Diary Of A Mad County

MONDAY, May 26 Sloan Wilson, author of The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, dies over the weekend. Though I was laughed at derisively when I asked if Mr. Wilson's masterwork was taught in local high schools–and not in the good, derisive Dean Martin roast kinda way–I can't think of a better book for young people in Orange County to read. That and Lolita. And Captain Underpants. . . . Speaking of high school, Newsweek ranks the best in America, and Irvine places all four of its public campuses on the list, led by University High at No. 53. Northwood–which also has great cheesebread–comes in at No. 419, Irvine High is 473 and Woodbridge was ranked 736th. Now, I know what you're thinking and I believe it is reprehensible to intimate that the kids at Woodbridge are 300 to 600 times dumber than the kids from the other Irvine schools. Hey, Woodbridge kids, don't listen to that kind of talk. You're winners! (If by winners you define people who come in 736th place as the winner. Given that you attend Woodbridge, you just might.)

TUESDAY, May 27 The World Champion Angels are "honored" at a White House ceremony in which George W. Bush rips Mickey Hatcheras a security risk and says nasty things about David Eckstein's suit. The Pretender then more than intimates that Gene Autryis an idiot when he says the Cowboy is "smiling down now here on–looking at the Rose Garden and realizing his beloved Angels have finally won the world championship." That would make Autry a driveling fool–which is a drag when you're dead–since the Angels won the championship six months ago. The Angels get back at Bush by presenting him with a jersey that has the number "1" on it. That's funny because we all know he came in second in the last election. Bush finishes the presentation by urging the Angels to be an example for kids. "There are a lot of kids who look at the world champs and wonder about the example you set," he says. "They look at you and say, 'Is it okay to curse or drink or carouse?' And I hope the answer you give them loud and clear is, in order to be a champ, you got to make right choices in life." I'm sure Dennis Rodman, Mike Tyson, Michael Irvin, Babe Ruth, Ray Lewis, Ty Cobb, Michael Pittman, Mickey Mantle, Maradonaand O.J. Simpsonwould all agree.

WEDNESDAY, May 28 Coast Hills Community Church is featured on the Oprah show because it gave its members one hundred $100 bills and instructed them to give the money away to ordinary folk. That's wonderful. We do the same thing in the Catholic church, except that the $100 bills are millions of dollars and the ordinary people are lawyers.

THURSDAY, May 29 John Campbellof Irvine gives $10,000 to recall Governor Gray Davis for mishandling the state, especially the budget. This wouldn't be a big deal except that Campbell is the ranking Republican on the Assembly Budget Committee. That means he is charged to work with Davis, whom he is trying to recall, to reach a budget. Has any of this seeped into Campbell's ability to negotiate? Oh, I don't know, what would you call it when Campbell said the budget was the "worst of all worlds." A starting point? Most people, and when I say most, I mean myself and a couple of guys I yelled at, see this as proof that Republicans have no real interest in solving the state's problems. What's more, it's a clear conflict of interest. Of course, Campbell wouldn't know a conflict of interest if it was handing him large sums of money. He had to be told by the Fair Political Practices Commission that it probably wasn't a good idea for him to vote on legislation governing auto-body shops since he makes his money selling cars and renting to auto-body shops. Apparently Campbell is a Woodbridge alum. . . . The Stanley Cup finals are drawing 57 percent fewer television viewers than last year. Though many people are intrigued by the Mighty Ducks' improbable run, they are apparently turned off when they find out they play hockey.

May 30: Down and out in Costa Mesa
Photo by James Bunoan

FRIDAY, May 30 Went by the ill-fated Kona Lanes to buy a bowling pin. The place was in a state of having its lanes ripped up and air hockey games carted off, kind of a Googie cross between Charles Foster Kane's basement and M.C. Hammer's rumpus room. Kona Lanes manager Juanita Johnson took a phone call while I was there that went something like this: "You want to bowl? Sorry, we're closed. Closed. Closed. No, I mean closed. Like never going to be open again. Closed. Closed for good." Informing another potential bowler of the same thing, she said businesslike into the phone, "No, I would not joke about something like that." It eventually got even worse for her. "A bunch of kids walk in here and everything is torn up, the lanes, everything is off the walls, people are walking out with vending machines and furniture, and these kids look around, then they look at me and say, 'So, uh, we'd like to bowl.'" Crazy Woodbridge kids.

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