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Big displays of nothing 

So, um. How ‘bout that weather? Sorry, guys, but I got nothing. My snarky news well runneth dry. Instead I’ve decided to regale you all with excerpts of Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient.

Hold on. The mail’s here. Bill, bill, cease-and-desist order, bill, a Pottery Barn catalogue. Wait, what’s this?

“Shredder, you remember the sound of silence right?” someone wrote. “It’s the sound your girlfriend/boyfriend makes when you say, ‘Was it as good for you as it was for me?’”

HA! That’s what I’ve been waiting for. Glorious, fresh inky fodder for commentary. This here’s a letter from the Cal Poly students who organized the Facebook protest of SLO City’s unruly ordinance ban from the other week. For all the students who were too baked to remember to show up: The protest didn’t accomplish anything.

“Only the most interesting people are singled out as hapless victims by the Shredder,” the letter starts off. “And so, in spite of ourselves, we are slightly flattered to have been recently slandered at his/her hands.”

Hey! I take offense. What I write is in print, so that would make it libel. Get your facts straight kids. Let’s see what their gripe is.

“In fact, we want to thank you, Shredder, for proving a point that we and our 1,800 friends could never have collectively nailed,” the letter goes on. “It would seem that the ordinance proposed for our college town was created out of a belief that college students in groups are not to be trusted.”

Here’s what I wrote to prompt the letter.

“Well guys, your brand of milquetoast demonstrations accomplished nothing. Enjoy the $700 fines.”

Some history: The Facebook group had close to 2,000 people ready to converge in front of City Hall in protest of an ordinance essentially designed to put the hammer down on “unruly” groups of more than 20. Then the people who started the protest told people to not protest just a few days before the meeting. They still got a good showing at the meeting, but it fell far short of a glistening demonstration of populist outrage against a City Council that’s so bored they seem to be flinging darts at a board full of unnecessary ordinances and bans. What’s next? Increasing fines on St. Patrick’s Day, Mardi Gras, and Halloween? Wait, they did that, too? Son of a bitch! Watch your back on Thanksgiving. (I don’t know about your family, but in the Shredder home, Grandma always gets hammered and belligerent on turkey day.)

It would’ve been nice to see a big, showy protest at the meeting, even if it didn’t gain any more ground than the puny polite protest they had. A legitimate protest doesn’t entail violence or flipping over police cars and torching buildings. People protest all the time, though it may not accomplish anything on the spot. But something more than that lame response would’ve shown you cared. So I’m not mad nothing happened and the City Council continued its wave of what-can-we-get-away-with-next policymaking—I’m just disappointed. Plus, the letter was pretty good. So I might be mad, if I weren’t so damn proud.

Arnoldonado lives!

Maybe everyone should take some advice from the Arnold Schwarzenegger-Abel Maldonado playbook. They huffed and they puffed and got Maldonado into a useless office that will sunset when Schwarzenegger’s term is up at the end of the year. Maldonado’s a quacking lame duck, too (don’t feed him because of that other ordinance) so this changing of the suits is little more than opening his Senate seat to an early run and a chance for Republicans to stuff the seat again—probably with Sam Blakeslee—and avoid a two-thirds Democratic majority that would allow them to pass tax increases no matter how much outrage there is from the super minority Republicans.

No matter how worthless the lieutenant governorship seat is, it hasn’t stopped Assembly candidate Katcho—it’s katching on—Achadjian from touting his new endorsement from Lt. Gov. Maldonado instead of plain old Sen. Maldonado. Literally the day after Maldonado got the official OK, Achadjian sent out a press release to pat himself on the back and toot his own horn over the endorsement. As lieutenant governor, endorsements are about the only thing Maldonado gets to do outside of the occasional State Lands Commission hearing and a whole lot of crafting gigantic rubber-band balls.

Maybe he can join axed Arroyo Grande City Councilman Ed Arnold who finally stepped down because he “has now become a distraction to the city and that’s not beneficial for anyone.” Apparently Arnold didn’t think the first charges—that he assaulted a former housemate and alleged ex-lover—were enough of a distraction because he didn’t step down then. And the rest of the city council didn’t think so either because they waited until the felony charges escalated to child porn before they considered asking him to step down. I guess it wasn’t a distraction at first. Talk about fool me once.

The Shredder can be reached at [email protected].

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