A tricky bag of treats
Oh, Horror of Horrors! Oh, Terror of Terrors! It is that time, that perfectly ghastly time, again! Yes, it is that time of year when your night of nights, when you rise up in all your ghoulish glory, approaches.
All Hallow’s Eve, that one night each year when you reign and when your mad power is celebrated, is drawing nigh, and, once again, I am most honored and privileged to greet you on this auspicious occasion as your most humble minion and report to you on the not-so-fair doings in the so-called fair town of Claremont.
As is more often the case than not, oh, Master of the Malignant, I am relegated to this not-so-prime time, with Halloween being more than two weeks away. Then again, as is the case here frequently, it doesn’t feel that much like Halloween, weather-wise, anyway. It can often feel like Labor Day. In fact, as I prepare this report for you, it is in the hundreds and high 90s after some so-called pleasant cool days. How’s that for a nifty trick? “Indian Summer,” indeed, with all the delightful political incorrectness loaded in that old term. Besides, I prefer to think it an honor to be one of the first in line to see you.
Actually, the weather has been a big issue here with California now in the fourth year of drought and the governor, in an unprecedented move, ordering a 25 percent cut in water use. Claremont had the added embarrassment of having one of the highest rates of water use—right up there with Beverly Hills—and had to cut its water use by something like 37 percent. Anyway, there are many brown dead lawns, including our prized parks. Everyone tries to put a smiley face on this, saying that the lawns are “golden”(like the “Golden State,” get it?), but I can tell you they look wonderfully dreadful, even nightmarish.
Everyone is also worried about the trees. Despite remarkable efforts to save them, including use of slow-drip water bags, some trees are dying, and a few have had to be cut down. This is a big deal here, as you know, oh, Amir of the Anxious. They really are a touchy subject in this town. This spring, there was some grumbling and bad-mouthing when the city council allowed the parents of a severely disabled son to remove two large trees in their front yard because the pollen was giving the boy bad allergies. Never mind that the parents are paying to have the trees replaced. Wow! How’s that for twisted priorities and nastiness?
There’s a bit more bad news on the weather front, you’ll be glad to hear. Everyone is looking forward to the “Godzilla” El Niño that is predicted this winter. But the thing is, this tropical rain system probably won’t bring the crucial slow-melting snow up north, and it may well cause flooding, especially in the many areas where there have been fire this year (caused by the unusually dry, warm weather). But, anyway, experts are saying all this rain won’t end the drought.
Do you really think that big international conference put on in June at Pomona College by John Cobb and others about solving the climate change crisis will get anything done? I thought not.
Speaking of water, oh, Prince of the Peeved, the citizens of Claremont did vote, by a huge margin, to buy out the water company and manage its water supply. But it will probably be years before this actually happens, with the Golden State Water Company fighting it tooth and nail and the current court battle likely just the beginning.
What’s more, there are still those who question the venture, and its cost is a central concern to those now against a property tax to fund a new police station on the November 3 ballot. Don’t you just love it when people want things—police, control over water, healthcare, you name it—but don’t want to have to pay for it?
It gets even more curious, oh, Czar of Contempt, with Claremonters complaining about the Colleges, even vowing to “fight” them. Yes, the Colleges—who put this town on the map and present an astounding array of performances and lectures in this small community (mostly for free)—are now the big, bad enemy. There was the letter in the paper a while ago griping about the students and how they caused traffic and congestion. Ghastly!
Lately, the grumbling has been about new buildings, particularly a new museum at Pomona College. Never mind that the renderings, shown at a recent community forum, look quite attractive and exciting and could be a revitalizing addition to the Village area. You would think it was a WalMart megastore. One letter-writer stated it “would violate the character and destroy the history of Claremont” if the museum replaces a few small, pleasant but otherwise non-descript college-owned bungalows on the west side of College Avenue. Nice how this street has become a no-man’s land, a battle line of sorts, at least south of Fourth Street.
There are no doubt plenty of other things you’d like to hear about that have been going on here, like the hot mess that the coveted Wilderness Park (or is it Area?) continues to be, but I see my precious time with you is just about up, oh Viceroy of the Vexed. So I’ll just mention one more thing. Perhaps it makes sense, what with all this college-bashing, but I find it quite curious that I keep reading in news reports that this rabidly anti-immigrant group, We the People Rising, is based in Claremont.
That’s right. This group, which holds news-making, confrontational demonstrations every chance it gets like that anti-gay Westboro church group and aligns itself up with the hate-spewing Donald Trump, is headquartered right here in Claremont. Yes, right here in this town, which is so proud of its welcoming, all-hands-on-deck community spirit. Now there’s a good, creepy mystery for you to ponder.