Opinion » Shredder

No free parking


Yawn. You’ll have to pardon my incoherent babbling and try not to stand downwind of my morning breath. I spent the day in bed. Not because I’m lazy or anything. It just happens to be my day of rest. Why does someone who naps 20 hours a day and hoovers the kitchen floor for cookie crumbs the remaining four hours merit a day of rest? Well, my religion mandates that I spend a day of leisure reflecting on the glories of ultra-soft toilet paper.

It’s not easy. I don’t leave my couch, except for my ritual mid-morning doughnut waddle followed by a late-early-morning booze run: boxed wine represents the blood of crushed grapes according to my holy book, Booze Bible: A comprehensive guide to all beverages alcoholic. My point is: I sacrifice a lot for my beliefs. And it concerns me that the city of San Luis Obispo does so little to accommodate my theological whims.

Case in point: Last Tuesday I got a parking ticket while buying a pack of doughnuts. I tried to explain to the meter maid that I stopped briefly downtown to drop off papers for a charity I was working with, but she was unmoved by my blatant lie.

Which got me thinking: SLO is the financial equivalent of the Titanic, minus the steamy sex, historical significance, and PG-13 nipples, of course. There’s not much the city won’t do for money at this point. So it didn’t come as much of a surprise when leaders announced they were going to enforce parking fees in downtown SLO on Sundays in addition to every other day of the week. I’ve often wondered why Sunday gets a free pass. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not a fan of paying for anything. Even my underwear is hand-me-down. But why, in a supposedly evolved society, are we giving one day credit over the rest?

So charging fees to park downtown on a Sunday seemed like evening the score to me. At last the SLO City Council was making rational and reasonable decisions. And all those people foaming at the mouth, ranting about how they’d never set foot downtown again, well, apparently they’ve never heard of this old-fashioned activity called walking. Yeah, it makes more sense to park as close to downtown as possible, pay a fortune in parking, then drive to your gym of choice where you pay up the butt in monthly fees to sweat on a treadmill.

But logic rarely wins in SLO, and it certainly didn’t prevail in this particular issue. Apparently the outcry from churchgoers was sufficiently vociferous—they’ve got good pipes from all those hallelujahs—that the City Council decided to stick with the Sunday parking fee but push it back from the traditional 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to accommodate morning services. Which made me wonder why—in these unspeakably dreary economic times—the city is bending over backwards for holy rollers.

There are a number of reasons to go downtown, three of which are buying that sexy belly shirt at Abercrombie, work, and admiring the overpriced sidewalks and inoffensive public art. But apparently the city has decided to prioritize certain people’s reasons for going downtown. And if the city is essentially sacrificing money to undercut parking expenses for one creed of churchgoers downtown, are they going to start doing the same for all other religious organizations? Are they going to pony up to re-pave Congregation Beth David’s parking lot when the time comes? What about contributing some parking spots to Mosque of Nasreen? In the spirit of fairness, of course.

Smile for the camera

We don’t get very many guarantees in this life. There’s life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness—pursuit being an important qualifier. And there’s the guarantee that one day we’ll die. By tacit agreement, we treat death with a measure of respect and dignity, because it’s the only way to ensure we’ll be accorded the same when we’re no longer around to defend our reputation, and because kicking someone when they’re already six feet under is low, even by my standards—and I once Frenched a toad in the hopes it would transform into Prince William.

So when I received a press release with a mug shot from the San Luis Obispo Police Department, I figured some guy had done something really embarrassing and stupid and was now cooling his heels in jail. It’s nice to be reminded, even if it is courtesy of the fuzz, that you’re not the only screw-up around.

Imagine my surprise when it turned out that the man pictured in the press release, identified as 63-year-old Charles Russell Lavenson, hadn’t committed any recent crime to speak of—unless you consider being found dead at the base of San Luis mountain a crime. No one, police included, seems to have any clue as to the circumstances that led to his death. Of course, anyone who reads the press release isn’t going to be overwhelmed with the tragedy of the man’s departure from this plane. They’re going to be wondering why the police department has his mug shot on file, what crime he committed, and when. They’re going to be reasoning whether they should feel bad, mentally assigning him crimes he didn’t actually commit.

I don’t know what purpose the mug shot in the press release was supposed to serve: Either it was pubescent-level pranking, sheer callousness, or idiocy generally reserved for the campaign trail. If you’ve got a record, don’t worry: The cops already have a picture of you to use when you shuffle off this mortal coil. You will be forever memorialized as someone who was once arrested and booked.

When I die—assuming my bargain with Satan doesn’t work out—I’d prefer not to have my every transgression paraded before a gawking and judgmental public. I’d also like my ashes scattered over a slice of pizza at the nearest Sbarro and fed to an unassuming politician.

Shredder shreds seashells by the seashore. Send sandbags to [email protected].

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