Diary of a Mad County

Feb. 14-Feb. 20

Wednesday, February 14
Valentine's Day
is a time for lovers and, to a lesser extent, skip loading, but mostly it's for lovers and so I find myself eating a shrimp saladat a Long Beach diner with Dave Wielenga. No, Dave and I are not lovers; he has a "girlfriend," whom none of us have ever seen because he says she lives in "Chicago," whatever magical universeof his imagination that may be. Still, it's good to sit and talk about life and stuff with a with a friend who happens to be a man, even if it's just to hear him say something obtuse like "I thought I'd made myself clear—it's not going to happen." Good ole obtuse, dreamy, Jesus-looking Dave. Anyway, I was thinking, "If we were gay, where would we go in Orange County to just have a nice meal and a talk?" Certainly not Laguna Beach landmark Woody's, which closed earlier this month. Woody's had been a destination for gays in the area for decades, a relaxing place to hang out and meet with friends and lovers without the frenetic bar vibe. I guess all those people who went to Woody's will now have to meet at another gay-centric eatery, Hamburger Mary's . . . except that it closed its Newport Beachlocation yesterday. Sense a theme here? You know, for years my gay friends have told me that Laguna Beach was done as a main destination and meeting place for fun. And now with the likes of Woody's gone and the prospect of the Boom Boom Roomdisappearing at the end of this summer, it seems their verdict is coming to pass. A friend of mine who lives in West Hollywoodsaid he used to gladly make the drive down to Laguna and put up with trying to find parking because once he got out of his car it was so much fun. But, steadily, gays have been leaving Laguna. High rents and real estate prices have chased out a lot of the younger crowd, which has fled to places like Palm Springsand Long Beach. Laguna got rid of its gay pride parade years ago. People who paid millions to purchase homes in quirky Laguna all of a sudden feel like they'd like a little less quirk.

Thursday, February 15
The Anaheim City Council
deadlocks, 2-2, on whether to go ahead with a proposed residential complex, including low-cost housing, near Disneyland. This wouldn't be a big deal except a few months ago the council voted 4-1 to push forward with the plan in which SunCal would build 1,500 homes, including more than 200 apartments for low-income tenants. What happened? Disney. Turns out that Disney didn't like the idea of low-income housing blighting the area of crappy hotelsthat serve it, and made its displeasure known. And just like that, Councilman Harry Sidhu is voting against the plan because he says " I want to go and send a strong message that we can't have 100 percent residential in the resort district." Of course, he was perfectly happy with the plan six months before when he voted for it. Councilwoman Lucille Kring, who would have been the swing vote, abstainedbecause of a conflict of interest that she didn't think was a conflict of interest. Kring and her husband will be opening up a wine shop near the proposed housing project. Anaheim City Manager Dave Morgan asked if the shop would be within 500 feet of the project, because if it were, she could get into trouble. Kring and her husband measured the distance and found it was more than 500 feet. Upon hearing this, Disney officials sent a letter to City Attorney Jack White citing a 2001 case in Truckee, where a council member was advised not to vote on a housing project because his wine shop was within three miles of a project. So Disney got what it wanted out of Anaheim. It always does. Whether it's Disney personnel holding up Anaheim cops from entering the park to investigate fatalities, or Anaheim city officials downplaying the seriousness of many ambulances and emergency equipment having to be used to pry people off of the California Screamin'roller coaster, Anaheim is always all about Disneyland. Back when I first started at this paper, I attended a press conference where city officials were extolling a project called "Sportstown" that was going to be built in the parking lot of Anaheim Stadium. The project was to have sports-themed shops and restaurants as well as a monorail that would connect the stadium to the Anaheim Pond and, perhaps, the Disneyland resort. Everyone seemed excited, even reporters to a degree, until one of them asked why a Disney official wasn't present to talk about how great Sportstown was going to be. The city guys hemmed and hawed and finally admitted that Disney didn't want to be there, i.e. they were not on board with the plan. We closed our notebooks, filled our pockets with finger sandwiches, and left. Sportstown never happened. And neither will anything else in Anaheim that Disney doesn't approve of . . . Forget it, Jake. It's Disneyland.

Friday, February 16
Was Britney wearing a diaperwhen she shaved her head? Because that would be really greatif she was.

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