But this year it has all been decidedly quiet. The community picnic, traditional after-parade fare, has been moved from Memorial Park to Sierra Vista Park, a place famed for its vast panoramic foothill views. There you will be able to play basketball, baseball, and a lot of other things that involve spherical objects. But almost everyone is OK with that. Sierra Vista Park, which is at both the end of the parade route and the end of this town, has served that purpose in the past.
Plus there will be the by now traditional "water play area." Bring your paperwork, a pen and, preferably, a qualified legal expert. Nothing new there, however. Old outrages become accepted standard practice in time.
There will also be our famous dunk tank, where noted political and business figures from the local firmament will permit you to drop them into a large bucket of water for a small donation to charity. Always plenty of yucks to be had there, I guess.
But where is the controversy? What happened to our yearly tradition of engaging burning issues that roil the community in a most fascinating sort of way? Can't somebody at least ask about putting a rhinoceros, or perhaps even a giant sloth or tapir, in the parade?
Of course, the traditional yearly parade schedule mailer has yet to show up in our mailboxes, so I haven't completely lost hope. At least not yet. But the possibility of a Sierra Madre 4th of July Parade sans some monumental controversy or other does seem to be a distinct possibility this go around. It is eerily quiet on that front. To this observer a parade without political fireworks somehow feels, well, a little bit south of patriotic.
I guess we'll have to wait and see.
Today's Star News article on the Taylor's vs. Fresh & Easy controversy
All in all a good performance from news writer James Figueroa (click here), and it pretty much captures the debate that has been going on in this community during the last few weeks. Should we stick with a business that has admirably served our community over these last 40 years, or just chuck all that in favor of the pale green shrine to processed frozen food and bulk salty snacks? One owned by a British variety of Wal*Mart, complete with the union busting?
Of course, Fresh & Easy does claim to be "green." But then again, who doesn't these days? Even British Petroleum, who almost single-handedly took out the Gulf of Mexico a couple of years back, is now touting its environmental sensitivity. Somehow I get the feeling that if Benito Mussolini were to suddenly rise feet first from the grave to lead his New Legions back onto the battlefield, he would claim to be doing so in order to reestablish the green building standards of the Roman Empire.
Danny Castro makes an appearance in this article, and look who he blames for our Fresh & Easy debacle.
"During our general plan community meetings ... there were comments that our downtown needs a neighborhood market, or a market that's local," he said. "Not specifically a Fresh and Easy, but we've had comments from the public saying we need our own market."
Out of all the things that were said at the General Plan Community Outreach shindigs, why is this the only one that has gotten any traction at City Hall?
Then there is this rather philosophically irksome statement from a resident:
"The town needs commerce, it needs people," (a customer at Taylor's) said. "This is like the town that time forgot. I'm for progress."
I don't know about you, but I'm rather in favor of living in a town that time forget. Particularly when you consider the unkind fate of all those towns that time remembered. Plus would building this kind of testament to Euro-generica really be progress? Is decline, which coincidentally does occur in the forward movement of time (along with all things), progress? Or can progress actually be the stubborn refusal to give up on a better world by resisting the encroachment of, well, a prevalent inferiority that happens to have come into existence recently and is everywhere else?
All is not without at least some hope, however. And the true spirit of Sierra Madre always does somehow manage to rise above the bilge. Here is someone that I need to talk to:
Taylor's customers have been expressing their displeasure about the plans in recent weeks, employee Melissa Guzman said, and there has even been some talk about a petition.
I don't know about you, but I own a pen. And it hasn't signed anything lately but credit card slips. Time to put it to some better use.