Diary of A Mad Year

2004 regurgitated

JANUARY

1 Disney's Twilight Zone Tower of Terror float—the tallest ever entered in the Tournament of Roses Parade—ambles down Pasadena's Colorado Boulevard and is seen by millions. It then goes on display at Disney's California Adventure in Anaheim for a week, where it is seen by disappointed Iowans. The float honors an attraction based on a "lost episode" of Rod Serling's creepy old TV series, but those most creeped out by the spectacle were families who lost loved ones on Sept. 11. . . . 7 The man most responsible for Arnold Schwarzenegger being where he is today, recall benefactor Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Oceanside), spends the day at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa in Phoenix getting his palms greased by western coal, power and mining officials. It's a four-day "festival of access-buying," complains Frank O'Donnell of the environmental group Clean Air Trust. No wonder he's pissed: the "official business" portion of the junket includes a presentation by Bush-administration officials on how they'd rewrite the landmark Clean Air Act—with a thick black Sharpie! . . . . 9 The Associated Press reports that Alvaro Tejeda, who had been a chef at a San Jose-area El Torito restaurant, lost his job after heeding the call of Anaheim immigrant-rights activist Nativo Lopez to stay home to protest the repeal of driver's licenses for the undocumented. "With every social movement, there's always a byproduct of direct action," Lopez says with a shrug. Maybe Tejeda was able to feed his family that byproduct. . . . 12 The condom-in-the-chowder lawsuit filed against McCormick & Schmick's seafood restaurant in Irvine is settled days before the trial was to begin, according to a statement issued by the plaintiffs' attorney. Details are confidential. Laila Sultan, 48, of Stanton, had claimed she was eating at the Schmick with three friends in February 2002 when she bit into an unwrapped, rolled-up condom. Schmick's legal eagles said there was no evidence the offending willy wrapper came from their kitchen, and further skepticism surfaces when it's discovered Sultan sued and won damages after alleging she was burned by hot coffee at a Long Beach Taco Bell. . . . 14 That pounding noise you think is all in your head this afternoon is actually the Orange County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) hammering through the last obstacle to the city of Irvine annexing all 4,287 acres of the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station. An appeal of the annexation by the shills for George Argyros International Airport—the Airport Working Group—is denied by LAFCO, which sets the stage for an online auction of retail and industrial land that'll ring the Great Shrinking Park. . . . 19 John McCaslin's Inside the Beltway column in The Washington Times—the Moonie paper—reports that Congressman Christopher Cox (R-Newport Beach) is miffed over a 17-page memo released by Democrats on the Homeland Security Committee he chairs. The minority members supplied a laundry list of homeland-security gaps, something Cox characterizes as "unacceptable amateurism." Just to be clear: releasing the laundry list of homeland-security gaps is what Cox finds unacceptable amateurism, not the security gaps. . . . 22 The U.S. Senate approves a bill that allows Richard Nixon's White House papers to go to his presidential library in Yorba Linda. The same day, the Boston Globereports that Republican staff members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee infiltrated Democratic committee members' computer files for a year, monitoring secret strategy memos and periodically passing on copies to right-wing media. The more dirty tricks change . . . 30 "Hey, Kariya! What's up with that!?!" a freshly juiced patron who'd just poured out of JT Schmid's yells to a fan wearing a Mighty Ducks jersey with former captain Paul Kariya's name on the back. As everyone knows, it's proper etiquette to place black electrical tape across the Kariya name should you wear his old Ducks jersey into the Pond—especially on this night, when Kariya makes his first return to Anaheim since skipping to Colorado with Teemu Selanne in the off season. Bite the biscuit, traitors: Ducks win, 4-3. . . . 31Former Dana Point construction worker Evan Marriott slithers back out of obscurity—he'd previously been the robotic stud on ABC's Joe Millionaire—when the family film Moto X Kidsopens at five Los Angeles-area Loews Cineplex Theatres. Thankfully, the distributor assures us this steaming pile of celluloid—which also stars Lorenzo Lamas, Gary Busey and a chimp—will never play theaters in Orange County.

FEBRUARY

2The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station's 1.7 million-gallon-per-minute ocean-water cooling system begins a two-day frenzy of sucking up thousands of sardines that are promptly chopped to bits in its razor-sharp turbines. Rough seas stranded the fishies close to shore. On the bright side, the 13,590 pounds of diced sardines does not go to waste thanks to a big rig jackknifing on the 5 freeway in front of the plant and spilling its load of saltine crackers. . . . 4 The quick flash of Janet Jackson's boob costs Laguna Beach High School an MTV reality show that was going to follow a half-dozen students. The school board holds an emergency meeting to renege on a previously approved deal with the cable music network. "Last week, it didn't seem like the contract was counter to the district's mission, which is the education of the students," explains board member Kathryn Turner. But after the Super Bowl stunt, "This week, it does." The joke is on the board: the kids and their parents allow themselves to be taped without the district's blessing, and Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County goes on to premiere later in the fall and is eventually picked up for a second season. (Actually, the joke's on viewers because the show blows.) . . . 5 Snowboarding champ Tara Dakides of Laguna Niguel suffers minor injuries after veering off a ramp, flying 25 feet and landing on the hard ice next to the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York, where she performed jumps for CBS' Late Show With David Letterman. To his credit, Letterman cancels the rest of the taping and sees the 30-year-old to the hospital. . . . 6 On The Howard Stern Radio Show (aired locally on KLSX-FM 97.1), which is broadcast a short distance away from the Ed Sullivan in midtown Manhattan, 21-year-old porn actress "Taylor" of Huntington Beach serves as the target for a game called Anal Ring Toss, which had her down on all fours with a stick coming out of her ass, which the show's regulars toss rings at. Artie Lange proves to be the Lord of the Anal Ring Toss, which was no doubt a contributing factor in the show winning a Peabody Award. What goes unreported--because it only occurred in our sickest fantasies--is Tara Dakides sat next to Taylor on the flight from John Wayne Airport to New York:

TAYLOR: So, what's bringing you to New York?

TARA: I'm a snowboarder who's going to do some jumps on Letterman.

Wow, that sounds dangerous.

Not at all. We have it down to a science. There's no way I could, say, veer off a ramp, fly 25 feet and land on the hard ice next to the Ed Sullivan Theater. But enough about me. Why are you going to the Big Apple?

Funny you should ask. I'm going onStern so they can play Anal Ring Toss with me. I understand we're up for a Peabody.

That's . . . um . . . interesting. You know, I'm no expert, but I bet you'd find this flight much more comfortable if you took that stick out of your ass.

18UC Irvine atmospheric-chemistry and climate-science professor F. Sherwood Rowland is among a bipartisan slate of Nobel Prize winners and former federal science officials who blast the Bush administration for politicizing science and call for an independent congressional investigation into federal science-advisory policies. "When scientific knowledge has been found to be in conflict with its political goals, the administration has often manipulated the process through which science enters into its decisions," charges a document signed by the nation's 60 leading scientists. . . . 27 As mega-broadcaster after mega-broadcaster vows before a congressional committee they will clean up their own acts in the wake of Janet Jackson's exposed boobage during the Super Bore, Congressman Christopher Cox (R-Newport Beach) tells colleagues nippalia is a grave threat to our fair republic. His evidence: Cox says his five-year-old son did not see the Super Bowl halftime show, but when the congressman called for a "halftime" while wrestling around with the kid, his son pulled off his T-shirt to expose a male teat and asked, "Halftime show?"

MARCH

2Bitterer, defeateder, ex-congressman Robert K. "B-1 Obsolete" Dornan loses his GOP primary bid to unseat Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) when 1 million percent of the 46th District voters reject him. Actually, it's more like 83 percent, but who's counting? Certainly not the Mexicans, eh, Bob? . . . 6Our condolences to our fellow scribes across the way in Santa Ana, as they are forced to end a news story by noting that a suspect "worked as an independent contractor delivering The Orange County Register before his arrest." Thi Dinh Bui, who in an earlier career served as an enforcer at a postwar Vietnamese reeducation camp, allegedly starved and severely beat several prisoners, killing at least two. With a résumé like that, it was surprising the Garden Grove resident hadn't been promoted to opinion-page editor. . . . 9You'd think today's arrest of Caltech graduate William Jensen Cottrell in connection with last summer's vandalism at San Gabriel Valley Hummer dealerships would provide the FBI a perfect opportunity to apologize to former Brea resident Josh Connole. Agents busted Connole shortly after the crime spree, claiming he was a dead ringer for a vandal captured on surveillance cameras. But anyone outside the agency who saw the tape said it obviously wasn't the 25-year-old Pomona resident, a committed peacenik who maintained he was singled out for his anti-war views. After Earth Liberation Front (ELF) representatives sent the Los Angeles Timesseveral e-mails taking responsibility for the vandalism and denying Connole's involvement, the feds reluctantly released him due to lack of evidence. They since claimed to have irrefutable proof that Cottrell was tied to the ELF—and Cottrell was eventually convicted. But the false arrest turned Connole's life upside-down, and his friends had to throw backyard-barbecue fund-raisers for him several times to help defray his legal costs. The agents no doubt snooping from a safe distance away never show up with that apology. . . . 17 People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) fire off a letter to Cypress College president Marjorie Lewis, urging her to stop plans to kill ducks and geese living on campus. Noting that taking out Daffy Duck won't solve the problem because a Donald Duck will move in to take his place, PETA offers to farm out a wildlife biologist to help the college develop a humane waterfowl-control program. It is left up to Lewis to decide whether PETA's proposal is—sorry, can't resist--all it's quacked up to be. . . . 26 Weekly Editor Will Swaim, stinking of grenadine, asks Steve Lowery if he'd like to go back to writing his brilliantly incisive, gut-bustingly hilarious Diary of a Mad County that Swaim killed months ago while in the midst of a girl-drink binge. . . . 28 Sheriff Mike Carona admits that concerns were raised about political contributions to his campaign from a Newport Beach businessman but that he was told the money was given legally raising the question: Why does the sheriff have to ask someone what's legal? Newport businessman Charles Gabbard admitted last week he illegally gave Carona $29,000 because he was hoping to get Carona's help in marketing a laser device that would stop fleeing cars. Carona says he didn't do anything to help Gabbard's CHG Safety Technologies, which has been stalled (thank you!) in its attempt to market the device by Detroit automakers who say the device is unnecessary given that they mastered the science of disabling a moving vehicle with the introduction of the Ford Explorer. . . . 29 In a report handed to the Board of Supervisors today, county Registrar Steve Rodermund admits that enough OC voters were given the wrong ballots to influence the outcome of at least one race. Furthermore, election workers, who were either poorly trained or publicly educated, gave voters incorrect access codes as well as confusing and many times incorrect directions. There were reports of verbal fights and voters being denied the right to vote. Still, no one is impugning the character of the poll workers, who, in many cases, were distracted from their duties by shiny objects.

APRIL

5 Swimming in shit? It's bad. Comparing surfers in North OC with their well-muscled counterparts in Santa Cruz, UC Irvine researchers find our boys almost twice as sick as theirs, exhibiting such symptoms as (please read this without pausing for commas, sotto voce) "fever, nausea, stomach pain and diarrhea" and "sore throat, eye redness and skin infection." The Irvine researchers say they studied North OC because "its watershed is in one of the most developed areas in the world and generates highly polluted runoff, which discharges primarily through the Santa Ana River." They chose Santa Cruz because of the availability there of high-grade pot and cheap, multicolored Rasta beanies. . . . 16While working on a story about Lou Sheldon accusing Newsday columnist Jimmy Breslin of making up quotes attributed to Sheldon, it's discovered that if you type in Sheldon's Traditional Values Coalition domain name—www.traditionalvalues—with a .com, instead of the correct .org, you're sent to a Hong Kong-based porn site. At least the Hong Kong-based porn site has the decency to demand you be over 18 before entering the site, whereas Sheldon's site, chock-full of frank discussions of homo and hetero sex as well as plenty of deviant sexual behavior, doesn't. The whole situation could become confusing, especially for kids, so, kids, here's how to tell the difference: one has explicit material pertaining to fisting, necrophilia, bondage and human "leatherdogs." The other is a Hong Kong-based porn site. . . . 17Riverside—the Big Blight, Craptropolis, Methopotamia—is named one of the most livable cities in America. Seriously. Something called Partners for Livable Communities, which not only is based in Washington, D.C., but also apparently doesn't pay travel expenses, ranked Riverside high for economic development (meth) and civic participation (meth), as well as such amenities as wireless Internet access, backyard couches, dog fights, possum bars, cockfights and the high probability of running into a film crew from Cops. . . . 19 California Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell reluctantly accepts the Westminster School District's watered-down discrimination language protecting gays and transsexuals. School Trustees Helena Rutkowski, Judy Ahrens and Blossie Marquez-Woodcock—the latter sounding a lot like a name on a Hong Kong-based porn site—had been willing to let the district's children lose out on millions in dollars in state and federal funding to stick to their deeply held religious intolerance. O'Connell says he'll be watching the trio—two of whom are the focus of recall campaigns—to see if they actually act to protect gay and transsexual students and teachers. Hey, let's not keep him waiting! I call on all students and faculty at Westminster schools—gay and straight—to bend genders heartily. Fellas, break out mama's heels; ladies, grab pop's codpiece; teachers, five words: Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. If you're stuck for ideas, you'll find a cavalcade in any biography of J. Edgar Hoover or the Traditional Values Coalition website—the one that's not a Hong Kong-based porn site. . . . 24 The Los Angeles Times publishes the results of a poll in which 63 percent of California's registered voters say Indian tribes should pay taxes on revenue earned at their increasingly popular casinos. Now, where does someone obtain balls of the weight and girth necessary to voice that opinion? See, when you conduct a 300-year campaign of genocide against a people, it's very bad form to then send them the bill. The poll comes as TV ads ask Californians to support a "Fair Share" plan to tax the Indians. And when, exactly, has the word "fair" ever been appropriate when talking about the treatment of Indians? We literally and figuratively rape them, murder them, shove them to the brink of extinction and give them the most godforsaken plots of land (Oklahoma!). And then we blame their own lethargy when they produce high infant mortality, rampant alcoholism and hopelessness. When somehow, by the miracle of their own labor, they manage to come up with a moneymaker, we all of a sudden get interested in making them part of society? Fuck you! Fuck fair! The Indians get a hall pass. The Indians get the most righteous, most major hall pass this side of being Jesus' girlfriend. Geez, could we treat them any worse? I mean we're talking a serious Ike Turner situation: bash, bash, bash. We bash them so much, so hard that when we give our sports teams derogatory names for Indians (go, Redskins!), we think we're honoring them. It's like hunters saying they admire deer so much they are compelled to shoot and tie them to the hoods of their cars. Well, you'll not tie the Indians to this Hood of Gold! Ah, who am I kidding? Of course, you will. . . . 26 Thousands of Cal State University (CSU) students protest proposed cuts in the CSU budget outside Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's downtown LA office. Misspelled signs and apathetic shouting abound. . . . 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 an article in which Weekly reporter Nick Schou writes 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 notes that the U.S. was reviving its Vietnam-era torture program, Operation Phoenix, for use in Iraq. The piece mentions 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.

MAY

5Disneyland opens its Tower of Terror thrill ride, the thrill being pretending to plunge to your death in a very tall building. Now that's fun and, you know, has nothing do with, you know, other towers and other people plunging to their deaths in those towers as a result of terror because that would be wrong, you know, like having a pirate ride that has a bit of fun with scenes of rape. But Disney chairman (this week) Michael Eisner can't celebrate much today, as he's trying to explain to the press why his company won't release Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11about the events before and after Sept. 11. Eisner explains that Disney doesn't like to cause waves, calling his company "nonpartisan," a definition vigorously challenged by advocacy groups for evil stepmothers. . . . 6 The Huntington Beach Interfaith Council celebrates National Day of Prayer with a breakfast organized by felon/disgraced ex-councilman Dave Garofalo, who is banned for life from public office but not public cries for attention. The more than 400 in attendance hear keynote speaker Ed Smart, father of Elizabeth Smart, the Utah girl abducted from her home and "miraculously" found, say that he is convinced "prayers brought Elizabeth home." He makes no comment about the unanswered prayers to save Samantha Runnion, Polly Klaas and countless other abducted children who never made it back nor, for that matter, does he have anything to say about felons/disgraced councilmen banned for life from public office. Elizabeth Smart is actually in attendance at the prayer meeting and signs autographs—yes, autographs. That may seem bizarre, but at least it takes the sting out of the disappointing news that due to a routing error, organizers are not able to distribute the Lindberg Baby Amazin' Bobblehead Doll as planned. . . . 12 With a unanimous vote by its City Council, Garden Grove becomes the first U.S. city to officially declare itself a "no-communist zone," and rumors are it may soon take steps against the Grange and Eugene V. Debs. The inane resolution says the city does not welcome "visits, drive-bys or stopovers by members and officials of the Vietnamese communist government," and they hardly need a resolution for that. People have been avoiding visits to Garden Grove ever since they knocked down Belisles. This is so much political grandstanding; most of the city's residents are of Vietnamese descent. And while it may seem pretty harmless, it's silly stuff like this that's really inhibiting many of these residents' growth as Americans. Being a real American means being fluid about who you see as the greatest enemy to your freedom. While the measure's backers are stuck back in the Red Menace days, the rest of us have moved on to fear Libyans and Iraqis and Haitians and Microsoft and Scott Peterson and Iraqis. Being American means never having to say you don't have something to fear. . . . 19 Bruce Krall of Laguna Hills pays $700,000 for Bridgeville, a small town in Humboldt County up for sale on the Internet since 2002. The town's 20 residents say they are excited to have been bought by Krall, whom they will now address as Benevolent Father while averting their eyes. Krall, a financial adviser, says he is impressed by the town's physical beauty and accessibility to contact highs, as well as it being a desirable launching pad for eventual world domination. His immediate plans are to build a small resort, something like Big Weed Ranch or Club Meds. . . . 21 LA Times columnist Dana Parsons writes his fourth column about the Greg Haidl rape trial, and like the other three, his hypothesis seems to be that it's just so unseemly to be talking about things like sticking pool cues and bottles in unconscious people and can't we all just forget any of this happened and give these boys a stern talking to and go back to writing about the cute things kids say at the dinner table, you know, other than "Dad, I'm being arrested for sticking pool cues and bottles in unconscious people?" Parsons, who, along with a set of filing cabinets, is pretty much what remains of the Times Orange County Edition, seems most outraged at the trial's assault on his sense of decorum. Dude, it's a rape trial. Rape. It's horrible, and it's violent, and it's ugly and dehumanizing. That's why they call it rape. . . . 24 Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas and a defense attorney for one of the Haidl Three talk about the Haidl rape trial on MSNBC, ensuring no one on the jury—any jury—will see it. The defense attorney starts in with the usual stuff—the woman was promiscuous, she had lots of sex, she enjoyed sex and having lots of sex, you know, sex, she had lots of it, sex, and liked sex, with her body, the sex, having the sex with her body, AND she was an aspiring porn actress—when it hits me: the defense's case is based on a false presumption. If the woman truly did aspire for porn stardom, that wouldn't have led her to lie passively and accept all manner of degradation. Anyone who watches porn knows the current sensibility in the field is for an active, communicative woman who makes her needs and wants clear. By just lying there, the girl wasn't imitating a porn star. The defense would have done better to argue she was an aspiring Mission Viejo housewife of 15 years. . . . 25 Splitting no hairs, Dana Parsons makes clear in a column today that he finds cancer outrageous and is nearly as appalled by dead puppies. . . . 26 Government figures rate Huntington Beach as one of the 10 safest cities in America. Ironically, the government figures don't figure in government crimes because if it had, the H.B. City Council would have pushed the city into East St. Louis territory.

JUNE

3 Local billionaire/love machine/overlord of time, space and awning design Donald Bren gets a whole school named after him today as UC Irvine announces its School of Information and Computer Science is now be known as the Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences. Slick. They do this because they think Bren is a great guy and he gave them $20 million. If you think you can't buy everything in America, you're a complete idiot since the word "Bren" and "information" pretty much go together like "cookies" and "ass." If ever there was a man who distrusted information—about himself, his opinions and his plans for world domination—that man would be Donald Bren, who even Howard Hughes found to be "a bit standoff-ish." Through a press release (of course), Bren says he hopes his school will lift "our quality of life." That's nice. Of course, at this point, the only way to improve Donald Bren's quality of life is with an all-chocolate seaside villa on Planet Boobsalot. . . . 5 Ronald Reagan dies. No snide comments. Still, puh-lease, stop crying over the man. Stop calling it a "tragedy." The man lived to be ninety-freaking-three! Yeah, he got Alzheimer's, but only after he was eighty-freaking-three. That's a good run for anyone, let alone some hunky dude who decides one day to become an actor and has a 30-year run in that business despite no discernible talent, and then decides to become president of the Screen Actors Guild, and does, and then governor of California and then president of the United States. There's a short list of people who led such charmed lives as to elicit no sadness at their passing, a list that includes Ringo Starr, Ed McMahon, the guy hired to guard Cameron Diaz's panties and Ronald Reagan. . . . 6 Frigging Lakers. . . . 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. . . . 12 Dennis Rodman's agent announces his client sold his Newport Beach home, much to the disappointment of local revelers and cops looking to earn overtime. The five-bedroom house sells for about $3 million, though press accounts do not say whether that includes the helicopter, inflatable dolls and 24-hour curbside police service. . . . 19 UC Irvine's commencement ceremony goes off with nary an associate professor exploded. That comes as quite a surprise to some who assume that because a few of the Muslim grads chose to wear cloth stoles with Arabic lettering saying such inflammatory things as "God, increase my knowledge," they were going to go completely Hamas. The kids, who actually had to call a press conference Friday to explain the stoles, say they are simply a sign of religious unity. That doesn't fly with Fox News' Bill O'Reilly—and who better than a guy named O'Reilly to put the traditions of Islam into perspective—who says the overt religious themes are actually code for support of suicide bombers. Agreeing with O'Reilly is some guy named Kevin S. O'Grady of the Anti-Defamation League, who says that "to suggest there is only [a religious] meaning [to the stoles] is disingenuous." And who better than a guy named O'Grady . . . But what is being done to protect the crowd from all the kids wearing WWJD bracelets? And are they being asked to answer for the crimes of Eric Rudolph? Timothy McVeigh? And what about every kid wearing a yarmulke? Is that tacit support for the actions of the Son of Sam? Laura Schlessinger? And why the hell is a guy working for the Anti-Defamation League going around defaming people? . . . 26 As people start rushing to their seats to see this evening's Fahrenheit 9/11 screening at the AMC 30 at the Block at Orange, a beefy security guard yells out that anyone who leaves the theater without their ticket will not be allowed back in. "What are you, a Republican?" somebody shouts. And so it goes. Whenever something viciously anti-Bush is said, applause starts, many times followed by cheers, especially when a U.S. soldier with nerve damage and a Purple Heart tells the camera he'd been a Republican his whole life but planned to vote Democrat—so "that fool" won't get re-elected. And not everyone in the audience fits the lefty-liberal mold. A middle-aged man who looks like your typical Orange County conservative sounds as if he's being tormented with a cattle prod—or the truth—as the movie profiles the many relationships between the Bush and Bin Laden families: "Oh, no!" "My God, no!" "Aw, geez." . . .30 Take this for what it's worth, but today, posted on the This Modern World website (thismodernworld.com) is this thing purported to be—typos and all—an "actual excerpt from the June 25 session of Ask the White House" online chat room, this one with Paul Wolfowitz, the loveable troll who brought you the enchanted delight "Iraqi Adventure." Still, take notice this chat starts with the mysterious "Jon" of Huntington Beach. Here goes:

jon, from huntington beach, ca writes:I realize that Iraq is in control of a great deal of the government but why don't you catch the insurgents off-guard and turn full control over to Iraq now. What difference does a few days make? I have the feeling that they are planning some big attack on the 30th. Remove the significance of June 30th.

Let the Iraq deel with the insurgents starting right now.

Paul Wolfowitz:That's an interesting idea. The terrorists work by surprising us and we need to think about what we can do to throw them off balance.

Three days later, we hand over "power" to the Iraq and let them deel with the insurgents, and they've done a spit-spot job, haven't they? The fact that Jon suggested this and three days later we did this is probably all just a crazy coincidence, you know, like all the WMDs disappearing at the exact same moment we entered Iraq.

JULY

2This morning, while promoting her weekend appearances at the Irvine Improv on KROQ's Kevin and Bean Show, comedian Kathy Griffin encourages the audience to "come on down to Orange County, where you can gang rape someone, videotape it and still get off!" Get used to it. . . . 7 Sports Illustrated ranks the most powerful minorities in sports, with none other than Anaheim Angels owner Arte Moreno topping the list. The honor doesn't give Anaheim Arte a big head. No, Arte, whose team plays in Anaheim, is so uninterested in the spotlight, so un-LA-like, you could say (which goes without saying since his team plays in Anaheim and is called the Anaheim Angels). Oh, how Anaheim loves its Arte. And he it. Anaheim, that is. This is a love affair that figures to never end. Yes, it's smooth sailing for as long as anyone can see for Arte and Anaheim . . . Okay, everyone outta the boat! Reacting to a Los Angeles Times story that says Moreno not-so-secretly pines to rename his team the Los Angeles Angels, Anaheim City Manager Dave Morgan says the city will enforce their Angel Stadium lease with the team that requires the team to be called "Anaheim." Showing he has Morgan's and Anaheim's backs, Mayor Curt Pringle blasts Moreno, saying, "He's doing what anybody should do with their business in promoting it aggressively. We as a city applaud the success of the Angels this year, not solely on the field, but also in attendance and advertising and support for the team and outreach. Those are all good things." Pringle's comments are applauded by hostage takers everywhere and are slated to be included in the upcoming trade publication The Stockholm Syndrome for Dummies. . . . 8 A third accident on Disneyland's Big Thunder Railroad occurs when one train bumps into another, causing a 10-year-old child and his parents to suffer minor neck and back injuries. The accident spurs some to call for the ride's closure since it has had three accidents since September, when a train derailed, killing one and injuring 10. In April, a train ran into the back of another on a test run, though Disneyland officials said the only way the accident could have occurred was with the trains empty, failing to mention they were empty because they had derailed a few months earlier, killing one and injuring 10. Seems to me the folks at Disneyland are missing out on a valuable marketing opportunity here. With the Big Thunder and similar mishaps on the Roger Rabbit and Columbia rides, they could make serious inroads among amusement-park customers who enjoy the allure of not knowing when and if they may be injured or killed, a clientele who until now have been the domain of the airline industry and Six Flags Magic Mountain. . . . 14 TV personality Greg Haidl, awaiting a new trial for participating in the alleged gang rape of a 16-year-old girl, gets popped by the cops for having sex with a different 16-year-old girl. Greg and the girl—the second girl—say the sex was consensual, but it's still against the law since he's 19. And, you know, he is about to stand trial again for rape, and he's also had run-ins with the cops regarding trespassing and pot possession. For all those people who thought Haidl's recent mistrial meant he was "getting away with it," it's pretty clear that, barring an Augustinian change of heart, the course of this sad young man's life is pretty set. I think we all can see where this is going; it's just a matter of when and how. The young man seems compulsively drawn to punish himself, his father and most of the girls born after 1988. Even DA Tony Rackauckas, whose emotional range swings wildly from wooden to stiff, looks stunned when describing Haidl's reckless behavior during a press conference, and this is a guy who regularly deals with the dregs of society: murderers, wife beaters and the Republican Central Committee. . . . 21 A just-released study shows the number of homeless in Orange County has grown by 25 percent over the past year to about 35,000, many of them families, so I guess those comparisons between George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan weren't all off-base. Now, you may be saying, "Homeless? Golly, I haven't seen any homeless people, and I've been to Stanton." Well, homelessness isn't defined only as people on the streets, but also as people who must live in motels because they can't afford housing. That's especially difficult in Orange County since just-released real-estate numbers show the median price of an Orange County home is $600,000. That's a 33 percent increase from last year, and it shows that housing prices are immune to economic fluctuations; real estate is the new porn. Even a home in Stanton is going for $359,000, you wanna talk about obscene. . . . 30 The California Senate barely passes a budget a month late. Only four of 14 Republicans vote yes on the $105 billion spending plan pushed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Thank God for the recall. Now, instead of budget impasses, name calling, and angry Democratic lawmakers feuding and breaking with the Democratic governor, we have budget impasses, name calling, and angry Republican lawmakers feuding and breaking with the Republican governor. Recent numbers show Schwarzenegger's approval ratings are dropping faster than rentals of Last Action Hero.

AUGUST

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-Crème 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.

SEPTEMBER

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 Martínez 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.

OCTOBER

7Irwin Rose becomes the third UC Irvine professor to win a Nobel Prize, his for, reports say, something to do with proteins, so I'm guessing he's a major player in the low-carb field. . . . 10Read in the paper today that French philosopher Jacques Derrida died. Derrida, who was a visiting professor at UC Irvine, is the father of a philosophic movement called deconstructionism, which, as it has been explained to me, is in part about how any thought, fact or text can be broken down and twisted into whatever meaning the receiver desires—thus, John Kerry the war hero becomes a traitor. Or not. The thing is meaning is the key. Or not. The point is Jacques Derrida is dead. Or is he?. . . 11Mary Kay LeTourneau announces on Larry King Live that she and her man Vili Fualaau are engaged. That's nice. She says she didn't know when she was 34 that it was against the law to have sex with a sixth-grade boy, which proves she is crazy and stupid. She says she and Fualaau, who have two kids together, share "a deep, spiritual oneness." Yeah, see, I'm just guessing there's going to be a bit of a schism in a few years when there's no more novelty or naughtiness involved in nailing the teacher/jailbird girlfriend. It'll occur around the time Fualaau is 30 and all his buddies are bringing over their twentysomething girlfriends and Mary Kay is in her 50s and collecting Hummel figurines. . . . 21 Brandon Maxfield—the kid who won a $24 million judgment against Costa Mesa gun manufacturer Bryco Arms after he was paralyzed by a defective Bryco gun when he was seven—attempts, 10 years later, to buy Bryco for the purpose of folding it. However, Maxfield's bid of $505,000 is trumped by Paul Jimenez, who bids $510,000. Today, a lawyer for Maxfield claims in federal court Jimenez really didn't buy the company but was simply the front man for Bryco's former owners, Bruce and Janice Jennings. It all may be just sour grapes, or it may be that Jimenez is a former Bryco employee and Maxfield's lawyer has papers showing Janice Jennings wired him $430,000 to make the purchase. What's more, Janice Jennings' company, Shining Star Investments, then places an order for $1.5 million worth of new guns, though how Jimenez is going to fill the order is unclear since he doesn't have a license to manufacture guns in California. . . . 28 For some reason, the city of Newport Beach invites the cast of The O.C. down from LA so they can inaugurate some lame walk of fame. Some of the cast does show up, including the dude with the eyebrows and heartthrob Benjamin McKenzie, who admits this is his first time in Newport since the show isn't actually shot here. City officials give cast members keys to the city—a bottle opener with the city logo on it. It kind of comes off like a hick town trying to get some attention through any lame gimmick, you know, like claiming to have the world's largest thermometer or the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. . . . 29 Irvine Mayor Larry Agran and his supporters send a political mailer around town that claims his opponents are trying to smear him and are using the "sex tabloid OC Weekly" to do it. Sex tabloid? I wish. I can't tell you how many times we've tried to convince our overlords to go all the way, and they keep pulling out. A few years ago, Will Swaim and I came up with a capital cover idea featuring a nun in a bikini licking an ice-cream cone while jumping on a trampoline. No, said the Puritans. Sex tabloid? If only. You know what kinda coin those things make? Plus, you get to hang out with James Caan. Nah, we're just one of those publications that has a few sexy ads—you know, like The Orange County Register—and fills in the space with stories about local politicians doing stuff they shouldn't be doing. You know, like Dave Garofalo or Pam Julien Houchen of Huntington Beach or—hello—Larry Agran. . . . 30 Whattya know? Greg Haidl is arrested tonight for causing a head-on automobile accident while driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.02. Now that's not a lot—our production staff is on a mandated 0.06 buzz—but Greg isn't supposed to be nipping on anything as part of his conditions for bail. Haidl's lawyer says Greg is under a doctor's care for depression, and I shouldn't wonder. I'd be really depressed if cops kept showing up every time I was nailing a 16-year-old or crashing my car into someone. That would totally bum me out. Hey, here's a fun fact: the car Haidl wrecked was a 2005 Scion—I'm guessing a present from his folks. Now there's some tough love. Of course, tough love is what landed Greg in all this trouble.

NOVEMBER

3 KOCE—public broadcasting's answer to Ross Dress for Less—gets new life as it is purchased by the KOCE Foundation and not some Christian network. Thank you, Jesus. Yes, now we are assured of an uninterrupted stream of crappy programming no one else wants such as the short-lived children's crime series Seriously, Where's Waldo? as well as such local gems as the 12-part Sleepy, Hollow: A Cultural Retrospective of Brea. During the previous night's election, I tuned in to KOCE's Real Orange's "Special Election Coverage" and was greeted with the stunning news that a local community college was hosting a faculty dance concert, though the traditionally conservative rural districts had yet to be counted. Later, the show featured a couple of talking heads doing analysis, and one of them starts talking about the disconnect and anger in the electorate and how divided the nation is and how this threatens our democracy, to which anchorbat Ann Pulice says, "Yeah, what can we do about that?" . . . 4 After his 3 percent landslide, George W. Bush attempts to heal the nation by saying we have "one future that binds us," which doesn't so much soothe me as sound like what an airline pilot going through a bad divorce says over the intercom as the plane nears the Rockies. The Orange County Register agrees, publishing a piece headlined "Many OC Residents Eager to Reach Across the Divide." It also publishes a slew of healing letters from conservatives reaching across to give their progressive neighbors a big curative "Suck On It!" Under the restorative headline "Kerry Couldn't Fool Most Americans," the letters pretty much crow about their overwhelming success and threaten everything short of reeducation camps. Likewise, this afternoon, Bush signals that the time for healing is over as he blusters, "I've earned capital in this election, and I'm going to spend it," claiming "the people have spoken and embraced" his views. Yes, the people have spoken, and if I remember my grade-school math correctly, nearly half of them said they'd prefer he'd go away. Of course, it doesn't take much for Bush to consider he has a mandate; he claimed he had one four years ago when he lost the popular vote. All that changed this time, as all his opponent could muster was 48 percent of the vote and a measly 252 Electoral votes. . . . 5 To answer your questions: yes, that was George W. Bush on our cover, and yes, that is his finger flipping you off. . . . 6 Flipping youoff. . . . 16 John Selian, an 86-year-old retired businessman from Garden Grove, goes on trial in U.S. District Court today for allegedly planning a trip to the Philippines for the purpose of having sex with two preteen girls. This business of traveling around the world having sex with young girls is known as sex tourism, though you may be familiar with it by its old name: Rolling Stones World Tour. Selian is charged under a new law that makes it a crime for a U.S. citizen to travel to another country for illicit sex, and this is nothing to joke about except dude was arrested with 100 pounds of chocolate, which, I guess, he was either going to use to entice the girls—ages nine and 12—or threaten them with diabetes. . . . 17 Today, a bunch of the people who keep you safe—you know, the ones you keep voting down bonds to pay—practice what they will do when, if, the San Onofre nuclear plant blows up and everyone gets melty. The Federal Emergency Management Agency requires they do this every six years, and it will no doubt prove valuable for everyone involved when, if, the plant actually blows up, you know, as long as it gives everyone a six-year heads-up. To make things as realistic as possible, the exercise is held 30 miles from the plant at the Orange County Fairgrounds, which poses toxic dangers all its own, as anyone who's eaten a deep-fried Snickers bar or sat through the Beach Boys featuring Sammy Hagar can attest. Orange County's Health Care Agency, Sheriff's Department, Fire Authority and other assorted hangers-on try and demonstrate they are able to distribute potassium-iodide tablets to citizens. The potassium iodide apparently reduces the risk of thyroid cancer from radiation, which means you'll be at full strength when the zombies devour your liver. And hey, if potassium iodide reduces the risk of cancer, why aren't we putting it in our drinking water? Look for this and other probing questions in my upcoming book, If the Black Box is the Only Thing That Survives a Plane Crash, Why Isn't the Plane Made of the Black Box? . . . 28 Angels owner Arte Moreno goes on a local radio show and says he won't rename his team any time soon. Moreno had mentioned he'd be interested in calling his team the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim as a way to enlarge his market. While there's been the requisite anti-LA reaction, fans would be advised to look beyond the name and realize they're lucky to have such an aggressive owner who's likely to plow more revenue into procuring other high-priced and talented free agents such as Vlad Guerrero, the reigning American League MVP. On the other hand, the Angels are cutting Troy Glaus loose and going with a guy at third—Dallas McPherson—who hit all of .225 in all of 16 Major League games. And they allowed all-time saves leader Troy Percival to sign with the Detroit Tigers. And they just traded Jose Guillen, the team's second best hitter, to the Washington Nationals for Ceasar Izturis' little brother. You know what? Los Angeles Angels will be just fine.

DECEMBER

1 UC Irvine and the Public Policy Institute of California publish a survey of Orange County residents in which 81 percent of respondents say they knew little or nothing about the disastrous county bankruptcy that occurred 10 years ago and that reverberates to this day in a legacy of limited services. Now, forgetting stuff is not an OC thing. Why, just last month, 51 percent of Americans forgot that gas used to be less than $2, America wasn't universally despised and that civil rights used to be considered a good thing. The bankruptcy question was just one of many survey questions gauging locals' attitudes toward living in Orange County. Topping the list of concerns was housing prices, with only 25 percent of respondents saying they considered it "very likely" they could afford a more expensive home in Orange County; 59 percent said they were "very concerned" their children wouldn't be able to afford a home at all; while 67 percent said they believed the Larson kid, the one with the weird tooth, had been "doing something funny" in the bushes. The survey also showed opinions tended to vary given someone's cultural background. Latinos, for instance, were more likely to have confidence in public schools while whites were more likely to lock their car doors as they drove by public schools . . . 4 Media outlets are falling all over themselves to congratulate Bishop Tod D. Brown for the Diocese of Orange's $100 million settlement with 87 victims of sexual abuse. The stories paint him as a reconciler and fail to mention that, years ago, he had to be ordered by Superior Court Judge Jim Gray to apologize to a victim. They also fail to mention that Brown's real reason for a settlement is that if the court case were to continue, a long line of OC power brokers ranging from former GOP head Tom Fuentes—diocesan communications director from 1977 through 1989—to mega-developer William Lyon to hamburger jefe/über-Catholic Carl Karcher. Angry rich people make for unopened wallets, which might mean Brown would not be able to build that cathedral nobody wants and have to make deep cuts

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