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Hop in the handbasket 

For about as long as Costco has existed, bitter San Luis Obispo dwellers have grumbled about the possibility of it coming to town.

When I say San Luis Obispo dwellers, I'm not talking about these kids who've lived here for the 10 or 15 years since they got their Cal Poly degree just because their parents wouldn't let them move back home. They just happened to stick around and now consider themselves natives. Pshaw.

I'm talking about the people who've always been here. The longtime locals whose parents were longtime locals. The ones who eroded out of Cerro San Luis itself. The ones who think SLO should surround itself with invisible walls that keep out any more development, forcing folks who actually can afford to move here to stand outside and pound their palms against the barrier like mimes with disposable incomes.

These hard-bitten residents have believed since the caveman days, when Neanderthals shopped for mammoth meat and fire at Farmers' Market on Thursday nights, that big-box stores will turn San Luis into a real-world version of "Paradise Lost." Or a less-than-savory circle of hell from Dante's "Inferno." Or Santa Maria.

These are the same people who voted down the Marketplace venture, and, if I'm not mistaken, I saw two of them spit at Banana Republic the other day - right before they walked inside and tried on some new outfits. Bunch of hypocrites.

SLO, see, is all about charm, and there's nothing charming about a corporate chain that offers low, low prices on everything from rotisserie chicken to funeral urns. Banana Republic and Pottery Barn have that snooty chain-store ambience that locals love, whereas Costco resembles a large brick dropped from some heavenly and utilitarian construction project, possibly an outhouse of the gods.

So the folks who like their city and shopping choices small and trendy set up their defenses, posting guards with lanterns along all the seven peaks to the bay. They were supposed to light one lantern if Costco executives were seen approaching the city by land, and two if by sea. Or something like that.

A bunch of fairy shrimp, which are like sea monkeys but harder to see, got in Costco's way, too, possibly by setting up house in pools on the property. Either they were there and nobody cared or they weren't and everybody did. I can't remember.

Despite the human-and-shrimp alliance, however, crews broke ground next to Home Depot - another sign of the coming apocalypse - and Costco is now getting ready to open on Sept. 17.

There's nothing charming about a corporate chain that offers low, low prices on everything from rotisserie chicken to funeral urns.

A lot of old-time locals - and a few of those wannabe locals I mentioned earlier - are accusing San Luis Obispo of selling its soul for sales tax revenue. Speaking as someone who's sold his soul, I can say that it's really not that bad. Of course, I gained the ability to be a master fiddler, which I never use, and San Luis Obispo will get what SLO Economic Development Manager Shelly Stanwyck estimated to be $300,000 to $500,000. I should've held out for more.

And San Luis Obispo's not completely selling out. After all, Costco starting offering art for sale online last year, including Picasso originals. Not reprints. Originals.

For about $130,000, Costco members can own a piece of art history, and, while they're expanding their priceless collection, they can grab a chicken bake, a DVD player, and a 30-gallon jug of fruit punch concentrate.

Hey, at least it's not Wal-Mart. Grumble, grumble.

Block party

That rascally Joey Racano. I know that he and County SupervisorShirley Bianchi aren't what I would call best friends, but I was a little surprised to hear from him that he had sent her an e-mail that bounced back because she had his sender address blocked.

Joey was disgusted, but I was intrigued. I had no idea it was possible to block senders in an e-mail program. Shirley, can you show me how you did it? As a public official, you shouldn't be obstructing the people who try to get in touch with you - even if they take pictures of dead baby deer and want everyone to look - but I have no such ethical standards or moral quandaries. There are some people I just don't want to get e-mails from, like snobs who write to me and point out that I should have written: "There are some people from which I just don't want to get e-mails."

Is there a way I can just block anything coming in from Los Osos? I don't care which side the person trying to send me information is from - or from which side is the person trying to send me information - I'm just tired of hearing the same arguments over and over again.

Except that if I didn't keep my ear out for Los Osos info, I wouldn't hear about items like the SLO County sheriff's report that tells about how the department arrested Los Osos resident Ralph Leland Holland for throwing rocks over a fence at a crew working on the Wastewater Treatment Plant.

They called it assault with a deadly weapon. I call it not surprising, considering all of the literal and figurative crap running through that town.

I'd point out that people start throwing things when their voices aren't being heard, but Los Osos sewer opponents have made plenty of noise. Maybe it's not a matter of being heard, but a matter of being listened to.

The problem is, people tend to stop listening when someone throws rocks at them or repeatedly accuses them of killing baby deer. Maybe a new tactic is in order. If you all come up with one, let me know. I'll just be over here, gorging myself on free samples at the new Costco.

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