Diary of a Mad County

Wednesday April 28 "DO YOU WANT A TURKEY POT PIE?!" We'd like to think that getting old means reaping the benefits of a lifetime accumulating perspective, but from what I've observed, it's pretty much living in a constant state of panic the waitress didn't see you and surrendering your dignity to your inappropriately shrill wife who screams, "DO YOU WANT A TURKEY POT PIE?!" during the lunch rush at Koo Koo Roo. Dear God, now she's pantomiming a turkey pot pie to the poor guy, seated, looking confused and beaten. He wants soup, he says. He'll have the soup. "NO, I'M NOT GETTING YOU THAT. I'M GETTING YOU TURKEY POT PIE!" He accedes. Old people don't do well in fast-food joints; they wait until they get to the front of the line to look at the menu, and then they complain and ask questions. They come from a time when food was valued. Seeing it bought, sold, eaten and thrown away like so many flash-fried tissues must be disconcerting. Old men do especially poorly. Look at this guy. There was a day when he was head of the family—his word was law. Now he can't get a bowl of soup. Could be worse, of course; could be hoisting his misery on the rest of us like the nine geezers sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court. Today, the folks who brought you George W. tell California it doesn't have the right to force companies to use low-emission vehicles for something as petty as breathable air. The vote is 8-1 in favor of airborne disease, the only dissenting voice being avid jogger David Souter. We want clean air; they give us turkey pot pie—soot-laden, diseased, lung-clenching turkey pot pie.

Thursday April 29 Weekly Mexico correspondent Dave Wielengareturns to Southern California and immediately starts sneezing. "I think I'm allergic to Bellflower," he says upon his arrival at the family manor/tire barn. Dave has been living the past year in a third-world country, but upon returning to the richest state in the richest country, his eyes start watering, and not because he's happy to see Chris & Pitts. Gee, what could cause red eyes and respiratory problems? Oh, yeah, the air we breathe. Yeah, there's a lot of that going around. In fact, the day after the Supreme Court decides SoCal isn't quite cancery enough, the American Lung Association says that the Southern California atmosphere is the filthiest this side of what's directly adjacent to Courtney Love. Some dude from the Lung Association says this news is actually good news since the air in Southern California has improved slightly because of "cleaner cars." Cough, cough.

Friday April 30 Americans are shocked to see more photos of Iraqi prisoners apparently mistreated by American soldiers. The pictures show prisoners with bags over their heads, apparently having been beaten, many of them naked. Outraged Americans demand Michael Jackson be charged. The pictures follow a Wednesday report on the ugliness by 60 Minutes II, which follows an article in which Weekly reporter Nick Schou wrote that the war in Iraq "is about to get a whole lot uglier" ("Operation Phoenix Rises From the Ashes of History," Jan. Frigging 16). Schou's article noted that the U.S. was reviving its Vietnam-era torture program, Operation Phoenix, for use in Iraq. The piece mentioned that we're working with former Hussein secret police to interrogate suspects in the same prison Hussein used to torture people in. So, just to sum up, we're using some Ba'athists to torture other Ba'athists while we put still other Ba'athists in charge of large regions where other Ba'athists have been rebelling. Oh, yes, this is working out just fine.

Saturday May 1 Happy May Day, comrade! Gustavo Arellano reports that things were hopping at Santa Ana's Memorial Park for the county's sole May Day observance. Well, not exactly hopping at first since he only found Little Leaguers instead of peace-loving activists. Then he realized he was on the wrong side of the park—peaceniks may feel a well-deserved sense of outrage, but they have a very poor sense of direction. More than 250 patriotic Americans of all ages and signs gathered for a one-hour march from Memorial to Delhi Park down Warner Avenue. A chorus of supportive horns greeted the protesters even as they created a traffic snarl worthy of the 22 freeway come 4 p.m. Some of the more imaginative signs included "Quagmire Accomplished," "Lying Son of a Bush," "Bomb Texas! They Have Oil, Too" and a gory skeleton with the number 738 strung around its neck (that figure, sadly, is already out of date). The day's only opposition was from a portly man in a Chicago Cubshelmet who stood across the street from Delhi with a "Support the Troops" sign. (Note to Bush: you know things are not going well for your side when Cubs fans feel sorry for you.) One ingenious teenager stood next to the man and held an "I'm with Stupid" sign. . . . In a completely unrelated matter, except to point out that the world is a mean son of a bitch, David Souter gets beat up while jogging in D.C.

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