Ol’ Shred put on the yellow turtleneck to write today’s column, the one with the big smiley face. No bad news for me; I’m happy as a geek in a Disney movie. I’m happy because things, I tell you, are looking up. Today, when I accidentally stepped in dog crap, most of it fell off before I discovered the rest on my white rug. Yessir; things are looking up.
I say enough with the unemployment news, the foreclosures, the bankruptcies. Enough with the stock market, my neighbor’s incontinent dog, and this strange hairy growth on the inside of my throat; this is a time to focus on the good news.
Let’s focus on the pilots who don’t kill everyone when they crash their planes, like the “Miracle on the Hudson.” Let’s focus on stories of people who, against all reason, sing well despite being hideously ugly, like Susan Boyle. Let’s focus on movies about slum kids who become millionaires after they’ve swum in rivers of human waste.
All of these are strong cultural metaphors for where were we are right now. Our plane has crashed, but we’ve survived. We’re horribly ugly (even by man standards) but we can still sing our way off the dole. We have swum in shit, but our payday awaits.
Here are some signs things are getting better:
• The health-care insurers this time have decided not to sit on the outside and kill health-care reform through potshots, corruption, and delay. Instead, they’re engaging in the process, vowing to work cooperatively with the Obama administration on a health-care reform plan. Only then will they kill it with potshots, corruption, and delay.
• Locally, the board of supervisors meetings have been boring, even by the standards implied by the words “board of supervisors.” There aren’t any developments to fight over and the most cantankerous personalities were voted out. Boring is bad for the news, good for you.
• With our economy tanking, the differences between America and Mexico are declining. Hardly anybody’s even bothering to cross the border and Mexicans are seriously considering putting up a wall to keep us out. Have you ever been to Mexico? I have and so I can authoritatively tell you it’s entirely dedicated to cheap tequila shots, crazy gringo college kids, and parasailing. It’s a really nice place. People go there on vacations. And now we’re becoming just like them!
A few more things:
San Luis Obispo was named one of U.S. News & World Reports’ top places to live. So very nice, but the thrill starts to fade when you look closely at the veracity of the information they cite. Here’s a sampling: The closest hospital to San Luis Obispo is in Arroyo Grande. (Actually, there are two in town). The cost of living: “Average.” (That’s definitely true if you don’t count gas, housing, and utilities, but most of us do have to count those things.) Recreational activities: “Skiing/Snowboarding.” Also, “travel.” I guess they expect you to combine those activities. They also say the nearest big city is Los Angeles, at 150 miles away. (It’s a minimum of 180.) Finally, the picture they show of San Luis Obispo? That’s actually Morro Bay.
The Arroyo Grande Police Department sent out a press release announcing a “Special Olympics Torch Run.” I’m going to go ahead and ask them to reconsider this endeavor. It’s not that I have anything against folks with intellectual disabilities. You all have read me long enough to know I have a special kinship with the Special Olympics crowd—every column’s a winner. Nonetheless, I’m not sure we want these particular athletes playing with fire, passing torches back and forth and such. What if one of them decides to take a shortcut through a gas station? No gold medal would ease the pain of a second-degree burn. Maybe they could just use glow sticks and call it good?
Finally, I want to give some due notice to a news release from a group called the California Transportation Foundation announcing the “20th Annual TRANNY Award Winners,” which is apparently dedicated to recognizing excellence in transportation. I’m going to offer some apt suggestions:
• How about a hybrid car, where you didn’t even know it ran on electricity until you got it home late one night and took a peek under the hood?
• What about a bus, where you would think the engine would be in the front, but it’s really in the trunk, or, as the Europeans call it, in the boot lid?
• Perhaps a tunneling project could be a winner?
• Some sort of convertible?
Longtime investigative reporter Dan Blackburn is leaving the new media news site CalCoastNews.com to do video work. On this news, let me echo the words of radio’s Dave Congalton: Congratulations, Dan, on your departure. See how nice I am today?
Shredder can be reached at shredder @newtimesslo.com.