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From Clowns to Donuts to Cicero & Back Again

Healthcare is not usually funny. However, there are eighty-seven certified clowns working in hospitals across the Czech Republic.

Once in awhile you get an idea for an article or column, but by the time you are finished the original hook is nothing more than an opening non sequitur.

What the hell, leave it in. There really are dozens of clowns working in healthcare within the Czech Republic, lots in terminal oncology units. Learned about it on a Ted Talk.

So the original idea had to do with businesses that started during Covid. My first thought was purely self-centered. 

Hi. My name is Malcolm and I have a problem with donuts. Ever since I was a preschooler sitting on a stool in downtown Fort Bragg waiting for one of my parents to order up a Spudnut I have harbored the desire, nay, addiction. My mother’s homemade donuts, of course, taste as good now in memory as the lip-licking (which I first typed as “lick-lipping,” and perhaps that sounds better?!) quality they once possessed of a frosty evening or morning on the ranch.

If you live on the Mendocino Coast, you probably can guess where this part of the story is going. Straight to 132 E. Redwood Avenue in Fort Bragg. Drop In Donuts had the misfortune of opening right into Covid times. Nevertheless, it appears by the lines around the corner the first few weeks and the fact that even this far in, if you aren’t there before noon they are sold out, this business is thriving if not booming. 

Drop In Donuts is open Thursdays through Sundays. The front door is unlocked at 9 am and, as alluded to, you better not wait too long or the donuts, fritters, etc. will be gone. Couldn’t begin to tell you what my favorite glaze flavor is because they are all great, from mango to coconut to… 

Yes, this is a shameless plug, but I have no more connection to the good folks at Drop In Donuts than friendly palaver about major league baseball. I think they see me as an Oakland A’s fan because I once wore a slightly torn at the armpits Travis Buck tee shirt into Drop In Donuts (132 E. Redwood Ave. - why not give ‘em one more plug, it’s freakin’ donuts – apologies to the anti-grainites.). I guess I should confess to them here that while I do enjoy some A’s baseball (The Travis Buck shirt was a giveaway at the Oakland Coliseum. I’d never spend good $ on such a thing. And if you remember Travis Buck, you are indeed an astute follower of the national pastime,), I am a died in the old wool road uniforms Giants fan, from Mays, McCovey, and Marichal to Bochy, Buster, and the Brandons. I have been known to try to get cell phone coverage on Muir Pass in the Sierra while backpacking to try to find out the latest score.

Did I mention that the donuts are THICK at Drop In Donuts? Risen. If you are there at the right time, you could catch the Mayor of Fort Bragg with a box full of donuts and pastries. He freely admits to his addiction and runs multiple miles many days a week to earn the sugar and flour intake.

So, I had an indulgence business that is still going strong during Covid. Scanning about for a more serious new business, I heard about one six weeks or thereabouts ago. Curious, I employed my Duck Duck Go (you know, the search engine that doesn’t track your every internet move). Found the website and clicked on “About Us.” Below that I spied, “How We Got Started.” This is what it said underneath: 

“Nunc dictum pulvinar porta. Interdum et malesuada fames ac ante ipsum primis in faucibus. Curabitur tortor lorem, lacinia in nunc eget, tristique volutpat urna. Pellentesque suscipit dolor metus, eu cursus sapien molestie non. Sed viverra mauris molestie purus hendrerit, vel laoreet ipsum viverra. Nullam sagittis ex nisi, iaculis dignissim odio tincidunt sed.”

Well, my mother went to UC Berkeley and I didn’t matriculate at two branches in the UC system to earn a graduate degree for nothing. I employed what little Latin I recognized then online translation… only to come up with some new knowledge that boils down to two words, Lorem ipsum.

Lorem ipsum derives from two parts of “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum” (The Extremes of Good and Evil) written by Cicero in 45 BC, a treatise on ethics. Marcus Tullius Cicero wrote approximately three-fourths of Latin literature that still exists in modern times. Lorem ipsum is used today as filler on websites.

Generally, readers are distracted by readable content, so on websites a sort of dummy text is used until the final wording is settled on. What better than a more than 2,000 year old Latin scholar and statesman’s paragraphs to serve as non-distractive (new word, because language is flexible – maybe even Cicero would approve). Hold on, though, Lorem ipsum, is not confined to the computer age. It has served as substitute text in typeset written works since the 1500s. 

Cicero could be studied for years, but if you want a quick synopsis for this most influential of writers in Latin look no further than his end. The philosopher who tried to uphold optimate (the optimates supported Rome as a republic and opposed Julius Caesar resting power in an empire) principles was beheaded on orders from Mark Antony.

Let us hope that all our new businesses survive much longer than Cicero under Caesar and Antony. Their customers may not want to see clowns on the premises, some folks are “a-scared” of clowns, but let’s hope they walk out of those new business doors feeling satisfied if not downright happy as a lad or lassie with their first thick doughnut.

Anecdotal evidence exists to suggest that clowning may cause spontaneous remission in the occasional terminal patient. I’m not going to ask for Bill Irwin over Dr. Bill Bowen if I break a bone, but from Bugs Bunny to Robin Williams, it sure don’t hurt to laugh.

Yes, I know, I haven’t told you what new coastal business used Lorem ipsum on their website. In part, that is because, as of this writing, said website is only somewhat complete and still slightly littered with Cicero filler. And it’s my little joke for the week. 

Perhaps it is best to conclude with the knowledge that Lorem ipsum gets its name from the phrase, “Neque porro quisquam est qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit...”

That translates to: “There is no one who loves pain itself, who seeks after it and wants to have it, simply because it is pain.”

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