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We'll always have Mardi Gras 

I wept.

And don’t you dare call me a sissy. Jesus did it too … allegedly. And I’m pretty sure he could kick your ass. Anyway, tears were my initial reaction when word first spread that our much-beloved Chief of Police Deb Linden was retiring.

Criminals and thugs everywhere cartwheeled across their lawns before being promptly slapped with noise violations. Apparently flailing your legs in the air and rustling leaves of grass is noisy business.

If there’s one thing good-old-Deb won’t stand for, it’s noise. And business. Oh, and according to the happy-ending write-up in the Trib: nonsense. Deb won’t stand for any of that.

“Shoo nonsense, get off these nice people’s lawns,” she says, flapping her arms.

Until I read the touching farewell in our local newspaper of record, I wasn’t quite certain whether I wept from joy or sadness. It’s been a decade or so since my tear ducts went caput, just dried right up in the middle of a Touched by an Angel marathon on Lifetime. The doctors had some kind of fancy explanation. Something about too much salt in my diet. Or not enough salt? At any rate, my eyes haven’t lactated a drop since, so it’s easy to mistake my crying for dry-heaving.

I rushed to pick up a copy of the Tribune to see how I should be reacting to the big news. I was confused, which isn’t saying much. According to Animal Planet, that’s my natural state. But this time there was a reason. The paper’s fawning tribute to the apparently much-beloved no-nonsense police chief read like it must have been written by, well, me.

“Wow, time really does fly when you’re having good, clean, responsible fun.”

Hello? It’s dripping with gee-golly Hardy Boys sarcasm, which everyone knows is the meat and butter of my humor palette. Or is that cookie dough and potatoes?

Except that it’s not. After oozing the sort of saccharine let’s-hold-hands-and-go-skipping-with-the-woman-who-wants-to-lock-us-in-our-houses-for-our-own-good merde—that’s French for the stuff that comes out of the back end of a bull—the writer attempts to send her off with a “badge-of-honor bouquet.” I hate to say it, but I’m not sure a woman who makes $231,855 in salary and benefits really wants your non-existent crepe paper flowers. Or whatever the hell a “badge-of-honor bouquet” is made out of.
But the paean to her “down-to-earth friendliness, her caring and compassion,” that’ll get her going.

This is the woman who may go down as the biggest buzz-kill in Central Coast history—and this is an area that was “civilized” by missionaries, so that’s saying quite a bit. I could almost respect her, if she’d have the decency to demonstrate just the teensiest grain of self-awareness. You know, start factory production for armbands for her Legion of Quiet.

But maybe I’m being too harsh. There’s no denying that Deb and I are oil and water. Or possibly espresso and vodka. I haven’t decided which, but I’ll tweet the results when my think tank gets back to me on that. She favors politeness whereas I’ve always had a penchant for letting it all hang out, the good, the bad, and the very-ugly. Given the choice between a city-wide party that celebrates creativity and living, a just-because kind of fete like, say, Mardi Gras for instance, and not having any party at all, Deb chooses to shoo away pesky out-of-towners and tell us all to put away our crepe paper (see? she doesn’t like it!) and Carmen Miranda hats. I say throw on another banana.

And while the Trib glowed about how Deb “built a strong relationship with the student populations at Cal Poly and Cuesta College,” my impression was that she regarded anyone who wasn’t swirling a wineglass and pushing a baby stroller as a drunken nuisance. Remember the “unruly gathering” ordinance that prompted students at Cal Poly and Cuesta to threaten to flood a City Council meeting to protest? They didn’t seem quite so fond of Deb then. And then there was that time she threw her weight behind a curfew for minors, which still strikes me as a steaming pile of police state crap. Clearing the streets of happy revelers and young people doesn’t seem all that note-worthy or bold—at least not for the right reasons.

Am I going to miss Deb? Of course. With her at the helm we were always a mere hop, skip, and a jump from stocks in the mission and public lashings. Which are always good fun. Maybe the city could have gotten in on the action, selling tickets to shore up its limp pocketbook. Am I going to sleep more soundly knowing she’s no longer prowling the streets, menacing partiers and youth? Absolutely. 

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