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Lazy rivers - and writers 

Greetings, suckers! I’m dictating this to my new intern, Ortander, who is floating along beside me in his intern inner tube in the lazy river area of a fabulous local water park, where teenagers are voluntarily hurtling to their deaths as I suck nutrients through an umbrella straw and rock to the occasional sound of Aerosmith reverberating across the water from the speakers of the Mid-State Fair, which is especially amazing since they aren’t playing this year.

Keep the paper dry, Ortander, or it’s back to the intern cage for you!

Ahem.

How sublime is a lazy river? The idea of an entire activity devoted to laziness! It’s a freeing concept, as I’ve always been encouraged to be ashamed of my laziness. If you don’t have your butt in a tube right now, you should really try it; everything seems more pleasant when your privates are moist.

Anyway, all of this focus on laziness has provided me time to contemplate all of my many mistakes.

For example, a few weeks ago I talked about a “mistake” I made, which, many people have since pointed out, I didn’t make.

New Times regrets the error.

Here are some other mistakes I’ve made or will make:

I regularly mistake Howard Hughes for William Randolph Hearst. I once got so confused that I convinced an entire group touring the Hearst Mansion to join me in a mob assault on a guide because he wouldn’t discuss Hearst’s horrifying dissent into madness. At my maniacal urging, a copier repairman from Kansas got the poor bastard in a chicken wing just long enough for a fat lady from Santa Maria to wrangle him into the Neptune pool. Together, we kept dunking him under for successively longer periods, shouting in his terrified face every time he surfaced: “Show us the freakin’ fingernail jar, man!”

New Times regrets the error.

I’m pretty sure that I’ll mistake—again—that bear fountain in Mission Plaza for the waterfall urinal at the Madonna Inn. To be fair, the first couple of times it happened I was drunk out of my mind, and all of the wedding-goers shouting at me didn’t help much.

New Times regrets the error.

And I almost always mistake my own column for Lon Allan’s in the Tribune. Just last week someone was accusing me of not paying any attention to the shenanigans in Atascadero anymore, and I told them to shut up and read my early-July piece on Wal-Mart and the upcoming city council election. When they started to question me—rightly, I’ve belatedly realized—I just moved my face real close to theirs and screamed, “Do you know who I am? Do you know who I am? I can break you! I can snap you like the scrawny twig you are!”

The Tribune regrets the error.

And speaking of Tribune goofs, boy have they pissed people off with their ham-fisted coverage of the death of Lance Leage, whose body was found after he went missing during a weekend hiking trip.

The story was less a piece on an accidental death and more a suggestive criminal profile of a man who just happened to be the son of Morro Bay mayoral candidate George Leage.

Lance Leage’s handful of brushes with the law are dredged up in detail, complete with a photo that looks like a mug shot. Turns out the picture was taken from his driver’s license, but family members say they were never asked for a better picture.

Lance wasn’t killed in a gang shooting; he died on a hiking trip. Was all that rap-sheet stuff really necessary? His family and friends say no.

I wonder if the Tribune regrets that story? One final thing as I towel off …

Do you all remember the news items informing us that SLO’s Downtown Association was becoming a nonprofit group so it could start to weigh in on political matters … legally, that is?

Well that change has happened; they’re no longer officially connected with the city.

But some downtown business owners are wondering why the city is still acting as the association’s collection agent. Seems the tax and business license collection notices—which were sent suspiciously late this year—still make it look like they’re required to pay an extra $150, or double their usual city tax assessment (whichever is greater, thanks very much) to the association. Those are new, even-higher-than-last-year’s fees, but it’s not as clear what exactly the city’s role is anymore in collecting the fees.

City finance chief Bill Statler told a New Times reporter that downtown business are definitely legally required to pay the fees, regardless of the group’s official status. He said the business owners are still paying for the same services, even if the city’s contracting for them in a different way.

But some business owners aren’t satisfied. If you’re a part of the city, they’re saying, that’s one thing. But if a group, for its own comfort and convenience, elects not to be a part of the city, why should the city still play the heavy in the collection game?

Now, I play poker with Downtown Brown, so I’m down with this crowd, and I know they do all sorts of great things, from putting on the Thursday Farmers’ Market to rebuilding Santa’s house after the traditional holiday vandalizing.

But why don’t they make their case on an individual, business-by-business basis, for all the great things the association does, instead of having the city demand the assessment under the threat of revoking a business license?

To do it this way seems just plain lazy.

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