The California Mid-State Fair kicked off its summer action with a cattle drive on July 25, and as I thought about tons of beef lumbering around on clopping hooves, I couldn't think of a more apt metaphor for what's been going on around me around all of us these days.
Is it just me, or does life seem to be a lot noisier now than it used to? A lot busier? A lot smellier? Issues roll past in a cloud of dust, and there's a lot of clamor, a lot of motion, and a lot of B.S. left over.
And I'm not just talking about events on the global or national scale, though some of those really take the cake. Politics are an obvious example here Scooter Libby, anyone? but the stampedes really bear down on Hollywood too. Has anybody seen Lindsay Lohan's new movie yet? The one she came to San Luis Obispo to film? If you haven't, I'm sure that you've at least seen all the attention she's been getting for her recent extracurricular activities. I may have seen a new booking photo of her a couple of days ago, but I'm not sure. The image was here and gone in a blur of whatever hot gossip came next to replace it.
Then there's the most recent salacious talk in the local don't-ask-don't-tell scene.
When the SLO County Sheriff's Department conducted an apparent sex sting at the local nude beach the other day, all of the news focused on the fact that one of the poor schmoes caught in the alleged act was an assistant priest for a Catholic church in the county. There was a hue. A cry. Maybe both, but I'm not sure.
Maybe the idea is that this particular bit of info is news because his employer has a policy against such ahem behavior? But if that's the real reason, why didn't we see the names printed of the other men arrested? Where do they work? Pretty much every workplace I know of frowns on its employees getting handcuffed or carted away or locked up by the law. The church isn't exactly exclusive in that regard. Maybe the other guys' workplace manuals also have some sort of policy? I don't know, because nobody else was named in the reports I saw.
Wait, I'm not actually asking for their names to be publicized. I'm waxing rhetorical or something like that. It's a critical thinking tactic that people like me use to make a point.
No, I suspect the real reason the arrest of this man was news is because any time you have the words "priest" and "sex crime" together, it fits into a certain paradigm that's been repeated over and over in the media in recent years. Just play a little word exercise with me. Say this list out loud to some friends, and see which way their minds go: Catholic. Priest. Sex. Crime.
See? If this were the $25,000 Pyramid, you'd have some extra spending money right about now.
And that's my problem with this. Not the game show stuff, the sex stuff. This man wasn't arrested for anything having to do with that sex crime. You know the one I'm talking about. You've probably shared a dirty joke about it at the water cooler. Heck, I probably told you that joke in the first place.
Anyway, there were no allegations of any minors involved no altar boys or young parishioners or anything. Instead, if you're going to try to fill in the blanks of this particular story line, it tells more of a tale of a fellow fallible human left unable to express his sexuality in the open and forced to resort to a more or less desperate outlet the brambly bushes in this case for companionship. I have to say, though, that the great outdoors wouldn't be my first choice for an amorous rendezvous and I'm sure the neighbors of Pirate's Cove will thank me for that.
There's another strange thing about these media reports as well: One of the men was charged with nothing more than indecent exposure. At Pirate's Cove. The nude beach.
Searching for a naked guy over there is like looking for cannabis at a marijuana dispensary, and the local law seems to have a knack for doing both. But I digress.
Isn't this the plot to The Shining?
There's one really intriguing line in the overview of the draft Environmental Impact Report on the Copeland brothers' proposed Chinatown project that's worth repeating verbatim. Here's the line: "In addition, the potential for archaeologically significant sites, including a Native American cemetery, exists in the area."
Golly gee! An actual Indian graveyard! If all of the other karmic forces aren't enough to back the Copelands off of this project blotting out the skyline, tearing down cool buildings, further Disneyfying SLO's downtown then maybe the prospect of an ancient indigenous curse will do it. But I wouldn't bet on it. It hasn't stopped too many other developers from building anywhere else in the county where a couple of shovel scoops yield centuries' worth of artifacts.
Come to think of it, I seem to recall rumors of unsettled graves when New Times moved into its current home. That would explain the chill I get whenever I show up to the office to nab my paycheck. But rumors are just rumors. Show me some actual bones and I'll shut up. For a while, anyway. All work and no play makes Shredder a dull boy.