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A modest proposal 

A time comes in every Shredder’s life when s/he has to set childish dreams of yesteryear aside and think seriously about the future. Stop thinking about the world at large, about our rapidly diminishing resources, and start making money the good ol’ fashioned American way: setting aside conscience, tossing on a pair of blinders, and grabbing for the biggest slice of pie at the table. I just hope it’s lemon meringue and smothered in sprinkles.

This is my way of saying I’m formally retiring from shredding. Again. I know, I’ve had more comebacks than Michael Jordan, but this time it’s for realz. My deliberate misspelling should indicate how serious I am here. I’m relocating to Morro Bay, where I plan to open a baby-canning factory. I’ve already got a slogan all picked out: “Babies—The Chicken of the Land!” I know I’ll have the full support of the City Council and local citizens. Why? Because I’m selling canned baby for $2 a pop, and apparently the city is willing to tolerate just about anything so long as you’re only charging $2. Oh, and so long as you’re bringing in money for the city. And who wouldn’t want to tour a baby-canning facility?

If you’re wondering what the hell I’m blathering about, I’m referring to the city’s response to our May 17 cover story, “The saddest aquarium on Earth.” We put out our story based on documents and the opinions of marine mammal experts. But in the past couple of weeks, the citizenry has come out swinging. And their ammo seems to consist solely of:

“My grandchildren love that place!”

“It puts butts in hotels!”

“But it just costs $2 to feed the seals!”

“Well, we’re not the Monterey Bay Aquarium!”

“But I like the Tylers!” (The non-political equivalent of voting for the guy who looks most like your grandpa, which I have to applaud as a very determined show of anti-intellectualism.)

And Steve Rebuck’s “sea lions are assholes anyway!” (I may be paraphrasing).

For simplicity, I refer to Morro Bay. But my true, and only target is the people critical of the article because it was negative, not because it was wrong.

Who was it who had the quote about knowing the cost of everything and the value of nothing? The aquarium’s supporters seem to have a pretty solid grasp of the economics of tourism, but are sadly bereft of the most basic feelings of reverence and respect for nature. Somehow the awfulness of placing a harbor seal in less than two feet of water is utterly lost on them. To say nothing of the fact that they’ve been suspiciously quiet on the subject of the insanely short lifespans of many of the creatures who find themselves imprisoned there.

Hey, Morro Bay, sea lions that live in captivity are supposed to live longer than your hamster. It should be obvious, I know, but you don’t seem to be grasping that fact. Maybe you just need to turn your hearing aids up a notch. At least a few people are saying you have the worst aquarium, hands down, in the entire country. New Times didn’t make that up. So yeah, maybe that’s something to take pride in and defend. Maybe you have such a poor image of your city that you don’t think you deserve anything better than the most-complained-about aquarium in the United States. If that’s the case, I’m going to give you the same advice I give to my friends with loser boyfriends who repeatedly cheat on them with their own sisters: See a therapist.

Either way, folks, I’d sit up and pay attention. You’re a laughingstock to anyone with any respect for animals. Every defense you’ve leveled against this article has made you look worse—more indifferent, more barbaric, more desperate, more out of touch. You’re being held up as an example of what not to do. And every minute that passes that you make excuses or hide copies of New Times during the weekly Farmers Market (Did I mention that people were sneaking away copies of New Times so no one at the Morro Bay Farmers Market would see the story?) just makes you look that much worse. That’s time that could have been spent developing an actual plan to modernize the aquarium, possibly even locating a veterinarian who has received the necessary training to treat marine mammals instead of the dog and cat vet. Taking time to make sure it doesn’t just meet minimal government regulations, but is something truly spectacular and forward-thinking.

I know a percentage of you represent a generation that already had to get over not being allowed to use the “N” word in reference to minorities. You’ve had to adjust as women escaped the kitchens, men started marrying men, everyone’s now allowed to vote—the horror *gasp* the horror—and we’re now telling you that you should no longer get to keep wild animals in your bathtub. I’m a monster, clearly, and your halcyon days are behind you. Or maybe, just maybe, you’re out of touch with reality. Drive an extra 45 minutes and check out the elephant seals in San Simeon. For free. They spend their days flopped out on the sand, and they’re free to leave anytime. And last I checked, no one left that beach crying their eyes out at the inhumanity.

Or just slap on an extra pair of blinders and keep sputtering on about the discount price of admission to “Seal Guantanamo” and keep railing against Big Bad New Times, which clearly was created with the intention of bringing down the entire city. But you’re losing ground more rapidly even than the hearing in your right ear—or possibly left, or maybe both, I don’t know. You have the choice, right now, to step willingly into a brighter, better future. Or you can keep fighting for the status quo. But be warned: You’re going to lose.

Shredder doles out lessons like sardines at an aquarium. Send salty fish snacks to shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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