Diary of a Mad County

SUNDAY, Nov. 17 Tree-sitter-for-hire John Quigleyhangs out in a 400-year-old oak to prevent a Newport Beach developer from removing it. The developer, John Laing Homes, plans to widen a road near its 279-home project in Santa Clarita, essentially turning the 70-foot tree into firewood. Taking a page from the Pacific Northwest anti-logging playbook, the Santa Clarita Organization for Planning the Environment retained the services of Quigley, who perched himself atop a tree for three weeks in 1995 to protest logging in a British Columbia rain forest. As they also do up north, the enviros humanize their targeted tree by giving it a name: Old Glory. (Quick joke, brought to you by Clockwork Chainsaws: What do woodpeckers leave in Old Glory? Old Glory holes!) While Quigley is seemingly spared from a long tree-sitting stint when the developer announces it will transplant the oak to a nearby safe spot, he vows not to budge until the bittersweet end. Perhaps he's worried about not having another gig lined up. No prob, Quiggy, we've found you one: Trabuco Canyon activists need a sitter to save a who-knows-how-many-hundreds-of-years-old tree from the axe at Trabuco School, which opened in 1878, when Old Glory was a spry little 276.

MONDAY, Nov. 18 After searching homes in Anaheim and Long Beach, police arrest the leaders of two white-supremacist groups on firearms, explosives and probation-violation charges. Christine Greenwood, who leads the Blood & Honour hate group, and her boyfriend, John Patrick McCabe, are charged with possessing bomb-making materials. Authorities actually discovered the BBs, nails, razor blades, battery-operated clocks for use as timers and enough gasoline to level their Anaheim apartment in 1999 but didn't think much of it until turning the heat up on homegrown terrorists after the Sept. 11 attacks. McCabe, who has reportedly spent time in the joint for a previous hate crime, is also said to be in violation of his probation for allegedly possessing child pornography. His girlfriend has a different sort of affinity for kids: she organized the Aryan Baby Drive, a kind of Salvation Army for neo-Nazis. The couple's also heavy into North County's festering white-power rock scene, as is Jack Frederick Steele, the head of California Aryan Nation and a Long Beach resident who is popped for owning guns despite a felony conviction (stabbing a Latino—amazingly still illegal!). Cops claim to have also found a letter from Steele, whose hate group is also known as Brandenburg Division, to the tighty whitey Christian Defense Leagueproposing they form an alliance with Palestinian extremists to target Jews. You may recall Steele from such previous local racism as this past spring's Adolf Hitlerbirthday concert at the La Habra Moose Lodge. District Attorney Tony Rackauckastells his transcribers at the dailies that the show was canceled after Steele's probation officer found out about it. Who knew probation officers read Weekly music editor Rich Kane, who broke the story about the concert (Lowballasschatter, "Nazis Invade La Habra!" April 19)? Incidentally, fellow hatemongers are using their Internet sites to take up a collection for the arrested trio's defense. We suggest wrapping any contributions in an Aryan baby diaper.

TUESDAY, Nov. 19 Five Chino dairy farmsagree to upgrade their operations to prevent cow caca-filled runoff from entering the Santa Ana River and eventually flowing into the ocean. The federal-court settlement comes after pressure from the Natural Resources Defense Council and Newport Beach-based Defend the Bay. As part of the accord, environmentalists will now loan their experts to the dairies to help them reach compliance in a program that may become a model for dairies across the country. Defend the Bay's Bob Caustin certainly prefers helping farmers to suing them, telling the Newport Beach/Costa Mesa Daily Pilot that he spent many a rainy day collecting and analyzing wastewater samples collected in Chino, which boasts the largest collection of cows in the nation—not counting The View's studio audience, of course.

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 20 Norm "Firecracker" Westwell—whose chalk-on-wall campaign signs were previously defended in this space, vaulting him to a 15th place finish in the recent Huntington Beach City Council race—e-mails us to expose the dirty tricks of rabid right-wingers. Someone claiming to be a staffer for Congressman Tom DeLay (R-Texas) left a message with Westwell's secretary at truWest, his Surf City sportswear-manufacturing company, and said he'd been selected for a national leadership award and that they needed to speak with him about the press release they were preparing. But when Westwell returned the call, they tried to hit him up for $500 in order to be named "honorary chairman" of the "Business Advisory Council" and get a chance to meet a congressman. Westwell calls this a first in his 23 years in business and says, "This fund-raising scheme resets the benchmark to an all-time low."

THURSDAY, Nov. 21 Orange County Fairofficials announce they'll do something we've been advocating for years: hold the fair's summer concert series in the adjoining Pacific Amphitheatre. For years, that 8,500-seat venue was the source of noise complaints and lawsuits when it was leased and operated by a division of the Nederlander Organization, which now books shows for the competing Verizon Wireless Amphitheaterin Irvine, the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim and—any day now—whatever the city-owned Grove Theater in the Anaheim Stadium parking lot is going to be re-named. The fair bought the Pacific Amphitheatre as part of a resolution of all legal action against it—and promptly mothballed the facility. The fair's Grandstand Arena will still be used for concerts, rodeos, motorcycle racing and demolition derbies; flat, dusty, smelly Arlington Theater will host "themed" weekend festivals. To keep its suit-happy neighbors (and their lawyers) at bay, fair officials promise to abide by existing noise restrictions and to confine use of the Pacific Amphitheatre to the days of the fair. To make sure, we suggest filling it with pudding in the off season.


Seagal: Not a threat

FRIDAY, Nov. 22 Steven Seagal was behind a threat to a Los Angeles Times reporter who was investigating the action star's ties to organized crime, the Times reports today. Alexander Proctor, the ex-con charged with threatening reporter Anita Buschbefore she recently left the Times, allegedly told an FBI informant that he had been hired to spook the reporter by Anthony Pellicano, the so-called "private detective to the stars" who was in Seagal's employ at the time. Known as much for his tall tales of being a former CIA spook as he is for horrible acting—the continuously played clip of him running like a girl to promote his E! True Hollywood Story is the best thing ever shown on the network—Seagal is currently stinking up cineplexes in Half Past Dead, in which he plays an undercover agent who poses as a convict—and runs like a girl. He denies being part of the threat to Busch, but he talks about life imitating bad art as if he was. Frighteningly, Seagal recently submitted his application to become a reserve deputy with the Orange County Sheriff's Department. Asked the status of his application, a spokesperson curtly told Clockwork: "He is NOT a member of this department." Ten-four!

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