Opinion » Shredder

How dry I am


Paso Robles has been hotter than two hamsters farting in a wool sock being played with by Satan's jalapeño-covered, three-peckered, longhaired house cat, Smoky. Seriously! But hey, the California Mid-State Fair only happens for 12 days in a row once a year, so what do you do? Sunscreen and hydrate! The first one's easy, but if you're thinking about bringing your eco-friendly insulated, reusable Hydro Flask to the fair, forget about it.

Q: "Can I bring in a water bottle?" asks the fair's frequently asked questions webpage.

A: "Yes, you may bring up to two (2) unopened plastic water bottle(s); they are also available for sale from various vendors. There is one public water fountain on the grounds, located in the Main Quad," intones the list of rules.

So instead of being environmentally responsible, not to mention thrifty (which sounds better than "cheap," right?), I have to buy unopened water in single-use plastic bottles, which I'll subsequently throw away, no doubt killing an endangered sea turtle somewhere down the line of said plastic's 450-year period to degrade. Wow. Special.

And if I don't feel like hauling around two increasingly warming plastic water bottles I bought at the grocery store, I can buy water from a vendor at the famously inexpensive (Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! Sigh.) Mid-State Fair? Wow, great.

Or I can find the sole public water fountain on the 40-acre fairground. Really, Mid-State Fair? Really? One free water dispenser in 1.742 million square feet? More than 400,000 people attend the fair every year, sharing one bubbler? Sheesh!

Hold the presses! Though the fair's website rules remain the same, maybe enough water complaints came in to do something. On July 24 on its Facebook page, the fair was touting a new "free hydration station" in "Good Ol Burger in Frontier Town." That's nice but what do we put the water in, one of the empty, BPA-tainted disposable water bottles we had to buy?

First, Mid-State Fair powers that be, you should try to eliminate plastic waste as much as possible! Sell refillable commemorative cups that people can buy or let people bring in their own reusable cups. And no straws! Require biodegradable or compostable utensils and plates from vendors. I'd love to know how many cubic yards of trash the fair generates for the landfill, but oddly that's not one of the records they appear interested in tracking and publicizing. Weird, right?

Seriously, Mid-State Fair, you should definitely have free hydration stations all over the fairgrounds where people can refill their own reusable water bottles with filtered water. Come on! We're dying out here eating all this salty, deep-fried food! "Come for the corndogs, stay for the heatstroke!" isn't a great motto, dig me?

And speaking of rednecks, The Tribune reported that the SLO County History Center has come under fire for flying a rainbow pride flag? Yeah, apparently some people think displaying a flag that celebrates inclusivity and tolerance of the LGBTQ-plus community is overt political leftism.

Not only did the center celebrate Pride Week by flying a rainbow flag—which was stolen, by the way (insert eye roll)—it also partnered with the Central Coast Queer Archive Project, a local version of a nationwide movement to document and maintain a history of the LGBTQ-plus community, which has historically been ostracized, marginalized, ignored, or worse.

And some people are steamed about it.

News flash, haters! The History Center is there to preserve history whether you like that history or not! Your theft of the rainbow flag and criticism of the center's activities are now part of its history too, and years from now, as someone gazes back in retrospect, they'll no doubt say, "What the hell was wrong with this vocal minority in SLO County that complained about raising a pride flag and preserving LGBTQ-plus history? They sound like small-minded asshats."

Gay dudes, lesbians, transgender folks, queers, nonconformists—they're all part of our community! Their stories deserve a place in the History Center, and frankly, I'd much rather that story be about how SLO County loved and welcomed its less-than-mainstream neighbors rather than how we turned our backs on them.

This is the same city where some homophobic firebug torched a gay pride flag displayed in SLO Mayor Heidi Harmon's front yard. No wonder this city is attracting fine and upstanding citizens like Bronson Harmon (no relation), a recent grad from Modesto who, according to the Trib, got his Cal Poly wrestling scholarship revoked after being caught on video yelling a homophobic slur while counter-protesting a Bring Families Together rally opposing Trump's immigration policies. Now the Cal Poly Queer Student Union is petitioning to get Bronson kicked out of the school altogether.

Might be a good idea. While Poly's made it clear that it doesn't put any quotas on certain kinds of students, it does seem to suffer from an overabundance of privileged white male meatheads who can't help but spend their time finding new ways to be racist, sexist, and generally shitty.

To be honest, I'll be surprised if Bronson decides to come to Cal Poly after all. Between his negative publicity, his lack of wrestling scholarship, and SLO Town's decided shortage of rainbow pride flags left to vandalize, what's the draw, eh? Δ

The Shredder is cooler than a polar bear drinking a milkshake in a snowstorm. Send ideas and comments to shredder@newtimesslo.com.


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