Art by Bob AulThis week's meditation is on power—or, more to the point, the lack of it—which a couple of the Weekly's "higher-ups" obviously consider an appropriate theme for a just-before-Labor Day issue, though the connection strikes most of the rest of us as a bit of a stretch. Whatever. We just work here, you know? Not that we couldn't have said something, but you've got to pick your battles, and when this one came up, nobody did anything but glance around a bit and then start nodding. But put us in charge, and this least-powerful thing probably wouldn't have amounted to much more than a good laugh at the planning meeting. The kicker is that we end up having to write this introduction. Hey, same as it ever was!

There are a lot of people in our boat—we talked to lots of them for this issue—and that doesn't necessarily give us a sinking feeling. Powerlessness has been factored into the power structure, a structure largely built and maintained by people who don't have much of it. When you remember that, people like us can deserve as much admiration as scorn. Besides, true power is supposed to derive from the humble acceptance of our own powerlessness, so as soon as we all get that "humbleness" part down, we figure to be sitting pretty.

Meanwhile, however, we can't help noticing how often the seat of power is filled by a fat, lazy, obnoxious ass—and how often we either elect them, pay their salaries or somehow come to assume that they actually know or do any more than us. We take a look at lots of these people, too, and discover that the trappings of power are often exactly that: traps. Some of the supposedly most powerful people in OC are so smitten by power that they're afraid to use it. Sometimes, that makes us feel a little better. Not on payday, though.

Tommy Lasorda
Vice President, Los Angeles Dodgers

Now 71, Lasorda achieved his place in the Dodgers display case, not so much because of his oh-so-marginal skills as a player, scout, manager and general manager, but through his sheer force of bluster and his stunning absence of shame. His ongoing evangelical purpose is to spread the message of his own significance. That's not as easy as it used to be. Lasorda's days and nights are mostly spent shuffling around his Fullerton home in a bathrobe or shuttling along the rubber-chicken banquet circuit, recycling the same old jokes and stories into his after-dinner speaking gigs. But it's true that Lasorda's prayers are still heard by the Big Dodger in the Sky—mainly because it's a higher power of his own creation. The bottom line is that Lasorda pays homage to whomever is signing his paycheck: after extolling the O'Malley family for nearly five decades, he shifted allegiance to the Fox without skipping a calculating heartbeat. "Hey, I don't see anything different with the tradition," he said last year, scolding fans who were worried that the money and loyalty they'd invested in the Dodger empire was going to be squandered by Rupert Murdoch. "I'm happy with the direction this organization is taking. I think Fox is getting a bad rap." As long as Lasorda is talking like that, the Dodgers are content to let him yap. They learned the danger of giving him any real power last year; their public-relations gesture of appointing him general manager during a season that was going down the drain backfired when Lasorda made a flurry of trades that stripped the Dodgers of their few remaining hot prospects. But even Lasorda's gum flapping sometimes goes too far, such as a few weeks ago, when the club had to scramble to repair the damage after he blasted the sorry performance of the Dodgers players while making veiled suggestions that things were better when he was managing. Mostly, everybody just laughed it off, which is how it goes when the guy playing Santa starts believing the clothes make the man. Besides, responding to Lasorda's tired hijinks with a ho-ho-ho is neither laughing at him nor with him—it's just reciting his job description.

Carl Karcher
Founder, Carl's Jr.

Right-wingers love to knock ice-cream screamers Ben & Jerry's because founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield are Lefties who plow significant dough into philanthropic projects favored by the Left: crazy stuff like clean water, education and parks; maintaining a narrow pay gap between top executives and line workers; and speaking out on a range of issues, from tree hugging to war stopping. In management parlance, that's "inattention to core enterprise," and it's supposed to lead companies ineluctably down the poop chute. It hasn't. The Vermont-based ice-cream firm thrives—in stark contrast to struggling Anaheim-based Carl's Jr., the fast-food chain that markets charbroiled burgers by appealing to the boor in all of us. We'd like to blame company founder Carl Karcher —his own inattention to core enterprise includes funding right-wing religious and political causes—but, in fairness, we can't. Karcher has no power. The company he launched from a weenie wagon in LA is now run by a board of suits that all but sidelined the affable flag waver. The man who attends Mass almost daily now finds himself the figurehead of a company that sells burgers as the preferred grub of sadistic prison guards, people who engage in casual sex and other archetypal lowlifes. Its EAT MEAT bumper sticker practically comes with instructions for editing it down to EAT ME. You might expect Karcher to object, but he cannot. He's less than Colonel Sanders; he's like an animatronic Bob's Big Boy—if Bob wore stars-and-stripes lapel pins and hated fags. By the early '90s, Karcher teetered on the edge of personal bankruptcy. Things improved briefly, but last year, he put up his Carl's Jr. stock as collateral on a risky Wall Street venture—and lost. His own stock went into free fall—with flames and thick, acrid smoke leaping from its engines—from $40 per share last summer to about $9 per share last week. Don't cry for him yet: according to the LA Times, the value of Karcher's holdings in Carl's Jr. has plummeted from about $136 million to about $13.5 million. But from there, it's just possible to see the octogenarian standing beside a cart, pushing helados in downtown LA, where it all began.

Caleb Phipps
Student

As long as Caleb's hair is looking good, life is all good—even in Orange County. But when pushed to come up with something he would change, he doesn't tiptoe around the really hot issues: "More public parking at beach-access areas."

Lee Handler
Clerk, Urban Outfitters

If he weren't so powerless, there'd be "more Def Leppard concerts. Just kidding. Less Republicans."

Dr. Ken Williams
Board Member, OC Board of Education

Dr. Ken Williams' powerlessness is like a big hunk of Kryptonite: a formless, radiant, otherwordly source of great weakness. Unlike board president Felix Rocha, or even veep Sheila Meyers, Williams cannot even claim a position of administrative authority, a fact that one would never guess after seeing him in action. You see, Williams wields his flaccid sword against encroaching liberalism by issuing resolutions, which are nothing more than official opinions adopted by the board on matters thought to be of grave importance to OC's public schools. It's a lot like trying to stop a bullet with a sheet of paper. And it's something that Williams seems to do a lot—or at least any time he spots a proposed piece of state or federal legislation that offends his ultraconservative sensibilities. The problem is the resolutions are nothing more than empty opinions, views often already shared by like-minded members Rocha and Eric Woolery; therefore, they exert little, if any, influence. Last spring, Williams urged board members to adopt a resolution to oppose proposed legislation that would have prohibited discrimination against gay students in public schools. The board accepted Williams' resolution, and a few weeks later, the Legislature, thanks to a spineless Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana), put the kibosh on the bill. Call it a victory if you want, but his resolution probably met wider acceptance among hate groups than state lawmakers. On Aug. 26, it was resolution time again, as Williams ignored irritated board member Elizabeth Parker, who pleaded with him not to discuss resolutions on matters "that we can do nothing about." He launched into a speech in opposition to an upcoming Assembly bill on health care in public schools. His lecture included every sexy conservative education issue du jour, as well as some of the classics—and was ultimately interrupted by an exasperated Meyers, who banged a book on the desk and shouted, "We can read your editorial in the Register!" When it was finally put to a vote, both Meyers and Parker abstained, and the resolution was narrowly adopted—which landed the OC Department of Education right next to the Church of Scientology among groups opposing this bill and made Williams the darling of applauding supporters in attendance. He defended his view later, saying his resolution was designed to "ensure that such programs are not instituted by [the OC Department of Education]." That's a fact that may only underscore his underwhelming power: if the health-care legislation passes, instituting programs he so rabidly opposes is exactly what Williams will have to do.

Ted Moreno
Santa Ana city councilman

The halls of power buzz loudly as people in suits gather in the Corporate Yard for a presentation of the Emergency Command Center. Santa Ana City Council members crack bad jokes and chortle at one another (badly) for the bored audience. But one man holds his tongue, remaining silent and stoic, even mysterious. That man is Santa Ana City Councilman Ted Moreno.

Moreno was once the most voluble of councilmen: he was the beloved voice of a dozen—nay, a hundred—gadflies, railing against the Republican council and the ineffectuality of the mayor, fellow Democrat Miguel Pulido, whose job he wished to take. (Moreno is a unique creature: a Democrat and fundamentalist Christian.) He would campaign frequently from the podium, slurring Pulido during council meetings in an endearing volley of uhs and ers. He was and is a man of the people, the people who speak in uhs and ers, which, you know, is a lot of the people, and he is a man of them.

But then something happened, and that something was bad. Moreno was indicted on a dozen counts of bribery, extortion, campaign fraud and a host of lesser allegations. A lesser man might have been tempted to quit his mayoral race and shut the hell up for a while until the storm of alleged iniquities passed. But not Ted Moreno. He categorically denied all charges and heroically attempted to cast doubt on the ethics of fellow council members, just hours after his own indictments had been announced! His voice quavering, he told the Weekly, "[A company with whom the city contracts] told me, 'We've never been squeezed as hard as we've been squeezed by your colleagues this last election.' But will they come forward? No!"

Now Moreno, who used to just talk and talk—I mean, man, he would not shut up—sits silent. Of course, he always refuses to talk in those instances when the cameras aren't rolling; he says it's undemocratic to meet in an untelevised setting. There was this one time that all his fellow council members, who really hate him, like to relate: the cameras were malfunctioning, and so the red ON AIR light went out, and the council members say Moreno threw a fit and refused to vote on anything, but the cameras were actually rolling, har, har, har. To be fair to Moreno's fellow council members, he's kind of low on your basic social skills. He glares a lot; keeps you waiting for your interview while he chats on, staring at you through the glass wall so you know he knows he's keeping you waiting; has a conversation all in English, which you are a part of, and then looks at you and switches to Spanish for a few sentences, quite clearly to keep a secret, which is very fifth-grade; and was once accused of "body-slamming" City Councilman Brett Franklin in the hallowed halls of the Santa Ana City Council—though he categorically denies it.

But low social skills or no, Moreno's got one thing that can't be taken away from him: he's the man of the (indicted) people.

Lan Tran
Student/Sales Rep

"I am a Democrat. I would want fewer Republicans in office. Plus, lower the cigarette taxes. This county is way too conservative. Everything is too depressing to think about. Minorities don't have a say. Hispanics are having too hard of a time getting a decent education. I'd fix that and get health-care programs up to par with other countries."

Megan Hart
Clerk, NaNa's

Power? She "wouldn't want the pressure. No matter what I'd do, it would piss people off."

David Wilcox
Sign Guy

When asked what changes he would make in the county, Wilcox answered, "Politics is the art of making a how and a what and a why. Changes are only made when our children listen. They need to be taught to trust. Character can only be taught with trust. That's not specifically a male or female role. It has been the father's role to cut to the bull. The mother's role is more important: nurturing. I try to advise single mothers to be more rational and direct with dealing with the lies. When kids are 3 or 4 years old, they are supposed to be getting in the habit of thinking. The kids who lean out of their parents' cars, asking what that sign means, and their parents shake their heads and say they don't know. . . Society tells people what to believe. Safety is only where you're not scared to know. It's a technique, a journey. Use it or lose it. Like faith. People shouldn't expect to arrive at answers. It's something you arrive at. My mother once asked me, 'Do I need to tell you everything?' There is a need to not be fools. Fools accept everything." Uh, okay, we can accept that. Thanks for clearing that up.

Brian Garcia
Hot-dog vendor

Garcia has some big changes in store for the county. They are good changes, though—for the health of those employed at the courthouse who depend on hot-dog stands for survival. "We have to store our carts in a filthy commissary," he said. "I'd like to be able to store it at home. Or if they'd at least clean the storage area. Also, I'd want stricter laws against the kids who spray paint."

Paul Brown
Graphic designer

"We need more access to free community skate parks. More skaters should be attending City Council meetings to get city parks to include skate parks, along with the tennis courts and playgrounds."

Christopher Gilbertson
President, Log Cabin Club of Orange County

The Web site for OC's gay Republicans (www.lcroc.org) says the group "is the home of mainstream gay, lesbian and heterosexual Republicans who want to make a difference in our Republican leadership." And local president Christopher Gilbertson won't let anything stop him from making that difference. Not former OC Congressman William Dannemeyer's comment that gays ought to be quarantined. Not GOP Great Black Hope Alan Keyes telling fellow Republicans that gay marriage "will destroy family life, the innocence of childhood and the very fabric of American life." Not Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush insisting that he would never appoint anyone working from "an agenda pushed by the gay and lesbian lobby." Not former Republican Congressman Michael Huffington describing himself as "homosexual" rather than "gay" because, you know, gay connotes something vaguely unpleasant. Not Wisconsin Republican congressional candidate Ron Greer citing polls to support his sense that civil-rights protections for gays are undesirable. Not Mississippi Republican Senator Trent Lott comparing homosexuality to kleptomania. Not Orrin Hatch saying Republicans are lucky that gays aren't members of their party. Not Phil Gramm saying that "5,000 years of recorded history" prove that gay marriage is intolerable. Not a Republican briefing on Capitol Hill that compared gays and lesbians to "an army of termites, secretly eating away the floorboards of the moral integrity in this country." Not Candace Gingrich, a lesbian, saying that she'd never vote for her own brother, Newt, a hypocrite. Not bitter, defeated ex-Congressman Bob Dornan saying in Congress, "You can get elected by proclaiming that you are a sodomite and engage in anal sex all the time. You will get elected." Which is perhaps the one thing Gilbertson has not advised his pet candidates to attempt. How long do you have to get screwed by creepy white (and now—it's a Grand Old Equal-Opportunity Party!—black) guys before the pleasure wears off and it just hurts?

Jeanne Brown and Laurie Lusk

Costa Mesa housewives

If former Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater was right in his noteworthy 1960 Conscience of a Conservative, then it is conservatives who are most vigilant in keeping "political power within its proper bounds." Being California's undisputed capital of arch-conservatism, Orange County should be the very model of governmental restraint. But don't tell that to Jeanne Brown and Laurie Lusk, two Costa Mesa housewives who voluntarily led their neighborhood's fight against excessively loud noise levels emanating from the Orange County Fair Board's residentially located Pacific Amphitheater. Along with hundreds of their neighbors, the women wanted the Fair Board to keep the noise level lower than that of a continual series of passing 18-wheelers. Not surprisingly, they were tired of their windows rattling into the wee hours of the night from the likes of Guns N' Roses. But the Fair Board—a quasi-government body that has been composed entirely of Republican Party lackeys and big contributors (including Donald Saltarelli, Emily Sanford and John Crean) appointed by then-Governor Pete Wilson—adamantly refused to agree to decibel levels that wouldn't disrupt the surrounding neighborhood. Earlier this year, Orange County Superior Court Judge Robert E. Thomas sided with the Fair Board, saying local residents could not restrict amphitheater noise levels. But the board wasn't satisfied with their victory. They said they wanted "to send a message" that the government board "can't be bullied around" by the likes of private citizens. They asked the judge to punish the two housewives by forcing them to pay the government's legal bills in the case, an amount that was preposterously represented as $4.3 million. (The board claimed it took 11 private lawyers in an international law firm more than 13,000 hours to fight the housewives.) Several weeks ago, the court reduced the amount to $48,000—still whopping for the 68-year-old Brown, who lives on her husband's military pension, and the 48-year-old Lusk, who is trying to save money for her children's college educations. A disillusioned Brown told the press, "All we asked was for them to keep the sound down."

ANAHEIM CITY COUNCIL

Little Tommy Daly was a citizen of Disneyland long before he ever dreamed of becoming the mayor of Anaheim. On the day the park opened in 1955, Daly was rolling down Main Street, USA—in his stroller. The wreath of gray hair that is wrapping itself around his balding head these days doesn't hide the little boy inside, who would rather be wearing Mickey Mouse ears. It shows nearly every time he presides over the Anaheim City Council. Under Daly's "leadership" in the 1990s, the council has made a good show of bargaining hard with the Walt Disney Co. over the entertainment giant's various plans to make money with the help of taxpayer funds. In the end, however, the council has invariably done little but apply its rubber stamp: Disney controls nearly all revenue streams at the publicly owned Anaheim Arena—which has been subsequently nicknamed the Pond, a sly reference to the Disney-owned hockey team that was named after a Disney movie—which has precluded a professional basketball team from relocating to Anaheim. Disney receives all the profits of publicly owned Anaheim Stadium—including the millions of dollars that came from re-naming the place for a competitor to the city's electric company—although the city contributed $30 million to remodeling the stadium and continues to pay the mortgage. Disney forced Anaheim to downsize—and, for all intents and purposes, destroy—plans for a Sportstown attraction on the stadium site because the proposed attraction would compete with Disneyland for entertainment dollars. And Disney demanded Anaheim commit some $500 million to the renovation of roads, landscaping and parking facilities around Disneyland before it would go forward on an expansion that includes the California Adventure theme park and a huge hotel, shopping, dining and entertainment complex.

PHil Montez

Western Regional Director,

U.S. Commission on Civil Rights

Phil Montez may have the most difficult, thankless and, some may say, uneventful job in Orange County. He actually works in Los Angeles, but he's the Western regional director for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, responsible for supervising civil-rights issues throughout California, Nevada, Arizona, Oregon and Washington. Perhaps the most awesome aspect of Montez's job involves investigating allegations of police brutality. Montez's job is made easier in cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, where elected officials already sit on police commissions. But in Orange County, there is no police commission—not one, not even an oversight group that has any power either to investigate the police or hold them accountable for their actions. Which is unfortunate because there is no shortage of problems when it comes to Orange County's law-enforcement community. These problems have ranged from the bizarre (predawn, military-style anti-gang sweeps that occasionally descend on such cities as Fullerton and Placentia) to the absurd (mass arrests of Independence Day revelers year after year in Huntington Beach) to the far-too-common (trigger-happy police officers who shoot down unarmed suspects, including 17-year-old Jose Manuel Campos, who was felled after a traffic stop last year by a Santa Ana patrolman). For his part, Montez has earned high marks from local activists like Josie Montoya of the Anaheim-based United Neighborhoods, one of the few groups in Orange County that regularly deal with police issues. Montoya said she has been in regular contact with Montez and knows he's doing everything he can to stay on top of Orange County's civil-rights situation. "He's spread out over four or five states," said Montoya. "With all the issues and communities he has to deal with, it's an insurmountable task because the resources just aren't there. That's why it takes the commission two or three years to follow up." Montoya was referring to the commission's last hearing in Orange County two years ago, when it held a weeklong hearing and heard from witness after witness who begged the commission to officially recommend the formation of a countywide police watchdog agency that might have some modest form of oversight over law enforcement. Nothing of the sort has happened so far, and in an interview at the time, a commission staff analyst told the Weekly that the commission's report on the hearing would probably take at least two years to reach the public. That was more than two years ago. We won't hold our breath.

Miguel M.

Undocumented

landscaper, Irvine

"I'm 41, and I am the most least powerful person in the world. I would change this: Do I work hard? Yes, I work hard, and I save much money, and I save to take care of my family in Mexico. And if you hate Mexican people, you should let us—some of us—work here. For every one of us who works here, we keep three, four or maybe five other Mexicans in Mexico. Like my family. So leave me alone to my work. That's what I would do if I had power. But I don't. And there's my bus, so I must go now. Good day."

Jeanne Costales
Chairwoman, Orange County Democratic Central Committee

Orange County might have lost its lighter-than-air station, but we still count on Jeanne Costales to be our official political helium balloon. Logic might tell you that as chairwoman of Orange County's Democratic Central Committee—representing the third largest contingent of Democrats in California—Costales' threats and promises would carry weight. Think again. Her words float. Away. Apologists argue that under her reign, two Democrats have won elected office. So what? Costales' contributions to those victories were simply puff and bluster. Under her guidance, the Central Committee has no money or political power, and it can't even field a full slate of candidates at election time. As if to emphasize her weightlessness, Costales attended the California Democratic convention this year dressed as the Teletubby Tinky Winky. Hardly anyone noticed.

Ho Chi Minh

Ex-leader, Communist Party of Vietnam

These days, Ho can't even buy a cup of coffee in Little Saigon. Why? Because he's dead.

Stephen Burgard

Editorial-page editor, Times Orange County

As the top opinion writer at the Orange County bureau of the Los Angeles Times, you'd think Stephen Burgard would have, well, opinions. It's not that Burgard doesn't necessarily have views; it's just that in a county where there's so much to bitch about (corruption, overdevelopment, official mismanagement and boneheadedness), his editorials are routinely timid and inconsequential. That Loretta Sanchez had been in office for nearly two years before the Times OC editorialized against the congressional campaigns of certifiable fiend Bob Dornan symbolizes the paper's Prozac-fueled editorial operation. Another major gaffe? The paper came out in favor of the county's risky multibillion-dollar investment strategy only months before the county's $1.64 billion financial collapse. A genuinely personable and bright man if prone to favor the establishment, Burgard sees himself as a defender of the county's silent majority, who—he says—hold "middle-of-the-road" opinions. The formula for a Burgard editorial is to appear unbiased, rehash the views of opposing sides of an issue, and then conclude with a lame plea, like this one in a June 3, 1994, editorial: "Can we all get along?" (Answer: no. Sometimes it's important to stand and fight for a cause without selling out.) While the schizophrenic Orange County Register op-ed page (which flip-flops between libertarianism and right-wing Republicanism) energetically hammers away at most public topics, the supposedly liberal Times OC apparently fears alienating subscribers in the dailies' circulation war. Such anxiety may help explain why Burgard's section is infamous for shying away from controversy. Here's a taste of Burgard's trailblazing takes on local issues: Toll-road accidents? "Drivers need to be safe, and animals must be kept off the road for their own sake." Toll-road speeding? "Drivers have a responsibility to handle their vehicles prudently." A miniriot at Knott's Berry Farm? "Knott's should plan better in the future . . . so it can keep being known for its fried chicken and thrilling rides." Scott Baugh's election scandal? "Signing papers without reading them is never a good idea." Swimming-pool safety? "Vigilance is the key." County elections? "Voters . . . have a responsibility as individuals in a democracy to make informed judgments on their own." Ethnic disputes in Santa Ana? "The art of getting along must be learned as soon as possible." Police policy on rebellious South County youth? "Zero tolerance makes sense. . . . An ounce of prevention goes a long way." School anti-drug policies? "Zero tolerance is too rigid. . . . Common sense should rule." Deterring suburban crime? "Common sense should rule."

Christina Shea

Mayor of Irvine

Irvine has a reputation as a stuck-up, spoiled-rotten, café-latte-drinking, precocious, child-bearing, gated upper-middle-class college Twinkie town. It's no wonder. It's got a dumb blond cheerleader for a mayor. If you don't believe me, listen to this. Mayor Christina Shea's lame brainchild, the Irvine Romance Task Force, recently reported back to her with a list of proposals to pump up her city's romantic allure. Yes, you heard me right: Irvine has an official governmental organization that amounts to a chamber of amorous commerce. What kind of pathetic bathetic lifestyle is Shea leading to give rise to this Danielle Steele-esque socialism? What's next on the agenda? State-sponsored fucking? When Shea tweaked her cutie cheeks, inflated her pompons and established the Romance Task Force, she revealed just how utterly powerless she is in matters of love.

Jennifer Mazur

Artist

To hear Laguna Beach's Jennifer Mazur tell it, she is the victim of the worst injustice since police officers beat Rodney King. Mazur is an artist. Her specialty: handmade plush toys, which she has sold at Laguna's funky Sawdust Festival for eight years. Just before this year's show, she signed a licensing agreement with a toy company, which now pays Mazur royalties and has her creations made overseas. Mazur claims there is a clause in her licensing agreement that allows her to continue making handmade toys exclusively for Sawdust, and that after meeting some minor conditions, the festival's board was fine with her continued exhibitions there. But when Mazur returned from a Hawaiian vacation earlier this summer, she found her art had been removed from her booth; the booth had been repainted for a new occupant. Attempts to maintain artistic integrity at a festival dedicated to wind socks, blown glass and chips-and-salsa trays is laughable enough. But what's really comic is Mazur's response to her ouster. She has organized a boycott of board members' booths, had her husband pitch the eviction as a major investigative piece for the Weekly, and dedicated at least 31 pages on her Web site (www.funnyfriends.com) to the sordid mess. "I was raped," she says.

Mike Mudd

Cultural Services director, Huntington Beach

The Huntington Beach Cultural Services czar has made a deal with the devil that would make Faust snigger! Gay himself, he allied himself with crotchety old people who thought the Huntington Beach Art Center was too gay-friendly and raunchy and ousted from the center the people responsible for getting it positive notices from such hallowed entities as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. In exchange, his breathtakingly successful coup d'etat will mean more watercolor and "community-oriented" shows—and absolutely no respect from anyone. Shouts of hosanna are being heard everywhere that such shining stupidity is happening in someone else's brainpan.

Already, shows like "At the Threshold of the Visible"—described by one viewer as the exhibit of the decade—have opted to take themselves elsewhere, like to the Laguna Art Museum, which received kudos from all over for snagging curator Tyler Stallings, whom Mudd had squeezed out in a frenzy of incredibly self-serving power madness. Isn't it ironic, then, that Mudd's newfound power means next to nothing? Rather than heading up a celebrated community art center, he stands strong and alone at the top of what may as well be a Thomas Kinkade gallery, except without all the success. For Michael Mudd, it must be lonely at the top.

Pat Bates

State Assembly Member, 73rd District, Laguna Niguel

When Pat Bates was elected to the state Assembly in November 1998, South County was alive with hope and anticipation. Bates is bright, energetic and says she is committed to the defeat of the El Toro International Airport. Soon after being sworn-in, Bates proposed two bills that would have put the brakes on the airport machinery. But those proposals have been—as they say in the parlance of collateral damage—"sidelined." Why? Bates is a Republican. After years of Democrat-bashing by members of her party in South County, the now-Democrat-controlled Assembly and Democrat Governor Gray Davis are paying back South County in kind. Bates is powerless. As far as the airport is concerned, she's in the wrong party at the wrong time.

Will Lopez

AM/PM counter guy, Costa Mesa

"If I were in charge, I'd kick out all the Mexican gangs and have them deported as they get arrested."

Michael

Kid who lives next door

Michael has changed. Last year, he couldn't sit still. He was a crazy, wide-eyed, mischievous 9-year-old, talking incessantly, leaping around the neighborhood, and astutely finding ways to do what his teachers said he couldn't. But instead of seeing a bloom, his parents saw a bug. They paid a Newport Beach shrink to calm Michael down. The bug was called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The medication was Ritalin. Now Michael has no complaints. He's placid. Serene. Dull. The doctor is richer, and the parents have peace of mind. Michael's power is gone, and the world is short one more creative genius.

Me

Whatever I can find

Talk about powerless. My friend won't return my calls. The box boy made fun of my hair. I can't even get the dog next door to shut up.

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