standards.  HBO has pretty much singlehandedly been keeping documentary alive in this country, but this was not a good series. It was BORING! How could such a compelling story be made boring? Too much focus on the producers, too much repetition. Sure enough,  in the middle of the last episode, I actually FELL ASLEEP and awoke to a sports show.  Luckily I taped it and was able to watch the end, which was what  the excitement is all about.  In the last couple of minutes, Durst, wearing a clip-on mike he had apparently forgotten about, visits the restroom and mutters to himself, “Yeah, I killed them all.”

To the filmmakers and to HBO this must have been manna from heaven, also for the prosecutors who wants another shot at him.  He’s in 71 now, so hopefully another charge would keep him locked up for what’s left of his bizarre life. I think it could be argued that a guy muttering to himself in a bathroom is not necessarily telling the truth about anything.  We’ll see how it shakes out.  Personally, yeah I think he did it.  So far he’s bought his way out.  This case will generate media frenzy such as we haven’t seen since Patty Hearst. Too bad they didn’t say more about Trinidad. Might have generated some tourist spending.  LOCO is carrying the links to the LA TImes coverage.

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