Diary of a mad county

MONDAY, April 8 With the Anaheim Angels leading 2-0 over the Seattle Mariners—who last season tied with the 1906 Cubs for winning more regular-season games than any team in Major League Baseball history—you'd think the on-field action would be compelling enough for the KCAL/Channel 9 broadcast team. But Rex Hudlergives his "color man" job description new meaning by choosing that moment to go on and on—and on and on—about how much everyone loves the Angels' new red hats. Just when you think his hoarse, 10-minute prattle-a-thon is over, the camera scans the Big Ed crowd for fans wearing the Angels' new red hats. "There's one!" the Hud excitedly tells play-by-play announcer Steve Physioc. "There's another!" We're then shown unwitting models sporting new black and blue Halos head covers as well as the now-obsolete periwinkle caps of a season ago. About the only thing the broadcasters don't describe is the blank look on the faces of the fans, each of whom possibly senses impending doom. Angels lose, 5-4.

Illustration by Bob Aul
TUESDAY, April 9 Anyone who inches along Orange County freeways knows of the ubiquitous road-construction work. We bring this up because the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration releases statistics that show fatal wrecks in highway work zones have increased sharply along with construction, killing 1,093 people in 2000, the latest year for which such numbers are available. That's a 58 percent rise from 1997, the year before Congress passed a six-year, $203 billion highway-construction bill. The death spike is no surprise to OC motoristswho have eaten it or come this close to eating it when traffic suddenly stops because of roadwork. Driving home in the dead of night a few months ago, this chronometer nearly bought the back end of a Mercedes when all 55 freeway traffic was forced off at Chapman. Why? The median was being repaved. Which reminds us: thanks for not posting any warning signs, Caltrans. Dicks. WEDNESDAY, April 10 Candidates who lose primary elections by hundreds of thousands of votes normally slither off into deeper obscurity, run as the party's perennial nutbars (Hellooo, Alan Keyes!) or become Libertarians. But Orange County's thoroughly outdistanced Republican gubernatorial hopefuls—Nick Jesson of Huntington Beach and Edie Bukewihge of Newport Beach—are still hanging in. We previously told you about Jesson's attempt to get the March primary election results tossed out because, he maintains, the oath of office was wrongly administered (A Clockwork Orange, March 15). Superior Court Judge John M. Watson dismissed the case earlier this month, but Jesson says the state Court of Appeals in Santa Ana today granted him an April 19 hearing. Bill Simon, look out! THURSDAY, April 11 The Long Beach Police Department's North Patrol substation closes after a city safety inspector discovers toxic mold in several parts of the Scherer Park facility in which 17 officers have fallen seriously ill in the past month. Ironically, Long Beach public-relations firm Frank Groff Inc. faxed us a press release about new homeowner mold-disclosure laws the day before. We made a paper airplane out of the fax, sent on behalf of Groff's Newport Beach-based client, Orange Coast Association of Realtors. But he re-sends one today with the message, "Attn. planning: in reference to Ed McMahoncase." We click on the only news show that counts—Entertainment Tonight—and discover that the former Tonight Show sidekick filed a $20 million lawsuit against his insurance company over mold that spread through his Beverly Hills home, sickening him and killing his dog. So let's see if we have this straight: the air's polluted, the water's polluted, our homes are polluted, and we can't escape because we'll die next to a highway road crew. We're getting a spacesuit and boarding a train for TJ. FRIDAY, April 12 The gun-nuttin' California Rifle & Pistol Association (CRPA) calls for a 25 cents-per-round-of-ammunition tax credit to reimburse Golden State gun owners "for the social value of firearm ownership, which causes dramatic reductions in, and serves as a deterrent to, crime and violence." The Fullerton-based group is mocking a proposal by state Senator Don Perata (D-East Bay) to tax ammo a nickle per bullet to offset the cost of gun violence. The CRPA claims it can point to "no less than 16 separate studies" that show firearms were used five times more often to stop a crime than to commit one. Okay, we'll cite recent Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) statistics that show 85 percent to 90 percent of guns used in crimes were not stolen. Background checks (which U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroftwants to make even laxer) are supposed to prevent those with criminal records from buying guns at licensed stores, but an ATF study on "Sources of Crime Guns in Southern California" found that many criminals walk into gun stores, pick out a gun and have a companion use identification to buy it. The second biggest source of gun acquisitions for bad guys was from corrupt at-home and commercial dealers known as Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs). A recent ordinance to ban home FFLs in Irvine by City Councilman Chris Mearsspurred a sit-down with CRPA's attorney Chuck Michel. In CRPA's April Firing Line newsletter, Michel says Mears expressed willingness to tweak the ordinance, but he "also admitted he not only wants to ban home FFLs, he wants to ban guns entirely!" Communist! Mears isn't up for re-election in November, but his anti-gun partners Beth Kromand Mayor Larry Agran are, so Michel calls on CRPA members to set their sights on them. Metaphorically, of course. SATURDAY, April 13 Drool laced with bacon grease and transmission fluid drips off our chin and onto our last clean T-shirt, so we go shopping at this space's favorite website: T-Shirt Hell( But we can't decide whether to get a $17 tee that proclaims "WWJD (for a Klondike Bar)?"; "Infected by Pamela Anderson"; "Fuck My Family, I'm Moving in with The Osbournes!"; "Finish Your Beer, There are Sober Kids in Ethiopia"; or "I Fucked the Girl in Hanson." There are also $16 baby shirts that say "I Enjoy a Good Spanking"; "F!#k the Milk, Where's the Whiskey Tits!" and "I Shit My Pants and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt." You can even put your dog in an $18 tee that says, "Where the Fuck Are My Pants?" Too bad we maxed the Visa on that spacesuit.

Shoot! SUNDAY, April 14: Skateborders converge on Santa Ana's artists village. Police are en route.
Photo by Jack Gould