By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Photo by Jeanne RiceRay Cordova is Central Casting for a backroom pol. He's old and kind of crinkly, and he's got a mouth as foul as Lyndon Johnson's. We're pretty sure he dyes his hair, and he calls legs "pins," at least when they're on a woman. The smoke curling around him emanates from a Marlboro Light 100 instead of a cigar, but that's pretty much the only difference. Well, that and he's Latino, like all of California's most dashing backroom pols. Take that, nasty old Barbara Coe!
We would marry Ray Cordova if he weren't already hitched—to a "goddamn saint," naturally. Whenever those old Orange County Democratic Conventions start to get a little bit snoozy, you can count on Ray to be out back on the patio, talkin' all kinds of juicy, off-the-record smack.
This year's convention, at the West Coast Anaheim Hotel on May 12 and 13, was a quiet affair, forcing Cordova to pretend to snore audibly during several marathon—and so subdued!—speeches. Quiet as it was, it was still dangerous; these things always make us want to run for Congress, but Orange County Register political reporter Martin Wiscoll simply refuses to float any rumors for us. (The Los AngelesTimesnever sends anyone.)
Where 1998's confab featured fiery state officials playing the old folks (and reporters) like castanets, this year's was woefully lacking in Antonio Villaraigosa (a former gangbanger who got into UCLA because of affirmative action and ended up Speaker of the California Assembly), his Assembly comrade Gil Cedillo, and their sharp-suited young staffers. Instead, it featured only the jovial (and pleasantly doughy) Attorney General Bill Lockyer, a couple of congresswomen and Santa Barbara state Senator Jack O'Connell, who used to be our Assemblyman when we were a fresh young coed at Santa Barbara Community College. Whenever we'd run into him pressing the flesh on State Street, we'd want to talk education policy (we're like that). He'd see an 18-year-old bleached blonde and run for the hills. You know, Jack, some 18-year-old bleached blondes vote!
The same thing happened with Michael Huffingtonwhen he was canvassing door-to-door for his congressional campaign. Of course, Michael Huffington is gay.
The Democrats have the issues this time around. Ain't nobody sensible who couldn't stand to see more trigger locks on their semis or who approves of the gunshow loophole. And HMOs have done most of the Democrats' work for them. People don't like being inconvenienced, especially when that inconvenience pertains to their cancer. So speeches hit those notes over and over again. In fact, the speeches were almost uniformly dreadful. This time around, there was no state Superintendent of Education Delaine Eastin yelling like a Baptist preacher about how shamefully little we spend on our schools. Damn, we miss Delaine. The woman's got some lungs, and she's not afraid to use them. Feisty old bird (and OC Democratic chairwoman) Jeanne Costales isn't afraid to use her lungs either, of course, but she modulated it some this time around, for which we thank her. Thank you, Jeanne.
There's a lovely group of candidates running for office in OC. Smoky, old Jack Roberts—a dry-as-hell union guy—is facing off against Dick "May I Call You Dick?" Ackerman. Soft-spoken, thoughtful Stephen Ray, running in the 35th Senate District, was a 7-year-old migrant farm worker with a hillbilly mom who learned how to read and write in order to get her children back from the state. When he spouts family values, they're not platitudes. Gill G. Kanel's brochures tout him as "6 feet, 3 inches. 220 lbs. And he drives a forklift to work!" Also, he kind of looks like Jesse Ventura and supports Living Wage ordinances. Ted Crissell, running against good ol' Dana Rohrabacher, calls himself a moderate, and the word "Democrat" appears nowhere on his brochures. This irks us. But then he says he supports a living wage, HMO reform, gun control and pretty much every other Leftist plank known to man. Also, he lives on a commune. But he says those aren't liberal positions. It kind of reminds us of this one guy who says he really likes us but he doesn't want to date us but he wants to go on dates with us but he doesn't want to go on dates with us right now. Despite that, we really liked Crissell, after he finally admitted to all his liberal positions, sort of. Rudy Favila, in the 41st Assembly District, is the kind of jovial, self-deprecating pillar of the community you find wherever there are old Mexican-American guys hanging out. Bob Wilberg, a union guy taking on the 73rd Assembly District, takes a beating for his party every two years. And pretty Merritt McKeon defends the rights of children but has only one issue: dirty water, dirty water, dirty water. Don't you care about Aliso Beach? Of course, you do. You should run for Congress, too. Apathy is so 1990s.
Our United Parcel Service guy, Jay, is marrying his lovely fiancťe, Denny, this Saturday. (We know she's lovely because we got a glimpse of her at the extraordinary Jay Buchanan/Shave/Mention show at the newly beflamed Lava Lounge Saturday night, post-convention, along with glimpses of 7-foot-tall dread-locked Vietnam vets who are always chock-full of hugs for everyone, and just about every other celebrity this side of Los Feliz, if by "celebrity" you mean Shave's "Dave Cornblum," which of course we do.) We mention our UPS guy because if you wrinkle up your sweet little brow and remember with us, it was the UPS strike that ushered in this fabulous age of Battles in Seattle and gassings on K Street and all manner of other exciting events. The United Farm Workers may have been striking since the dawn of time (and deservedly so; we hope you're still not buying table grapes), but nobody in the middle class has any farmworker friends. Plus, they speak, you know, Spanish. But the UPS strike, while creating a thudding migraine for office managers throughout this fair land, featured happy, smiling guys you see every day who are middle-class—just like you! —and who drive cool trucks and always run. And so nobody bitched and kvetched about the goddamn UPS guys crippling the angry gods of American business. Nope. They wrote clever Letters to the Editor mocking UPS for not immediately acceding to the demands of the boys and girls in brown. Now unionization is at an all-time high. As in ever. And if the Democrats win in OC this year, it will be because the IBEW or the SEIU or the UAW or the AFL-CIO got out the vote. It won't happen without them. And folks like Jim Righeimer, the OC politico who's a hell of a lot of fun but is also plainly E-vill, get beat at their own game when they piss off the unions. Never should have written Proposition 226, the "Paycheck Protection Act," whose sole purpose was to crush the political arm of the unions, Jim. You wouldn't like them when they're angry.Might we suggest marking your calendar for the Arthur Carmona fund-raiser on June 4 at the Galaxy Concert Theatre, featuring 00 Soul, Rooster and some other guys and hosted by the Girl? Thank you. CommieGirl99@hotmail.com