Feb. 22: Hooray for Bollywood
Feb. 22: Hooray for Bollywood

Diary of a Mad County

Wednesday, Feb. 22
(Wherein I finally admit to myself, my children and the old lady sitting next to me that I indeed have the clap.) My daughter and I attended the opening night of Bombay Dreams, the Broadway musical about Bollywood. Bollywood is the term for the Indian film industry that produces those deliriously silly movies in which people break into song and mechanized group dance every 15 minutes, like an Elvis movie, though without the underlying bankruptcy of spirit. They also say a lot of silly things, my favorite being from the classic Disco Dancer, in which one guy says to another guy, "He's got guitarphobia. A guitar killed his mother." Suck on that, Tarantino! Aaaanyway, we're watching the musical, and it is deliriously silly and fun, and after each song, I applaud with the rest of the audience, but as I do, I notice that the woman next to me is jerking about like she's been shot. When the play ends, I applaud long and hard for the cast, and again I notice the woman is jerking, and then she suddenly retreats into her husband's chest cavity. At this point, I lean over and ask, "Am I clapping too loud?" and she, very sweetly, says "You have a very loud clap!" It's true. I have a very loud clap. I have always had a very loud clap. I am not a large man and don't possess the largest hands—though certainly large enough to get the job done, knowwhaI'msayying?—but for some reason, the construction of my hands, the curve of my fingers—the angle of their dangle, if you will—the gristle in my palm produce a stinging chorus that my children have complained about for years. I applaud their commitment . . . oh, sorry.

Thursday, Feb. 23
I don't know if you've ever had the sensation of swallowing your own tongue, but today, as I retrieve my morning LA Times, I discover a front-page, above-the-fold, in-depth, two-photo, double-jump story about my colleague Gustavo Arellano and his "Ask a Mexican" column. No one, not a single person, told me about this, and I read the piece quickly and think Gustavo comes off really well, which tells me they must have interviewed him via e-mail—kidding! Anyway, what a break for a kid. You might think people who write for newspapers and magazines would be blas about appearing in a publication, but we get just as excited as any of you in the great unwashed masses. Yes, we were excited when Rebecca Schoenkopf was the subject of a long profile in The Orange County Register. And we were excited when we read about Nick Schou getting a book deal. And when our editor, Will Swaim, was featured in Orange Coastmagazine, we all agreed that "They're still publishing?" The thing about "Mexican" is, and this is not sour grapes, but I was originally slated to do that column. The thinking was my Irish-Italian background made me a natural for the column, but, well, let's just say I screwdo'dthe poocho.I tried to talk the powers that be into changing the column into something better suited for me, but "Ask an Apathetic Middle-Aged Man Confused About His Place in the World" was met with, ironically, indifference.

Friday, Feb. 24
An arbitration panel awards nearly $900,000 to the two former Thomas Kinkade Signature Gallery owners, saying Kinkade's company fraudulently induced them to invest in the business, a business they eventually lost a lot of money in. The pair, Karen Hazelwood and Jeffery Spinello, say they invested $122,000 of their own money to open the first two Kinkade galleries because Kinkade company officials "failed to disclose material information." Now, I'm not one to take sides, but it would seem the only material information one would need is to take a look at any one of Kinkade's completed canvases, which look like they were painted by Bilbo Baggins, dumpy little villages that look like they're the kind of places those naked trolls with the mad shock of hair—the kind you win at carnivals—would live. The pair said that Kinkade used his Christian faith to entice them; I guess they figured any man who could defame God's beauty like that and still be allowed to live must be in pretty good with Almighty.

Saturday, Feb. 25
Wherein we find out that Gustavo, off the LA Times article, has booked gigs on Fox News and the Tucker Carlson Show—he's still on TV? Then it's two weeks at the Copa. After that, the Sudetenland.

Sunday, Feb. 26
Word comes that Gustavo will also be appearing on the Today Show and some other junk. This whole thing has gotten big. Ashlee Simpson big. It's a testament to the influence of the LA Times. Say what you will about that newspaper—I like it myself—but it still has the most pull and power around here to define what this region is. Take Gustavo. He's been doing "Ask a Mexican" for some time, even done gigs on local talk radio, but it wasn't until the Times article that the people who determine what people will care about actually took notice. Does that kind of power make an organization a bit arrogant? Well, all I can tell you is that when I worked in there in the '80s, we had a little saying: "It's not news until we write about it." I loved that.

Monday, Feb. 27
The architect of the LA Times, Otis Chandler, dies. Chandler took a Podunk paper of very low repute and made it into one of the nation's great papers. Chandler is being lionized and deservedly so, but it's also sad that the great institution as the nation's paper of record would end up retrenching to the point that it was happy to be a regional force. Still, good on ya, Otis.

Tuesday, Feb. 28
Completely sick to my stomach. Why is it when I'm in this state, the only thing that seems to take my mind off my stomach is watching television? And why is it when I'm watching television, all I see are ads for mutant burgers from Ruby Tuesday and Kirstie Alley snarfing up Soylent Green linguine?



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