Excerpts: Part 1
Sept. 15, 1995 I haven't polled my co-Weekers on this, but to me, our chief order of business is to try desperately not to be boring, to instead produce the sort of publication we ourselves would be excited to discover in our community, one we'd look forward to reading every week. And what I'm always looking for is something to help face these times with humor, truth and new hope for the wretched.
Jim Washburn, Lost in OC, our inaugural issue
Dec. 1, 1995 Batman vs. Captain America
Roy Englebrecht, fight promoter: Batman has a good jaw. Captain America has a big heart, and he's long on stamina. If Captain America can make this thing go long, he wins. Batman has got to get to Captain America early. If not, I look for a decision for Captain America. The shield later on, I think, will be too much for Batman. Dave Lipscomb, comic-store clerk: Batman would win. Captain America has got him pinned down in the strength department, but Batman is a better fighter because he knows every martial art in the world. Batman can't defeat Captain America physically, but he can do it psychologically because Captain America is pretty much a two-fisted guy. Steve Lowery: I like Batman because he's a loon. Everything reminds him of his dead parents—roses, clocks, steaks medium-rare—so he's not a well-balanced machine. This would usually be a positive windfall for a fighter, but Batman is sworn not to kill so, by definition, he can never knock Captain America totally out. Would Captain America kill? People, he works for the government. If Captain America doesn't win, he at least puts a lien on the Batcave. Steve Lowery, "Clash of the Titans"
Dec. 8, 1995 One night on a New Orleans curbside, my friends and I developed the blueprint for a restaurant —our restaurant. This would be no ordinary place; it would take the worst elements of dining out and market them as fun! The service would be rude and ignorant; the menu would feature primarily meat; the food would be bad; the music would be loud and annoying. Generally, Buffalo Fatty's Accelerator Lounge—the name we chose—would provide the most unpleasant, uncomfortable dining experience for your dollar. And we'd serve lots of booze. We knew we had a hit.
But it's time to rethink our plan. I went to Sid's last week and had Buffalo Fatty flashbacks. How did the idea get out? Except for rude service (it was slow and uninformed, but not rude), Sid's is everything we wanted in Buffalo Fatty's. But there's a big difference: Buffalo Fatty's was a joke.
Tom Vasich, "Sid Come Home: Your restaurant needs you"
Dec. 15, 1995 Now an attorney practicing bankruptcy law, of all things, [Donald] Segretti emerged suddenly last week to file candidacy papers to run for the Orange County Superior Court. Just as suddenly, he dropped out a few days ago. The local Republican establishment, represented by the influential Lincoln Club, was ecstatic about his candidacy, characterizing Segretti, according to Daily Pilot reporter Evan Henerson, as an "excellent lawyer and patriot."
"Only in America," said OC developer and Lincoln Club patron Buck Johns. No, Buck: only in Orange County.
Mark Petracca, Man Bites Dogma
Dec. 22, 1995 [T]he two occasions I caught Representative Christopher Cox (R-Newport Beach) on the show drove me to ask [Politically Incorrect host Bill] Maher:
Is Chris Cox a puppet head or what?
"Well, I never speak ill of the guests on the show."
Then the same goes for Bob Dornan?
"Now him I will speak ill of. He's just a nut. When he was on, he was just out of control. I think Al Franken and Sam Donaldson were on the same show, and someone said, 'Excuse me, Congressman, a little decorum; there's a comedian on the panel.'"
Would he have O.J. on as a guest?
"Sure, if he wouldn't fucking stab me."
Matt Coker, "A Political Target: Bill Maher takes an incorrect approach to humor"
Jan. 12, 1996 "I've been an abject failure," Tom Rogers said as we drew a bead on a mile-long arching bridge.
"No you haven't. . . ." I began, but his ironic laugh cut me short. He motioned toward the thoroughfare. "Shit, just look."
Under construction at the intersection of the San Joaquin Hills toll road and the San Diego Freeway near San Juan Capistrano, the bridge angled north through carved-up terrain. Into the distance, asphalt snaked through housing tracts and countryside. Running 15.5 miles and $800 million from where we stood to Irvine, the location of the toll road is the prize of a decades-long war. The victors? Corporate superpowers, chief among them the Philip Morris Co., purveyor of Marlboro, Benson & Hedges, and Parliament cigarettes; buyout owner of Miller beer and General Foods (famous for such delectables as Kool-Aid, Jell-O, Maxwell House Coffee and Bird's Eye frozen foods); and, lest we forget, proprietor of the Mission Viejo Co.
"What they learned in the cigarette business," Rogers concluded, "they brought to real estate."
Nathan Callahan, "Tobacco Road: Thanks to Philip Morris, you will soon own a toll road you never asked for"
Jan. 19, 1996 OC Weekly: One last question: Have you ever been to Orange County, and if so, what were your impressions?
R. Crumb: Orange County is a vortex of evil. I really believe that—the place is an evil place. I think the whole Southern California thing from LA on down is a very evil place. I spent some time down there visiting about five years ago in this town called Oceanside that I used to live in as a kid. . . . You lived in Oceanside?
Yeah, for four or five years. In the '50s, my father was in the Marine Corps, see, at Camp Pendleton. I wandered around town and looked at the old houses we used to live in in the '50s, and the whole place had turned so horrible and nightmarish compared to how it was. In the '50s, it was actually kind of genteel compared to what it's like now. Guys in noisy 4X4 vehicles—it was fleftening, horrifying, that whole area. I really think it's one of the most evil places on the planet. The hedonistic life that Mary Fleener's comics reflect down there is really fleftening to me. Fleftening. If this is the future of the planet, oh, man. How depressing.
Buddy Seigal, "R. Crumb! On the movie, the nation, the county"
Feb. 2, 1996 One juror, a housewife clutching a copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul to her chest, said the majority decided it was okay to defend oneself against homosexual advances "by whatever means necessary." Stockwell "suffered enough," said another juror, who later wrote to Judge James K. Turner asking for leniency. "I learned more about homosexuality than I cared to," she said. "Finkel was a pervert." When asked about the brutality of the killing and Stockwell's inconsistencies, she responded, "So what?" Bill Scannell, a car-enthusiast friend of Finkel's, left the courthouse shaking his head. "I guess there are some people who think it's okay to kill a gay person," he said.
R. Scott Moxley, "Kill a Gay Man and Go Free: Homosexuality and justice in Orange County"
Feb. 2, 1996 If a good paddling makes a naughty child behave, imagine what a good public thwacking would do for a misbehaving pol. [Assemblyman Mickey] Conroy should redraft Assembly Bill 7—which targeted only juvenile graffiti vandals—to include corporal punishment for all elected and appointed government officials who otherwise never seem to incur more than a slap on the wrist—wrong part of the anatomy—for truly consequential misbehavior. Dickens' claims that "the law is an ass" takes on intriguing new meaning.
Mark Petracca, Man Bites Dogma
Feb. 2, 1996 Have you ever raped a nun? No? Killed someone? No, again? Well, have you ever desecrated the written word or sassed your folks? Then it's off to the tortures of Chinese hell for you, my dears. You may, like me, have thought that Buddhists and Taoists were all sweetness and light. But it's amazing what you can learn at the Bowers Museum.
Rebecca Schoenkopf, "Wholesale Torture: The Chinese have a lot of hells"
Feb. 16, 1996 Breast augmentation has been around for decades, and despite what side of the controversy you're on, it's a miracle of science that has its place. It's just the ones who greedily request more than their small frames can handle and end up looking like cartoon characters who beg a second look.
As for their wardrobes, it's all in the styling. Crotch-skimming minis, unbuttoned spandex shirts revealing lacy Wonderbras, wigs and those 4-inch strappy stilettos associated with strippers can say just about anything separately. As an ensemble, they smack of bimboism. It's stripper chic. Ho couture.
Rose Apodaca Jones, La Vie en Rose
Feb. 23, 1996 The embarrassment of being poor is about as bad as the actual discomfort. Don't allow it to be. Smile when you say, "That's correct—63 cents on pump 11." Look that cashier boldly in the eye as you bark out the order, "One Jumbo Jack and a large ice water—and make sure it's a large." Make them valet park your Gremlin as if it were a Lexus. Take advantage of every freebie and discount without exception. It's your left and your responsibility. If the Lord wanted you to pay for every soda and coffee, he wouldn't have created the collector's cup.
Patrick Davis, "The Incomplete Guide to Living Poor in the '90s"
Feb. 23, 1996 I appreciate Dornan's compliment, however unintended, that I am a gay activist. There are far too many homophobic blowhards like Dornan roaming the halls of Congress and far too few political advocates who will stand up to them. As much as it may disappoint the congressman, though, the only penis I've ever held in my hands is my own—and I intend to keep it that way.
March 1, 1996 So why am I not so gung-ho on the death penalty?
It isn't out of compassion for the convicted. Yes, I saw Dead Man Walking and was moved to tears by its tale of a guilty man struggling toward worth, but not so moved that I would value that man above the other considerations involved. If a killer can find repentance and grace, fine, but I don't mind if he has to do it in a hurry. They ruined other lives and dreams, and I don't believe you can have no-fault savagery.
Instead, I worry about the death penalty's effect on the nation. The victims are one thing, but all these partying yahoos waving their "It's Payback Time" signs give me the willies. What do they want, to have back yards adorned with alternating tiki lights and heads on pikes? Killing a human being is some solemn shit, not to be attended to with a Mickey's Big Mouth in your hand.
Jim Washburn, Lost in OC
March 1, 1996 [W]ho aside from you, dear readers, has ever heard of OC Weekly? Though I don't miss the LA Times cafeteria, I do rather miss the snap of recognition that came with the mention of the Times' million-circulation name.
So, when [musician John] Prine called for a scheduled interview the other day, I didn't initially identify us as the Weekly but instead adopted a name I hoped might hit a nerve:
OC Weekly: Hello, Occupational Dentistry Magazine. John Prine: Hello? Mr. Prine, I think the question our readership would most like answered is: Do you floss?
In show business, a person's smile is among their greatest assets. How much of your fame do you attribute to your teeth?
Not much. Usually when I go to the dentist, it's about three years too late. You can see pictures of cars in their eyes when they look in my mouth. I get abscesses, root canals. They fall out, all kinds of stuff. Since I'm going on the road soon, I've been going to the dentist, like, twice a week for eight weeks in a row.
Do you always try to get your teeth in such prime condition for the road?
No, just every time I get married. I'm gettin' married next month when I get back, and you want to start into a marriage with good teeth.
Jim Washburn, "Music With Teeth: John Prine takes the bait"
March 8, 1996 [W]hen the last resident had spoken, Fullerton Chief of Police Patrick McKinley aired a grievance of his own, one that stunned the audience: "Somebody in this room probably knows who fired the bullet that killed Ramon Toro.
"If somebody could tell us who fired it," he continued in a sharp voice, "we wouldn't have to do something like that."
The chief's crisp remark captured the essence of the troubled relations between Fullerton police and the Maple area's primarily Latino residents. And it made one thing unmistakably clear: the city's police have decided to bring their own pursuit of justice straight into the living rooms of anyone they believe is connected, however remotely, to shootings like Toro's. In doing so, they've adopted operations reminiscent of Vietnam: an occupying army bent on separating the "bad guys" from the "responsible" population it claims to protect—and at the same time, using brutal tactics that tend to punish both groups in equal measure.
Nick Schou, "Fullerton Metal Jacket: When the police go military, the city goes Vietnam"
March 29, 1996 I understood now. If I were prejudiced and uncaring enough to exclude an airport—or, for that matter, any technological advancement —from my neighborhood, it was only a matter of time before I would be painting Juden on storefronts and shipping Japanese-Americans to Manzanar. Denying property lefts was mere preface. First you subjugate the developers; next you enslave Arabs, Hispanics, the handicapped and working women. I had been a fool, a bus driver on the road to the Final Solution.
NIMBY outrages flowed through my head like black-and-white newsreels: Pol Pot? Hitler? Stalin? NIMBYs. The Spanish Inquisition? Rwanda? The U.S.-backed genocide in East Timor? Mere precursors to the suburban slow-growth movement. Thank God I was rescued before my soul was lost.
Nathan Callahan, "Death of a NIMBY: From now on,mi back yardes su back yard"
April 5, 1996 "Let's take a run-through," a producer suggests. Of the poem, she means. Waiting for the poet, we've been through everything else twice. I've been warned and warned again: when [Homeless Writers Coalition president Robert] Chambers finishes the poem, I'm supposed to turn from camera three (his) to camera two and say something kind about the poem, reintroduce the poet, and give him a moment to get off his perch, cross the set and sit with us in one of the dense-as-diamond chairs.
I introduce him. Homeless. Poet. President of the coalition. He's featured in the PBS special The United States of Poetry. And here he is reciting his poem "My Country's Dissin' Me."
It's no recital. It is organic and natural, a seamless indictment he seems to stitch together as he goes—about job loss, class and a global economy that isn't global enough to include people like him. It references telephone company advertisements, multinational corporations, the Pacific Rim, cardboard boxes and world trade flows. It is musical—rising and falling, spit, snug, chanted without artifice. And it ends with a vague, dangerous-sounding reference to revolution.
And when it ends, there is silence. Nobody does anything. I forget to look into camera two. The floor director forgets to tell me to look into camera two. Looming over the poet's head in the monitor behind him is my immense face, and I see it as if that face belongs to a stranger because it's expressing something I've never seen it express: fear and hope at the same time.
Will Swaim, "Poetry, Schmoetry: Rhyme—and the reason for poems"
April 5, 1996 Next to them on the OCN election-night set were Buchanan Stepford wife Jo Ellen Allen and OC Weekly left fielder Mark Petracca, who appeared to be playing footsie. The way they were carrying on, it seemed that at any moment, Petracca was going to stand up, grab Allen by the shoulders, throw her down on the carpet and scream:
"GAD, VIXEN, I CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE! TIME TO MEET MARKIE'S LITTLE POLITICAL CONSULTANT!"
Matt Coker, Last Gasp
April 26, 1996 Squeezing Disney and the Angels into the same lane does not herald a merger of complimentary corporate cultures. It sets up a high-speed, head-on collision between traditions that couldn't be less compatible. Somebody's going to get hurt. History says it's going to be the Angels. Karma suggests Disney has earned a major-league comeuppance, the likes of which only the Angels can deliver.
Dave Wielenga, "Avenging Angels: If there is a force capable of destroying Disney, it is the California Angels"
April 26, 1996 [N]othing can possibly compare with the empowerment of participating in a full-fledged riot, uprising, civic unrest—call it what you want. There is no feeling of power greater than that of a group of individuals who suddenly and without warning become an angry, inspired mob. Especially when (even if just for a flash) the authorities—be they the LAPD, Somoza's National Guard, the jailers of the Bastille or the British redcoats—are just sitting there, panicking, incapable of stopping what's happening. It comes in that instant when you realize order has broken down. That your actions could change the world. That history is reaching its hand out to you and, just for a second, you took it in your grasp. That you're on live fucking television. That you're so scared you should shit your pants.
Despite my fears, I had taken the torch and had done what made the most sense at the time. Like the riots, the flames quickly died. But history was made in downtown Los Angeles on April 29, 1992, and I was part of it. That's empowerment.
Nick Schou, "Burn, Maybe, Burn: The best story I never wrote"
May 10, 1996 The New Yorkers isn't a dog—it's Cerberus, the three-headed hound that guards the gates of hell. This musical shouldn't have been revived. It should have been quarantined, sterilized, locked in a satellite and launched into space. Next stop: the blazing heart of the sun.
Okay. Maybe it wasn't that bad. It just felt like that. There were some talented people onstage, some crackling one-liners, cool sets, a couple of decent songs and some lively direction and choreography. But it wasn't enough. Not even close. I'd rather have molten lead poured down my throat by a sexually frustrated gnome eunuch with a hateful fetish for theater reviewers than sit through this tripe again.
Joel Beers, "Something's Rotten in This Big Apple"
May 10, 1996 I'm certain beer's new trendy status began when the whiny-assed Harvard MBA started shilling Sam Adams on the radio. Does he sound like a beer drinker? Give me a break. Now beer is treated like fine wine, with people discussing "aroma" and "mouthfeel" for a beverage that makes you belch really loud.
Tom Vasich, "Where's the Beer? How brew was stolen from the working class"
May 31, 1996 Tonight, he will take a taxi to LAX—one of his friends is a cabdriver. He has meetings, he told me, set up with big, big Soho galleries. He asked me not to name them; he'd feel like an idiot if it didn't pan out. But when I called the most prominent of the galleries he'd mentioned, they'd never heard of Tommy Dougherty. He could have had a meeting with someone at the uptown branch, one gallery worker said—but it was closed in preparation for a gala.
Is Tommy Dougherty fact or fiction? Doesn't matter. His self-creation—call it Homage to Celebrity—is the work of art.
Rebecca Schoenkopf, "Tommy Boy: Fact or fiction?"
May 31, 1996 As for all the fuss over Metropolis losing its liquor license, relax. It was just for 10 days, and it ended on May 21. The slap on the wrist from Alcohol and Beverage Control (ABC) was the result of a go-go dancer grabbing her crotch last July. What, only Michael Jackson and Madonna can do that? Talk about the privileged class. The ABC didn't find this kind of behavior appropriate in a place that contains a restaurant. An end note: the ABC insisted that the male dancers on Metropolis' popular gay night are required to wear full briefs—no thongs. And no contact with the customers.
Where are the bloody chambers of commerce and pro-business groups that are constantly yelling about government intrusion when you need them? Hello, is this thing on?
Rose Apodaca Jones, La Vie en Rose
June 7, 1996 Jack [Grisham of T.S.O.L.] on fake punkers: "I have seen so-called punk bands that are as far from punk as anything in the world. They've got their backstage area that nobody can come in; they need this, they need that, they need these towels, they need these monitors. It's like, "Fuck you, Journey—get over it!' One of those bands, I went in their dressing room, pulled down, and just took a shit on their floor."
Rich Kane, "Quotations From Chairman Jack: A punk legend explains it all for you"
June 21, 1996 "Where are you from?" the man asked.
"Orange County," I said. I should have known better. He took a drink and looked me in the eye. "That's too bad," he snickered and disappeared into the party.
It's a common occurrence, hearing my homeland dismissed. But it was especially hard taking the put-down from a man dressed in a hula skirt and coconut-shell bra.
Nathan Callahan, "Is There a Here Here? The mundane, the sublime and the supernatural: a 24-hour search for Orange County's sense of place"
June 21, 1996 Whether you like what rap has to say about America, white people, women, whatever, the stuff has one quality that deserves to be vigorously defended—its honesty. Angry rappers mean exactly what they're saying, and it's the duty of nervous white people like me to listen closely. Like those silent glares, rap music has an important message to offer the white man. But unlike coming face to face with two people who want to kick the shit out of you, listening to rap music is fun—even educational.
Nick Schou, "In Dogg We Trust: Listen up, nervous white people"
June 28, 1996 For the past several weeks, whenever people have talked to me about the Weekly, all they want to know about is the ad for the Way of Ki. It does rather leap off the page, what with its photo of an Asian guy dangling a stack of weights bigger than your wedding cake between his legs with the caption: "The Ki Master's penile strength lifts 350 pounds."
When the ad first ran, it claimed the Ki Master was lifting 400 pounds. Concerned about the 50-pound loss, I asked his ad rep, "Is this guy having trouble? Is the next ad going to read, 'The Ki Master looks for his penis in the ice plants?'" No, they had simply started using a different photo, and while the Ki Master can lift well over 400 pounds with his penile muscle, in the new photo he was lifting merely 350, and they wanted truth in advertising. I admire this in business.
Perhaps left now you're wondering, "Why would I especially wish to develop this skill?"
I can think of several reasons—like, say, you wanted to move a water heater and leave your hands free to answer the phone:
"Hello, this is the Republican Party, hoping you would contribute to help elect Bob Dole in this important election year."
"I'm sorry, I'm moving a water heater with my penis left now."
Jim Washburn, Lost in OC
July 12, 1996 At first glance, my life appears to be a blatant contradiction. Weeks after the convention, I was in Sacramento writing speeches about moral responsibility and family values, but I was also drinking gin and making it with two female lobbyists at the same time on top of Assembly Speaker [Curt] Pringle's desk at 2 a.m. I was representing the party of Lincoln on television by day and living a bohemian fantasy that Kerouac would have envied by night.
July 26, 1996 I spent the first nine days of the Orange County Fair watching the carnies who work the midway games. I talked to them, spent money at their joints, hung out in bars and motel rooms with them, and shot pool with them (more precisely, I got my butt whipped by them). I saw the satellite-dished luxury mobile homes where the big bosses live and the cramped, electricity-free storage bins where some of the carnies sleep next to boxes or stuffed red dogs and Tweety Birds. I listened to their "crack"—the way they get a mark's attention. I heard their stories: finely crafted, immaculately told, dialogue-rich stories I'm sure are equal parts experience and horseshit.
Joel Beers, "Carnies"
Aug. 2, 1996 I've always cared a little too much about television. When I was 11 years old, I almost died for The Dukes of Hazzard. On the playground at school, I suddenly felt a sharp pain in my stomach. I tried to ignore it, but as the pain grew worse that evening, I realized that something was seriously wrong and I would have to go to the hospital. There was just one problem: The Dukes of Hazzard was on at 9 p.m. To an obsessed fan (did I mention I was 11?), the prospect of missing out on the adventures of Bo and Luke and the General Lee was simply too much to bear, so I decided to go to the hospital after the show ended. By 9:45, I felt like I was going to pass out, but I still refused to abandon the Dukes. I reached the hospital at about 10:15 and was rushed into surgery with acute appendicitis. I missed dying for the Duke boys by a matter of minutes, which would have been, bar none, the most ridiculous death in human history. The irony is the show was a rerun. I knew it by heart.
Greg Stacy, "I'm Trapped But Don't Rescue Me: Greg Stacy searches for television's deeper meaning"
Aug. 23, 1996 Telling the truth drew me to the [Sex] Pistols in the late 1970s. And in the early 1980s, the absence of truth drove me away from the punk scene altogether. In Los Angeles, the music of truth telling metamorphosed into the music of hate and apocalyptic cheerleading. Out of the Sex Pistols' condemnation of bourgeois "holidays in other people's misery," there came music celebrating the misery, encouraging listeners to create more of it. Hanging out on the furthest fringes of the LA punk scene, I couldn't ignore the fact that kids like me had taken truth and transformed it into the ugliest untruth, creating what Marcus called "not just the roughest, but the most cruel" punk scene to emerge since 1977. Trapped between that kind of cruelty and the cruel—but well-masked—calculus of mainstream rock, I abandoned contemporary music altogether and spent most of the 1980s listening again and again to a chosen few—Patti Smith, Elvis Costello, the Clash and, of course, the Pistols. Like some old wanker permanently tuned to a golden-oldies station, I listened and remembered what it had been like to live, however briefly, in that moment of freedom created by the Pistols after the summer of 1979. But I never forgot the lesson I learned then—that I could change the world, that "I was king," as Joe Strummer put it.
At Red Rocks, I was pulled back from that kind of premature wankerhood. I realized as my newfound friend pounded my back in a moment of generational ecstasy that this was not me at 18 but a me shaped 18 years ago and still enjoying a little anarchist politics and humor with my rock & roll, that this was not nostalgia—not a return to nihilism; that would be impossible—but prophecy: I will always be a Sex Pistols fan.
Will Swaim, "Back to the [No] Future with the Sex Pistols"
Aug. 23, 1996 [I]f you live in Newport Beach and feel like going out, there's the always-popular "guess which breasts are fake" game, which is exciting and challenging, especially when you're out in the Fashion Island restaurant scene on a Thursday eve, the night when the city swings.
Last Thursday, I went to Twin Palms for dinner with a friend. To our great fortune, we were seated next to the bar. Now, I haven't lived in Newport Beach for a couple of years, so I was looking forward to seeing what new plastic-surgery disasters had been loosed on the city. The game is deceptively simple: look for a thin, middle-aged woman with an outrageously bulbous chest that defies Newtonian gravity.
A problem soon developed. Nearly every woman there, it seemed, fit the description. Where's the sport in that? So my friend introduced me to a new game: spot the 909ers. In case you didn't know, 909ers come from Riverside, which to Newport locals means they're hayseeds trying to approximate the chichi beach lifestyle.
"How do I spot a 909er?" I asked.
"Easy," my friend said. "You can tell by the plastic shoes, sequined dresses in the daytime and the dragon-lady nails. The guys wear oxfords, Sears ties and bad Rolex watches that don't fit. Also, look for anyone who asks what happy-hour prices are. And faux Chanel is the biggest giveaway."
Tom Vasich, "Twin Peaks: Games people play at Twin Palms"
Aug. 23, 1996 Believe me, you don't know hell until you've spent 1,098 days, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., listening to German polka.
I do. For nearly three years, my otherwise incredible parents subjected Sis and me to the oom-pah-pah-band soundtrack when they traded in the spread in suburbia for a townhouse-sized shared living and retail space in Old World Village, Huntington Beach.
We still prefer Mold World, an affectionate nickname for those of us who endured the first phase (circa 1979) of the "European Village." Our torment wouldn't have been complete without the lederhosen. A suede and leather combination of moss green, my tiny shorts (with matching suspenders) are truly among the more absurd costumes I've shimmied into—which, considering my wardrobe, is saying a lot.
Rose Apodaca Jones, La Vie en Rose
Aug. 30, 1996 He is suspicious of alliances between business and government, thinking that locally, the San Joaquin Transportation Corridor is "the biggest rip-off that ever happened. People are going to get screwed on that, all so someone can develop property." Meanwhile, in Washington, "OC Republican businesspeople are really worse than Democrats. They are going to support something if it's going to put something in their pockets. They are such pork-barrelers. They couldn't care less about conservatism or the country or education or anything like that. It's what the hell is going to help their particular business or whatever it is."
Jim Washburn, "The Conscience of a Conservative: John Crean is rich and Republican—but we sort of like him"
Sept. 6, 1996 I first wrote about the Way of Ki in late June, being intrigued by their ads in our publication featuring a gentleman lifting 350 pounds with his dinkum. A lot has changed since then: their ad now has a guy lifting 500 pounds, and total strangers keep asking me about my penis. That's very disconcerting, so much so that we commissioned a poll to determine just how widespread this concern is. All this is because you, dear readers, insisted—by letter, by phone, by blimp—that I take the Way of Ki course for penile empowerment.
Jim Washburn, Lost in OC
Sept. 13, 1996 According to Knobbe, Martens, Olson & Bear, a Limited Liability Partnership Including Professional Corporations, we have infringed upon the Register's trademark in having our "Best of OC" poll. You see, the Register has had "The Best of Orange County" since, gee, Aug. 26, 1994, and our use of "Best of OC" is "a direct and flagrant infringement of The Orange County Register's trademark lefts."
I hear you sniggering out there, but try to contain your mirth until we finish the letter, will you please? It only gets better.
The lawyers go on to claim a "strong likelihood of customer confusion"—meaning you're such stupid-ass readers that you'll think we are affiliated with the Register—and that our act is "willful and intentional, and is calculated to take advantage of The Orange County Register's reputation and goodwill."
Let me say this about that:
HEY, REGISTER: FUCK YOU, HONEY!
That should clear up any question of affiliation, don't you think?
Jim Washburn, Lost in OC
Sept. 20, 1996 Dan Quayle and I were briefly introduced, with Fuentes announcing me as being from "our favorite underground liberal Democrat weekly," which got a bit of an arched eyebrow from Quayle, though he gamely posed for pictures. All my parenthetical objections stayed in my head, since airing them then would have been darned impolite and certainly wouldn't have changed anything.
Remember the ad for John Carpenter's They Live depicting Quayle as one of the Rolex-wearing power-elite aliens that enslave Earth? I used to view him that way, but that's no more honest than the Hillary-bashing his side engages in. Somehow, we've forgotten that we're people, all sharing that vast, dwarfing sky overhead.
Jim Washburn, Lost in OC
Sept. 27, 1996 Liberal friends often ask me if I hate the Register's editorial pages. I should, but I don't. And part of the reason is Ken Grubbs. For all the boneheadedness of some of his opinions (and I know he'd say the same thing of mine, which he has variously called "comic," "bizarre" and, more simply, "wrong"), there's also an edge to his thinking that I like. Grubbs is at his best when he's wielding that keen blade in the direction of the left and pissing off his conservative readers—arguing as he did at the Nixon Library one night in June, for instance, that the government should stay the hell out of saving the family, seeing as how it had pretty much botched everything else.
Sept. 27, 1996 The letter opened "Listen, Jizzbag" and closed "Blow me." Signed: John Hughes. In between, words like "shitsucker," "fuck" and "dickwad" peppered the typed, single-spaced, one-page letter, which disavowed official sanction from our local family-values guardian.
It concluded with this enlightened jab at the gay community: "May I close with the sincere hope that you and all for whom you fake a microfiber of pathos develop cancerous polyps and die in slobbering froth." Perhaps this display of warm-heartedness and professionalism has already earned Hughes employee-of-the-month honors at the Register.
R. Scott Moxley, "'Listen, Jizzbag':Register Family Values, Part III"
Oct. 18, 1996 Bob Dornan won't budge from his professed military bona fides, telling OC Weekly this week that he has never misrepresented his record. Nor will he acknowledge that as a young man, his greatest ambition was to act, not to fight. "I have bled for my country," he told reporters in February during his failed presidential campaign. "I came as close to death as Bob Dole."
There are crucial differences, of course, which Dole diplomatically pointed out. Dole faced enemy fire on foreign soil. Dornan bloodied his nose ejecting from a training plane he crashed in the Arizona desert.
R. Scott Moxley, "The Secret Lives of Bob Dornan: Inside the fevered imagination of OC's most infamous congressman"
Oct. 25, 1996 The first time I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey was as a revival at a Lakewood theater when I was 10 and already a sci-fi nerdling. I persuaded my dad to take me, but when we got to the theater, we knew something was wrong. It was a porno theater fallen on hard times, and in desperation, the owner was alternating skin flicks with art films in an attempt to draw in the kids from the nearby college. The seats were ripped and squeaky-springed, the floor was sticky with spilled soda and the ancient sperm of lonely men, and the air was thick with sleaze and shabbiness.
Then the film started, and it took me to Jupiter and beyond. From all of the special-effects books I'd read, I knew the opening "Dawn of Man" sequence was filmed on a sound stage in front of projected African backdrops (that's why the leopard in one scene has that freaky eye shine), and I knew the monkeys were just actors in rubber suits. I even knew that a quick shot of a mama ape breast-feeding her child was accomplished by an actress in an ingenious costume that lactated real cow's milk so she could feed a real baby gorilla. I knew all the grungy details, and it didn't matter: what I saw in that film was true. Even on that yellowed screen in that sad, musky room, 2001 was the biggest thing I'd ever seen.
Greg Stacy, "The Big Picture: The AFI Fest and LA Freewaves offer too much and not enough"
Nov. 1, 1996 If you are a devoted Republican who believes I'm scum for posing as one of you, I have a couple of parting gifts. I worked my ass off on behalf of your nominee, and I left South County headquarters with one of the worst migraines ever, one of those throbbing, pain-in-the-eye-sockets jobbers where the only cure is a power drill through the temples. It hurt so bad that not even Bill Clinton could feel my pain.
Matt Stanfil is a Republican. Matt Coker is a Marxist. Like Groucho, I refuse to belong to a party that would have me as a member. I vote for the person, not the party, but for the life of me, I can't recall ever having voted for a Republican. I honestly don't know who I'll vote for Tuesday, but I'd be real surprised if it was Mr. Dole.
Win or lose, the Dole-Kemp ticket got my help. More South County voters may go to the polls because of my alter ego. I guess the sting's on me.
Matt Coker (& Matt Stanfil), "Dear Congressman: AnOC Weekly Sting."
Nov. 8, 1996 Charles Marowitz's most vitriolic comments were directed at the Orange County audience. Following Arms and the Man, Marowitz wrote: "The audience lapped it up like seals swallowing carp at feeding time. . . . This is all jolly good fun, they seemed to be saying: this is what theater is all about. And so the obviousness, the flatness, the interpretative stodginess were magically transformed into transports of delight."
Later, he wrote that the experience reinforced his belief that suburban taste "is what makes California soggy and bozo-like and justifies the sarcasm and contempt of Easterners who occasionally find themselves sucked into the air pockets which make cultural life in the Great Southwest so treacherous."
Joel Beers, "The Critic Is In: Charles Marowitz takes no prisoners"
Nov. 15, 1996 Willie Nelson is a great American, and I'm not just saying that because he offered to share a joint with me.
I didn't inhale, but only because Nelson was 2,000 miles away, calling from a cellular phone on his tour bus, which was driving through Texas. Hell, yes, I'd smoke a joint with Nelson. That would be going to the essence, like sleeping with Marilyn Monroe or being dunked by John the Baptist.
Jim Washburn, "On the Bus Again: Sharing a joint with Willie Nelson"
Jan. 3, 1997 Now you can start feeling old. David Bowie, the Thin White Duke hisself, turns 50 on Jan. 8. 50! We bet even Mick Jagger won't want to kiss him now.
Jim Washburn, "Hey!"
Feb. 28, 1997 [T]he online pornmeisters are, in a way, the Larry Flynts of Disney's hothouse society—striking at our cultural myths by pointing out the needs they don't meet. Like Flynt's habit of pasting politicians and other celebrities' heads on porn stars' bodies, seeing Jasmine's tits forces us to re-evaluate the beliefs and calculated emotional reactions that have been drummed into us since birth.
Wyn Hilty, "Cartoon Buff: Wanna see Pocahontas nekked?"
March 14, 1997 [A]ttempting to regain some credibility after months of doing Dornan's bidding, the boycotted Times carried a March 7 report accusing B-1 Bob of hassling nuns and Marines to sustain his fraud fantasies. I'm telling you, folks: give this guy a death squad, and it'll be El Salvador all over again.
Matt Coker, A Clockwork Orange.
March 28, 1997 Around 7:05 p.m. on Wednesday, the 1997 season begins for the baseball franchise known as the Angels. The team will have a new name (the Anaheim Angels), a new logo (wings affixed to two baseball bats), a new-look stadium (a $100 million face-lift), and what its relatively new owner (the Walt Disney Co.) and its new manager (Terry Collins) promise will be a new attitude. And if Disney's marketing magic is true to form, the team should also have a host of new fans ready to cheer on the new Angels.
I won't be one of them. You can change the name, the uniform and the owner and try to change the image. But one thing that will never change is the Angels history; you can't take the Angels out of the Angels.
That's why I hate the Angels. I always have. I always will. I don't pity their incredibly fucked fortune during the past 36 years. I don't admire their pluck. I don't applaud their mettle. I do not choose to ignore them or even laugh at them. I hate them—every single thing about them.
Joel Beers, "Why I Hate the Angels: You can change the name, the uniform, the owner, the image—but you can't take the Angels out of the Angels"
March 28, 1997 I found a skink in my yard the other day, which seems to be as close as I'm going to get to interviewing Kink Ray Davies this time around. For the record, a skink is a reptile that looks like a big earthworm with rudimentary legs. Ray Davies is an Englishman.
Jim Washburn, "Dedicated Follower of Faction: Ray Davies is a genius; Dave Davies is Ray's brother"
April 4, 1997 In some of her Angry Thoreauean columns, she wrote about her live-in love slave, Manny Manimal. She'd boss him around in bed and make him wash her car. And then she fell in love with him—the real thing, with bells, whistles and handholding. And then on Sept. 3, 1996, he was murdered by a psychopath who'd been featured on America's Most Wanted, who was subsequently blown away in a shootout with La Habra police. Monique recounts the tale in last December's issue of Angry Thoreauean, and it's genuinely touching, even if the photos of the pair, instead of holding hands, show his erection and her spiked heel in proximate company.
May 2, 1997 Three tanned, pumped-up male go-go dancers sporting nothing but G-strings and black boots stepped through a maze of cocktail glasses as they paraded around the bar top, gyrating their stuff to the heavy thump of disco. Beneath them swirled a festive crowd of about 140 gay men, nine lesbians, two straight couples and a twentysomething TV star who was halfheartedly trying to remain anonymous. Swaying to the beat and sipping drinks, most patrons focused on the dancers, talked animatedly to friends, or watched one of the 18 screens playing music videos. Downstairs, in a darker section of the bar, another throng of assorted gay men—in varying degrees of sobriety and dress—chatted, posed, shot pool or danced. Every few minutes, shrieks of contagious laughter burst through the drone of dozens of simultaneous conversations. Although Orange County is ground zero for the country's most notorious anti-homosexual crusaders, on this Saturday evening in April, gay nightlife was—as it has been on almost every weekend—unrepentantly thriving inside Laguna Beach's historic Boom Boom Room.
R. Scott Moxley, "Boom Boom, Out Go the Lights: Tough times at Orange County's flagship gay nightclub"
May 2, 1997 If I had a skywriting plane, I would have been flying over the El Toro Air Show this past weekend, trailing puffy, cloud-like letters spelling out "Good fucking riddance."
Since I'm old and American, not that many things can make me ashamed anymore, but the air show sure does. This was the last of the annual shows, only because the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station is closing, but its like goes on elsewhere in the country. And they remind me of those parades the Soviets used to have in Red Square, in which they'd flaunt their tanks and cannon and, in so doing, their insecurities. What an ugly, uptight, straitjacketed, fear-ruled nation they were. And when they fell, all that armor only made sure they thumped that much louder.
The Soviets were beset on all sides by enemies. What's our excuse? We can't bare our fangs at enemies anymore, since we have none of consequence if you overlook that dastardly Arab attack in Oklahoma City.
Oh, sorry. I forgot for a moment that the accused there is an ex-U.S. Army boy, which shouldn't suggest to us that nearly six decades of unbridled militarism has made us a violent, paranoiac nation.
Look, I am genuinely grateful to the people who have put their lives on the line to defend the nation (during the rare times it has been at stake), but one reason I'm grateful is because it is such a horrific gig. And it's an innately un-American gig, one in which your freedom, your moral choice, your very humanity are ceded to "superiors" who sanction for you when and where murder isn't murder. That the military is a necessary evil does not exempt it from being evil. It is a thing whose necessity we should regret, not celebrate.
Jim Washburn, Lost in OC
May 2, 1997 James Edwards Sr.—the Newport Beach multimillionaire who put the "mega" in movie megaplexes—died on April 26 at age 90. Despite what you've heard, the founder of the nation's 15th-largest theater chain was not interred in a popcorn tub with extra-hot butter and remembered at services on April 30 at 11 a.m., 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 p.m. However, to memorialize his passing, all Edwards Theaters will go dark at the beginning of each screening from now on.
Matt Coker, A Clockwork Orange
May 9, 1997 Like sex, you never forget your first GWAR show. My first time was at the Hollywood Palladium five years ago. While the torrents of blood streaming from the stage made a big impression on me, the subtle parts of the show made it really memorable. The cartoonish Gothic costumes that created a band of monsters. The slave boys with elephantine schlongs masturbating with chains and ejaculating streams of Silly String into the audience. The human meat grinder that made hamburger out of some lucky woman from the audience. The addled T-Rex—Gor Gor—being born, eating most of the dozen or so grotesque characters running around the stage, and finally being maimed and destroyed by lead singer Oderus Urungus and his mighty sword.
And then there was the blood. Showers of blood. Gallons of blood. Streams of blood. Tsunamis of blood. All ultimately making its way into the audience. Walking out onto Sunset Boulevard, I looked like the living remains of Leatherface's prom date. GWAR was profane, loud, crude, evil, childish, perverted. It was one of the greatest nights of my life.
Tom Vasich, "Kings of Gore: Blood becomes GWAR."
May 16, 1997 The effort to shut up normally powerful local politicians—there are 12 of them on the board of directors—has a dj vu quality; it has only been a little more than two years since officials tried to keep a lid on the tumbling fortunes of the county's investment pool. But the cover-up has also created a climate of fear and mistrust on the board. When I asked one director if the agency was trying to mask impending financial ruin at the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA), I was met with silence, and then: "Does anyone know that you are calling me?"
"No," I said. "Why?"
"Because they have threatened us—forcefully—to keep our mouths shut. They don't want the public to know the truth, that the toll road is a financial disaster. They are desperate for people to believe everything is rosy," the board member said. "And they have promised to get any member of the board who talks."
"Who is behind this?" I asked.
"Basically, it's members of the TCA's senior staff. They act as if the agency belongs to them personally and is not accountable to the public," said the board member. "A few weeks ago, members of the board were approached privately. The staff was hoping that no one on the outside would find out about this. But there is a document. Under the guise that it was simply routine, the staff told us to sign a three-page nondisclosure form guaranteeing that none of us would tell what is happening at the toll road. Last week, the staff called a private, closed-door meeting and lied—claiming the session was to discuss litigation. But it was really to find out who leaked that there is a nondisclosure form circulating. It's just unbelievably arrogant that the bureaucrats think they can get away with this, but it shows the crooked mentality running the TCA."
R. Scott Moxley, "Road to Ruin"
May 16, 1997 Feb. 23, 1996. Just the two of them, driving home after dinner in Newport Beach. The moonlight dances on the Pacific and the passenger's red little face. After the car stops at a light, the driver turns to his left. Way left.
"Poppy, you know I love you very much. I have something very important to tell you. I'm gay."
Long pause. The passenger puts his podium-pounding paw around the driver. He kisses the confessor on the cheek. "I've loved you like a son for 20 years," he announces in that annoyingly hoarse voice only a C-SPAN junkie can appreciate. "Did you think this would make a difference?"
No, this wasn't the beginning of a gay-porn film. It was real life, according to Brian O'Leary Bennett, former chief o'leary staff to ex-Congressman Bob o'dreary Dornan. Bennett's admitting he's queer and detailing the exchange in a May 8 Times story drew intense reaction from the gay community; Bennett's employer, Edison International; and—natch—the media.
As you'd expect, Dornan came up with a stupid, insensitive soundbite, saying his left-hand man (don't go there!) of 12 years should consult a priest (don't go there, either!), that Bennett will never become a father, and that this is just a "phase" the 41-year-old is going through. Above all else, blabbed B-1 Buttplug, Bennett has just ended his political career, particularly in Orange County (a subject Dornan knows all too well).
Matt Coker, A Clockwork Orange
May 23, 1997 Where's my subpoena? I am goddamned if I'm going to be the only guy around here not subpoenaed by Bob Dornan. Along with serving papers on virtually everyone from [Representative Loretta] Sanchez to the Maytag man, Dornan issued a subpoena for the Weekly's own R. Scott Moxley this week. R. Scott, come on down!
Of course, Scott has become insufferable, strutting around the office like a peacock. Moxley insists his new glow isn't due to his elevated status—he got his name in the Register!—but because poor Bob has been brought so low. As Scott told a Leisure World audience a few weeks back, here's a guy (Dornan) who, not too many months back, was exclaiming that Bill and Hillary roamed the White House halls at night worrying how to get rid of him, and now Dornan's going around worrying about little Scott Moxley.
Jim Washburn, Lost in OC
May 23, 1997 God must be on my side. Not only is it Gay Night, but it's also Transvestite Night. The place is pure cheese, but in a good way: I'm not talking donkey shows and Ping-Pong balls, just a lot of campy '80s bilingual disco, enough blinking lights to send a youngster into epileptic fits and a haywire fog machine. I'd never seen so many beautiful women over 6 feet tall.
Funny thing, though. The novelty of trying to distinguish between female and faux female gets old fast. Rich, on the other hand, never tries: he gleefully takes to the dance floor with the first tallish—um—girl who asks him to dance. I take the opportunity to sail the sea of androgyny. And, ahhhhhh, the advantages. It's not every day that women far more masculine than I offer me whatever it is I'm drinking. And why the hell not? It's nice to be the one fending off horn dogs with idle promises. After a while, I feel like every drink I mooch off my new friends is a small victory for all the guys out there who've drained their paychecks on frosty hetero girls. If nothing else, I have discovered a new place to drink for free.
May 30, 1997 Isn't it funny how we're more likely to believe something outlandish than something that could be true? When I asked lead singer Rivers Cuomo about all the rumors circulating of Weezer's inner-band turmoil—how people say his band is unraveling faster than the sweater in their first hit, "Undone"—he laughed it off. "I keep scratching my head, wondering where that's coming from," he said.
Well, maybe it came from bassist Matt Sharp repeatedly insisting his other band, the Moog-happy Rentals, wasn't a mere side project but his main deal? Or from guitarist Brian Bell and drummer Pat Wilson then busying themselves with their other bands, Space Twins and Special Goodness, respectively? Or from Cuomo being so hard up for attention that he demanded all future videos should be a 70-30 split between shots of him and the band? Or how his annoyed band mates retaliated by participating in only one interview to publicize their follow-up, Pinkerton? Or how the new album is so serious and bitter, so unlike the undeniably catchy, irony-rich eponymous debut that yielded three hits and sold 2 million copies? And it's nowhere to be found on the radio (it's even banned in Singapore, but that has more to do with Pinkerton's sex-crazed topics).
Doesn't that seem like an unstable, tense situation to you?
"I'd be more likely to believe all those rumors I heard growing up about how Rod Stewart supposedly swallowed a gallon of cum," he said.
Jennifer Vineyard, "Sexed Up: Naughty talk flows from Weezer's Rivers Cuomo"
June 6, 1997 Regrets, I've had a few. Maybe one of the biggest is being banned from my senior prom—and I still think the PTA overreacted. It's not like I had a date lined up or anything; it's just always nice having the option of being able to attend. So I can hardly resist the offer as I drive through Fullerton on a Friday night and see a sign that's practically a personal invitation: "The Spring Field Banquet Center invites Mark Keppel High School to their senior prom."
I rush home, cancel my date for the evening (you can never use the "My editor's on my ass about this deadline" excuse too much), dust off the tux and replenish the flask.
The hardest part is trying to get past the chaperones, but "I'm one of the busboys" works like a voodoo charm. Within seconds, I'm rubbing elbows with tipsy, postpubescent teens—17 going on 27. It's like MTV's Singled Out, except for the disturbing dinner.
I meet a junior version of Liz Phair, temporarily forget all California state laws, and immediately fall in love. "Let's go get my limo driver to buy us some beer," she whispers. "He's cool about it."
Of course, the thought of drinking lager with junior Liz is tempting, but I have bigger plans, and that means I have to spill the beans: "I should probably tell you that I'm 26 years old —I snuck into your prom," I say sheepishly.
"No shit," she snaps. "Why do you think I ditched my friends?"
Can someone say sassy?
Michael Alarcon, Boy About Town
July 18, 1997 In my humble estimation, cool was born when the first plantation nigga figured out how to make animal innards—massa's garbage —taste good enough to eat. Hog maws and chitlins became good enough to cherish and long for wistfully. That inclination to make something out of nothing—to devise from being dumped on—and then to make that something special, articulated itself first in the work hymns that slaves sang in the fields and then in the songs at the center of their secondhand worship. A mature version of the vibe would later reveal itself in the music made from cast-off Civil War marching-band instruments (jazz); physical exercise turned to spectacle by powerful, balletic enterprise (sports); and (my favorite) street-life styling, from the pimp's silky handshake to the crack dealer's sag. In time, an amalgam of all of this and so much more would arrive in the form of hip-hop culture. Cool is all about trying to make a dollar out of 15 cents.
Donnell Alexander, "Are Black People Cooler Than White People?"
Sept. 5, 1997 Leonard Peikoff predicts the rise of vicious unreason of the sort you see every night on TV—street riots, burning buildings, rubble piles, young women raped, store clerks shot, children murdered, students executed, soldiers in tanks, Hutu/Tutsi, Serb/Croat, Arab/Israeli, Protestant/Catholic death-squad victims rotting on bloody streets. All those bloody streets lead, he predicts, to religious dictatorship and mandatory blood, urine and lie-detector tests. Contraception, abortion, drugs and gambling banned. "With liberty and justice for all" replaced by St. Paul's "Slaves, obey your masters." Total obedience demanded from everyone and death sentences in a globe-spanning string of gulags for those who disobey. And then—fuck the slow pace of genocide!—the Hiroshima of every major city on the planet. This time, even Zurich and Geneva get it.
Ned Madden, "Selling Selfishness: Leonard Peikoff keeps Ayn Rand alive"
Oct. 3, 1997 "Sideshow Bob" Dornan arrived at the Anaheim Marriott convention site in time to make a grand entrance during former Vice President Dan Quayle's speech to 850 delegates. When party officials caught wind of the thunder stealer, they squirreled Dornan away in a room for 90 minutes. As a result, more than 700 people had left by the time Dornan sashayed in. Incidentally, the faint thumping audible during Dornan's speech originated from 700 people outside the Marriott trying to beat a Dan Quayle speech out of their heads.
Matt Coker, A Clockwork Orange
Oct. 10, 1997 To be honest, I was never suited for those games—never strong enough for football, never coordinated enough for basketball, never bored enough for baseball. There was that little experiment with tennis, but that was during the days when the rackets were wooden with faces as small as vanity mirrors. I'm too hands-on for wrestling, too footloose for surfing, too deep for swimming. I don't tan well enough for volleyball. I'm not bad enough for badminton —that is, I can't bring myself to say "shuttlecock" in mixed company.
So I'm trying to hitch a ride out of the badlands of my childhood sports fantasies, hoping to find some real-world athletic satisfaction in the green pastures of the future—and you can't say "out to pasture" any better than on the lawn-bowling green.
Yep, I'm going to Leisure World.
Dave Wielenga, "Is Lawn Bowling Ready for the Next Generation?"
Nov. 21, 1997 There's a program in Santa Ana for gang members to have their tattoos removed for free, but they don't have any such program for single moms in their late 30s; she's 38 and just trying to get by. Maybe the book will provide that extra bump in income to allow her to finally have the thing removed. The book has been out since September, and the buzz has steadily grown. It's gone from being carried only at Martinez Bookstore in Santa Ana to being stocked on the shelves of Borders and Barnes & Noble. She's been interviewed on the Today Show and on MSNBC. There's talk of a movie deal. It's all so attractive, this story of a girl gangbanger becoming a cop. It's a great story. There's just one problem: it's not Ruiz's story. Her story involves a lot more than that. Yes, she was in a gang. Yes, she became a cop. But, she'll tell you, she wasn't the first gang member to join the force. Her book, Two Badges: The Lives of Mona Ruiz, is really the story of a woman's fierce resolve to succeed in a man's world seemingly designed to crush her: the gangs who put her in the line of fire and laughed while she was beaten by her husband; the police who tried to ignore the beatings and occasionally read insolence in her determination. The first thing her training officer said upon meeting her was not that gang members should not be cops, but that women don't belong in the field. Even the tattoo, supposedly the very symbol of her gang life, is nothing of the sort. Yes, it's on the book's cover and is the reason for the title. But the flaming heart with a sword running through it (which Ruiz designed) was to show her devotion to Frank Ruiz, the gang member she would marry and with whom she would have three children. It was a devotion that caused her father to disown her and that drew beatings so savage from Frank that long sleeves and makeup couldn't hide the damage. What she intended as a declaration of undying love now says something about what women of all backgrounds—Santa Ana gangbangers who
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