Diary of a Mad County

WEDNESDAY, June 9 Supervisor Chris Norby's suggestion tonight that John Wayne Airport be renamed The OC, gets a lot of attention for its loopiness, but its premise is sound. There are very few airports so well-known—O'Hare, LaGuardia, JFK—as to not need their host city's name in the title. What's more, and this may seem impossible to many of us, John Wayne just isn't that famous anymore. Sure, there was a time when he was every bit a symbol of America as U.S. Steel, but, like domestic steel production, he's become a quaint anomaly of the past. This became clear to me a few months back while talking to a group of Weekly interns. "Who's that guy the airport is named after? John Wayne?" one of the brutes demanded. Incredulous, I knowingly looked at the other 20-somethings for help. Nothing. Well, I said, he was John Wayne. Blank stares. John Wayne. You never saw a John Wayne movie? "Oh, he's an actor." Yeah, well, no, I said, I mean he was in movies but he was . . . he was John Wayne. You know, John Wayne. Sound of crickets chirping, tumbleweeds rolling. In other parts of the world, I said, John Wayne was America, which convinced no one since the original inquiry about Wayne had been posed by a kid from Glasgow. At first, I chalked up the experience, as I do most intern interaction, to drug use and the Cal State system. Then, I thought, why would kids their age know about Wayne? He died in 1979. The anti-communist struggle he personified has been over for most of their lives. Yes, he made a lot of movies, but very few great ones and none in the heavy rotation of a Casablanca, Gone With the Wind, Singin' in the Rain or Citizen Kane. The two best films he ever appeared in are more famous for their directors—The Searchers (John Ford) and Red River (Howard Hawkes)—and, in them, he portrays a racist psychopath and a dickhead dad, respectively. John Wayne simply says little about Orange County to this generation. Then, we're agreed: the airport will now be known as the Extreme Generic Tanned Tousle-Haired Non-threatening Rebellious Surfer Type.

THURSDAY, June 10 Mel Gibson's Icon Distribution announces it's suing Philip Anschutz's Regal Entertainment Group for $40 million, claiming the nation's largest theater chain, with a virtual monopoly in Orange County, shortchanged Icon on revenues from The Passion of the Christ. Icon claims Regal agreed to pay it 55 percent of receipts but reneged and offered only 34 percent. So, in review, Gibson, the fundamentalist Catholic who said making The Passion had nothing to do with making money, wants more money from Anschutz, the fundamentalist Christian who funds moral-sounding groups trying to eradicate homosexuality while being dubbed the "greediest executive in America" by the well-known leftist rag Forbes. Verily. What's more, The Passion, a tale of God's love and sacrifice in hopes of redeeming man from his sins, is the most illegally downloaded non-porn film on the Internet, placing it 1,698,544th overall.

FRIDAY, June 11 If it's Friday, this must be the state funeral of Ronald Reagan. After a whirlwind tour of libraries, government buildings and home-improvement centers—and a saluting fat guy in shorts and a fanny pack—the crateful dead finds itself in Washington, D.C., for a memorial meant to evoke memories of JFK's funeral but which has a decidedly more Weekend at Ronnie's feel. Every local broadcast channel honors the memory of the 40th president by televising his funeral live—except UPN, which honors his memory by running a truck infomercial. Taking in all this lugging about, my wife says "You know, at this point, he's pretty much soup." God, I love that woman.

SATURDAY, June 12 Dennis Rodman's agent announces his client has sold his Newport Beach home, much to the disappointment of local revelers and cops looking to earn overtime. The five-bedroom house sold for about $3 million, though press accounts did not say whether that included the helicopter, inflatable dolls and 24-hour curbside police service (Newport Beach cops were called to the house more than 80 times in a year). Rodman's agent says his client's finances have "deteriorated significantly" after much drinking and partying. There's no word where Rodman will live—maybe Dallas, maybe LA, maybe the studio backlot in LA where Dallas was filmed—or whether he will continue in his current occupation of pretty much drinking and partying.

SUNDAY, June 13 Why must everything feel like a task?


June 14: God wins narrow victory

MONDAY, June 14 The Supreme Court today refuses a Sacramento man's challenge to the inclusion of the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, not on the merits of his argument but on a technicality, ruling the father doesn't have proper custody of his daughter to bring the case. The ruling is seen as the biggest puss-out by the Court since it installed George W. Bush in the White House because he "seemed like someone they'd like to have a beer with." The ruling, a clear victory for Bush, has left God—who enjoys obvious branding benefits through the Pledge—conflicted since he has been trying to kill Bush for quite some time by means of booze, salty snacks and two daughters.

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