Excerpts: Part 2

Feb. 5, 1999 Except for the clusters of teens closest to the stage who are jumping up and screaming along to every word (and a few nuns decked out in full habit), the mostly Catholic crowd is sitting down, not sure what to make of the band. They move into "Little Man," in which Morginsky leads an "Oi! Oi! Oi!" chant that would make old punkers cringe at the thought of these neatly pressed Christians swiping their anarchist war cry. The tune's pointed lyrics about the sins of materialism underscore the ambiguity of a Catholic rally—Catholics, after all, belong to one of the wealthiest, most powerful of all organized faiths (they run their own state in the middle of Rome, and who hasn't coveted the Popemobile?), a faith that claims direct descent from history's highest-profile advocate of the poor.

Rich Kane, "For Christ's Sake: The OC Supertones, the Pope and the rise of the new Christian rock"

Feb. 5, 1999 In the hall of mirrors that houses the county's El Toro International Airport planning office, the words "myth" and "fact" are often used interchangeably. How often do county planners insist El Toro will be "quiet" and "safe," even as evidence mounts that the proposed airport will be neither? Myths become facts and facts become myths with the dark flair of George Orwell's Ministry of Truth.

Anthony Pignataro, El Toro Airport Watch No. 92

Feb. 12, 1999 The wife returns, locks the door, smiles, drops her dress and joins me. I bury my face in her hair—it smells like flowers from the garden; indeed, a few petals from something like alyssum are sprinkled throughout. Her skin feels warmed by the sun. I don't know what to make of what follows: we make love, gently, sweetly, and with good humor. Which is to say that we are intimate, just as we always are. But there are no starbursts. No blinding, near-death experiences. No endless animal rutting. When we are finished, Our Little Superman returns to human proportions and resumes his job as a mild-mannered urine-delivery system. The dream of endless loving is dead.

Todd Mathews, "Play Harder"

Feb. 19, 1999 I look at Tran's shrine to Ho and see my father taking his wife, his brother and me—his 2-month-old son—in a military Jeep through sniper fire and past the bodies of unlucky friends and relatives to get to Tan Son Nhut Airport in April 1975.

I see my mother carrying me over barbed-wire fences while being shot at by communist troops as her husband prepares to take off in a stolen cargo plane, cramming in as many people as possible, to escape certain execution.

I see my parents trying to adjust to their new surroundings without being able to speak a lick of English.

I see my dad taking a job in Arlington, Texas, killing rats beneath people's homes just to make ends meet.

I see my family driving to Orange County in 1979 because the eternal summers remind my mom of home.

I see my parents—too proud to take food stamps and welfare checks—struggling every day to put my brother and me through Catholic school. I see Thai pirates dangling my 2-year-old cousin Anh Tho by her ankles over shark-infested waters, her body used as collateral to loot the tiny boat of half-starved refugees in 1978.

I see the look of distress on my dad's face as his father lay dying in Vietnam in 1997 because he couldn't go home to say goodbye for fear of being jailed—or worse—by the Vietnamese government.

Vu Nguyen, "Why I Hate Ho Chi Minh"

March 19, 1999 After 20 seconds in the empty restroom, I'm sitting at a nearby picnic table with a pen and a notebook, jotting down what I have seen: toilet, urinal, sink, check, check, check. For being in such a nice neighborhood, Estancia Park's facilities are very poorly appointed, just about as rustic as that adobe. The stall doesn't have a door on it. The urinal is made of metal and is streaked and rusty. There is no mirror above the sink. Not exactly my idea of a love nest. And then, suddenly, there he is—the guy from the Jeep, up from the parking lot, walking nowhere in particular, wandering almost, except that he always remains near me.

Normally, I wouldn't have given this guy a second thought. Either that, or I would have said hello. But now, the possibility that my reaction to him might result in my arrest has me on guard. I'm trying not to look at him while keeping track of exactly where he is. He also exudes an exaggerated indifference as he parades back and forth in front of me, then down to the adobe, up to the restroom, around the back, in through the door, back out again. But then, abruptly, he seems to be suggesting a larger purpose: his eyes transfixed on me and his eyebrows arching, he grabs and adjusts himself through his pants with a nimble flourish.

Taken altogether, it's a rather peculiar manner—a combination of playing hard to get and playing to get hard. I avert my eyes and keep writing, describing the restroom, his appearance, my assignment, whatever. I'm trying to be a good reporter, but I can't stop thinking that these notes may have to be my alibi.

Dave Wielenga, "Is That a Badge in Your Pocket? Or are you just happy to see me? Are OC's cops a little too excited about busting men for gay sex?"
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