whitney guenther

On Stenner Street, a pack of cops on horses roam the streets; the entire pack trots into an apartment complex’s parking lot and the horses relieve themselves. Some of the residents complain. I know there is some type of metaphor there, and I took to the streets to find it.

Friday night

I’m walking around Stenner Street, by Mustang Village and the infamous corner of Foothill and California boulevards, and there are more cops out than people.

Every now and then you see someone on the street with beads, you can tell these people are either from out of town or freshmen. They are wandering around town trying to find the spirit of Mardi Gras past, but the true partyers are hidden away.

On every street there are murmurs of a party. With curtains drawn, and barely audible music, small groups huddle together. Mardi Gras has now been split into 10,000 small house parties fighting the system 10 to 20 people at a time.

In every party, the owner of the house is talking about the fear of a $900 fine, but like any good resistance group, they throw caution to the wind and fight on one cup of Natty Light at a time. “Vive La Resistance.”

As I walk downtown via Santa Rosa Street, men yell out the windows of passing cars – a normal Mardi Gras occurrence – but instead of yelling at women to expose themselves, they are yelling, “The party is over.” The line is now a city-wide joke.

At the bars, the older crowd is telling war stories of years gone by. “Do you remember Mardi Gras our sophomore year? It was sick,” a bar patron says. This is echoed throughout the night. Stories of the parade, the Cedar Creek balconies, the riot, how someone almost got arrested or how they were right there.

The old schoolers reminisce about when the parade was still held at night.

Friday ends eerily quiet.


The bead-wearing wanderers, the rebel partyers and the cops are all back out.

Tonight, there are more cops, but they have added a new trick to the mix – “plain-clothes” cops.

The only way someone could perceive the clothes these undercover cops are wearing as “plain” is if you are in fact a roadie for Asia and it is the year 1981.

Large groups of cops congregate on street corners. Walking through, one group of plain-clothes cops yell at me, “You guys ready to riot, starts at 9:00.” The whole group laughs. The rest are talking about the rumor that they may get to go home early.

Since Mardi Gras is over, I propose a new annual event that I am spearheading next year. The first annual San Luis Obispo Mustache-off.

With so many peace officers in town, there is an over abundance of wicked ‘staches. Instead of drinking next year, go out with a camera and find the best mustache. Once you’ve found the perfect one, take a picture, there will be a contest on the corner of Foothill and California Boulevards for the “Best Mustache.”

But I digress.

Downtown is a mess, there is an ungodly line in front of every bar. The Library looks like a biker bar with a row of choppers sitting out front, except these bikes have funny blue and red lights on them.

Next door, Mother’s Tavern has over 30 people in line. City Councilman Paul Brown owns Mother’s; I am not making a connection, this is merely a fact.

Besides a crowded bar scene, Saturday night ends much like Friday night, and the Mardi Gras weekend ends like almost any other weekend in San Luis Obispo.

And now the city has a question to ask for next year: Does it spend the money and waste the manpower to stop nothing, or roll the dice,cut back the force and hope that students have learned their lesson? Your call San Luis Obispo.

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