Diary of A Mad Year

2004 regurgitated


3 Santa Ana-based Corinthian Colleges announces that it fell far short of its earnings targets for the fiscal fourth quarter, a revelation that causes its stock to plummet 45 percent. Corinthian officials say one reason for the low earnings is the high cost of an ad campaign to counter lawsuits brought by angry students claiming they had trouble transferring units to other schools. As you would expect, students at Cal State Long Beach are said to be watching the lawsuits very closely. . . . 4 Girl felon Mary Kay LeTourneau gets out of a Washington prison, where she says she found God and God said it was totally cool with Him that she and her boy boyfriend, Vili Fualaau, get back together and start pumping out more babies and make plans for the winter formal. . . . 11 State Attorney General Bill Lockyer warns the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA), the folks who brought you The 73: The Loneliest Little Toll Road—a children's classic—that any plans to extend their deserted highway through San Onofre State Beach park are unacceptable. In a strongly worded letter—boo-yah!—Lockyer says noise, air pollution and other side effects of the road would damage the park. TCA officials counter by saying Lockyer's letter is just one of more than 6,000 critical communications they've received—which sounds an awful lot like "Fuck you very much." A lot of those communications came from environmental groups who oppose the extension because of the impact of more sweating humans on the area, but I think they may want to rethink their position. If a pristine environment unsullied by human contact is their aim, there are few organizations as talented at creating things nobody wants to be around as the TCA. . . . 12 Orange County Business Journal publishes its list of the county's richest people, some with accompanying pictures, and proves conclusively that of all the things money can buy—power, love, happiness—it won't get you a good haircut. Donald Bren is listed as the county's richest man/urban legend with $7.5 billion. That sounds like a lot—the No. 2 guy, a Mr. Ernest Rady, has a pissant $2 billion—but doesn't take into account the millions Bren spends every year for Inviso-CrŤme and body doubles. Weekly cover boy and former Broadcom exec Henry Nicholas is third at $1.6 billion. Spanish Ambassador George Argyros drops a spot from last year to sixth; apparently some of his investments aren't performing, though Argyros is doing very well in the booming Spaniards Hating His Guts market, which he has just about cornered. People love this crap—I guess everyone assumes they'll be rich someday after they hit the Lotto or persuade a bunch of suckas to invest in a useless toll road—so the Journal now prints 30 pages of Wealthamania, including one piece headlined "Stealth Wealth" with the subheadline "Many of OC's rich live quiet lives, below radar." Still, make no mistake, the rich are different than you and me. They have radar. . . . 25 Through circumstances created by severe health problems, a stuffed parrot and my wife's uncanny ability to browbeat hotel-reservation takers, my family and I spend a few days at the exclusive Montage Resort on the Laguna Beach coast. It's the kind of place where you eat $15 fruit salad as one of the Maloof brothers, who own the Sacramento Kings, saunters by just about the moment the two thin women—their dogs in purses—say to each other: "Whaddya wanna do?" "I dunno. How about Miami?" To which the skinnier one—by a rib—flips a phone, says, "Yes, I'd like two business-class tickets to Miami. What? No, just staying the weekend." People go to the Studio restaurant here and eat $45 spare ribs, drink $500 glasses of wine and, rumor has it, peruse a cognac bottle worth $13,000 (though, for that money, I'd demand they put something in it). Clearly, we don't belong here, and I've been on my guard not to seem too excited or too grateful of the staff's attention and toadying. But what's most disquieting is the cheerful manner of the rich people who do belong here. I watch them play with their kids, kiss their spouses, take time to talk to and tip the staff—very disturbing. Like most Americans, I believe part of God's covenant is that rich people get to have all the money only because they get an equal amount of misery: drug addiction, broken relationships, Don King always on the phone. But these people, these rich people, look anything but miserable, you know, save for the flat, dry flecks of death about their eyes. It doesn't seem fair and raises the age-old question: "What the hell, God?" And then I think of that soul-soothing passage in Paul Bowles' hilarious The Sheltering Sky: "Isn't everything easier if you simply get rid of the idea of justice altogether? You think the quantity of pleasure, the degree of suffering is constant among all men? It somehow comes out in the end? You think that? If it comes out even, it's only because the final sum is zero." The rich are different. They're happy.


2Huntington Beach City Councilwoman Pamela Julien-Houchen, under investigation for illegally converting apartments to condominiums, resigns. She is the second Huntington Beach city official to come under legal scrutiny and then resign after an investigation by the Weekly; the first, Mayor Dave Garofalo, quit after it was discovered nobody liked him. On a personal note, I have nothing to do with any of this, but if you're a local politician, I sincerely suggest you not mess with our news dudes—Gustavo Arellano, R. Scott Moxley and Nick Schou. Bob Dornan did, and now he's doing kids' birthday parties and first communions. And if you're a politician from Huntington Beach, I would sincerely consider sending these boys a muffin basket, you know, and hope the Angel of Death passes you over. . . . 12 As if the hair and penchant for neoclassical furnishings weren't tip-off enough, word comes today that Trinity Broadcasting's Paul Crouch paid a former male employee $425,000 to, among other things, not discuss a sexual encounter the former employee claims to have had with Crouch. Enoch Lonnie Ford, who had a hit with "Sixteen Tons" in the '50s, claims he and Paul got together in a Lake Arrowhead cabin in the fall of 1996. Crouch denies the allegations. In court papers, Crouch, the immaculately coifed, prim-handed preacher with a bushy mustache, claims Ford—who has a history of drug problems and served time for a sex offense—is a liar and extortionist, you know, the kind of no-good bad boy who certain people find so irresistible. . . . 13 You probably know that R. Scott Moxley's been writing about embattled Irvine Mayor Larry Agran. One of Moxley's best pieces concerns Agran's filibustering during a recent City Council meeting in an attempt to put off discussion of his various conflicts of interest. Since Scott has been at the lead in digging up such details, Agran takes the opportunity at the council meeting to say you can't believe anything in the Weekly since we print stories "in between penis and breast-enlargement ads." Now that's funny coming from Agran since, when the Weekly was on his side fighting the El Toro Airport, exposing various conflicts of interest, he wrote that our reporting was "incisive and uncompromising," and in a 1997 profile of Weekly Editor Will Swaim said that "Will's not afraid of a fight. He's great to have around." Anyway, Larry gets in his little dig, and Scott quickly scrawls something down on a piece of paper and asks a woman if she would read it during the public-comments portion of the evening. The woman, who was already going to speak anyway, says sure, and when she's called on—last—she says her peace then adds that Scott Moxley wanted the mayor to know that "the Weekly also runs ads for unemployed politicians," to which the room generally explodes into laughter and withering stares. . . . 17 The city of Anaheim agrees to pay Jeffrey Santelli $500,000 after he was shot in the stomach by an Anaheim cop who caught Santelli flagrantly meeting his mother in a church parking lot. The cop in question is none other than Scott McManus: you remember Scott from other hilarious Anaheim payouts such as assaulting Fernando Ortiz ($90,000) and dragging Angelina Trinidad down the stairs and roughing her up after she had called 911 to report domestic violence. . . . 20 U.S. Secretary of Education Rowdy Rod Paige announces that nine Orange County schools have been named "No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon Schools." Paige lauds the schools for being able to break the cycle of poverty and underachievement, noting that "for years, many of our underprivileged children were ignored and prejudged, moved to the back of the room and quietly pushed through the system, with their scores hidden in averages." Yes, somehow these nine schools located in the slums and mean streets of Laguna Hills, Mission Viejo, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Laguna Niguel, Yorba Linda and Irvine managed to break the cycle. Seriously, about the only time kids from these areas are left behind is when mater and pater go on holiday to the Seychelles. . . . 29 The U.S. Census Bureau—the folks who brought you "Other" as a religious affiliation—announces today that whites are no longer a majority in Orange County, sending shock waves from Little Saigon to Little Tehran to Lithuania Town. The county's majority are minorities—minjorities—which more than one news account points out contrasts with the image most viewers of The O.C. have of the region. (Given the ecosystems that are Peter Gallagher's eyebrows, this is not a bad thing.) As one would expect, the numbers don't really make for any significant effect on the county, save for the immediate plans to construct reeducation camps for the new white minority majority—majnority—as well as the immediate elimination of all bilingual education. That's right, no more of this PC, English handholding business. It's back to the basics of literature'n, escritura'n, matematicas'n. Others are pressing for construction of a barrier between us and lily-white Riverside, what supporters describe as a "Berlitz Wall." I applaud these moves, having been a self-hating white person ever since viewing Billy Jack. Of course, anyone who has been paying attention isn't shocked by today's numbers. So-called minorities have been growing in population and adding in so many positive ways to the county for years, whether it's Latinos such as Rueben MartŪnez who have enhanced Orange County's reputation as being at the forefront of Latino literature and literacy or Latinos such as George Jaramillo who have enhanced the county's reputation for having former assistant sheriffs charged with six felony counts of misappropriating public funds.

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