Editor’s Note: This article appeared as part of our April’s Fools issue.
Mouths water and nostrils flare with every tender bite into one of Slick Gardner’s burgers. At a makeshift stand erected on the front lawn of his ranch, meat patties sizzle in their crimson juices as Mr. Gardner, beer in one hand and spatula in the other, gazes into the distance.
Since his defeat in last month’s election for 3rd District supervisor, Mr. Gardner has taken to barbecuing to clear his mind and relax after the dizzying pace of his self-funded, low-visibility campaign.
However, what was supposed to be a simplification of his life has exploded into notoriety he hasn’t experienced since his days as a race car driver, or his days on the wrong side of an animal cruelty investigation.
His burgers are delicious.
From throughout the county and beyond, a steady stream of grilled-meat aficionados trots up from a makeshift parking lot to the queue in front of Mr. Gardner’s burger stand. The constant presence of Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Dept. officers – monitoring Gardner’s ranch ever since hundreds of horses under his care were found to be malnourished – do not seem to deter legions of those eager to experience Gardner’s barbecuing.
Even several of the officers sampled the succulent patties.
“Yeah, we’ve noticed Slick seems to have fewer and fewer horses everyday, but man, are these burgers scrumptious,” detective Dale Roberts said. “I can’t imagine where he gets such lean meat.”
Gardner smiles enigmatically when patrons try to ask him the secret to his incredible burgers. “Let’s just say it’s about letting nature take its course.”
While Gardner has stayed afloat financially and legally in the wake of losing the 3rd District race, the two other former candidates have not fared as well.
John Buttny, whose past as a member of the 1960s radical group the Weathermen continually dogged him throughout the campaign, disappeared immediately following the election results showing him defeated by vintner Brooks Firestone.
In an exclusive interview, Mr. Buttny agreed to meet the News-Piss at an undisclosed Santa Barbara location. Once several longhaired compatriots removed reporters’ blindfolds, Mr. Buttny emerged from a tent, his body silhouetted by a wave of smoke.
“You see, it goes down like this,” Mr. Buttny said. “Peace and love are what I’m about. I’m not about cutting down oak trees like Brooks. He cuts down the trees to make his wine barrels. His toothpicks are made of oak, that’s what – yeah I’ll hit that again – so no, I don’t know who blew up those mailboxes outside his brewery.”
A call to the home of Los Olivos businessman Steve Pappas, who was also soundly defeated in his bid to be the campaign’s “I’m not a politician” politician was not returned. However, sources close to the Pappas family told the News-Piss that Mr. Pappas moved to the Santa Barbara YMCA after a domestic disturbance.
Mr. Pappas, sitting on a cot surrounded by his family and whatever belongings they could cram into duffel bags, described the morning after the election.
“Someone was knocking pretty hard on the door, so I got out of bed, threw on some jeans and my pink shirt, went downstairs and took a look through the peephole,” Mr. Pappas said. “It was David Crosby, so I threw open the door and asked him what was wrong.”
Mr. Pappas said before he knew what happened, Mr. Crosby punched him in the face and stormed into the house.
“He grabbed a golf club and just starting swinging it wildly, bashing holes in the walls and smashing everything up. He really tore my place apart,” Mr. Pappas said. “My kids and wife were terrified. I started screaming for him to stop and kept asking him what the problem was. He told me I was the problem.”
Mr. Pappas said Mr. Crosby called him a failure for losing the 3rd District race, and for wasting the money the Crosby family donated to his campaign.
“I told him I did the best I could, but he wouldn’t stop swinging that golf club, and I didn’t want to ruin our chances for reconciliation by calling the cops, so we just got out of there,” Mr. Pappas said. “My family can’t go back there now – for all we know he could still be there. He’s a nice guy most of the time, but he sure does go nuts over the community master planning process.”