Excerpts: Part 2

March 26, 1999 "Give it to me," Fred said finally, more gently than I expected and not without understanding—but not about to take no for an answer, either. I offered the ball to him, and in one quick and definitive motion, he snatched it from my hand and launched it on a long return flight. As the baseball sprang perversely back from the stands—even before it dropped onto the field—the thin applause I had received for winning the struggle for it had dramatically transformed and swelled into a roiling thunder of deep offense and furious anger. A foul ball had been thrown back, and all of the faithful in Dodger Stadium who witnessed it instantly recognized the sacrilege. They booed, not at all playfully, and as their outraged voices billowed toward us, I understood something about the risks of disturbing the slumber of culture. I was afraid.

Fred and I mustered up a couple of smiles, but they were the kind that looked as though we were shitting our pants.

"Goddamn you, Vin Scully!" I muttered under my breath—despondent, frustrated, fearful —as the booing continued. "Goddamn you!"

Dave Wielenga, "Goddamn You, Vin Scully"

April 2, 1999 Rather than igniting derision, the Pocket Clowns' derivative style is evoking inspiration everywhere. In an era when popular music has become an archipelago of genres, everybody seems to appreciate the land bridges the Pocket Clowns are suggesting—no, providing —with their endless molten flow.

Now, the question is how long even Orange County can contain the Pocket Clowns' broadly arcing and intensely sparking mélange of sonics and phonics.

Dave Wielenga, "Straight Outta Stanton: Can the Pocket Clowns Save the World?"

April 9, 1999 Several cops are decked out in riot gear, waiting for some shit to happen. Apparently, in Texas, tattoos, greased hair and leather jackets are still a threat. The cops are here because the club was severely overcrowded, and they're keeping watch while everybody spills out onto the sidewalk, lining up to get back in. People are pissed. Some drunken football-player types, exactly the sort to pick a fight with a punker like Ness back in the old days just because he dressed differently, start chanting: "MIKE! NESS! MIKE! NESS!"

Eventually, the throng is allowed back in, only this time, the doorman keeps count. Ness and the Reverend Horton Heat take the stage about a half-hour late.

"Sorry about the riot squad," Ness says. "I didn't invite them." He's cloaked completely in black, and the cowboy shirt he wears has funky silver stitching. The band goes quickly into "The Devil in Miss Jones." Then it's "Don't Think Twice," with Ness hitting sad, lonely notes that make this punk for life actually seem tender and vulnerable. After two false starts of "Misery Loves Company"—technical difficulties—the tenderness disappears and Ness' anger comes spewing out. He yelps, "Fuck!" and looks mighty pissed, but he keeps going—there's nothing else to do. Someone in the crowd hollers, "Orange County '82!" as if he wanted to hear "Moral Threat," "Telling Them" or some other Social Distortion song. But not on this night. 1982 was a very, very long time ago—a whole other lifetime, really. Ness ignores the shout-out, thrusts his left leg forward—his usual stage stance—and rips up the room. By "Dope Fiend Blues," he's quite a ball of sweat. By the end of his 40 minutes, his black eyeliner is slowly trickling down his face, just like it used to when he was 20. The crowd goes apeshit. The cops have cleared out. Country music and eyeliner, man—that's the real punk. SCORE: SOCIETY 1, NESS 1.

Rich Kane, "Ness Is More: The education of Mike Ness"

May 7, 1999 On the evening of Oct. 10, 1998, Stacy Tang made the call that may have killed her brother. By the time she picked up the phone, 19-year-old Tuan Thanh Tang was breathing erratically, throwing up and complaining of severe headaches. Concerned that Tuan might have taken drugs, Stacy called 911 for an ambulance to take her brother to a hospital. She was horrified when instead of being treated, she says, her brother was examined quickly by paramedics, hog-tied by Westminster police and tossed into a squad car. Less than two hours later, paramedics summoned to the Westminster Police Station found Tuan convulsing in a restraint chair. He stopped breathing on the way to the hospital; six days later, he was dead.

Vu Nguyen and Amy Nielsen, "Custody Battle: Did police, paramedic procedures kill Tuan Thanh Tang?"

May 28, 1999 [S]everal weeks ago, Weekly editor Will Swaim received a thoughtful, bury-the-hatchet letter with a Sedona, Arizona, postmark and Julie Mandrake's signature. She praised the Weekly for its independent voice and wondered if perhaps, when she got back into town, they could get together and patch things up. A few weeks later, I received a phone call from Mandrake's half-sister, Beverly Spon. She invited me and Swaim to her Costa Mesa home for a memorial service for Mandrake.

Julie Irene Pappas Mandrake had died of pneumonia in Sedona on May 10. She was 33.

Matt Coker, A Clockwork Orange

June 4, 1999 Last week, we reported that Julie Mandrake died of pneumonia in Arizona on May 10. The day after that article appeared, we received a fax titled "OC Weekly Mocked by Conservatives." The fax claimed Mandrake and the Darnel Squad—a group she purportedly founded to eschew shaving, cosmetics, antiperspirant, deodorant soaps and daily showering—did not exist. The letter's author, "longtime conservative activist" Jim Bieber of Costa Mesa, maintained he and his cohorts orchestrated more than a year's worth of phony phone calls, press releases and letters to the Weekly to string the sting along.

Matt Coker, A Clockwork Orange
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