A CLOCKWORK ORANGE

Wake me: MCOKER@OCWEEKLY.COM

Posted Aug. 10
ORANGE COUNTY CHOPPERS
The sirens grew louder around o'dark:30, spurring the mass of canine next door to correspondingly increase the volume of his losing attempts to harmonize. That I could take. That I could eventually tune out and return to deep, blissful slumber. But then came the buzz of a helicopter, then another, then another, then another. ". . . But suicide is painless . . ." the familiar voice kept singing in my head. By now it was light, and sleep was futile. I began to assess the situation. If this had been a police-copter situation, there would be only one and it would make wide circles over my house, like it has done in the past for no apparent reason. But the quartet of whirlybirds over my modest chunk of Orange County real estate were not circling; each picked a spot somewhere over the 405 freeway near the Fairview off-ramp and hovered. And hovered. And hovered. It took two seconds to figure out what was going on thanks to something that happened about a year ago. I was flipping the channels between LA morning news channels--wonder what kind of witty banter completely unrelated to the day's news Mark, Sam and Carlos will come up with on KTLA? Are people really buying Katie's false sincerity on NBC? Quick! Switch over to 11 and see how slutty Jillian is dressed? Oops, there's Dorothy's nails-on-chalkboard voice chiming in. And she's talking about her kid again! Time to change channels--when one eye-boogered anchor threw it to their traffic reporter in the sky. As the camera scanned down at another SoCal morning freeway parking lot, I suddenly realized that the buzz of the chopper blades from the screen were identical to some faint buzzing outdoors. (See, it wasn't all in my head!). So I swing open the front door, and there in the distance, over the 405, was the same aircraft that at that moment was on the air. "Hola, Jennifer York!" Talk about delivering the news to my front door. But, while that was kinda cool, this morning's Apocalypse Now! invasion was not. For one thing, it was much earlier than the York encounter. For another, NOW THERE WERE FOUR FLIPPIN' COPTERS OVER MY ROOF! Speaking of flipping, I flipped on the TV to discovered what brought all the stations to the skies overhead: a fatal accident that backed up southbound traffic on the 405 to at least Beach Boulevard. Okay, you all got your shots of another SoCal morning freeway parking lot--which, let's be real, all look the same; they could have just dug up file footage or pointed their cameras down on any freeway in their own goddamn county--now move on. Yeah, right. Because viewers from the desert to the sea to all of Southern California require the same bloody weather and traffic report every 10 minutes--and I do mean the same; the weather and traffic barely change here--the whirlies remained porched mere yards from my porch, but several feet up in the air, of course. So here's what really frosts my flakes: after scanning the dial for the next 45 minutes or so--2, 4, 5, 7, 11 (nice boobage, Jillian!)--I learned: 1) If a station did go to their traffic reporter, each used only about 3 seconds of live video from the 405 and Fairview, and 2) Many stations skipped over their eyes in the sky because, I dunno, Lindsay Lohan left skidmarks in her undies or something equally earth shattering. Great. Go away. I need my beauty rest. Where's my BB gun? So now you can imagine my shock--utter shock, I say--at discovering this was not just another routine snarled traffic situation, but the sad tale of a woman from a German rock band who either fell, leapt or was tossed out of a Hummer limo. Gee, that mighta sparked my interst, Steve Edwards! Hey, it even had an LA angle: she was apparently coming back from a celeb party in Hollyweird. See, no need to ignore another boring OC traffic fatality. This one had Tinseltown juice! Heck, that party's attendees may have even included Lindsay Lohan. And her skidmarks. Back to you, Dorothy!


THE HUD MAN
I defended Rex Hudler when he wouldn't defend himself after getting suspended from Angels broadcasts after pot was found in his luggage during a road trip last season. (Hudler used weed to help sleep after suffering a brain hemorrhage a few years ago.) We can get past his gravelly voice and assorted homerisms and that damn baseball he plays with in the booth. His enthusiasm and good heart make it difficult to knock The Hud Man. But as I listened to the following, mixed metaphors exchange with Fox Sports West anchorman Michael Eaves after the Angels pounded the A's 9-2 last night, I've gotta ask: Rex, amigo, iz you back on the pipe?

Michael Eaves: Considering the importance of this game, and I know the team was trying to downplay it a little bit, but what was the mood of the Angels on the field? Did you see a certain intensity in their eyes going into this game?

Rex Hudler: Michael, very stoic as usual. Business as usual for the Angels, who have a resiliency on how to turn the page, brought to you by skipper Mike Scioscia. This guy's unbelievable. Riding over on the team bus, there was just a couple players on it, just a couple pitchers and Vladimir Guerrero in the back of the bus, usually with a big smile on his face, had no expression, almost a scowl like, "You know what? We have to send a mental message to this ballclub." There was a focus I haven't seen all year when I came here. The Angels with the eye of the tiger. Guby [Eaves' telecast partner Mark Gubicza] says the defense let them [the A's] down early. I look at it as the Angels pressuring that defense. The most aggressive team in the American League showed up today. Kenny Macha of the Oakland A's know they have their hands full this season, Michael.


BLOG-TACULAR!
First, thanks to OC Blog for giving Clockwork a shout out. (Blog out?) And because one good compliment (Blogliment? Sorry, I'm new to this stuff) deserves another, you've gotta check out a couple items they've posted recently on Orange County Supervisor Chris Norby: the North County supe details how OC, with its solid Republican congressional delegation (well, solid if you don't count the one who's sans penis) still managed to get screwed in that pork-dripping federal transportation bill just passed. Norby also apparently rips into our ineffective congressmen. (Hey, they're good for something: Chrissie Cox just got a promotion out of it!) That's preceded by a second item jumping off Norby's supervisorial district newsletter, where he goes after the county for funding promotion of private businesses (through grants to chambers of commerce, biz councils, visitor bureaus, corporate meth labs, League of Cities whore houses, etc.). If Norby keeps this up, the Weekly may actually have to pay attention to the Bored of Stupes again. Say, have they elected any Catholic priests lately?


Posted Aug. 9
DIVERSITY LOVES COMPANY
The Aug. 22 issue of Fortune magazine will include Angels owner Arte Moreno on some gimmick it's dubbed "The Diversity List: From business and academia to Hollywood and the Beltway, meet the people with the most clout." The best Angel owner since the Cowboy finds himself in heady company, as the list also includes Oprah Winfrey, Colin Powell and Barack Obama. If you're wondering why one of my examples wasn't a fellow Latino, that's because Moreno is one of few on the list. And it's something of a backhanded compliment that he's even mentioned at all, given that he brings up the rear on a subsection titled "In the Hot Seat." Here's Fortune's take:

ARTURO MORENO 59, CEO, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: After he changed the name from Anaheim Angels, the billboard billionaire got hit with a lawsuit by the city of Anaheim. Moreno reckons the name will help market the team. Certainly he has energized a once sleepy franchise.

Hold off the A's in the West, and all is forgiven, boss!


A DICK IN THE CRAPPER IS WORTH...
You can read more about this . . .

Washington - In a fresh example of his failure to gauge the national mood, Vice President Dick Cheney discussed a recent bowel movement for nearly three minutes during Meet the Press on July 4, 2004. A stunned Tim Russert stared - his mouth agape - as the story unfolded.

. . . right here.

Huh? What's that? Is it true? Would we shit you?


WELCOME TO BIZZARO WORLD: THE ADOLESCENTS ON NPR
The Adolescents' flack sent us word that the pioneering OC punk band, which is pimping its first CD of new material since 1988, OC Confidential, was heard today on NPR's Fresh Air. Don't know what's stranger: a punk band on NPR or a punk band with a flack. By the way, upon my first listen to OC Confidential, I thought someone had mistakenly pressed a Fu Manchu album, not that there's anything wrong with that. You can see 'em live (that'd be the Adolescents, not Fu Manchu) Aug. 20 at the Mouse of Blues in Anaheim.

In other old-school-punk news, the above referenced, ever-helpful flack, Josh Mills of It's Alive Media, P.S.'d that the Dead Kennedys will celebrate the 25th anniversary of Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables by reissuing the seminal punk record in CD format on Oct. 25. Included will be new liner notes, new photos and a bonus DVD of old-school performances and new interviews. No word on whether Jello's down with this but, given the Clockwork item you'll find if you scroll down a tad to the title "Funny Money," the time is ripe for him to record an updated "California Uber Alles," with the suede-leather secret police replaced by muscleheads in Speedos who will be coming for your unfit nephew, not your uncool niece. Okay, I'll stop now . . .


QUOTE OF THE DAY
"You can have only so much faith in people who have all the money and time and still don't do the job. That big plume of flame coming out of it, those are thousand dollar bills being burned."--Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach), suggesting NASA's space shuttle should be grounded so those resources could be used to explore the moon and Mars, and simultaneously proving our theory that Dana Rohrabacher is not always another right-wing nutbar. Mostly, but not always.


FUNNY MONEY
For a candidate who vowed he would need no campaign contributions and therefore could not be bought off by special interests, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger sure has received a lot of special-interest money from dubious sources. The latest, as reported by the Toledo Blade (!?)--and I thought California news agencies created/resurrected/beefed up their Sacramento bureaus once the Hollywood action figure seized the governor's office--is an Ohio crook who used a stolen credit card to give Arnie $10,000. Okay, Fading Last Action Hero defenders, $10,000 is peanuts, especially here in the mortgaged-up-our-ass Golden State. But add it to some Indian casino money here and some fitness magazine money there and some "I will not take corporate money" corporate money here and now you're talking real money, even for someone blessed with the boffo-box-office/Kennedy-family-fortune/Mr. Universe trifecta. And, of course, as has been written elsewhere, and surprisingly often given our softball mainstream media culture, "I'm Not Beholden to Special Interests" Schwarzenegger has raised more special-interest money than any previous governor. Which may actually hold the out for Da' Gov. After all, with him not soliciting special-interest money, combined with all that special-interest money pouring in, how could he possibly know the source of all that special-interest money? It's a win-win, but only if you're Arnold.


Posted Aug. 8
GOOD SPORTS
The Sporting News will report on Aug. 12 that Boston, once again, whoop-dee-freakin'-doo, is the No. 1 sports town in America. As in Angels owner Arte Moreno's dreams, Anaheim gets lumped in, for reporting purposes, with, oh, whatcha ma-call-it?, oh yeah: La-La Land to take No. 5 on the list. That's actually a surprise given the East Coast dominated national media's usual spin that our sports fans are "laid back." Must have something to do with the Angels' rise, USC's football dominance and the Lakers' knack for overshadowing everyone in the NBA even when they suck, and, brudder, do they suck. Hard. But the biggest surprise of all on the list of best sports towns is Irvine checking in at No. 172. 172? Who knew it'd be that high? Go, Anteaters!


LETTER TO AN OUTTA TOWN EDITOR OF THE DAY
I knew it was here. The [San Luis Obispo] Tribune just put it on the front page of the Aug. 4 sports section. What, you may ask, is "it"? "It" is the Orange County- fication of San Luis Obispo! You know, with their big cars, big hair, big heads and big houses. Do they now outnumber us?

With all the great local kids we have, any number of whom can shred on a board, The Tribune chose to run a story from Orange County? The little, new school skater from O.C. said it's not even skating? Duh ... looked like he was on a board to me. We watched pro skater Danny Way practice bombing the mega ramp last week, and it was awesome. Although he didn't land it while we watched, you know it hurt. To all you little dogs ... skate hard, skate safe and to the big ones, skateboarding is not a crime!

Tobie Charles
(with help from Topher Charles)
Arroyo Grande


QUOTE OF THE DAY
"He's not even Chris Cox lite. He's Chris Cox ultra-lite."-- Harvey Englander on John Campbell, the Republican state senator who is campaigning for the congressional seat Cox abandoned to become SEC chairman, in the Aug. 8 Roll Call. Englander is a consultant for Campbell's opponent, former Orange County Supervisor Marilyn Brewer. The Roll Call item, about how the sleepy race is heating up, also included this little dittie:

Beyond the basic moderate vs. conservative divide, the ideological battle within the primary could be further complicated if more candidates jump in. Ex-GOP Rep. Bob Dornan (Calif.) is reportedly considering a third-party bid, as is anti-immigration activist Jim Gilchrist, who is best known for founding the Minuteman Project along the Arizona-Mexico border.


LOCAL LAWYER HAS HANDS IN DIRTY ABRAMOFF DEAL
Thanks to reader Ken Sadler who pointed us to this one: business editor Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno of Pacific Daily News, "Guam's complete source," piggybacked onto a Los Angeles Times article to report that a U.S. grand jury in Guam opened an investigation of controversial lobbyist Jack Abramoff more than two years ago, only to have the probe end shortly after his pal President Bush removed the supervising federal prosecutor who'd held the Guam post for a decade. Yes, it's hard to keep all these probes straight without a scorecard, but we'll try: the Guam probe is separate from the one a federal grand jury in D.C. is embroiled in over allegations that Abramoff bilked Indian tribes out of millions of dollars--which, due to a recent NCAA ruling--we WILL NOT refer to as "heap big wampum." Meanwhile, back in Guam, investigators had been interested in Abramoff's secret arrangement with Superior Court officials to lobby against a court reform bill then pending in Congress. The legislation, which ultimately won approval, gave the Guam Supreme Court authority over the Superior Court. To disguise Abramoff's role working for the Superior Court, the lobbyist was paid with a series of $9,000 checks funneled through Laguna Beach lawyer Howard Hills--that's Howard Hills for all your money laundering needs. In case you were wondering, yes, it is just as unusual having a publicly funded court in Guam hire a top-dollar lobbyist--or any lobbyist, for that matter--as it would be for a Superior Court stateside to do the same. Today's Pacific Daily News report has Hills, who cut 36 separate $9,000 checks totaling $324,000 to Abramoff, admitting he was just the middleman in the transaction. Once again, that's Howard "I'm in the book!" Hills. A new Guam inquiry has been opened; hopefully the Bushies will be too distracted by Iraq/Rove/Roberts, etc. to strangle this one in the cradle.

UPDATE: Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), the non-profit ethics watchdog group that was all over Tom DeLay's ass for his assorted (and, sadly, backburnered ethics violations), today urged the Department of Justice to investigate the Guam U.S. attorney's demotion.


MARTHA, MY DEAR
Cinema Confidential reports that Variety reports what I'm now reporting, based totally on their reporting: best-actress-of-her-generation Meryl Streep will play Martha Mitchell, Warren Beatty's better half Annette Bening will play White House correspondent Helen Thomas and Coldplaything Gwyneth Paltrow will play John Dean's wife Maureen in Dirty Tricks, a film about the wife of OC favorite son Dick Nixon's chief of staff John Mitchell. The trades also have Jill Clayburgh in the Pat Nixon role for the production that Ryan Murphy, who created F/X's Nip/Tuck, will direct and write, adapted from John Jeter's play. Young 'uns won't recall this, but Martha Mitchell had to resort to passing secrets about Nixon's shameful presidency to the media via a phone in her locked bathroom after essentially being placed under house arrest by her husband. The Nixon White House would go on to trash Martha as alcoholic and/or outta her gore (tags that also got applied to Trickie Dickie in the final days before his exile to San Clemente), and some pundits even outed her as Deep Throat, which we now know to be untrue.


Posted Aug. 5
WHAT'S A COUPLE BILLION BETWEEN FIENDS
Those wingtips at the Orange County Business Journal are making us wait until Aug. 8 for the meat, but they do slyly tease us with details about their upcoming fifth list of Orange County's Wealthiest People. There are eight billionaires, the top 25 have a combined wealth of $28 billion and numero uno fuckero de richo remains Donald Bren. And the Irvine Co. chairman's the living embodiment of Monty Burns and Caleb Nichol. And he hates you. Okay, the ol' BJ didn't include anything in those last two sentences, but writer Michael Lyster does report that Bren is worth more than the economy of Brunei, and that the top 25 are richer than Luxembourg. Without the funny hats. And they hate you. That'd be the 25 richest hate you. Come to think of it, Luxembourgers hate you, too. God, you're pathetic.

In other local business developments, your intrepid reporter has learned, by stumbling onto the biz wires (who knew?), that four directors have quit in a huff from Newport Beach mega-developer William Lyon Co. They are General James Dalton(of the famous gang?), William McFarland (Family Guy?), Michael Meyer (Austin Powers?) and Randolph Westerfield (crappy shopping malls?). The directors apparently didn't take kindly to some smack thrown their way when General William Lyon (through his teeth?) was trying to take the company private, then dropped those plans.

Now back to our regular news about gays, strippers and boob enlargements.


LINK OF THE DAY
www.thehollywoodhappening.com/
Former Weekly Calendar editor Stacy Davies' new site. Go, now!!!


DAILY QUOTE-AHHHH...
"They always say, 'I don't want to be rude or disrespectful, but . . .' and I'm thinking, 'Well, it is rude.' I gave my brother a wink and he told them, 'He's not signing anything right now.' It happens almost every time I go out. I mean, if I'm just out with buddies, 99 percent of the time I'll sign something.'' --Matt Leinart, Heisman Trophy-winning USC quarterback by way of Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana and St. John the Baptist School in Costa Mesa (where he was a basketball star), on the price of fame, in the Torrance Daily Breeze. Leinart also said: "Living in Orange County, every dang alum or SC fan is everywhere you go. When I went home, it used to be like a safe haven."


YOU'VE BEEN SERVED. UH, NO YOU HAVEN'T
Weekly contributor Buddy Seigal passed this along to us. He founjd it on Country Joe MacDonald's website. "The former Marine remains a leftist veteran's activist to this day," Buddy informs. (Note to Buddy: I once called someone a "former Marine" in a story, and if that Marine could have grabbed my neck through the phone lines when he called after it ran, he would have, as he informed me, "There's no such thing as a 'former Marine.' You're a Marine for life!" Okay, okay, semper fi, brudder. Now back to former, er, "inactive" Marine Country Joe's item:

Recognizing Those Who Served
It is interesting to note who is willing to put his life on the line for what he believes in . . . and who is not. It's worth noting who really served among the heavyweights in each of the major political parties. Be sure to check out the bottom of the list where the people who spend their time jabbering about military service (the TV pundits) have their military credentials exposed. Read it and weep . . . for your country.

DEMOCRATS

Richard Gephardt: Air National Guard, 1965-71.
David Bonior: Staff Sgt., Air Force 1968-72.
Tom Daschle: 1st Lt., Air Force SAC 1969-72.
Al Gore: enlisted Aug. 1969; sent to Vietnam Jan. 1971 as an army journalist in 20th Engineer Brigade.
Bob Kerrey: Lt. j.g. Navy 1966-69; Medal of Honor, Vietnam.
Daniel Inouye: Army 1943-'47; Medal of Honor, WWII.
John Kerry: Lt., Navy 1966-70; Silver Star, Bronze Star with Combat V Purple Hearts.
John Edwards: did not serve.
Charles Rangel: Staff Sgt., Army 1948-52; Bronze Star, Korea.
Max Cleland: Captain, Army 1965-68;Silver Star&Bronze Star,Vietnam.
Ted Kennedy: Army, 1951-1953.
Tom Harkin: Lt., Navy, 1962-67; Naval Reserve, 1968-74.
Jack Reed: Army Ranger, 1971-1979; Captain, Army Reserve 1979-91.
Fritz Hollings: Army officer in WWII, receiving the Bronze Star and seven campaign ribbons.
Leonard Boswell: Lt. Col., Army 1956-76; Vietnam, DFCs, Bronze Stars, and Soldier's Medal.
Pete Peterson: Air Force Captain, POW. Purple Heart, Silver Star and Legion of Merit.
Mike Thompson: Staff sergeant, 173rd Airborne, Purple Heart.
Bill McBride: Candidate for Fla. Governor. Marine in Vietnam; Bronze Star with Combat V.
Gray Davis: Army Captain in Vietnam, Bronze Star.
Pete Stark: Air Force 1955-57.
Chuck Robb: Vietnam.
Howell Heflin: Silver Star.
George McGovern: Silver Star & DFC during WWII.
Bill Clinton: Did not serve. Student deferments. Entered draft but received 311.
Jimmy Carter: Seven years in the Navy.
Walter Mondale: Army 1951-1953.
John Glenn: WWII and Korea; six DFCs and Air Medal with 18 Clusters.
Tom Lantos: Served in Hungarian underground in WWII. Saved by Raoul Wallenberg.
Wesley Clark: U.S. Army, 1966-2000, West Point, Vietnam, Purple Heart, Silver Star. Retired 4-star general.
John Dingell: WWII vet.
John Conyers: Army 1950-57, Korea.

REPUBLICANS

Dennis Hastert: did not serve.
Tom Delay: did not serve.
House Whip Roy Blunt: did not serve.
Bill Frist: did not serve.
Rudy Giuliani: did not serve.
George Pataki: did not serve.
Mitch McConnell: did not serve.
Rick Santorum: did not serve.
Trent Lott: did not serve.
Dick Cheney: did not serve. Several deferments, the last by marriage.
John Ashcroft: did not serve. Seven deferments to teach business.
Jeb Bush: did not serve.
Karl Rove: did not serve.
Saxby Chambliss: did not serve. "Bad knee." The man who attacked Max Cleland's patriotism.
Paul Wolfowitz: did not serve.
Vin Weber: did not serve.
Richard Perle: did not serve.
Douglas Feith: did not serve.
Eliot Abrams: did not serve.
Richard Shelby: did not serve.
Jon Kyl: did not serve.
Tim Hutchison: did not serve.
Christopher Cox: did not serve.
Newt Gingrich: did not serve.
Don Rumsfeld: served in Navy (1954-57) as aviator and flight instructor.
George W. Bush: six-year Nat'l Guard commitment (incomplete).
Ronald Reagan: due to poor eyesight, served in a non-combat role making movies.
Gerald Ford: Navy, WWII
Phil Gramm: did not serve.
John McCain: Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross.
Bob Dole: an honorable veteran.
Chuck Hagel: two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star, Vietnam.
Jeff Sessions: Army Reserves, 1973-1986.
JC Watts: did not serve.
Lindsey Graham: National Guard lawyer.
G.H.W. Bush: Pilot in WWII. Shot down by the Japanese.
Tom Ridge: Bronze Star for Valor in Vietnam.
Antonin Scalia: did not serve.
Clarence Thomas: did not serve.

PUNDITS AND PREACHERS

Sean Hannity: did not serve.
Rush Limbaugh: did not serve (4-F with a "pilonidal cyst.")
Bill O'Reilly: did not serve.
Michael Savage: did not serve.
George Will: did not serve.
Chris Matthews: did not serve.
Paul Gigot: did not serve.
Bill Bennett: did not serve.
Pat Buchanan: did not serve.
Bill Kristol: did not serve.
Kenneth Starr: did not serve.
Michael Medved: did not serve.

INSTA-CLOCKWORK REACTION: Can we trade Clinton for McCain? And by "we" I mean Republicans, my party of registration. And, no, I didn't serve either.


Posted Aug. 4
MAMA'S GOT A SQUEEZEOC BOX
SqueezeOC, the Orange County Register's supposedly faux-alternative weekly, designed to strip you dear readers and advertisers away from you-know-who, is set to launch Aug. 18, according to their brand-spankin' new website www.squeezeoc.com. Their site even features a photo of--drum roll, puh-leeze--an orange. 'Cause this is ORANGE County. Get it? And "squeeze" is in their name and it's also something you do to an orange. Get it? Get it? No? Me neither.


LINK OF THE DAY
Hell, maybe the year:
www.sweetjesusIhatebilloreilly.com


BABY YOU CAN'T DRIVE MY CAR
If someone tries to tell you there is no market for gas-electric hybrids (as they previously tried to do with all-electrics; see Dude, Where's My Electric Car?), you have my permission to pass along my wife's recent car-leasing experience. Explaining that she wants fuel economy but isn't ready to step down from her mom van to a sedan, my wife zeroed in on a Toyota SUV hybrid. So we went to our local dealership, where there was only one hybrid on the lot: an SUV . . . that had already been sold. Since the owner hadn't yet picked it up, we could look at it, we just couldn't test drive it. How about a Prius? All gone. They did have another SUV hybrid arriving a couple days later that we might be able to test drive, but there was a good chance that, too, would be sold over the phone before it even got there. Now, here's the funny thing we discovered about Toyota hybrids: because demand is so high and they're just flying off the lots, the dealers load them with extras (sunroofs! chrome wheels! 6-cd changer players!). So, having found out what the retail price was for the stripped-down version before arriving, we looked at a sticker price that was at least $10,000 more because of all the (unnecessary) goodies. The salesman's explanation was pretty much "Why do we do that? Because we can." That proved too rich for our blood. My wife wound up leasing the same SUV, only in the stripped down, 4-cyclinder, non-hybrid model, because it fit our budget. It still gets better gas mileage than our family's other cars (even the tiny '93 Nissan Sentra). Lo and behold, on Aug. 4, Toyota announced plans for 10 new hybrids, while also inviting all other automakers to an eco-summit on global warming and better fuel efficiency standards in future cars. Toyota's goal is to sell 1 million hybrids annually worldwide, which means most will wind up on California's roads (the No. 1 Toyota sales territory worldwide, our salesman boasted). So, maybe by the time our SUV non-hybrid's lease is up, we can finally get that hybrid. Without all the goodies.


REVENGE OF THE 909
Oh, we're so smug here in OC, er, excuse me: THE O.C., BITCH! But just think of those poor dirtbags in the 909 with their trailers on blocks and single tooths and next-door meth labs exploding in the night. Those sorry bastards. Well, now it turns out they have something to crow about. An economist claims you're better off living in the 909--something they call the Inland Empire (HAH!)--than just about anywhere, and certainly much more better off than living here. You read that right, Poncho, here, paradise, the place that dreams and crappy teen soap operas and reality shows are made of. The economist attributes this to something he calls--no shit--"The Dirt Theory." Please stop laughing. Naturally, if it was reported in the august Fontana Herald News, it must be true.


CORRECTIONAL DEPARTMENT
We here at the Weekly apologize for our Aug. 3 It's News to Us web posting titled "20 Marines dead in 20 days in Iraq." Turns out that was erroneous. Upon further review, that should have read: 21 MARINES DEAD IN 2 DAYS!!! We apologize for any inconvenience our error caused to anyone other than the Bush White House.


HAVE GUN, WILL BRANDISH
Jesus Christ, do they toss out Orange County Sheriff's Department badges and guns like Chickletts on a TJ street corner or what? I mean, I've encountered some lunkheads on our region's many fine muni golf courses, and tempers do occasionally flare, such as the time I went ahead and hit thinking there was no way I'd reach the green where a foursome was putting, only to accidentally hit a little old Asian woman in the arm. She rightly yelled at me and waved her putter in my face, but it's not like she whipped out a badge, pulled a pistol and threatened to "kill" me like Sheriff Mike Carona's buddy just did. You know, for "America's Sheriff," this Carona fellow sure surrounds himself with some peaches. Maybe that's how he's solving Orange County's chronic jail overcrowding: just cutting cretins loose and handing them guns and badges on the way out. Background checks? We don't need no stinkin' background checks. If someone can't unseat Sheriff Capone in the next election, this here county is even more royally fucked up than I thought possible.


WANTED: ADVICE
Okay, I just did something really stupid: I hadn't had strong enough coffee before driving in to work, which, as you know, in the past has led me to forget my backpack, show up wearing mismatched socks plow my '74 Caddy through those schoolchildren in the crosswalk. But today took the urinal cake: after I sat down to do my, ahem, morning business in the public restroom here at Weekly HQ, I discovered that I had forgotten to put down the sanitary paper seat cover. First off, who knew those paperless seats were so cold? Second, as I sat there a few seconds, I couldn't decide if it was better to stop midway through, erm, dropping the boys off in the pool and grabbing the seat cover, or if I'd already potentially infected myself. I went with the latter, but should you know anything about this please email me at mcoker@ocweekly.com because it's really been on my mind--especially since the cottage cheese-looking stuff started coming out with my pee.


Posted Aug. 3
WHEN WE GET BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
While trying to publicly explain away that he didn't realize a vote he made in February to approve a 2,000-home project constituted a conflict-of-interest, a Desert Hot Springs city councilman let it slip that his city manager and attorneys for the Newport Beach developer tried to get him to shut his pie hole once he realized the infraction. According to an Aug. 3 Palm Springs Desert Sun story Councilman Hank Hohenstein did not realize the property he owns adjacent to Newport Beach-based First West/DHS Development LLC's upscale StoneRidge project presents a conflict due to a "typo." Elected officials cannot vote nor even take part in discussions on developments that are within 500 feet of land they own. This whole deal is smelly. Outgoing City Manager Jerry Hanson, who is departing with a controversial, over-generous retirement package, and the one who told Hohenstein to pipe down, also owns nearby land whose value will shoot up as a result of First West's project. All of this has sparked demands for a Riverside County grand jury investigation. But it's probably just coinky-dink what First West is doing now: transferring ownership of StoneRidge to Western Pacific, a San Diego division of Arlington, Texas-based Fortune 500 development company D.R. Horton Co. Can you say "cut and run"?


SPREADING THE LOVE
If you've just bought a new home in Irvine, Newport Beach or anywhere else within the boundaries of Irvine Ranch and placed in its driveway a new Mercedes from Fletcher Jones Motorcars of Newport Beach, rest assured that some of your purchase power wound up going toward Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's multi-million dollar special election to "reform" California. Among the top donors in the latest reporting period are the Irvine Co. and Mr. Fletcher Jones, who gave $250,000 apiece. That's, of course, a pittance to both parties, as $250,000 equals just 2 1/2 S Class Mercedes Benzes or the smallest bathroom in a Newport Coast abode.


CARE FOR A SMOKELESS SMOKE?
Woodleaf Corp. of Newport Beach announced Aug. 3 that the U.S. government has approved its smokeless cigarettes for market. The Aeros Smokeless Cigarette, which is only available on the company website (www.aerosinfo.com), supposedly requires no heat for use and delivers no smoke, tar or carbon monoxide. Woodleaf claims an "eight-puff use," which we're going to speculate is the average number of puffs smokers take off one regular cancer stick, can be performed on an Aeros Smokeless Cigarette 40 times before it's depleted. So instead of a pack, just two Aeros will get you through the day. Of course, two "new technology cigarettes" just won't look as cool rolled up in the sleeve of a plain-white T.


BAD BOYS
Did you notice the local connection in the Aug. 1 story about a gone-to-seed (allegedly) California Guard Officer in Iraq? Some of the 800 men in a California Army National Guard battalion allege that Lt. Col. Patrick Frey is an erratic egomaniac who rules through intimidation. The military suspended the 50-year-old and removed one group under his command, Alpha Company, based in Fullerton, from patrol duties as the Army investigates as many as 17 soldiers for abuse. Defenders claim Frey is taking all the heat to avoid another Abu Ghraib-type scandal, and in a journal entry sent to friends and family after a shooting incident now under investigation, Frey confided that could happen. "Alpha Company," he wrote, "drew first blood in the battalion. ... [T]hey engaged a vehicle, it caught fire and is destroyed. That is all I know. Higher headquarters wants reports. There will be an investigation. Woe betide the kids who engaged if the shooting is found to not be in accordance with the Rules of Engagement. This is not a simple war." Roger that, brudder.


Posted Aug. 2
GUILTY, YES; PUNISH, NO
A New York federal judge ruled Aug. 1 that JetBlue Airways, main U.S. Defense Department contractor SRS Technologies of Newport Beach, and two other firms violated passengers' privacy by turning over lists of customers to the government. So how did U.S. District Court Judge Carol Bagley Amon punish these dirty birds? By further ruling that said passengers, all 5 million of 'em, deserve no damages and dismissing their class-action lawsuit. Yeah, that'll teach 'em to stop invading our privacy.


DAILY QUOTE-AHHH...
"Okay. . . . Stephen is way hot, Jason is way hot, Talan is so cute . . . and Kristin . . . what a C U Next Tuesday." From an Aug. 1 posting by thegayboy on Entertainment Weekly's website, in response to Timothy Gunatilaka's story The Beach is Back, which previews the second season of Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County. According to Broadcasting & Cable, the MTV reality show's July 25 premiere "surfed its way into the homes of 3.6 million viewers." So screw those critics who called the show inane! Oh yeah, that was us.


OW!
All those rich clucks who moved into gaudy Irvine Co. McMansions ringed by fortified walls and manned by roving guards must now be shaking in their Ballys over a recent discovery in one of their shiny new community parks. Newport Beach cops say 13 X-acto blades have been found in the Bonita Canyon park's playground sand since July 30, when a 5-year-old boy pricked his foot on a blade coiled between two rocking horses. Now, surely, many residents who call Inflated Mortgagaritaville home moved behind those oh-so-safe gates assured in the knowledge that they--or, more importantly, their precious snot creators--would never come in contact with the dregs of society like Lori Fischer, the disturbed, 24-year-old Mission Viejo woman who in January was sentenced to five years in prison for hiding razor blades, broken glass and nails in eight OC park playgrounds. That'd be eight OC parks that ARE NOT surrounded by guard-patrolled berms. Newport Beach cops are telling Newport Coasters to keep an extra eye on the kids--or, more likely, it'll be their Latina nanny's extra eye.


KICK ME, I'M IRISH
Belfast Telegraph sports editor Malcolm Brodie caught up with former Linfield, Ireland, footballer--or, as we Yanks call 'em, soccer player--Norman Kelly somewhere you might not expect: our own sunny Laguna Beach (a.k.a. the home of everyone's favorite C U Next Tuesday). Brodie's July 30 story reports that the 34-year-old ex-midfielder has traded swift kicks to the shin for overseeing 20 boys and girls ages eight and up as a club soccer coach. Parents pay Brodie as much $1,200 per kid to take them to the next level. While that's not David Beckham money, for an Irish kid it sure beats a boot to the head.


MCOKER@OCWEEKLY.COM

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