Loose ends

“On a drizzly Saturday morning before Christmas I sit at my computer to type out my last column of the year… I can see the Saturday Farmers’ Market from my office window. People are bundled up against the elements, checking out the oranges and honey and leeks.”

That comes from the column I wrote exactly one year ago. Nothing much changes. As I write this year’s version, it’s raining and I’m watching the goings-on at the Farmers’ Market. This time around, Saturday is the Winter Solstice, shortest day of the year. Things start improving from this point on, if you, like me, prefer daylight over dark. Optimism offered on a cloudy day. On the other hand, when June 21 rolls around and we begin to head into the bright endless days of summertime, I like to remind people, “Well, it’s all downhill from here.” Pessimism served on a sunny day. But here I am at the beginning edge of winter, watching the rain drizzle down on the market. In our production area here at the CN&R, there is a drip, drip, dripping from the ceiling—actually it’s coming from one of the screws that hold an air register in place. Some folks here suspect the leak is connected to the recent installation of a new roof-mounted heating and AC unit. Understandable. But I say it has something to do with the asphalt shingles that are scattered on the sidewalk and in the parking lot following last week’s howling rain storms.

Looking at the market, I am bothered by a big white SUV that is parked headed the wrong way on the west side of Flume Street. I’ve got a deep and distorted prejudice against SUV owners. I see how they drive when I’m dropping my son off at school. The SUV drivers, cell phone to ear, don’t play by the rules. They don’t wait their turn at the nearby four-way stop. They don’t pull up all the way in the drop-off driveway that fronts the school. This, of course, is a gross stereotype that I use to conveniently rationalize my hatred of SUVs and what I think they represent: Americans’ worst traits, including gluttony and general obnoxiousness. (At this point, in a conciliatory effort to keep a certain sibling relationship from blowing a tire and tumbling out of control, let me clarify that my frothing resentment is reserved for the really big SUVs, not the smaller, more-reasonable variety.) I want to call the cops and report this wayward vehicle parked at the market. Upon closer examination, I discover that the SUV in question is connected to a sidewalk vendor, one of those who set up shop on the edge of the market to escape paying the vendors’ fee. In this case, the vendor is promoting a local restaurant. However, I shall not name the business because my blind and unreasonable hatred for SUVs may be leading me, strangled as I am by my warped sense of reality, to unjustly rain criticism down on the undeserving. It’s important to recognize your prejudices.

Speaking of prejudices, I knew the now former Senate leader Trent (no relation to former 49er Ronnie) Lott was finished the second I heard what he’d said about the nearly mummified Strom (no relation to former Warrior Nate) Thurmond. Lott’s biggest mistake was apologizing and acknowledging that his words were incredibly stupid and offensive. As soon as Lott began begging for forgiveness from African Americans, his goose was cooked. His fellow Republicans recognized that their leader in the Senate was suddenly deeply indebted to America’s blacks. Some black Democratic legislators took note of this Republican predicament and came to Lott’s defense. So the Bush in the White House made arrangements—even going so far as to have his brother, the Bush in Florida, declare his disgust with the racist remarks—to get Lott to see the light. “Do it for white America, Trent,” the Republicans urged. And Lott did.

Trick or treat? Remember those anti-Halloween ads that ran last October and were part of the package the city got when it forked over $40,000 to a PR firm from San Luis Obispo to help kill the popular autumn event? Well that firm, Barnett Cox, has still not paid either the News & Review or the Butte College Roadrunner for publishing those ads. (I can only assume the same is true at the Enterprise Record and anywhere else those ads may have run—including the "whatcha-gonna-do-when-they-come-for-you" versions that graced our televisions.) And now the payment is overdue. What’s going on here? Did the city get tricked?