Diary of a Mad County
Wednesday, Jan. 18
Former teen idol Leif Garrett, 44, is charged in a Los Angeles courtroom with possession of heroin, proving smack is almost as heavy a yoke to bear as "former teen idol." This is very sad, since Garrett, who pleaded guilty to a previous drug offense in March, was sure he was going to break his heroin addiction back in 1999 when he went through an experimental process called the Waismann Method at College Hospital in Costa Mesa. The method was supposed to suppress "opiate receptors," and the press, including the Weekly's Dave Wielenga, was invited to witness Garrett begin the treatment with a one-day "detoxification" of his body. Dave recounts the moment in his excellent "Shakin' Like a Leif" [Sept. 3, 1999]:
"The woman from the E! channel is next, and she begins her interview. 'I think I kinda know how you feel,' she confides in Garrett, her voice low and sweet. 'I'm recently de-caffeinated—and it was really hard!' Garrett appears stunned for a moment, then disgusted, then amused. 'De-caffeinated?' he asks, trying to give himself time to mop up the incredulity he has spilled all over the place. But it's too late. 'De-caffeinated? Like in coffee or Cokes?' Garrett repeats, then opts for a mock-Shakespearean accent and hopes for the best. 'M'lady, I lawf in your face!'"
This raises the question, why doesn't Dave Wielenga write more for the Weekly? All I can say is tune in next week—good stuff on Mexico—and Dave has his own problems having been a, yes, former teen idol. You are probably not aware, but before he changed his name, Dave was schoolgirl heartthrob Leopold and Loeb.
Thursday, Jan. 19
Also in Wielenga's article, Garrett is asked what it's like to take heroin. "It's like being back in the womb—a warm and comfortable feeling. The attraction of heroin is, uhh, not having to deal with the harshities, uhh, the real difficult things in life. It feels good, and it's hard to quit." A feeling apparently shared by toddler Representative John Campbell (R-Irvine), who got to Congress just in time to find out all the fun is over. With uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff threatening to take down half of Congress, many congressmen are doing some good ol'-fashioned Soviet-style re-historying, expunging evidence and memories while trying to explain that the 8x10 picture of them hugging Abramoff in front of Niagara Falls with the inscription "To Jack, Best Friends Forever" is taken out of context. Add to this House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who's calling for far-reaching ethics reform while proposing far-reaching limits to lobbyist reach-arounds. All of it spells a giant buzz kill for Campbell, who must feel like a guy who's just gotten to a party and been told Leif Garrett got there 15 minutes before him. Desperate to keep the good times rolling, Campbell has pleaded for calm, not to mention cash and merchandise. "I'm not convinced that we need changes in [the lobbying] law yet," he said last week. "The First Amendment says you cannot restrict the right of people to petition the government. If too many restrictions are put on what lobbyists can do, fewer people will become lobbyists." Dear God, what would the U.S. be with fewer lobbyists? Oh, I know: better. If Campbell seems ignorant in the matter of ethics, understand that he comes from the world of automobile sales, where ethics and $899 will get you a terrific undercoating.
Friday, Jan. 20
As it must to all men, Bakersfield beckons.
Saturday, Jan. 21
More than 20 world-class drummers, who play for the likes of Stevie Wonder, Gwen Stefani and Pearl Jam, get together at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts for a big drum concert, where they have to repeatedly show their backstage passes to security. It must be hard for drummers when the most famous ones are either dead—Keith Moon—bad—Ringo Starr—or Muppets—Animal, Ringo Starr. The concert is designed to spotlight these overlooked cretins, and, in that spirit, I went to the Internet to find out more about their mysterious and skeazy world. Turns out there's a lot to know. For instance, did you know that drummers with half a brain are called gifted? Speaking of brains, did you know that drummers have half an ounce more brains than horses? This, it is explained, is so they don't disgrace themselves during a parade, and I think that's great. Oh, there was all kinds of great information on these websites, information about drummers and light bulbs, drummers and IQ tests, and how Ginger Baker is similar to coffee—apparently both "suck" with Cream. I did not know that. Hey, helpful hint, one site said that if you ever have trouble getting a drummer off your porch, the solution is to simply "pay for the pizza." Good to know.
Sunday, Jan. 22
In Bakersfield for a friend's retirement party, and in the hotel room early this morning I find myself watching the Mrs. America pageant, mostly because, unlike the Internet, there are no helpful cable shows to tell me what a drummer uses for contraception (turns out it's "his personality"). Anyway, I tune in just when Andrea Preussof Huntington Beach is announced as the winner. Preuss is a lovely young woman with two lovely young kids, both of whom immediately start running around her and threatening to jump in the pool, which forces her to immediately morph from glorious queen to set-upon mom in a moment I find oddly comforting. I was going to write about Preuss' victory until I found out that what I was watching was taped last July. I found that out by going on the Mrs. America website, which also told me that the pageant has joined with the National Anthem Project to "re-teach America the lyrics to 'The Star-Spangled Banner.'" First off, I don't remember anyone asking them to do this. We all know we have a lame national anthem. It's clearly the lamest of the big industrial nations and second only to Lichtenstein's "Please Mr. Police Officer, I Think You Misunderstand When I Say I Come From Lichtenstein." In fact, in a recent poll, a majority of Americans said they'd prefer a more poetic anthem such as "O Canada," "O Pretty Woman" or "The Pia Colada Song."
Monday, Jan. 23
Remember all that talk about Kobe Bryant being a bad guy? Apparently not so much anymore.
Tuesday, Jan. 24
Irvine's Great Park Corp. announces the selection of landscape architect Ken Smith to design the Great Park. Smith is from New York, and his work is described as "cutting-edge" and "avant-garde" by people who speak "in-clichs." Smith calls this the "project of a lifetime," which may be him talking about the honor or talking about the fact that none of us will ever live to see the thing completed. Staying true to his roots, Smith, who has designed smaller parks in New York, promises the park will be constructed with plenty of hidden nooks for wilding.
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