A Manette Bridge By Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet

In the early days of linguistics, a man named Ferdinand de Saussure forwarded the idea that units of language (words) are made up up two components, the “signifier” and the “signified.”

An example would be a bridge, say, the Manette Bridge. The signifier would be the sounds that, when linked together, form “M-A-N-E-T-T-E B-R-I-D-G-E.” The signified would be the steel structure that spans the Port Washington Narrows and furthers Bremerton’s insatiable hunger for land acquisition and iron-fisted power.

Soon, assuming the state and city survive the snow and the conversion to digital television signals, Bremerton will have a new signified, a new Manette Bridge, but it may also get a new signifier in the form of an honorary name.

Comes now, Jacob Metcalf, writer, activist, roller-derby emcee, video game scholar and perhaps bridge-name-campaigner

His plan is to lobby a local state lawmaker to introduce a bill in the Legislature. He’s pushing to get a small metal plate on the bridge, so that would be the extent of the state’s involvement, which will cost very little.

Here are his ideas:

Bob Deitz – Former county Democratic party chair, OC instructor and friend to Kisap Democrats. Metcalf admitted this is a long-shot, but noted that “Republicans have a bridge named after Adel Ferguson.”

President Harry Truman – It’s said Truman gave his “Give em hell, Harry” speech on Pacific Avenue, that is, a heckler yelled the catch-phrase at him during the speech, presumably a Bremertonian. It’s nice that a president’s visit was the occasion for a memorable piece of profanity.

Robert F. Kennedy – Not sure about this one, but it was one of Jake’s suggestions.

Martin Luther King – Again, not sure what King thought of Bremerton, if he thought of it at all.

President-elect Barack Obama – “That would make the Republicans heads explode, but if they had their way they would name everything after Reagan,” Metcalf wrote.

State House Speaker Frank Chopp of Seattle – One of the strangest things about Bremerton, beside all the places where one can buy exotic swords and knives, is that living, sitting politicians get structures named after them. Chopp already has a building named after him here. “Of course he would actually have to vote on this bill,” Metcalf wrote.

Who Not:

Late U.S. Sen. Warren Magnuson – “Already has a bridge named after him.”

U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks – “Has his building.”

Mayor Cary Bozeman – “Has his damn tunnel and condos.”

Late U.S. Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson – “Has a naval base in Everett and a submarine named after him.”

Metcalf also mentioned former President Jimmy Carter and U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island, as out of the running.

Long shots:

MxPx – Pepsi pitchmen and sons of Bremerton.

Sir Mix-A-Lot – Wrote a song about women from Bremerton, demeaning them. We all know what a bunch of winners the men are.

Andy’s suggestions:

Quincy Jones – Not a strong Democratic connection, but before he left town and never returned, this Michael Jackson producer and Dizzy Gillespie band member lived here.

Pat O’Day – The scoutmaster of northwest rock, voice of the hydros, drug and alcohol treatment center owner and former Westpark resident, brought the Beatles to Seattle and was personally responsible for whipping up more youthful exuberance in the Puget Sound region than Rainer Ale.

Singh the 7-Eleven Man – Always remembers my brand of cigarettes, along with the brands of half of the city, endlessly patient and generous, tries to break up fights, once refused to sell me an old churro out of concern for my health. He’s a really good guy, I’ll vouch for him.

17 thoughts on “A Manette Bridge By Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet

  1. I just want to make it clear that I will call it the “New Manette Bridge” or the “Manette Bridge” but I want the full name to be the “Frank Chopp Manette Bridge”. This would only show up on the dedication plaque and on maps. The bill would have no financial impact on the project.

    As much as I like Jay Inslee he is from Bainbridge and the future bridge in question is not in his congressional district. The 1st CD ends at Sylvan way.

    Jimmy Carter has plenty of things named after him in Georgia and he has a thermonuclear attack submarine named after him that is stationed at Bangor (not bad for a Nobel Peace prize winner).

    Since the new Manette bridge will be between the 26th and 23rd Legislative district I would probably ask the legislators from both of them to sponsor a bill to name the bridge.

    I did also consider William Gates Sr. who is from here. I am also a fan of the tax reform study commission he chaired and his work heading up his son’s non-proffit group. But the library at UW is named after his late wife and I am sure that there will be plenty of things named after him and his son (Bill Gates of Microsoft.. not the CIA guy).

    Also there is an effort to name the new Tacoma Narrows bridge after the late State Senator Bob Oak since the Narrows Bridge was his project for such a long time.

    I don’t hold Mr L. Ron Hubard’s writing in too high esteem and I personally have a pretty low opinion of the action of his “organization of followers”.

    Currently I am leaning toward Frank Chopp since I think he is a good guy and a native son of Bremerton. I knew he was an affordable housing activist before he became Speaker of the House and didn’t know he had buildings named after him. Plus he is actually from here and helped pass the transportation tax bills (the dreaded Gregoire Gas tax!) that actually got the funds to build the bridge. Frank Chopp is a hard working legislator who really believes in trying to make Washington State a better place for everyone. It would be interesting to note that as a sitting Speaker of the House he would get the ability to bring the legislation to vote on the house floor and if he wanted to torpedo it he totally could. Plus I don’t know if he would vote for it since it would be about him.

    Sure it is a little weird to name a bridge after someone who is still in office but it is not everyday that we build a new bridge like this. The bill would probably start in the transportation committee since it is a WSDOT project.

  2. Also if I had to choose between being Speaker of the House and Governor I would pick Speaker. It is not as sexy as the executive branch of government but it is much more directly hands on in the legislative process and just as important constitutionally. Also the speakers can stay in power longer than a gubernatorial term since they are speaker for as long as their party are in power in the House (and they have the votes of their party).

    I don’t agree with Speaker Chopp on all political issues (like the Seattle WH-99 viaduct options) but I agree with a vast majority of his legislative work and it is not everyday that we get to say thanks to a guy that grew up here, went to school here and then eventually became one of the most powerful people politically in the state.

  3. Why not call it the Sara Lee Bridge?
    Sara Lee is usually in most households at one time or another and the name has a nice flow to it.

    The ‘Manette Bridge is named after the town it serves and should remain the Manette Bridge…in my opinion.
    Sharon O’Hara

  4. Mary, Jacob, the L Ron suggestion was a joke, a reference to another native son. Please lighten up. It’s Christmas!!!!

    Isn’t Speaker Chopp’s state position equivalent to Speaker Pelosi’s national position? If so, maybe he’s the “decider” and they won’t have to vote on it.

    That second paragraph was an attempt at a joke. Thank you.

  5. The Irene Parkins bridge is nice. She lived in Manette from about 1915 to about 1965 until she moved to Port Orchard to be near here daughter and her family.

  6. Coach Bill Bissell, former high school music director in Bremerton, famous, nearly infamous band leader at the UW, and inventor of The Wave.

    What could be more appropriate than a bridge, and the wave?

  7. Binion here:

    If it went through, it would likely end up like the I-90 bridge, or the 520 bridge, which are named after somebody (Murrow and Rossellini, respectively). But like Saussure might say, efforts to intentionally constrain or steer language are doomed to fail, and people will likely continue to call it the Manette bridge.

  8. Karen – really – sorry but your attempts at “joking” needs work. And yes it is Christmas- didn’t know I needed to lighten up but I guess I can try. ….. hmmmm – nothing happening … guess I didn’t need to!! Have yourself a very happy Christmas season – I am!

  9. If renaming a bridge after someone is nonproductive, why change the name?
    If the person has merit, why not name a new street, a new school, a new park after that person?
    Sharon O’Hara

  10. Bob Dietz would be an excellent name to commemorate a very decent and community sensitive person, in Bremerton. I know Bob Dietz and appreciate his efforts in the community.

  11. Karen there are plenty of things named after Chief Seattle.

    Sharon. We are not building any new roads or schools in Bremerton in a while but we are going to be building a new bridge that is going to be paid for by WSDOT funds that were raised by the legislature under his leadership.

    To be quite honest I have not asked Speaker Chopp or his office what they think about naming the bridge after him. He might not support it. The late State-Senator Bob Oake did not support naming the new Tacoma Narrows bridge after him in his last few days.

    First Lady Nancy Reagan said that her husband would not support the proposed congressional to put him on the dime since Reagan was a supporter of FDRs.

    Yes Speaker Chopp is the leader of the Democrats in the Washington State House of Represenatives in Olympia and was elected Speaker of the House, he also represents the 43rd LD in the U-District with Rep. Jamie Pederson. He is likely to remain in that roll until he retires or the Republicans elect a majority of legislators to the Washington State House. Given my assessment of state politics it is likely that he will stay Speaker for sometime. The Speaker of the House is the one that wields the gavel on the floor and can decide what legislation comes to the floor for a vote and when. The governor has a glamorous job but the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader is pretty darn important when it comes to the shape of the legislation that does or does not come out of Olympia.

    Back in the late 80s we had Washington State’s own Congressman Tom Foley as the US Speaker of the House and Senator Patty Muray is 3rd in line to the US Senate Majority leader.

    I know people will still call it the “Manette Bridge” but I just want a chance to thank Speaker Chopp by putting his name on the plaque and on the maps. This is like of those bills that legislatures pass that does not have a fiscal impact or really do anything but it sends a nice gesture and it does not take up too much of their time.

    I’ll write my letter and propose the legislation to the 23rd and 26th Representatives and let you know what develops.

  12. A moratorium on naming any taxpayer supported infrastructure unless the person has been dead at least 10 years. If we still believe they were worthy after ten years they can have their name thrown in for consideration. Andy & Jake, not one female worthy to discuss? If I had it my way my favorite dead female cat, Miss Kitty, would at least be up for the prize.

  13. Binion here:

    Jane has a good point about not suggesting any women. And I also like her point about having to be dead for 10 years. That’s similar to the requirements the Catholics have for sainthood. And in a sense, naming massive public works projects after people is a kind of secular canonization.

  14. Who are the notable Bremerton women, dead 10 or more years?

    Typically women back the men in their lives to succeed … they were/are the unsung enablers.

    Without the mothers and wives influence and help, most notable men would not be notable….In my opinion.

    So. To be fair we could decide on the most favored man to be named, then honor his wife…let her name be listed as a bridge.
    Sharon O’Hara

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