Luke’s Sorry, Jen’s Busy, OysterFence Is Adjusting
Kevin L. Hoover
PLAZA – The roiling strife surrounding Arcata Main Street’s plan to enclose the Plaza with a fence and charge admission to the Oyster Festival has taken some odd turns over the last few days. Today, the day before the annual bivalve ‘n’ beer fest, some of the kinks are being straightened out and issues resolved – though not to everyone’s satisfaction.
Rape joke retracted
Luke’s Joint owner Luke Patterson has formally apologized, though not in person, to Arcata Main Street Director Jennifer Koopman for the two cryptic, menacing cards that he sent her yesterday.
The cards – one a greeting card, the other a postcard – mention “nonconsensual sex,” a euphemism for rape, and seem to label Koopman as Patterson’s “enemy.”
Last night, Patterson sent Koopman the following note via e-mail:
I am sorry. That is the first thing I wanted to say to you, before anything else.
That subject of what I penned in that card, rape, no matter who the subject, no matter how it was interpreted, is simply untouchable, even the most tasteless, baseless and disgusting halls of dark humor.
I don’t know what else to say, honestly, other than to tell you that personally, I feel like rape is, without any question, one of the greatest crimes against humanity.
In giving you this ridiculous card, I have thus compromised my own integrity, which is breaking me up, second only to how sorry I am to you.
I believe just as strongly in stern penalties for DNA-tested and proven guilty rapists as I do in the absurdity and senselessness of other far-less nefarious, local, common crimes.
I will not make excuses, but I can only hope that you can forgive me for my inexplicable lapse in judgment.
I wish I could take that back, like other mistakes I’ve made in my life, while under severe pressure. But I can’t.
So, like in the past, this is time for a chin check.
First, I take full responsibility for giving you that card, and second, I would like to reiterate how sorry I am for leaving it at your office.
The more time passes, the more intensely sick I feel about my indiscretion.
This morning, as she directed the frenzy of OysterFest preparatory activity in the lobby of Jacoby’s Storehouse, Koopman said she accepted Patterson’s apology.
“I accept his apology,” Koopman said.
“I didn’t appreciate it by any means,” she said, adding that, “I don’t think that Luke’s a bad person or ill-intentioned. He’s a smart and passionate person, really dedicated to his cause. But that energy is being used in a negative way.”
Though Main Street didn’t adopt the customer “validation” system he had proposed, Patterson did win something of a concession in that most H Street businesses, including his, will now be outside the OysterFest.
In a major modification to the fencing plan, the controversial fence will now extend from the Eighth and H Street intersection up to the wall between Luke’s Joint and Caravan of Dreams. Luke’s Joint will be accessible from Eighth and H street at no charge. Caravan of Dreams will be within the OysterFest.
“We tried to come up with something so that people can access that business,” said Police Chief Tom Chapman. “It’s certainly not going to make everybody happy. This late in the game, it’s tough to make substantive changes.”
Chapman sees the fencing plan as a big plus for public safety – at least in concept.
“I’ve always been concerned about the crowd size from the perspective of worst-case scenario planning,” he said.
Chapman suspects that the new approach, with the Plaza enclosed and admission charged, will reduce the number of attendees. OysterFest attendance has swelled to upwards of 16,000 in recent years, making police and fire officials nervous about evacuation in case of fire or other safety emergency.
“I’ve been beating the drum that the event’s too big for that space,” Chapman said. Now, he said, with an actual evacuation plan in place, public safety forces will be able to respond to problems with precision. With potentially fewer attendees on hand, there will be more elbow room for all.
The major concern has been near the event’s end, when, as Chapman put it, some attendees become “rowdy,” a diplomatic term for “drunk.” And among the rowdies, there are those who become fully feisty.
“Intoxicated people get into fights along Ninth Street,” Chapman said.
Chapman accepts as plausible another of Main Street’s premises for adopting the admission charge – that those who pay to attend will have a sense of buy-in with the event, and may be less inclined to misbehave.
“With controlled access, it’s not as attractive a place for the demographic that wants to fight,” he said.