Diary of a Mad County

Wednesday, Oct. 26
Another round in the ongoing battle between Huntington Beach and Santa Cruz to determine which city can lay claim to the dreadfully lame "Surf City, USA" moniker goes Santa Cruz's way when its City Council votes to set up an agency to distribute marijuana to its seriously ill residents. This is in direct opposition to Huntington Beach, where there is a concerted effort to make beachgoers sick, what with the regularity with which they come in contact with ocean-borne feces, or "big fatties," as they are known by the locals. Santa Cruz is setting up an agency called the Office of Compassionate Use to distribute the marijuana and has plans to establish a Supreme Food Court and Bureau of Non-Bogarting to be run under the auspices of Homeland Security and that guy Todd everyone agrees is pretty cool. Making medical marijuana available has been a cause passionately advocated by Santa Cruz officials, while Huntington Beach officials have passionately advocated conflicts of interest and illegally converting condos, not to mention being federally investigated, kicked out of office and thrown in jail, all of which they're quite good at.

Thursday, Oct. 27
The Complete Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson went on sale this week. The three-volume set contains every cartoon in the 10-year series. Watterson seems like an upstanding guy; his strip was smart, funny and never became smarmy or overstayed its welcome—he ended its run at the height of its popularity, when it was published in more than 2,000 newspapers. What is more amazing is that Watterson fought for and won the right to license—or, more accurately, not license—his characters. "I didn't think greeting cards, T-shirts or plush dolls fit with the spirit or the message of my comic strip," he's written. That means any time you see one of those Calvin stickers on the back of someone's car, say, the one with Calvin kneeling before the cross, that's pirated material, and it's just as illegal as a pirated copy of The Passion of the Christ, which happens to be the most illegally downloaded movie on the Internet that does not involve Paris Hilton polishing stuff.

Friday, Oct. 28
And then . . .

Saturday, Oct. 29
Former popular movie star/governor Arnold Schwarzeneggerblows into Little Saigon because it's one of the few places left where the word "blows" isn't likely to show up on a sign directly after "Schwarzenegger . . ." or before ". . . his corporate masters." Schwarzenegger tells those in the crowd that his main concern is cleaning up the mess in Sacramento, you know, like balancing the state budget, and says that Orange County will be key to helping him do this, since, in the 2003 recall election, he received 80 percent of OC's votes. Actually, he received 63.5 percent, which is a lot, but not 80 percent; then again, what does the ability to count matter to someone balancing a budget? Next you'll be demanding he speak English.

Sunday, Oct. 30
Never take a nap.

Monday, Oct. 31
Going on a sentimental journey. Making my usual drive to the office, I steer my car from the eastbound 22 to the 5 south interchange, where a sign informs me that, as of midnight tonight, this interchange will be closed for the next eight months, "eight months" being Caltrans' way of saying three years. I knew this was coming. I'd read it in the papers, heard it on the radio, it's all part of improving the 22, "improving" being Caltrans' way of saying we're going to fuck up your life now. So I glide onto the interchange; oh, the memories. Memories of being late for meetings and stuck in backed-up traffic, and memories of traffic at a standstill and traffic at a near standstill and yelling at old people and yelling at really old people and yelling at the special-needs school bus that "it's called an accelerator, ac-cel-er-ator," and then pretending to spell out the word in sign language. Yes, it's been magic. I suppose, in other places, in other times, people have shared other public places—parks, courtyards, tar pits—but for us, in our time, the freeway is the one place we all come together. And now that my time on the interchange is at its climax, I tune my radio and, magically, 10cc's "I'm Not in Love" comes on, which I find stunningly appropriate and beautiful, but everyone I tell this to tells me they're uncomfortable with how close I'm standing to them in the elevator. Still, it's a moment, it's my moment, me and the 5 interchange, as I slowly glide off it for the last time, "slowly glide" being my way of saying that the fucking asshole in front of me refuses to push his weak-ass Toyota pickup past 35 mph. Anyway, goodbye, 5 interchange. I'll miss you. You taught me how to believe in myself, and how to call someone I assumed was a guy in a weak-ass Toyota pickup in front of me, but I have just discovered is an elderly woman with coke-bottle glasses and a terrified expression, a fucking asshole.

Tuesday, Nov. 1
Happy All Saints' Day! And what a day! I turn on my computer to find Rebecca Schoenkopf announcing to the world—girl doesn't brush her teeth without a media alert—that she is interviewing Dennis Miller and does anyone have any questions they'd like to ask the former comedian? I don't respond to threats, so I pass. But publisher Will Swaim e-mails back this query: "Yes: What the fuck happened? You had it all—a good sense of humor, an SNL gig, full head of hair—and then you flushed it; and for what? Near as I can tell, you tried your brainy humor with the people of the Corn Belt, the Bible Belt and the Sans-a-belt—recalibrated for their politics and cultural predilections—and you bombed ingloriously. What the fuck?! Do you still regard yourself as a conservative? Or something else? Do you regret becoming a conservative just as Bush became president, supplying us with the most tragicomic meltdown of a chief exec since Moses wandered for FORTY FUCKING YEARS IN THE SINAI—and then dropped dead just outside the Promised Land? Is it possible to do humor that is predictably conservative or liberal? Tell me a joke that makes fun of conservatives, Dennis Miller! Do you still enjoy Joe Dirt for your self-parodic portrayal of a smart-ass radio jock who turns out to be stupider than a mullet-headed dickweed who thinks frozen shit is a meteorite? Is it possible to be a humorist if you're loyal to the powerful? How do you pay the bills as a comedian when The Daily Show gets laughs running footage of presidential press conferences? Hey, I know: tell me a funny joke about 2,000 dead Americans!"



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