There’s an episode of the “The Twilight Zone” in which a man finds that everyone in New York City has vanished. He runs through the streets screaming, “Where is everybody? Where’d everybody go?” The lights are out. Scraps of paper yanked along by the wind scrape along the sidewalks. That’s it.
Isla Vista during the holidays is a lot like that. Empty. Desolate. Boring.
It happens several times during the year around these parts: Thanksgiving, Winter Break, Spring Break and even during some portions of the summer. Students commit a mass exodus from I.V.; they pack up their SUVs and return to their old stomping grounds where family and friends wait.
For those of us who’ve burned our high school bridges with zeal or can’t stand familial love for more than three hours at a time, we remain here, like children forgotten in a candy store overnight. The man in “The Twilight Zone” found happiness in the lifeless city; he finally had all the peace and quiet in the world to read his stash of many books.
Until he broke his glasses. Ah, Rod Serling, you cruel bastard.
Boys and girls left behind in I.V. experience the same nasty turn of fate. The days are gorgeous and fun, but when night falls, the whole town shuts down. Over Thanksgiving Break, your fast food selection was limited to Woodstock’s, Freebirds or Domino’s. The coffee shops closed early, usually by six or seven, and some places never opened their doors for the whole four days.
If you wanted food, you had to cook, and if you were an inept chef, God help you to open a can of dog food or starve. Business owners tend to forget that while the majority of people have left, there are still a good number of students left behind, not to mention the non-student population that considers I.V. home year-round. That’s enough of an income base to sustain a minimum-wage lackey behind the counter of the stores and eateries of I.V. Keeping business open during these quiet times might actually draw more people to stay.
But if people want to leave, that’s fine. There’s plenty of parking on the streets and no meathead neighbors staying up until three in the morning blasting the latest headache-inducing techno over and over again.
The rest of us left here in I.V. can put into effect our own master plan. The first step will be to erect a large wall around the town, standing at least 20 feet high and tipped with razor wire. I.V. can have one main entrance in each direction, with concrete gargoyles shaped strangely like Lammy Johnstone-Kockler to ward off the undesirables.
The walls won’t cover DP. Instead, we’ll bulldoze the apartments and transform the street into a massive park suitable for residents who want to peacefully watch the sun rise and set. Replacing the water fountains with beer taps would also be an improvement, and we can instate a program to give the homeless population jobs as waiters in exchange for shelter and board in the Greek houses.
The Isla Vista Foot Patrol would also have to go. Residents would appoint a sheriff to take up residence on Pardall, although the law would be left in the hands of the townsfolk themselves. Side arms would be legal, however no bullets. We wouldn’t want to kill anyone. The guns would fire nonlethal combination stink bomb tranquilizers so that the more obnoxious residents could be put down without a hassle and the few male members of Greek organizations who remain behind aren’t tempted to mount anything unconscious.
The foot patrol officers could still have jobs as the toll guards outside the gates. Their pay: as many Freebirds burritos and all the Natty Ice that they can consume.
It would be glorious, a true paradise by the sea, just as long as I can get a sandwich at one in the morning.
Steven Ruszczycky is the Daily Nexus Opinion editor.