Killer Quince

Happy Quinceañera to us! A look back at 15 years of telling the other side (that is, the real side) of OC's story

About 235 years ago, Franciscan priests founded Mission San Juan Capistrano and quickly subjugated the region’s native populations. The Catholic hierarchy in Orange County hasn’t stopped raping and spinning that rape in its favor since, culminating with a decades-long sex-abuse scandal, about which details continue to emerge. While other newspapers covered the bigger stories in the arc, only the Weekly has obsessively chronicled every misstep in the crisis by Diocese of Orange Bishop Tod D. Brown. We were the paper that first reported on Brown hiring a $500,000 PR agency to spin its pedophile-priest cover-ups and broke that Brown himself had a molestation allegation lodged against him that he never disclosed, despite promising an era of transparency. We’ve dug through archives to discover Brown’s pedophile-protecting while serving in the Diocese of Boise, as well as internal memos by his flunkies on how to withhold information from the media. We even wrote a real-estate guide to the luxurious homes Brown puts up his priests in. Meanwhile, the Orange diocese continues to shut down schools in Latino parishes and moves forward on an expensive-ass new cathedral. Heckuva job, Brownie!

If unending self-absorption is the essence of insanity, then we should have institutionalized Broadcom CEO and multibillionaire Henry Nicholas when reporter Dave Wielenga met with him in 2004. Nicholas—he asked to be called “Nick”—spoke and spoke and spoke until Wielenga’s eyes glazed over, at which point, Wielenga wrote, “the glaze dried into a crust that baked my eyeballs into jelly-filled cookies.” Of course, back then, we didn’t know that the “addition” to Nicholas’s home would soon be known as the “alleged sex dungeon.” The federal allegations of insider trading, an insatiable hunger for hookers and a penchant for hot-boxing his airplanes with pot smoke would come later—and then be dismissed. However, if, as they say, insanity is the repetition of one behavior with the expectation of different results, we’ve dealt with a few additional certified whackos over the years. Such as Orly Taitz, the dentist who thinks President Barack Obama is actually a foreigner and who persists—despite dismissals, fines and ridicule—in filing conspiracy-theory-driven lawsuits against him. Or Marie Kolanski, the militantly anti-government leader of the grandmotherly knitting co-op known as the Piecemakers, who has repeatedly harassed, threatened and defied county pencil-pushers, once even landing herself in jail. Or Steve Rocco, the ketchup-snatching Andy Kaufman devotee and ex-Orange Unified School District board member. He has won one election, has lost a bunch more, and was convicted of stealing a ketchup bottle, but he’ll never truly go away—and we can’t say we’d want him to, though the Partnership certainly does.

Orange County has hosted some of the nastiest, craziest racists in the United States since its incorporation—one of the legislators who helped pass the bill that spun off OC from Los Angeles County was Henry W. Head, who not only was a member of the Ku Klux Klan, but also served directly under Klan founder Nathan Bedford Forrest during the Civil War. His is just one of the many tales we’ve broken on our local bigots. Whether it was skinhead gangs such as PEN1 and the Nazi Lowrider Gang, anti-Semites such as the Chicano website La Voz de Aztlán and the Institute for Historical Review, anti-immigrant crazies such as the Minuteman Project and the California Coalition for Immigration Reform, self-hating Mexicans and even Armenian genocide deniers, the Weekly has loved them all, thrown more than a few in jail, and—in perhaps our proudest racialist moment—chilled the local white-power music scene for years with Rich Kane’s 2001 “Springboard for Hitler,” which revealed how mainstream rock club the Shack began hosting neo-Nazi concerts. The Shack is now a Mexican nightclub, which proves that God not only has a sense of humor, but also endorses the Reconquista.

Star Foreman
Star Foreman

Just because you live here doesn’t mean you have to be an asshole. Over the years, we’ve celebrated some truly outstanding individuals who have helped remind the world there’s a kinder, gentler side to Orange County politics. One of our favorite people, of course, is Tim Carpenter, who helped organize the nuclear-freeze movement here before going on to help found the Orange County Interfaith Peace Ministry and the local chapter of Families Against Three Strikes. We’ve admired the work of environmentalists such as anti-toll-road crusader Tom Rogers (a Republican, no less) and Joey Racano (who never met a wetland—or a crow—he didn’t love) and showered praise on homeless advocates Dwight Smith (of OC’s Catholic Worker) and Randy Beckx (of Santa Ana’s finest). More recent shout-outs have gone to Joelle Casteix, who helped expose pedophile priests, and Dr. Michael Fitzgibbons, who risked his job—and nearly his freedom—to fight private-sector corruption that could have closed the doors on some of Orange County’s busiest hospitals.

“If it wasn’t for OC, your scene wouldn’t be alive.” That’s what the Adolescents sneered correctly about punk, but, of course, those snotty geniuses could have been sneering about a lot more. Without OC, you wouldn’t have the brilliant, bizarre latter days of sci-fi iconoclast author Philip K. Dick, who holed up in Fullerton and Santa Ana in the 1970s and, as Chris Ziegler exhaustively detailed in 2005, saw God. You wouldn’t have Sandow Birk wracking up critical acclaim for his paintings while shocking and awing and depicting Muhammad as an angry cab driver for his interpretation of Dante’s Inferno. After all, suburbia isn’t a bad place from which to launch plans of world cultural domination. Irvine gave us Zack De La Rocha’s civilization-razing Rage Against the Machine, who, Hobey Echlin wrote in 2007, resemble God because if they “didn’t exist, it would be necessary to invent them.” Westminster fostered the globe-trotting ambition of Vietnamese music studio Thuy Nga, producers of the iconic variety-show spectacle Paris By Night. And Costa Mesa culinary auteur Wing Lam may have produced Orange County’s greatest export of all. Per Matt Coker in 2000: “Fuck me, Wahoo’s makes the best fish taco. Ever. End of story.”

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