inkwell.vue.230 : Kevin Hoover, "The Police Log II: The Nimrod Imbroglios"
permalink #0 of 73: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Wed 17 Nov 04 10:27
    
I'm delighted to introduce our next guest, Kevin Hoover.

Kevin is the editor, publisher and janitor of the Arcata Eye. He has worked
at three Humboldt County newspapers: the Arcata Union (now defunct), the
Humboldt Beacon (now moribund) and the Arcata Eye (still apparently
operational, since he keeps writing ridden stories for, and getting checks
from it). During his tempestuous tenure at the Union, Kevin found that the
wattage expended during heated discussions with his editor over the
editorial excesses of his Police Log was roughly commensurate with the
overall warm glow of approbation returned by readers, who responded quite
favorable to his kitchen prose and gutter rhymes. This culminated in a kind
remark by Herb Caen, which immunized Kevin from pettifogging editorial
rebukes. On founding the Eye, the "coplog" evolved into a backchannel
conduit for the streetside grit and gristle of the town that doesn't fit
into the straight-up news.

Leading the conversation is technical writer Elizabeth Fox. Elizabeth has
enjoyed reading small-town newspapers ever since a roommate had a
subscription to the Millard County Gazette in Utah. She discovered the
Arcata Eye while searching the Web for crime logs and has been posting its
crime on The WELL ever since. She visited Arcata and met Kevin in his office
in 2002. She thinks the Arcata Eye is notable not only for its crime log but
for its intelligent reporting on local issues and fine writing in general,
which can't be said for many of its small town counterparts.

Welcome to Inkwell, Kevin and Elizabeth!
  
inkwell.vue.230 : Kevin Hoover, "The Police Log II: The Nimrod Imbroglios"
permalink #1 of 73: Count me among the hammers and rasps (crow) Wed 17 Nov 04 12:32
    
Hi Kevin, it's great to talk to you again. For the benefit of anybody who
doesn't know, please tell us what the book is about.
  
inkwell.vue.230 : Kevin Hoover, "The Police Log II: The Nimrod Imbroglios"
permalink #2 of 73: Kevin L. Hoover (kevinhoover) Thu 18 Nov 04 09:45
    
The Police Log II: the Nimrod Imbroglios, picks up where the first
book left off - with more true crime and mischief documented in the
Arcata Eye, the weekly newspaper for Arcata. 

As I mentioned above, our Police Log utilizes an unconventional
approach to local public safety news. While we never make light of
serious crime - that's usually reported in the straight-up news section
of the paper - the absurdity of most chump-level crime seems to beg
for value-added coverage.

So, I take the liberty of adding context and color commentary to the
items, and some people seem to find this amusing.

While the individual crime items appear in the same way as the first
book, we tried to package Vol. II differently. The first book had happy
70s colors (orange and avocado) on the cover, and a playful
illustration by Dave Held, This one goes for a kind of pulp
fiction/noir effect with a sort of psilocybin-tinged unreality overlay.
And I had several artists illustrate some of the items that lent
themselves to visual celebration.
  
inkwell.vue.230 : Kevin Hoover, "The Police Log II: The Nimrod Imbroglios"
permalink #3 of 73: Count me among the hammers and rasps (crow) Thu 18 Nov 04 11:38
    
Psilocybin-tinged unreality overlay sounds perfect!

Please tell us about Arcata - it's a college town and sounds like it has a
combination of liberals, old logging people, and homeless people. Is that
accurate?
  
inkwell.vue.230 : Kevin Hoover, "The Police Log II: The Nimrod Imbroglios"
permalink #4 of 73: Kevin L. Hoover (kevinhoover) Fri 19 Nov 04 09:30
    
Yes, Arcata's a roiling cauldron of multicultural diversity, or
multiculpable propinquity, or, at times. multivultural perversity. In
other words, a heady mix of divergent lifestyles, each with its own
preferred mode of dress and choice of intoxicant.

So, when these various folk down a few, or smoke a fatty, of even huff
up a bunch, then interact and look at each other funny, well, one can
imagine the wacky misadventures to follow.

To me, that's the crux of the biscuit when it comes to the Police Log
– the screaming unnecessariness of most of the toil and trouble the
cops have to sort out. Ah, but there's the joy, too.
  
inkwell.vue.230 : Kevin Hoover, "The Police Log II: The Nimrod Imbroglios"
permalink #5 of 73: Kevin L. Hoover (kevinhoover) Fri 19 Nov 04 09:50
    
Yes, Arcata's a roiling cauldron of multicultural diversity, or
multiculpable propinquity, or, at times. multivultural perversity. In
other words, a heady mix of divergent lifestyles, each with its own
preferred mode of dress and choice of intoxicant.

So, when these various folk down a few, or smoke a fatty, of even huff
up a bunch, then interact and look at each other funny, well, one can
imagine the wacky misadventures to follow.

To me, that's the crux of the biscuit when it comes to the Police Log
– the screaming unnecessariness of most of the toil and trouble the
cops have to sort out. Ah, but there's the joy, too.
  
inkwell.vue.230 : Kevin Hoover, "The Police Log II: The Nimrod Imbroglios"
permalink #6 of 73: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Fri 19 Nov 04 15:56
    
(NOTE: offsite readers who have comments or questions can send email to
inkwell-hosts@well.com to have them added to this conversation)
  
inkwell.vue.230 : Kevin Hoover, "The Police Log II: The Nimrod Imbroglios"
permalink #7 of 73: Christian Crumlish (xian) Sat 20 Nov 04 10:30
    
Hey, Kevin! Is volume II published by the Eye as well? 

(<tnf> and Kevin and I discussed getting a 'mainstream' publisher
interested in the first edition but it appears that direct publishing
is doing the trick, which is why I ask)

can you compare publishing a newspaper and a book?

also, you founded the Eye, right? How did you get it off the ground as
a business? Did you do it on a shoestring or did you have investment
capital available or did it make profit from day 1?
  
inkwell.vue.230 : Kevin Hoover, "The Police Log II: The Nimrod Imbroglios"
permalink #8 of 73: Count me among the hammers and rasps (crow) Sat 20 Nov 04 14:18
    
good questions!

backing up a little, I was going to ask you to tell us how you got to Arcata
and to the Eye. I seem to recall that cheese was involved...
  
inkwell.vue.230 : Kevin Hoover, "The Police Log II: The Nimrod Imbroglios"
permalink #9 of 73: Kevin L. Hoover (kevinhoover) Sat 20 Nov 04 16:24
    
Good to hear from you, Christian. Hope you’re well.

“Hey, Kevin! Is volume II published by the Eye as well?”

Actually, the text part of it already has been, in bits and pieces.
What we did was cull what seemed to be the most interesting items from
the Police Log, picking up chronologically from where the first book
left off. Then we added photos and some other content-enriching items.

“can you compare publishing a newspaper and a book?”

My experience with the latter is limited to the two compilations I’ve
done so far, and my newspaper experience is limited too, to rural
weeklies. 

But both are multidisciplinary tightrope walks in terms of producing a
clean and regret-free piece of work on a deadline. While we’ve become
practiced in meeting newspaper deadlines, the regrets still follow each
publication. “Why didn’t I...?” and “What was I thinking?!?” are
weekly post-publication refrains. Same with the book - there were lots
of infelicities I was determined to avert this time, and I’m confident
I didn’t make the same mistakes. But this book is more ambitious in its
packaging than the first, and was rife with fresh possibilities for
going astray.

With a newspaper, you have the complicated task of offering readers
the essence of the town every week, knowing full well that no two
people are going to agree on what that is. The news has to be timely,
accurate and with proper emphasis. Then there’s the PSAs, the opinion
and entertainment sections, classifieds, and so on and on - each
section of the paper is a world unto itself. Fortunately, over the
years I’ve found wonderfully qualified people to handle the areas I’m
not strong or particularly interested in. So now, the Eye is some sort
of machine and the deadlines aren’t as white-knuckled as they used to
be. 

Then there’s the need to continually self-evaluate and innovate so as
to keep things fresh and moving in some direction. Plus, if you purport
to uphold the traditional role of community journalism, you have to
editorialize and offer criticism of local institution, and be bold
enough to both take people you respect to task and be wrong sometimes.

And, on top of all that, you have to run a small business in modern
America. This involves finances, personnel matters, legal issues and
endless frustration.
I suppose the responsibility of producing a newspaper every week
should be more daunting than making a book, but I’m more practiced and
familiar with it, so the book effort has been more nerve-wracking.

In the margins of my newspaper work and family duties, I spent months
on this book, from composing the cover to combing the content, trying
to make it a good read and look good. And of course, it still wound up
with a last-minute frenzy, with the final product shipped to the
printer for delivery within minutes of their drop-dead deadline. Also
of course, I now see innumerable things which could have been better.
Maybe we’ll talk about those later and people can tell me if the
shortcomings I see are niggling mistakes or the grotesqueries they seem
to be to me.

“also, you founded the Eye, right? How did you get it off the ground
as
a business?”

I remember that it took three solid weeks of pre-dawn to late-night
toil, making business arrangements, acquiring equipment, lining up
content and making design decisions. 

“Did you do it on a shoestring or did you have investment capital
available or did it make profit from day 1?”

I maxed out my credit cards, used up my savings and launched boldly
forth into immediate near-oblivion. If it hadn’t been for some
miraculous financial angels and the dedication of some of the talented
and self-sacrificing people who came along, I would be back at Radio
Shack right now, giving away free batteries to grouchy old men in
stained coveralls with hairy noses. At times I’ve been erroneously
credited as a canny visionary and. alternatively, as a hubris-saturated
wingnut, but neither is accurate. I just didn’t want to wear a tie and
nametag any more.  

The Eye took the proverbial three years to become marginally
profitable as a small business, but we’re still in debt. 

Yes, Crow, cheese has played and continues to play a vital role in my
career. Every week we get glossy photos and promotional blurbs from the
California Milk Advisory Board extolling the benefits of consuming
massive amounts of glistening milk derivatives, and I think about that
unknown person who stuffed cheese in the nose of the statue on our
downtown square, which was reported in the Arcata Union, reproduced in
the New Yorker, then National Lampoon, which compelled me to drive up
here and check the place out, stay, start a newspaper, write Police Log
books and be interviewed in the Well. The long, less-flippant version
of the cheese story appears in the intro to the first Police Log book.
  
inkwell.vue.230 : Kevin Hoover, "The Police Log II: The Nimrod Imbroglios"
permalink #10 of 73: Count me among the hammers and rasps (crow) Sun 21 Nov 04 10:09
    
Wow, this is fascinating - so much to this that's transparent to me, a
reader of the paper.

Compared to other crime logs, the Eye's isnt overrun with DUI reports. do
you leave those out because they're relatively uninteresting, or are they
more related to the CHP and other bodies than the local cops?

Or is Arcata a haven of sobriety? Ha ha ha, I make beeg joke.
  
inkwell.vue.230 : Kevin Hoover, "The Police Log II: The Nimrod Imbroglios"
permalink #11 of 73: Kevin L. Hoover (kevinhoover) Sun 21 Nov 04 21:35
    
"Compared to other crime logs, the Eye's isnt overrun with DUI
reports. do
you leave those out because they're relatively uninteresting, or are
they
more related to the CHP and other bodies than the local cops?"

Several things here. First, the Eye's coplog isn't a complete catalog
of crime events, as not all of what the cops deal with appears in the
relatively primitive and bare-bones dispatcher logs I'm given to work
with. Many of the items are so scantily documented I can't even tell
sometimes what happened. So I do what I can to give a representative
cross-section of what appears in the dispatcher log. 

I suspect that few DUIs appear in the log because those stops are
relatively pro forma - there isn't a lot of dialogue twixt cop and
dispatcher. But drunks wallowing on the sidewalk, now that takes a fair
amount of rich repartee to sort out.

A haven of sobriety? Alas, the Temperance League's fountain on the
Plaza hasn't proven that effective, except for scruffies rinsing
yesterday's patchouli out of their armpits.
  
inkwell.vue.230 : Kevin Hoover, "The Police Log II: The Nimrod Imbroglios"
permalink #12 of 73: Count me among the hammers and rasps (crow) Mon 22 Nov 04 09:35
    
That makes sense...the DUIs really are pretty boring.

NOTW Pat, who visited your office with me, thinks you should tell the story
of the old issues of the Arcata Union that you had to rescue. And, if you
feel like it, tell us more of how you got to the Union et al.
  
inkwell.vue.230 : Kevin Hoover, "The Police Log II: The Nimrod Imbroglios"
permalink #13 of 73: Kevin L. Hoover (kevinhoover) Mon 22 Nov 04 12:18
    
Wow, that first part is always cathartic to approach, but it needs to
be known as a cautionary tale in the wonderful world of publishing and
business in general.

Essentially, a small-town paper (two of them, actually) was done in by
a moneyed buffoon for no good reason. 

The Arcata Union was founded in 1886 and owned by three families, who
shepherded it through the decades and Arcata's evolution from a
timber/dairy settlement to a college/tourist-driven town.

In the late '80s, it was sold to an enterprising fellow, Curt Tuck,
who tried to make it a twice-weekly paper and just about killed the
staff. Not that there isn't enough news in Arcata for that, but the
resources weren't there.

At some point the Arcata Union reverted to its proper weekly status
and was sold to Mr. Patrick O'Dell, who was riding high with his hit
magazine, Satellite TV Week. That mag serviced owners of big dishes,
and funded his acquisition of an air freight service, a constriction
company, a winery and two newspapers, the Arcata Union and the Redwood
Record in Garberville. He also built a gaudy headquarters building -  a
monument to his ego - in Fortuna. For some reason, he changed the
paper's name to "The Union," taking the town's name out of it.

He also sold off the paper's web press (the only one in town), an
event I remember reading about. I didn't appreciate the significance of
this at the time, but it was a symbolic gonad-removal which presaged
the events to come.

But then the satellite technology technology changed and pizza-box
dishes came into vogue. With them came onscreen channel directories and
no one needed his stupid magazine anymore. His empire collapsed almost
overnight and he started selling off his properties.

We on the staff had been frustrated because he had refused to let us
do things which would have saved money, promoted the paper and helped
make it financially viable. For example, even in the mid '90s, he
refused to buy us a simple flatbed scanner for photos. He continued to
employ a photo technician and maintain a full-on darkroom with
chemicals and stuff just to make copies of photos. When I took pictures
for APD's police officer trading cards, he inexplicably refused to
allow them to simply place a "Photo courtesy The Union" credit by the
officers' pics. He wouldn't let us do t-shirts or other promotions,
either. There were many other dunderheaded restrictions and impairments
as well.

We were bitter when we had to run pictures of him donating
state-of-the-art Macs to the local community college when we were
suffering along with tiny, slow old Mac Plusses and we knew full well
he was flying around the country to wine tastings in his private jet. 

Meanwhile, the dedicated efforts of that last staff had revitalized
and modernized the paper's look and was steadily rebuilding the paper's
circulation. Little did we know that the more papers we sold, the
bigger O'Dell's loss, since he was subsidizing it with money from
elsewhere in his collapsing company.

On top of all this, O'Dell was fairly cretinous in his ethical
decisions and even his personal demeanor towards our staff. Once he
made us run a totally inaccurate and unfair "hit" ad against a
political candidate on the eve of an election, despite tearful
pleadings from our editor. On those rare occasions when he visited our
office, he was brusque and condescending - a real turd. And he insisted
on running the paper inefficiently. It was like something out of an
Ayn Rand novel.

So, after incessant rumors that he was going to shut down the paper,
and repeated denials by his minions, that's just what happened. Our
news editor, Jack Durham, scraped together $15,000 and asked if he
could buy the name "The Union" and keep the paper going. O'Dell said
no, and offered no explanation.

Then the real horror began. O'Dell had promised the wife of the former
publisher, Gordon Hadley, Mrs. Monica Hadley (now deceased) that he
would never close the paper her family had owned since the 30s. When he
did, he refused to talk to her about it or even return her phone
calls. She was a strong woman, but this really hurt her heart. Like I
said, cretinous.

Then, people from Humboldt Group (his now-enervated company) started
appearing at the back door of the paper, cruising through and taking
things like lamps and chairs and office equipment. At first we thought
it was being consolidated at HQ, but gradually we realized people were
just ripping stuff off. It was a greedhead free-for-all as his
underlings depredated the decomposing carcass of what had been a noble
little newspaper. 

When the paper closed its doors, much of the antique memorabilia and
perfectly usable fixtures – old linotype, newspaper racks, paste-up
equipment and more - was just set out on the loading dock and
abandoned. When we saw this, scalvaged some of the stuff, but much of
it disappeared.

Finally, the 109 years of newspaper archives were taken to Fortuna and
placed under lock and key. There they remain, and even the Historical
Society has been only allowed very limited access. That 109 years of
Arcata history wound up in a town 20 miles away under lock and key in a
dark, dusty storeroom is an outrage and an injustice.

Needless to say, Mr. O'Dell is not beloved in Arcata.

Next year will be the 10th anniversary of the Arcata Union's demise,
and we'll be doing a retrospective with more detail.
  
inkwell.vue.230 : Kevin Hoover, "The Police Log II: The Nimrod Imbroglios"
permalink #14 of 73: Count me among the hammers and rasps (crow) Mon 22 Nov 04 13:05
    
God, what an amazing story. Cretinous, all right.

What's the economy in Arcata & environs like now? Is there still logging
going on? I was surprised to read in the Ft Bragg Beacon, a couple of years
ago, that the biggest employer there is the school system. Is that true in
Arcata now too?

What's the relationship with the university like?
  
inkwell.vue.230 : Kevin Hoover, "The Police Log II: The Nimrod Imbroglios"
permalink #15 of 73: Kevin L. Hoover (kevinhoover) Mon 22 Nov 04 13:30
    
Arcata's economy is still trying to transition from natural resource
extraction to something else. 

Tourism is vital, but may not provide the most economically-beneficial
kinds of employment. City Council candidates like to talk about
boosting light manufacturing, but in recent years we've lost a lot of
manufacturing to corporate machinations. Several major local
manufacturers have been acquired, then outsourced. Moonstone sleeping
bags and most recently, Yakima Racks are two examples. Both of the
town's new car dealerships have closed.

But we're not broken yet. The university brings in an estimated $110
million a year, and we still have a lively downtown, plus a sort of
commercial ghetto featuring chain motels and restaurants out in Valley
West.

Town-gown relations have improved dramatically in recent years with
the installation of a new president and administration. But it will
always be a conflicted relationship, as HSU's interests and the City's
don't always jibe exactly. Some folks don't like the domainance of
youth culture or the liberal influence of "Hippie State University."
Still, most reasonable people would count HSU as a profound asset to
Arcata.
  
inkwell.vue.230 : Kevin Hoover, "The Police Log II: The Nimrod Imbroglios"
permalink #16 of 73: Kevin L. Hoover (kevinhoover) Mon 22 Nov 04 13:40
    
Arcata's economy is still trying to transition from natural resource
extraction to something else. 

Tourism is vital, but may not provide the most economically-beneficial
kinds of employment. City Council candidates like to talk about
boosting light manufacturing, but in recent years we've lost a lot of
manufacturing to corporate machinations. Several major local
manufacturers have been acquired, then outsourced. Moonstone sleeping
bags and most recently, Yakima Racks are two examples. Both of the
town's new car dealerships have closed.

But we're not broken yet. The university brings in an estimated $110
million a year, and we still have a lively downtown, plus a sort of
commercial ghetto featuring chain motels and restaurants out in Valley
West.

Town-gown relations have improved dramatically in recent years with
the installation of a new president and administration. But it will
always be a conflicted relationship, as HSU's interests and the City's
don't always jibe exactly. Some folks don't like the domainance of
youth culture or the liberal influence of "Hippie State University."
Still, most reasonable people would count HSU as a profound asset to
Arcata.
  
inkwell.vue.230 : Kevin Hoover, "The Police Log II: The Nimrod Imbroglios"
permalink #17 of 73: Count me among the hammers and rasps (crow) Mon 22 Nov 04 15:09
    
What are some of the issues that loom large in Arcata? I assume the usual
housing and jobs stuff. And how does the Eye try to cover this stuff?
  
inkwell.vue.230 : Kevin Hoover, "The Police Log II: The Nimrod Imbroglios"
permalink #18 of 73: Kevin L. Hoover (kevinhoover) Mon 22 Nov 04 16:46
    
I don't know why my replies (and typos) post twice. But when I read
about Mr. O'Dell's "constriction company," I think it must be a
Freudian slip. He certainly constricted our company to the point of
asphyxiation.

The list of large-looming Arcata issues will vary wildly from citizen
to citizen. Some would tell you the "damn potholes" are life's biggest
concern. Others would say that what they believe is the lack of
nightlife is a major problem. Still others see the encroachment of
corporate interests such as big box retailers as extinguishing the
town's vitality. Barely a week goes by that you don't hear someone
complain about either the civil liberties-squelching
fascists/freedom-killing communists on the City Council are destroying
the town.

Our approach is to maximize bandwidth and give everyone a voice, using
whatever alleged news judgment we can muster, then going home and
drink flagons of inexpensive but potable red wine.
  
inkwell.vue.230 : Kevin Hoover, "The Police Log II: The Nimrod Imbroglios"
permalink #19 of 73: Kevin L. Hoover (kevinhoover) Mon 22 Nov 04 18:11
    
I don't know why my replies (and typos) post twice. But when I read
about Mr. O'Dell's "constriction company," I think it must be a
Freudian slip. He certainly constricted our company to the point of
asphyxiation.

The list of large-looming Arcata issues will vary wildly from citizen
to citizen. Some would tell you the "damn potholes" are life's biggest
concern. Others would say that what they believe is the lack of
nightlife is a major problem. Still others see the encroachment of
corporate interests such as big box retailers as extinguishing the
town's vitality. Barely a week goes by that you don't hear someone
complain about either the civil liberties-squelching
fascists/freedom-killing communists on the City Council are destroying
the town.

Our approach is to maximize bandwidth and give everyone a voice, using
whatever alleged news judgment we can muster, then going home and
drink flagons of inexpensive but potable red wine.
  
inkwell.vue.230 : Kevin Hoover, "The Police Log II: The Nimrod Imbroglios"
permalink #20 of 73: Dennis Wilen (the-voidmstr) Mon 22 Nov 04 18:19
    
its deja vu all over again!
  
inkwell.vue.230 : Kevin Hoover, "The Police Log II: The Nimrod Imbroglios"
permalink #21 of 73: Uncle Jax (jax) Tue 23 Nov 04 00:17
    
If you're posting in Engaged, be sure not to double-click.
  
inkwell.vue.230 : Kevin Hoover, "The Police Log II: The Nimrod Imbroglios"
permalink #22 of 73: Gail Williams (gail) Tue 23 Nov 04 09:37
    

> Barely a week goes by that you don't hear someone
>  complain about either the civil liberties-squelching
>  fascists/freedom-killing communists on the City Council are destroying
>  the town.

Yeah, the politics and demographics of Arcata have got to be pretty amusing
at times.  When urbanites think of "small town America," Arcata is not 
part of the stereotype!   
  
inkwell.vue.230 : Kevin Hoover, "The Police Log II: The Nimrod Imbroglios"
permalink #23 of 73: Count me among the hammers and rasps (crow) Tue 23 Nov 04 09:44
    
How did Arcata vote in the last election?

What were the local measures, if any?
  
inkwell.vue.230 : Kevin Hoover, "The Police Log II: The Nimrod Imbroglios"
permalink #24 of 73: Red Dirt Tomato (reddirttomato) Wed 24 Nov 04 10:50
    
I knew Davey Anderson when he was crime reporter and journalist with
the Time Standard and the Arcata paper. Did he write any of the
material for your paper? Always insightful and damned funny too.
  
inkwell.vue.230 : Kevin Hoover, "The Police Log II: The Nimrod Imbroglios"
permalink #25 of 73: Kevin L. Hoover (kevinhoover) Wed 24 Nov 04 15:07
    
Election issues: We had everything from a one percent sales tax hike
(failed) to an unconstitutional anti-GMO ordinance (also failed). My
main focus was on the berserk Arcata City Council race.

David Anderson: I was privileged to have an acquaintanceship with
David, and always enjoyed his acerbic asides regarding news events we
covered together. He never wrote for the Eye, but said nice things
about it. He did do stories for the Union while I was there.

Here's our story on David's passing: 
http://www.arcataeye.com/top/020122top03.shtml
  

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