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You get a car! 

Omigod, omigod. Oh. My. God. It’s Oprah! And Jenny McCarthy. Here. Right here in tiny, sleepy, happy little San Luis Obispo. Someone pinch me.

Ouch!

Not that hard, you sadist.

Are you still excited? I am. Seriously. Others are still titillated over the Oprah nod that has helped make our corner of paradise nationally known as the happiest place in the United States. What’s that, Santa Barbara? Jealous much? I don’t see McCarthy squeezing into a skin-tight smiley-face T-shirt and biking around your community or sitting in a firefighter’s lap while he tries to think really hard about baseball.

I bet the Chamber of Commerce folks all wish they had tails to wag right now. They’re usually known for wagging the dog.

I was forced to watch the SLO debut on national TV from home, trying to make out McCarthy’s beaming blonde locks through the static and positioning my rabbit ears just right to hear the inanities leaching out of my speakers.

If you watched, you, like me, were probably wondering why Goldie Hawn has become the new spokesperson for happy, fielding questions from Oprah and enlightening the audience.

Hawn laid down such philosophic bombshells as, “Our children are not experiencing the optimum experience.”

Somewhere, Socrates is blushing.

There was a TV camera person at a Chamber-sponsored event, filming people who were watching themselves on TV. Later, those same people probably watched the local broadcast of themselves watching themselves on TV. My head just exploded with self-pleasuring happiness.

We’re such wonderful narcissists. The easy attack here is to point out all the things that SLO isn’t doing right. But that would be a cheap shot (cough, don’t feed the ducks, eg-hem) and doesn’t sell the major point.

So I’ll let my bud TJ do some of the talking for me:

“Hey Shred—you have the audience; feel free to use this idea, if you like it and claim it as your own.”

Don’t mind if I do TJ.

“To ‘thank’ Oprah for exposing our little town to 10 to 15 million schmucks, we owe her one. I suggest declaring her town, Montecito, as the ‘Friendliest’ or ‘Most Generous Town in America,’ then inviting all of the bench-sitting panhandlers in downtown SLO for a FREE BUS RIDE to visit there. One way!”

Er, I like the indignation, but I’m not so sure I can get on board with the shuttle-the-homeless-as-punishment scheme.

“And to make it more enticing, give ’em each a $50 prepaid card to use while enjoying O’s backyard! If one city bus won’t hold them, hey, put that new ‘double-decker’ to good use. It’s the least we can do to thank her for NOTHING!!!”

Ha! Funny, and I’m mostly in agreement. Maybe I’m TJ. I forget.

According to the Chamber, as was later printed in The Trib, Oprah’s exposé on SLO happiness drove the chamber’s web traffic up 745 percent—a fact that prompted me, and others, to respond thusly: AGH! After outlining all the things that make SLO-idians (I don’t know if you have a moniker yet) perma-grinned—the close-knit community, small-town atmosphere, and a general cheeky sense of togetherness—Oprah and McCarthy have put the cross-hairs on this town in a way that would make Sarah Palin grimace.

The daily paper’s comments section lit up more than a crack addict, complete with irate locals spewing fire and bile about the so-called “Oprah Effect.”

“What’s the difference between San Luis Obispo and yogurt?” greenplan wrote. “Yogurt has culture.”

I get it!

But I’m not as bitter as all that. I’m actually sweet, like yogurt with fruit at the bottom. I’m just sick of hearing about the happy-happy-happy, and really sick of marketing wonks forcing this happy-go-lucky tripe down my gullet, even if it is tripe with fruit at the bottom. Just the other day, the daily paper threw some salt in the wound with a story about how the average SLO County resident is worth $420,000, or something like that. The story says there’s something like $35 billion in wealth around these parts, which—surprise!—isn’t distributed evenly. Guess I’ll return that jewel-encrusted toaster.

    Not that I don’t like living here. I’m just sick of hearing people pride themselves on it, especially when most people I know can barely afford to live here, and I’m sick of hearing the pitter-patter of rich hands hitting rich backs.

Speaking of stupid money: Wée probably all know by now that the Sheriff’s Department, in its seemingly infinite jackassdom, seized a Dodge Viper in a drug raid, then spruced it up to look more official, and is cruising the crotch-enlarger to local schools to point out the dangers of drugs.

What’s less known is that the department fought hard to keep the financial side of this thing under wraps. Why? Well, had the department not blown money on the Viper, it could have bought things it actually needs. You know: supplies, personnel, stuff like that. Instead, they got all excited-teenage-boy on this one and spent the money on toys. At least the budget’s in good shape, though. Right? Ooh, sorry to rub it in.

From what I hear, some county guys were hounding the department to come before the public and explain this particular piece of idiocy from the get go. Not that anyone was going to take the Viper away from them. It was just a prod for humility—something else that’s in short supply.

Money doesn’t buy happiness. Oprah does. Reach the Shredder at shredder@newtimesslo.com

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