Fame is often just a detail or two away.
The right conversation in an elevator. The right lactose-free smoothie in the morning. The proper wording in a press release. The right choice for which mountain to ski.
Seriously. Local semi-celeb and Cachagua resident Kevin Klein, who has appeared on Comedy Central and at scores of national events as a George W. Bush impersonator, told me he was discovered skiing around at Squaw Valley in Lake Tahoe. What if he went to Heavenly that day?
Snappy Shelly Steinbeck, an African leopard tortoise who lives at Salinas Public Library, is now a bone fied superstar: The webcam that tracks his snacking and napping and just reached 1,000,000 webcam views with the close of 2010—the most ever for a tortoise, according to library spokespeople and Justin TV, who provides the streaming service.
The detail he owes his web dominance to? Might just be his diet. It's all organic, local, garden-grown lettuce, radicchio, cherry tomatoes, grass, strawberries, nopales and the occasional plum, says head turtle caregiver/library clerk Valerie Henderson. He even chows native weeds like wild dandelion.
"You gotta eat healthy, you gotta eat right," she says. "It's a very healthy diet. He's got a good appetite. He eats a lot and grows a lot."
It's remotely possible it's not his diet—though studies have shown that 40 percent of how you feel is based on your last meal. If it's not, here's the other best contenders for what makes Snappy special enough to reach Internet superstar status appear below:
"Everybody knows Snappy," Henderson says. "When he's on his walk, people on their lunch break say hi, even the mailman knows Snappy. There’s a church across the street that provides meals and things to disadvantaged people. They all know Snappy."
He's an intellectual.
The guy's always hanging out at the library, after all. "Snappy’s very smart," Henderson says.
He's on message.
His favorite thing to tell kids: Reading makes you smart. At the weekly Snappy Time (Tuesdays at 4pm) kids read a nature-themed book and get to visit with the little reptile before doing some Mother Nature affiliated crafts. Yesterday Gabriel Xavier Morales, 6, of Salinas, bought a book about reptiles because of Snappy. "I like that he can swim and go inside his shell," Morales said. "It's cool."
He's a political playmaker.
"I don’t know if Snappy can run for mayor," Henderson says. "But [Salinas Mayor] Dennis Donohue is a fan of Snappy. He actually invited him to a press conference when [Snappy] was getting close to a million hits. Donohue awarded him a special recognition that posted in his habitat, for his service."