You have got to see this animated spoof of San Diego. This uncanny snapshot of our city’s identity is a stroke of perceptive genius. I urge you to click here and, while it's loading, get prepared for a shock of recognition.
Then you and I need to sit down for a serious talk.
OK, now for the serious part. Let's deconstruct the dirty little ditty you just watched (keeping in mind that your fellow Americans and global counterparts have also had the pleasure of viewing it on Comedy Central).
It’s hard to deny: jackin-it-in-san-diego nails us on our sunburned heads with its spot-on depiction of our city as a picturesque, feel-good, simple-minded, trivial-pursuit vacation mecca -- exactly the branding painstakingly promoted by our high-powered hotel (aka “hospitality”) industry and ConVis (Convention and Visitors Bureau). Think San Diego and up pops the zoo…palm trees…del Coronado (OK, not officially SD)…Gaslamp District…yachts and sail boats on an azure bay…Sea World…the clearest blue skies this side of heaven.
And did you catch the scene with the priest? He’s carrying a U-T newspaper and the headlines are screaming, Another beautiful week in San Diego!! Front-page news in paradise.
Finally we meet the mayor, chief cheerleader of Oz. Does he sell our city as a great place for business opportunities? diverse neighborhoods? university brain-power? ship-building industries? theater/art/music/dance? scientific research and development? green technology? Nope. His come-on is a titillating invitation for a sightseeing adventure to Old Town for warm tortillas...
Okay, I admit I’m putting an oversized squeeze on this crude, adolescent TV skit. The South Park-Comedy Central crew is just having a good time with a recent spot on NBC news (to wit: A co-founder for Invisible Children was detained...for being drunk in public and masturbating, according to the San Diego Police Department*).
But guess what? There’s actually a shocking moral to this story.
Over the past decades and right up to today, people running San Diego (I’m referring to a lineup of weak-willed politicians, strategically-appointed officials, double-dealing lobbyists, self-serving newspaper owners, afraid-of-their-shadows board members, arrogant developers, lily-livered business owners, and so on) have indulged in ego-driven, happy-talking, short-lived, non-productive, under-the-cover, self-boosting, sneakily-abusive, publicly subversive activities. They've dug a deep grave for ordinary San Diegans.
Not that us ‘ordinary’ folk are off the hook. We’ve been played, manipulated, lied to, and sucked dry by a long procession of city “leaders” and how do we respond? We turn a blind eye. We don't ask questions. We comply.
Yesterday the mayor announced to the people of San Diego that he has finally solved the city’s horrendous budget problems. Yesterday, the city council received the news and smiled in appreciation.
It's a lie. It’s a whopper. San Diego is still jackin-it.
* Corrected to provide a more accurate clue to the shenanigans in the video skit. Still, in anyone's hands, it's hardly the most egregious act ever witnessed in San Diego.