I'm mostly a fan of reality TV--I really like watching people choke down stinkbugs and fat grubs in the hopes of winning a new car--so I didn't notice until recently that there's been a writers' strike.
The union action seems to be limited to scribes who pen scripts for television programs, including Heroes and Lost and other serialized dramas that dole out tiny scraps of plot surrounded by flashbacks and alternate timelines and enough confusing rigmarole to make viewers want to tune in next week because then--then!--maybe everything will be revealed. It's like picking up New Times every Thursday to find out if any progress has been made in the Sheriff Pat Hedges eavesdropping case or any of the various Ernie Dalidio development-related lawsuits or on Tom Copeland's Chinatown project and finding just a little notice of some minor proceeding--if that.
Now, I'm a solidarity sort of Shredder. My mother was a locomotive engineer-teacher-steel worker and my father was a plumber-nurse-dockworker, so I was raised in a Teamster-friendly household. There was always a strike of some kind going on. As a baby, I took my first steps on a picket line. I know my way around a chanted slogan.
Thus, as a writer, I've got to show my support for my fellow keyboard-jockeys, even if I write for print, not primetime. I bought a red bracelet and a T-shirt and everything as soon as I heard about the writing freeze.
But secretly, this is the opportunity I've been hoping for. My chance for a big break. Sure, writing this column every week starts to partially pay for a fraction of my electricity bill each month, but money isn't everything. I want the glitzy sort of fame that comes only from Hollywood.
I'm picking at--just considering, mind you--being a scab.
I've already got a pilot all worked up in my head. The plot centers on a hardworking sort of gal just trying to get by in San Luis Obispo County. She works at a coffee shop where all of the local bigwigs come in to get caffeinated and shoot the breeze. I'm calling it The SLO Life. Get it? I'm pretty sure that I'm the first person ever to come up with that. I'm picturing veteran actor Mickey Rooney as Mayor Dave Romero, West Wing's Allison Janney as Councilwoman Christine Mulholland, and Desperate Housewives' Nicollette Sheridan as the plucky waitress who moderates their lively debates. Her catchphrase would be, "We're switching you to decaf!"
Also, there will be a cute dog that regularly jumps up and eats the councilmembers' biscotti off the table.
On the other end of the media spectrum, where words float like luminous bubbles through the ether instead of settling heavily onto paper like chunky bird droppings, I hear that big changes are in order for Hometown Radio.
If everything goes according to plan, as of the tail end of November, KVEC is officially transitioning into new hands. I'm sure that everybody there will gleefully welcome their new El Dorado Broadcasting overlords. If I know one thing about media, and I probably do know one thing about media, it's that everybody loves it when the outlet they work for changes hands, especially when the new hands belong to someone who hasn't been talking about programming changes--yet! What a relief!
Despite all of the positive signs and good feelings, I hope that talk show host Dave Congalton doesn't have to start a new tally, since, as he mentioned recently, Clear Channel never censored him once in the last seven years. That's a lot of non-censoring. That's like a whole dog year of never yanking the plug or busting out a roll of duct tape. He could just bark and bark and nobody at Clear Channel would ever even bat an eyelash.
I'm hoping that the new guys have as broad-minded a view as Clear Channel did about Dave's broadcasts of Radio-Tradio and his blogging about Billy Joel concert set lists. Take it from me, you El Dorado bigwigs: The First Amendment rules!
Tell you what. Even though these new local media players sound like swell gents and all, there's still something I don't quite trust about them. But they shouldn't take it personally. I cast a wary eye at everyone involved in broadcasting. Maybe I'm just married to print. And having an affair on the side with the Internet.
But paper will always be my true love. I'm so infatuated with paper, I even love where it comes from. Yes, I'm a tree-hugger in a literal sense, and I'm not ashamed to say that I once made out with a knotty pine. A knotty, knotty pine. But I'm not one to kiss and tell. All I'll say is that I was picking splinters out of my tongue for weeks.
Because of my arboreal predilection--I'm using big words now to help you get the image conjured by that last bit out of your head--I was heartbroken to hear that the mildly historic silk floss tree in Mission Plaza is getting cut down. We were never seriously involved, though we did have a fling a few years back. Ah, Flossie. We had some good times.
Local science-minded types have suggested that Flossie can live on through clones to be planted all around San Luis Obispo, but if Jurassic Park taught me anything, it's that cloning may start well, but it ends with a bloodbath. The last thing I'd want is to see saplings crushing cars and eating lawyers around town, especially since there's a good chance that any given lawyer taken out of the picture has some sort of tie to Hedges, Dalidio, Copeland, or some other local character, and I want some resolution soon.
No more delays, people. If somebody hasn't gone to jail or started building a shopping center by the beginning of next season, somebody's getting canceled.