Diary of a Mad County

Photo by Guy WeberWednesday, Sept. 28
Ashley Smith was big news back in March when she was held hostage by Brian Nichols, a man accused of having just killed four people in an Atlanta courtroom. Somehow, after seven hours, Smith talked Nichols into releasing her and giving himself up. Words such as miraculous and divine—Nichols called Smith an "angel"—were thrown around rather freely, especially after Smith revealed she got through to Nichols by talking to him about God and faith, using the good book, Saddleback Community Church's Rick Warren's Dianetics-like best-seller The Purpose-Driven Life, as her guide. When word got out, Purpose-Driven's already robust sales shot up fivefold and returned it to the top of the best-seller list. Warren went on Larry King Live and said that he now kept in touch with Smith, noting that "God uses normal ordinary people." Yeah huh, them and meth. Smith reveals in her just-released book, Unlikely Angel, that she not only read to Nichols but gave him methamphetamine—God doesn't make junk, but apparently He's down with crank. Smith says it was the meth that made Nichols receptive to a chapter in Purpose-Driven called "Using What God Gave Me," which directly precedes a chapter called "Using What God Gave Me Has Made Me Want to Grind Down My Teeth and Horny, I Think I'll Paint the Garage." Now, please don't misunderstand: I'm not being critical of Smith. She was on a bed, tied up with an electrical cord by an alleged mass murderer. If I'm in that position, I'm not only delivering meth, I'm doing it in high heels—I've done as much to get out of jury duty. In fact, Smith's example has convinced me that meth is a required item for my post-New Orleans earthquake kit. I think it will prove an effective tool when bartering for food and women.

Thursday, Sept. 29
Took my daughter to see the New Pornographers in Hollywood tonight, and, no, I don't think I'm the coolest dad ever, just cooler than yours. The show was terrific, the highlight being the always revelatory Neko Case, a woman blessed with a crystalline bazooka of a voice. Case sings with a kind of control and power that not only demands attention but leaves you gasping for more, as opposed to, you know, Gwen Stefani's voice on "Hollaback Girl," which is demanding and gasping in a sort of tied up with an electrical cord kinda way. I mention this because it's disconcerting to have to tell most people who Neko Case is, while Stefani's "Hollaback" has just become the first song to be downloaded 1 million times. The second is a three-minute recording of a puppy being sawed in two.

Friday, Sept. 30
Question: How many unborn African-American fetuses does it take to rob a liquor store? Answer: Kill 'em all. Bill Bennett—author, gambler, eater of children—says on his radio show Morning in America that you could bring the crime rate down if you abort every African-American baby: "But I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could, if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down," Bennett said. People are outraged, though I always assumed what he said was one of the main planks of the Republican Party platform, you know, right after, "Mire the nation in a senseless, unwinnable war sucking valuable resources away from fighting terrorism and national disasters," and "Appoint my friends to the Supreme Court." (Done and done.) George W. Bush's White House, which has been accused of not caring about black people—probably because he left a bunch of them to die a couple of weeks ago—comes out strongly to denounce Bennett. Through his press secretary, Scott "Blinky" McClellan, Bush says he believes the comments were "not appropriate." Boom! A bitch slap to be sure, though Bush didn't go so far as to bust a cap in Bennett's ass by flat out calling his statements "ill-suited" or "kinda not very good."

Saturday, Oct. 1
Here's the thing about spending five hours in an emergency room: people are really kind. At their lowest, in a moment of extreme crisis, people really do rise to the occasion. And nary a one doing it on meth or ThePurpose-Driven Life.

Sunday, Oct. 2
Mesozoic idols the Beach Boys perform in Newport Beach to help the city-state/fortress launch its centennial celebration: "We're 100, Go Away." Now, when I say it's the Beach Boys, I mean it's all the creepy guys in matching Hawaiian shirts, i.e., Mike Love, and not the one guy who matters, Brian Wilson. You know, people keep telling me how brilliant the Beach Boys are and how Pet Sounds is the greatest album ever made—Paul McCartney said so—and how Wilson is a genius, but I guess, having grown up with them and seeing them in those lame matching striped shirts, it's hard for me to believe. But I respect the people who tell me this, including a friend who just donated a lot of money to a charity that rewarded him with a phone call from Brian Wilson. He was thrilled, but I think the phone is the last place I'd want Brian Wilson, a man who appears ignorant, at times, of the normal mores of social interaction. You'd probably have a hard time getting him off the line because he wouldn't recognize the normal cues, like "aaaanyway" and "ohhhkay"—I mean, it'd probably be all, "No, really, Pet Sounds is like my favorite album ever. I really love 'Good Vibrations.' . . . It wasn't on that album? Oh. Still. Aaaaanyway, it was great talking with . . . what? . . . Yeah, the Beatles totally suck. . . . Right, totally overrated. Everyone thinks that about them being overrated. . . . No, yeah, naked is good. There are a lot of things you can do naked. Absolutely. . . . Oh, sure, you gotta have limits. . . . Yeah, I don't know what Michael Jackson's deal is. . . . Yep, creepy's a good word for it. So, ohhhkay, I guess . . . Uh, no, no, I've never eaten my own poop, um, you know, as such. . . .Oh, yeah, nutrients. Gotta get your nutrients wherever you can, you know, nutrients, nutrients are good. Soooo, ohhhkay, I . . . what? . . . Yeah, I think most people think that about Mike Love. . . . Yeah, creepy's a good word for it. . . . Aaaanyway . . ."

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