Opinion » Street Talk

Out with the old


Have you read The Shredder lately? Is it just me, or has that column lost its punch? It's been around for so long no one cares anymore whether they get shredded or not. It's as bland as lukewarm tofu. Blander, even. Like a chalk-and-tapwater smoothie served at room temperature with Barry Manilow elevator music playing in the background at sea level on a Wednesday.

I’m thinking of not even reading The Shredder any more because it’s such a boring, tired idea. Past its prime. One foot in the grave. Totally early ’90s.

KVEC talk-show host Dave Congalton told me so. He said that it was time for New Times to do a little spring cleaning and kick out the musty old Shredder and replace it with something fresh and clean and pine-scented.

I’ve noticed that everybody gets this sort of attitude when the weather turns warmer. They air out their bedrooms and dig through their closets and pull out all the old clutter that accumulated in the back over the past year or somehow managed to evade every cleaning for the past decade.

“It’s a fresh start!� they say with joy, as if an organized armoire will suddenly give them the fulfillment they’ve always been looking for in their wasted lives, and then they start slowly filling up all the junk drawers and bottom shelves with trash to be thrown out the next year.

That’s what The Shredder is to Dave: a left-footed platform shoe found wedged behind a box of photo albums, not even suitable for giving to Goodwill.

Dave knows about things like relevance and contemporary appeal. He knows about a lot of things, apparently, especially the staying power of local media personalities, because he’s been around a while himself — since the beginning of 1992, if I recall correctly. About 13 years ago, just a bit longer than The Shredder’s been around, he started broadcasting into the void, shooting from the hip at local issues and global concerns. He still shoots from the hip, but now it’s an artificial one.

Drawing from his many, many years of experience, Dave explained that The Shredder used to be a power player, but now it lacks teeth. Shredder attacks used to be feared and revered around San Luis proper, he said, but now that everyone’s got a Shredder-shaped scar or two, they’re nothing to worry about. If your name shows up in The Shredder, you just yawn and flip to the back of the paper to see what Breszny says is in store for you this week or whether anyone’s giving away free kittens that they found lurking behind their refrigerator when they started cleaning back there.

Shredder attacks used to be feared and revered around San Luis proper, but now that everyone’s got a Shredder-shaped scar or two, they’re nothing to worry about.

I say that if The Shredder has lost its edge, then Dave has lost his edge, blade, pommel, scabbard, and right arm. This criticism is coming from a guy who writes books about animal mortality, with titles like “When Your Pet Outlives You� and “Three Cats, Two Dogs.� His bio on the KVEC web site makes a point to mention that he’s always got time to “debate about whether or not people should allow their pets to sleep on the bed.� The folksy folks at HopeDance chose him as one of their local heroes, citing his “gentle respect for his guests and his love for animals and his parents.� Talk about bland. This guys sounds about as exciting as a microwaveable one-course English dinner for one, accompanied by a Kenny G CD played at fairly low volume in a small apartment in Fresno.

He even interviewed New Times staff writer Abraham Hyatt last week, which is seriously scraping the bottom of the barrel — the very bottom, where all the muck and gunk from whatever was in the barrel in the first place settles and gets extra mucky and gunky until no amount of spring cleaning will ever get it off.

You know that Mona Lisa painting they have there in France, Dave? They should
get rid of that, too, don’t you think? Because portraits of people are so passé. Heck, people are so passé. Every time I hear about somebody having a
baby, I roll my eyes and think, “Oh how predictable.�

And Bishop Peak … what an eyesore! Who knows how long that thing’s been lying around, collecting dust? We should just throw the whole thing into the sea, and then throw the whole sea into space, because that whole “beautiful ocean� shtick just isn’t cutting it anymore either. And don’t get me started on space.

Sound ridiculous? Of course it is. Beestings still hurt, Dave, despite the fact that bees have been stinging people since the first bare foot met the first grassy field buzzing with drones looking for pollen to take back to their hive queen. If a rattlesnake bites me, I’ll still ask someone to suck the poison out, even though some scientists estimate that venomous reptiles have been lurking around this planet for the past 150 million years.

If you don’t feel that The Shredder has bite anymore, Dave, it’s because your own legs are numb from sitting in front of the microphone for so long. Stand up. Walk around a little. And if something pricks your ankle after you hear an ominous rattling, give me a call. It’s easy for me to suck out poison with my gaping, toothless mouth.

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