Diary of a Mad County

March 8: Not to be confused with al Qaeda

Wednesday, March 8
A woman named Linda Laroca files a lawsuit in Vista alleging that she was fired from her job because her supervisor objected to a bumper sticker on her car.
The offending sticker? "No Fat Chicks"? "I'd Rather Be Wilding"? "My Boss Is a Jewish Carpenter. His Name's Mark. Total Prick"? Nope. According to Laroca, it was a bumper sticker touting Air America, Air America being that "progressive" radio talk show network progressives hailed as long overdue as an answer to mainstream talk radio, which tends to be more conservative and oxycontin-rich. Laroca claims she had worked at San Diego-area Advantage Sales and Marketing Inc. just three weeks when her supervisor asked to meet her in a grocery store parking lot to exchange papers. She says it was during that meeting that the supervisor caught a glimpse of the sticker and remarked that Air America was "that Al Franken left-wing radical radio station." Laroca claims that the supervisor then said: "The country is on a high state of alert. For all I know, you could be al Qaeda." Soon after, she says, she was fired. Needless to say, Laroca's charges have caused quite a reaction on both sides of the political spectrum, with most observers expressing shock that there is something called Air America.

Thursday, March 9
"September Gurls," greatest song ever?

Friday, March 10
The American judicial system, in its own slow and tortured way, affirms the pointlessness of tearing others down to build yourself up. It also reiterates that it helps not to stick stuff inside them.

Saturday, March 11
Love those Volkswagen commercials where the actor who put Steve Buscemi in a woodchipper in Fargo plays an angry German who taunts poseur-ish hip-hop types and then destroys their pimped-out cars. I've said it once, I'll say it again: Germans know funny.

Sunday, March 12
LA Times Orange County columnist Dana Parsons weighs in on the Haidl trial/sentencing. And like every time before, he states the obvious—that this was all really sad . . . um, yeah, that's why people rarely yell "Rape!" while blowing out candles at a birthday party—and that the trial should never have taken place. In the past, his reasons for not prosecuting the chillun have included the boys' youth and impetuousness—he talks about the Haidl Three with the kind of warmth most men only feel comfortable using when discussing George Clooney and flatulence. Then there was the sadness thing, of course. And in March 2005, right after the three were convicted, he fell back on this old reliable, writing that the conviction sent a message: "And that message has to be: to girls who think it's cool or necessary to engage in promiscuous sex, think of Jane Doe." For those of you who like it quick: she asked for it. Which, of course, was the defense's contention the whole time. Incredibly, now that it's over, Parsons expresses great empathy for the girl and criticizes DA Tony Rackauckas for retrying the case and putting her through such hell. If Rackauckas had offered a plea bargain after the first mistrial, Parsons writes, "It would have spared Jane Doe the relentless defense attacks on her character." This from the man who anointed her the promiscuity poster girl. Turns out, of course, that Rackauckas did offer a plea bargain that the Haidl Three, confident they could win, turned down. And how did they think they could win? With "defense attacks," or, as they are known in most public high schools: "Slut!" "Whore!"

Monday, March 13
I am forced to defend my admiration of the VW commercials to a multicultural cadre of staff writers and interns, who note that the commercials make fun of multicultural hip-hop with actors who are white, wearing white clothes, who destroy the multicolored cars in favor of a snow-white VW. I scoff because it buys me time because I realize they're right. Then I begin to talk very fast, sprinkling my verbiage with words like "ironic" and "juxtaposition," while allowing that Germans have been known to fall into extended spells of "cranky." I think they bought it.

Tuesday, March 14
A friend who lives back East e-mails a piece that ran in the Washington Post over the weekend. It's about driving on the 405. In it, the writer claims his friend "Tania" from northern Virginia, who lives here now, describes a freeway phenomenon she calls "cluster driving," which she describes as: "You get several cars going fast, weaving in and out of traffic, and they form packs . . . Then, they try to speed as a group." Uh, Tania, yeah, we're not driving in packs, we are just driving. Fast. As fast as we can, for as long as we can, because the 405, along with every other Southern California freeway, is the blacktopped equivalent of a vortex that could shut down at a moment's notice. We don't do anything as a group on a freeway. That's why it's called a freeway—it's pretty much Lord of the Flies with sunroofs. There is no pack driving. You would sell out anyone on the road at any moment. This is not only expected, it is necessary, forming the basis of the rolling mosh pit we choose to navigate. Though it sounds brutal, it is understood and reliable. Communication? We tried that. People got shot. Somewhere farther down in the piece, the writer says, "But they get nowhere because there is nowhere to go, especially in the vicinity of highway entrance and exit ramps, where even the use of stoplights, designed to more sensibly meter traffic moving onto the highway, has little or no effect. Traffic just crawls at speeds of five and 10 miles per hour. It often just stops, as if halted by an invisible hand." Yeah, just some invisible hand. Uh-huh, an invisible hand called 10 million more Tanias showing up every year from WienerMcDrive-a-stan. Goddamn northern Virginia.


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