Year in Review

WRESTLING TRYOUTS Thirty masked freedom fighters on March 9 broke up a highly controversial and suspicious gathering on Orange Unified School District grounds: a board of trustees meeting. In December, you'll recall, the board banned the Gay-Straight Alliance from meeting at El Modena High School as part of the trustees' ongoing campaign to wipe out anything that stands in the way of district campuses evolving into Bob Jones University feeder schools—except they don't use the word "evolving" because they don't believe in evolution. Anyway, some wide-eyed freak was just going off on the alliance when 30 masked supporters of the can't-we-all-just-get-along club rushed her and tried to silence her. Administrators dove into the melee; one emerged with a deep scratch on his wrist, while another was bitten in the arm. Protesters, dressed in black with bandannas or ski masks covering their mugs, fled before anyone could be arrested—or hired to randomly roam campuses as a district death squad.

NO-FUN ZONE The overwhelming Measure F victory apparently shattered the county seat of government at 10 Civic Center Plaza on March 10. "It's a ghost town here," an insider told us. Normally bustling hallways were eerily quiet. The parking lot, which during business hours is filled with cars belonging to employees of the second-floor El Toro International Airport planning office, was half-empty. The pro-airport supervisors' election-night insistence that airport planning would continue unabated despite the near-knockout blow delivered by passage of the Safe and Healthy Communities Act obviously didn't set in with many of their underlings. "It's not fun here at all," one source told us. Even once-jovial county executive officer Jan Mittermeier, who has rammed the El Toro plans through as if her life depended on it, was said to be pacing the halls like a Night of the Living Dead extra. Do you suppose it has something to do with the airport superboosters' election-night scapegoating of Mittermeier for their stunning defeat?

GYPSIES, TRAMPS AND BIGOTS The Reverend Fred Phelps brought his vulgar traveling theater to the steps of Laguna Beach City Hall on March 20. The 70-year-old, cowboy-hat-topped pastor of the Topeka, Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church has been on a nine-year crusade to convince the world that, as he succinctly —and frequently—puts it, "God hates fags." A series of events brought Phelps and his fag haters to OC: they claim Laguna Beach Police Chief James Spreine will "burn"—in hell, presumably—for his new policy of documenting complaints of violence-laced hate speech; that the ultraconservative Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove is not sufficiently anti-gay; and that the recent creation of the Gay-Straight Alliance club at El Modena High School in Orange is "insensitive" to God's law. Fred Phelps Jr. cracked a contented smile and leisurely scanned the view. "Laguna Beach is a beautiful city, isn't it? It's really incredible. It'd be a great place to live, I'd imagine," said the self-described civil-rights attorney as he held a sign: "Fags Die, God Laughs."

LOVE THAT BOB! Weekly writer Victor D. Infante sent word on March 28 that actor Bruce Davison had just taken part in an Internet chat to promote his role in the upcoming summer movie X-Men. Davison plays U.S. Senator Robert Kelley in the live-action adaptation of the popular X-Men comic books. When asked what politicians he based his bigoted, hatemongering character on, Davison dodged answering directly, although he did say, "There's Robert Dornan's flamboyance going on." Flamboyance. So that's what you call it.

OH, HOW THE MOSSIMO HAVE FALLEN Irvine-based Mossimo Inc. announced on March 28 that its hip fashions will be sold in Target discount stores. Retail experts quoted in the Los Angeles Times and The Orange County Register—so it must be true!—characterized the deal as a move of desperation by a company that has repeatedly taken financial body blows over the past three years. Designer Mossimo Giannulli once wanted his name mentioned in the same breath as Calvin Klein, Giorgio Armani and Donna Karan and talked of the "Moss lifestyle." In 1998, after a turnaround strategy was developed to distribute clothes mainly through department stores such as Macy's and Bloomingdale's, Giannulli told the Reg, "I could have opened the floodgates by selling to [mass retailers like Target]—something that I'd now regret—but I didn't. I've always been determined to protect the integrity of the brand." That brand will now be draped over red shopping carts filled with Scotts Turf Builder lawn fertilizer, 24 packs of Quilted Northern toilet tissue and supersize bags of Nacho Cheesier Doritos.

CUPBOARD'S BARE JAMBOREE Disneyland's decades-old facial-hair ban lasted until March 29, when the company allowed "neatly trimmed" (and fully grown) mustaches. Beards are still verboten, and the hair on one's head must still be cropped over the ears and off the collar. Disney officials called the 'stache allowance further evolution of its 43-year-old "appearance code." Others rightly agree it's a calculated move to do what would seem to be impossible anywhere other than the Magic Kingdom: simultaneously increase the labor pool while keeping wages down. Orange County's unemployment rate hovers at a mere 2.3 percent—half the statewide rate —at a time when Disneyland must hire scores of workers for the busy summer season and 5,000 new positions at Disney's second Anaheim theme park, California Adventure, which is scheduled to open in early 2001. Warm bodies are also needed for the Downtown Disney shopping/entertainment mall and the Disney Grand Californian Hotel. While it's ridiculous to think it's going to have much effect on recruiting the park's traditional core group: college-age types who aren't likely to be taken in by the Disney Experience shit—mustache or no mustache—when they can get a job at Starbucks for the same money and not have to shave their goatees, graft their tattoos, or remove the barbells from their tongues, all of which are still prohibited under the appearance code. Disney is really looking at another set of workers when it relaxes its grooming standards for low-paying jobs: male, Latino, first-generation immigrants.

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