Turtle House/Name Debate

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At least one former resident of 217 2nd Street feels that referring to the house as Turtle House is inappropriate (for reasons outlined below).

  1. Arguments Against
  2. Arguments For
  3. Song About this Debate

Arguments Against

As a former resident of the Turtle House, and one of the last residents to live at this house before the ownership change in June of 2005, I have found myself in an awkward position. I have had an issue by the continued use of the name the "Turtle House" and because this is an unofficial issue, I have been unsure of how to proceed. This is why I started this page. A paper letter to the current owner might help, but since this name issue is not mine alone, but affects many other past friends and residents of the Turtle House, this is something that needs to stated publicly and in a way that others who have a longer history with the old house can also be involved.

It is inappropriate that we still call 217 2nd Street the "Turtle House." As it stands, this house is still being called the "Turtle House" by the owner and residents, and the "Turtle House" is still used for promotional purposes, in advertisements for shows and cultural events, as well as in other places of public discourse, like on KDVS and the Davis Wiki.

There are several reasons why it is inappropriate to call 217 2nd the "Turtle House:"

  1. The main reason why this house was called the Turtle House was because of the turtle that hung on the balcony. According to Rocky, a resident of the Turtle House of about 8 years (please edit), in about 1995 or 1996, when cleaning out the basement, former residents found the original turtle art, and thought it would be cool if they put it up, and eventually the house came to be known as the Turtle House. Around 2003, the original turtle was stolen, and in May of 2005, local artist Mark Rivera, along with a group of friends and residents of the Turtle House at the time created a new mosaic turtle and mounted it on the balcony to replace of the stolen turtle.

    a.(PxlAted's point that "the community and greater culture around davis shapes the names of houses," and this is how 217 2nd Street came to be known as the Turtle House, which is another reason why it is inappropriate to keep calling it as such. To purchase a Davis house is not the same thing as purchasing the culture and history of the house. [If someone has a better way to say this, please help.])

  2. While the Turtle House existed, the house had always been passed down from person to person, thus keeping the residency within an interrelated group of Davisites, as well as keeping local artists and musicians in the mix. It was this kind of unofficial association that built up the Turtle House as the awesome Davis subcultural center that it was.

  3. In June of 2005, with the exiting of the last Turtle House residents, the purging of all the house, yard, and basement belongings (leftovers of the past residents and friends of the Turtle House) and along with the removal of the mosaic turtle, these marked a deconstruction of all the things that made the Turtle House. Along with the removal of all of the aspects that made the Turtle House, the cutting down of trees, uprooting of the garden, remodeling of the house, and re-inhabiting of new residents, all of these things mark a creation of a new inhabitance.

* * *

I have spoken with several other former residents of the Turtle House and every one of them has agreed with me. Many others who have not lived there, yet associated at this house while it was the Turtle House also agree that the house should not be called by this name anymore. Some alternatives people are using are: the Ex-Turtle House, the Turtle Shell, the Tortoise Shell. Please note that these alternatives are not my proposals for new names, but I give them to convey that people are having a hard time calling the house the "Turtle House" anymore.

This name-business may not seem like a big deal to some, however, as the new name alternatives may reflect, that 217 2nd is still being called the Turtle House, this brings up some strong feelings for those who do care. This is why starting a page like this is important, because opening up a dialogue about this issue is more useful than cultivating a sort of underground animosity toward 217 2nd Street.

Please share comments, stories, thoughts..

A final request I have is that this discussion remains a civil, yet honest and open forum for those who have thoughts to express about this issue.

If you would like to help me with all this, please contact me. Link to this page!

Thank You!

MorganFlores
P.O. Box, 74144, Davis, CA 95617
Please feel free to contact me at:
<morgan DOT flores AT gmail DOT com>

Arguments For

As a soon to be resident of The Turtle House I feel a strong need to voice my opinion on this issue; it is a perspective that I hope that Ms. Flores and other former residents and associates of The Turtle House seriously consider. I will start by stating why I still call it by its proper name and why I will continue to do so indefinitely, I will then address the three reasons that have been stated thus far for changing its name.

I first became aware of the place in early 2002 when I went to some shows there. I was immediately enamored by the crazy garden and libertine boarding house feel of the place. Later that year a friend and fellow band member moved in and I began spending a lot more time there. It was then that I got a better feel for the "culture" of the place and the attitude of the residents. I include quotes around the word culture to highlight the fact that most of the talk I hear these days about the former glory of the turtle house is self-aggrandizing at best and downright untrue at worst.

In recent months I have heard former residents go on extremely heavy handed and mean spirited rants about how Mike Harrington "thinks he can just BUY our nice little artist community". The Turtle House during the time I've known it would better be termed a semi-exclusive clique of friends than an "artist community". In fact the sense that I got was that the older residents (artists perhaps because they attended burning man regularly?) were fairly condescending towards the 3 younger musicians living upstairs. Calling the place a community during that time is plain BS, there was almost no interaction between the upstairs and downstairs.

And the MOST telling and important fact (which is consistently left out of any discussion regarding The Turtle House) is that the turtle was not stolen. In fact it was taken down by one of the downstairs residents because he and his friends felt that the former party scene that had typified the place for the prior years had died out with the arrival of the younger residents upstairs.

Don't buy into the misdirection here, there are a group of people in Davis who over the years were heavily involved in the scene at the turtle house. Because of their involvement they feel that they have some sort of ownership or right to the house's name and history. This is simply an attempt to assert their dislike for direction that the place has gone. Well unfortunately for them, no one, NO ONE owns The Turtle House. Mike Harrington owns 217 2nd st. but even he does not own the name and meme associated with that place. I would not stop calling it by its proper name at his request and I will not stop calling it by its proper name at the request of former residents who feel more "cultural" entitlement over the place than they deserve. I certainly claim no such entitlement, however I have been among the thousands of members of the Davis community that have called 217 2nd st. "The Turtle House" for years. We should not be forced to forgo a good moniker and meme for the sake of a few former resident's bitterness. And the reality is that it is only a few former residents that feel this way. Many former residents have no desire to see the name change and in fact balk at the idea.

In regard to the stated reasons for changing the name here are my responses.

1. The turtle was not stolen. It was taken down in a mean spirited attempt to "kill" the idea of turtle house, much like this one (at least Ms. Flores is civil enough to use words). Moreover I could not agree more with Pxl's point that the naming of houses in Davis is done by the community at large. It is simply not the right of a small group of former residents to dictate how a house is referred to.

2. The Turtle House does exist, and actually in a much nicer physical form. This argument really gets at a key point, which is that it was simply a clique that had been the center of gravity of the place. Calling it an artist community or a subcultural center is simply misrepresentation. The musicians I know that lived there never really felt like they were brought into the "mix".

3. This point is the most egregious of all, and is one of the things that really offends me about all of this. The Turtle House is not a thing its an idea and no one owns it. The real issue here lies in the physical control of the house. For decades the place was owned by an expatriate landlord who rarely if ever checked in on the place. Consequently the residents had complete control over what the place was like. Frankly, as a group, or a "community" as they like to call it, they did a shitty job of maintaining the place. When I hung out there it was decrepit, infested with mice, rats, and cockroaches, and was in a state of physical disrepair. Its widely known that [WWW]California law allows for renters to spend their rent money making necessary repairs instead of paying the landlord. The law was designed for just such a situation and none of the residents lifted a finger to fix anything.

Call a spade a spade, this was not some deeply concerned community of artists who wanted to preserve the great thing they had. In fact like with most named houses in Davis, it was a loosely affiliated string of students, partiers, and yes, artists and musicians. But sadly, these same people that want us to change the name, did not take care of what they had, and neither did the owner. The place was condemned for a good reason, and yes that meant that it had to be sold, and renovated. And yes that meant people couldn't live there, and all the junk they had abandoned in the basement had to be removed. If it meant that much to them, they could have taken their stuff when they left, hell they could have taken care of the house in the first place and they might still be living there. Many of the former residents get down on Mike Harrington for what he has done to the place. I roundly reject that, Mike did not "buy your artist community", he saw something that was once great and was now ruined and has tried to breathe life into it again. He should be lauded. How many people could have afforded to do what he did? Out of all those people how many of them would have gone to such lengths to ensure that the place maintained its reputation as a great music venue and social scene? We should thank Mike for what he has done. If it wasn't for him there would really be no Turtle House, there would be an apartment complex or a multi-million dollar family home.

If you don't want to call it The Turtle House fine, it wont bother me, but I for one will continue to do so and stand up for the right of others to as well. We don't throw away a community treasure like the idea of The Turtle House because it changes, what we do is reinvent it. If that reinvention eventually involves a name change so be it, but I firmly believe that if it is to be renamed it should be because of the good things that are happening there, not because some people feel like they have exclusive rights to the good things that happened there in the past.

DanMasiel

Song About this Debate

Former Turtle House resident, GonzaloEyzaguirre, wrote a song about [WWW]the name Turtle House.

Some friends and I made the song when we first heard about the name debate. We made it to make people laugh. The song does not attempt to get people to call 217 the "Turtle House Forever." The lyrics of the song do speak about calling the it the "Turtle House", but when you listen to those words in the context of the music it should be clear that it is not to be taken seriously. Really, just call it what you want to call it. —Gonzalo

More discussion

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2006-08-18 15:22:57   I realize that you miss your old home. However, the new owner was forced by the City to do the extensive remodel due to extreme health and safety issues (i.e. the heater in the basement leaking dangerous levels of carbon monoxide into the boarded up basement, the sewage backing up into the lower units, leaking plumbing, dangerous wiring, illegally built bedrooms, and the porch so dangerous that we had to completely remove it immediately). The new owner has invested an enormous amount of time and money into the house and has still retained it as workforce/student housing and a venue for music, etc. I'm sorry that you have strong feelings about the changes we had to make. We like the name, so have been reluctant to let it go. If you want to call it something else, you can. But it just seems wrong to have a contest to name it something else and then inform him what it will now be called. —SharlaDaly


2006-08-18 15:43:57   I understand your feelings Morgan. I am moving into the house in September. I grew up in Davis and have been going to parties there since the mid 90's and have many fond memories. People still call it the Turtle House out of lack of different name, not because they decided to call it that. When I talk to people about where I'm moving to, I usually refer to it as the "Old Turtle House". I think everyone can agree that someday it will have a different name, but that history has not been made yet. Until then I will take these concerns to heart, and be sure to emphasize that it is the ex or old turtle house. —JamesSchwab


2006-08-18 19:54:44   I do not call it the Turtle house. [Turtle Shell or the White House are currently my two favorites. ] I for one will never put "Turtle House" on any fliers I make for events there, and if I'm in the mood, make the nesecary changes to any fliers I see. As a cultural and comunity icon and name, the community and greater culture around davis shapes the names of houses, of which we are all a part. —PxlAted


2006-08-18 23:36:52   At the time of the reinhabitation of this house, I spent much time with the new roomates. I can tell you that no resident of the house referred to the house as "Turtle House." All promotions and fliers with "Turtle House" were created by those promoting shows, who did not live there. Secondly, if the house became a "new inhabitance" as you stated, then it is no longer an inhabitance to which you are connected with. This gives your public demand for a household you are not affiliated with to regard your ruling a fascist intonation. If a person named Michael Jordan were living in Davis, should the public force him to provide a new name as he is not the Michael Jordan associated with the era of the Bulls' championships? Lastly, why do you have the time to create a lengthy online petition on a local informative post but not the few personal minutes it would take to strike a conversation with the owner of the house on this dilemma? —VinceFreir


2006-08-19 13:26:47   In my opinion, the turtle house had lost its original cultural influence long before the ownership change. I lived there, and have shared the space with some phenomenal people, but for the most part it was just another house. I'm inclined to believe that there have been more shows there in the last 4 months than there were the entire period of 2001-2005. It did have a nice garden and trees, and the new dirt yard/extra parking space is a very questionable decision, but I don't know that much about it myself. I will say that the basement is much improved, and no longer looks like an electrical fire waiting to happen.

Is it the clean or monochromatic look and feel of the place that turns you off? The old turtle house definitely had more of a wiki-esque feel to it, with years of accumulated art and junk.

I'm curious - what happened to Mark's turtle art?

Inspired a bit by Dan's counterpoint, I had a few more words to say as a former resident. I believe Dan is referring to me and my roommates when he says there were musicians living upstairs who were not accepted into the community at large.

I wouldn't say that we were in any way shunned. I would say, however, that my interests often conflicted with those living downstairs. Without going into detail, I would say there were things I wanted to do (have shows, parties - more broad community events) that were not approved by one or two of those living downstairs for fear that they'd be personally inconvenienced. Over a two year period of my residence, maybe 90% of all events I requested were turned down. This is a big part of why I hesitate to defend the space as a subcultural mecca. I imagine that the house had this sort of spirit before I became a resident, maybe years before - I recall that it was a thriving venue for drum n' bass parties and for jam bands when such things were much more fashionable in Davis.

In my opinion, many of the former residents have bought into a Davis tradition with their rent money just as much as Mr. Harrington ever did, albeit on a scale where they were allowed to remain fairly anonymous and unaccountable to the larger community. I would include myself in that category as well. I recieved personal benefit by associating myself with "the turtle house," and I do not believe that I was able to pay that back.

Lastly, for whatever reason, the cultural influence of the turtle house significantly waned in the last couple years. It has as much to do with the residents isolating themselves as it does with the college community at large's tastes shifting. I often felt that events happening there were marginalized by the college community as "hippie parties" not so much for any particular political, environmental, or economic stance as much as for being associated with the negative stereotypes: being dirty, being disorganized, only listening to techno and jam bands, doing lots of drugs, and for being hippocritical, exclusive and/or "clique-y."

If you notice what Lee Walthall did at Delta of Venus in the last 5 years, I think he's been a perfect example of a new owner taking an old idea and bringing it to greater heights. Much of the negative words I have for the old turtle house could equally be applied to DoV c. 2000, when on a good night you might find 5-10 artist-intellectuals drinking beer on the porch.

I'm sure there are people who decry what Lee has done to open that place up to a wider community, who feel that he shouldn't use the DoV name. Honestly the place is completely different than it was when it changed hands. Lee's made so many changes to the place, granted in a more gradual fashion than the full-scale gutting of the Turtle House, that all that's really the same is the frame of the building and a few of the huge stoves.

I guess my reaction depends completely on where Mr. Harrington goes from here. "The cutting down of trees, uprooting of the garden, remodeling of the house, and re-inhabiting of new residents" itself does not require a name change. Perhaps, Morgan, there's something else Mr. Harrington has done to which you object? That has insulted you? I honestly want to know if so, because as far as I can tell there's nothing shady going on!

My feeling on the matter, and I'm surprised no one has yet brought this up, is one of relief. When the house went on the open market last year after being condemned by the city of Davis, I was really disappointed and figured the logical next step in an unfair universe is that it would be bought by a fraternity or yet another Davis slumlord. The more I hear from friends and other Davis residents, the more I am convinced that what went down is indeed the best case scenario. As such, I have to admit that the name change debate seems an odd cause to have undertaken.

EricRuud


Just a note: the dirt yard is transitional. The yard is next on the list of things to do. New trees planted etc. Garden areas for the tenants, etc. Art installed, etc. It'll get better. - SharlaDaly


Hello Everybody! My name is Heather and I thought I would throw my two cents in. I would like to start this off by saying that I would prefer to not lower myself to outright name calling or insults in the form of who should be "blamed" or resembling a conversation I once had when my best friend decided she wanted to beat me up and brought friends to cheer her on. This is suppose to be a open site for discussion and everyone is entitled to an opinion and I think that opinion needs to stay on topic. I'll stop playing the role of mother. As for the condition of the house before new ownership and the current state it is in now, this page is not about why it is better or worse, I think the main point is that it is different. It is different from the inside out. From the wires, to the paint, to the wood, to the landscape, to the tenants and to the owner (Hi Mike!). You're probably all wondering what side of the argument I am on. I am for a name change. I think it would be a perfect solution to the emotionally fired debate. Change is inevitable so why not make it a solid change. The "Old Turtle House" was what it was regardless of whether people liked it or agreed with it. From some of the comments it seems like some people were pretty upset or frustrated with the "Old Turtle House", so why even care to keep the name. Maybe the current residents or local artists would like to create a community art project to don the house with a new icon. This way it would become more meaningful to the people associated with the house now and would avoid any resentment from people that don't agree with the "Turtle House" name. If you think about it, some people call the house the "Turtle House" based off of what it use to be and if a new icon and name where created it would be that much more fulfilling for the community to recognize this house for what it is now. This is a perfect opportunity to create something new, not tied to the reputation of the "Old Turtle House." I think that a completely different community is be produced and flourishing in this house and time, energy, passion and whatever else you feel contributing to this new community would benefit from creating something new and more personally meaning. Maybe something that resembles a metamorphosis like a butterfly (just an example of metamorphosis, I am not trying to sway anyone into an actual icon). This whole "Turtle House" name seems to carry a lot of baggage and personally I would like to see just how creative this new community is. Impress me, please. Thanks for reading.

By the way Eric, the mosaic turtle was given as a wedding gift to Joe and Megan (former Turtle House tenants) by the tenants living at the Turtle House that last year (which included me).

..Holy crap! I just checked my horoscope and it said "Help everyone else's tempers calm down so they can see the issues at hand without letting their egos get in the way. Finding a solution as a group can work when you're all concentrating on what's best for everyone." That's weird. —HeatherWitt That IS freaky—ya hippy :-).MorganFlores


2006-08-21 12:05:08   I'm not going to argue in favor or against. I will say that when Led Zeppelin's drummer died they refused to tour as Led Zeppelin but when Ben & Jerry's was sold to unilver in 2000 they did not change the name even though Ben and Jerry were no longer the owners. Burning Man used to be in San Francisco but they moved to Neveda and kept the same name. I will say that while the continuum was broken with residents, in people's minds it is engrained to call it the Turtle House. I know in my own case I tell people to just call me Rob but some people just have it in their head to call me Rob Roy and they cannot change it no matter what so unless the new name is really catchy, it would take some serious mental effort to change it. —RobRoy


It's about time to put my two cents in. The place in which we lived a few years ago, which stood at 217 2nd St., which we used to refer to as The Turtle House, has been bought, remodeled, painted, revamped, maybe brought up to code, the trees that gave the porch it's character have been cut down and removed, albeit they were probably going to fall on the house anyway, the garden was destroyed, and in it's place will hopefully one day be a nicer, kept garden. The basement was a disaster and indeed a fire waiting to happen, but damn if it wasn't the best place to party this little town has ever seen. It now looks like the basement from the OC. Did anyone go to the first new party there around Valentine's Day with the pink paper hearts hanging everywhere? I almost threw up. Now, I'm not sinking to namecalling and I do wish this to be a decent debate about what is actually going on with this idea of whether there is actually a turtle house or not anymore. And there is not a turtle house anymore. There is a nicer looking cookie cutter house that lacks the character and poise it did a few short years ago(i.e., which is what made it the turtle house). I'm not talking about the current tenants, the current owner, the lack of a current garden, etc. I'm talking about: go stand in the alley and look at the fucking house and then try to tell me otherwise.

The house itself was known for having some of the best parties the town never even knew about. There were shows by bands that went on to be famous, bands that went on to die, and bands that were famous at the time. There were art parties. There were Sagitarrian Hellraiser parties. There were Pisces parties. But they were house parties. Real house parties. Nobody ever charged any money at the door. Nobody ever got turned away. If it was too full in the basement, you waited until somebody came out drenched in sweat. Who the hell charges to get into a house party? Frats? Sororities? It was a great place to see a show on the underground. It was never a venue, and it will never be a venue. It is and will be a basement. It was and still is a good place to rock. But leave the charging at the door shit to the Delta and the G St. pub. It's a house.

Three weeks before we were kicked out of the house, I get a knock at the door by Mike Harrington, the interested buyer, a man who knew no history of the house other than that it was called the Turtle House. He wanted to have the turtle on the front of the house included with the house! The turtle that we all put together and made, and then gave to Joe and Megan(the previous renters of my room) as a wedding present, which now graces their living room in Indiana where Joe teaches at Purdue. It seems fairly obvious to me that this failed politician simply wants to make a name for himself during his mid-life crisis by being a cool cat to the new kids. He's in it for the money and for the name, which he should have nothing to do with. He never did. If he wants to have shows in the basement, have art shows, have poetry readings and porch soirees, I'm all for that. In fact, I encourage it. I hope that the house continues to be a hub of cultural and artistic talent. It would be a shame to take anything like that away from this town. But it's not the turtle house anymore. IT IS NOT THE TURTLE HOUSE ANYMORE! Call it whatever you want, I don't care. Don't call it anything if you don't want. We joke around and call it the Turtle Shell because we're sarcastic and we miss our old place. But we also accept that it's gone. There should be no one in favor of continuing to call it something that it no longer is. —Dominic


I think the above comment pretty much gets to the crux of the biscuit. This is all about a, frankly ridiculous, confrontational attitude that many of the former residents have towards Mike Harrington. Bottom line. Morgan, I respect your point of view, but frankly I think you have been co-opted by the bitter stances of Dominic, Rocky, and others who I will decline to name. Did any of you actually ask Mike if you could live there after he renovated the place? The answer is no. I've asked about this and he would have gladly let you live there. Instead you all chose to take the reactionary viewpoint that he was some rich, asshole, 'slumlord' trying to buy your sub-culture. Interestingly, none of you have ever actually contacted him regarding the use of the Turtle House name either. You all seem quite content to talk shit behind his back while the man sits with his door open to you.

As for your comments Dominic. Get some perspective. You make yourself seem hopelessly out of touch with reality by calling Mike a 'slumlord'. Ask anyone who lives in a real slum about which of the two versions of the Turtle House they would like to live in and you might see things slightly differently.

Here is (hopefully) my last comment on this:

I would actually like to see the name of the house changed. Yes believe it or not I would, and I intend to move forward in that direction. But this whole issue is completely tainted right now, because the "anti" Turtle House faction is turning a personal grudge into a community issue. Moreover without realizing it they have made themselves look like arrogant, vindictive jerks. The name will probably change; maybe even sometime soon. But take a step back. The house is barely done with the structural changes, the garden hasn't even been replanted, half of the future residents don't even live there yet, and here come four or five extremely angry and bitter former residents demanding that the name be changed. How do you think that comes off to the people living there next year? To the community at large? Based on the response to the song posted above, I'd say that you have alienated a lot of respected community members, including myself, to your cause; not because you don't have a good point, but because most of your supporters have taken a tasteless, negative and unconstructive approach to this whole thing. Morgan I think you are a clear exception to the prior statement, and I really don't want to make this personal with anyone, but most of your supporters have made this a personal attack on Mike from day 1 and that would be a shitty last page in history book of the Turtle House. Give the future residents and participants of the Turtle House a chance to make something of the place, and then we'll worry about the name.

DanMasiel

Dan, there seems to be some misrepresented exaggeration and a whole lot of "Well, he said this... and my friend said this..." going on. Stick to the facts and the topic, middle school is over. I'm actually feeling quite offended by your blatant disregard of labeling a whole group of people that you have never formerly met and with a lot of hostility. You may have met some, but not all. Just to clarify, I am a former tenent and would like to respond to the description of how awful everyone was and how there was a huge exclusion from outsiders being in the "group." My experience at the Turtle House was very different. It was a bit stressful in the beginning but ended up very positive. I didn't know a single person before I moved in. I tend to be a very shy person when it comes to social environments, especially when there is a group so tightly knit that they finish each other's sentences practically. It took me over 6 months to really start to feel comfortable. There were quite a few people over at the house and sometimes I didn't get along with them, which is normal because not everyone does, but I would never say that I was purposely shut out or intentionally excluded. It took time for me to build friendships and I just so happened to get along with quite a few people. Of course there were some disagreements, but you were always aloud to voice your opinion as long as you took the approach of standing up for yourself. I had ideas shot down, such as using the basement for a belly dancing class, which turned out to not be in favor with a majority of people at the time, but if I had been able to get a good number of people to commit to it, it wouldn't have been a problem. Sometimes people were not in favor of a party because of the mess it would produce, but parties still prevailed, sometimes because Dom was very responsible for cleaning up afterwards. In addition, I really believe that the last year that I lived at the house a lot of really good things were happening. The rat problem that had been consistent due to a few former tenants not taking care of the problem was fixed. If one unit slacked, you had a rat problem still in the house. With all new tenants moving in upstairs, that happened to be 4 clean freak girls, the problem was solved. There were many other occurrences that I think were beneficial and an improvement and I will just point out one additional one. Morgan was responsible for setting up an Art show at the house during the last month before it was sold. It really brought a lot of people together and should be recognized as a real success in bringing a community of art and music together, even if some of you were not there to witness it. This was my experience and I am really happy to have met the people I did. As far as your statements about what "actually" happened, I know Mike and have had many conversations with him during this whole course. Before he bought the house, he introduced himself to me and asked me many questions about the house which I was honest about and frankly very helpful. Mike had even expressed that he would like me to live in the house after the remodeling, but I declined to for a number of reasons that do not include putting myself into the role of some "jerk". Now to point out some errors that you have consistently and boldly stated, yes there was a discussion with one of the last tenants in the Turtle House with Mike about living in the house.

Also, I personally don't hold any pent up aggression toward Mike because in my personal opinion I believe it is unfounded, unneccessary and unproductive. As far as the Turtle theme, I had talked with Mike in the past and had expressed that I wished it would live on, but this was before I had even moved out of the house and was relating to my desire to see the house I use to be a part of, continue to live on because I was emotionally invested in it. Over time the topic didn't really come up until this open discussion and I stated my current opinion above which was not disrespectful or rude. As far as the comments in this site, the only people to respond in favor of a name change that were involved in the old Turtle House are Morgan, Pxl, Dom and myself. Rocky hasn't responded so don't start the "He said..." again. Please refrain from using "you all," "none of you" or anything else that would represent you knowing something about the people that use to live there since you were not actually involved and are vicariously living through a few friends you knew (the Turtle being taken down instead of being stolen was news to me, and sounds a lot more like... how did you say... shit talking since there is no proof and you were not there). Eric's opinion is justified and appropriate since he lived in the house and had many interactions with people in the house at the time, but I find that you need to let other people talk for themselves and keep your judgments of people (which include me) to yourself. In addition, Mike is an adult and capable of taking care of himself. As far as your own stance, one minute your claiming that you will never change the name and now you claim you want to change the name, but you present it like a big in your face decision. I hope you can work on your discussion skills before you move into 217 2nd Street or you're going to be a very hard person to live with when it comes to compromise and understanding other's opinions. Good luck and have fun creating the new name if that is what becomes the final decision. —HeatherWitt

"If that reinvention eventually involves a name change so be it, but I firmly believe that if it is to be renamed it should be because of the good things that are happening there, not because some people feel like they have exclusive rights to the good things that happened there in the past." — DanMasiel

I still don't think you understand my point. The name change does not have to do with what happened in the past. The only reason I started focusing on details of the past was because of a lot of low blows and just flat out lies were being stated and I wanted to make sure the record was set straight because I was being called a lot of names and being lumped into a group of pretty negative qualities. —HeatherWitt


2006-08-21 14:51:33   “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet” - William Shakespeare —JamesSchwab


Well said, Heather, and thank you. Thank you also, Morgan.
And I suppose I did get carried away by calling Mike a slumlord, and for that I believe I should apologize. Sorry Mike.

Dan, I don't know who you are, and you apparently do not know who I am, and I am basing this solely on the idea that you seem to think that I am somehow hopelessly out of touch with things. While that may be true when it comes to mustard and mayonnaise, please don't make that assumption about my intelligence and ability to see anything in the larger scale. It makes you look small.

You should also refrain from boxing everyone together, claiming that Morgan's mind has been corrupted, etc., because for that you have shown that it is you who is out of touch. I live with Rocky. Rocky and I disagree on this topic of the name thing. He seems to like what Mike has done for the house and is glad that it still stands and hasn't been torn down.

I am not a vindictive jerk. I may do some asshole things every once in a while, but no much more than anyone else.

I suppose I am glad that the house still stands also. While it doesn't resemble it's previous self, it should retain everything that we created it to be. However, the aura about the place is different, don't you see? What made it the turtle house is no longer there, as if the very soul of it has been removed and is now inhabited by a void. Yes, things are happening there, but they are happening under the auspices of a new, rebirthed soul. The era of the turtle house has come to an end, and a new one is beginning. I like that. I am not jealous that I wasn't invited back in. I would not want to live in it the way it is now. I am not angry at Mike Harrington for changing it. He owns it and can do with it whatever he pleases. Everything but claim that he owns the turtle house. Does that make sense? He tried to buy the turtle house. Instead, he got 217 2nd St. It's still not a bad deal for the guy, I have to say. But it is a real slap in the face to all of us that made the house what it was for him to continue to call it so. It's very much like our current president and the way we say "not in our name" when he makes these ridiculous statements for us. -Dominic


Wow, this has gotten WAY too heated and personal, and I am partially to blame. Sorry to everyone I've offended. Its clear to me now that my actual points have been completely shrouded by my somewhat jerkish snipes. There is some real substance to what I'm saying, but based on all of the responses I've gotten most of it has been overlooked. Again sorry if I've hurt any feelings here, the last thing I want is to foster divisiveness. I hope I haven't made anyone feel unwelcome at any of the events we hold. But here is my final (and inital) point:

This naming debate is extremely premature and unneccesary, and I think this whole thing ought to be put to rest until a more appropriate time comes up to name the place.
Until then call it what you will, just please consider the perspectives of the current (and some former) residents before initiating some community wide campaign to "de-name" our house.
DanMasiel
-
What is your argument exactly? Please clarify what it is. Your statement of it being premature and unneccessary because it is inconveinant to your exsistance on this earth does not satisfy my request for a reason. A more appropriate time? What better time than now? The new tenants transitioning into a completed remoldeling (garden will soon be) by creating a gathering to celebrate this new community focused on bringing together the arts and music by manifesting their own identity, couldn't get much better of a time. I really haven't heard anyone else's perspective for keeping the name that will be living there in the next month, except you. You've pretty much dominated the conversation with your uncompromising stance. Maybe if the current and soon to be tenants all vote you as speaker of the house to represent them (which I think would be unlikely given some of the things that you have written) then this issue would have more closure. In particular there has not been a response from Mike even. Claiming to be the soul decision maker of an entire group that has not given you this right is wrong. This is how a community is silenced and we all have voices. Writing an anonymous song isn't an explanation. I am not demanding a "de-naming." I am requesting that the soon to be tenants consider my position and also consider my idea of creating something new. I still have not heard a reason for not taking the time and effort of this new community at 217 2nd Street to consider the fun and excitement of creating something of your own, besides the reasons of it actually requiring time and effort. Let me know. I'm curious and interested. —HeatherWitt


2006-08-23 10:10:58   This is ridiculous. I love the turtle house and the years have been fun. But this is so way out of hand and overblown. but i did agree with Dan's earlier stuff that it seems more like some people wanting to try to keep it for themselves. no one has a right to the name, but its just a name. it changed, big whoop, deal. if theres never any shows there anymore, people wont ever tlak about it, so theres no need for a name as it will die over the years or become "the old turtle" or "formerly" or whatever. if there are shows, iturtle house will still be used, and why not? Just give it time. —ScottAdams


2006-08-23 10:13:23   It seems to me that as former tenants of a house, it is perfectly acceptible to share your views with the new tenants & landlord and work out some sort of agreement with them; that aspect doesn't really seem like a broader community issue. However, it seems like you're trying to do more that come up with a solution amongst yourselves, you seem to be trying to affect the way the broader Davis community refers to this property. It also seems to me that attempts to dictate or control how the larger community refers to a group/property will be an uphill battle. As you [Morgan] alluded to earlier, cultures/subcultures are not static, and even if Turtle House still existed in its former state, it would be continually changing — at what point in the evolution of a "thing" do you decide it can no longer be called that "thing" and who gets to make that decision? Isn't it something that the larger community will determine regardless of your wishes? —AlphaDog


2006-08-23 10:15:37   Just out of curiosity, who originally hung the turtle up to the front of the house? I would make the argument that there was most likely never a real discussion to call it the Turtle House in the first place. Someone made a piece of art (the cute old turtle wooden turtle that used to be above the porch) and then people began identify it as the turtle house simply as a descriptor. Last night, several future residents of the house (RobRoy, DanMasiel, KatieDelwiche, and former resident Pxl) ran into each other at Delta of Venus and discussed a name change and possible names - but everything seemed so forced, unlike the original name "Turtle House." Right now is not the best time, simply because it is in transition. Mike plans to plant a bunch of fruit trees in the front yard so what if people wanted to call it the Cheery Blossom, Juicy Fruit, or the Tree House. Those would all describe a house with a lot of fruit trees just as the Turtle House described a house with a wooden turtle above its porch. What can we call it now? The Gray Davis house because it is gray and in Davis. The Roundabout? Because there is a sign left over from the wiki party still on the roof. The Roundabout won't catch on because it is too long. The Street Sign House would turn into the Sign House, or the Arrow House. Who knows. But someone already drew a turtle in the very center of the roundabout arrows.

So while I am not opposed to renaming the house I'm saying that it is hard to do now because how the house looks now is not how it will look in a couple years - and then we'll have to rename it again, or rather people will start calling it something different because it will just make more sense. I used to live at the Pirate Ship (complete with a Pirate flag on the roof), only most people called it the Pirate House, even though the inhabitants insisted on calling it the Pirate Ship. Although most people who didn't know anyone at the house besides myself would simply call it Rob Roy's place - which was not fair to my housemates. The Pirate Ship existed at two places. At 748 Mulberry, which was also home to the "Mulberry Muffs" (a group of girl that lived there years before we did) and at 616 Anderson (which used to simply be called 616 when it was hosting shows in the 80's). This last school year I lived at 720 Anderson, or the Bomb Shelter. These are all naturally descriptive names that people use to identify these "art community houses" that I have lived in. They are not forced names. The Charred Dog House was called that because at their first show in the mid nineties, the old tenants had left a dog house in the backyard and TysonNichols lit it on fire and the charred remains stayed for a long while. That is how a house should be named - not by committee.

I will say, that as someone that is living there next year, calling it anything that ends with "shell" is out of the question. I know why the former residents want to rename it that, because they believe it is "a shell" of what it used to be. Well, as someone only been connected to the house for a couple months and has already booked about half a dozen shows there I am offended by that. In all honesty I like the aesthetic of the old appearance of the house, but it had to come up to code and I am optimistic of the future. As Mike says about hosting music shows in the basement, "there aren't many safe places for people of all ages to enjoy live Music in Davis and its great that we can provide that." So I think Mike is a good guy (and a better landlord than most), but over my years in Davis landlords have kicked me out of a couple houses (for doing exactly what Mike is condoning) so as a tenant I empathize with the past residents and simply ask to wait for a new natural name to appear. Although, since there have been two different Turtles placed up on the roof maybe we are in store for a third one.—RobRoy


I agree with most of what you say, Rob, and I was actually going to bring up the Pirate Ship sooner or later. I lived there about five years before you turned it into the Pirate Ship, and we just called it 616 or the Anderson House. But you don't drive past it now and say, "hey, there's the pirate ship", because it isn't anymore, right? Similarly, and for most of us that remember the feel of our old place, look at it now and feel like it isn't there anymore because of the immense changes it's incurred. I think waiting for a new name to appear is the best idea I've heard yet. If you're going to charge to get in, please don't call it the Turtle House. It goes against what we stood for. I'm not paying to get into my old place to see a show! I know some of you are going to come back at that with a "well, don't then," but please at least understand the arguement. It seems like it's gone fucking corporate if you do that, and that is one of the main things that bugs me the most about this whole situation. Not to mention it seems kind of, I don't know, illegal? Donations accepted. Don't take my wallet at the door.

This has gotten to be a heated discussion, but the time is right. I hope that the new tenants can understand that when we see a poster for a show at the "Turtle House" and it costs $4, we bow our heads in disgust. I know things change, but fuck if I'm not going to voice my opinion when the cause is just. Hmm. Which is exactly what the real Turtle House stood for in the first place. —Dominic

Some very good points Rob. I am just picking people's brains that probably hadn't considered creating a new name. It is not ridiculous to bring up a discussion about the name since understanding the values that we place in names is gratifying and rewarding. This shouldn't be a discussion that is insulting and I have tried to convey this in my personal responses. Your examples of previous homes are all lacking one key connection and that is that none of the previous houses you mention were removed of it's current tenants, remodeled, filled with new people with a new owner and then in fliers and other forms refer to the house with the same name. Maybe if the passing on of the name had been agreed upon by the former tenants the mosaic turtle would have been passed on to continue this name use or maybe not. Who knows? I am not saying that a committee should be appointed. The people involved with the house have influence over the direction this name issue will go. By continuing to use the name in flyers and advertise for events with the name it will probably never change and there's not much that can be done from the outside and I realize that. Continuing to keep using the name pretty much stops any possibility of the name changing with this new community because they will be making the active choice of claiming the name and promoting it in fliers, advertisements or any other activity. I wanted people to think about the possibilities and discuss it. I'm not personally attacking Mike. I am curious about his opinion as well as others and appreciate hearing what people think without holding hostility or resentment towards anyone’s opinions of the name debate. —HeatherWitt

- Dom and Heather, you make valid, points (except that you should still donate to the musical cause, even if it is your house. I'm usually the first one to throw cash into the hat or my big beer jug for the shows at my place, because, regardless, traveling musician still need it to keep art alive.) But anyways, I know what you mean about what you were connected changing. I haven't designed a flier for the shows at the house so I haven't written Turtle House. I would most likely say 217 Second Street at this point. But as for a new name, as I said. I think it is too early to have a new name. I'm still going for a name that describes the house. Which is what Turtle House did, because of the wooden Turtle. Hell, Bike Minister Tyler made a Turtle and gave it to Mike awhile ago so we could put that in the front yard and it would be logically called the Turtle House again. I'm speaking hypothetically. The weird thing about this is that most of the residents for this next year were familiar with the Turtle House in its past state, so I identify it as that. But even Old New York was once New Amsterdam so things change. I'm just waiting for an epiphany to come to give the house a good name and the current state of the house isn't at its best for that. Hell, its owned by Mike Harrington now, so we can play for the pun of herring-ton (as in two thousand pound herring) and call it the Big Fish House. But, there are no fish so that would be confusing, and I like Mike, but that my be a little too ego-centric - as I hated it when people refereed to the Pirate Ship as Rob Roy's place. As Mike says, the community names the house. So as it is right now most people call it the Turtle House, 217 Second Street, or most likely, that big gray house with the ugly front yard. Right now we can just keep everything in limbo and wait until we have something to name the house after. - RobRoy

It's good to know that you are considering the use of a name and not just using it. I appreciate what you have to say. I can understand not wanting to force a decision right now, but if the name is continuously used in fliers, KDVS or rent ads (even if you were not the one to make them) by people that are associated with events and activities at 217 2nd Street than there won't be a possibility of a different name in the process that you seem to prefer. Does that make sense? I hope I'm not beating this into the ground. I really just want people to think about how this name is being used and what it means. —HeatherWitt


2006-08-23 17:45:10   I am posting this as a separate comment because I am trying to compile the things that have come up here to make my (hopefully) last statement about this issue.

First of all, I really appreciate that it seems like a dialogue is now happening here. Thank you all for this.

I am going to state as clearly as possible what I was most offended by with the name issue. I am not offended that folks still love the name of the Turtle House. I am not offended that the front yard is a dirt patch. I am not offended that current and future residents are attached to the name. I am not offended that I don't live there. I'm not offended to pay to get into a show there. I'm not offended by anyone who loves living there or who wants to live there.

I feel like it is the residents for the most part who make a house what it is. What I am most interested in is what the "Turtle House" means.

To me the Turtle House is a name that just came into being due to the turtle art that was hung on the house. But this is not what defined the house. An icon is not the most important thing about the meaning behind the name. We could have called it the Butterfly House or the Swing House or the Ratshit House or whatever but what the house meant was created by the residents and everyone who associated at the house (who also loved the house or loved to hate it). The house was controlled and defined by the residents, and that was the point. The point was the owners were absentee. This allowed the house to be free-form, and this openess is the most important thing that I associate with the name of the Turtle House. We could do whatever the hell we wanted to do there, and the owner/landlord didn't give two shits either way. Sure this is what caused the house to fall in disrepair, but the disrepair is what made the house so awesome. The curved and lumpy upstairs hallway, the stuffed Gremlin toy blocking a hole in the wall to the outside in Dom's bathroom (and how you could hear what everyone was doing in that bathroom), the trees growing through the roof, which made the roof sway back and forth with the wind, the tiny unaccomodating upstairs balcony, the squeaky floor boards on the front porch, the bricks on the stairs that would fall apart, the narfy couch in front that provided a place to crash for folks who had one to many beers, the kids climbing into the second floor throught the windows, etc. etc. etc. It was unconstrained, uncontrived, unsanitized. I can't describe it better, but the house was a brat. And this was the point. Not that a turtle did or did not hang on the balcony. If it was still the Musical Note House, and the turtle never was put up, we'd all be arguing about the Musical Note. But the meaning would be the same, that the house was free from being controlled by an owner. There were pets, smokers, the option of turning any night into a party. People could record in the basement whenever, they could leave their shit there for years to never return to pick it up (and believe me, we know you didn't).

What if the Bomb Shelter was sold, and the same thing happened to it as did the Turtle House? The house emptied, renovated and made more palatable? What if the bomb shelter itself was renovated by the owner? A ceiling fan placed in it? Wiring planned in the shelter to make it a better venue? Then what if the new owner advertized the house as the 'famous' Bomb Shelter house, once a house with a quirky venue, which has now been given flourescent lights for your convenience?

If folks want to still call it the Turtle House and put a new turtle icon up on the balcony, there is nothing I can do about that. But it does not and will not replace what was lost when the house was sold. I am not saying that it is impossible that this house ever be amazing again. To insinuate that is ridiculous. I realize this whole thing is very afterschool special (so please spare me anymore antagonizing comments, for pete's sake), but the response to all this shows that people, current and future residents still feel invested in the house and that is the most important part. Davis houses should be defined by the people who live there. And that's why I say again, I do not want you guys to feel forced into anything. I just wanted to pinpoint why the name just does not fit the house anymore.

I am happy it is a venue. More structure allows for a regular flow of shows and other cultural events that Davis needs, and I wholeheartedly support this. I was kinda happy about the song too, specifically because it was so bratty.

No one has exclusive rights to the name. So if you want to keep calling it that, again, I can't do anything, but I just could not stand letting the name carry on like nothing happened.

The name of the turtle house was associated with our home. Possibly what makes my, Heather's and Dom's experience different than prior residents of the house (like EricRuud's) is that we were the last to call it home and we knew what happened in the last weeks before it was sold. We had realtors walking in on us while we were changing our clothes or sleeping naked in our beds. We had to hear them talk about how 'charming' the place was, while we tried to eat our breakfast before work or school in the morning, we sat on the porch while folks talked about knocking down our balcony. This is why we have an opinion on this (I am not trying to speak for you guys, so please correct me if I'm wrong), and why we feel like we have a say in the use of the name that was associated with our home.

We did not collectively "decide" to end the house, and we especially did not decide to "end" the house out of vindication or spite. An outside force was ending the house for us—and this was the prior owner's decision to sell the house, Mike's purchase of the house and the eventual turning of the house into his restoration project (a project that will soon spread to include the little house next door to 217).

The Turtle House did not belong to anybody in particular, I definitely do not feel like I have exclusive rights to the name. But again, that is the point of the old 217. For me, it was the openness that was the most important thing about the house, and this openness was ended with Mike's ownership. The Turtle House was never about the owner or about being owned. To me, openness is what the name of the Turtle House stood for, and for Mike to purchase 217 2nd and make all the changes and still heavily influence what goes on there is not in the spirit of the Turtle House. For him to use the notoriety and name of the house in order to advertise for tentants, this is not what the Turtle House meant either. My number one problem: Mike's use the name of the house in order to sell it as a commodity.

I realize this comment has gotten kinda repetitive, but I've been writing on this subject for 6 days now and I'm really getting tired. I feel like this is all I have to say about this. Please don't discontinue talking about it. I'm not against chatting in real life with folks if they want. Send me an email, or maybe we'll run into each other. Thanks. —MorganFlores


2006-08-24 03:06:13   Wow, this has turned out to be a really fascinating issue!

It seems to be packed pretty tight with a lot of sub-issues as well, of varying importance to different people. It's quite interesting to be having this discussion in a fairly open way - thanks Morgan.

Granted, a few people have become a bit too ... partisan ... and a few probably said things they didn't mean. Hopefully all will forgive.

After thinking and talking some more about this, I came up with two fairly general conclusions.

Firstly, what Mike Harrington did with the house is very clearly - indisputably - a break with tradition. It wasa house with an absentee landlord, handed down from one resident to the next. Those who were at the end of that line were removed and replaced with new residents by Mike Harrington. Furthermore, this man who holds power over the place (however generous or benign he may be) lives in the residence where he may observe the daily actions of those who live on his property. Those who understand well what the original turtle house represented understand that the presence of such money and power present subtle but significant challenges to an open and free living community.

I also think Mr. Harrington has done a poor job in winning the hearts and minds of the displaced former residents. Maybe it's not a priority for him. Many people took serious issue when he parked his boat in a spot once occupied by a gigantic tree, and I too believe it to be in poor taste.

Having said this, I disagree that there should be any pressure exerted by former residents onto future residents, via a myspace campaign, satirical rebranding, or any other means. I think that's in poor taste too, and I'll explain why.

For you former residents, think about the moment you first learned you'd be moving in this house. For me, it was a joyful moment when I knew I would soon be part of a tradition, would be able to live the values as I understood them, and would have to elevate my actions to meet the high expectations associated with the name. I feel like everyone who has lived there has this moment, and its an inspiring moment, especially given the personal circumstances that go with being 20ish and in college.

[Contrary to what Morgan interpreted in my earlier statements, I think that the turtle house continues to be associated with great ideals in a lot of people's minds. I could go into greater length clarifying my position here but it's not really that relevant. Just for those of you who may be percieving a contradiction in my words.]

So flash a couple years later... did I live up to those ideals? In some ways yes, in many ways no. It was an ideal!
Did my roommates live up to it? Many times, no.

Does Mike Harrington? Almost certainly not.

Will a resident who lives there in 2008? Probably not, but this is where it gets interesting. Who knows was strange and miraculous acts they may end up perpetrating under the guise of the turtle house tradition? Seriously, think about your own experience there.

I mean, honestly people, of all things why prevent future people from having that name to lay their hopes on? If in the end people decide not to call it that, that's fine (all things point to name change at this point, making my point here a bit moot). No one was forced to call it The Turtle House to begin with, though now there are definitely those who have taken semi-formal action in the process of taking the name away. It's very easy to see why those who are genuinely excited to be a part of the turtle house phenomenon would be disappointed or insulted by those who would gladly see the name stripped.

Like I said though, its a tightly packed little issue, this one.....

EricRuud


Ideas cannot be revoked. Rather than struggling to maintain the aura of authenticity of your past, perhaps you should devote your energies to creating something new. The law of the land says the body of the thing and the dirt it sits on belongs to a new master, does this mean he has bought what the house meant to you? Did you plan to live there forever, to guard the house against change, against the introduction of new lives and new meanings?
We are all Indians Of The Mind. We may find some vast and undiscovered space to pitch our teepee and breathe deeply of the air of originality, but surely we will soon find ourselves overrun by settlers. When they build their metropolis we can choose to haunt its alleys and gutters and bemoan the loss of the green grass and clear skies, the feeling of pride we had in saying, "This is mine, and mine alone." We can point to the foundation stone of the new bank building and say, "Once I lived here. Before all of this, I lived here."
Or. Or we can leave them to their infinitely same thought and art, we can leave them to fight over their spot, leave them to argue over who moved in the day before who (it is like watching a fractal unfold, this regression of "me!" "No, me!" "No, me!"), and move on. After all, the mind is an endless country, there will always be land unclaimed.
If your community is truly ill served by this new megalopolis they will leave with you, and follow you into a new promised land. ""Tomorrow"" House, if you will.
Our only weapon (sophisticated Indians Of The Mind that we are) is the Atom Bomb Of Thought, that which splits "thing" from "idea" and clears an open space.
Nothing is true, everything is permutable.

WillKaufman


2006-08-25 11:57:36   I am going to start calling it the Name Debate house. —JamesSchwab


2006-08-29 01:51:10   Best DavisWiki page ever. Ironically, the Anti-Turtle House side's initiation of this debate (ha, debate) may have cemented the name in the minds of the community members. Reading this page is like watching My Super Sweet 16 on MTV. It's so painful and embarassing. But, I...can't...look...away... —RishiTrivedi


2006-08-30 00:35:38   I'm afraid this debate calls for a dadaist intervention. I would like now, with you permission and close attention, to divulge to you possibly the most important and certainly the most secret phase of my art. I do not know if you are going to believe me - it is cannibalism. After all, is it not preferable to be eaten than to be bombed to death? I can hardly develop this idea that has tormented me for years. I leave it up to you to draw you own conclusions with regard to the future of art. —KristinKoster


2006-08-30 23:36:39   Whoa, what a debate. I haven't made it all the way through it, but I can say this at least. Maybe a compromise name that is so horrible that the owner will want to replace the turtle artwork: "The House Formerly Known as the Turtle House." (Does anyone know what species the original turtle was, and whether it was killed legally?) —KarlMogel


2006-09-02 14:20:33   "Call me a hippy". Hippy. —YouNotSneaky

"With regard to the comment stating that the Turtle House's name change cannot be equated to the name change of Led Zeppelin"... How do you determind what names are "official" and what names are not? As a venue, you mention the "Turtle House", and people know what you're referring to if they really care much at all. Furthermore, a name often becomes official through withstanding a test-period of sorts, and it is only through commitment to a cause that the entity makes it through such a test-period to the point where its name is official.

I feel that this assault on the name has come about a bit prematurely. The house was just remodeled, and naturally it takes some time, as it takes time after a house is built, too, for a place to gain its character back or gain whatever new character it will come to possess. I know that each of the Turtle House tenants has great respect for the tradition of the house, desire to honor that tradition in those ways that don't involve walking on faulty decks or coping with leaking ceilings, and also ideas as to what else might be done with the house to make it culturally significant.

A place's impact on the community, whether a restaurant, club, bar, record store, or house, changes with the times. What makes a place truly special is when it is able to retain some common quality throughout all of this change so that people might associate it with that quality when they refer to it, but also so that people might suit the place to fit the needs that may be found as times change and as new needs arise. The "Turtle House" has several such qualities: housing progressive-minded individuals, housing live music, and being an epicenter of creativity and shmoozing. These qualities are naturally put on hold when a house is remodeled, and naturally delayed when the tenants move out and new tenants move in. Bottom line is this: those who moved into the "Turtle House" did so fully aware of its history, and fully aware of just what might need to be lived up to.

Let me ask you this: is not the definition of "conservative" an unwillingness or hesitancy to change? Yes, you might say that I am speaking of myself, here, and my hesitancy to support a name-change of the house, but I am more speaking of those who are unsupportive of the changes of the house. It is too early to see what the full effect of these changes will be on the house and on the culture of the house and its role in the community.

Frankly, I don't mind changing the name, and it even seems like a somewhat exciting challenge. I just think that the offense taken at the longevity of the house's title is somewhat premature. Just as it is important for us new tenants to respect the history of the house, it is only fair for previous tenants to respect the future tenants and to trust that they are as invested in the traditional qualities of the house itself as any other tenants were. Change the name or don't - it doesn't make a huge difference to me; but as far as the house's culture goes, give us some time. I think that all of us want to make it a pretty amazing place, and a hub of creative collaboration and conversation, among other things, if the police and neighbors will let us do so." —KatieDelwiche


I grew up in Davis and it's been the Turtle house for as long as I can remember. If I had been one of the originators of the name, I think I would be happy to know that a piece of my past lived on. I don't see why anyone would be upset that the house still carries the name that represents a scene that so many people helped create. By keeping the name around you get to leave your mark on the town. But if I were to move in there and a bunch of people got all upset that I wasn't part of their small, open minded, elitist social circle, I would just hang a new mascot on the wall and let the haters fade away with the name. Fortunately I don't live in Davis anymore. Save the pot holes. Frog tunnels kill. —RichRossi


It might ease tensions by referring (in show flyers and such) to the current place as "The New Turtle House". This would acknowledge the uniqueness and history of the Old Turtle House, as well as show continuity with the current place. —SteveDavison


2006-09-22 12:39:09   How about... "The Structure Formerly Known as Turtle House" —MichaelGiardina


Speaking of debates—I debated whether or not to get involved with this, but after reading the comments, I really had no choice. Are some people just not getting the point here or what??? First let me say I never lived at the Turtle House but my daughter did, my son-in-law did, and a number of great people I consider close friends. So, I was there often; I've heard great music in the basement; I've fallen down the stairs a few times (mostly into the basement); I've mixed glitter on the porch, etc. We're not talking about a physical place here people—we're talking about something you can't see or touch—aura—as Dominic says. And, yes, Morgan, you're absolutely correct—The Turtle House and all of its inhabitants were a sub- or sub-sub culture. And that is gone...it's not available for reinvention so people might as well stop trying. I do, however,want to dispute a few points that were made by some folks. Bullshit about the "click" and "exclusionary group" that lived there. Over the years, I have seen the "click" change over and over. Many times I walked onto the porch to find a new face. And the new faces were always welcome (well except for maybe the poor, young sorority girl who took a wrong turn trying to get to those apartments in the alley—sorry sweetie—Kristin—wasn't that the time you and somebody were sisters from Ethiopia?). Okay, so here's my real beef. Come on Mike—let's be honest here—it's about the money (as it often is in Davis). Step back from your safe, little Davis world and let's talk about why you felt the need to bring Wildhorse or Mace Ranch to 2nd Street. And who the hell out of the former Turtle House crowd would have paid $650 per month to live in a bedroom upstairs (well, maybe if they could have chosen the former living room—because afterall—who needs a place to lay back and socialize informally?). If you had really been thinking you could have kept the living room and charged a fee to get into that room too—hell, you could have called it the "Turtle-ett Room." You know, a little creative advertising would have worked well. Okay, so enough about the money—oh, wait....what about the cute little place next door? Talk about killing the soul of a place—hell, kill two souls with one stone. Let's not even go to that one, huh? Okay, I'll drop it. Come on, Mike....just come clean. It's about clout; it's about money; it's about privilege; it's about YOUR name—not really about the name of the house at all. Ditto Rob. —Darleen Kinner—

I just noticed this. "The living room was being rented out as a bedroom at the time of its sale".... what a load of crap. I'd like to know who the invisible person was that was living in my living room that I never knew about. Crap crap crap. HeatherWitt


Okay mom, it's now time for my 2 cents. Well, I have read everyone's arguments and I have a bit of history that hasn't been spoken of yet. Before the turtle house was the turtle house, it was called the music house. In place of the turtle, there was a music note and it was a different crowd. When that group left, they took the note along with them. The house still looked the same, yet the vibe had changed. It was a new group of people and they had different perspectives on everything! The turtle was then placed in the place of the music note. Through the years of knowing and living at the Turtle House, I have met the original folks and many of the past tenents that lived there. They would come to visit and would almost come to tears at the house that they grew in and the house that helped them become the person that they are today. I had an interesting situation when I first moved in there myself. When I was trying to move in there, all of the upstairs tenents were moving out and there were 5 rooms opening up. I worked at the DOV and many of the people that worked there were living at the house and the property management at the time was not allowing anyone who knew the folks downstairs to move in. That of course caused a huge controversy and there were many things that went along with that. The current tenents and "Turtle House" lovers caused chaos. It even got down to the point where people would go to jail to keep the Turtle House the way that it was. It was some people's hearts and souls. One man, who I shall not name, even got naked on the roof and danced around when they went to show the place. Some find nudity offensive, but the folks of the Turtle generally found it natural. Granted, after speaking with the actual owners, they wanted the Turtle to stay the way that it was. I have lived on every level of the Turtle House from the basement up. I love that place and almost all of my best friendships were started there either by the people that were actually living there or by people who considered it their second home and were there on a regular basis. I still share amazing relationships with all of the people that were part of that house and the culture that was once the Turtle House. I miss the crap out of that place and I know that it has changed and as an Anthropologist, I know that change is inevitable and I'm ok with that. What I don't agree with is saying that it is the same thing. For an entire decade the Turtle House was the Turtle House. It's not anymore because the times...they are a changin'. I have no problem with what is going on right now there. People can chose to live there and be a part of it all they want. But, don't get offended that the people that grew and threw their souls into that place don't want it to be tied into a new development. Imagine if the house that you grew up in your entire life, where your parents drew on a wall the different lines of your growth and then someone bought that house and still called it by your family's name. I bet you wouldn't be too happy. The Turtle House crew and life is my family and I don't like that something none of us are really a part of is considered the same. Maybe you will call this selfish, but I personally think that it is selfish of you to try and steal something from me that I consider so dear to me. If you only went to a party here or there at the Old Turtle House and you didn't think that it was so great and what not then why do you need to call it by that name? I personally think my experiences there were amazing and I don't want those times to be compromised by being associated with something entirely different. Drop the name. -Kristin Kinner


Sharla—Thanks for your comments. I can certainly give Mike credit for making improvements to the house. It's a bit of a shame that the historical look of the house changed to such a great degree, but maybe Mike felt that was inevitable. I'm not entirely sure what part of my comments (I'll give you, it was a bit of a rant) triggered your "You have no idea what you are talking about" comment. I guess you were referring to the living room. And whether or not it was being rented out as a bedroom prior to Mike purchasing the property is not really the point. Having an extra bedroom rather than a living room IS still about generating more money, isn't it? And, I'd really appreciate you being a little more careful about criticizing my mothering skills. My daughter is well over 18—I don't feel the need to ALLOW her to do anything. I don't control where she lives nor should I. She's an intelligent person and I feel confident she has the ability to take responsibility for her own life and make good decisions. Unless you know me (which I don't think you do) or my daughter—tread carefully here. On this particular topic—YOU have no idea what you are talking about. (And thanks for the clarification, but I think I could have guessed by your "mothering" response that you grew up in Davis). And as far as your other comment about Mike subsidizing the tenants—that might explain why he feels the need to charge for events at the "Turtle House." Again, Sharla, we've gotten off the point here and I'm as guilty of that as the next person. We're supposed to be talking about the naming (or continued use of the name) of the house and what that means to people who have a strong connection to what the Turtle House represents/represented. It's about using something that is dear to many people as a commodity. It just feels wrong. [Darleen Kinner]


Again thanks for clarification. And, if you missed the point of my previous comments, it doesn't really matter. Although I think the term "demolition" is relative, again, I will give Mike credit for the repairs to the house. And I'll take what you've said about the events at the house at face value. I will also own my part in engaging in a rant that was off topic. We know what the real topic is; there's no need to reiterate the point. And, in truth, we may have all done Mike a huge favor. There's probably no reason whatsoever for him to use the Turtle House name in the future. Interesting....


Wow that really added to the argument, I'm in awe!... I'm so over this argument being on the internet. I agree with removing it from the davis wiki now. It served it's point at the time and now it should be put to rest and removed from the internet to avoid more pointless comments like the one just above. I don't think you can summarize this page other than to say that some people agree with the continued use of the "Turtle House" name and some do not. This is what my psychologist calls closure. The end. —HeatherWitt


2007-09-11 16:36:13   Hi all! This article and web site about the "turtle House" came as quite a shock to me. I lived there from 96 to 2000. I was there when we found the turtle in our neighbor's basement...(not at the house). We also found a lion and a big purple bear that we called "Balou" and placed on the side of the house to guard the trash cans...I can't remember when he finally went out with the trash..I came across this web site when one of my employees "freaked" when she found out that I lived at the house and was involved in putting the funny looking turtle up on the so called second story porch or "smoking area". I never would have thought that it would turn into an icon of Davis. As for the garden, I was heart broken to drive by one day and find it all torn up. My roomates and I spent many afternoons in that yard. (you should have seen the huge tree stump we had to remove to plant the cactus garden). Actually, most of us just sat on the porch, beer in hand, and watched Peter slowly chop away at it with an axe... As for the parties...they started primarily as a way to get people to drink homebrew or as an excuse to make it. (the live music wasn't so bad either) As for the name.....does it really matter...I did't even know it became such a big deal. Don't take the house so seriously...we certainly didn't. —StephanieS.


2014-09-18 16:20:0b Okay, wow I came across some article in the Sac Bee about the turtle house, and then came across this name debate. It has made me laugh, feel nostalgic, and bore me, too, quite honestly. I lived there from 1996 to 1997, in the back illegal bedroom downstairs near the entrance to the basement. It was a great time and a great community that I continued to be involved with until I moved from Davis (2003). Before I voice my singular opinion on this debate, I wanted to add some clarity to the origin of the turtle. So it was summer time (I think 97...) and I was between jobs, between sessions in school, lots of free time. The guy living upstairs with the dog named Stella (so sorry, I am really bad with names) and I started hanging out with a burnout Hell's Angels guy, drinking cheap beer and the such. On the way back from the Sleaze (Fast and Easy) we found the Balou and turtle art being thrown out by one of the sorority/fraternity houses. We nabbed them...because, why not? I'm not sure when or by whom the turtle made it to the crow's nest....but that is how the turtle made it the house. Honest truth. I think it is quite funny that is has become somewhat of a local artist collective icon, knowing it was created by some sorority pledge for a summer social or the like. But it's not the piece of plywood and paint that is important. It's not the house, or the name. It's the experiences I had, and other people who hung out there had. It was a time and a place that was special, in all it's different phases. To all the people I knew then...Hi! My heart will always have a room there with the light on for you.
As for the name...I don't think it's for us to say...everyone call it what you want...how's that for a plan, it being a free country and all. I might feel differently if I still lived in Davis and saw flyers....and since the last entry to this debate was 2007...it's probably worked out or hopefully forgotten by now. Oh, Davis... -Rob W

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