A Letter to the Mayor

Brian Covert

TO: Mayor Clint Eastwood
Carmel by the Sea,
Carmel, Calif.

Dear Mr. Mayor,

I spent part of last weekend in your fine coastal city, and feel compelled to let you know my thoughts on the trip.

First of all, I’d like to say that Carmel is a generally nice place regardless of who lives there. The plush green hills of the Carmel Valley, along with the crisp, clean ocean air make for a great getaway. I can see why you chose this town to open up a restaurant and get involved in city government.

But frankly, the visit to Carmel wasn’t really a part of my initial schedule and I had a lousy time to boot.

Let me back up a bit: I had been planning for some time to drive to Monterey, so when the opportunity came up to do so last Saturday, I jumped at it.

I was sitting at the bar of
Rappa’s restaurant, located on the edge of Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey, when I saw your face on the television screen.

The TV’s volume had been turned down so as not to disturb the customers, but when you came on the tube, the bartender instantly grabbed the remote control and cranked it up so loud even the underwater sea creatures could hear.

There you were, bigger than life, smiling and presiding over a crowded city council meeting. Mayor Eastwood, the nameplate read. But the story was less than complimenting.

The reporter told of how you’re allegedly trying to pull some kind of power-play over city officials now that you’re mayor. He went on to say that you’re going over the heads of the city’s planning commission, which had ruled against you in planning matters before you got into politics.

They say you’re a man with a personal vendetta now. Carmel townspeople, according to the reporter, claim that you’re “just not the same old Clint.”

So, I decided to check out your city and come to my own conclusions.

The next day I drove down to Carmel via the 11-Mile Drive (I got gypped out of six miles, but I’ll save that part for last) and soon found myself among the throngs of tourists.

I did my darnedest
not to look like a gawking tourist, but I couldn’t help it. My camera was a dead giveaway.

At least I wasn’t alone — every other person walking down your crowded streets had a 35mm in tow as well.

1 have a few gripes to air here, but my biggest complaint is that you didn’t “make my day” when I ate at your
Hog’s Breath Inn restaurant.

Yeah, I admit, there were the expectations that I was eating at the famous actor’s place and would be blown away by the whole experience. Boy, was I in for a big letdown.

And I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.

Your top priority upon reading this letter, Mr. Mayor, should be to get new cooks and new waitresses — not necessarily in that order — for your eatery.

Both the hostess and the waitress I encountered acted like they were some kind of royalty. They didn’t seem to care at all about the customers.

That hostess, the one with the short blond hair, she’s got to go. Not only was she condescending to me, she waited before another customer was out of earshot before she made some sarcastic remark behind his back.

The waitress, the one with the strange accent that sounds like Meryl Streep in “Out of Africa,” she was just plain spacey. She took orders as if she was auditioning for a role in one of your movies.

Strike one.

Then there was the food. I got a big kick over the clever names you give your menu items, such as The Gauntlet for a ham and cheese sandwich.

Unfortunately, that didn’t help me digest my Eiger Sandwich, which was a combination of both raw and cooked roast beef. No kidding. It made me wish I had ordered the Dirty Harry Burger instead.

Strike two.

The atmosphere — that was the clincher. Your nice outdoor/indoor restaurant was packed with people of all ages, but not one person seemed to be enjoying it. Nobody was smiling or laughing. They were all just consuming what was on their plates as if it was their last meals.

After some analyzing, I decided the gloomy atmosphere of your restaurant was due to any one of a few factors: A) They were angry because they didn’t catch a glimpse of you, B) The service was lousy, C) The food wasn’t worth the outrageous prices, and D) A combination of the above.

I’m inclined to go with the last choice.

Strike three. You’re out.

That’s exactly how I felt as I left your restaurant and literally fought through pedestrian and motor traffic trying to leave town. If I never see another camera-clad geek again, it’ll be too soon.

Tourism — that’s another subject altogether. After living at Lake Tahoe, one of the biggest tourist traps in the United States, I can understand how fed-up some of the “normal” residents in Carmel must feel. Imagine being surrounded by Clint Eastwood T-shirts, buttons, bumper stickers, posters, sweatshirts, autographed photos, and God knows what else.

It makes me thankful that I don’t have to deal with tourists where I’m living now.

Anyway, that’s the bulk of it.

Despite everything, I had an enlightening trip. I came away with the lesson that when you’re as rich as you are, Mr. Mayor, you can do just about anything you damn well please. If you can’t win against city hall, run for mayor. If you’re out to make profits off your name, open up a second-class restaurant.

So long for now. In the meantime, give ’em hell, Harry.

A Disgruntled
Tourist Taxpayer
P.S.: Oh yeah, about the six miles that I got ripped off.

I was wondering if you could, like, buy up the 17-Mile Drive between Monterey and Carmel and restore it back to the way it used to be millions of years ago before humans inhabited the Earth?

I ask that because I still can’t believe an elitist private community actually charges $5 to travel this coastal route. The view was scenic, no doubt about that, but I’ve walked along many more miles of similar southern California rocky coast for free.

What I couldn’t get over was the incongruity of the 17-Mile Drive: On one side was the pounding surf, salty mist and barking seals. Yet inland, there were mansions — make that
castles — standing as testimony to the rich man’s existence. I’m sorry, but the plush Pebble Beach Golf Course didn’t faze me at all. I guess you just have to play golf there to appreciate it.

And Mr. Mayor, if there’s one thing you do, you’ve got to shoot down the plastic seagulls. Yeah, you heard it right.

I came upon them while speeding along the 17-Mile Drive. I saw something picturesque in the corner of my eye and quickly pulled my car to the side of the road.

I grabbed my camera and ran back a few yards. There they were: the proudest seagulls in the world, wings outstretched, perched atop gigantic rocks.

I narrowed the seabirds in my camera…just a little more focus and…wait a minute. They’re not moving in the wind.

It took a few seconds to sink in. Fake seagulls, I cursed out loud, I don’t believe it!

Then I looked at the mansion situated on the water’s edge. It figures, I thought. Tired of waiting for the right bird to land on your rock? Just BUY your own deluxe personalized plastic seagull, complete with wire legs for easy adjustment. Simple.

Walking back to my car, I wondered how many other suckers had fallen for this.
Yeah, I know, the six miles: I’m getting to that part.

So here I was, heading to your city of Carmel, Mr. Mayor, already dismayed by the phony winged wonders.

Exactly 11 miles into the 17-Mile Drive, I come across a fork in the road. One way continues north along the 17-Mile Drive, while Highway 1 heads south to Carmel — in a totally different direction.

Not wanting to double back, I went down the highway toward your city.

So technically, somebody owes me for the six miles along the 17-Mile Drive that I didn’t get a chance to see. That adds up to…let’s see, drop the 16, carry the nine…about $1.80.

Now my point: I was wondering, Mr. Mayor, if you might be able to help me out in that department. See, you’ve got a lot of bucks and I’m sure those other millionaires would never consider coughing up the $1.80. You know how stingy rich folks can be.

So whaddya say? Think of the money as a donation to a worthy cause. It would be going toward the formation of TRAPS, Tourists Rebelling Against Polyurethane Seagulls.

Thanks a lot. I knew you still had that little bit of humanitarian inside.

And by the way, if you’re ever in Sanger, Mr. Mayor, don’t hesitate to drop by. Lunch is on me.