Surely I didn’t read that “the healthy, smoke-free air” is one of the principal reasons why San Luis Obispo is “the happiest place on earth?” Or that this Oprah-sanctioned, media-supported hyperbole has been extended to the “nearby communities,” so that even Los Osos or Cayucos or even Cambria can claim associative happiness thanks to their purported smoke-free status?
Are we completely deluded, playing out some kind of emperor’s-new-clothes-while-naked narrative? Willingly blind? Suffering a kind of collective and selective anosmia?
Like most arbitrary surveys, the “happiest city” premise was flawed from the get-go. Extending that smoke-free perception to the entire county is similarly flawed. From San Simeon and its nightly fire pits to the bonfires of Oceano Dunes, with all of the out-of-compliance, highly polluting fireplaces and wood grills in between, we are not lacking in smoke. On the contrary, we are suffocating. Literally.
But what strange thought-deception allows us to target one and not the other? Some kind of repression? Erich Fromm, when asked, “What do people most repress today (as opposed to the earlier, Victorian/Freudian sex)? replied, “They repress their sense of the truth.”
Does San Luis Obispo have the courage to come out of the mind-closet on this smoke business?