Diary of a Mad County

Photo by James BunoanWednesday, June 15
The federal SubstanceAbuseandMentalHealthServicesAdministrationreleases a report that says Orange and Los Angeles counties have the lowest percent of marijuanausersin the state, at 4.9 percent. By contrast, San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo counties have the highest at 9.2, which jumps to a whopping 78 percent if the Deadare in town. The report is met with cynicism, mostly in our office, where RebeccaSchoenkopfreasons, "No way! No fucking way," adding, "There's at least twice as many people here doing coke, and they need pot just to take the edge off." Pretending to know what she's saying, I cluck my tongue and feign outrage—"Edgeindeed!" I then asked our prepubescent staff if pot wasn't horribly dated now—like drinking Madeira—that maybe there wasn't a new drug, because there's always a new drug, what with the kids doing the Exor the DirtySanchezI keep hearing so much about. Theo Douglassaid the hot new drug is actually pretty old: meth. Rebecca agrees, and that seals it. Well, almost. I ask: "Isn't meth a pretty lowbrow drug?" to which Rebecca says, "There are a lot of lowbrowkidsin Orange County."

Thursday, June 16
I feel the earthmoveunder my seat while eating lunch in the office. "Oh man, that's an earthquake," says Theo Douglas, but I don't pay much mind to Theo, and I mean ever. But when I see the blood drain from fearless reporter Scott Moxley's face, I get nervous. Scott, who's not originally from California, says, "What are we supposed to do?" To which I, a native Californian, begin to pace in ever-tightening circles, much in the same manner as brain-damaged zoo animals. My usual response during an earthquake is "Lemme sleep five more minutes, Mom." Sylmarquake? Slept through it. Northridge? Don't remember Northridge, except that after it was over I had to go out and talk to people whose windows had been broken by the quake and ask them what they were going to do and they all said, "Get new windows." I wrote that for the paper I was working for at the time, and they ran it as part of an article about local heroism. Now, I do know one thing you're supposed to have in case of an earthquake is a flashlight, and this may explain why a good deal of the Garden Grove Police Departmentshows up at the Westminster home of TheresaDangtoday. Or they may just be screwing with her. The cops are on high alert because word on the street is that Dang took an officer's flashlight—DUH DUH DUUUUUUH!!!—which has Homeland Securityofficials considering raising the terror level to eggshell. The cops say they have videotape of Dang taking the flashlight during a demonstration against Minutemanleader Jim Gilchrist. About 300 people showed up May 25 in front of the Women's Civic Club of Garden Grove where Gilchrist was to speak. Things got out of hand, with protesters blaming cops for being too aggressive and police blaming protesters for hurlingstuffat them. All of this distracts from the central issue—A FLASHLIGHT HAS GONE MISSING, PEOPLE! Dang says she's being targeted because she made remarks critical of the cops' handling of the protest. The cops say they are well within their rights to search for the flashlight. Defending the search, Lt.MikeHandfieldsays, "We have a video of her taking the flashlight. We are going to try and do everything we can to recover the flashlight." All of this begs the question: What kind of response do you think you'd get from the cops if you called up and requested they go all DarylGatesbecause you believed your flashlight was being held in a neighbor's house? I'm guessing it probably wouldn't be the same response, even if it was a really nice flashlight, like the best flashlight ever, with a Blaupunkt and olive bar. As it turned out, Garden Grove police never found their flashlight, which, tragically, was just two days away from retirement.

Friday, June 17
Tomorrow's my birthdayand someone in the office asks me how old I'll be and I do one of those "Nextquestion!" things that is expected of you when you get to a certain agewhen all you think about is the safety of your children and having a clean place to go to the bathroom. I thought it was cute, but Rebecca Schoenkopf immediately questions why men of today feel the need to avoid the question of age, though darling Rebecca puts it thusly: "When did men become such pussies?" Darling. I don't think of myself as a pussy. Much. And it's not like I'm blaming anyone in the office, but they put up these little customized posters of you on your birthday, so Ellen Griley, who went to Notre Dame, is shown fighting a leprechaun, and Theo Douglas—ah, who gives a crap? Anyway, on my poster today is the image of a lone, rather frail-looking sailboatsailing into the sunset. Now, I'm no Freud—turns out Freud wasn't either—but I think I know what they're getting at. See, as alluded to earlier, our staff is extremely youthful—Logan's Runyouthful—you can't walk three feet without stepping in a steaming pile of youth around here. I have about 15to20yearson the lot of them, which I don't mind, though I do get tired of them calling me "GrampySteve."

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