Diary of a Mad County

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 30 'Sup?

THURSDAY, MARCH 31 A great white sharkcaught off Huntington Beach last August is released from the MontereyBayAquariumtoday. This despite the fact that numerous eyewitnesses saw the great white attack and eat a soupfinsharkit shared space with in a massive tank. (Neither the great white nor its victim's name were released because both were juveniles when the attack occurred.) Some have complained that the shark's release amounted to special treatment because, while at the aquarium, it had attracted record crowds eager to view its predatory behavior and black, black heart. But great white supporters say the alleged victim was known to offer itself to many other fish, making suggestive references to drawn butter while confiding it wished to be digested repeatedly, "fishy-style." Supporters also point out that the great white, though released, will be required to wear an electronic-tracking device just like Martha Stewart, who has always drawn a crowd eager to view her predatory behavior and black, black heart. The shark was released accompanied by several marine biologists. They were delicious.

FRIDAY, APRIL 1 Happy April Fools', a day that, like Veteran's Day, celebrates the prick in all of us. We take April Fools' for granted—the egging of houses, the ringing of door bells, the passing of the USA Patriot Act—but down Mexico way, our ways are strange to them. A friend, whose name I will not give for reasons soon-to-be obvious, is teaching English down there, and the other day, his students asked him what April Fools' was all about. He explained it was about jokes and pranks, and one of his worst students—the kind who revels in being the worst student—gleefully raised his hand. "Well, then, I have a joke for you, teacher," he said. "A year ago, we had a teacher who was going to give me a bad grade, so I followed him in my car and stopped him and took out a gun and told him he better not flunk me. He thought I was joking, so I shot out his tires." My friend asked the kid, who's 18, what happened next? "I passed the class." I asked my friend if he thought the story was meant to intimidate him. "Perhaps," he said, but in a moment of Gandhi-like compassion added, "Whatever. The fucker's getting flunked."

SATURDAY, APRIL 2 Pope John Paul IIdies. Whatever your opinion of the man, I think we'd have to agree he seemed genuine in his desire to reach out to all people—well, except gays and women who wanted to be priests and women who didn't want kids and priests who did. Anyway, at the passing of such a man, it is only right that we note the words this week of Colorado Governor Bill Owens. Owens, as you may know, believes in the power of words, so much so that he has pushed to have University of Colorado professor Ward Churchillfired for comparing Sept. 11 victims to Adolf Eichmann. During a Western Governor's Association Summit on tribal gambling, Owens noticed a participant's microphone wasn't working and urged quick action in getting the thing fixed, noting to the mostly Native American audience that "the natives are getting restless." Yes!Some of the participants brushed off the comment while others thought Owens' actions were one of a "heap-big asshole." Owens apologized for his comment and suggested they all smokem peace pipe.

SUNDAY, APRIL 3 Robert Schullerflashes his self-satisfied, somewhat-enigmatic smile as he celebrates 50 years of making people uneasy about what's going on underneath his robes. Schuller, who started preaching from a drive-in theater, stood in the Philip Johnson-designed Crystal Cathedral, a glittering monument to what Schuller has always preached: anything is possible with lots of money. Well, anything except for good service. Schuller, who has been known to cut up rough in the company of airline stewards and restaurant wait staff, reminisced about his career: the famous people he met, the crap he's sold, the people whose houses he demanded be torn down. Schuller is a puzzlement. As the world focuses on the life and ministry of Pope John Paul II, it is clear what he was about, whether you agree with him or not. For that matter, so are the ministries of BillyGrahamand Jerry Falwell. But Schuller? When I asked people what Schuller's ministry was primarily about, I received remarks that varied from "money" to "lots of money" to "hair" to "lots of hair" to "my kid loves going to the GloryofChristmasbecause he just stares up at the ceiling and tries to look up the angels' gowns." The most common response was that Schuller preached "being positive and enthusiastic." But is that a religious message, let alone a Christian one? I mean, the Romans who killed Christ were certainly a can-do kind of folk. And if being positive and enthusiastic relates to a certain purity of spirit, how do you explain JosefMengelecheerfully humming his favorite arias as he went about his atrocious business? Well, we can only hope that sometime in the future when someone Googles "Mengele," Robert Schuller's name will now pop up. Amen.

MONDAY, APRIL 4The Associated Press reports that major news media around the world have devoted about 35,000 stories to the death of Pope John Paul II; unfortunately, accompanying many of those stories are photos of the Pope lying in state, wearing a red robe with white furry trim running down the middle, no doubt meaning that children around the world believe not only has the clean-shaven Pope died, but Santa Claushas also passed after enduring months of chemo.

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