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Every silver lining has a cloud 

The good people of this fair city have been cowed, and that’s a load of bull if you ask me. Let them wear beads for goodness sake.

Some days, I feel like I’m the embodiment of winter weather on the Central Coast. I’m sunny. I’m cloudy. I’m cold. I’m hot. I’m cold again. I’m clear. I’m overcast. I’m gloomy, and the forecast doesn’t look good. I get riled up and knock stuff over. And through it all, there’s a thick and pervasive fog that clears up as the day goes on.
Welcome to my life.

         I’m in a quiet spell at the moment, but it probably won’t take very much to set me off. Just send a high-pressure front my way, and I’ll be raging again. Storming. Kicking down trees.
         And speaking of quiet — which is hard to do, because once you open your mouth to talk, you’re making noise — this year’s Mardi Gras celebrations certainly started with less of a bang and more of a whimper, didn’t they? I would’ve missed them completely if a friend of mine hadn’t told me that she read about them in New Times last week. Hey, I already work here. You can’t expect me to read every single edition of the paper, too. I’ve got stuff to see, people to do.

         To be honest, I never realized that Mardi Gras parties historically started this early, though I’m not surprised at my ignorance. Strict adherence to calendars and cultural celebrations has never been my strong suit. I still haven’t taken down my Christmas lights … from 2004. Anyway, I’ve always just looked forward to that February night when I could cut loose and lay back and not have to worry about offending anybody, never thinking that the party really got started not too long after New Year’s Eve. I guess my invitation always got lost in the mail.

         Still, it doesn’t matter anymore, because the pre-parties now look less like pre-parties and more like regular workdays. Even the big climaxing parade has been jostled and patted down and prodded and shushed to the point where it’s shivering in the corner like a housebroken puppy who just couldn’t hold it in and watered the Persian rug. Everybody involved is walking around like they’re about to get smacked on the nose.

         Mardi Gras organizers have said they would hold off on their parading until things quiet down, which, yeah, okay, is maybe a prudent idea since SLO police and all their out-of-town buddies were practically daring flashers to walk into the crosshairs of their beanbag guns last year. The long arm of the law turned this city into a shell of itself in the name of safety, and then got even longer topat itself on the back for a job well done after everybody stayed home and peeked through the blinds.

         There’s a difference between “caution� and “control,� though, and it goes beyond how they’re spelled. The police department’s perspective is that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of flesh, or something like that, but the good people of this fair city — many of whom are truly law-abiding citizens who would never dream of pissing in bottles on the street and then throwing those bottles at officers’ heads — have been cowed, and that’s a load of bull if you ask me. Let them wear beads for goodness sake.

         Looks like there’s a warm front moving in. I’m starting to pick up.

         Jay Mueller, the king of local Mardi Gras, should step up in these early days of the festivities and make a stand for future celebrations before the holiday sinks to the same status as boring old Boxing Day. I mean, do you even know what Boxing Day celebrates? That’s what I thought. Of course, most of you probably couldn’t tell me what Mardi Gras celebrates either, so there goes that argument. Thanks a lot, you culturally illiterate goons. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m trying to make an intelligent point here.

         In retrospect, which is the best sort of ’spect there is — no matter what Aretha Franklin tells you — it may be unfair of me to put this sort of pressure on Jay. After all, he can only do so much, and he’s trying to keep the bon temps rolling as best he can. Still, he’s a king, and his people elected him to make the hard decisions so they wouldn’t have to. That’s how a monarchy works. I think.

         To top it all off, like a big red cherry on a sundae that nobody wants to eat because it’s pistachio and rum raisin ice cream with butterscotch topping and a brown, splotchy banana, this year’s Mardi Gras has to share the spotlight with a statewide bike race rolling into town on February 23. Come on.

         Listen, I love bikes. I love bike races, and I love bike riders, and I even love riding bikes myself. I get down on my knees every morning and kiss the chains that run between the front and back wheels of my very own bike. Good bike. Nice bike.

         I tell you this because I don’t want you to think I hate bicyclists. I don’t. Keep that in mind when I say that I believe the overwhelming Tour of California hype will hammer one more nail into the local Mardi Gras celebration’s coffin. Let’s hope it’s not the last one. ∆
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