Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Joy of Koi

Man, I love Koi. They are the coolest fish. They're essentially really big goldfish. They live in backyard ponds all around the bay area, and it's a huge business. Whenever I think of Koi, I can't help but remember this poor guy I knew whose life was ruined by Koi. For purposes of privacy, let's call him Scooter. Well, I met Scooter when he was working as a bartender at the Cheesecake Factory near my house. He was an amiable sort, if not a bit cocky, but he made great drinks and good conversation, so we quickly became casual friends. Anyway, this guy was a college student who went to the University of Santa Cruz (home of the banana slugs), and at the time MTV was doing a reality show about his fraternity. Well, one night when they were all hammered, they went out to a Koi pond on the Santa Cruz campus, caught a 12-lb, Koi, cooked it and ate it. The MTV crew got it all on tape and when they showed it on TV, people were understandably really upset. Scooter was arrested and sent to jail for Koi homicide. He and one of his frat brothers were looking at some hard time in a fishbowl known as the Santa Cruz County Jail. What must have been going through these poors saps' minds as they sat with the vomiting drunks and stinky homeless types, knowing the entire time that they were there because of a fish? The national media took the story and ran with it, and pretty soon Scooter had a lot of the kind of attention he could have done without. The local rag newspaper in town wrote a long piece about the incident, and actually disclosed the location where Scooter worked in the article, which I thought was extremely uncool. Sure, the kid screwed up, but c'mon -- he deals with the public in his job because he's a bartender, so why don't we tell the whole world where he works so that Koi lovers can go down there and harass him? (Which they did, by the way.) One of the funniest things happened one day when Scooter was working, and one of the television sets at the bar was on CNN. All of a sudden, the tracker thing that scrolls along at the bottom of the screen read, "Frat boy kills Koi in Northern California". Everyone gave Scooter a hard time after that. We'd ask him things like if the fish special was fresh. Angelina even asked him if people were giving him carp about the whole incident! Instead of Scooter, his name was now Koi Boy. Well, the case eventually went to court, which meant a whole new barrage of media attention for poor Scooter. The judge wasn't pleased over the fact that Scoots wasn't showing any remorse. Scooter had already expressed in the media that he thought the whole incident had been blown way out of proportion. He tried to compare it to hitting a squirrel with your car or the old school frat boy swallowing a goldfish routine -- he made it clear that he felt it was much ado about nothing. Consequently, Scooty got the shaft while his frat bro walked away fairly unscathed. The judge didn't see it Scooter's way, so he got a ton of community service and had to pay a hefty fine. The funniest part of the story -- the community work that the judge assigned him involved stoop labor down at the Japanese Tea Gardens in San Jose's Kelly Park -- cleaning carp's crap out of an enormous Koi pond. Hopefully, Koi all over the world are laughing at the Scootsman. It must be like a story Koi tell other Koi and laugh about at Koi bars.
If you're interested in Koi and/or Koi ponds, visit these web sites:, which has a cool Koi encyclopedia and talking dictionary about Koi; and -- a very in-the-know Koi web site by the people who publish Koi USA magazine. If you want to buy some Koi for yourself or talk to someone about Koi ponds, Bob Akins is an expert. He's one of the owners of Superior Koi, located at Concord Feed & Fuel in Concord. Their phone number is: (925) 940-1200. Give them a call. A Koi pond will relax you and make you live longer, and that's a fact!

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