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The crying game 

Some TV journalist called the SLO Police Department in tears after a man spotted a body near Mission Plaza. The journalist was crying not because an apparent member of the community had been found dead in the creek, but because she heard that another news agency had received a copy of the autopsy report first. It's not fair, she said, because somebody died and we didn't get the grisly details yet, even though we were patiently waiting for them after asking for them in the proper way.

I've been known to hound a cop or two in my day — occasionally in the line of work — but I've never burst into tears because I wasn't the first button on the department's speed dial. Granted, I didn't hear this journalist's side of the call. Actually, I didn't hear either side of the call. This whole story, in fact, is secondhand, but so is my car, and it's reliable, so this story must be, too.

Regardless of who got the facts first and who cried or didn't cry, I wonder why sleazy journalists, and by that I mean TV journalists, don't treat their subjects with a sense of decorum and — dare I say? — respect. Yes, I do dare.

I also realize that my telling other media members they should show a little sympathy is a bit like the pot calling the kettle black, but I've always been upfront about my own hypocrisy — especially when it comes to pot.


Home on the range

I'd like to call Tom Copeland whatever the PC word for Indian giver is these days, but I'm more culturally sensitive than that. How'd that term come around anyway? White pioneers were the ones who promised big promises to the American natives and then either forgot they made them or asked huge favors in return. "Just give us all this land," they said, "and in return, we'll give you little pieces of property back later. Oh, and most of you have to die."

The term, if anything, should be "pioneer giver," which isn't too catchy, but it is more accurate.

Anyway, Tom's been acting a lot like a settler himself recently, manifesting his destiny all around San Luis Obispo by buying up property and building bigger and better businesses and such as he goes. He hasn't asked anybody to die — yet — but let's just say I wouldn't go accepting any blankets from him without making sure I'd had a smallpox vaccination first.

Let's just say I wouldn't go accepting any blankets from him without making sure I'd had a smallpox vaccination first.

No, I'm joking. Take all the blankets you want from Tom. If he offers you a lollipop, take that, too. He worked hard to be in the position he's in today. He deserves to enjoy the comforts and attendant benefits of that cushy and lofty seat without the rest of us rabble suspecting him of acting in a way that would benefit his bank account more than it would benefit us.

Really, I love Tom and all he's done for this town. I maintain a healthy history-is-written-by-the-winners sort of philosophy, and there aren't many winners around here as big as Tom — unless you count that lady who hit the jackpot over at Chumash Casino a while back — but then we'd be treading back into un-PC waters, and I'm trying to write a snide little snippet about a local businessman but it's turning into a social commentary on Western development and genocide.

Before anyone says I'm now the pot calling the kettle white, or that I'm being too flippant with this country's history of oppressing and executing the people who were here first, let me start over.

I'd like to point out that Tom Copeland offered something to someone, then revoked that offer. (It's not too catchy, but it is safer.)

Tom said he'd let one of New Times ' writers into the old Blackstone Hotel building he'd bought, then nixed the invite when he heard our guy would be bringing along a camera. Some of those skeletons in the closets above Hemp Shak must not be too photogenic.

Our man, still anxious to see what he could see, demurred and said he'd leave his camera behind, but Tom, speaking like a creepy ventriloquist through architect Mark Rawson , said we should just forget the whole thing. The SLO Historical Society thinks there might be some architectural goodies from San Luis Obispo's checkered past up there and that Tom doesn't want anyone to know in case he tears it down to make room for condos or what have you. But Senior Planner Jeff Hook , who has been in the place, said that aside from a neat-o keen doorknob or two, it's just an abandoned building.

While New Times was puzzling all this out, trying to figure out who was trying to fleece whom and why, and whether we could score a couple antique doorknobs on the sly without anyone noticing, Tom went out and bought the Pier 1 building next door to the Blackstone Hotel without telling us.

Can we get a peek in there, Tom? We promise we'll leave the cameras behind and only write vividly descriptive sentences to describe what we see.

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