People are always trying to save me. Just last week, a priest, a rabbi, and two ducks threw holy water on me and attempted an exorcism on a downtown sidewalk. Joke’s on them, though, ’cause you can’t save something that doesn’t have a soul to begin with. It did give me an excuse to vomit in public, and for that I’m grateful.
Of course, as a result of my brush with amateur exorcism, I’m (justifiably) leery anytime some crusader decides to “save” something. Take these Save our Downtown folks. When I first heard that people were banding together to save downtown, I was super excited. I strapped my ghostpack to my back, grabbed my light saber, and threw a spare shank in my boot for good measure. I wasn’t sure what we were saving downtown from, but it must have been a really scary monster to have people so hot under the collar.
You can imagine my disappointment when I realized Godzilla wasn’t stomping around San Luis Obispo plucking bubblegum off the hallowed walls of that infamous alley. Ghosts weren’t winging their way through walls, leaving gooey slime trails in their wake. And the undead hadn’t stormed the downtown government center in search of juicy, sweet bureaucratic brains. Downtown San Luis Obispo, regrettably, does not seem to be under attack.
The same could not be said of the nation’s Eastern Seaboard, where mother nature unleashed a storm of such proportions that notoriously unflappable New Yorkers were, well, flapped. It’s not unreasonable to expect that community-minded folks might band together to coordinate some kind of Save Our Eastern Seaboard effort. Because a tropical cyclone boasting winds that bite into 1,100 miles wreaking $20 billion worth of damage is the kind of monster worth fighting.
Save Our Downtown’s nemesis is, well, less impressive: a locally owned business that’s been operating downtown for more than 20 years. Holy guacamole, Batman! Deploy your stungun! Of course, SLO Brew also happens to be a locally operated business that sells alcohol, but last I checked that wasn’t illegal—not in the last 90 or so years at least.
Let’s not confuse a melodramatic overreaction to a bar relocating with a legitimate crisis—which is not to suggest that downtown San Luis Obispo is without its problems. Stratospheric rental rates that prevent locally owned, non-chain stores from operating businesses downtown is undeniably a concern. Or it should be. Instead, Save Our Downtown’s primary objective seems to be to serve as a buzzkill for people who want to live in a city with an honest-to-god nightlife. Does that mean grown adults might, occasionally, indulge in an alcoholic beverage?!? Gasp. Fit of the vapors.
Yes. Get over it. And it would be a major coup, especially for people who have to drive to San Francisco or Los Angeles to indulge in legitimate nightlife, to be able to indulge in that beverage on a rooftop restaurant overlooking the creek.
But—the argument goes—people might throw beer bottles and skinny dip in the creek and maybe, possibly, civilization as we know it will deteriorate! And maybe a serial killer will break into the footwear store and start strangling people with socks. And then sneak into Barnes & Noble and club people to death with books. Quick! Let’s shut down the shop and burn all the books! And the ice cream sandwich store, too! People might choke on a delicious cookie!
I’m not trying to slam people for caring about their community. I just happen to think that turning bars and college students into the bogeyman and saddling them with the blame for everything that’s wrong with downtown SLO is unreasonable, and frankly, makes people sound like crochety curmudgeons who view everyone downtown as naughty children invading your lawns.
So let SLO have its rooftop restaurant, like the ones they have in countless other cities, which haven’t brought about the apocalypse. And, unless there’s a cute kitten in peril and you happen to be wearing a cape, it’s best to cut the hyperbole. You’re not actually saving anything. You’re just trying to turn back the clock, and grumble about those gosh-darned youths who are, in fact, an essential pillar of this city’s financial stability. Let them be young, and I guarantee you that if they ever start a campaign to go after the senior center and grumble about “those crazy senior citizens with their Vicks Vapo Rub and their erratic driving”—more hyperbole, I assure you, on their part—I’ll be the first to tell them to relax.
Ideally, on top of a roof with a nice cool ale and a basket of buffalo wings. ∆
Shredder saves reason, Twinkies, and kittens in peril. Send a cape to firstname.lastname@example.org.