From OC to Shining Sea

Illustration by Bob AulOh, but life is good. I was watching pay TV recently (I was getting paid by a web magazine to watch the season finale of American Idol, which, trust me, is the only way to watch it) when, lo and behold, there was a commercial for a new Fox summer program:

Ryan Atwood (actor Benjamin McKenzie), a troubled, underprivileged teen (meaning he had to make do with an old Suburban or something) finds himself in a sticky wicket, as they say in the 'hood, and is taken in by an idealistic pro bono lawyer (Peter "Where'd my friggin' career go?" Gallagher) who lives in a tony beach town, where Ryan's dclass ways butt heads with the upscale locals.

In one of the commercial's snippets a blond dude has a guy down in the sand and is kicking him while exclaiming, "This is how we do it in Orange County!"

That's how I do it. You must feel the same. I mean, what's a day without there being some kicked ass in it? Down the sidewalk I go:

"Move aside, sir, if you don't want to lie in my ass-kicked wake. I say, move aside!" After they've felt the thump of my Merrells, I say, "That's how we do it in Orange County. Now get off my sandy white beach before I punch you so hard you'll need a time machine to find your teeth."

I give them a little salute off the brim of my commodore's cap, just to let them know we are all brothers under the sun, and down the peninsula I go.

It is beyond boss that there is now a fitting medium to reflect our county's values and lust for life. Oh, blessed Fox! As Matt Coker hinted here back in February, they're giving us our own TV show—The OC—pulled straight from the underpants of our daily lives. Blissomundo!!!! Even if the only pro bono attorney in Newport Beach is some guy who supported the late Sonny Bono's legislative agenda.

The teaser cuts to shots of the exclusive Newport Coast community, houses jewelling the hillsides like sun-bleached Lucky Charms spilled on a verdant lawn, while the eternal sea unscrolls its slow wisdom on the perfect shore. Cut to catty, style-conscious kids jostling in the hallways of teen academia. Cut to Anthony Pignataro on West Balboa keying some kid's Excursion.

Let's see what the Fox website ( has to say, shall we?

"The OC, otherwise known as Orange County, California, is an idyllic paradise—a wealthy harbor-front community [hello, Stanton!] where everything and everyone appears to be perfect. But beneath the surface is a world of shifting loyalties and identities, of kids living secret lives hidden from their parents, and of parents living secret lives hidden from their children."

Unfortunately, they all decide to do their hiding at La Cave, so everybody hears everybody's secret:

"Tigress, I want you to take this briefcase and buy the nation of Uruguay. Take whatever's left over and buy yourself some sexy lingerie."

"Why, young Billy, isn't that you in the corner banging my wife?"

"Yessir, Mr. Binkey. Say hello, Mrs. Binkey."

"Tina, may I have some crack?

"What's the magic word?"

"Um … crack?"

"May I have some crack, please."

"Hello, Mr. Downchild. Why are you looking so down?"

"Cindy, when you're my age, even your best friends don't want to hear your problems. They've got enough of their own, so it's your burden to carry. Maybe your wife's sucking the life right out of you and you don't know how to make it good, or even if anything's good anymore, and you tell your friend, and he just says, 'Deal with it. Why are you bitching to me about it instead of to your wife? You think she likes being a downer? Shake yourselves up, man. Now, just let me focus on the clean Nordic lines of these Ikea consoles and forget everything for a while, okay?' That's what they say to you."

"So why did you lure me–young and barely matriculated as I am–here to this cellar packed with lobster and sin?"

"To bitch about my wife. I told you, no one my age wants to hear it."

"Wanna come watch us slaughter a goat on an island in the Back Bay? We'll let you drink some of the blood."

"All right. Am I dressed okay?"

So it goes with the Newport crowd. Troubled teen Ryan rips into this torrid milieu like a bolt of corduroy.

"How are you, Ryan?" asks Marissa Cooper, the (according to the website) "heartbreakingly beautiful girl next door who seems to glide through life effortlessly."


I don't want to give away the whole first season, so suffice it to say that the 92660 makes 90210 look like Number 2, and we're talking the Sugar Ray Lemonade and Brownies sort of Number 2. The OC rules. The rest of you just get off our waves and watch us on the airwaves. We will kick cat-box sand in your face, America, and then we will kick you, because that's just how we do things around the old OC. Maybe Carl's Jr. can do a promotional tie-in with the show:

"I'd like a burger and fries, please."

"You want your ass kicked with that?"

Meanwhile, this just in: The blond highlights in Scott Peterson's hair are gone. I repeat, the blond highlights in Scott Peterson's hair are gone. Please remain calm and in your homes.

I don't know what's spookier these days, the news or the near absolute lack of it in most "news" media these days. As someone somewhere noted recently, the BBC, which is owned by the British government, is more critical and questioning of its government than the supposedly independent media is in this country. The press here hounded Bill Clinton for a year over a couple of Oval Office knee-tremblers, yet George W. Bush's reasons for leading us into a war in which thousands died are proving to have been a cavalcade of lies, and no one's taking him to task over it? Americans are still dying there—some days there are more casualties than when our flight-suited leader declared the war was "over"—yet there's almost no note of that, or the chaos racking Iraq, or the fact that we secured the ministry of oil while allowing nuclear facilities to be looted. I don't know if Saddam Hussein allowed radioactive materials to go on the black market, BUT WE JUST DID! Is that worth as much concern as Scott Peterson's hair?

Terrorists don't even need nuclear materials. How about just a match? Desperate tinderbox conditions exist in our local mountains today, yet the administration is holding up federal funds to aid the problem.

Most news sources also aren't talking about the story reported by the BBC and others that the dramatic footage and tale of Jessica Lynch's rescue was a wag-the-dog fabrication, or how Lynch's parents say they are now being "told" not to talk about their daughter's experiences.

Does anyone care that the Supreme Court is poised to slash the Miranda ruling? Our press doesn't.

Why was it Britain's Financial Times, and not a U.S. paper, that broke the story that the Bush administration suppressed a Treasury Department report projecting a staggering national deficit and calling for tax hikes, as it pushed its tax cut to further deepen the chasm? Meanwhile CNN did report, briefly, that most working parents earning under $26,000 a year will see zilch from the tax cut. All of this warrants investigation, diligent reporting and probably righteous outrage. And we barely even get highlights, unless they're Scott Peterson's.

Which brings me to mentioning that Friday is the last day of KPFK's (90.7 FM) spring pledge drive. Once upon a time, the station sounded like it was on the strident fringe to me. These days it's almost the only thing on the air that sounds like news, where the hard questions are asked, and the research is done to answer them. And they still find time to play some cool old R&B. Send them a whole big bunch of money, why don't you? Call it in to (818) 985-5735 and show them that the OC really does kick ass.


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