Diary of a Mad County

July 5 - July 11

Wednesday, July 5
Mexico
remains in chaos after a contested presidential election with uncounted ballots, lawsuits and a judiciary that favors the conservative candidate. That's the third world for ya.

Thursday, July 6
Director Larry Clark shows up with the stars from his new movie, Wassup Rockers, at Costa Mesa's RVCA. Wassup Rockers is the tale of Latino skaters from South-Central LA who find themselves in Beverly Hills beset by rich, selfish, narcisstic types who leave the boys yearning for the simple pleasures and relative safety of home. Far-fetched? Happens every day in Orange County, you know, if for South-Central you substitute Santa Ana; instead of Beverly Hills, Newport Beach; and instead of skaters, nannies and housekeepers. And thus I have now given myself an excuse to tell perhaps my favorite Kids Say the Darndest Most Socially Cogent Things. A friend once told of the time she was teaching a class of preschool kids who hailed from wealthy homes in West LA, Santa Monica and, yes, Beverly Hills. The kids were watching a video about babies, and when it came to a part that mentioned male seahorses give birth, the teacher turned to the kids and said, "So, the daddy seahorse has the babies. Who has the babies for people?" One kid answered, "The nanny."

Friday, July 7
The OC Fair opens today, and no, I'm not going to talk about the rejoicing of toothless, redneck types. I go to the fair every year with my kids and have a great time. We've never fallen off a ride, and we throw up only when appropriate. In fact, I have to say the OC Fair has gotten better every year, especially the music acts, which used to be highlighted by Weird Al Yankovic but now have the likes of X—who I saw there last year—Wall of Voodoo, Seal and Gnarls Barkley, who apparently have more than one song in their repertoire. Michael Bolton plays there on July 25, which would be an appropriate time to throw up.

Saturday, July 8
Checking the paper today to see where I can see Water, a film about the plight of widows in India. Water has been targeted by religious extremists who have attempted to suppress the film by threatening the filmmakers. Thank God we don't have people like that here; that would be horrible. Anyway, the first place I look for the film is in the listings of the best theater in Orange County—maybe Southern California—Edwards University in Irvine. Turns out they don't have it, but what they do have is An Inconvenient Truth, A Scanner Darkly, Strangers With Candy,Wassup Rockersand Who Killed the Electric Car?Now that's a bill. A couple of hard-hitting, entertaining documentaries, an animated film based on a classic Philip K. Dick novel—yes, Classic Dick—the aforementioned Clark project, and a comedy based on one of the funniest TV shows ever. This at a time when virtually every other movie theater is giving over its screens to the likes of Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest, Clickand Superman Returns.The lineup is so good, even by University standards, that Weekly film editor Matt Coker asked theater management if he could sleep on a cot in the theater, which just goes to show you how good the theater is and how creepy Coker is. In fact, you can expect the same quality from University next year, when everyone else will be showing Superman Gets a Store Credit, Pirates of the Caribbean: Beating a Dead Horse and Some Such Crap With Adam Sandler and Boob Jokes That Will Make $300 Million Because That's the Deal He Made With Satan.

Sunday, July 9
My ancestry is fluid, totally dependent on where I am and what benefits me the most. Today, I claim the 50 percent of me that is 100 percent Italian. The 50 percent of me that is Irish can suck on it . . . until the Pogues put out an album.

Monday, July 10
In a lovely story that proves it's all about the kids, The Orange County Register reports today that the Capistrano Unified School District kept lists of 150 families who supported a recall campaign of school-board members. In actions described by one parent as "Nixonish," the district kept spreadsheets on the families with various information including where their children went to school and if they had any previous contact with G. Gordon Liddy. In January, district officials persuaded someone at the Registrar of Voters office in Santa Ana to turn over the recall petitions, which just goes to prove that the folks at the Registrar of Voters may not be able to count very fast or very well, but that doesn't prevent them from being total idiots. "They shouldn't have done that," said county Registrar Neal Kelley. But they did. Assistant Superintendent Susan McGill and former district spokesman David Smollar were taken to a back room, where they were shown the petitions and Smollar wrote down some names. Smollar then took the names to district Superintendent James Fleming. Fleming said he "felt very uncomfortable" looking at the names and that he "couldn't give them back to [Smollar] fast enough." Smollar agrees with everything Fleming says—said Fleming was so uncomfortable with the list of names that he smiled when he got them and was so eager to give them back that he put them in a "discuss with trustees" box. Fleming denies Smollar's story and has labeled him a—all together now—disgruntled employee. Meanwhile, the news has freaked out teachers who signed the petition and now fear reprisals. Parents who signed the petition fear their children may be targeted for retaliation or, worse, shop class.

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