New Fotomat vaults Tyee City into tech era

LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION The new Fotomat film development kiosk along Mad River Road offers tourists quick, two-week turnaround for the pics they take on the mighty Mad River and world-famous Pacific Ocean. The ocean, home to many heavily used shipping lanes key to global trade, has been written up in such prestigious periodicals as National Geographic and Sunset Magazine. Submitted photo

Charf Malvenard
Mad River Union

TYEE CITY, APRIL 1 – A bold initiative by Tyee City movers and shakers promises to send the micro-hamlet at the Mad River’s mouth rocketing into the 1970s.  

The Tyee City Economic Development and Compost Committee (aka Al and Martha) last week announced acquisition of a “lot-proven” Fotomat booth for installation along Mad River Road. The entire micro-shack, complete with film envelopes and planters with sullen vegetation, was purchased off eBay.

It comes equipped with an array of hi-tech communications equipment, including a Tandy 1000 computer with a lightning-fast 1200-baud modem, plus a thermal paper fax machine. 

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The kiosk promises quick, 14-day turnaround for developing rolls of film dropped off there. 

A press release extolled the new Fotomat as “A boon to tourists, whale watchers and photographers visiting Mad River County Park.”

The installation was backed by a consortium of investors made up of the forward-thinking futurist owners of People’s Records and the Mad River Union.

Revenues from the new stand will quintuple the city’s economy, and add a cheery bit of Americana to the remote outpost. At least that’s the plan.

A town divided

But best-laid plans all too often go off the rails, and the pert little kiosk came under immediate fire from a rebel faction (Lou and Becky) in the micro-metropolis’s upper leadership elites. 

Calling the Fotomat a “mammoth mistake way out of scale for the site, which will cast a dark shadow across the town” the booth advocates recently organized a protest at the tiny hut. With the Tyee City SWAT Team looking on, the protesters encircled the beleagured booth and brandished signs reading “Flatten the ’Mat,”  “A Revolting Development” and “U.S. Out Of Grenada!” 

“I’ve had that one since the ’80s,” Becky said. “It still has some life in it.”

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The Fotomat may collapse of its own doing, however. 

On learning of Tyee City's burgeoning new business district, the cities of Finntown and Crannell submitted competeing bids to wrest the Fotomat franchise away from it.

Meanwhile, Tyee City is hedging its bets, looking for a “way forward.” Toward that end, an architect has been commissioned to design a  lemonade stand to maintain and diversify the town’s new revenue stream. 

Citing “concerns,” Humboldt Baykeeper is monitoring the Fotomat situation.

“Normally we wouldn't involve ourselves with something on the other side of the Arcata Bottom from the bay,” said spokesman Ken Jalt. “But with a project of this scale, we feel we have to.”



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