Rodoni, retold

In the days and weeks to come, those of us who knew Roger Rodoni personally—and it seemed impossible to know him any other way—will partake in one of the activities he loved best: storytelling.

Almost everyone has a story about Roger, although few people can tell a story the way he could. Many of his tales were improbable accounts involving horses, drinking or guns. And when he managed to combine all three, as he often did, listeners were in for a treat.

It is no secret that we at the Humboldt Mirror loved Roger. We didn’t always agree with him—he the old school Libertarian, we the new age Democrats—and some of the things that popped out of his mouth made us laugh or cringe or both.

But you can imagine that we were delighted to learn, shortly before his death, that our affection for him was reciprocal.

We heard from several people that he read the blog religiously and spent long hours trying to figure out who the rascally bugs might be, and how they got their information.

The answer to both questions, he announced one day, was contained in our names.

“Mirrors,” he said. “And bugs. Get it?”

He gestured around the office and lowered his voice to a whisper.

“They’re in here. With us.”

Sometimes, for effect, he would pretend to examine the underside of his desk for listening devices before discussing particularly sensitive county matters.

It is not known whether his espionage theory was improved any before he died—nor will we ever know if he intended to follow through on his stated intent to make Humboldt Mirror lapel pins to wear to Board of Supervisors meetings.

That would’ve made for a good story, and we would love to have heard Roger tell it.

We’ll leave this thread open for any Rodoni stories you may have. Bonus points accrue for every horse, gun and bottle of whiskey you throw into the mix.


47 Responses

  1. This probably isn’t the right kind of story, but it’s the one that means the most to me now. The night Roger died, Murl Harpham and another officer from the EPD stood vigil all night outside Johanna’s door, to make sure she was okay and no one bothered her. Murl and Roger were cut from the same cloth. I know that gesture would have meant a lot to Roger.

  2. There is no “right kind” of story. They’re all right today. Thanks for that one. It speaks volumes about both men.

  3. An officer from the Rio Dell police department got to the accident scene first. Roger knew he was dying, and told the officer to tell Johanna how much he loved her. He died as the officer cradled Roger’s head in his arms.

  4. I gave a presentation to the Board of Supervisors once. As I periodically looked at the Board, Roger met my eyes and was actually listening to what I was saying. The other Supervisors were giving the usual blank stares of fake interest, but he was looking at me as if we were having a conversation. I never met him before or after, but I never forgot that. I know, it’s not a great story but it meant a lot to me at the time and more now.

  5. As a local reporter, I remember covering a slightly less boring HCAOG meeting shortly after Neely had ousted Roger as the county’s representative on the HCAOG Board of Directors.

    Roger, who was obviously miffed that Neely replaced him in a power move because of the Hoopa Tribe’s desire to secure a seat on HCAOG, continued to go to the meetings and sat in the “audience.”

    Roger’s attendance at the HCAOG meetings obviously bugged Neely and quite a few times other members of HCAOG would turn to Roger to settle a question or issue because of his extensive knowledge and long-standing history on the agency.

    The HCAOG meeting was within a few months of when he called Woolley a “mid-level bureaucratic political whore” during a tense supervisors meeting.

    The HCAOG meeting also followed a Eureka Republican Women event where Rodoni spoke and described Arcata City Councilwoman Harmony Groves as “social utopian.”

    Rodoni was quoted at the luncheon as saying about Groves: ”Every time she talks, you expect butterflies to come out of her mouth.”

    Groves was at that HCAOG meeting too–as Arcata’s representative.

    I was scribbling notes and trying to track the boring staff report, when Roger nudged me and handed over a small note he pulled from his planner that had “look at Harmony’s cup” written on it.

    I hadn’t noticed before, but Groves’ coffee mug was covered in butterflies.

    It made me laugh out loud and I couldn’t look in his direction for the rest of the meeting because he wouldn’t stop chuckling and I knew I would too.

  6. Rodoni was the last completely honest politician in Humboldt County. He didn’t care what anyone thought about him, so he never bothered dancing around the truth to maintain his popularity. In the end, it turned out to be the key to his popularity. I don’t have a story to go with that, but there’s my two cents.

  7. Harmony Groves=Heraldo, Heraldo=Harmony Groves ?????????????????????????????

  8. Heraldo seems way more intelligent than her 6:27, but maybe I am wrong.

  9. The bureaucratic whore thing is a classic, but I like the butterflies crack too. So Roger. So very Roger. Always having more fun than anyone else in the room.

  10. I think you’re giving Heraldo far too much credit.

  11. I like that butterflies crack, too – even more so now that I have heard the story above! Too funny!

  12. I wasn’t there but I was told that someone lead a riderless horse in Rogers memory in the Rhody parade. That is totally cool. My hats off to who ever did it. That is real class.

  13. I have just not been able to bring myself to comment over the past two days as the sadness and grief over losing Roger has kind of overwhelmed me. Roger was special in many ways, not only his straightforward manner but in his common sense and grasp of what was and is right. I have shared many a fishing, camping, hunting and travel stories with him over the years. Once or twice (a month) we even had a cocktail or two together at Parlato’s or other unseemly places, i.e.; Native Sons, Fortuna Chamber Mixer or Rotary gathering. Roger and Johanna are special people, down to earth, realistic folks with deep roots in our rural Southern Humboldt culture.

    I worked with Roger as part of his campaign committee three times over and as a fellow member of several boards and commissions including HCAOG, HTA and the Fish and Game Commission. His reserved manner, no nonsense approach to problem solving along with his ability to weave an appropriate analogy into a debate added a great deal of humor to quasi serious discussions and settled many a dispute before their start.

    Roger was a man of many talents and interests, and some of my favorite conversations with him dealt with his and Johanna’s summer trips to Montana and Wyoming. Most recently, at Roger and Johanna’s recommendation, the wife and I visited the Lewis and Clark exhibition and Charles Russell museum in Great Falls Montana which gave me a lot of insight into Roger’s being and beliefs.

    I could go on and on about shared experiences in Canada, Montana, Wyoming, Nevada and elsewhere but one phrase comes to mind that I think kind of sums up folks of Roger’s ilk that I recall from a tour of duty in the our capitol city of Sacramento. Over State Office Building Number 1, across from the State Library and just west of the Capitol, inscribed in granite is the saying from a Samuel Foss poem “Bring Me Men To Match The Mountains” the rest of the poem, stated elsewhere, goes on to say “Bring me men to match my plains: Men with empires in their purpose and new eras in their brains.” To me, Roger was of one of those of whom Samuel Foss spoke.

    My heart goes out to Johanna and the family.

    Eel River Ernie

  14. Anonymous just told me that it was Roger’s horse that was the riderless horse in the parade.

  15. The Times-Standard reports as much here.

  16. I have several Roger stories, but here is one within the last year, where we both chuckled together. It was a benefit at the Wharfinger for state senator, Pat Wiggins. It was during the time during all the brouhaha regarding mandatory spaying and neutering of dogs was being bandied about. I think Roger heard me on Thank Jah and had seen my comments on the blogs. “May I have a brief word with you, Supervisor Rodoni?”

    He smiled and said slowly, “Yes, Carol?” We both giggled.

    “Well about this proposed mandatory spaying of pets. I agree with your stance. What a waste of time. It is totally a stupid issue.”

    “I agree, Carol. It is stupid!” Then we both laughed.

  17. What happens at the Yellow Rose stays at the
    Yellow Rose!

  18. My favorite Rodoni story? When he told me that if I really wanted to know what was going on in this County… I should check out the Humboldt Mirror. I’ve been an avid reader ever since.

  19. Try googling “burdizo”

  20. Carol, that makes me and my little guys cringe just looking at the picture.

  21. Carol, the burdizo makes me and my little guys cringe just looking at the photo.

  22. A beef (with Mark Lovelace)
    By Nathan Rushton,
    The Eureka Reporter
    Mar 17 2007

    It’s the kind of stuff that sets my rusty, often-jammed mental wheels spinning.

    Following an otherwise amicable discussion this week with the eco-groovy Mark Lovelace, I was asked by him what exactly the phrase meant when I told him that I didn’t “have a beef” with him regarding the controversial, but incredibly boring PALCO bankruptcy teleconference call.

    I had to admit that although I didn’t have a clue, it was one of those phrases that I have probably said hundreds of times during my lifetime.

    My first course of action to answer such inquiries is to do a quick search of the Internet, which turned up absolutely nothing, so plan B involved phoning and posing the question to area rancher and quotepoke Roger Rodoni.

    Although he had no quick answer, Rodoni did generously offer an explanatory story about a blowhard rancher who constantly boasted that he never ate his own beef.

    [Having caught Rodoni via telephone after he had apparently spent his morning at what he described as a rather “successful” gin fizz breakfast as part of the 69th annual Redwood Region Logging Conference, I was initially more than a little concerned that what he’d say might not end up fit for print, but it ended up being at most Rated R (for rambling).]

    Although the rancher was an otherwise jolly fellow and well-known around this story’s unspecified pastoral environs, he was something of an irritant, or so the story went.

    And as circumstances would have it on one particular evening, the mildly objectionable cattleman was invited and agreed to sup with a nearby neighbor whose property adjoined his own.

    So, after having imbibed more than a few drinks over the course of the generous dinner, the rancher started in again with his bragging that he’d never eaten his own beef, to which his host announced, “Well, you’re eating it now!”

    While his tale might not explain at all the origin of the phrase, which clearly indicates that to “have a beef” with someone indicates “some sort of contention,” Rodoni said he certainly can understand the difficulties of ranching, as well as the importance of having a secure fence with one’s non-vegetarian neighbors.


    It is certainly true that all of us, some more than others to be sure, use words or phrases that we really don’t have the slightest clue as to their history, meaning or proper usage.

    I have one nightmare example of my own.

    Up until my college years (that extended two decades), I apparently was fond of letting fly the phrase “for all intensive purposes” instead of “for all intents and purposes.”

    After it was brought to my attention and after I suffered immeasurable embarrassment, I took it upon myself to root out all my often-used malapropisms and went so far as to purchase the book “The Dictionary of Cliches” to do so.

    But luckily, at least one person has me beat.

    It has been brought to my attention that there is one North Coast resident who believes that the expression “prima donna” — a vain, obnoxious, but otherwise vital person — actually refers to the era preceding the meteoric rise in the 1980s of pop music phenomenon Madonna.

    Mark Lovelace, I really don’t have a beef with you, but you are so pre-Madonna.

  23. Roger when speaking before a group said that at times he thought Jimmie Smith was going to vote a certain way on something at the Supes meeting but then Bonnie gave Jimmie her “death stare” which Jimmie couldn’t endure and he changed his vote to be like Bonnie’s vote. Had to laugh about that one as soon after hearing him say that, I was watching the Supes meeting and it certainly sounded like Jimmie was going to vote a certain way because of statements he made and then you could see Bonnie look at him and I finally understood the “death stare”.

  24. Nice costume. Goes with the performance.

  25. I listened to the Board’s meeting last Friday. Both Bonnie and John ought to be nominated for “Oscars” or maybe “Emmys,” – as best actress and actor in a daytime soap. Both disingenous and both an embarassment to all.

    Hey Bon Bon – we have lots of stories!

  26. Whom ever Rose endorses if the wrong choice for Humboldt

  27. Please don’t confuse the Yellow Rose with the The Gilded Rose, although both are located in the 1st District of Humboldt County.

  28. To Anon 2:42:

    Yeah, the ‘death stare’ of the Bonnie. What does she have on Jimmy? Why can’t he find a spinal cord???

    He says he is no one’s hired gun; bullshit buddy — the cord leading to the trigger is going under the chairs on the dias to Bonnie herself. WAKE UP would ya – she is an insult to everyone and your actions are an insult to our intelligence.

    As for Roger, we were blessed to know him, even though we did not always agree – we admired his loyalty and honesty. Love to Johanna.

  29. 8:23 am is right on target.

    Bonnie and John sitting up their reminising their fallen commrad makes me want to puke. Fact is they were making calls to the govenor along with Patty Berg Thursday night supporting Cliff Clendenen.

    In their demented little power grab they forgot what was really important, someone died and a family is greving.

    Bonnie has completely lost her mind in so many ways she should consider resigning.

  30. Thank you,Bugs,and the rest of you,for providing a place to grieve.

  31. Show me the proof or else I will perceive these comments are just common political gossip.

  32. Good god Carol – show you the proof of what?

    The death stare?

    Jimmy whimping out cause he is too scared to shit?

    The fact that Bon Bon wrote a letter from home to the governor to try and get her hand picked rubber stamp to be appointed?

    That she was faking it during the Friday meeting?

    Just so we are clear – if you want to dismiss things as political gossip, then why even come over to the mirror? The mirror is the place for the enlightened who appreciate satire and truth and come-uppance.

    Remember – do good look good….do bad look out!

  33. Carol,

    Its true…John, Patty and Bonnie made the calls and Bonnie wrote the letter.

    These people don’t represent me and hopefully not you.

  34. Are you threatening me, BBFF?

    I am not going to believe the words of anonymous on an anonymous blog.

    No, I think all this political posturing is like watching the cattle at the trough. It really is unpleasant. And no, I am not part of any campaign, except I support Estelle. And she has the good graces not to get involved.

  35. How do you get a threat out of that comment?

    As for your candidate Estelle, she wasn’t the choosen one by Bonnie, Patty and John and to my knowledge has nothing to do with this disgraceful act.

    Remember as stated above – do good look good…, do bad look out…your candidate has nothing to worry about.

  36. Hey Carol – what the hell is a bbff

    And where the hell was any threat. Sorry, but you are a little out there/defensive about this. Is there something that you want to tell us?

    Believe what you will. Dismiss it if you dare. Up to you and not us babe.

    Frankly, this is more than unpleasant. Hopefully, it is the beginning of the political end of Bon, John and Berg. They really stink as politicians and stink even worse as people. Frankly, you should be uncomfortable about this….all of us should be.

  37. BBFF Bahamas Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation
    BBFF Belgian Biodiversity Forum on Forests
    BBFF Both Bone Forearm Fracture
    BBFF Byron Bay Film Festival (Australia)


    I don’t think this helped any.

  38. bbff = best blog friends forever

    please refer to the humbugs previous posts.

  39. I know I suck.It’s my occupation I’m honest about it and I get paid for it. Bon Bon should hide under that black sheet for a long time. What she has done is lowest of the low and it sucks too. Makes a working girl ashamed to share the gender.

  40. For reasons we can’t begin to explain, numerous comments are being automatically routed to our spam can and are not appearing here until we manually rescue them from among hundreds of Viagra and porn ads. We will rifle through the garbage more regularly until the problem sorts itself out, and de-spam any real comments we find. If your comment doesn’t appear immediately–check back. Our sincere apologies for the inconvenience.

  41. Roger once said that talking to Patty Berg was like talking to a coffee pot.

    I say, life is like a coffee pot. What you get out of it depends upon what you put in to it.

    Just a response to 6:17

  42. Sorry….6:07

  43. I don’t know what to make of your analogy dog, but I can assure you that I ain’t drinking squat that comes out of the Berg machine. Not even with a bunch of that really good Irish Cream coffee flavoring stuff. No way.

  44. See that writing is on the wall there Carol, Estelle to be royally shafted. Thank your lucky stars Johanna Rodoni did step in.

  45. Oh,you may be quite mistaken, 11:21. Johanna may fill Roger’s seat until the end of the term, but not necessarily keep the seat. Read the election code:

  46. Talking to Patty Berg IS like talking to a coffee pot.

  47. Roger always said his chair at the BOS was not “owned by him” and explained that his constituents and the people owned it. Of course he told that in a much longer story as we all know how he could do.

    I thought about that today in Ferndale – for a chair he didn’t own, it sure fit him well.

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