By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
The annual stewards conference at the United Food and Commercial Workers union hall in Buena Park was packed with delegates rousing their rabble and raising snappy posters reading United We Bargain, Divided We Beg. A film showed union peeps frolicking—if your idea of frolicking is picketing, and, really, whose isn't?—to a Dixie Chicks soundtrack. They were waiting for Phil Angelides.
The real shocker was that not all of them were old.
Phil Angelides has been pissing me off lately; he's funny and wonkily charismatic, and he's running just a horrible campaign. Everyone else is reaming him for campaigning on higher (for the wealthy) taxes; I love that he's not going to lie to us. Nor does he triangulate left, then swing right when the base gets too pissy, then swing left again when it's time to get re-elected by Dems. He's a sensible Democrat, and he'll stay that way.
His campaign, though? Good Christ. The guy can't get a lick of media until he does something howlingly stupid. There was that clusterfuck with the "hot-blooded Cuban" tapes; they tried to ream Schwarzy on it, and he managed to give an apology that made everyone else look small. (Trick to a perfect apology: don't just say you're sorry the sensitive Sallys got offended; explain why it was wrong—that shows you've internalized the lesson. Per the governor: "I was embarrassed when I read my comments in the newspaper" and "If I heard my children saying those things, I would be upset." See? Perfect!) It turned out Angelides' campaign leaked the tapes, a revelation not helped by his prissy schoolmarm act about how deeply offensive the tapes were, when it's stuff you and I and everyone we know say in private.
Phil finally arrived at the union hall to some rolling thunder. There was talk of Schwarzenegger vetoing the right to a lunch break, and vetoing a bill allowing locked-out workers to draw unemployment. He talked about middle-class people working "harder and harder and longer for less. But the economy's not tough on everyone," he said. Between oil, Big Pharma and the HMOs, they're making $556 million a day.
I got your class warfare swingin'.
The Register showed up for the last five minutes, and John North of ABC threw a righteous fit and stomped off when, after his speech, Angelides responded to a woman's question before North's. I can only imagine how ABC framed that night's story.
But there are 23,000 union members out there, and if they really want to help, the $30 million Schwarzenegger's spent since the primary—and the millions more he's gearing up for—can be neutralized.
Hell, they managed to get Gray Davis elected. Twice.
* * *
That night, we went to the Corona del Mar digs of Susan and Mike Schroeder; DA henchfrau Susan had invited the girls for a Grey's Anatomy party, and she'd even bought us matching scrubs, which was all sweet and swell till she made us go to dinner in them. (GOP kingpin Mike took off but fast with Flash Report's Jon Fleischman.) Susan even treated the dinner. I like having rich friends, and making fun of them.
The show itself was a little bit goopy and a whole lot of a letdown. They actually managed to give themselves plague.
* * *
Saturday, after a stop at the Dems' new state campaign office in Anaheim—with a rollicking speech by John Garamendi that made Commie Mom actually leave the room in shyness at his old-guy hotness—my newest gay and I hit the road for the ne plus ultra of the lesbe-friends types (after the rocking Joan Jett): a night with Ani DiFranco. Author of some of my very favorite lyrics (second maybe to Wyclef's "I'm on the guest list plus five!") like, "You were/Never a good lay/And you were/Never a good friend/Oh oh let me count the ways/I adore you," DiFranco is the indie goddess Liz Phair's always dreamed of being, and this night was her 36th birthday.
Which probably explained why it was kind of a bummer. An acoustic set with just her upright bassist, the music was moody and gloomy and every other song bored. I figure her life's good, she does what she wants, she's been her own boss since she was, what, 20? And every city she goes to, she has a thousand loving fans. So there's simply nowhere to go from here.
I would be depressed too.
In fact, I think I am.
* * *
To Do: Sheila Go Sheila at the Alley on Friday
Dearest Commie Girl,
I am an attorney for the Dept. of Homeland Security who happens to rock. I would be honored if you would accept this humble invitation to come watch my band, the go-sheilas. Not only would I be honored, but should you decide to come to the show, upon checking in at our guest list you will find waiting for you your choice of gleaming pink flip-flops (in whatever size you specify), a box of chocolates or a disposable camera. My apologies for the cheapness of the bribe, but then there's my meager government salary to contend with. At any rate, take a listen, and if you like, please e-mail me, select your gift, and I will see you at the Alley (and the guys in the band will buy you a drink).