Diary of a Mad County

MONDAY, July 29 TheDeal.com reports three bids in excess of $2 billion for Irvine-based Freedom Communications Inc., the family-controlled media company whose flagship is The Orange County Register. The bidding is so fierce that word leaks out about the Top 10 Future Changes New Owners of Freedom Communications Would Bring to the Register:

10) Letter to the editor writers restricted to just two racial slurs per quarter.

9) Columnist Gordon Dillow forced to write about something other than cops, guns and the flag, which means no more Gordon Dillow in the Register.

8) Interns no longer required to accompany veteran reporters to cover midnight "submarine races" off Balboa Pier.

7) Club hopper Barry Koltnow forced to undergo reconstructive surgery so he'll stop scaring club kids.

6) Sports columnist Steve Bisheff traded to the Nantucket Times for an unreadable hack in a wig to be named later.

5) In an attempt to bolster readership among psycho bitches, editor Tonnie Katz replaced by Tawny Kitaen.

4) Or was that vice versa?

3) Opinion-page columnist Steven Greenhut forced to write about something other than the virtues of suburbanization, the follies of mass transit and the evils of liberalism, which means no more Steven Greenhut in the Register.

2) Something new for Jeff Kramer's humor column: humor.

And the No. 1 Future Change New Owners of Freedom Communications Would Bring to the Register:

1) Freedom!

Photo by Virginia Lee Hunter

TUESDAY, July 30 "Nothing in the history of the United States has eroded the protections of our Bill of Rights nearly as much as our government's war on drugs," Judge James P. Gray boldly tells John Stosselon the ABC News special War on Drugs, a War on Ourselves. We do not have to endure creepy Stossel to consume that and other quotes from our favorite conservative OC trial judge. Gray's comments are faxed to us from an LA-based public-relations company. Actually, the fax is addressed to "Rome Hartman, 60 Minutes," which means Savage Loveletters addressed to Morley Safer aren't far off.

WEDNESDAY, July 31 Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon Jr.'s investment firm is slapped with a $78 million judgment that may represent the death blow to his campaign. A GOP strategist in Sacramento describes the fraud verdict as "the F bomb," while a member of Simon's own campaign calls it a "nuclear bomb." (They love dem bombs at Team B.S.) What now? Go dirty! Simon reportedly hired Larry McCarthy, the ad whiz who introduced America to Willie Horton. Considering how willing Davis is to wallow in the mud, California's best hope now is for a major-party bloodbath that so repulses the electorate they choose Green candidate Peter Camejo. And then Satan goes shopping for a parka.

Photo by Johan Vogel

THURSDAY, Aug. 1 Democrat Gerrie Schipske, who hopes to take away Congressman Dana Rohrabacher's 46th District seat this November, publicly chastises the Huntington Beach Republican for skipping a candidates' forum, bending over for the airline industry (in the form of support for a commercial airport at El Toro and more flights out of Long Beach), and voting in Congress to protect offshore tax havens. (Speaking of offshore, Schipske could also ding Dana for asking Dubya not to ban new oil-drilling leases off the California coast.) But with all this Rohrabashing going on, it's only fair to praise him for breaking party lines and voting in favor of an independent inquiry into intelligence agencies' actions surrounding the Sept. 11 attacks. "I think the intelligence community has become an arrogant and somewhat incompetent bureaucracy," Rohrabacher says. "The worst thing we can do is let them get away with not being held accountable for their failures by clothing themselves in a veil of secrecy." It's times like this we could kiss him—but no tongue.

FRIDAY, Aug. 2 Speaking of El Toro, the Foundation for the Great Park sends us a solicitation for funds, suggesting we give anywhere from $25 to $1,000 toward a world-class park where a military air strip used to be. And with our contribution of $25 or more, we can receive a Great Park Sport Utility Mug—which someday we'll fill with Great Park Coffee from the Great Park Coffeehouse along the Great Toll Parkway that we'll take to get to our job at the Great Office Park overlooking the postage stamp-sized Great Park.

SATURDAY, Aug. 3 About 100 demonstrators march down Pacific Avenue in Long Beach to blast Long Beach copsfor hassling the homeless, pouncing on anyone dressed in all black (might be anarchists), offing a knife-wielding schizophrenic outside a market early this year, and pelting May Day protesters on Ocean Boulevard with rubber bullets last year. Just for good measure, protesters lump in Inglewood PD for its treatment of 16-year-old Donovan Jackson. Parading down Pacific like black and white floats is a phalanx of fuzz maneuvering squad cars, motorcycles and bicycles. But marchers present no cause to break out the batons, tear gas and rubber-bullet guns—surely disappointing LBC's finest.

SUNDAY, Aug. 4 What the F bomb? We go to flip on the tele for the Anaheim Angelsgame—the one for first place, the one against those beasts from the East in pinstripes, the one for which Schlitz and lazy Sunday afternoons were invented—and there's no game. It ain't televised. The infuriation does not end there: TV and radio broadcasts of four upcoming Angel road games will be tape-delayed to ensure that the action—oh-so-rare, Angels-actually-playing-for-a-real-live-pennant action—spills into prime time. A pox on KCAL/Channel 9 for pulling this shit.

MONDAY, Aug. 5 Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona—already hailed as a presidential contender by the great and powerful Larry King—receives the penultimate step in canonization: a glowing feature in People magazine. King of CNN's fiercest competitor in the cable-TV gabfest wars, Bill O'Reilly, also weighs in on the tragic Samantha Runnioncase. Writing on the conservative TownHall.com website, he criticizes John Pozza, the former attorney for murder suspect Alejandro Avila, for vigorously defending his client in a child-molestation case two years ago even though he allegedly knew Avila failed a police polygraph test. Because Avila was acquitted, O'Reilly reasons, Pozza has 5-year-old Samantha's blood on his hands. The bombastic TV host concedes polygraphs are inadmissible in court, but he fails to explain why: they're unreliable. He also re-heats the hostility directed at the jury for not believing the testimony of two little girls in the molestation case but ignores the fact that one of those girls volunteered to let Avila baby-sit her after the alleged molestation. It wouldn't take much vigorous defense for that alone to raise a reasonable doubt in a jury.

TUESDAY, Aug. 6 Alastair Irvine—who probably is not related to OC's royal Irvine Family but is related to Britain's lord chancellor; he's the son of Lord Irvine—steps into Superior Court in Santa Ana today in handcuffs and a Men's Central Jail jump suit. The 25-year-old bodybuilder is charged with stalking 19-year-old Karel Taska, making a terrorist threat against Taska and his girlfriend, carrying a concealed weapon, and pouring acid on Taska's Dodge pickup. Irvine came to San Diego for treatment of an addiction to crack cocaine but somehow wound up in a Newport Beach tanning salon where he met—and apparently fell hard for—Taska's girlfriend. When Irvine would not leave her alone, she had Taska intervene. That's when things got really weird—so weird that the couple pulled out of school, quit their jobs and moved out of the area. Irvine's looking at up to 15 years in prison if convicted (after a vigorous defense). Meanwhile, the British tabloids are having a field day with Alastair's drug escapades because his father—one of Prime Minister Tony Blair's closest allies—championed the Labour Party's call for cannabis decriminalization. Some movie scripts just write themselves.

Paul Brennan contributed to this week's report.


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