Juneauites and those who frequent Alaska's capital city were surprised to learn this morning of a decision to remove the Capitol Building's second-floor benches due to security risks and congestion. The Alaska Dispatch News reports the benches "have provided front-row seating for legislative spectators, as well as a platform for influence-peddling."
According to a source quoted in the article, this is not the first time the benches have been removed. However, it is the first time the benches have disclosed--exclusively to O.H.M.--10 things you did not know about them:
1. The benches' original design included spokes, spikes, and dividers similar to those seen at public bus stations to discourage loitering.
2. Believe it or not, the benches are hand-crafted from old-growth, responsibly-sourced cedar harvested from right next door in the Tongass National Forest!
3. The benches originally adorned the front porch of the home of Secretary of State William Seward. He had them shipped north as a diplomatic gift to commemorate the "purchase" of Alaska from the Russians. The benches resided in the lobby of the Kremlin and thereafter in the private collection of an anonymous rich old lady before the legislature passed a bill that repatriated the benches to the Capitol.
4. During the wee morning hours, late into the legislative session, the underside of the benches were a favorite cranny for legislative aides, pages, and staffers to curl up into little balls and weep softly.
5. As of today, the benches will be temporarily stored in State Surplus between three crates of heavy duty staples and one composite Formica standing desk while their fate is determined.
6. The benches are rumored to possess magical powers that render instantly bored, tired, and cynical anyone whose rear end touches their leather-bound surface.
7. If you look into your bathroom mirror and say "CONCURRENT RESOLUTION" three times in a clear and ominous voice, a ghostly apparition of the benches will appear.
8. The benches have served as a comfortable lounging spot for chronic inebriates and faint cruisers during the summer months when the legislature is out of session.
9. If you look closely, you can see etched into the bordering of the benches the initials of every couple who ever hooked up during session inside a little heart.
10. It is rumored that this year's budget includes a line-item for reclining, movie theater-style stadium seating and cup-holders to replace the storied and controversial benches.
Photo: James Brooks, Juneau Empire