Diary of a Mad County

Picture This!

It's USA Łberalles for Father Serra at Mission SJC

Photo by Jack Gould

TUESDAY, Feb. 12 Newport Beach officials reveal that for the past 12 years they have not tested mountains of sewage sludge for toxics—as required under state law—before dumping the crap into an Irvine landfill. This Timex doesn't understand why this is so shocking. Everyone knows Newport doesn't think its shit stinks. Now city fathers worry that the improper-dumping controversy will impugn Newport Beach's image as an environmental defender. As if watching Newport work 24/7 to dump an ecologically devastating commercial airport on South County hadn't already tipped us off.

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 13 Once again, a "friend" of Huntington Beach councilman-turned-convicted felon Dave Garofalo forwards the Weekly his latest wacky e-mail to supporters. In it, he practically begs the Huntington Beach Boys and Girls Club to change its bylaws so they can rescind his resignation from their board of directors. In his grammatically adventurous missive, Garofalo again minimizes his conviction for one felony and 15 misdemeanors in connection with selling his council vote, claiming that he only "violated a 1934 law." Garofalo advises the club to change the word "shall" to "may" in Section 8 of its bylaws so he can get back to "being there to help the kids." But his plan to get the club out of debt gives us the willies: "[T]he best role is for me to let me do my thing, help create and execute the message/final campaign to pay off all the debt with as little tampering with the other revenues as possible from the Annual Dinner." Yep, the guy you want doing a "little tampering" with your money is Dave Garofalo. THURSDAY, Feb. 14 Human-rights activists pop up outside the See's Candies Discount Store in Fullerton, but they're not bumming for change to buy their sweeties chocolate-covered cherries for Valentine's Day. They're protesting child slavery at African cocoa plantations. Global Exchange, the San Francisco-based international freedom fighters known for mucking up world-trade conferences with their giant puppets, launched the Fair Trade Cocoa Campaign this sweetheart's day. Because of a global chocolate glut, cocoa prices have plummeted, and to make up the loss, plantation owners along the Ivory Coast—which supplies 43 percent of the world's cocoa—have resorted to child slavery and oppressive labor conditions. So Global Exchange is pressuring "Big Chocolate"—America's chocolate industry—into buying at least 5 percent of its cocoa from cooperatives of poor farmers paid a fair wage (by which they mean something better than the lash) for their harvests. By the way, Big Chocolate at first denied knowing it profited off child slave labor. But when confronted with evidence provided by two Philadelphia Inquirer reporters, industry officials admitted it might be a problem. Why do we picture them resembling Martin Short's sweating, twitching, chain-smoking corporate-shill character?

During a most bizarre 5 p.m. newscast that featured wax-figure anchorman Paul Moyer kissing his Channel 4 co-anchor Colleen Williams' skunk hair, a KNBC online poll is released showing 62 percent of respondents prefer a park at the former El Toro Marine Corps base. Only 29 percent want an airport. Before South Countians pop the cork, keep in mind that NBC polling also showed that more Florida voters cast ballots for Al Gore than George Dubya Bush. The polls proved correct, of course, but Bush still got the keys to the White House.

FRIDAY, Feb. 15 Ninety-nine-cents Filet-O-Fish Fridays kicks off—or should that be swims off?—at Southern California McDonald's restaurants. "The return of our popular 99-cents Filet-O-Fish Fridays is yet another demonstration of Southern California McDonald's commitment to serving the needs and tastes of our community," crows Neal Ruby, president of McDonald's Operators' Association of Southern California. The "community" to which he's referring appears to be Roman Catholics, whose faithful blasted into Lent two days before and—if they're planning on an eternity with God rather than Satan—forswear meat for the seven Fridays before Easter. Of course, if Ruby really wants to demonstrate his commitment to Catholics, he'll introduce "99-cents A-Measurable-Amount-of-Fish-in-the-Filet-O-Fish Fridays." SATURDAY, Feb. 16 Festive beasts take over Westminster's Little Saigon. No, they're not anti-Communist protesters outside a video store with a Ho Chi Minh poster on the wall. They're costumed characters taking part in the Vietnamese community's Tet parade. You may recall that, in years past, two competing Tet festivals tore Little Saigon apart. It was a veritable Tet Offensive. Or Offensive Tet. Whatever. Clearer heads prevailed, and we now enjoy one big three-day Lunar New Year-apalooza. But to keep from getting our asses kicked, we're leaving the Vietnamese government flag at home next year. SUNDAY, Feb. 17 National Specialty Coffee Week comes to a jittery end. Ted Lingle, executive director of the Long Beach-based Specialty Coffee Association of America, says this year's theme—"Specialty Coffee Is a Love Story"—was chosen because "the only thing a true connoisseur of specialty coffee loves more than fresh-roasted, freshly brewed coffee is good company to go with it." Good company is fine; a breath mint and a clear path to the urinal are better. MONDAY, Feb. 18 Advent Product Development announces Chris Anastasio of Dana Point invented a better mouse trap. Literally! Anastasio's Better Mouse Trap (patent pending) can kill a teeny-weeny mouse or a big fat rat. The contraption looks like a three-sided box, but it works on the same principle as your typical spring-loaded, head-crushing mouse trap. It's just that instead of one bar delivering the fatal blow, there are two; one snaps close enough to the bait to kill the mouse, while the other's out far enough to whack a rat. "With the Better Mouse Trap, only one trap is needed to catch either rodent, resulting in a cost savings to the consumer, who no longer must guess which pest is causing the problem and purchase separate traps for each," claims Advent's promotional material. (For more info, log on to Great. But they still haven't solved the problem of which spouse, lover or roommate has to carry the dead rodent out to the trash can.
Illustration by Bob Aul
TUESDAY, Feb. 19 If you really want a better mouse trap, turn to UC Irvine's engineering department, whose brainiacs could probably make you one that would kill the rodent, incinerate it and mold its ashes into a smart-looking brooch. You can witness these students' innovation and ingenuity as E-Week gets under way on campus (through Feb. 23). Besides exposing their genius to the world, the guys derive an added benefit: they get to talk to living, breathing girls when pretty young female reporters show up to cover the 29th annual event.