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Don't cross the (narrative) streams 

Two art bashers join forces to celebrate Bill Murray's birthday

It’s Wednesday, Sept. 21, which might not mean much to most people, but to New Times Managing Editor Ashley Schwellenbach, it’s Bill Murray’s 61st birthday, the best damn day forever. Schwellenbach likes to celebrate with formal wear and a mad dash into the sea at sunset.

PHYSICAL ABUSE :  New Times Managing Editor Ashley Schwellenbach made us dive into the ocean with threat of violence that worked well. - PHOTO BY NICK POWELL
  • PHOTO BY NICK POWELL
  • PHYSICAL ABUSE : New Times Managing Editor Ashley Schwellenbach made us dive into the ocean with threat of violence that worked well.
STAY PUFFED :  Artist and marshmallow man Neal Breton tried to avoid the cold dip, but peer pressure got the better of him. - PHOTO BY NICK POWELL
  • PHOTO BY NICK POWELL
  • STAY PUFFED : Artist and marshmallow man Neal Breton tried to avoid the cold dip, but peer pressure got the better of him.

“It’s purposeless and whimsical,” she says, “and I think Bill would appreciate it.”

Among the partiers is Dane Sensor, a man who had been homeless and unemployed for three years before our little paper swooped in with the Homeless Project.

“I’m here to celebrate,” Sensor said. “I’ve got two jobs, and I’m no longer homeless.”

It only took three weeks for the project to provide results, but that’s the “naïve and irresponsible” New Times for you.

Ben and Erika Funston-Timms are also celebrating all things Murray, which isn’t surprising, considering that (for the sake of this article) they owe their happy marriage to the man. Ben was born on Groundhog Day and has developed a tradition of watching Murray’s titular movie every year.

The aquatic activities are scheduled for 8 p.m., and as the hour approaches, the partiers around the fire grow nervous.

“I suppose if I stood too close and caught on fire,” Jessamyn Lynn Pattison says, “I’d have to run in.”

“We’ve got a ton of lighter fluid here, and it would make an awesome photo,” I say, pushing her violently (not really).

Schwellenbach cuts us off with a toast to Murray, and with that, about a dozen of us swig our drinks and run full bore into the cold sea.

click to enlarge ONE OF THESE THINGS IS NOT LIKE THE OTHER :  Respectable Dane Sensor makes a stark contrast to shirtless New Times office hunk Matt Fountain. - PHOTO BY GLEN STARKEY
  • PHOTO BY GLEN STARKEY
  • ONE OF THESE THINGS IS NOT LIKE THE OTHER : Respectable Dane Sensor makes a stark contrast to shirtless New Times office hunk Matt Fountain.
click to enlarge SOGGY JOHNSON :  Head Intern Jack Johnson emerged from the ocean cold and wet, but far from defeated. - PHOTO BY NICK POWELL
  • PHOTO BY NICK POWELL
  • SOGGY JOHNSON : Head Intern Jack Johnson emerged from the ocean cold and wet, but far from defeated.

It’s chaotic, dark, and splashy. Most of my attempts to capture the madness fail miserably. Also, I forgot that my notepad was in my back pocket, so that’s probably ruined. I’m afraid I’ve let my dear Glen down.

Schwellenbach tries to escape and head back to shore, but New Times News Editor Colin Rigley and Geek Out columnist Nick Walter pick her up for a full dunk. The whole thing is surprisingly fun in a childish sort of way, but we’re all wet and sandy. It’s time to head back to the fire for warmth and more drinks.

When Matt Fountain removes his shirt to dry, I know the cold is worthwhile. The vision is breathtaking.

“Did you get those tattoos in the Navy?” asks Kathy Johnston.

“No,” says Fountain. “But my dad was a marine biologist.”

Then, with an angelic chorus and a radiant glow, the figure of Glen Starkey materializes amongst us. It’s time for me to step aside and let a true master work:

Thank the lord almighty for Nick Powell. Since I had to teach at Cal Poly until 8 p.m., it’s about 8:30 when I get to the beach and see a pack of shivering, wet souls surrounding a meager fire. Festooned in their red watch caps, clutching drinks, one guy gamely roasting two marshmallows—er, make that one—over the fire, it’s clear I’ve missed all the excitement.

I manage to snap a few highly unflattering photos, chat up Dane Sensor, who tells me the exact same story he told Nick, and get Jessamyn to write her name in my notebook because no one knows how to spell and can barely pronounce Jessamyn. I drink someone’s beer, load up my stuff, take one more look around for a Bill Murray sighting (alas, none), and head home.

Red-capped Bill Murray fans, I salute your utter stupidity! Carl Spackler would be proud!

Glen Starkey takes a beating and keeps on bleating. Keep up with him via twitter at twitter.com/glenstarkey, friend him at Myspace.com/glenstarkey, or contact him at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com. Calendar Editor Nick Powell can be reached at npowell@newtimesslo.com.

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