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Here's a new name for ill-conceived event center

Several months ago I wrote one of my periodic screeds about the "event" center that is slouching toward Bemidji to be born. There was nothing unique about the letter -- just one more rant into the void by one citizen who cares deeply about the community and feels insulted by the way that intelligent opposition has been marginalized, demonized, and consistently disregarded by those in positions of power.

But by accident I stumbled upon something that could be our populist revenge. In the course of the last letter I referred to the monster rink as "The Big Mausoleum." I began getting calls praising the moniker and even saw it used in letters to the editor. I was surprised and gratified.

And it started me to thinking. The Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, which is the fantasy big brother of our own mausoleum, has become known as "the Ralph." Hardly anyone speaks of it otherwise. What if we, the unheard and unheeded of Bemidji, simply started calling our bloated new hockey rink, "The Big Mausoleum," or "The Big Mozz"? They couldn't stop us, they couldn't muzzle us, they couldn't subvert us with legal maneuvers and manipulated votes.

"The Big Mozz" would be ours, and no purchased efforts at corporate naming rights could take it back. Just imagine. Children would grow up staring at the great concrete monster squatted on its haunches in Nymore and know it only as "The Big Mozz." Out of towners would stop at gas stations and be directed to "The Big Mozz." And, perhaps most significant of all, this unneeded hockey rink would have a name that was more reflective of its reality than the disingenuous and distortive "event center," because "The Big Mozz" will be an empty mausoleum far more often than it will ever be the site of any events.

So, Bemidji, do with this as you will. Like any grass-roots effort, this will only take hold if the people want it. But I offer it to you as a way to take part in the dialogue from which you have been effectively excluded. If we start using "The Big Mozz" in conversation and in print, and it catches on, we will claim the voice we have been effectively denied. Maybe no one listened to us, but if we can claim the name, they will have no choice but to hear us.

Kent Nerburn