Diary of a Mad County

July 26 - Aug. 1

Wednesday, July 26
The National Association of Realtors
' June report shows that home sales fell to the slowest pace since January, while price gains were the smallest in more than a decade. That's what realtors call a buyer's market, in which those looking for a home actually have the advantage over those selling one—and it's good news for middle-class workers trying to make ends meet by converting used fast-food cooking oil to car fuel in your bathtub: you're in control! Yes, just take your coupon-clipping self over to Newport Beach (median home price is $1.3 million) and start haggling. Tell them you'll consider buying their five-bedroom, five-bath home with Sub Zero freezer/cryogenic sleep chamber if they'll accept payment in used CDs and self-harvested internal organs. Tell them time is money and maybe you'll just take your business over to San Clemente, where the home median price is now a low, low, low $848,000. Heck, you're so motivated to get a good deal, you'd even consider slumming it in the backwoods of Yorba Linda, where resident hicks are lucky to get $750,000 for their 4,000-square-foot shacks with scarce room for their heliports and FabergĂ© egg dens. Boy, isn't it nice to see the little guy catch a break? The report said the median price for homes in the west is $342,000. Where exactly would that west be? West of Catalina? A house in California, in Orange County, for $342,000? Is it currently on fire? Is it in a bad neighborhood with poorly performing schools? Are the schools currently on fire?

Thursday, July 27
The National Sports Collectors Convention
continues at the Anaheim Convention Center with many attendees concerned about the devaluation of sports memorabilia. Prices for baseball cards, the most popular collectible, are down and so was attendance at the convention. Fifteen years ago, at the height of the sports memorabilia boom, the NSCC hosted more than 100,000. This year, organizers expected to attract about 35,000, most of whom carpooled in their buddy's badass IROC. Flagging interest, and collapsing values, concerns and puzzles the industry. Who'd ever think that at a time of such vast global uncertainty, people wouldn't value the perpetual stability of a small piece of cardboard best designed to put in bike spokes? Truly, we are a lost generation.

Friday, July 28
Call me crazy, but I believe American cyclist Floyd Landis. I mean, does this guy look as if he's ever had any testosterone in his body?

Saturday, July 29
True story. At the U.S. Open of Surfing at Huntington Beach, OC Weekly, a sponsor of the event, is running its little booth, and may we say the booth is jumping. We have games, a prize wheel, a DJ spinning music accompanied by two young women dancing. Everything is going great. A nice-sized crowd is enjoying music loaded with subliminal messages of hate and anarchy, while a long line of people waits to take part in games and win some bauble made by Chinese or Myanmarese prison labor. And then, all of a sudden, a Weekly staffer is approached by Huntington Beach police who say they're preparing to close the booth because our dancing women are causing a disturbance and because the women don't have a dancing permit. Who knew one needed a dancing permit to dance, and why isn't this statute enforced at more Catholic weddings? Anyway, a quick-thinking Weekly employee tells the women to stop dancing, hands them a beach ball and suggests a game of catch. Brilliant—until the police return to say that the women's flagrant throwing of a beach ball on a beach is attracting the wrong crowd because the women are wearing—wait for it—bikinis. Let that one sink in. The police are worried because our booth has two women in bikinis. At the beach. The women are at the beach in bikinis . . . ALL IS LOST! THE PROPHECY HAS BEEN FULLFILLED!

Sunday, July 30
Rob Machado
wins his third U.S. Open of Surfing. Machado is a great guy and a great surfer and he's had a great weekend: on Friday, he was inducted into the Surfing Hall of Fame. Still, Machado's victory is a bit tainted since his finals opponent was forced to forfeit when local police found that he did not have a surfing permit and was wearing board shorts.

Monday, July 31
In a lesson about all good things coming to an end but nothing good ever coming out of Florida, Representative Katherine Harris, the paint-spattered Republican hero of the 2000 presidential "election," is asked to cease her campaign for the U.S. Senate because, according to the state's Republican Party, she can't win. Harris, who governed Florida elections and simultaneously served as George W. Bush's 2000 state campaign chairwoman, was informed in a letter from Republican Party Chairwoman Carole Jean Jordan that the party could no longer support her campaign because it had sustained "irreparable damage," in part the result of her ties to Mitchell Wade, a defense contractor who pled guilty to bribing another congressman. There was also the fact that Harris trailed incumbent Democratic Senator Bill Nelson by 37 points, the same deficit faced by the candidate of the Genital Warts for Everyone Party. "We feel that we have no other choice but to revoke our support," Jordan wrote. "The polls tell us that no matter how you run this race, you will not be successful in beating Bill Nelson, who would otherwise be a vulnerable incumbent if forced to face a stronger candidate." The letter went on to say that those polls show Harris that she has overwhelmingly negative name recognition, that her much-discussed face "frightens small children and the elderly," that she is "so distasteful to look at, i.e. ugly, that when you applied to take part in the 'Ugly Contest' the organizers responded, 'No professionals!'" while adding, "You're so overweight, i.e. fat, that when you have the occasion to relax about your home, your very girth actually extends out of the home's interior and covers the entirety of the perimeter, in essence causing you to sit 'around' the house. In today's volatile housing market, we think this is a message that could ring negatively with voters. You see our point, don't you, Fatty?"

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