Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Neighborhood Character - Defined at Last

It seems that I have been misled by the City of Bellingham, the City Council and the Mayor on the true meaning of preserving the character of a neighborhood. All the while, I assumed they were speaking of the singular attributes offered to residents by being in Happy Valley, York, Samish or Lettered Streets or wherever. This week I finally broke the code. The character of a neighborhood refers to individuals, who, by their eccentricities, become a neighborhood character and thereby exemplify the meaning of living in a defined neighborhood.

Take the case of Irmgard, an immigrant from Vienna, who was for a long time the neighborhood character in the York area. Irmgard ran the local millinery store on Holly St. known as Irmgard’s Toppers. Her unique hat designs won accolades from designers such as Yves St. Laurent and Giani Versace whom she often entertained in her Potter St. home. The British adopted her unique style for their hats for the policemen known as the bobbies. Irmgard was especially loved by the children in the York Neighborhood, who, upon returning from school, would be greeted by her soft cry, “Raus! Sofort!” “It takes a neighborhood to raise a child.”, she often said to those who would visit her shop at the corner of Holly and Ellis to buy a hat or Viagra, which she sold under the counter to desperate housewives. This allowed her to eventually move to Hollywood where she became the inspiration for the television series describing her former clients. Irmgard, du bist mein mensch!

Bellingham resident and Dirty Dan Harris wannabe, Joe Btfsplk, pictured here under his persistent cloud, was a model for Al Capp, the cartoonist creator of the Li’l Abner comic strip. Joe was the founder of Happy Valley where he lived for decades, thus becoming the neighborhood character responsible for defining what it means to reside in Happy Valley. They say it was Joe who brought the constant rain to Bellingham, although some meteorologists contest that assertion. Joe took up Tuvan throat singing in his later years in an attempt to raise his spirits. He briefly found happiness with an Asian bride through an internet dating service and now lives in a yurt in a nondescript but not unhappy valley in Mongolia with his 16 children. Sadly his wife recently ran off with an itinerant aluminum siding salesman from Ulan Bator. Joe was a true Bellingham character.

Nicholas Sorakyz, originally from Kazakhstan and who bears a stunning resemblance to French President Sarkozy, is a resident of Sunnyland. Known for his ability to detect odors, he was pivotal in the agreement between the city and Brooks Manufacturing to reduce the “eeewww!” factor of the aliphatic esters used in their manufacturing process thus sparing the neighborhood additional months of disgusting gaseous emanations. Nicholas, also known as St. Nick to the local children, often entertains them during the Christmas holidays by teaching them expressions such as, “That’s poopy!” ,“Yecchh!” and “Bleaaah!" Suffering from anosmia as a result of overdosing on perfume samples at Victoria’s Secret, Nick has become a recluse in his home opposite St. Sophia’s where he uses a pea shooter to pester churchgoers while hiding behind a bush in his yard. What a character that Nick!

And in the Samish Neighborhood, Mr. Zonemaven, known for his eccentric gestures, his ability to eat large salads and his annoying blog, was at the forefront of civic activism in his neighborhood. Mr. Z as he prefers to be called, was often seen at Samish Neighborhood meetings where he often spoke during the comment period “For the Good of the Neighborhood”. Unfortunately, the association just found out that he spoke only because he thought the comment period was named “What Good is the Neighborhood?”. He was last seen hitchhiking on I-5 during a thunderstorm. Mr. Z., what a character!

These stories demonstrate the cultural poverty experienced as neighborhoods lose their character. Sad days for Bellingham.

1 comment:

Terry said...

This is hilarious, plus I did not know Joe Btfsplk lived in Bellingham.

A tip of the Capp to Zonemaven.