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It's torture 

Ah, Halloween: that wonderful time of year when kids won’t leave me alone no matter how many questionable caramels I pass out. Maybe this year I’ll have to come up with more inventive ways to scare and belittle.

 

When it comes to torture, what better place to find inspiration than Guantanamo Bay? That’s where they’ve perfected the craft: kind of like a soufflé of pain. The latest uncovered stunt was that the guards were torturing prisoners with marathon sessions of rock music. Among the mix tape o’ misery, they used tunes by Rage Against the Machine. Irony doesn’t get much more cruel and vindictive, even as far as torture goes. One of the band’s lyrics is about “the thin line between entertainment and war.” A little too on point, it seems.

 

Rage Against the Machine rallied against authoritarian rule and cruelty. Using that group’s music to torture prisoners in a place that’s already a complete unholy scumhole is awful on all sorts of levels—think Dante squirming out of Satan’s pooper. Torturing prisoners who haven’t stood trial with revolutionary-style music is like giving someone hundreds of paper cuts with a Bible. Or chopping off someone’s arm and slapping them with it for a few hours. You just don’t do it. Crap, I hope this doesn’t spark new torture ideas.

 

The idea was to overwhelm prisoners with loud music and flashing lights. It must’ve seemed like an obnoxious concert in a disgusting place where all you wanted to do was go home. Actually, it sounds more like a rave. Pearl Jam and Nine Inch Nails fell among other torture bands. Personally, I’m not a fan of either and just hearing one of these bands oozing through my radio is enough to get me confessing to things I never did.

 

Visual torture

 

I’m getting a sinking feeling as of late, probably a bit of foreshadowing as my alcoholism tries to protect itself. Bar owners are probably nervous, too, and rightfully so. I was reading The Trib a few days ago and squirming in my seat at the quotes coming out of a recent Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting.

 

Kathi Main is quoted as saying, “We need to have a downtown that is pleasant, clean, and safe.” In other words, Disneyland’s a-comin’! The article also insinuated the 15-year-old girl who was senselessly cold-cocked while walking downtown with her mom was somehow associated with “drunks” and other bar-associated problems.

 

Here’s my worry: The rhetoric is quite sharp about how our nice, clean downtown is being overrun by the unglamorous locals. In step the bars, which many of the scapegoaters are ready to either severely restrict or just eliminate.

 

As I see it, the real issue here is that SLO’s downtown tries to marry a shopping veranda with a local pub scene. The mall-atmosphere is slowly creeping over the old like an architectural cancer ready to devour what doesn’t fit. That’s right, Abercrombie & Fitch, with your noxious cologne that leaks onto my street, I’m looking at you. It sucks because looking at you always involves looking at a 10-foot tall image of some skinny, sculpted, emo-turd model of the month. I’d rather not be forced to take in eyefuls of your shirtless pose from happy trail to nips, but there you are every time I’m heading to the bar. That creates a poor body image for us average pot-bellied individuals.

 

Even after the retrofits, SLO bars are one of the few things that maintain the town character and ward off the coming wave of interchangeable storefronts. Every time I pass by one of the viral concrete mall suburbs in other parts of the state, I always think, “God, what a bland horrible place this is. Is George Romero filming his latest here?” But so many seem eager to scrape away the interesting places to make way for another TGI-fucking-Fridays. Ooh, sorry—I forgot to use my asterisks.

 

Tips

Here’s a fun little tip I got the other day. A certain hulking cop-turned-politician-turned-cop-again (if he wins the election) was recently spotted at a funeral, I’ve been told. After the sad part was over and everyone headed to the reception, sheriff candidate Jerry Lenthall decided to greet people as they strolled in, drying their eyes—I can only assume that last part. Never to miss a prime opportunity, he gave his condolences and handed out envelopes to take contributions for his run at sheriff. Apparently he apologized as he did it, which is like saying sorry to the baby seal as you’re clubbing it.

 

That was the crappy tip—then I got a really fun one.

 

When skydiving nonagenarians come to Ol’ Shred for help, the Shred abides. Hopefully this won’t be too late, but I got word of a request about a week ago from a woman who wanted the opportunity to push her aunt out of a plane. It may have been that she wanted to help her 94-year-old aunt go skydiving, but I like my interpretation better. Hell, my grandma’s about 10 years younger, and she’s still afraid going on the Internet will immediately cause her computer to bubble and foam with viruses.

 

Since it can’t be all shred and no help all the time, I want to lend a hand. I would love to help out said auntie and would adore the opportunity to jump out with her. But in keeping with my cloaked nature, if I were to tag along I’d also have to fill her pack with silverware, an anvil, or some other Acme-style gag, you know, to preserve the mystery. Fight as I may, my cartoon hijinks tend to look more like murder, especially in this county.

 

“I would hate to have her die skydiving at 94,” my friend wrote. “But hey, what a way to go, eh?”

 

Indeed.

 

All I can do is help find a good, willing, and hopefully cheap place that will toss an old woman out of a plane like an 86’d a-hole from a bar. Come on ya’ll: Let’s get this old bag tumbling to the Earth at terminal velocity!

 

Send skydiving help via the Shredder to shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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