I just chatted with Aaron Duran, the guy behind the fledgling movement to rename 42nd Avenue for Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. (In the book, the “Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything” is 42, hence the choice of streets.)
Duran concedes that the idea began as a joke. He and several friends were discussing the César E. Chávez rename issue over beers a few weeks ago, and wondered if anyone could try to rename a street. “Can you just name anything after anyone? What if someone wanted to make a street after Douglas Adams?” Duran says.
But after they researched Adams a bit more, “It makes sense. He was real big in global conservation, a huge advocate of bringing technology to everyone, and a support of the free flow of education—the idea that educating people could help solve issues like global poverty,” Duran adds. In other words, Adams might as well have been a Portlander, his values dovetail so well with our city’s. Meanwhile, Adams—who died in 2001 at the age of 49—”enjoyed his spirits and his fine beers.”
“It’s something that’s possible and something the city could be proud of,” Duran says.
So they started a website for the effort, and Duran just got a copy of the official rename process application today. “As pedantic and annoying as bureaucracy can be, you can’t put yourselves above the rules—even if you’re the mayor,” says Duran, who lives off of 43rd. He and the rest of the 42nd rename team plan to follow the official rename process to the letter, he says. “Since we’re not on the council we can’t really strong arm this one, and we don’t want to,” he says. They’re about to start raising the money needed to file the application, and they’ve reached out to Adams’ widow to see if they can get her blessing.
I also spoke with Clarance Larkins, head of the NE 42nd Avenue Business Association.
“Is this a joke?” he asked. I assured him that as far as I could tell, it is not, and I directed him to the website.
“Whoever’s in charge of that, probably needs to come to a [business association] meeting,” he says. “They haven’t even talked to us about it. I think they’re going about this the wrong way.” Uh oh.
Larkins, who hadn’t heard of Adams, adds that this sounds different than the Chávez effort. “That’s a real person,” he says. “Here we’re talking about galaxies and whatever.”
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