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Over a double barrel of ale 

click to enlarge 039009d4e9897c82615b3fc5c55f07bc.jpg

I don’t know who wrote the national anthem, and I don’t really care. I figure that, whoever they are, they’re dead now and therefore incapable of carrying their fair share of a conversation about last week’s episode of Orange is the New Black or that funny thing George Takei just posted to Facebook. 

If they were alive, and we had enjoyed a pleasant conversation about Facebook and television and other more important subjects, I might feel inclined to bring up the fact that they overlooked a key element in their sing-song description of bombs bursting in air and the rockets’ red glare: the animals. I’m picturing a family of geese sitting at home peacefully reading Garfield while the Americans struck their noisy blow for freedom, but something about it isn’t quite working for me. 

Judging by the animals’ reactions when Morro Bay began setting off its annual firework display in the middle of a protected nature preserve that is home to dozens of endangered species, either the birds aren’t big fans of loud noises or suddenly collectively realized they needed to be somewhere else at the exact moment the fireworks went off. If this was the city’s first time lighting fireworks in this location, I’d make some snotty comments about not thinking it through as thoroughly as they could have. But since they’ve been setting off fireworks from this location for more years than most of the endangered birds have been alive, we just have to assume that the city doesn’t much care about the terrified flock of birds silhouetted against the fireworks’ red glare. 

Also competing for the title of Most Disconnected City—which comes with a sash made out of toilet paper and puff paint—is the city of San Luis Obispo—or rather, the smuggest part of it. The Downtown Association announced that downtown San Luis Obispo is just too darn friendly for security guards so instead of paying security guards armed with khaki uniforms and stun guns to harass homeless people and panhandlers, they’ll be paying the winners of the city’s Fourth of July Whitest Teeth competition to harass homeless people and transients. 

Did I mention that the entire purpose of having “security guards” downtown is to make sure the homeless people don’t scare or upset the happy, rich people? Because that pretty much sums up their entire function. I don’t know whether this indicates that the Downtown Association is abandoning its 2013 petition to hire additional police officers to deal with downtown’s “transient issues.” Or maybe it’s owing to the success of the petition that they feel comfortable making the switch to smiley-face “ambassadors” in lieu of frowny-face guards. 

I am, however, very much looking forward to my first encounter with an ambassador—whom I picture as a sort of Gestapo Mickey Mouse—who will spend several hours trying to pry me off the bench downtown where I like to nap between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. each day. Now that I know what I’m up against, I plan to grease myself up real good before my next nap; I don’t know if it will actually make it more difficult for the ambassador to get a good grip on me, but I happen to believe that 90 percent of warfare is mental, and greasing yourself up and squealing every time someone tries to grab you should be enough to spook some milquetoast hall monitor. 

Rounding out the trifecta, we’ve got the Paso Robles City Council, which recently allowed a man who makes beer to dictate the moral tone of the city. Of course, after Adam Firestone’s impassioned plea on behalf of the city’s image—which he apparently believed would be tarnished if an already-existing cardroom happened to move to another location—the City Council disregarded the planning commission’s unanimous recommendation to approve the cardroom’s move and voted against it. 

While it shouldn’t come as any great surprise that a North County brewmeister is leading the City Council around by the nose, anyone who believed that his concern was solely for the well-being of the morally upright citizenry might be in for a rude awakening—though nothing so cruel as a fireworks display in a nature preserve. After Firestone effectively put the kibosh on the cardroom’s plans to expand and switch locations, word broke that Firestone was trying to negotiate to buy the same building the cardroom had a contract with. But I’m sure Firestone’s concerns, as expressed at the City Council meeting, had nothing to do with the fact that he had some financial interest in the decision—which he wisely failed to disclose while telling the City Council how to vote, and only later said his move was intended for the good for the property just in case, you know, the council did what he wanted them to do.

Maybe the council members would have made the same decision if they had known more about what was driving the only person vocally against the proposal. Then again, when you’re a VIP in a town the size of Paso, where fancy wine and craft beer qualify as a religion, your reasoning might not matter all that much.


Henceforth, Shredder would like to be known as the shredmeister. Send comments to


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