Tag Archive: Arcata California


stars that rock


Josephine Johnson returns to Humboldt County for an evening of music, art, and poetry at the Arcata Playhouse, Saturday, February 21, 2015.


Piet Dalmolen (guitar), Dan Davis (bass), and Jay Forbes (drums) join her to create a smooth sonic force to be reckoned with.




Therese Keslin

poet, wordsmith, the night’s MC


Electro Saloon

acid coutry, gloomgrass duo

(Colin Begell, Alanna Jane Powell)


Matt Beard

surfer, painter, all ‘round rad guy

live paints during the performance


Doors open at 7:30


Show starts 8:00


Tickets available Wildberries, Peoples Records, and The Works

$12 pre-show

$15 at the door


A portion of the proceeds from the evening goes to support Food for People, Humboldt’s primary food bank. Just before Christmas 2014 a big rig bound for Eureka was destroyed in a fiery crash south of Benbow. Thankfully, the driver sustained only minor injuries, but the entire shipment of food was destroyed. Concert-goers are asked to bring a canned food item. Artist Matt Beard will auction his creation to the highest bidder at the end of the night. Mr. Beard is graciously donating half the final bid to Food for People.



Bring a can of food.


And get ready to rock

Gabe Pressure designs, Matt Beard Art:

because we can. rock. like stars

because we can. rock. like stars

Humboldt’s Hidden Treasures

Spreading the love with geocaching


  • Geocacher Jessica Davis’ collection of shiny things.

Over an after-work round of brews, healthcare worker Jessica Davis pipes up, “Well, I’m a treasure hunter,” she says, “I look for GPS locations with hidden treasure caches.” She slips out of the room and proudly returns moments later with two jewelry box-sized treasure chests. One contains a miniature mountain lion, smooth chunks of colored glass, a quartz crystal, a rubber duck keychain, a shark figurine and more tiny, colored trinkets reminiscent of sandbox make-believe. “See,” she says, holding out a bright rainbow heart bracelet, “these are some of the things I’ve found.” She leaves her own little baubles behind, too.

Geocaching is what happens when inquisitive tech geeks hide things and then dare each other to find them. To date, there are more than two million geocache sites all over the world (there’s even one in Antarctica). It started back in 2000, when techie and computer consultant David Ulmer hid a bucket of random objects in the woods near his home in Beaverton, Ore., and challenged his tech buddies to find it in order to test the accuracy of the newly-improved GPS. It’s everywhere in the world, even Old Town, the Arcata Plaza, the community forest and the marsh.

Davis has a second box of trinkets that are “track-ables” with a specific geocaching mission. With their own individual GPS markers, you can trace them as they move from hiding place to hiding place all over the world. She selects a small bunny rabbit and explains, “This one’s mission is to get to San Diego. Next time I head south, I’ll find a cache and leave her there to get her closer to her destination.”

Ready to go hunting? Sign up at geocaching.com to discover this world of secret stashes all around you. Humboldt County is home to hundreds of hidden treasures in town, on the beach, in the forest and even out at sea. Of course, you will need a GPS device or tracking software. If you have a smart phone, you can download the geocaching app directly from the site. The Geocaching app is solid — it also can link you to clues if you’re having a tough time in the field. Go to the maps section on the website and find an area you’d like to scour — again, they’re everywhere! The caches also have difficulty ratings, so on your first few times out, select easy ones. That way you’re less likely to get frustrated and give up.

According to the maps, there’s one at Arcata City Hall, where Heather Leigh Stevens, recreation manager for the city, has watched treasure seekers investigate the ferns, climb the wall and tap on the water fountain just outside her office. “It makes us smile and sometimes laugh,” says Leigh, who has seen her fair share of students, traveling retirees and occasional traveling families trying to find the cache in the past three years. She also notes that the people who do this tend to be focused and tenacious — they keep at it until they find the treasure. “I rarely hear people resort to anger or profanity,” she says. “Most people in this office know where it is, and if someone is having a really hard time, we’ll offer clues. For us in recreation, we like seeing people poking around in the bushes, getting out, getting active.”

If you attempt the Arcata City Hall cache, note that it has an “easy” rating, even though the overhang of the roof skews the satellite signal. It took this reporter 40 minutes. Though said reporter did not swear, she did utter a whole string of “dangs,” “holy cats” and “for goodness sakes” before finally finding it without a clue from the recreation folks. She also crawled around the water fountain numerous times.

Curious? Get out there, Humboldt. And let us know what you find.


In the Can


In the Can

What Arcata can learn from Eureka’s public bathrooms

(JAN. 5, 2012)  Ever wander the Arcata Plaza and have to go? Really have to get to a bathroom quick? Maybe you high-tailed it to Jacoby’s Storehouse and sneaked into its facilities. Or if things were a little less pressing, perhaps you fast-stepped it to the Co-op, got the door code, and maybe waited behind a person or two before finally breathing that sweet sigh of relief. When you gotta go, you gotta go. Trouble is, Arcata doesn’t have a public bathroom, and people have argued for years over whether it should. Occupiers renewed that debate in October, and now City Council is considering whether to build public facilities somewhere near downtown.

But public bathrooms pose their own set of challenges, including cleaning, maintenance and vandalism prevention — as well as a budget to pay for them.

Old Town Eureka, the can...

And if the goal, at least partly, is to give the homeless somewhere they can go with dignity, Eureka’s experience might offer lessons for Arcata.

Eureka built restrooms in Old Town in 1993, partly in response to merchants who hoped that a public bathroom would reduce the number of non-shoppers seeking relief in their stores.

It has worked, several merchants say, but it’s a sort of a damned-if-you-do-and-damned-if-you-don’t undertaking.

The City of Eureka’s two unisex bathrooms, each with a single toilet, are tucked away behind the northwest corner of the downtown gazebo. Brick on the outside and with bare-bones accommodations inside — fluorescent lights, lime green cinder block walls, stainless toilets and wash basins — the bathrooms show signs of hard use. On different days in December, black plastic bags of old clothes were propped against the wall of one toilet, and the other had wads of cardboard in the toilet bowl.

Both bathrooms have custom, protective metal guards over the toilet paper dispensers. One has a stainless steel mirror, and the other lacks anything reflective. Each outside door locks, and homeless folks occasionally lock themselves inside, posing problems for the maintenance man who takes care of the Old Town restrooms.

“Bottom line is everyone goes to the bathroom, and a good functioning bathroom in Old Town is a necessity,” says Jonathan Buckmaster, who has maintained the facilities for the past five years. Buckmaster, an HSU graduate — as well as a clarinet prodigy who performed with L.A. big bands and symphonies throughout his teens – knows the ins and outs of these bathrooms. He opens them each morning around 8:30, returns to clean them at 4 p.m. and closes them at 5 p.m.

Vandalism, he says, is a near-daily occurrence. Sometimes it’s as minor as Sharpie marker graffiti. Other times it’s incapacitating, as in

Jonathan Buckmaster, clarinet marvel who manages Old Town's bathrooms

Jonathan Buckmaster, clarinet marvel who manages Old Town's bathrooms

2008, when the former, porcelain toilets and sinks were smashed to bits and light fixtures and hand dryers were ripped from the walls. After that, the bathrooms were closed for nearly three months for repairs. And six months ago someone tried to demolish the cinder block partition in one of the bathrooms, putting that one out of commission for a few days.

It costs about $9,500 a year just to clean and keep toilet paper in the two bathrooms in Old Town, according to Jeff Raimey, Eureka’s harbor operations supervisor. And that doesn’t even touch the cost of major repairs post-vandalism. The city’s public restrooms at the Samoa bridge boat launch and marina also endure vandalism and cost about the same to maintain, he said. All are cared for with money from the city’s general fund, which is supported by sales and property taxes.

Some merchants say the Old Town restrooms are vital — or at least, better than nothing. They provide an option for locals and tourists, even if they’re not the coziest or the cleanest.

Dorine Leisz, store manager at Many Hands Gallery at the corner of F and Second streets, thinks the bathrooms are embarrassing. “I cringe when I send tourists across the street,” says Leisz.

Charlotte McDonald, executive director of Eureka Main Street, also is familiar with the pitfalls of Old Town’s restrooms. Knowing what Eureka knows now, she says, it would have helped to build bathrooms with doors that don’t lock from the inside, and in a more visible place. “The current location is a place not so easy to monitor. It’s out of the way, making vandalism that much easier to undertake.”

Some have suggested a full-time, on-site attendant could help. The city claims this is too costly, and really not a viable option for Eureka. That might be different in Arcata, says Laura Cutler, who has been following closely the Arcata public bathroom dilemma since October.

Cutler, a Westhaven resident and formerHumboldt County counsel, helped Arcata Occupiers bring the issue to local government officials, reminding the community that those on the lowest socio-economic rungs often “literally do not have a pot to piss in.” Cutler’s idea? If an on-site attendant would minimize vandalism and help keep facilities clean, then why not make a community service work position in which minor offenders would serve by tending to the bathrooms? “In homeless court people are sentenced with community service,” says Cutler. “This could be one way to monitor and maintain the bathrooms at a community level.”

Arcata is considering bathroom designs in which stalls latch but doors don’t lock, said Councilmember Susan Ornelas, who is on the committee studying bathroom options. “We’re also considering involving local artists for public art on the facility.”

The committee has its eye on the space between Arcata City Hall and the Crabs ball field for a potential site, said Ornelas.

So far, though, no date has been set for the council to review the committee’s ideas.

Joanne Rand & Josephine Johnson, Arcata Playhouse, December 16, 2011

Joanne Rand & Josephine Johnson, Arcata Playhouse, December 16, 2011

Fare thee well, Bryan.


Sweet Soul

The death of Bryan Osper tore a hole in Humboldt’s music scene

(DEC. 8, 2011)  It had been an especially warm and joyful Thanksgiving at his parents’ house. In between eating good food and laughing, Bryan and his younger brother, Jason, had spent most of the weekend playing guitarsand drumming in the living room, with Bryan’s little nephew joining in on the ukulele. Just 7 years old, Victor had learned a few chords from his uncle the year before and was excited to play with the big boys.

Bryan's Alter at the Bucky House

Bryan's Alter at the Bucky House

After the family weekend, Bryan Osper, only 26 years old himself, got into his green Montero and left El Cajon, taking I-5 north toward his girlfriend’s home in Sonoma. Sometime in the early evening on Nov. 28, Osper pulled off the interstate and parked on the shoulder of Copus Road, near Bakersfield. At about 6:15, as he was getting back on the road, he attempted a U-turn and swung right into the path of a tractor-trailer. He died at the scene from blunt head and neck trauma. Though there had been heavy fog that night, the CHP said that wasn’t a factor.

Osper’s sudden death not only left his family reeling, but ripped a ragged hole in the tight-knit Humboldt music scene he had woven himself into since moving here in 2003 to study journalism at Humboldt State University. Osper was a good writer, and he’d only been playing guitar a couple of years. But in his first week on campus he met the people with whom he would eventually form significant musical bonds that would pull him away from his original purpose. Niko Daoussis. Joey Goforth. Cat Fountain. Melody Walker. Those were just a few. Oh, and professor Eugene Novotney, the leader of the HSU Calypso Band.

Osper had heard there might be openings in the band and showed up at a calypso rehearsal that first week. He asked if he could play, try it out. Novotney let him have a go at the steel drums — and he was smooth. “I knew that first time I saw him he would make major contributions to the program,” Novotney said.

Soon Osper dropped journalism and picked up music. He concentrated on percussion and traveled with Novotney to Brazil and Trinidad to study samba and calypso. By the time he’d graduated from Humboldt State’s music program in 2009, Osper had earned a reputation as a bright and exceptional multi-instrumentalist. Novotney calls him the best example of a natural musician. “He could move within and between different instruments with ease and grace,” he said. “There was no music that wasn’t his friend.”

Bryan Osper & The Bucky Walters

Bryan Osper & The Bucky Walters

Indeed, to hear friends tell it, Bryan Osper could play any instrument he touched. And his voice was clear, comforting, as if he had a direct connection to a realm beyond.

Besides playing with HSU’s Calypso band, Osper was a founding member of the world-dance-fusion band WoMama, played guitar and sang with the bluegrass band The Bucky Walters, and played with Samba D’Alegria, Dun Dun Fare and Bloco Firmeza.

Jesse Jonathon, who met Osper in 2003, said everyone was calling him “hot licks” even back then. Jonathon, a fellow student at the time, had sent out an email to prospective members of a new campus club he was forming, called the HSU Jammers League.

“Bryan was the first person to respond to my email,” said Jonathon. The League — which included Daoussis, Goforth and Fountain, all future Bucky Walters band mates — played classic Allman Brothers, Led Zeppelin, Paul Simon and Metallica and shined up some of the songs for performance. The league members thought Osper a brilliant guitarist. “He was the go-to rock God,” Jonathon said.

Osper’s prowess developed rapidly and he became much more than a rock guitarist and percussionist. Melody Walker recalled the first time the Jammers heard him sing. He performed the Talking Heads’ “Cross-eyed and Painless” and blew everyone away, Walker said. “Here was this guy who up to this point I knew as just a very good rock-and-roll guitar player,” she said. “Then he sang. It was just like David Byrne. Flawless. I got to see him blossom as a singer, songwriter and bluegrass guitarist.” Walker and Osper remained musical collaborators; recently, Osper performed as a guest musician on Walker’s forthcoming 2012 releaseGold Rush Goddess.

Bryan's electric guitar

Bryan's electric guitar

Two days after Osper’s death, friends and fans gathered in the afternoon at the “Bucky” house, where the band practiced. They were dazed, their eyes tear-blurred. People had been coming and going all day. In the kitchen there was an altar of photos, candles, notes and mementos. Lauren Smith had left a tiny mbira, an African thumb piano, as an offering. The house swelled with laughter and sobbing, then fell silent. Then swelled again. They were telling Bryan stories.

Goforth recalled how, after The Bucky Walters played the North West String Summit in 2007, the band had mistakenly left Osper behind at the festival. An hour into their drive home, he said, he got a call from Osper. “And he’s still there, and know what he’s doing? He’s washing dishes. He was washing dishes and helping clean up.” Everybody laughed. Then Daoussis noted that, when they were on tour, they never let Osper drive the van. Friends agreed he wasn’t the best driver.

Everybody grew quiet.

Fountain, the Bucky Walters’ back-up harmonizer and harmonica player, said the last time she saw Osper, a couple weeks ago, he was teaching a friend of hers to play ukulele. Osper sat and wrote for an hour, she said, creating a little book of chords and ukulele tips. Then he showed her how to play them.

Osper’s girlfriend of four years, 22-year-old Sophia Mackell, recalled that Osper was very sentimental. She said he liked to tell people about the time he first met her, and he’d written poems and notes about it — in them, Mackell is shimmering in the sunlight. “I was in the art quad wearing a big, plate mother of pearl necklace, and he turned and saw how the sun shone on the necklace,” she said. “And he always liked to say how that was like Heaven bringing me to him.” Mackell paused, took a breath, then sobbed, “He was the kindest, gentlest, most passionate person I ever met.”



He was a sweet, sweet boy, said George Osper, Bryan’s dad, on the phone last week. “When he was 2, I was in the Navy,” he said. “I will never forget when I had to deploy and my wife was crying and holding Bryan in her arms. He was patting her arm and told her, ‘It’s OK, Mommy, it will be OK.’ He was a very sensitive and empathetic soul.”

More than 200 people celebrated Bryan Osper’s memory Monday night at Humboldt Brews in Arcata. Services are planned for 1 p.m., Dec. 17, at the Cottonwood Golf Club in El Cajon. Flowers and cards may be sent to Cottonwood Golf Club, 3121 Willow Glen Drive, El Cajon, Calif., 92019.





Josephine Johnson

Create Your Badge

yard art in the way out

yard art in the way out

This will be quick. A little note to let folks know I’m working super-hard to get all this digi-media stuff consolidated, consistent. You know, like strategic messaging, smooth, targeted media-ese. I’m professional—as my granny would say I’m ‘getting my poop in a group’. I’ll need a bigger, better computer to cover it all!

Phew, and there sure is a lot of it to get into a group. Really, check this out. I have all these different ways to

These handsome guys, sheesh...

These handsome guys, sheesh...

reach out to/ keep in touch with people on the internet.
Two Facebook pages:        Josephine Johnson and the music/fan site Josephine

Twitter: @JosephineSing

Attempt at consistency—Facebook fan page addy: www.facebook.com/JosephineSing similar to Twitter

thingy: @JosephineSing

Ok, three so far. Consistency one.

Want to buy a CD? Do that here: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/Josephine1 (so much for consistency…)

Feeling nostalgic? How about MySpace: www.myspace.com/josephineinthetrees (wait? now she’s in the trees?)

Lyndsey Battle & Josephine Johnson are playing a show!

Lyndsey Battle & Josephine Johnson are playing a show!

Or via video? There’s YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/JosephineSings99  and Vimeo: http://vimeo.com/josephinejohnson (uh, consistency…)

This blog: www.josephinejohnson.wordpress.com and the big website that is in progress (not yet updated from China): http://www.josephine-johnson.com/

Of course, there’s Google+ which no one uses…Ok, Bob Morse does (Morse Media!). I’m there, too. 🙂 Just in case.

Got lots to do!

But the real reason for this post is to help keep myself together—to jot down quick-like what’s coming up as I get busier juggling more immediate stuff. Have some gigs, and I’m gonna list info here first then refer back as I share with different calendars and in other places. Essentially, this is a swifty cheat sheet for you and for me. Ready? Let’s go!

 Saturday, September 3rd, Arts Alive! Eureka 6-9 Belle Star—be the rainbow!

cow pushers

The Pacific and happiest of happy

Tuesday, September 13th, Will Jam for Food, 9pm Jambalaya, Arcata—boysen, marion, huckle, mmmmm…

Friday, September 16th, Lyndsey Battle & Josephine Johnson, 7-9 Redwood Yogurt, Arcata—first real hometown show since China!

Saturday, September 17th, Two Car Garage CD release, 7pm Mosgo’s, Arcata—fun 🙂

Wednesday, September 21st, Pints for the Environment, 6pm Redwood Curtain Brewery—it’s for EPIC.

Saturday, October 1st, Arts Alive! Eureka, 6-9 Ramone’s Bakery Old Town—with Brother


Friday, October 14th, Arts Arcata, 6-9 Plaza Design—who will be playing with me???

Saturday, November 5th, Arts Alive! Eureka, 6-9 Old Town Antique Lighting—yep, that sweet space on the corner of F & 2nd.

And what does all this have to do with Greyhound? Keeping that under the hat a bit longer—but the poop’s gettin’ grouped fo’ sho—there you go!                                           Peas, carrots, bikes and birds, ~Jos

Now for the holy: St. Patrick's, Petrolia

Now for the holy: St. Patrick's, Petrolia

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