I ran into Larry one evening last year. It was the first time we'd seen each other since Moxley had launched the investigation. Walking out of a shopping center near UC Irvine, we converged awkwardly in the parking lot. He asked about my family, I asked about his, and then I asked, "So how's everything else?" And he let me have it—my stupidity, my desire to tear him down for reasons that clearly required "a therapist," my hope to build a reputation on the destruction of his good name—everything but the possibility that he'd made some bad decisions, that he'd been taking advice from people who knew how to win elections, stay in office, and keep your hands on the levers of power, but knew little of press relations, to say nothing of ethics.

He was so pissed off out there—standing in the slanting early evening sun, our shadows pointed, swear to God, like a compass needle right toward the place we'd first met back in 1986 or so—so pissed off that he said he no longer reads the Weekly. I didn't bother to ask how it was he knew what we were writing.

So I react badly when my friends—some of whom I will allow the license they have already taken to call themselves "former" friends—fall into the familiar pattern of raging at the Weekly. (A few weeks back it was the aging Agran supporter who said our critique of Larry could be motivated only by anti-Semitism.) I wish they'd examine the evidence. I wish they'd focus, not on the soy content in our ink, the breast-enhancement ads, the etc., etc., etc. I wish they'd take seriously the principles of good government that Agran taught us.

I regret that I sometimes react badly when they don't.

Mostly I regret that Agran, whom I still honor for every great thing he created—I can see now that I failed to mention his leading role in killing the county's plan to build an airport at El Toro—that that man has put us, his friends, this little band of brothers and sisters fighting the good fight in Orange County, in the position of agreeing to walk past one another in shopping centers, at city parks and political fund-raisers, averting our eyes and closing our lips to avoid saying anything, rather than saying the one thing that might disturb the beige housing tracts we disappear into every night: that Larry Agran turned out to be mortal.

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