Excerpts: Part 2

So here I am. I take my seat at the judge's table, where they even have a sign with my name on it: "MICHAEL ALEERCON, OC WEEKLY."

"Leer?" I ask. "I hope someone's going to get fired over that typo."

"Not the way you're looking at these girls," one of the stage moms says protectively. "You should be ashamed of yourself."

Michael Alarcon, "King Leer: He's got the look"

May 15, 1998 Driving through the Vegas Strip is almost enough in and of itself to make me pop my lunch. Once upon a time, the studied vulgarity of the city was charming in a Mafia-chic fashion. The screaming neon and hype are now an inescapable affront to intelligence and human dignity; I love bad taste, but bad taste ought to be a spontaneous phenomenon rather than one big, shitty corporate commercial. The blaring lights and disco beat of Vegas are intended to elicit a Pavlovian response in consumers, and it works; I wound up throwing around money I don't have like a real moron. Personally, I'd be more comfortable with the notion of surrendering Lost Wages to cool gangsters like Vegas architect Bugsy Siegel than to the calculated lard-assedess of the business executives behind modern Vegas. At least the Mafia robbed you with style.

Buddy Seigal, "Where's Dino? Where's Frankie? Where's Sammy? Searching for authentic cheese in a town called Vegas"

May 29, 1998 Sheesh! I mean, I thought I had a pretty decent time at the EAT'M (Emerging Artists and Talent in Music) conference in Las Vegas until I heard about music editor Buddy Seigal's Vegas vacation the week before. The guy rolls into town to cover some rockabilly convention, parties with a bunch of butterheads, witnesses simmering race relations at a liquor store, gets married and then performs vile acts in a Jacuzzi. I'm supposed to follow that? All I did was listen to some crap, get stuck in a freight elevator and institute Poo Watch '98. (Suffice it to say things weren't quite, ahem, moving along quite as smoothly as planned.)

Alison M. Rosen, "Fear and Bloating in Las Vegas: EAT'M takes a bite out of intrepid reporter"

June 5, 1998 Generating "overcapacity" problems is a sign of the times at Diedrich Coffee. The company is now run by a cadre of ex-Taco Bell executives whose goal is to out-Starbucks Starbucks. The name above the door still says "Diedrich Coffee." But Carl is out; his son, Martin, has been pushed aside by fast-food wizards. Puffed-up on fast-food breakthroughs, they're busy conceptualizing cookie-cutter stores, formatting a franchising plan, cranking the upside potential of the Diedrich name, and training employees for fast-food McJobs. But while profits are up—after several disastrous quarters, Diedrich Coffee's stock is rising—the coffeehouse has been cluster-fucked, banged and bombed-out. And we, the coffee-loving masses, are the losers. Once an Orange County small-business diamond, Diedrich Coffee is now corporate cubic zirconium.

Nathan Callahan, "Welcome to Coffee Bell! Diedrich Coffee is run by a cadre of ex-Taco Bell executives whose goal is to out-Starbuck Starbucks"

June 5, 1998 In the race to fill Lungren's seat in Sacramento, OC District Attorney Mike "Mad Dog" Capizzi lost to Dave Sterling by half a million votes. (Note to all you pina-colada-drinkin', showtune-singin', big-wave-ridin' Orange County Republican officeholders: Capizzi still has six months left in the DA's office, so you better keep your towel on if the doorbell rings early in the morning.)

"Impolitic '98: Election notes from way underground."

June 12, 1998 [P]erhaps Wendy Leece has a point. Maybe our schools should post the Ten Commandments to show these wayward youths that moral boundaries do exist . . . somewhere. Of course, as standardized test scores show, there's a good chance many children won't be able to read the Commandments. Teachers will have to take their pointer sticks and run down each Commandment for kids who have no Judeo-Christian upbringing or who missed the Charlton Heston movie. That, of course, will put instructors at odds with their brothers and sisters in the godless California Teachers Association and American Civil Liberties Union. Thus, discussions will have to be framed in historical terms so none of the little snot-nosed blabbermouths will tell their parents' attorneys. God will have to be explained as "that perfect being conceived as the creator of the universe and worshipped in monotheistic religions." And explaining some Commandments could prove tenuous. For "thou shalt not make any idols," kids will have to be reassured this doesn't apply to the ones MTV, the NBA and Nickelodeon have prepackaged for their consumption. They'll have to know "thou shalt keep the Sabbath holy" has nothing to do with Ozzy Osbourne but instead means they have six days to finish all their work, but on the seventh day, they can't labor—unless it's to finish homework, work at Burger King to supplement their parents' dwindling incomes, or toil as underage employees of a Nike sweatshop overseas. The Commandment that gets all the press, natch, is "thou shalt not kill." Boys and girls must realize they must never, ever, ever kill a living being, unless they're eating it, executing it for the state, or fighting an illegal war for the federal government. Religious fundamentalists taking over public schools want to ban sex education. So how are teachers supposed to explain "thou shalt not commit adultery" to a kindergartener? And it will have to be made clear that "thou shalt not lie" does not apply to teachers, beauty consultants or guests on Nightline.

Matt Coker, "Your Wish is My Commandment"
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