Diary of a Mad County

Feb. 7-Feb. 13

Wednesday, Feb. 7
An Orange County Superior Court judge issues a warrant for "actor" Daniel Baldwin,which, along with a 2006 that saw him appear in such "films" as The Beach Party at the Threshold of Hell, extinguishes the possibility anyone can ever remark that he can't get arrested in this town. Actually, Baldwin got arrested three times last year. Once on suspicion of possession of cocaine, once after plowing his Ford Thunderbird into two parked cars while weaving through traffic at more than 80 miles an hour and—the one closest to our hearts—when he allegedly stole a 2003 GMC Yukon from a friend who lives in Aliso Viejo. Baldwin's actions not only call in to question his choice in vehicles—Danny Baldwin's here? Secure the Kia!—but the age old question of "Why do good things happen to rich/famous people who have done nothing to earn that money/fame and why do they then squander that fame/money doing stupid things?" (It's the question that drove Nietzsche mad . . . that and the syphilis.) Take for instance Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has as little acting talent as D. Baldwin and yet carved out a pretty good life for himself: marrying a Kennedy, taking steroids, becoming governor of California and making homo-erotic jokes. He keeps doing some of the stupidest things imaginable. This week we find out that during meetings discussing illegal immigration Schwarzenegger criticized Mexicans as being unwilling to assimilate, using himself as a shining example of what an immigrant should be. "I made an effort." Indeed, so why can't the rest of you just take your steroids and illegal drugs, rock a few orgies, marry a Kennedy and then start a political career aided immeasurably by closed captioning? Schwarzenegger, who said that "Mexicans don't make that effort," offered as proof an appearance he'd made at a Lynwood shopping mall. "Literally, I felt I was in Mexico City. Everyone only spoke Spanish, every shop was in Spanish, every sign was in Spanish." Yes, it was shocking that something like that would occur in a mall called "Plaza Mexico." What's next? Vietnamese spoken in Little Saigon? German at Old World? Physicians Desk Reference at Leisure World?

Thursday, Feb. 8
Speaking of stupid—wait for it—Dana Rohrabacher! During the first Congressional hearings to discuss the findings of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which says mankind is responsible for global warming, the Huntington Beach Republican pleads for civilityin the discussion—"Honest people, I think, can disagree." Yes, they can. But the thing of it is, all the world's top scientists agree on the point. That doesn't deter Rohrabacher, who shouts down scientists, whom he calls "dishonest," whenever their facts disagree with his opinion that global warming is a naturally occurring phenomenon that could be brought on by "dinosaur flatulence." Seriously. He said that. Anyway, what do scientists know? I mean, scientist will tell you that it would be impossible for a Congressman to get continually re-elected talking out of his/about dinosaur ass.

Friday, Feb. 9
Every vote might not count, but every seven apparently do. Three days after folks voted for a new supervisor in the first district, Trung Nguyen leads Janet Nguyen by seven votes. What's interesting is that we're seeing a lot of stories about how the Vietnamese flexed their muscle in this election, and good for them. Schwarzenegger knew all about that muscle and honored it with a an appearance in Little Saigon where, shockingly, he didn't mention a thing about all the Vietnamese flags, signs and language being spoken. Not a critical word about the Vietnamese for not assimilating. Because that would be stupid. The same way it would be stupid to claim my Italian grandmother, who lived in Boston for more than 60 years and barely spoke English, wasn't proud of being an American, even though she was surrounded by like-minded and tongued Italians whose greatest civic holiday was not the Fourth of July but Columbus Day. Their heritage wasn't seen as separate from America; rather, it was celebrated as something that enlivened the national broth. Hmmm, broth.

Saturday, Feb. 10
Apparently, while no one was paying attention, Anna Nicole Smith morphed from drug and alcohol-induced train wreck into Mother Theresa's hot cousin.

Sunday, Feb. 11
More than a few people thought I gave short shrift to the death of Newport restaurateur Sid Soffer. Interestingly, a lot of people blamed former Weekly staffer, and current MauiTimeeditor, Anthony Pignataro,who, in a dialogue I published, didn't have anything to say about Soffer. The reason for this is that the dialogue was all made up by me. I knew Anthony would be OK with me doing this it because A) we're friends and B) he still owes me a lot of money for a certain South American venture that fell flat, thank you so much, Barry McCaffery. So, please don't think less of Anthony for saying nothing about Sid—feel free to think less of him for all the usual reasons. Most people who emailed about Sid offered a few personal recollections, the best of which came from writer John Underwood, whom I plagiarize thusly: "I can tell you that no one circa 1982 who frequented the Blue Beet thought of Sid as iconic. He was the crazy scruff-daddywho served generous shots and cooked his own vermouth-and-vodka-laced beef stroganoff behind the bar till closing time, or he drank himself under, whichever came first. I once tried to interview him for NPR but all I managed to get out of the deal was some great stroganoff and the buzz that came with it. He was not a conversationalist, nor as far as I could gather much of a humanitarian. He was a grizzled and hardpan character only Raymond Chandler could love. But he was authentic. Passionate about music, and it showed by the eclectic spread of talent he brought in from God knows where. My favorite was this old flamenco guitarist he often featured on Tuesday stroganoff special night. The fellow came replete with a playlist of songs as long and old as the Spanish Civil War. The man came complete with a poncho and a beret on his head that was cocked to one side. But it was no schtick. He, like Sid, was the real thing, kindly to the ladies, even aristocratic in the delivery of his anthem-like love ballads. And you had better be respectful and listen. More than once I recall hearing Sid shout out a not-so-subtle "shut up out there" to somebody in the drinking/eating audience. And you did, or you got the distinct impression you could be wearing your stroganoff home."

Monday, Feb. 12 Anna Nicole Smith? Freed the slaves.

Tuesday, Feb. 13 Also, she invented air.

 
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