I usually keep my nose in my own business, which is to say that I usually stick to sticking my nose in other people's business, and I leave the rest of the running of this paper to people who get paid more than me for having more responsibility than me. If it ain't Shredder, it ain't my problem. That's my motto.
But I just had to venture outside of my only little corner this week. I didn't venture very far. I didn't even leave the opinion section.
While frantically flipping to my column in last week's issue, trying to avoid seeing anything not explicitly written by myself, I accidentally caught a glimpse of a piece of a letter written by Norman Mehl, a frequent writer whose Santa Maria-based ramblings somehow sometimes manage to push past the county barrier and wind up in the pages of New Times.
Anyway, Norm was talking about how modern-day environmentalists are descendants of extinct-and-yet-still-somehow-inbred Neanderthals--a tongue-in-cheek point, I suppose, especially in light of the fact that he referenced it to a Professor Sheldon Harmon of the University of Wisconsin, who, as best as I can tell, is a character in a Michael Crichton book.
Now, I know that exaggeration and parody are often used to make valid points--and that there are people out there who would consider anyone who cites Al Gore's global warming theories to be spouting fiction--but if I were Norm (and I promise that I'm not), I'd refrain from citing any future scientific breakthroughs made by, say, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew. Muppets aren't the most reliable data gatherers.
Eager to leave other people's "opinions" behind me and start forming some more of my own, I flipped on the radio. The county supes meeting was playing and, if I heard things correctly, they were trying to decide whether to allow the Los Osos folks to speak in a special slot at every meeting or in a special slot at way too many meetings. Isn't there another choice?
Those meetings are always dull as goldfish, but somehow everybody seems to want to shave their beards and run for supervisor anyway. Must be something to do with the ability to vote yourself a pay raise. Already Supervisor Jerry Lenthall and newly baby-faced challenger Adam Hill are "trading barbs," which is one of those phrases used solely by men born during Reconstruction. And political reporters.
The race hasn't officially started--they don't get to register for the office until February--but as I understand it, here's a rundown of some of the things they're saying to each other. I'll use the cheater's half-quote mark, which means these are things they might have said.
Adam: 'Jerry's thugs are trying to dig up dirt on me by going through all my Cal Poly records.'
Jerry: 'That wasn't me, and I can't imagine who would do such a thing, other than Tom Bordonaro, of course.'
Jerry: 'Somebody's been taking pictures of my many, many homes.'
Adam: 'That wasn't me, and I can't imagine who would do such a thing.'
New Times: 'Ah, that was us. Remember? For that story we wrote? About where Jerry lives?'
Adam: 'Jerry's been claiming support from supporters who don't support him anymore.'
Jerry: 'Uh, that was my old website, Adam. The race hasn't started yet.'
Adam: 'Jerry's scared to debate me.'
Jerry: 'Uh, Adam. The race hasn't started yet.'
Adam: 'Fine, but this will be well publicized by my campaign.'
Jerry: 'What will? Do you mean wait, is that a threat?'
Adam: 'Were you really a police officer? How could you consider that a threat?'
Jerry: 'You're doing it again! Stop attacking me!!!'
Adam: 'I'm going to tell Dave Congalton on you.'
Jerry: 'That's it. Can somebody get a restraining order against this guy?!'
Some of that bickering may be petty--and I'm looking more at Adam than Jerry when I say that--but at least it's entertaining. Other local races are even duller than goldfish. Just look at this might-have-said conversation between current supervisor Harry Ovitt and his challenger, Paso Robles Mayor Frank Mecham.
Harry: 'Heya Frank.'
Frank: 'Heya Harry.'
Harry: 'How's it going?'
Frank: 'Oh. Fine, fine.'
Harry: 'Remember our high school days? Back then? All that craziness?'
Frank: 'Yeah. Oh, by the way, I've thought about maybe having a formal fundraiser or two. Or maybe not. Whatever. People give me money either way, I guess.'
Frank: 'Well, good luck, friend.'
Harry: 'You too.'
Adam: 'Have either of you guys heard about Jerry bragging how he's going to raise the most money ever in this campaign?'
Jerry: 'I never said that. And you're not even in this conversation!'
As for the Jim Patterson versus Debbie Arnold race, she hasn't been officially announced long enough for me to pick up her might-have-saids. I can tell you that she didn't exactly win me over with her claims of leaving Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee's office, where she was last working, to open a San Luis Obispo chapter of a group called "Women for Agriculture, Open Space and Workforce Housing."
I couldn't find any information on that group anywhere. It doesn't seem to exist at all, even as a larger entity that a local chapter could be formed from. But I may be looking in the wrong places. My research was limited to non-fiction. Maybe I should take a tip from Norm and crack open a Michael Crichton book.