Diary of a Mad County

SUNDAY, Oct. 6 How snakebitten is Disney's ill-conceived ghost town California Adventure? On the same day media from around the world arrive for the opening of the all-new "A Bug's Land," alternative lifestylers converge on the Anaheim theme park for their annual, non-Disney sanctioned "Gay Day" outing. Because the new area playing off the popular A Bug's Life flick is designed for young kids, the queer influx throws Disney flacks into conniptions.

MONDAY, Oct. 7 Here's how Bill Simon opens his debate with Governor Gray Davis: "What the people of California deserve to hear, but what they probably won't from Mr. Davis, is an apology to the people for the campaign he's run to date that's been full of distortion and false attacks against me." Later, he claims to have a photo that proves then-Lieutenant Governor Davis accepted a contribution inside a state office—a violation of law. But the picture does not show that, and it's only after he's pressed by the press that Simon limply apologizes for his distorted, false attack—though not to Davis. As for the campaign Simon has run, the chairman of the Republican Campaign Committee, Congressman Tom Davis (R-Virginia), later calls it the worst in history.

TUESDAY, Oct. 8 Astronomers believe Pluto may not be a planet nor even a part of this solar system, The Guardian of London reports today. The American Astronomical Society says Pluto is probably an object in the Kuiper belt due to the discovery in that system of a planet-like object that has been dubbed Quaoar—the Tongva people's name for the creative force. The Tongva inhabited much of Los Angeles and Orange counties before Spaniards arrived and renamed them Gabrielinos after Mission San Gabriel. There are still Tongva people among us trying to preserve their sacred lands, though overdevelopment makes that a never-ending struggle. But with this latest cosmic twist, one could argue the Tongva creative force has vanquished Pluto, a European god associated with death and wealth. The repressed always win in the end. Just ask the Kurds.

WEDNEDAY, Oct. 9 A federal judge in Los Angeles clears the way for Assem Bayaa's discrimination lawsuit against United Airlines. On Dec. 23, 2001—three months after the Sept. 11 attacks—the Irvine auditor was removed from a New York-bound United plane because the flight crew did not feel comfortable having him aboard. He's seeking an injunction that would bar United from any further discrimination against Arab-Americans. United essentially replies that abandoning civil rights is the only way it can fly. So we're switching to Continental.

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THURSDAY, Oct. 10 Here's how Orange County's congressional delegation votes today on killing innocent Iraqi babies: Ken Calvert (R-Riverside), Chris Cox (R-Newport Beach), Darrell Issa (R-Oceanside), Gary Miller (R-Diamond Bar), Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) and Ed Royce (R-Fullerton)—YES, SIR! Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove)—nope.

Stop calling yourself a teacher.
Photo by Jack Gould

FRIDAY, Oct. 11 The California Teachers Association, the California Federation of Teachers and the Association of California School Administrators issue a joint plea to Katherine Smith, the Anaheim school district trustee running for state superintendent of public instruction: stop calling yourself a teacher. The groups say the Republican nominee does not hold a teaching credential nor even a bachelor's degree and is overstating her classroom experience to sway voters. She's listed as a "governing board member" on the ballot, but in interviews, she has called herself a teacher. Upon further review, it's discovered she taught at a private elementary school in the 1960s, did some subbing in Anaheim and was in real-estate management for 30 years. Smith responds by trashing her frontrunning opponent's teaching experience. State Senator Jack O'Connell was a credentialed high school teacher before joining the Legislature and still teaches adult summer night school.

SATURDAY, Oct. 12 As that pipsqueak of an Anaheim Angels shortstop David Ecksteinawaits the first pitch in the first inning against the Minnesota Twins, someone in the stands yells out, "Timmmmmay!"—the familiar, self-referential refrain of a wheelchair-bound boy on South Park. Unlike Timmy, Eckstein is not an MA-rated cartoon character nor is his head abnormally larger than his body. But inflate his noggin to similar proportions, and the resemblance is striking. Speaking of the Halos, the ESPN Classics channel—which, like the Angels, is owned by Disney—reruns that fateful game of Oct. 12, 1986, when they were one strike away from their first World Series appearance, only to have it taken away by Boston Red Sox outfielder Dave Henderson's homer. Despite the re-play of the '86 nightmare, the 2002 Angels spank the Twins, 7-1. More proof the dreaded curse is dead. (Granted, Angels in the Outfield is still available on VHS and DVD.)

SUNDAY, Oct. 13 Near the end of then-Governor Li'l Petey Wilson's long reign, he tried to appoint Irvine media-hater-turned-media member Hugh Hewitt to the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) board. Hewitt suggested that because studies at the time showed Southland skies were getting clearer, the state should ease up on anti-smog laws. His nomination was then torpedoed. But using the Hughcifer's logic today, the state should now crank up the heat on polluters because a new AQMD report reveals that SoCal has endured its worst smog season in years, which, when the . . . the . . . THE ANGELS WIN THE PENNANT! THE ANGELS WIN THE PENNANT!

MONDAY, Oct. 14 As the San Francisco Giants are winning the National League crown and a World Series showdown with the Angels, Giants fans shout, "Beat LA!" Anaheimers promptly log onto the Giants website to clarify that the Angels are not from Los Angeles, spurring one Giants fan to mockingly chant, "Beat the Greater LA metropolitan area!" We can't win. Well, we can, but . . . you know.

TUESDAY, Oct. 15 The Orange County Register is eliminating 35 jobs—including some in the newsroom—and freezing wages for the next year, the Associated Press reports. So this is how the new CEO of Freedom Communications, the media chain whose flagship fish wrap is the Reg, is keeping disfunctional Hoiles Family shareholders at bay.

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 16 Laguna Beach's Ross Embry, who grew 12 marijuana plants to use and share with neighbors at the Hagan Place apartment complex for fellow HIV patients, pleads not guilty to felony charges of cultivation and possession of pot for sale. If you're wondering why the 53-year-old is being prosecuted given the state's Compassionate Use Act, you're not alone. "This is ridiculous," Hilary McQuie, spokeswoman for Americans for Safe Access, tells someone at the Reggie not yet let go. "He's a compassionate provider. And 12 plants is a very small number." Unfortunately, the law's ambiguity about how much pot one can grow is frequently pounced on by those boozers at the Orange County district attorney's office.

THURSDAY, Oct. 17 The Orange County Coastkeeper environmental group releases a study that shows local boaters may be illegally discharging raw sewage into the ocean because harbor pump-out stations are frequently inoperable. Guess that's where the term "poop deck" comes from.

FRIDAY, Oct. 18 Over a story about the 100-year sentence given to Santa Ana rapist Eduardo Alberto Guzman, the Register's print version carries the headline, "Rapist Gets Forever." But our jaws hit the linoleum when we catch the headline over the online version of the story: "Rapist Given Stiff Sentence." Actually, he'll get that when he enters the state penal system.

Paul Brennan contributed to this week's report.

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