The Call of the Mild
Thursday, May 25, 2000
It was a weekend of upsets at Laguna Seca Raceway, and Squid isn''t talking about the surprise ending of the Salinas 250.
Nope, the real upset was that the stars of the Winston West weekend were not the rumbling NASCARs, but the sidecars. That''s right: the slightly dotty, team-ridden motorcycles with little platforms from which the passengers hang and crawl like agile monkeys in order to lean efficiently into the corners. The crowd--what little of it remained at 3:45pm on Sunday--loved them. Squid loved them, too.
Mind you, Squid had been primed for the most macho weekend of racing imaginable. Last Friday I attended a press conference at Laguna Seca. It began civilly enough, with race car drivers thanking their sponsors while the members of the fourth estate scarfed free sandwiches and sodas. But then the journalists, still wiping their mouths, were ushered out to a dirt track, and everything changed.
Protrucks are off-road racing pickups with big tires and super suspensions. One by one, those of us so inclined were helped through the windows of the welded-shut doors, strapped in securely and given a taste of la vida loca.
Squid can honestly say that if there''s one thing I will never tell my chiropractor, it''s how I spent that afternoon. The truck picked up speed rapidly, and by the time we hit the first bump we were going fast enough to sail about 15 feet through the air and come down with a rocking crash. The noise was incredible, the osteal disturbance profound. Fun? Yep. Well-advised? No way.
Come race day, the macho routine had become a bit cloying. There was just too much of it. Too much swagger in the pits, too much noise from the cars. Too much pain in Squid''s gelatinous parts from the encounter with ultimate machismo.
Then the sidecar race began.
This sport is all about teamwork and subtlety. And it is simply a spectacle, what with passengers'' butts hanging off the sidecars and all. Team Subculture, a tattooed, pink-haired duo from San Francisco, took second place and thrilled the crowd by passing other teams in the turns. They diced with the winner until the end, and when Rick Murray''s team nosed ahead at the checkered flag, the small crowd went wild.
To which Squid says: Here''s to a kinder, gentler auto sport.
That''s Just the Cost of Doing Business, Son
Hyperactivist Dave Dilworth has uncovered further evidence of injustice and possibly even evil within our county system of government! A couple of weeks ago he went to the Planning Commission to appeal the approval of a lavish house in Carmel Valley ("lavish" meaning six bathrooms, an outdoor pool, a spa and little stream and waterfall), only to find that he needed to lay down $671 smackers to do it.
That hefty fee only applies to projects approved by Zoning Administrator Dale Ellis. Larger projects like subdivisions, which are approved by the Planning Commission and would presumably be harder to fight, only cost $50 to appeal.
In Dilworth''s view, this is nothing less than an impediment placed by a planning office that doesn''t want to be bothered with pesky public participation. "The logic is this: They don''t want you or I to object to anything," he gripes.
Ellis says the discrepancy is an oversight that is going to be addressed any time now. So will the $50 fee go up, or will the $671 fee go down?
"I can''t really say right now," he says.
Note to Dilworth: Better start that piggy bank immediately.
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