Diary of a Mad County

WEDNESDAY Sept. 22 An airliner headed for the U.S. is diverted from its appointed destination because Yusuf Islam, a.k.a. former faux rocker Cat Stevens, was on board and perhaps posed a danger. How he poses a danger nobody is saying, but these days it could mean they caught him with holographic plans to build a nuclear device, or that he was wearing a beard. Either way, I think I speak for every young man in the '70s who had to sit in some girl's bedroom and listen to her explain the names and attributes of her stuffed animal collection while Tea for the Tillermanplayed in the background when I say bravo! Still, I can't say I feel totally safer. I mean, sure, the Stevens problem has been dealt with, but what about the Dan Fogelbergs and Pablo Cruises, not to mention the insidious Seals, Crofts, England Dan and John Ford Coley cabal?

THURSDAY Sept. 23 Find out today that Rueben Martinez, owner of Liberia Martinez Books & Art Gallery, has been awarded a $500,000 MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant. Martinez may be the best person/subject I've met since I started working at this Popsicle stand. Smart, self-effacing, dedicated, with a tendency to always be looking up with a twinkle in his eye, I applaud the choice, even while getting over the fact that my own work in the field of coming up with new and exciting ways to mix arcane pop culture references into stories of national significance—achieving my apex with the now famous Seals, Crofts, John Ford Coley sequence—has been ignored.

FRIDAY Sept. 24 Bombarded by complaints, retailer/force-for-evil Wal-Mart reluctantly agrees to stop selling The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, an anti-Semitic book that's been used by some bad people to persecute Jews. Really bad people. Kenny Loggins bad. Perhaps you've heard of them: Hitler, Stalin, Wal-Mart. As I say, Wal-Mart only removed the book under pressure. Funny, they didn't require any pressure to remove Sheryl Crow CDs that criticized Wal-Mart for selling guns or Dixie Chicks CDs for criticizing George Bush. Protocols purports to be a blueprint from actual Jews on how they manage to run the world, which they somehow do by being slaughtered in large swaths by various European nations. The book is a fake, of course, written by members of the Czar's secret police to rationalize their persecution of the Jews. However, the Wal-Mart website says that if "the Protocols are genuine (which can never be proven conclusively), it might cause some of us to keep a wary eye on world affairs." The Jews are very clever, of course. In a related note, a list of the world's richest people was just released by Forbesmagazine. While Bill Gates once again leads the way, four of the top 10 belong to the Walton family that owns Wal-Mart, each with an estimated fortune of $18 billion. Funny, they don't look it.

SATURDAY Sept. 25 Speaking of the Jewish conspiracy to take over the world, Dodger slugger and Tustin native Shawn Green takes the day off from playing games to observe Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish year. Green isn't in the lineup as the Dodgers take on the San Francisco Giants, who are nipping at their heels in the National League West. This is all the mud people who inhabit sports talk radio need to get going on and on about whether Green has a right to take the day off. The overall feeling: no. No, he doesn't. Now, these are the same numb nuts who mouth the "perspective" bullshit every time some tragedy—9/11, a hurricane—interferes with sports. "This really puts sports into perspective," they'll say, as if people who watched sports didn't know that horror existed; that watching sports didn't give them perspective, but a temporary escape from all that crap. Of course, when your life is spent in serious consideration of if Tiger Woods' fall has something to do with his girlfriend, or how a rape accusation will affect Kobe Bryant's ability to sell soft drinks, your perspective is pretty skewed. Art Garfunkel skewed. The Green incident reminds everyone of the time that Sandy Koufax didn't pitch the first game of the 1965 World Series because of Yom Kippur. Don Drysdale pitched that game and was roughed up for four runs in the first three innings. The Dodgers lost the game, 8-2, eliciting one of the great lines in baseball history, attributed to some crusty scout who reportedly said to Dodger manager Walt Alston: "Hey Alston, I betcha wish Drysdale was Jewish too!" … About now, present Dodger manager Jim Tracy wishes Yhency Brazoban was Jewish too. The reliever gives up a grand slam and the Giants beat the Dodgers, 9-5.

SUNDAY Sept. 26 Because apparently there's nothing else going on in the neighborhood like poverty, misery, moral decay, Father Tim Freyer of St. Boniface Catholic Church takes an entire page of his parish bulletin to answer "newspapers" that have pointed out that Catholic priests are living off-site in some really fabulous pads. By newspapers, I believe he means us, embodied by the spirit of staffer Gustavo Arellano, seeing as how we just devoted our cover to the subject last week. Look, I'm not going to get into it with the good father. I browsed through his text where he tells of the blessings of being able to read without hearing school bells, and I take him at his word. It's just that, father, right now your Church is thinking about building a cathedral that no one wants with money you don't seem to have, seeing as how you're spending a good deal of it on lawyers and out-of-court settlements. So, the bit about defending Catholic priests living in big houses is probably best left unmentioned. Or, as my friend Mark Fainaru—who is Jewish, and looks it—says when I babble nonsense: "This is Mark telling Steve to shut up. Shut up." And hey, isn't that what Jesus was saying all along?

MONDAY Sept. 27 Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger decides to ban tobacco in state prisons, thereby eliminating prisoners' only form of currency this side of pale, thin boys. This is stupid. Arnold Schwarzenegger stupid. Let's see, we got a bunch of violent criminals, locked up in small rooms, with no access to women or Little Debbie baked goods. Hmmmm, how can we piss them off even more? Got it! Let's take away their smokes and enforce it. How's about we take away their smokes and make 'em watch Ben Affleck movies! Look, I've never been to prison, but I do have a 72-year-old mother who's smoked for the last 50 years or so, and all I know is every time she's tried to stop, she's gotten mean. Don McLean mean.

TUESDAY Sept. 28 If you don't think we're still fighting the Vietnam War, I just saw an "America: Love It or Leave It" bumper sticker on 17th Street in Santa Ana. I kid you not. Now, we live in ironic times, so I just wanna ask the dude in the white Honda Prelude if he was being ironic or is he just lame? Gilbert O'Sullivan lame.

slowery@ocweekly.com
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