The Arcata Plaza is surprisingly dead at 8:30 on a Wednesday morning. Almost no one parked downtown. Few people on the sidewalks. Just a clutch of hobos occupying some benches at the center.

“HEY,” one screams at me the moment I get out of my car, across the grass. “GIMME YOUR LUNCH MONEY! GIMME YOUR LUNCH MONEY.”

“Fuck you!” I shout, waving happily.


“Ha ha ha ha!” We’re still waving at each other. Now I’m pretty sure my car is going to be vandalized. How many Arcatans start their mornings this way?

I type at an outdoor table at Cafe Brio, keeping an eye on things. This is the power breakfast corner of the Plaza, which is why I came here. Chances were fairly decent that I would have found the mayor, or a City Councilmember, or someone else to set me on the proper course for the Outpost’s Arcata day. Instead I got the aggro bums. Probably just as well.

But the pretty people and the nattily dressed are out here at Brio too, paying top dollar for their croissants. And that’s Arcata for you, as much as the travelers are. Though the county’s good conservatives like to panic about the city and its freaks, at this point it must be more out of habit than anything else. The town has the most vibrant economic climate in the county, by a very wide margin. New buildings are popping up with alacrity. The manufacturing sector, for a town this size, is a true miracle. And whole areas of the city are in the process of being reimagined and rezoned and redefined, and just about every citizens is saying “go! go!” while Eureka haplessly fumbles along.

On the other hand: Aggro bums. And the public WiFi situation is deplorable, strangely enough. Fortuna would be ashamed. I had to go mooch off the Co-op just to post this. And at the moment the whole town smells like chicken shit.

Today is Arcata day on the Lost Coast Outpost. Let’s see what we can find, shall we?