Diary of a Mad County

SUNDAY, JUNE 30 Unfortunately for Anaheim Angels fans, outfielder Garret Anderson is named to the American League All-Star team today—his 30th birthday. That means the secret is out about our rock-steady, non-flashy left fielder who has never been named an All-Star before—and is the only Angel on this year's All-Star squad despite the fact that Anaheim takes the fourth best American League record into the July 9 game. Remember just a couple of seasons back when the Halos were loaded in the outfield and several pundits assumed Anderson would be odd man out? The fact that he remained in periwinkle/red proves not everyone in the Angels front office has shit for brains. Of course, the suits and the shade of their gray matter will be put to the ultimate test in the months and seasons ahead, when everyone and George Steinbrenner's mother will be trying to lure Anaheim into yet another stupid trade that has the Angels swapping a quality player like Anderson for a big-name has-been.


Illustration by Bob Aul

MONDAY, JULY 1 Southern California Edison feels compelled to issue a statement warning kids not to be like the kid in Like Mike. In the movie, 15-year-old rapper Bow Wow climbs atop a roof to retrieve an old pair of basketball shoes hanging from a power line. Just as he grabs the sneaks, lightning strikes a nearby power pole, sending a jolt down the line that throws the boy and the now-energized shoes to the ground. The shoes give the lad such amazing abilities on the basketball court he becomes the first kid to play in the NBA. It's based on the true life story of Detlef Schrempf. Edison fears the movie may encourage kids to similarly energize their footwear. The movie's distributor, 20th Century Fox, feels compelled to issue a statement of its own that says the scene in question obviously wasn't real and that Like Mike in no way encourages kids to touch power lines—although it does encourage them to reach for unrealistic dreams of becoming coddled, whining, overpaid NBA superstars.

Time was every mother went running for the cupboard for her mother's little helper: doctor-prescribed Valium. Things are different today as the New York Times puts the Newspaper of Record stamp on a disturbing new trend: middle-class, working mothers selling and abusing methamphetamines. Seems the rigors of working and raising a family require a boost beyond the 4 p.m. Starbucks run. Meanwhile, the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatrypublishes a study that finds older white American males are the most likely people to blow their own brains out. The high suicide rate is blamed on that group's access to guns and lack of social support—teenage suicidal tendencies get much more attention than grandpa gumming his Winchester.

TUESDAY, JULY 2 Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada-based Right 2 Vote Ltd.—"The North American people's polling company"—faxes this red, white and bullshit Bulova a questionnaire titled "Pledge Allegiance to God or Country?" We're asked to fax back to a 1-900 number whether "under God" should be removed from the Pledge—at $2.95 per minute ("Calls take approximately two minutes"). Right 2 Vote Ltd. isn't alone in glomming money off controversy. Denver, Colorado-based DRI—"committed to informing the American public of critical issues facing them"—faxes us an "Issue Response Form for California residents only" that asks, "Do you agree that saying 'one nation, under God' is an endorsement of religion?" It's the same $2.95-per-minute drill, though the total cost is open to interpretation. "Please note faxes usually take one minute or less; unless your fax machine is older, it may take longer," warns Miss Cleo, er, DRI.

WEDNESDAY, JULY 3 As sure as June gloom, Taco Bell farts and Huntington Beach Fourth of July arrests, lawsuits have sprung from that April accident between a Metrolink train and a Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight train in Placentia. Ten Metrolink passengers allege in Los Angeles Superior Court that rail operators were negligent and willfully disregarded their safety, reports today's Los Angeles Times. Three people died and more than 200 were injured in the April 23 train wreck. Do you think rail operators were negligent and willfully disregarded passenger safety? Screw the Canucks and Coloradoans and their 1-900 fax polls; simply send $2.95 and your "yes" or "no" answers directly to Clockwork.

THURSDAY, JULY 4 Hesham Hadayet steps out of line—way out of line—in front of the El Al ticket counter at Los Angeles International Airport and blows two people away before a security guard takes him out. As authorities try to determine whether the 41-year-old Egyptian immigrant is tied to terrorists, his Irvine neighbors paint him as something of an asshole. Some speculate that Hadayet's Anaheim-based limousine service may have had a business relationship with El Al that went sour, something the Israeli air carrier denies. The sour business angle can actually be traced back to a prank call a Howard Stern fan made to CNN shortly after the shooting. The prankster alleged to a worldwide audience that the gunman was a fat, ponytailed white guy—a description that fits ex-Stern writer Jackie Martling, who shouted "Artie took my job," a reference to Martling's replacement, Artie Lange. Days after Hadayet was pegged as the shooter, it was still reported in the international media that the gunman yelled "You took my job" before blasting the El Al ticket-counter worker. It devolved into the bizarre when a website alleged El Al stiffed Hadayet on two limo fares. Things spun so far out of control that a John Wayne Airport taxi driver called the Weekly to say he knew a guy who knew Hadayet who swore by the whole El Al-screwed-him angle. The cabbie did not say whether his friend was a fat, ponytailed white guy.

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