Cold blue mannequin
Yup, there’s trouble
in paradise all right
By Stacey Warde
TROUBLE IN PARADISE. What does it mean? A woman whose head is broken, shattered by the impossible dream of the perfect mate, house or car or lovely diamond, her face frozen with some distant memory, but blank and pointless, nonetheless. She has nothing to live for…TROUBLE IN PARADISE…Beautiful people whose hopes and dreams mirror the Stepford creed of soullessness, who know nothing of their own suffering, who drown their lives in the suburban cocktail of anti-depressants, soy lattes, and sports drinks, who shop at silly boutiques with fake flowers and knick-knacks where knaves and revelers have been driven off the streets and into the ghettoes where they belong…TROUBLE IN PARADISE…We’re jiving with that, feeling the rat’s relentless tug on the underbellies of our precious homes, knowing trouble stirs in dark places while we sleep…TROUBLE IN PARADISE…What does it mean? Happy faces in the local newspapers, and on T-shirts in fancy shopping malls and on the stationery of non-local bookstores. It means media and businesses and civic centers driven by corporate values and greed, promoting bottom-line efficiencies, blandness, ordinariness, and smiley faces everywhere, even when there’s blood in the streets, and on the hands of oil magnates and private security services and vice presidents and their bosses…TROUBLE IN PARADISE…It means pissed off doctors demanding the highest penalty for treason and war profiteering among the elite, while ordinary citizens pay with the lives of their sons and daughters…TROUBLE IN PARADISE…It isn’t just “out there” but right here at home, where privileged white boys in college can’t get laid and a Cal Poly cheerleader can make four young male hysterics pee their pants in a taxi cab, where a boisterous, lively middle-aged slacker from New Yawk can’t make friends with the spiritually dull white hordes flocking to SLO County….
Yup, there’s TROUBLE IN PARADISE all right.
When women on the street say hello like cold blue mannequins, and the men in business suits don’t want to know your name, you know something’s not right.
The way things look around here you’d never guess that anything could be wrong or so beautiful. Take the New Times, for example, pretty on the outside but white bread and flavorless on the inside, which has turned its watchdog legacy into a pamphlet for the chamber of commerce.
New Times founder Steve Moss, who died two years ago this month, spooked a lot of people in this town, people who carry on their business in the shadows, and think they can get away with anything.
Today, New Times appears to have abandoned its watchdog role for the safer, happier role of catering to advertisers and giving the crooks in this town a free ride. See page 20 for the full story.
It’s a trend we’ve noticed throughout SLO, where money talks and playing it safe rules. As author Dell Franklin observes, we’re “close to utopia” here, but generic and safe and chichi aren’t necessarily utopian. Turn to page 23 for an out-of-towner’s view of our precious lifestyle.
Billy Hales, proprietor of numerous bars in SLO, most notably McCarthy’s, which is relocating to another side of town, explains why it’s hard to do business here. Developers want to put a new, HAPPY! face on things, where shoppers are free to roam unmolested by drunks and other people of character. Can I get a witness? There’s TROUBLE IN PARADISE. See our “Rogue of the Month” interview on page 18 to learn how SLO’s rogue barman is making the most of a troubled world.
Fishermen, too, know damn well that life turns in an instant on the “pink volcanos of barnacles,” where a shifting tide signals shifting fortune—invoking fury, loss, and, possibly, acceptance. Contributor Steve Bird captures the essence of life’s sudden, unpredictable turns in his poetic “high tide” starting on page 13. Oh, to be like the man who dances with the furies on a rock in the midst of an angry sea! TROUBLE IN PARADISE….
Stacey Warde is editor of The Rogue Voice. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.