Opinion » Street Talk

Now you see me …


While messing around in my Shredder laboratory last night, I accidentally stumbled across a formula for invisibility. I won’t reveal all my secrets to you, but I will say it involves hydrogen peroxide, Tums, and about a quart of Gatorade.

I had just swigged this concoction in the hopes of regaining some hair, since I had originally wanted to market it as a sort of generic Rogaine, when I looked in the mirror and realized I could no longer see myself. The first thing I did was check with my tongue for fangs, and since I found only my usual fillings and a popcorn kernel, I figured I wasn’t a vampire, lucky for you. The only logical conclusion was that it was now impossible for anyone to see me, which may be worse, depending on whether you’d rather live in fear of me scratching at your window and sucking your blood at night, or live in fear of me scratching at your window wearing only my underpants, only now you can’t see me doing it. I guess it depends on how much you trusted me before, and how often you caught me lurking in your bushes, digging in your trash, watching through your windows with binoculars, oh my goodness, I can’t believe how many pills you have in your medicine cabinet.

My first order of business as the new Invisible Shredder, before stopping by your house to spy, that is, was to play a few pranks. With election season just around the corner, I decided to call some local radio stations and screw with the candidates on the air, but I forgot that even though people can’t see me, they can still recognize my voice on the phone.

“Oh, is that you, Shredder?� Dave Congalton asked. “You’re too late. Somebody already punk’d my guest for the day.�

The politician in question turned out to be state senate candidate Peg Pinard, who received a call shortly before she was supposed to go on the air for Congalton’s daily afternoon time filler. Somebody pretending to be Congalton’s producer Tom Madsen told her to show up about a half hour later than she was supposed to, which suited her fine, until she heard Congalton filling the dead air on his show with bird calls and bad jokes, have you heard the one about the thieves who stole a truckload of Viagra? The police were on the lookout for a group of hardened criminals. Whoo! I should quit my day job.

Anyway, Congalton was searching for her through the airwaves, since for all he knew she was lying in a ditch somewhere with a broken leg calling his name, or had just decided her time would be better spent clipping her toenails or watching the paint peel in the old county government building. At first, he blamed his producer, thinking Madsen couldn’t tell time right and was giving his guests the wrong information, see, when the big hand is on the five and the little hand is on the 10 it means, oh wait, it
wasn’t you?

Later, after Congalton apologized to Madsen (I’d hit the big man up for a raise now, if I were you, Maddy) and had somewhat solved The Case of the Missing Pinard, he learned that county supervisor candidate Patty Andreen had received a suspiciously similar call, though she must’ve eaten her Wheaties that morning because she decided to double check the postponement before her on-air appearance.

Now, Congalton’s on his best guard, watching out for media-savvy rats in what he suspects may be local Republicans’ clothing, and this is from the guy who defends people like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, so don’t go saying he’s a bleeding-heart liberal just yet.

The SLO County chapter of a group called the Toxic Radio Awareness Coalition put Limbaugh and Hannity together in a pile and labeled the whole thing “hate mongers,� which upset Congalton, who, as a technical radio colleague of such nationally syndicated talk-show hosts, is practically Limbaugh’s brother or godfather or second cousin twice removed.

The Coalition’s main weapon, it seems, was an appropriately bootleg-looking bumper sticker announcing that KVEC broadcasts “fear and anger� every weekday into SLO County. Congalton invited Coalition members onto an upcoming segment of his show, and promised them “a friendly, nonconfrontational forum,� which means they can all sit down and sip tea and have a tidy little chat about “the debilitating effects of unhealthful broadcasting� on the air instead of resorting to playing drunken strip poker and reciting limericks to fill dead-air time, which reminds me of the one my father used to tell at the dinner table: There once was a woman from Venus, whose body was shaped like a … well, I can’t quite remember the rest. I was usually trying to come up with a way to not have to eat my broccoli. Now where was I?

I’m sure Congalton’s now on the lookout for the mysterious producer impersonator once again, to make sure the Toxic Radio people don’t miss their broadcast appointment like poor Pinard, and awwww, she lugged her banjo all the way from the beach, too.

If this coalition really wanted to put a wrench in things, they could agree to meet, then not show up, and blame the whole thing on some right-wing nut job who had called them and told them the KVEC building was being fumigated for termites. That way the Toxic folks would still get publicity while putting down Limbaugh-supporting wackos, and they’d come out of the whole thing looking like the victims of some meanspirited Republican prank. Congalton could milk the ongoing saga for a little sympathy, too, what with somebody messing with his precious air time. Looks like one phone call and everybody wins, sort of, unless the Toxic people really do want to be on the radio, then just forget I suggested anything and go back to not noticing me trampling your flower bed while I try to find out what you wear to bed. ³

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