By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
I didn't call my Aunt Anne Marie—née Uncle Johnny—while I was in San Jose for the California Republican Conventionthis weekend, even though s/he lives right down the street. I am so proud of him (and her), making the decision at the age of 56 to stop denying his inner essence and to live as a woman. (He's getting the ultimate snip, too, and he's as excited as a little girl getting a pony.) I was just afraid that—since someone was putting fliers under people's hotel-room doors that said front-runner Richard Riordan's goals for California include "Killing babies, taking away your guns and destroying traditional marriage"—well, I was afraid people would be mean to my Uncle Johnny, whom I love very, very much. Since he got the bones in his face shaved down, he looks very feminine, but still, he's very tall for a woman. (Contrary to the LA Timesstory on the subject of the fliers, it was not gubernatorial challenger Bill Simon's people who were responsible; my source is unimpeachable.)
I arrived Friday afternoon, following a harrowing flight out of John Wayne Airport; even though the pilots warn passengers beforehand that they'll be cutting the engines during takeoff so as not to disturb homeowners below, it's an ordeal. Thanks, people of Newport Beach!
My boyfriend hadn't left a key for me at the fan-cee! Fairmont Hotel desk, so I left my backpack with a bellman and sat down to start the weekend's drinking. I was waiting for Todd Spitzer, but I would never actually find the handsome but faithless (just ask the No on El Toro folks) OC supervisor. "He was just in the bar, having a beer," Young American for Freedom (and Weekly hater) Jim Bieber would say, or, "He was just over there talking to Peer Swan from the Irvine Ranch Water District," but Spitzer proved as elusive as a rich man in the kingdom of God.
When my boyfriend, Jimmy Camp, finally appeared, I spotted him speed-walking from across the huge atrium bar. He was wearing a blue Bill Simon T-shirt over a long-sleeved, electric-yellow shirt. Both were tucked into his jeans, which he was wearing very high on his skinny self, and he had a radio on his belt and a yellow Simon whistle around his neck. He looked like a crazy Neighborhood Watch grandpa, and I loved him deeply.
A room key in my greedy little grasp—I would be living in sin for the whole weekend with none other than the political director of Bill Simon's campaign—I gave the bellman a Washington to give me back my backpack. Now, there is no graceful way to give someone a dollar, unless it's to slide it across a bar or hold it out your car window at the guy standing on the median while you're waiting for the light to change, so I always end up just saying chirpily, "Hey! Have a dollar!" They like that.
We had dinner that night at the hotel's Chinese restaurant with a large number of Simon volunteers, most of whom, inexplicably, turned out to be Jewish. I found out the reason for sitting with so many Jews at once (dentists and urologists all) the next day, when my new friend Cat—a John McCain Republican so turned off by Bush that she actually voted for Nader—told me that at the main banquet Friday, they'd served pork chops. She rolled her eyes. "Goodbye, Jews. Goodbye, Muslims. Goodbye, vegetarians—not that there are probably any vegetarians here." When famed beacon of tolerance Dick Armey, who noted the faux pas in his speech to the conventioneers, is chiding your party for being culturally insensitive, you should probably follow Bill "Let's Drink to Virtue" Bennett's advice and feel some shame.
Saturday morning, the party faithful were in a tizzy of excitement in the convention corridors, waiting for their candidates to arrive for the luncheon debate. Secretary of State Bill Jones' people were surprisingly young—barely pushing 20 in a lot of cases—and holding giant posters of Riordan and Governor Gray Davis, grinning arm-in-arm. One young miss discussed with her friend possible chants for when their hero arrived. "I was thinking, 'Bill! Jones! Gov! Er! Nor! Bill! Jones! Gov! Er! Nor!'" she said. "That's perfect!" her friend replied. The Simon camp blew shrilly on their stupid yellow whistles, piercing my hangover (I'd been pushing honor-bar gin and tonics on the dentists and then helping the lightweights finish them) like a Teflon bullet. Damn you, Jimmy Camp!
The debate itself was an acrimonious hoot; the 11th Commandment (thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican) was shattered like the Rams' offense. Simon and Jones double-teamed Riordan on abortion and donating money to Democrats; Riordan pile-drived former Governor George Deukmejianon holding grudges; the conventioneers executed a flying wedge right back in Deukmejian's defense; Jones took a chair to the head from Simon on raising taxes while he was in the Assembly; Riordan body-slammed Gray Davis on energy; and Simon pulled Riordan's nose and then Larry, Moe and Curly-ed him in the eyes on Internettaxes and Willie Brown. (The next day, Simon—who actually said, "A rising tide lifts all boats" in between multiple invocations of Ronald Reagan—would win the straw poll handily.)