7 June 2003
We live in Davis, California, once recognized by one of the tabloid newspapers as
America's weirdest city.
This is the city that gave a woman a costly ticket for snoring too loud. In her own
bed. In her own home. Her neighbor insisted her snoring was keeping him awake, and so she
was cited. I think the charges were eventually dropped, but she endured nation-wide
ridicule as a result of the incident.
This is the city with a (former) mayor who attempted to have potholes in an alleyway
declared historic and to prevent the street from being paved over.
This is the city that spent $100,000 to build a tunnel for toads when a new freeway
overcrossing meant cars would now drive where the toads once crossed the road. Nobody has
ever explained to my satisfaction how the toads were supposed to know that if they went in
a dark tunnel they would eventually come out in toad heaven on the other side. Nor has
anybody that I know ever seen a toad anywhere near the tunnel.
But I wrote about all of that before.
Yes, Davis is unique. We are a nuclear free zone. We officially support a woman's right
to choose, and now we have sent a message to the state legislature that we endorse the
freedom to marry for all people, regardless of gender.
Like any city, Davis has its share of characters. I remember the backwards-walking guy
who came into the typing service where I worked, pulled a wadded up piece of what looked
like papier mache out of his pocket and asked if we could type his manuscript. My boss at
the time told him we could not and sent him away.
Turns out he was actually a brilliant guy with severe emotional problems and that
wadded up piece of papier mache was actually typed by another service and was even
published. I wish I could remember his name now--or the name of his book.
We also had the guy who talked to aliens and wrote a book about his experiences. I even
bought that book. Not because it was a good book (it was abominable), but because I had
probably typed part of it. I gave it as a gift to my friend Melody, who had
also worked on it. This guy's thesis was that we are being controlled by lasers from outer
space and I can't remember why, but he had a particular "thing" about magician
Doug Henning, whose magic, he felt, proved his theory.
So anyway, Davis is a weird city.
But we may have reached new heights of weirdness this week.
There is a trailer park. This is not the kind of RV park that people travel to Sun City
to meet other RVers. Some of these trailers...and these are trailers...not
"mobile homes"... have not seen asphalt since the 1940s. It's dark and haphazard
and friends of ours, who used to manage it, say that it's the place where most of the drug
deals go down in Davis.
So on Tuesday afternoon, a resident of this trailer park discovered body parts
near the dumpster of the trailer park.
"We're treating it as a homicide because we don't know what we have, so we treat
it as the worst-case scenario until we determine otherwise," the investigating
officer is quoted as saying. I'm trying to think of what other scenario would result in
discarded body parts in a dumpster.
Of course the report states that the limbs were " placed on top of several
discarded computers, next to the overfilled Dumpster." I've heard of being upset with
your typist, but this does seem to go a little bit too far!
But it gets weirder. Now just imagine yourself taking the garbage out on a Monday night
for the trash guys to pick up on Tuesday. You get to the dumpster and are greeted with the
sight of some arms and legs detached from torsos. What's the first thing you'd do?
Well, I suspect that the first thing you'd do would not be to pack them all up
and take them to the city dump and then call the police! But that's what this guy
did. He packed them up (neatly, I assume) and took them out to the county landfill.
The investigation continues. They have now determined the body parts may have come from
three or four different people, some male, some female. Some parts are mummified.
The residents of the trailer court apparently aren't much affected by the discovery.
"If it turned out to be someone's head and someone disappeared last week, then I'd be
worried," one resident said. "I'm reserving being creeped out until finding out
But if you happen to come cross a group of people who are missing various limbs and
wonder where they went, just come to Davis. I know right where to tell them to look.