Youre in Hell

Whos Crazier: Rocco or his fans?

Photo by Amy TheligAmid audible gasps of anticipatory glee from the Christian conservative parents who voted him into office, trustee-elect Steve Rocco finally unveiled himself at the Orange Unified School District's Dec. 9 Board of Trustees meeting. Wearing dark shades, a black suit flaked with dandruff and a knit wool cap, Rocco strode into the board room and entertained the crowd for several minutes by trying to adjust his chair.

His beard and glasses helped conceal his true identity: the late performance artist
Andy Kaufman.

"That's not Andy Kaufman," remarked one gullible onlooker. "Steve Rocco is much thinner. My husband is wrong!"

Having obtained a new chair more to his liking, Rocco stood and frowned silently through the Pledge of Allegiance. Then he addressed the crowd, beginning his speech with a few unintelligible sentences in Italian before switching to English.

"In the last month, a lot of things have been said about me," Rocco declared. "They fall into two categories: lies and inaccurate. Orange is a neighbor to one of the most corrupt cities in the county," he continued, apparently referring to Santa Ana, where Rocco lives and was convicted 14 years ago of shoplifting several rolls of film and a sausage—thanks to a conspiracy between Albertsons, Kodak and SmokeCraft Sausage. "If you change things here, you change them nationwide."

The Rocco Files

Rocco dismissed reports he had been elected by voters who either didn't know who he was or simply chose him to protest a teacher's union-backed opponent. "The question should be not, 'who is Rocco?' but 'what are the issues?'" Rocco said in what appeared to be a moment of clarity—until he held aloft a flier he typed and distributed to the assembled media (KTLA, KNBC, KTTV, the Los Angeles Times and The Orange County Register) accusing Orange County government officials of "medical terrorism."

"All the information you need is in here," he said, jabbing his finger at the broadside. "This is an exposé, not a manifesto. Exposé is a French word, not a Russian. . . . We're living in a time of secret organizations, corruption and most of all, dictatorship."

Rocco then dismissed media reports that claimed he'd been hiding from reporters, revealing that both his parents had recently been kidnapped and held in an unspecified county-run medical facility. "You think you're in heaven," he explained, "but you're in hell."

Having thus proven his detailed knowledge of Bob Marley lyrics—that last line comes from the chorus of Marley's 1978 apocalyptic song "Time Will Tell"—Rocco said he had been "under house arrest" and "couldn't leave" because he had to protect his parents. Rocco ended his speech with a bewildered, Father Guido Sarducci-esque shrug and an Italian-accented declaration that sounded roughly like "Eee-aaaahh!"

While many teachers and parents in the crowd seemed disturbed by Rocco's performance, others were optimistic that Rocco would make a valuable contribution to their children's education.

"I hope Mr. Rocco will be a breath of fresh air in our district," chirped conservative gadfly Katherine Moran during the public-comments portion of the meeting. "I felt you would not be another teacher's union puppet. I did vote for you because it was the lesser of two evils. I mean that as a compliment."

"I voted for Rocco, and I'd vote for him again," said a delighted Jason Hufnagel shortly after Rocco's remarks. A conservative activist, Hufnagel recently penned a letter to the Register in which he said that he'd vote for Bozo the clown over Rocco's opponent, Phil Martinez, who'd won the local teacher's union endorsement.

Apparently not present at the meeting was Rocco's No. 1 fan, Chris Reed, the Register's chief editorial writer. But in a KPPC-FM radio interview that same morning, Reed boasted that he was a Rocco voter. Reed said his only fear was that Rocco would follow in the footsteps of many other brave people who campaign against evil teacher's unions only to become "part of the establishment."

"As a vote against the status quo, Steve Rocco made total sense to me," Reed opined. "I'd vote for him again today."

nschou@ocweekly.com
 
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