It was gay rights icon Harvey Milk who described Orange County best, in response to California State Senator John Briggs describing San Francisco as "the moral garbage dump of homosexuality in this country."
"Nobody likes garbage 'cause it smells," Milk told reporters. "Yet eight million tourists visited San Francisco last year. I wonder how many visited Fullerton."
Actually, Harvey, hundreds of thousands of people visit that nice town. And then they promptly vomit on Harbor Boulevard.
Fact is, we suck—big time. Oh, you won't find a better acolyte for all that is amazing about OC than this infernal rag—in a couple of weeks, we're going to publish our annual Best Of issue, our wonderful celebration of all that is great and wonderful and right here. We do love OC and all of its glory, but let's admit it: Orange County is the worst place in America.
This is not hyperbole. No one loves OC more than us—and no one hates OC more than us. We've covered the good and bad of our corner of Hell for nearly 17 years, and about the only reason I can give why we're still around and haven't left screaming for civilization is because we suffer from Stockholm syndrome. Year after year, we try to improve us with an exposé, a great review of a small restaurant or a band, and just when you think Orange County has entered the 21st century, something will occur—be it a white supremacist who massacres Sikhs, an uprooted orange grove, a corrupt politician who gets elected again and again, another vapid trophy wife blaming her Mexican help for stealing her purse and having them deported for the crime when said trophy wife had actually left said purse at a McDonald's—to put you into a depression, to make you curse God that he couldn't curse Orange County's wackjob mentality to, say, Phoenix. Oh, wait: it happened, and Orange County remains ridiculous.
We can write a whole book about why Orange County is so horrid—and I did! It's called Orange County: A Personal History!—but we'd rather argue our case with that ultimate digital-age proof: the listicle. Following in the footsteps of our sister papers, who proclaim Los Angeles the best city in America and Texas the best state, behold 50 reasons why Orange County is the worst place in America. Take that, Mississippi! Pound sand, Colton! Suck an egg, Stanton!
50. Richard Nixon was born here.
49. Out of the 25 most populous metropolitan areas in the United States, we're the only one with an African-American population of less than 5 percent of the total—and we clock in at an abysmal 2.2 percent. Then again, that's an improvement from the 2000 census, where we clocked in at 2 percent. Go progress!
48. Hundreds of millions of dollars spent on a Great Park that its founders still claim would rival Central Park, and all they have to show for it is an ugly-ass balloon that's shaped like a—yep!—orange...
47. ...And despite our supposed love affair with the fruit, we have less than 100 acres of orange groves left—and those are being torn out at the rate of one grove a year. And one of the biggest orange groves left is a vanity plot owned by mega-developer William Lyon, who probably tore up more orange groves than any man not named Walt Disney.
46. Our noxious brand of Christianity—from the prosperity gospel of Trinity Broadcasting Network and Benny Hinn to the radio empire and theological seminary built by Charles Fuller on the cheap labor of the Mexicans who worked his orange groves, from the possibility-thinking bullshit of the Crystal Cathedral, to the hippies-turned haters at Calvary Chapel, from the homo-haters at Mariners Church to the general wackiness of Saddleback Church, from the millions donated by philanthropist Howard F. Ahmanson, Jr. to creationism causes to the pedophile-protecting racket that is the Catholic Diocese of Orange and so many, many more—has poisoned American Christians for decades.
45. Adam Gadahn—aka the American Taliban aka Goat Boy—got radicalized by an Al Qaeda cell based at the Islamic Society of Orange County in Garden Grove.
44. Height of summertime fashion for guys is an Afflicted T-shirt, loose camo cargo shorts and flip flops, the least-manly outfit ever.
43. Ticket pricesfrom John Wayne Airport are always higher so Back Bay rich people don't have to install double-panes windows. And no planes can leave before 7 a.m.
42. The Santa Ana City Council. Orange County's county seat made history last decade by becoming the largest in the country with an all-Latino city council, and what happened? City's the most corrupt in la naranja. Before, it was whites gentrifying Latinos; now it's Latinos doing it to themselves. That's progress, right?
41. Botox was born here.
40. We're not queer friendly. Not only did we birth the infamous Briggs Initiative (authored by Fullerton-area state senator John Briggs, who debated Harvey Milk—and now you know why Milk bashed Fullerton so) and Exodus International, the infamous pray-the-gay-away racket, but Laguna Beach and Garden Grove let their historic gay community slowly disappear last decade due to gentrification. And in our list of ten great gay bars, half the list was in Long Beach because there weren't any more in OC to plug.
38. Homeless-killing cops in Fullerton, unarmed-Latino-killing cops in Anaheim, and asshole cops in Newport Beach. And despite those terrible departments, everyone agrees the worst police department in the county resides in Huntington Beach.
37. There are still people who believe the Fullerton Police Department was justified in killing Kelly Thomas, because cops can't do anything wrong here.
36. The crowds in downtown Fullerton and Huntington Beach on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night. It's as if vomit decided to assume human form, and then turn back to vomit when said humans vomit on city streets.
35. We never had the sense to make Long Beach part of us. Instead, it sits there lonely on the coast, spurned by Los Angeles and ignored by us. Same thing with La Mirada, Artesia, and Cerritos. Can we trade them for Aliso Viejo and Mission Viejo?
34. Artificial housing prices where a lousy $250,000 home goes for $425,000 even during this Great Recession. And the man who invented the "McMansion," Hadi Makarechian? An OC guy.
33. Token train service that is only useful for the OC archetype: white-collar 9-to-5ers. Meanwhile, the only public transportation people actually use, the bus system, is facing cutbacks and fare hikes.
32. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Why???
31. Our last two foreign ambassadors helped guide the U.S. toward two of the worst homegrown disasters in the 21st century. Mega-developer George Argyros pushed Spain to join the Iraq War and became a European laughingstock, while Roland Arnall went to the Netherlands after essentially creating subprime mortgages with Ameriquest.
30. Richard Nixon based his Western White House in San Clemente, and had Marines clear the beach of surfers so he could walk on the sand.
29. We made Mexican-hating an art form. See: Jim Gilchrist, Barbara Coe, Minuteman Project, Harold Ezell, Proposition 187, Proposition 227, Mendez, et al. vs. Westminster, et al., Doss vs. Bernal, Taco Bell, etc.
28. We inflicted Orly Taitz, Rebecca Black, and Octomom on an unsuspecting country.
27. We harassed a high school math teacher to death just so we could launch the modern-day conservative revolution, and then buried Joel Dvorman's name so no would would ever remember OC's original sin.
26.We have a district attorney's office who never saw it fit to investigate our sheriff, whom the feds threw in the slammer for his felonious behavior within a heartbeat because the evidence was so damning. Maybe because Tony Rackauckas and Mike Carona shared the same political advisor?
25. We pioneered the creation of privately run toll roads that used public funds, only to create a system that's eternally congested (the 91 Freeway) or never used (the 73 Toll Road) and that requires multi-million-dollar taxpayer bailouts year after year.
24. A jury once found the Haidl Three—the group of teenage boys who raped an unconscious girl with a pool cue, a lit cigarette, and a Snapple bottle and videotaped the results—innocent. And a jury once found an Irvine police officer who stalked his victim and ejaculated on her innocent because his victim was an exotic dancer.
23. A Republican Party that has defined crazy ass conservatism over the past 50 years via the worst collection of congressmen this side of Dixiecrat Alabama—Bob Dornan, Bill Dannemeyer, John Campbell, John Schmitz, Christopher Cox (who, as SEC commissioner, helped to start our Great Recession), Darrell Issa, for starters—and a Murderer's Row of local politicians who've done everything from send an email saying the White House now has a watermelon patch to send an email saying President Barack Obama comes from a chimpanzee family—and that's only been during the Obama administration.
22. ...and let's not forget Dana Rohrabacher—who supported the Taliban, who believes dinosaur farts caused global warming, who was once a libertarian-minded activist who's now the most troglodytic diva imaginable...
21. ...and yet our Democratic Party is worse than the GOP, a sad-sack collection of Republicans-turned-Dems (Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez) who get slaughtered during every state assembly, senate, and congressional race save for the one area where Mexicans live, who don't bother to mentor young Latino candidates for higher office, and who have actually had more elected officials convicted of crimes than Republicans—you can look it up!
20. White-power central—where do you think Sikh temple shooter Wade Michael Page became radicalized? Or where do you think you can find swastikas made from candle wax littering beach walkways?
19. It makes sense, though, because not only was Orange County officially founded by a Ku Klux Klan member, we still have streets and and parks and schools named after them, and plaques erected in their memory.
18. And on that note, we're genocide-denying central, from the Institute for Historical Review (the largest Holocaust-denying publishing house in the world) to a community college district who employed a Holocaust denier to Kevin MacDonald, the Long Beach St. professor whose writings are the intellectual framework for modern-day anti-Semitism to the anti-Armenian genocide ravings of Ergun Kirlikovali and his bands of outraged Ottomans.
17. Irvine, the only college town in the world with no bars open past dinner time, a slice of master-planned hell, where cars built before 1990 will be ticketed just for parking overnight outside your own home.
16. It'll forever be referred to as "The O.C." because of that stupid television show (see #10)
15. Our sole daily paper, theOrange County Register, a paper that historically never aspired to be anything other than a right-wing rag, that let young talent run away, and that now thinks the future of newspapers is in...print!
14. Orange County Register readers, a group so horrific that Register reporters once wrote a letter to their editor demanding he no longer let them comment online. They tried to stop Register readers by switching over to requiring people to create an online identity—didn't work. They tried by forcing people to comment via Facebook—didn't work. Every single comment an Orange County Register reader leaves is a depressing reminder of how we continue to devolve as a species—and how fucked up Orange County will always be.
13. Larry Agran, the longtime Irvine politician who started as a firebrand progressive who once hosted the Nicaraguan national baseball team during the time of the Sandinistas but is now a wrinkled fool who lashes out at any criticism of his beloved boondoggle, the Great Park. Only in Orange County can a bona fide leftist turn corporate toad within a generation.
12. Being in LA's long, long shadow. Hey, national media: Orange County isn't "35 miles south of Los Angeles." WE'RE A FUCKING METROPOLIS OF OVER 3 MILLION PEOPLE!!! And not a single network channel to call our own...
11. Law enforcement helicopter and plane pilots who follow enemies just for shits and giggles—and no one can stop them.
10. Despite being the setting for so many bad television shows--The OC, Laguna Beach: The Real OC, The Real Housewives of Orange County, even Storage Wars—we couldn't band together to save Arrested Development, one of the greatest satires to hit the boob tube EVER. Take it, Tobias!
, one of America's richest men, owner of theBoard of Supervisors
for decades, destroyer of more open space than anyone sinceGalactus
, still has the gall to put out brochures calling himself a "conservationist." And OC is gullible enough to believe it.
8. Disneyland says "jump"; we fling ourselves from a catapult.
7. The San Onofre nuclear power plant is just over the Orange County line—and how apt that it looks like a giant pair of fake tits?
6. The last place on Earth where the Spanish fantasy heritage still thrives. Aliso Viejo: not viejo. Lake Forest: No lake, no forest. Mission Viejo: No mission, not vieja. Buena Park...um, yeah.
5. Local bands and actors always leave us when they become big. See: No Doubt, Zack de la Rocha, Steve Martin, Will Ferrell, Michelle Pfeiffer, etc.
4. When Olympic gold medal winner Sammy Lee tried to move to Garden Grove in the 1950s, residents teamed up to make sure he couldn't move into their neighborhood. A GOLD MEDAL WINNER.
3. "OC Weekly? Is that the Orange County Register?"
2. Richard Nixon is buried here. Zombie Nixon NOOOOOOOOOO...
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And the number one reason why Orange County is the worst effing place in America...
1. No one will get this list, and we'll be accused of hating Orange County, of being racist, and told to leave. Ah, Orange County...
With special thanks to all Weeklings who gave me the better ideas for this list!