The winter sports here are drawing to a close – basketball, men’s volleyball, and local elections. I decided that I should pay more attention to the local governance of these simple folks who surround me, and perhaps that would unlock the secret logic the drives them forward in directions that are so unthinkable to a common-sense citizen in the old country. I’ve found that even in their local governance policies these people start with their heads in the wrong place.

Lately, the local politics of my quaint hamlet have stunk like horse manure. Oh, I would that that were only a figure of speech. Burbank, CA, for historical reasons, has an area of town where most of the houses have a horse stable attached. If you think people are strange when they’re way too interested in their pets, you’ve never seen horse owners. And nothing brings a community together like all sharing the same ridiculous interest.

When their quiet, peaceful neighborhood was threatened by the invasion of an evil big-box retailer, they banded together and mounted an All-American grassroots effort to show the overbearing city council that they meant business. Well, they meant business for the council that is – they didn’t mean business for the retailer. That, they were trying to prevent.

This sounds like a familiar enough story, except that this is California. This is Burbank. This is the Rancho Equestrian District. What would normally be cries of ‘The extra traffic will endanger the children in our little subdivision – think of the children’ became Californicated into: ‘There will be wine tastings, so drunken drivers will endanger us as we ride around the RanchoThink of the Horses!’ (Burbank Leader – sorry for the login)

The usual cries of our quaint little mom & pop shops will be replaced by boring huge store” were Californicated into: “it’s replacing a uniquely Burbank business” (The current tenant of the building to be replaced is Captions, Inc – providers of closed-captioning, credits, subtitles, and translations)

The semi-usual cries of “We don’t want that evil, socially irresponsible corporation infecting our town’s policy of social justice and low environmental-impact” ring somewhat hollow when the big-box chain store moving in is Whole Foods. Yeah. That Whole Foods – organic granola is always half-off.

Only in California would you have a ridiculous situation like this. The skeleton outline seems reasonable, but when you have a bunch of rich, homogenously white wanna-be ranchers in the middle of the LA sprawl whose idea of a grassroots effort involves have each one of their lawyers threaten to sue the city complain about the removal of an historic cottage industry of a closed captioning studio in order to bring in the evil big box retailer of fine organic groceries, wines, and other healthy foods, the odds that the folks back in the old country will believe me when I tell them are just astronomically low.

These are the people that annoy me on my walk to work. Their sprinklers are watering their little postage stamp lawns every day of the year. Their sidewalks are frequently covered in excess manure. And on days when I have to get up at dawn to hit the office early, there’s a little smart-aleck rooster next to my office who feels he has to remind me of that fact.

On the other hand, I’ve got no big need for a Whole Foods. I’ve got no dog in this fight. This is Burbank – the “normal” grocery store has a massive organic food section. If I need to impress a vegan, there are two Trader Joe’s within 10 minutes of here. If I badly need to locate something to eat that inconvenienced no animals, I know where I can find some well-watered grass.

I’m just an observer trying to make sense of it all. This is the biggest thing going on in town right now. In the old country we often saw reports of these people and their bickering ways spreading to national affairs. They would often try to cast their opponent as being the privileged favorite, then argue that everyone should only listen to the oppressed minority – establishing a tyranny of the minority. It’s interesting to see their methods turned on each other, and coming to a complete stalemate.

The developer ceded the latest round, but he ceded in a way that allows him to return next time stronger that they can possibly imagine. Possibly in a glowing ghostly aura. The glow might be due to the extra-healthy foods.

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