Arcata is a nice small town in California's Redwood Coast, home of Humboldt State University and a few restaurants and gift shops. It has a fine historic Town Plaza, with correspondingly Victorian standards of public conduct within (no smoking, for instance) and abuts several forested and farm lands.

It's also home to the Arcata Eye, a small-town newspaper, that contains within one of the most colorful police blotters imaginable.

Now, a small, fairly affluent countercultural California town ain't Spanish Harlem after dark. The most common infractions of the city code are public drunkenness, disturbances of the peace, and various forms of vagrancy, with a peacefully conducted, yet considerable, drug subculture mostly centered on various forms of hemp. However, it's not the magnitude of the crimes but their reportage that makes the Eye a pleasure to read.

Part of the fun is the wildly euphemistic code that informs the column: alcohol is often referred to as "cocktails", and drunkards (habitual or otherwise) are "cocktail enthusiasts" or "beverage hobbyists". Bums and tramps are "addressless", "traveling", or "semi-feral leisure specialists" and are advised against "camping" in various places. Jail is "The Pink House", and Starbuck's, et. al are "coffee temples". Dogs "submit to arfly urges". Not that this column is all that PC: anyone caught behaving in a strange manner is dubbed a "weirdo". Habitual offenders are referred to by colorful nicknames. And then there are the bongos, which cover various forms of public drumming, apparently a popular (and unwanted) way for young folks to recreate, which get thrown in as a running joke.

Not all of the entries cleave to this somewhat twee code, however: one memorable entry is of such poetic terseness that I quote it entire.

"Leave." said the barkeep.
"No." said the drinker.
"Leave."said the policeman.
"I was just leaving."said the drinker.

Check out this linguistic madness every Wednesday:

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