Diary of a Mad County

MONDAY, Oct. 28 The Orange County Transportation Authority and Riverside County Transportation Committee release their $50,000 study showing that gridlock will get much worse on the highways linking the counties. How is that even possible? Have you sampled the late afternoon rush-hour drive on the 91 freeway heading toward Smogland? At what point do you simply put it in park and start walking? Better yet, whip out a snowboard at the top of Santa Ana Canyon and let gravity and that solid vehicular slope take you home.

TUESDAY, Oct. 29 Thanks to the Anaheim Angels' miraculous run through the playoffs and World Series, the first-ever victory parade by a professional sporting team touches down on OC terra firma. Tens of thousands of fans descend on Anaheim Stadium (we'll call it Edison Field once the Halos start sucking again), which is the end-point of a procession that begins on the other side of the 57 freeway, at the Arrowhead Pond (we'll call it the Pond of Anaheim once the Mighty Yucks stop sucking again). Anaheim's Loara and Centennial high schoolsparticipate in the parade, but students at Anaheim High—the town's oldest ad most Hispanic—are told they'll earn automatic Saturday detentions if they ditch to attend. Sure enough, a couple go and get Saturdays—including a varsity baseball player. Meanwhile, the East Coast media conveniently ignore the free parade at the Big A to play up their angle that poor ol' fans had to shell out 45 bucks to attend parades at Disneyland and California Adventure. The Big Lie soon spreads to the web. "Charging admission to a parade is slimier than anything the Yankees ever did," writes one poster on Plastic (www.plastic.com). Faster than a Rally Monkey can throw his own feces, a face is put on this "greediness": Michael Eisner. Fortunately, the Big A's free mile-long parade is eventually revealed to Netizens. As one sage concludes, "There are plenty of reasons to hate the House of Mouse without trumping up more."


Star Power
Photo by Daniel C. Tsang

Last political-action hero Arnold Schwarzenegger draws a huge crowd of enthusiastic UC Irvinestudents who will likely never, ever vote. He claims he's pushing some ballot initiative that gives kids something to do after school besides fastforwarding to the good parts of Seven Days, but this is really the latest stop on his way to the California governor's office in 2006. Asked why he became a Republican, the Terminator says it's because he came from a socialist country. He presumably means Austria, not Santa Monica. The crowd treats the movie star like a rock star. "I was only 10 feet away!" one undergrad barks into his cell phone. After shaking Schwarzenegger's hand, another coos, "I'll never shower again." Perhaps Arnold can come up with a ballot initiative to do something about that.

Raise your joint, er, doctor-prescribed medical-cannabis delivery system in the air like you just don't care! An Orange County Superior Court judge clears Ross Embry of felony charges of cultivating marijuana and possessing pot for sale, while a federal appeals court rules that the government cannot revoke the prescription-drug licenses of physicians who recommend marijuana to sick people. The maverick Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco also decrees the feds cannot investigate doctors just because they've prescribed pot. Embry is the Laguna Beach man who smokes and distributes cannabis at his apartment complex for HIV patients. After the judge rules he has a doctor's approval to use pot, Embry reveals he may sue the government over the way California's medicinal marijuana law is circumvented. Hey, Arnold, need a running mate?

Through the media, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas urges Siegfried Widera, a former priest sought on 33 counts of child molestation, to turn himself in. Too bad Tony "Baloney" didn't make the same request of his wife when the county grand jury tried to subpoena her for eight months.

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 30 An e-mail titled "Chemist James Nowick Slips Between the Sheets With Proteins and Diseases at UCI Breakfast Lecture" arrives in Clockwork's electronic inbox at 10:51 a.m. At 11:06 a.m., a second message comes from a public-relations company pimping a Newport Beach firm called Between the Sheets. Now, keeping a comprehensive diary of a bustling place like OC is tough enough, but add two similarly titled e-mails and one of our mint-julep benders to the equation, and mistakes are inevitable. We therefore apologize for any misinformation we may spew in the following journalistic regurgitation:

Interactions between proteins are essential to all of life's processes, including human diseases. Hmmm . . . what to give the individual who has everything. One type of interaction, between a class of protein structures called beta-sheets, involves a wide range of diseases from cancer and AIDS to anthrax and Alzheimer's. For those contemplating such a dilemma this holiday season, one luxury gift expert has prepared a list of "must haves." Join James Nowick, one of the nation's most-honored young chemists, as he describes his work to understand and control these interactions by developing chemical systems that are simpler than proteins yet participate in the same processes as the proteins they were designed to mimic. Sandra Marx, who with her husband, Paul, founded and owns the nation's most exclusive retail establishment specializing in luxury home products, Between the Sheets in Newport Beach, says gifts that address one's personal comfort top the list. The knowledge gained from Nowick's work may lead to the development of important new drugs. "As we continue the trend of cocooning, gifts that one can use at home are most desirable," said Marx, whose clients include Oprah and a number of prominent celebrities.

THURSDAY, Oct. 31 Four days after that study comes out showing bumper-to-bumperdom between Orange and Riverside counties is going to get more severe, the Bush White Houseweighs in on a solution: bore a hole through the Santa Ana Mountains, retrofit it with a tunnel and pave a portion of the Cleveland National Forest for a brand-new freeway. Outstanding! Look next for Dubya to push for oil drilling off Crystal Cove, tire burning in Laguna Canyon and logging in Lake Forest.

FRIDAY, Nov. 1 The stupidest old man in the county enters Cathay Bank on Culver Drive in Irvine and hands the teller a note demanding money. The teller fills a handbag with a grand and hands it over. He leaves the bank and drives away—slowly, we bet, with his turn signal on the whole time—but not before a witness jots down the license number. The man then cruises over to the Union Bank on Michelson Drive, where he allegedly deposits $500 and gets a cashier's check for the rest. When 73-year-old Martin Randall pulls into the driveway of his Irvine home a few minutes later, police are waiting. The cops say they find the cashier's check on his person. He's arrested on suspicion of the Cathay Bank job and is a suspect is other recent robberies. Can Cops: The Golden Years be far off?

Gustavo Arellano and Daniel C. Tsang contributed to this report.
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