Opinion » Street Talk

Under the bridge downtown

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You can’t always believe everything you read. For instance, the Bible says that Noah took seven pairs of certain kinds of animals on his ark, despite the fact that everyone knows he only took two of each. Just ask anyone. It’s common knowledge. Whoever wrote Genesis should’ve run the book through a few more fact checkers before it went to print. It’s also common knowledge to not put yourself in situations in which you could easily drown. Think about all those people who didn’t get on the ark. They believed all those weather reports that predicted warm, sunny days, and look what happened to them, which brings me back to my first point. Don’t believe everything you read.

If you are going to believe something you read, however, you should believe what I’m about to say, especially if you’re a representative of the city of San Luis Obispo: I’m not going to pay for Ethan Donahue. Granted, I don’t have any money, but if I did, I’d spend it on beer, not him.

Ethan’s the guy who didn’t listen to my second point and decided to kayak down San Luis Creek like it was the Colorado River, and all those downtown businesses were the walls of the Grand Canyon, and California was Arizona, which is where the Colorado River is, right?

Anyway, Ethan didn’t get very far before his kayak tipped, as kayaks are so often wont to do, and stranded him metaphorically high and dry, but literally very low and wet.

Since his ship went down without him, he hauled himself up onto a ledge under the bridge at Broad Street and lurked there like a troll waiting for the trip-trap, trip-trap of billy goats gruff above. Instead, he heard the trip-trap, trip-trap of local firemen, who had happened to hear about his predicament and came to laugh at him for risking his life so unnecessarily.

“Hello down there!� they shouted over the roar of the creek. “We just wanted to wish you luck on getting out! Do you have any next-of-kin you’d like us to notify?�

“Not really,� Ethan yelled back. “This is actually quite comfortable. I think I’ll stay here, and maybe sublet this nook out to some desperate college student.�

Actually, the fire crew decided to ignore Ethan’s risky behavior and any cost to them by organizing a rescue attempt. They lowered a man down on a rope as bait, and when Ethan bit him, the crew reeled them both in. Or something like that. I read the whole account in a couple different papers, but I’m practicing not believing what I read by not really paying attention in the first place.

By some estimates, Ethan’s little stunt cost the city about $4,500, which doesn’t include the ambulance, the cops, or various and sundry other rescue accoutrements that basically just showed up to watch a guy climb out of the creek, shake himself off, and start looking for another way to risk his own skin on the city’s tab.

San Luis Obispo could save itself some money, and by that I mean San Luis Obispo could save me some money, if rescue officials just asked people whether they wanted to be saved or not before six vehicles and two dozen men rush out to the scene. All it would take is one guy with a clipboard.

“On a scale of 1 to 10, how desperate would you say your situation is right now? What’s that? I’m sorry, I can’t hear you over the sound of the flames. Hmmm? I’ll just put down a 7, all right?�

A news release from the fire department said that Ethan was “grateful for the firefighters’ assistance,� which makes it sound like he was a little old lady some Boy Scouts just helped across Higuera. The release also said he was in good health, but I remember reading somewhere, back when I believed everything, that San Luis Creek water is teeming with enough bacteria to skeletonize a cow in five seconds, unless I’m mixing up an old news story with that National Geographic issue about piranhas in the Amazon. Still, there’s probably enough bacteria from cow pasture runoff in that creek to mess with Ethan’s insides for more than a few days. I’d hate to be one of his roommates.


Way back before elections, New Times printed a story in which Jerry Lenthall said he had an endorsement from the SLO Chamber of Commerce, after which the chamber told us that it didn’t endorse anyone, since it wanted to be able to work with whoever was elected.

Then, earlier this month, the Chamber sent out its e-insider, “a weekly look at politics and events affecting San Luis Obispo businesses.�

The first item pointed out that 5th District Supervisor Jim Patterson, “who campaigned as a moderate ‘work with everyone’ environmentalist,� was, according to insiders, appointing “in your face� environmentalist Sara Christie to the County Planning Commission.

The article wrapped up thusly: “The good news: because she will keep her Coastal Commission job, Christie won’t be able to vote on many projects in or near the coastal zone. Expect some big-time fireworks here.�

Call me crazy, like you always do, but this doesn’t sound like apolitical dialogue to me. Maybe if I read it with a different accent … Nope. Still sounds the same. I guess that if there are no upcoming elections, the Chamber can say whatever it wants about elected officials. I’d say that there was more going on here than appears on the surface, but I don’t believe everything I read between the lines, either.

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