Photo by Johan VogelWhen the Galaxy Concert Theater's concert schedule for June dropped into our hands a few months ago, we scarcely took notice. When we saw that the Irish rock band the Fenians (who usually pack the tiny Harp Inn in Costa Mesa) would play on June 26 with an unannounced special guest, we didn't even pause. Special guests come and go. But when a caller after the show informed us that said special guest was none other than 45th Congressional District Representative Dana Rohrabacher, we knew we had a solid-gold scoop.
According to a couple of concertgoers who witnessed the spectacle, the sellout crowd was ripe for the surprise-guest announcement. After finishing one of their popular rebel songs, the Fenians' lead singer grabbed the mic. The audience became silent. "I'd like to present your representative in Congress, Dana Rohrabacher!" he said.
There followed what one witness described as "an odd half-pause." Corona in hand and wearing a shirt with no tie, the six-term Republican congressman then swaggered to the mic (drunk not with alcohol, our witnesses quickly pointed out, but "with power"). After taking a swig from his beer, Rohrabacher said with complete seriousness, "In the spirit of that rebel song, let's lift our glasses and toast those people who are defending their country overseas."
By this time, says our firsthand witnesses, fully two-thirds of the crowd was booing. But that apparently had no effect on the former Reagan speechwriter, who promptly pulled out a jew's-harp. Bathed in a pink light, the man who only last year called for a fleet of orbiting laser satellites to destroy incoming asteroids began playing "The Battle of New Orleans."
Now, we love the lyrics—"In 1814, we took a little trip/Along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip"—especially when played on something as spacy and twangy as a jew's-harp. Apparently, the crowd agreed. By the time Rohrabacher had reached the second chorus of "We fired our guns and the British kept a comin'," the crowd had mellowed.
"He had his moments," said one concertgoer. "I had a chuckle. But everyone went really nuts at the end."
That's when Rohrabacher took another drink from his beer (sources told us he drank throughout the song) and walked offstage.
"The whole thing seemed like a political stunt," said another concertgoer. "But the audience was already pretty drunk by that time." (Anthony Pignataro)
Set My Weasels Free!
Unless the state Senate passes Assembly Bill 854, a bill that would "grandfather" in domestic ferrets that have resided in California prior to April 20, 1999, more than 50,000 otherwise law-abiding owners will remain in danger of having their pets confiscated and possibly killed.
"I'd call this a return to sanity," quipped one OC ferret owner, who asked not to be identified. "It means not having to live in fear that my pet will be seized and killed. It means a chance to let him go outdoors . . . an easier time making sure my pet is inoculated and taken care of. It's hard to do that when you're in fear of having him seized."
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Ferret owners—a large but unquantifiable number in Orange County—have had plenty to fear from authorities. In January, San Diego activist Pat Wright had his beloved ferret Rocky executed by authorities, who informed him that he would have 24 hours to seek a lawyer and then beheaded the small animal as soon as Wright left.
Having passed the state Assembly by a 70-9 vote (with all OC area Assembly members voting in favor), the prospect of legalization looks bright. Now the decision rests in the hands of the state Senate, which has not set a date for the vote as of this writing, and then with the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG), an organization known for its near-pathological hatred of ferrets.
Critics of the CDFG point toward a recent staff survey, which indicated a degree of corruption and selective enforcement of wildlife laws. Others have alluded to the fact that the removal of an animal from the CDFG's domain would result in a slight cut in funding, although CDFG officials have denied that to the Weekly in the past.
The most appalling manifestation of the CDFG's irrational ferret-phobia is the vast amounts of misinformation it has engineered, including blatantly false statements such as "The state of Massachusetts has adopted a law [with] restrictions against ferrets because . . . wild ferrets decimated a population of endangered terns." The state of Massachusetts' DFG denied this. Another statement, "ferrets prey upon . . . waterfowl," was denied by Ducks, Unlimited magazine. "Ferrets . . . prey upon . . . poultry" was refuted by the California Poultry Industry Federation. "Ferrets . . . like pit bulls, have been bred to be especially ferocious" is refuted by the Centers for Disease Control. And common sense seems to argue against the CDFG's assertion that "Packs of wild ferrets can take down cows," when one considers the average male ferret weighs about 3.5 pounds and the average cow weighs 1,200 pounds, which means it would take roughly 342 ferrets to match the cow pound for pound, assuming ferrets could exist in packs in the wild, which the U.S. Public Health Service doesn't believe they can. (David Young)