2002: Diary of a Mad Year

JANUARY

2Before the trial begins, novelist Sylvia Fleener settles for an undisclosed sum her lawsuit alleging that televangelists Paul and Jan Crouch of Trinity Broadcasting Network in Costa Mesa plagiarized her work for the crappy Christ-o-rama flick The Omega Code. 4The much-loathed Tony Tavares resigns as overlord of the Anaheim Angels and Mighty Ducks. Arriving as a seasoned businessman who'd take responsibility for his actions, Tavares leaves claiming to be the victim, calling players he'd drafted and acquired poor losers. We miss him already. 10 Ex-Huntington Beach City Councilman Dave Garofalo pleads guilty to one felony and 15 misdemeanors for repeatedly voting on matters benefiting companies that had padded his wallet over the years. Later, one of his former constituents socks him in a restaurant. 11The New York Times runs a story on new New York Met Mo Vaughn that paints Anaheim as a baseball wasteland. "Being on the West Coast, I learned how much I love the East Coast," Vaughn says. Wasn't this the guy who signed an $80 million contract with the Halos, injured his ankle during his first game here and never produced again? 16 The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) agrees to give $4 million in taxpayer funds to the private company that owns the 91 freeway toll lanes so that the OCTA can make $7.9 million in taxpayer-funded improvements to the 91's public lanes. "The OCTA should be complimented for recognizing that we have a franchise, but stepping in and making something happen for commuters," Greg Hulsizer, the general manager of the California Private Transportation Co., tells the Riverside Press-Enterprise. We have no idea what Hulsizer sounds like, but if you want to read that back to yourself in a smug voice, more power to you. 17 Former UC Irvine pollster Mark Baldassare's Public Policy Institute of California releases a poll that finds Californians are less frightened of terrorists than they are of what the government might do to protect them from terrorists. Christ, doesn't everyone realize that if we don't pee all over the Bill of Rights, the terrorists win? 18 The C-Span School Bus pulls into Yorba Linda Middle School, but any kids expecting to see the public-affairs network's permanently blank-faced host/CEO Brian Lamb jump out in baggy jeans, a dope FUBU sweatshirt and sideways ball cap are thoroughly disappointed. Instead, students are treated to a videotape of then-President Bill Clinton stepping aboard the same bus. Hopefully, someone has since sprayed Pine-Sol on the seats. 25 No foreign service experience? No chief exec experience? No shame over his role in the largest municipal bankruptcy in history? No problem! The U.S. Senate confirms ex-Orange County Supervisor Gaddi Vasquez as director of the Peace Corps. He'll oversee 7,300 volunteers in 70 countries and manage a budget of $265 million—a quarter of what county officials defrauded from municipal-securities buyers under Vasquez's watch. 28 Coming off a three-month suspension fueled by complaints that he likened Muslim students to terrorists, political-science professor Ken Hearlson returns to his classroom at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa. In other news, the U.S. is killing about 60 Afghanis per day. 30As part of a conflict-of-interest probe that sounds eerily similar to the case that drove Garofalo out of office, investigators raid the home and apartment of Seal Beach City Councilman Shawn Boyd. By year's end, he's convicted of voting on matters involving former Seal Beach Trailer Park owner Richard Hall while working for Hall on various real-estate projects outside the city. 31 More Garofollies: Surf City's ex-councilman recently tried to funnel $11,500 from a city organization's charity bank account into his own account, The Orange County Register reports. Garofalo reportedly returns the money to the city-sponsored Conference and Visitors Bureau only after officials threaten to sic the district attorney's office on him. Again. FEBRUARY
Gray Days: April 24,
Sept. 25, Dec. 10
1 Irvine Valley College (IVC) president Raghu Mathur, who has sued his own district, survived faculty votes of no confidence and been the target of stinging criticism from campus rabble-rousers, is appointed chancellor of the South Orange County Community College District. Mathur was ranked at or near dead last by the selection committee of faculty, administrators and staff who forwarded five or six names to the conservative-leaning board of trustees, who looked at those rankings, wiped their asses with them and chose Mathur, whom they called the most qualified person in the entire U-S-of-freakin'-A to lead the district that includes IVC and Saddleback College. Of course he is. 4Friends of the Foothills, the group trying to stop construction of a toll road through pristine South County hills, tells members that officials with the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) are being disingenuous when they say they don't know why McDonald's ended the program that allowed toll-road users to charge burgers and fries on their transponders. Internal TCA memos reveal that Mickey D's couldn't figure out how to handle patrons who brought their transponders inside the restaurants (they'd only been set up to charge drive-through customers). Friends of the Foothills also said a Weekly Hey, You! item by an anonymous San Joaquin toll-road user confirms that fresh animal parts are "smeared all over the fresh tar." Did somebody say McDonald's? 7A 20-year-old student with "Liberty or Death" scrawled on his bare chest tries to burn an upside-down American flag in the Fullerton College quad, but a crowd of students stops him before half a dozen cops in riot gear break up the demonstration and whisk El Flamo to safety. Rumors spread throughout campus and into the mainstream press that music student Parham Khoshbakt supports the Taliban, but it turns out he was protesting campus police who stopped his outdoor guitar strumming and singing. For the record, Khoshbakt believes George Dubya Bush and Osama bin Laden are both murderers. 9Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Jackson visit the Laguna Art Museum as the featured guests of "Art for AIDS: A Tribute to Rock Hudson," a fund-raiser for the museum and the AIDS Services Foundation of Laguna Beach. They arrive late. They stay in a little room away from the riffraff for a half-hour. Then they leave. Some who paid $125 to mingle with the pair are mighty pissed. Others who paid $2,500 to dine with them earlier in the evening and endured the same treatment are pissier. 19 Nearly dead Vice President Dick Cheney turns up at dead President Dick Nixon's Yorba Linda cryptoleum to amplify on duh President George W. Bush's "axis of evil" remarks. Cheney, who's in California raising buttloads of cash for Republican candidates, says Dubya was right to call out Iran, Iraq and North Korea, and if our friends and foes can't take it, tough titties. But as Cheney's chitchatting, the Shrub is backing off from the North Korean smack, seeing as how he's knee-deep in the DMZ. Back at Dickland, Julie Nixon Eisenhower presents Cheney the Architect of Peace Award, something 40 protesters outside the gates think should be renamed the Architect of War Award. Orange County Register reporter Ann Pepper includes the demonstrators in her next-day coverage, but they're missing from Jean O. Pasco's Los Angeles Times story. Must be her editors' fault. Again. MARCH
March 7
Illustration by Bob Aul
1George Saadeh, who grew up in Honduras, becomes the first Latino captain in the Santa Ana Police Department's 116-year history. Officials with the city and human-rights agencies hail the promotion of Saadeh, who will manage the patrol bureau's 200 officers. But amid all the backslapping, we gotta ask: A city in which 74 percent of the residents speak Spanish—the largest percentage in the U.S.—is just now getting a Latino captain? 4Resistance Records, the West Virginia-based neo-Nazi label that promoted skinhead concerts at the Shack in Anaheim, has branched into a new medium: video games. ABC News reports that Resistance has a new video game called Ethnic Cleansing that allows players to assume the persona of a skinhead or Klansman who goes about offing minorities. As hate rock blares, gunmen compete toward the ultimate goal: assassinating a rocket-wielding Ariel Sharon. Obviously the Jews don't own all the media. 7The Orange County Sanitation District board puts off a decision to use bleach to disinfect the 243 million gallons of sewage flushed daily into the ocean off Huntington Bleach, er, Beach. Board members want more study on what the $14 million bleaching plan would entail and whether there are any alternatives to Chloroxing Ma Ocean. In other words, they're waiting until local media attention goes away. 13Taco Bell announces it is debuting the Club Chalupa at the Irvine-based chain's bazillion stores nationwide. Combining Mexican-inspired flavors with classic "club" ingredients, the Club Chalupa will cost a reasonable $1.99—or 51 cents less than Florida tomato pickers get after filling 20-pound crates for Taco Hell. 16 As part of Dana Point's Festival of Whales, we're encouraged to "leave our mark" on the Baby Beach wall. For $50, we can paint a tile on the wall. But we mistakenly wander into Baby Beach's surf—the most polluted water in the state—get sick to our stomach, and leave a different kind of mark on the wall. 20 Phil Sheldon, the son of the Reverend Lou Sheldon of the Anaheim-based Traditional Values Coalition, is dropped from the campaign payroll of Republican nominee for governor Bill Simon, who takes heat from GOP gays, moderates and women's groups after the San Francisco Chronicle breaks the story that the anti-gay/anti-abortion Reverend Lou's spawn was paid $30,000 as a consultant. 26 After critical comments by Anaheim Angels bullpen ace Troy Percival are read back to Mo Vaughn, the rotund New York Mets slugger goes off on a 10-minute tirade (laced with 35 expletives) against Percival. While we can make educated guesses as to which expletives Vaughn chose, we'll have to resort to sound effects since we failed to secure unedited source material. "Who the [bleep] is Troy Percival?" asked Vaughn, whom the Angels traded to the Mets in December. "He hasn't done [wheeezzze] to lead them anywhere. I got hardware. I got playoff appearances. I got an MVP. I've been to the playoffs twice. What the hell has he done?" As for our hapless Halos, Vaughn says, "Ain't none of them done a damn thing in this game, bottom line. They ain't got no flags hanging at [ahhh-ooo-gaaawww] Edison Field, so the hell with them." Turns out Percival's been peeved since a 1999 game in which Vaughn failed to join his teammates in defending their pitcher in a bench-clearing brawl in Cleveland. 28 Orange County People for Animals leader Ava Park encourages members to dine at Burger King at least once a week for the next four weeks. Has our favorite babe-ilicious critter protector gone stark raving mad? Heck, no. She wants animal lovers to order BK's new veggie burgers and thank management for offering meatless meals. Would you like some of Mickey D's beef-fat-drenched fries with that? 29 Orange County gazillionaire and U.S. Ambassador to Spain George "Super Size It" Argyros occupies the top spot on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's "10 Mariners We Weren't Crazy About." For you non-baseball fans out there, Argyros owned the Seattle Mariners from 1981 to '89—and folks in the Pacific Northwest still ain't over it. "He was cheap, greedy, arrogant and inept," writes the P-I of El Tubby. "He spent his entire ownership bitching about the Kingdome lease and threatening to move the team. He was worse for Seattle baseball than February rain. And now he's the U.S. ambassador to Spain. There are only two words to say about that: poor Spain." 31 Stop the bleeding already: our all-new, all-red Anaheim Angels drop their season opener to the Cleveland Indians, 6-0, at the Big Ed.
March: Head of the OC Republican
Party in the 1970s, Tom Rodgers has
since become an environmentalist.
This year he helped kill El Toro.
Photo by James Bunoan
APRIL 1Newport Beach police arrest actress Tawny Kitaen for allegedly slugging, kicking, scratching and ear-twisting her six-foot-six, 225-pound husband, Chuck Finley. The Cleveland Indians pitcher's injuries—minor lacerations to the arms, legs and face and severe bruises to the ego—force him to miss his start two nights later against his former team, the Anaheim Angels. What's really sad is Kitaen hit Finley more often than the Angels, who have gotten just five hits off their former ace since trading him before the 2001 season. 3During a one-day visit to war-torn Afghanistan with eight other congressmen, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) calls on the U.S. government to "do what's right" and compensate Afghans who lost families in misdirected American bombings. "We will support it in Congress as a legitimate cost of doing business," says Rohrabacher—perhaps inadvertently dropping his guard long enough to accurately depict the so-called "War on Terrorism" as a U.S.-taxpayer-funded "business" endeavor for Dick Cheney's oily energy buds. 19 Car-alarm magnate turned Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Vista) may challenge U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer in 2004, reports the San Diego Union Tribune. Issa, whose district includes parts of south Orange County, spent $12 million of his own money only to lose the GOP nomination for the same office to Matt Fong in 1998. A showdown with Boxer could look like Armageddon. Boxer is Jewish and a strong supporter of Israel; Issa is of Arab descent, and his tolerance of Yasser Arafat and scorn for Ariel Sharon already outrage some, including the radical Jewish Defense League, whose leaders Irv Rubin and Earl Krugel are in jail for allegedly plotting to bomb Issa's Vista office. 23 A mile-long freight train plows into a Metrolink commuter train during the morning rush hour in Placentia, killing three people and injuring almost all of the 300 passengers. The most surprising part of the story is that 300 people ride the Metrolink. Who knew? 24 Governor Gray Davis' office e-mails and twice faxes us his prepared statement that honors the fire, police, medical and laypeople who helped Placentia train collision victims and sends his (and first lady Sharon Davis') thoughts and prayers to the injured and family and friends of those who died. Then a young woman from Davis' office calls wanting to know if we received the faxes and e-mail and whether we'll "be doing something with them?" An image involving a men's room stall, an empty toilet paper holder and those faxes suddenly flashes in our mind. 25Seven current and former black Del Taco employees are suing the Laguna Hills-based chain for allegedly passing them over for promotions in favor of Hispanic workers, various news sources report. The discrimination suit alleges that the black workers were verbally harassed by Hispanic workers and, in some cases, fired and replaced by illegal immigrants. The plaintiffs are seeking lost wages, punitive damages and reinstatement. Del Taco officials refuse comment and direct all calls to Dan the Product Guy, last seen wearing a big Afro wig. 29 Tawny Kitaen pleads not guilty to charges of domestic violence against Chuck Finley. He filed for divorce three days after the alleged incident. Kitaen reportedly checked into rehab for addiction to painkillers. Good thing, according to Finley's divorce petition, which portrays Kitaen as a suicidal drug abuser and includes a long list that allegedly shows the medications she has been prescribed—and abused. Kitaen got pills, creams, patches and inhalers, and she often got appointments on consecutive days. She must have damn good insurance! MAY
May 28
Illustration by Bob Aul
1A 1993 Ford Explorer is stolen from in front of a Bellflower home. What's so special about that? The SUV belongs to an Orange County sheriff's deputy, who left inside six loaded guns, a badge, a sheriff's department windbreaker and a bulletproof vest—a veritable Make-Yourself-Into-a-Cop Kit (batteries not included. Or maybe they were. Hell, everything else was). Sheriff Mike Carona's office later issues a statement assuring the public the department has no policy prohibiting deputies from stowing such items in their cars. Gee, thanks, we feel a lot better now. 2A dad finds 30 heavy-duty razor blades and 29 nails among the playground equipment at Parc Vista Park in Laguna Niguel. Nails and razor blades have also been turning up recently at playgrounds in Laguna Beach, Mission Viejo, Newport Beach and Costa Mesa. Is it tough to be a kid these days or what? While cops, politicians and the media demonize young people, they're lugging backpacks overloaded with schoolbooks, filling their fragile lungs with air pollution and cancer-causing pesticides (according to a just-released report based on testing near Orange County school yards), and fending off horny priests (if they're young Catholic boys) and ministers (if they're young Protestant girls). 3Twenty Disneyland patrons complain their throats hurt, but no one is hospitalized. A Mouse House spokesman says a guest standing in line may have accidentally released mace or pepper spray. The attraction? Honey, I Maced the Audience. 7About 15 baseball fans are injured during a mad rush out the Edison Field exits. As we're getting ready to bang out some rapid-fire insults against our beloved Anaheim Angels—like "It was only the third inning," or "That'll never happen going into an Angels game," or "Who let Roseanne sing the anthem again?"—we discover that a faulty escalator is the cause. As fans are filing out following a tough loss, the people mover suddenly speeds up, launching bodies at the end of the line into a big pile of human flesh—a true Simpsons moment. Despite this loss, the Halos are among the hottest teams in baseball. Of course, we've endured far too many late-season swoons to get reeled in just yet. Check back with us in September, boys. 8Mark Bailey, the former owner of Captain Cream strip club in Lake Forest, is convicted in federal court of tax evasion. Authorities say he skimmed $700,000 in cash from dancers' tips between 1992 and 1994. That the girls allowed him to hold their hard-earned gratuities sounds ditsy only to someone who has never jiggled naked while trying to keep 700,000 singles from falling out of assorted crevices. Trust us, we know. 13A press release dated today lands on our desk for an upcoming Huntington Beach Union High School District function, but someone has circled "Patriotic dress is suggested" and scrawled a one-word reaction: "Enough!" 20 On the night veteran TV newsman Jerry Dunphy's family announces his death, KCAL/Channel 9, the eightysomething's final spot on the dial, presents the following stories in quick-cut succession: students posed nude in a high school photo class; images of kids as young as eight posing seductively in skimpy clothing are the hot new thing on the Internet; Penthouse court decision; update on the stripper mom's dispute with a Christian grade school; Playboy playmate talks about life as a Playboy playmate. Wethinks the Dunphster picked the right time to check out. No word on whether his ashes were spread from the desert to the sea to all of Southern California. 23 Doheny State Beach in Dana Point is knocked off the top of Heal the Bay's list of Beach Bummers, also known as California's 10 dirtiest beaches. Arroyo Quemada Beach, which is perilously close to a Santa Barbara County landfill, takes the No. 1 spot and all the responsibilities that entails. Doheny remained crappy enough to come in second, which means if Arroyo can't fulfill its duties as California's dirtiest beach, Doheny assumes the position. Baby Beach at Dana Point Harbor came in filth, er, fifth, but North Doheny Beach and the San Juan Creek ocean interface, which are also in Dana Point, fell off the list they made last year—which means Dana Pointers obviously aren't trying hard enough. Come on, people, more fiber! 28 Amid much fanfare, the Orange County Transportation Authority celebrates its billionth bus customer. Amid no fanfare, it also celebrates the 999,998,367th customer to reach under a bus seat and find used chewing gum. JUNE 3The Costa Mesa City Council wisely rejects a staff recommendation to impose draconian restrictions on cybercafés. Despite having received no reports of crime at Costa Mesa's two cybercafés, the "the bureaucracy" calls for midnight curfews and 20 other restrictions on such businesses. But a majority of council members agree it's unfair to impose restrictions on legitimate, crime-free businesses that keep young people where they belong: off the streets and in front of computer screens for hours on end. 4Lori Elizabeth Fischer, 21, of Mission Viejo, is arrested for allegedly being the sicko who placed nails, glass shards and razor blades in park playgrounds throughout Orange County. A temporary file clerk for the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT!!! (does anyone screen anyone anymore!?), Fischer apparently penned the punk hit of the decade. Her sample poetry: "More hazards are found/Nails, razor blades, broken glass/The innocence is shattered/Yellow police tape encircles/The once peaceful haven/Beep, beep, beep." Oi! Oi! Oi! 5More than 140 University of California professors—including 13 at UC Irvine—have signed a petition urging the university to divest in American companies that sell arms to Israel, the San Jose Mercury News reports. Critics fear the symbolism will increase tensions between pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian student groups. Pro-French student groups have already surrendered, of course. 10Costa Mesa-based skateboarding company Silver Star immediately pulls its logo using lightning bolts to represent its initials after three students pass out fliers at Newport Harbor High School saying the "SS" is similar to a Nazi hate symbol. History buffs will recall the SS was Adolf Hitler's secret police force. Where some see fashion, others see fascism. 11 The Irvine City Council gives final approval to the development of 12,350 homes on 7,700 acres of Irvine Co. land in the so-called Northern Sphere. The project is expected to draw about 35,000 new residents, which would give Irvine about the same population as San Juan Capistrano, without all that annoying charm and history. 13UC Irvine announces that researchers from the university and Japan have determined that earwax production is controlled by a gene linked to a rare movement disorder. Further exploring that genetic relationship may help researchers prevent cancer and excessive body odor. In the name of research, we feel duty bound to mail UCI our extensive collection of used Q-Tips and sweat-stained wifebeaters. 16 On the eve of the 30th anniversary of the Watergate break-in, reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein appear on CBS' Face the Nation to talk about Orange County favorite son Richard Nixon's unfinest hour. Woodstein, who dispute the notion that the break-in and cover-up were the Dick's only crimes, contend Nixon's repeated illegal use of the FBI, the IRS, other government agencies and secret slush funds to not just defeat but also "rub out" his enemies was a far worse transgression than Watergate. 17 On the 30th anniversary of the Watergate break-in, the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace in Yorba Linda invites visitors to its Watergate gallery, which foists the notion that the break-in and cover-up were the Dick's only crimes. 21The Costa Mesa-based Institute for Historical Review's three-day, 14th-annual conference kicks off. Skinheads need to check their Nazi decoder rings to discover the undisclosed Irvine location. 22Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park unveils its newest ride, a 1950s-themed roller coaster called the Xcelerator that launches cars 80 mph in 2.3 seconds, climbing as high as 205 feet and ultimately covering more than 2,000 feet of steel track in 62 seconds. The long line at the ride's entrance is filled with assorted thrill seekers. The long line outside the ride's exit is filled with personal-injury lawyers. 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 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. JULY
July 28
Illustration by Bob Aul
4Hesham 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. 5Anaheim resident Xavier Morales, 9, dies from a single gunshot wound mysteriously sustained during a Fourth of July fireworks show at Boisseranc Park in Buena Park. No one had heard a gunshot over the loud fireworks. It's assumed a gunman blocks or even miles away fired a celebratory shot into the air—apparently oblivious to Newton's Law of Motion. 7Life is neither a picnic nor a beach at Picnic Beach after about 100 gallons of raw sewage spill into the ocean and close the popular Laguna Beach spot on the last day of the busy holiday weekend. The shitcicle is blamed on a bunch of blue and pink Handi-Wipes jammed into a sewer line that backed up and forced poop into storm drains. The city reacts by going door to door and telling people in the vicinity of the spill, "Hey, numbnuts, don't go jamming a bunch of blue and pink Handi-Wipes into the sewer system." 9James Abernathy is accused in Orange County Superior Court of killing and mutilating his dog to impress his girlfriend, and because a conviction would represent the third strike against the 40-year-old La Habra man, he could spend the rest of his life rotting in prison. He allegedly chopped off his German shepherd Marie's head with a sword, pounded a wooden stake into the dog's chest and plunged pruning shears into her neck. Abernathy's dad reportedly says his son wanted to show his girlfriend he loved her so much that he'd kill his prized dog for her. Whatever happened to flowers? 12 South County residents battle a heavy case of the terrorism-inspired, media-fueled, oh-my-fucking-God-the-world's-about-to-end jitters when the Camp Pendleton Marines brass decide now's the time to blow 81mm medium-extended-range mortars; 155mm, M198 Howitzers; and 500-pound bombs. If your overheated dogs and elderly folk didn't shit themselves on the Fourth, this 6 a.m.-to-midnight kah-booming surely does the trick. Remember: that's the sound of your former freedom! 15 Conventioning in Anaheim, the Christian Booksellers Association officially teams with the American Bible Society to launch a new crusade: wiping out illiteracy by making children and adults read the Bible. RIGHT NOW, HEATHEN! Hey, it worked at the Spanish missions. Of course, that involved enslavement and whips and priests—lots of priests. Uh, never mind. 17 Videos seized from a suspected terrorist in Spain—not U.S. Ambassador George Argyros, but a different suspected terrorist—contain footage of Disneyland, but officials at the theme park and Anaheim Police Department downplay any security risks. The park's already on high alert—increased patrols, bag checks, restricted areas, snipers on Thunder Mountain. Okay, we made up the last one, but we can dream, can't we? 19 Lake Elsinore resident Alejandro Avila is arrested in connection with the chilling kidnapping and murder of five-year-old Samantha Runnion of Stanton. The horrible crime eventually makes superstars out of the dead girl's mom and Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona. 24 Tim Hoiles, the 50-year-old grandson of Orange County Register founder Raymond Cyrus "R.C." Hoiles, demands that Freedom Communications, the libertarian-leaning paper's Irvine-based parent company, be put up for sale so he and other shareholders can cash out, the Wall Street Journal reports today. We check under our couch cushions for spare change. 26 With President George Dubya Bush at his side, Carona tells the media he is "100 percent sure'' Avila, who has not yet been tried, is guilty of murdering Samantha Runnion. Dubya piles on during his speech on homeland security. After acknowledging Carona in the crowd, Shrub says, "He's the fellow who recently apprehended the killer of Runnion there in California." Didn't these yahoos take an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution—the one that holds defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty? It's just one more example of the Shrub turning the whole goddamned country into Texas. 28 Our attempt to skip this year's Orange County Fair is foiled six hours before closing. Because we haven't been paying attention, we assume this year's theme must be "Come See Boobies the Size of Rosie O'Donnell's Head." For some all-American oglers, that can be a good thing. But in most cases, it isn't—like the men with boobies the size of Rosie O'Donnell's head. As for many in the penisless set, here's an important fashion tip: if the belly flab hanging over the waistline of your too-short shorts sticks out farther than your boobies the size of Rosie O'Donnell's head, a tube top ain't for you. Of course, considering the closing-night headliner was Lynyrd Skynyrd, we may have been experiencing an invasion of folks from the 909 area code. Or maybe it's just one more example of Bush turning the whole goddamned country into Texas. 29TheDeal.com reports three bids in excess of $2 billion for Irvine-based Freedom Communications Inc. Man, they must have had a lot of spare change under their couches. AUGUST 2The Foundation for the Great Park sends us a solicitation for funds, suggesting we give anywhere from $25 to $1,000 toward a world-class park where the El Toro military air strip used to be. And with our contribution of $25 or more, we can receive a Great Park Sport Utility Mug—which someday we'll fill with Great Park Coffee from the Great Park Coffeehouse along the Great Toll Parkway that we'll take to get to our job at the Great Office Park overlooking the postage-stamp-sized Great Park. 4We go to flip on the telly for the Anaheim Angels game—the one for first place, the one against those beasts from the East in pinstripes, the one for which Schlitz and lazy Sunday afternoons were invented—and there's no game. It ain't televised. The infuriation does not end there: TV and radio broadcasts of four upcoming Angel road games will be tape-delayed to ensure that the action—oh-so-rare, Angels-actually-playing-for-a-real-live-pennant action—spills into prime time. A pox on KCAL/Channel 9 for pulling this shit. 6Alastair Irvine—who probably is not related to OC's royal Irvine family but is related to Britain's lord chancellor; he's the son of Lord Irvine—steps into Superior Court in Santa Ana today in handcuffs and a Men's Central Jail jump suit. The 25-year-old bodybuilder is charged with stalking 19-year-old Karel Taska, making a terrorist threat against Taska and his girlfriend, carrying a concealed weapon, and pouring acid on Taska's Dodge pickup. Irvine came to California for drug treatment, and the British tabloids have a field day with his escapades because his father—one of Prime Minister Tony Blair's closest allies—championed the Labour Party's call for cannabis decriminalization. Some movie scripts just write themselves. 7Three black men file a federal lawsuit alleging a group of Orange County sheriff's deputies—known as the "psycho crew" and "suicide committee"—beat, psychologically abuse and yell racial slurs at African-American inmates at Orange County Jail. It remains to be seen whether the allegations will dull some of the luster buffed onto Sheriff Mike Carona's badge by the mainstream media during the Samantha Runnion abduction/murder coverage. 8Orange County Transportation Agency chairman Todd Spitzer questions the city of Irvine's plan to shorten the proposed CenterLine light-rail system from a measly 18 miles to a measlier 11.1 miles. Irvine officials essentially say size doesn't matter; it's how you use it. And by getting the trains rolling—even on the glorified HO scale, like the one they're proposing from downtown Santa Ana to the Irvine Civic Center—the public will become enamored and demand the system's immediate expansion. All aboard the Boondoggle Express! 9Alejandro Avila pleads innocent to charges he kidnapped, molested and strangled five-year-old Samantha Runnion. Overshadowing the question of guilt is the question of whether he can get a fair trial in Orange County, thanks to Carona, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas and President George Dubya Bush all publicly pronouncing Avila guilty before he had even been arraigned. 11About 50 gang members reportedly beat one another with metal pipes ripped from the stage scaffolding during KKBT's Summer Jam Concert at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine. Three people are injured and no arrests are made, but police shut down the show in the middle of L.L. Cool J's set with several headlining acts waiting in the wings. Irvine is not alone in experiencing live-music ugliness; during tonight's Blondie show at the Grove of Anaheim, an Ashcroft-golf-shirt-attired, middle-aged yuppie near the front of the stage glares indignantly at a waitress for several seconds after she serves him a martini with an olive instead of a twist. Will the madness ever end? 14 The Prisoners' Rights Union claims the women's section of the Orange County Jail is rat-infested, that inmates are routinely threatened with violence, and that male guards watch the incarcerated chicks shower . . . in slow motion, with hot, steamy water cascading over their every curve while soapy bubbles cling to crevices as the washcloths are thrust—ahem—where were we? Oh, yes, the allegations by three femme-mates are today added to a larger contempt action the Sacramento-based prisoner-rights group has brought against the OC Sheriff's Department for allegedly violating a prison laundry list's worth of human degradation. The department's only response is that the truth will come out in a rat-free courtroom. 29 Unleashing anxiety over a dream season seemingly on the brink of being wiped out by a players' strike, Anaheim Angels fans chant, "NO STRIKE! NO STRIKE!", throw back foul balls, and litter Edison Field with debris during the late innings of a 6-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Who knew our formerly comatose Rally Monkeys possessed such passion for the national pastime? Negotiators talk through the wee hours after the game before coming to an agreement that averts a strike, and some pundits credit the Anaheim ugliness with getting the players and owners to realize they'd better settle their differences and play ball. 30 The Orange County Register reports that authorities have discovered a second videotape in the possession of an alleged terrorist showing surveillance footage of Disneyland, which by now must be spinning this into a new attraction. Mr. bin Laden's Wild Ride, anyone? SEPTEMBER
September: "Surf Culture"
at Laguna Art Museum
Photo courtesy Laguna Art Museum
1It's the first day of September and—who woulda thunk it?—the Anaheim Angels are still in playoff contention. Surely the dreaded Angels curse should have kicked in by now. But it hasn't, and those plucky Angels just keep plugging away, even if it means winning ugly or looking good in a loss. 8An on-air interview between Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Gary Copeland and KABC talk-radio host Brian Whitman gets heated when Copeland accuses Whitman of endorsing the abuse of immigrants. Whitman turns off Copeland's microphone. Copeland starts storming out of the Los Angeles studio but hears Whitman continuing to disparage him. So the Trabuco Canyon resident stops to spit into Whitman's face. The incident is later referred to as Loogiegate. 15 A group of American Indians, including local Juaneños, burn sage and pray over sacred land in San Juan Capistrano. They want the city to buy the parcel, build a cultural center on it and protect the ancient Juaneño burial site there. But the landowner—the Catholic Junipero Serra High School—envisions athletic fields there. Indian land overrun by Catholics in San Juan Capistrano sure has a familiar ring to it, don'tcha think? 17Laguna Beach narcs seize 12 pot plants grown at an apartment complex catering to people with HIV/AIDS and disabilities. Whoa, a dozen plants! We had a bigger crop in our dorm's window box. Cops also bust a 53-year-old man for alleged dealing. So much for compassionate use in OC. 18 Actress Tawny Kitaen quietly settles the spousal-abuse case brought by estranged husband and former Angels pitching ace Chuck Finley. If the prescription-pill-popping performer successfully completes a year of counseling, the two misdemeanor abuse counts will be dropped. The divorce sought by Finley, who now pitches for the St. Louis Cardinals, is still pending. 25 Getting peeved with reporters' pointed questions at the Governor's Conference for Women in Long Beach, Governor Gray "Pay for Play" Davis defends his brand of fund-raising, which involves changing his position on issues following the contribution of huge wads of campaign cash. His defense: it ain't illegal. Davis' squishiness has resulted in strong negative ratings from voters, kept his once-dead Republican challenger Bill Simon in the race, and drawn demands for a federal attorney general's office investigation by Republican Secretary of State Bill Jones. 26 Paul Pressler, chairman of Disney's theme park and resorts division, is named the new president and CEO of Gap Inc. Disneyphiles so loathed Pressler when he was president of Disneyland that they mounted a campaign to get him promoted. Disney ultimately did just that, but unfortunately for his critics, it was to a position overseeing all Big D theme parks. Business wags suggest embattled Disney CEO Michael Eisner is "dealt a blow" by Pressler's departure. That's odd, considering that under Pressler, Disneyland hit its lowest point in terms of customer satisfaction, park safety became a national issue due to highly publicized accidents (including the first fatality blamed on a park employee), and the hugely disappointing California Adventure opened. Hell, if business writers check their own clips, they'll discover theme parks is one of Disney's poorest-performing divisions, contributing to Eisner's difficulties. Did anyone bother to check the back of Pressler's freshly pressed trousers for loafer marks as he left the Mouse House? . . . The Anaheim Angels finally—after four straight losses—clinch their first playoff berth since 1986 thanks to a 10-5 victory over the Texas Rangers. Now they're facing those Damn Yankees. Still, after such an unbelievable season (kicked off with their worst 20-game start ever), no one's going to write them off. Mike Scioscia is a solid contender for manager of the year, and a team that not long ago was on the brink of contraction is actually the subject of a bidding war among billionaires. Curse this! 28 The Los Angeles Times reports that Carlos Peralta of Mexico is among the billionaires bidding for the Angels. Which means with our luck—or the Angels' curse—they'll be relocated south of the border in the dead of night in the Rams' old moving vans. At least the tickets, beer and post-game hookers will be cheaper. Goodbye, Rally Monkey; hello, donkey shows! OCTOBER 5Anaheim—the city where nasty, racially charged anti-immigrant state voter initiatives were born; where former city police clerk Barbara Coe launched a national movement to protect whites from what she perceives to be a looming brown threat; where school board member Harald Martin forever targets children of parents with shaky immigration status—is the proudest place on earth today after the Angels pound the mighty New York Yankees to win the first playoff series in franchise history, thanks in large part to the strong arm of Francisco Rodriguez, a 20-year-old Venezuelan who speaks barely a lick of English. 13 Near the end of then-Governor Li'l Petey Wilson's long reign, he tried to appoint Irvine media-hater-turned-media-member Hugh Hewitt to the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) board. Hewitt suggested that because studies at the time showed Southland skies were getting clearer, the state should ease up on anti-smog laws. His nomination was then torpedoed. But using the Hughcifer's logic today, the state should now crank up the heat on polluters because a new AQMD report reveals that SoCal has endured its worst smog season in years, which, when the . . . the . . . THE ANGELS WIN THE PENNANT! THE ANGELS WIN THE PENNANT! 14 As the San Francisco Giants are winning the National League crown and a World Series showdown with the Angels, Giants fans shout, "Beat LA!" Anaheimers promptly log onto the Giants website to clarify that the Angels are not from Los Angeles, spurring one Giants fan to mockingly chant, "Beat the Greater LA metropolitan area!" We can't win. Well, we can, but . . . you know. 16 Laguna Beach's Ross Embry, who grew 12 marijuana plants to use and share with neighbors at the Hagan Place apartment complex for fellow HIV patients, pleads not guilty to felony charges of cultivation and possession of pot for sale. If you're wondering why the 53-year-old is being prosecuted given the state's Compassionate Use Act, you're not alone. Unfortunately, the law's ambiguity about how much pot one can grow is frequently pounced on by those boozers at the Orange County district attorney's office. 18Over a story about the 100-year sentence given to Santa Ana rapist Eduardo Alberto Guzman, the Register's print version carries the headline, "Rapist Gets Forever." But our jaws hit the linoleum when we catch the headline over the online version of the story: "Rapist Given Stiff Sentence." Actually, he'll get that when he enters the state penal system. 21Marina High School assistant water polo coach Brian Akian is fired for allegedly videotaping the shower area of the girls' locker room. Huntington Beach Union High School District officials suspect Akian, who'd worked at the school for seven years, hid a camera behind the equipment cage. Police probe whether a crime was committed. Whoever is responsible should face at least intellectual-property-theft charges from the makers of Porky's. 24 Alastair Irvine, 25, pleads guilty to stalking and threatening the boyfriend of an Orange County woman, garnering a 16-month prison sentence, immediate deportation upon his release, and a 10-year restraining order to keep away from the couple he terrorized. The son of Britain's Lord Chancellor Derry Irvine, who is Britain's top law-enforcement officer, wound up in OC after leaving a San Diego drug rehab program for cocaine addiction. Now, after being in America for only a summer, he's already a two-strike felon. 27 Do you believe in Barry-Boned, Travolta-and-his-exposed-love-handles-bouncing-frighteningly-close-to Michael Eisnered, Bud Selig-and-Jackie Autry-still-calling-'em-California Angelsed miracles? The Anaheim Angels win the World Series, their first in the franchise's 41-year history. Like most of you, we hopped on the Halo bandwagon late in the season. But now we're psyched over our new heroes—until they suck again. 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), the endpoint 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). . . . An Orange County Superior Court judge clears Embry of felony charges of cultivating marijuana and possessing pot for sale. After the judge rules he has a doctor's approval to use pot, Embry announces he may sue the government over the way California's medicinal marijuana law is circumvented. . . . 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 own wife when the county grand jury tried to subpoena her for eight months. 31 Four days after a study comes out showing bumper-to-bumper traffic between Orange and Riverside counties is going to get even worse, the Bush White House weighs in with 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. NOVEMBER
Nov. 6: Scioscia
1Tree-sitter-for-hire John Quigley scales a 400-year-old oak to prevent a Newport Beach developer from removing it. The 70-foot tree stands in the way of road-widening work for John Laing Homes' 279-home project in Santa Clarita. Enviros humanize the targeted tree by giving it a name: Old Glory. What do woodpeckers leave in Old Glory? Old Glory holes. 4Jewish Defense League leader Irv Rubin reportedly slashes his own throat with a prison-issue razor before leaping over a balcony at an LA County jail; all this activity leaves him brain dead and on life support. Rubin was being held for allegedly plotting to bomb a Culver City mosque and a district office of Orange County Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Oceanside). That's what the government says, anyway: Rubin's family denies he tried to kill himself, and his defense team is trying to get federal charges against him tossed out on grounds the FBI has been out to get the militant since trying to connect him to the 1985 Santa Ana office bombing that killed Arab-American rights activist Alex Odeh. 5Setting a new all-time low, 44.4 percent of California's registered voters turn out to vote. Democrats win every statewide office as well as retain majorities in the state Assembly and Senate. That prompts the New Majority—Orange County's group of supposedly progressive millionaire and billionaire Republicans—to call on the state GOP to recruit more women and minority candidates and to moderate Republican stands on abortion, gun control and the environment. Of course, OC's intolerant GOP Boys Club ignores that shit as they party hearty to national results that give Republicans control of all branches of the federal government. 6One election lifts our spirits: the nation's sportswriters select the Anaheim Angels' Mike Scioscia as American League Manager of the Year. We'll take what we can get at this point. 13Rubin dies from the injuries he sustained in jail. He was 57. His family reportedly contemplates a lawsuit against the government. 14UC Irvine students splay their earnest bodies across a campus walkway to simulate the dead from the upcoming war with Iraq. Weekly theater critic Joel Beers is not there to review the spectacle, but we'll go out on a limb and nominate this as the best college production for our next theater awards. 17 John Laing Homes announces it will transplant Old Glory to a safe spot nearby, but Quigley vows not to budge until the developer figures out a way to keep the oak where it's been for 400 years. Experts say older trees generally survive only five years after being transplanted. Meanwhile, Trabuco Canyon activists need a sitter to save a who-knows-how-many-hundreds-of-years-old tree from the ax at Trabuco School, which opened in 1878, when Old Glory was a spry little 276-year-old. 19Five Chino dairy farms agree 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. Chino boasts the largest collection of cows in the nation—not counting The View's studio audience. 23 About 150 protesters against America's upcoming war with Iraq take their message to the people on the mean streets of South County. Of course, there are no people on the mean streets of South County—this being Saturday and, uh, South County—so motorists and their honking horns of approval have to do. 24Another public display against the war sprouts up, this time in Costa Mesa, where a banner hanging from the Fairview Road overpass carries this message to drivers on the southbound 405 freeway: "Thou shalt not kill Iraqi children." Too bad such reverence is broken by the time drivers zoom past Trinity Broadcasting Network Headquarters. 25 Lan Nguyen is declared the winner of a seat on the Garden Grove Unified School District board of trustees—a full 20 days after the election. We're guessing the Registrar of Voters still uses an abacus. 27 The Fourth District Court of Appeals says La Habra's anti-lap-dancing ordinance—which dictates that strippers stay at least six feet away from horndogs—is unconstitutional. That's a victory for the operators of La Habra's only nudie bar, Taboo Gentlemen's Club, whose owner spent 24 days in jail in 2000 for defying the lap-dance ban—and, boy, is his lap tired.
Dec.5: Nugent
DECEMBER 5We're floored when we read an announcement titled "Orange County Transportation Authority Hires Ted Nugent as New Media Relations." What the frick? The Motor City Madman? Flacking for our motor-enabling agency? Will the enthusiastic hunter also share grilling tips on freeway roadkill? Unfortunately, before we can get to the possibilities promised by Nugent's right-wing politics and interminable ree-ree-reeeeee guitar solos, we take another gander at the announcement and discover the OCTA has hired Ted Nguyen, not Ted Nugent. Never mind. 7Huntington Beach's mean streets get a little meaner—and wetter—when a woman in the 600 block of Utica Street calls the cops to rat out "hooligans peeing on a tree." What a perfectly splendid band name: "Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together and give a warm Orange County welcome to Hooligans Peeing on a Tree!" 9 Citizens for Tax Justice inform the media that John W. Snow, George Dubya Bush's choice to replace fired Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, is the CEO of a champion corporate tax dodger, with his CSX Corp. having paid no federal income tax in three of the past four years and supplanting $934 million in pretax profits over the four-year period with $164 million in federal tax rebates. Wow, this surely must bother Congressman Christopher Cox (R-Newport Beach), who likes to portray himself as something of a corporate watchdog. Corporate lapdog would be more accurate. "The early book on secretary-designate Snow is that he's going to be speedily confirmed with bipartisan support," Cox tells the Los Angeles Times—after personally vouching for CSX Corp.'s accounting practices. 10 Yorba Linda resident and Los Angeles County sheriff's sergeant Grady Machnick, who, along with his former elementary school principal wife, faces child-abuse charges, testifies that his teenage son was such a handful he required extreme discipline. How extreme? According to court documents, the couple forced the kid to stay in the back yard when the father was away, not even letting him inside the home to use the bathroom (he had to go to a park restroom across the street). Sometimes the boy would have to sleep outdoors, although his parents were kind enough to give him dog blankets and pillows. When the lad didn't pick up dog shit in the yard, his mother reportedly sent him to school with a steaming pile in his backpack. For tough love like this, the Machnicks could get three years in jail. . . . More than 200 old cranks pack into a Leisure World auditorium in Laguna Woods to bitch about fines, budgets, resale rates, lighting, landscaping, leaf blowers, maintenance workers, laundry room machine temperatures and the latest creatures to get everyone's bloomers in a bunch: coyotes. The geezerati want the place kept lush and natural, but they squawk like Becker's been preempted when they see the animals that thrive in the lush and natural. First it was too many bunnies. Now it's too many coyotes who snack on the bunnies. Next the Seizure Worlders will froth over too many bullets whizzing by from the corporate-hired coyote hunters. Geez, if it ain't one thing, it's another with you people. . . . Governor Gray Davis reveals he will not run for president in 2004. Who asked him to? 13As U.S. Senate Republican leader Trent Lott apologizes once again for suggesting the country would have been better off if segregationist Strom Thurmond had been elected president in 1948, it's important to consider the healing words of Orange County favorite son Dick Nixon—courtesy of those marvelous Oval Office tapes: "As for the notion that black Americans aren't as good as black Africans, most of them are basically just out of the trees. . . . Now, my point is, if we say that, they [opponents] say, 'Well, by God.' Well, ah, even the Southerners say, 'Well, our niggers is [tape unintelligible].' Hell, that's the way they talk!" Or, "We're going to [put] more of these little Negro bastards on the welfare rolls at $2,400 per family. . . . But I don't believe in it. . . . Work, work, work, throw them off the rolls." And, "I have the greatest affection for them [African-Americans], but I know they're not going to make it for 500 years. . . . The Mexicans are a different cup of tea. They have a heritage. At the present time, they steal; they're dishonest. They do have some concept of family life, they don't live like a bunch of dogs, which the Negroes do live like." The beginning of the end of this national nightmare came 30 years ago when security guard Frank Wills discovered tape on the door of the Watergate building. Wills, now deceased, was black. 14 Anti-war actions expand to two days in Brea. Demonstrators had been convening at the corner of Brea Boulevard and Imperial Highway every Sunday from noon to 6 p.m., but so many new recruits have been showing up that a decision was made to turn it into an all-weekend happening. "We must speak up now to stop this nonsense," explains one organizer. 25Does that present under the Christmas tree have a certain recyclable feel to it? Thank the etiquette expert who announced before the holidays that "regifting" is a perfectly polite practice. But, come on, a Chia Pet that already looks like Angela Davis' old 'fro? 31 New data shows 2002 will go down as the second hottest December ever, exceeded only by 1998. Experts at the Earth Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, warn that the latest evidence shows global warming is gaining momentum and may have far-reaching consequences for the planet and its inhabitants. We'll get a taste of those consequences this winter, as weather forecasters recently did some recalculating and now say the El Niño system we're currently experiencing is stronger than expected, and that we'll possibly get a repeat of the deadly rains of 1991-'92. Global warming creates prolonged hot summers and shorter—but stronger—rainy seasons. Meanwhile, health experts expect us to be walking through piles of puke thanks to an onset of "winter vomiting disease," in which sufferers suddenly launch airborne barfing and diarrhea for up to 36 hours. If all that's not enough to keep you from leaving your tented, sandbag-encircled house, consider this: a technology research firm predicts a major cyberterrorism event in 2003 that will disrupt the economy and bring the Internet to its virtual knees. Happy New Year! Matt Coker
 
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