Diary of a Mad County

Illustration by Bob AulMONDAY, Jan. 14On his morning radio show (broadcast locally on KLSX-FM 97.1), Howard Stern asks Dana Reeve, the wife of actor/director Christopher Reeve, if they killed the horse that threw the Superman star, who was left paralyzed. "No," answers the missiz. "This lady named Joan Irvine Smith gave us $1 million" to protect the horse. Wonder if the Irvine Co. heiress makes retroactive payments? As a wee wind-up, we got bucked by a horse, cracking open our little noggin (shame on anyone who just said, "That explains a lot."). We also spared the equine's life, seeing as how we were bawling our eyes out and writhing in pain at the time. That's worth at least a couple of grand, eh, Joanie?

TUESDAY, Jan. 15 A Journal of the American Medical Association survey finds that in any given week, 80 percent of Americans are popping some kind of medication along with unregulated herbal remedies. Meanwhile, a German survey on countries with the strongest yearning for sex in public places ranks Americans near the bottom. We're obviously too drugged to fuck.
Jan.16: Life in the slow lane
Photo by Matt Coker
WEDNESDAY, Jan. 16 The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) agrees to give $4 million in taxpayer funds to the private company that owns the 91 freeway toll lanes so that the OCTA can make $7.9 million in taxpayer-funded improvements to the 91's public lanes. The Todd Spitzer-led OCTA believes the four mil is fair compensation for the potential loss of toll-road customers. See, if the roadwork makes the 91's free lanes flow nicely, drivers will be less likely to fork over monthly fees for those windshield-obscuring toll-road transponders. Spitzer, a member of the OC Board of Supervisors, has publicly lashed out against the "no-compete" clause in the toll company's franchise agreement with the state. It's because of that clause that the OCTA feels duty bound to cut the private toll-road company a check—using our money, of course. "The OCTA should be complimented for recognizing that we have a franchise, but stepping in and making something happen for commuters," Greg Hulsizer, the general manager of the California Private Transportation Co., told the Riverside Press-Enterprise. We have no idea what Hulsizer sounds like, but if you want to read that back to yourself in a smug voice, more power to you. Spitzer, who supports efforts to have the no-compete clause deemed unconstitutional and Riverside County's lawsuit to get rid of the toll lanes altogether, now wants the OCTA to buy the toll lanes to prevent being "nickled and dimed" (that's what politicians call burning through your tax dollars) every time the 91 needs repair. So why not buy it now and avoid the $4 million strong-arm payment? THURSDAY, Jan. 17 Former UC Irvine pollster Mark Baldassare's Public Policy Institute of California releases a poll that finds Californians are less frightened of terrorists than they are of what the government might do to protect them from terrorists. That flies in the face of national polls that came out last month that found Americans are evenly divided when it comes to trashing civil rights in the name of national security. Sixty-two percent of Californians oppose government agencies monitoring phone calls and e-mails, which also contradicts Governor Gray Davis' recent proposal to let state and local police conduct roving wiretaps of suspected criminals. Because if we don't pee all over the Bill of Rights, the terrorists win!
Jan.18: Get off the bus, Gus.
Photo by Matt Coker
FRIDAY, Jan. 18 The C-Span School Bus pulled into Yorba Linda Middle School, but any kids expecting to see the public affairs network's permanently blank-faced host/CEO Brian Lamb jump out in baggy jeans, a dope FUBU sweatshirt and sideways ballcap were thoroughly disappointed. Though it looks like a typical yellow school bus on the outside, inside is a miniature broadcast booth complete with editing bays and an interview set. Local students were treated to a tape of then-President Bill Clinton stepping aboard the same bus to crash an interview being conducted with his press secretary. Hopefully, someone has since sprayed Pine-Sol on the seats.

Speaking at the annual Shakespeare Theatre Association of America conference in Washington, D.C., Cal State Fullerton dance and theater professor Jim Volz says ethnic sensitivities are hindering American theaters' performances of some of the Bard's best-known works. While managing the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Volz was approached by a corporate sponsor who said she "just loved Shakespeare but that I had to understand that there were two plays that we simply couldn't do—ever: Othello and The Merchant of Venice." Blacks and Jews have complained about the black general who murders his wife and the Jewish merchant Shylock demanding a pound of Christian flesh, respectively. No word yet from Paris about Henry V's depiction of the ass-kicking England handed out to French forces at Agincourt.

SATURDAY, Jan. 19 Speaking of arbiters of political correctness, the new name chosen for the Santee Lakes Regional Park and Campground sparked grumbles, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune. To tie in with vacation fun spot Jackson Hole, Wyoming, while at the same time honoring Hosmer P. McKoon, who settled the Santee area in 1885, the Padre Dam Water District staff unveiled "McKoon's Hole Recreational Preserve." That alarmed Santee Mayor Randy Voepel, who worried about the nicknames that could arise from McKoon's Hole, especially given his city's reputation for racial intolerance. "Everything gets shortened," explained Voepel. That may be, but the good folks of Santee oughta consider the patriotic substitute being bandied about Weekly headquarters: Old Glory Hole Recreational Preserve. SUNDAY, Jan. 20In times of war, some pray, some tie yellow ribbons 'round the old oak tree and some partake in gay porn. The websites Jam Sandwhich (www.jamsandwhich.com) and Memepool (www.memepool.com) direct Netizens to a site—blake/prohosting.com/armyporn/index.html—that asks the burning questions: "Do you like a man in uniform? Do you like watching hard-bodied men? Do you like your men hard, horny and green? Do you have what it takes to enter the battlefield and the barracks?" If the answer is aye-aye; hoo-rah; sir, yes, sir; and ahoy, matey, then "select your coordinates, soldier: 'The Captain,' Handjobs, Anal, Oral, Group." Scrolling across the bottom of the green-fatigued page is this message: "Interracial sex cumming soon! Watch greens and tans in action." These guys do by 6 a.m. what 90 percent of us don't do all day.

During a commercial break from The Simpsons (not the all-new episode but one of the continually looping repeats), we're repulsed to hear a slow, tortured rendering of the Beatles tune "Taxman" to hawk income-tax services. Thank Krishna George Harrison ain't around to see this.

MONDAY, Jan. 21 It's Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but 75 percent of America's workplaces aren't celebrating. All 50 states now recognize MLK Day, and post offices, the New York Stock Exchange and most schools are closed. However, only one-quarter of the nation's employers offer it as a paid holiday, according to a survey by the Bureau of National Affairs. (Weekly staffers have the option of taking off today or some other day with pay.) The reasons for not giving Dr. King his props range from the cost to the controversy that surrounded the slain civil-rights leader. Scholars point to King's last days, when he was fighting for social justice and the poor, causes that didn't sit well with corporate America. Hypocritically, some businesses now use racial diversity to market themselves. But not all King supporters are peeved over his holiday's sad fate. "With any holiday, you get a three-day ski weekend. Why does that have a significance with respect to honoring Martin Luther King?" history professor Clayborne Carson, director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project at Stanford University, told the Associated Press. "I'm hoping that we can find ways of celebrating that have more meaning."
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