Navel Gazing's Project Un-uncensored

Navel Gazing's Project Un-uncensored

Keeping up with this crazy county of ours through the dead-tree issue is fine in a sopping-up-chin-latte-at-the-coffeehouse kind of way, but for the full story on the really real OC, you need to plug in that power sucker in your backpack or pocket (no, not the rocket), cue up's Navel Gazing and Stick a Fork In It blogs and associated slideshows, and burn your eyeballs with our assorted award-winning alt-journo reportage. To further display our online prowess (and give the real writers a holiday break), we present this regurgitation—erm, brilliantly compiled anthology of just some of what print-only readers missed over the past year. Timber!

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Jason Quinn, the chef of Santa Ana's popular Playground restaurant, reacted to Yelp reviewer Naseem M.'s charge in January that he and his family were just playing at running a restaurant by telling the reviewer to "burn in hell." The response gained nationwide attention, with Yelpers crying into their beers and chefs from here to New York cheering on the 25-year-old restaurateur. Quinn then served "Burn In Hell Shrimp" for a week or so. Almost a year later, no one remembers Naseem M.'s name, and it's harder than ever to get a seat at the Playground. (Dave Lieberman)

Local bicyclists were thrilled about a proposal to complete the Santiago Creek off-road bicycle trail through Santa Ana, but property owners along the creek east of Jack Fisher Park began the year angry, writing letters to the City Council demanding an alternate route and stomping around outside meetings chanting, "Ooh, la la!" The creek-side property owners appear to be getting their way; current plans are for bicycle paths to be laid on more than a mile of Broadway and Santa Clara and Flower streets on the way west to join the main bicycle path instead of through the 300 feet of creek that separates the existing trail from the park. (DL)

With gentrification raging through downtown SanTana, El Centro Cultural de México was controversially forced from its home last year in the city's historic Knights of Pythias building. The nonprofit seemed to be the latest victim in the ongoing trend, especially with controversial property owner Irv Chase being connected to the ordeal. Ousted in September 2011, El Centro quickly found a new home at the nearby Veterans Hall, reopening its classes, cultural programming and political organizing to the community in January of this year. Since then, it has hosted two "anti-mall" marketplaces; pulled off an ambitious, outdoor, summer music festival; and, of course, helped to put together yet another amazing "Noche de Altares" Day of the Dead celebration. The only thing left for the Santa Ana-based community center to do? Subdue Chase into taking free jarana lessons and transform him into a son jarocho aficionado. (Gabriel San Román)

DNA evidence linked accused serial killer Itzcoatl "Izzy" Ocampo to the fatal stabbing of 53-year-old Raquel Estrada and her son Juan Herrera, 34—just as it cleared the son and brother of the victims, Eder Giovanni Herrera, of the same crimes, the district attorney announced Feb. 4. In announcing that additional charges were being filed against 23-year-old Ocampo and dropped against 24-year-old Herrera, DA Tony Rackauckas made the case for authorities being correct in holding the wrongfully charged man for months. See, both Ocampo and Herrera attended Esperanza High School and are Latinos, and evidence showed the son moved at least one body, placed the 9-1-1 call alerting cops to the murders and acted strangely in the hours afterward. So where exactly does one learn how to act unstrangely after stumbling upon your fatally stabbed mother and brother? (Matt Coker)

Most any adult who finds him/herself imprisoned at Disneyland applauded the 2001 California Adventure opening including alcohol availability. "Better to help you cope, my dear . . ." However, in the same high-octane breath, we must acknowledge that booze and theme-park-going don't always mix, as folks near the Tower of Terror discovered Feb. 18, when a sloppy drunk taking swings at cast members in bellhop costumes was taken to the ground by security and showered with Mace. Not that it stopped Hillbilly Ray Robinson from taking another swing at an employee before burly guests essentially sat on Glenn Horlacher. Officials at the Anaheim resort later released a statement saying such booze-fueled incidents were "uncharacteristic" for California Adventure. But the place is supposed to reflect the Golden Ale State, and truth be told, the incident resembles most Weekly staff meetings. Hiccup! (MC)

One of the most widely read and controversial blog posts of the year was written in March by the Weekly's very own Kenyan intern, Peter Ngugi, who took exception to Jason Russell of Invisible Children's KONY 2012, a piece of propaganda targeting the fugitive Ugandan Joseph Kony and his maniacal Lord's Resistance Army. According to Ngugi, the short film oversimplified the Ugandan civil war to the extent of showing a baby-talking Russell telling his toddler that Kony was a bad guy. The best thing about Ngugi's post, though, was an update about Russell's mental breakdown, which included a photograph of Russell stripping down and diddling himself on a San Diego sidewalk. (Nick Schou)

Who knew the vaunted M-16 assault rifle had ties to the land of citrus? As we shared in March, Eugene Stoner, the weapon's designer, had homes in Costa Mesa and Newport Beach. ArmaLite, which manufactured the M-16's predecessor, the AR-15, also operated a factory locally. After Colt bought the rights to produce the weapon and made a fortune off military contracts, ArmaLite attempted to design a new rifle that could compete with the M-16. According to an auto-body-shop employee in Costa Mesa, once home to the ArmaLite factory, gun enthusiasts occasionally telephone, curious about an underground testing range; to date, nothing has been found. (Brandon Ferguson)

We love mystery. And this one was a doozie. If you've ever visited Anaheim Cemetery, which is managed by the county, you've seen the final resting places of the area's pioneers. But tucked away in the southern corner is an area where early Chinese settlers were (or still are) buried. Their final wish was to be interred until the money could be raised to ship their remains back to China. If any bodies were disinterred, no records remain. As we discovered in March, only one marker rises from the grass, bearing the name of Mr. Lin'an Huang. It's unclear if he's still there, in spirit or otherwise. (BF)

There's nothing more entertaining than being called a bunch of "socialist hacks" by devotees of Objectivist philosopher Ayn Rand after you've penned a post calling her writings "deranged scribblings." And so the Weekly would like to thank Chapman University for exhibiting said drivel at its library in April and giving us the opportunity to experience just that. Specifically, we blasted the hypocrite who preached self-reliance while gladly living off the government's free health care for seniors as a "phony intellectual" whose bogus philosophy was synonymous with "piggishness" and "psychopathy." (NS)

Alberto Flores Ramirez met a 33-year-old woman online, learned she needed help in bringing her children to California from Mexico, and arranged an April 3 meeting at a Santa Ana McDonald's, according to authorities. What she really needed, the San Clemente 36-year-old informed her, was a "spiritual cleansing" to remove "negative vibes." He allegedly drove her to a Santa Ana motel, had her strip down to her bra and panties and recline on the bed while he rubbed raw eggs over her—before going on to finger her, choke her, force her to engage in oral sex and rape her. He later drove away. She called police, and a second meeting was arranged; Ramirez drove to a Santa Ana parking lot to find not the woman he was there to rub the wrong way, but rather cops who were there to arrest him. The district attorney later filed charges that could send Ramirez to state prison for 12 years with a conviction and months of rubbed huevos to come. (MC)

The family of the late Manuel Levi "Manny" Loggins Jr. indicated in May it was filing a federal lawsuit against the County of Orange, the Orange County Sheriff's Department and Deputy Darren Sandberg, who shot the Camp Pendleton Marine on Feb. 7 at San Clemente High School. Loggins and two of his daughters had gone to the school track for a regular, early-morning, family-prayer walk, but the sheriff's department and later the district attorney's office concluded the Marine crashed the family SUV through a school gate, acted strangely and ultimately endangered the girls so much he had to be taken out. DA Rackauckas later told the press the statements of the daughters helped to clear Sandberg, but they are among the Loggins family members suing the deputy, his department, and the county that controls the sheriff's and DA's purse strings. (MC)

Bootlegger's Brewery, looking to expand, applied to the city of Fullerton for a conditional-use permit for a new tasting room located just outside downtown. Its current landlord, good-government activist and free-enterprise acolyte Tony Bushala, bought the only house near the proposed location, and then filed a noise concern to stop the permit. More than 100 craft-beer-lovers showed up at the City Council meeting in May—the very same night three council members were recalled for their failure to react to the Kelly Thomas murder—to show their support for Bootlegger's owners Aaron and Patricia Barkenhagen. The show worked: The City Council voted 5-0 to allow the Barkenhagens to proceed, and the tasting room is due to open soon (DL)

Husband-and-wife attorneys Kent and Jill Easter were charged June 19 with planting a bag containing Vicodin, Percocet, marijuana and a used pot pipe in the vehicle of a volunteer at their kid's Irvine elementary school. Why? To allegedly get the parent arrested to teach her a lesson about not properly supervising their boy. But their plan unraveled when the volunteer, a school mom, let police search her home and determine the Easters were previous tormenters. The father, who worked at Yocca Carlson & Rauth Attorneys of Newport Beach, and mother, who let her State Bar of California license expire, previously sued the school volunteer in civil court, where the judge tossed the complaint as frivolous. The cellphone call placed to cops about drugs in a school volunteer's car was quickly traced to Kent, and the Orange County grand jury indicted the two later in the year on charges that could have them parenting from prison for three years. (MC)

At VidCon 2012, the third-annual such gathering at the Anaheim Convention Center, 6,000 mostly tweens dragged parents around to ogle the stars of video media on the Interwebs June 28 to 30. Wil Wheaton played a board game on the main floor, while a giant yellow bunny gave out hugs nearby. As girls tried to dance with a video-screen image, a creeper who resembles that dancing Six Flags fool from the ads got uncomfortably close to the minors, leaving after being bitched out by one of the parents to generally make an ass of himself elsewhere—to the delight of cellphone videographers, including a Weekly blogger who felt much too old to be there. (MC)

After a seven-year grace period during which the state Legislature hoped there would be a magical advancement in technology to produce foie gras without force-feeding ducks and geese, the fattened liver became illegal to produce or sell in California beginning July 1. Restaurateurs chuckled at the poorly worded law and continue to serve the delicacy anyway, even going so far as to put it on the menu. Police departments, asked if they'll enforce the ban, roger that—just as soon as they finish with all the murders, rapes, assaults and robberies and end the Drug War victoriously. (DL)

Talk about the lack of cultural sense Orange County residents sometimes possess. At an intersection in Huntington Beach, tucked behind a gas station, is a marker some refer to as the Surf City grave. It commemorates the efforts of Frank Lloyd Wright Jr., son of the famed architect and an architect in his own right. Junior designed the strip mall still located on the location, which bears unique hallmarks of his style, including embellishments known as "Wright's Kites." His original plan called for a five-story tower that would pay homage to the area's early oil men. Residents at the time fought the structure as a potential eyesore. So, as a researcher discovered and we told you in July, the developer placed the monument there as a "500-pound, permanent proclamation of the people's will over art." Read the grave's inscription; there's more than a little sarcasm aimed at the neighborhood's efforts. (DL)

It's hard to believe Irvine and Santa Ana had a hand in something as cool as the DeLorean. Believe it or not, those cities are where John DeLorean opted for his West Coast operations, as we revealed in July. The gull-winged cars, made immortal in the Back to the Future movies, were manufactured in Ireland, then shipped to a plant in Santa Ana (now a Home Depot) for some extra tweaking before being distributed to dealerships. While investigating this story, we also found an Irvine residence for Mr. DeLorean. No word on the current homeowner finding a stash of coke under the floorboards. (BF)

On Aug. 1, The Orange County Register published probably its stupidest story of the year, which is saying something. It revealed the shocking truth that one of the four sailors who perished when the yacht The Aegean hit rocks during the April 27 Newport-to-Ensenada boat race had—gasp—marijuana in his system. The story noted that toxicology reports showed none of the sailors had been drinking, but somehow suggested that the evidence that one of them, Joseph Lester Stewart, had been smoking weed might have had something to do with the crash. Oh, really? The story failed to say that pot stays in your system for weeks, meaning the headline could just as well have stated, "Dead Sailor Smoked Weed Sometime This Year, Tests Show." Hey, anything's possible, right? (NS)

Covering Orange County is a joy largely because of the bizarre critters (cough, Dana Rohrabacher) that come across our radar. But an August story, which saw us getting the scoop on the passing of a local legend, was bittersweet. Old Bob, a decades-old alligator snapping turtle, who first made headlines in 2004, was revealed to have made his way to the lily pond in the sky. Word got to us after we decided to do a follow-up on the legend of the beast that terrorized ducks in Fullerton's Laguna Lake since at least the 1960s. So long, Old Bob; you'll be missed. (BF)

Hate crimes against gays, lesbians, blacks, Jews and Latinos were up in Orange County in 2011, according to the OC Human Relations Council's 20th annual Hate Crime Report, released Aug. 30. Similar crimes dipped from the previous year against whites, Muslims and Asians/Pacific Islanders, the same survey found. Overall, reported hate crimes rose 14 percent above 2010's totals, the gender of most haters was unknown, and most hating took place in public. "Even as we have made strides in inter-group understanding, the fears brought on by uncertainty in the economy, changing demographics and international turmoil can result in more of this bias-related crime," Carol Turpen, chairwoman of the OC Human Relations Council, explained in the report's introduction. She would later in the year pen a letter to an African-American family—headed by a police officer and his sheriff's deputy wife—who moved with their children to Corona after saying they experienced vandalism, shunning and shouts of "Nigger!" during their time in Yorba Linda, "The Land of Gracious Living." (MC)

The Orange County Sheriff's Department served an eviction notice to the Gutierrez-Perez house in Anaheim for Sept. 2 that could have been carried out at any minute. Instead of packing their belongings, the family hunkered down with Occupy activists from across the Southland. Tents popped up on the lawn, and protests signs decked the garage door as negotiations continued between U.S. Bank and Ocwen Loan Servicing LLC. #CasaPerez became a symbol of resistance in an area of the city wrought with foreclosures. The family and their activist allies contended they had been wronged and shouldn't be evicted. A loan-modification package was ultimately offered and finally signed two months later, ensuring that the Gutierrez-Perezes would enjoy the holidays in the place they've called home for decades. (GSR)

A MAMIL (middle-aged man in Lycra), who decided the entire Santa Ana River bicycle trail was for his exclusive use, collided with the Weekly's Dave Lieberman in September. Though the MAMIL struck the Stick a Fork In It blogger on his side of the path, it was the MAMIL who got angry, started ranting about the damage to his $2,000 carbon-fiber bicycle and started kicking Lieberman. Not all the food Dave writes about turns into fat, though, and by the time the altercation was done, the MAMIL had learned his lesson with a black eye, a bruised shoulder, an expensive bicycle he had to retrieve from the middle of a cactus patch, and no charges pressed on either side. (DL)

No one loves Orange County more than us—we wouldn't be working for shit wages in a dying industry if it were otherwise—but our jobs give us a unique perspective to equally love and loathe this insane county of ours. Instead of stewing over it, editor Gustavo Arellano created "50 Reasons Why Orange County Is the Worst Effin Place in America," a listicle regarding many of OC's sins, from our uniquely toxic Christianity to the ghost of Richard Nixon to downtown Fullerton on a weekend night. The post received more than 250 comments, many fulfilling our No. 1 reason: "No one will get this list, and we'll be accused of hating Orange County, of being racist, and told to leave. Ah, Orange County . . ." (Gustavo Arellano)

You don't read about this kind of shit every day, even on the Weekly's pot-centric Navel Gazing: On Oct. 25, federal drug agents busted 14 people in connection with what they described as a massive conspiracy to sell marijuana in Southern California. These nefarious crooks had the audacity to sell their demon weed via a network of medical-marijuana dispensaries at which anyone with a valid doctor's recommendation, as required under California state law, could legally obtain cannabis. Okay, so the plot wasn't that original—but the alleged crooks' nicknames certainly were: "Pops," "Mob Queen," "Dragon Six," "Hippie Chick" and "Bucky." Their trial is scheduled to begin sometime next year, so stay tuned. (NS)

Hours after the news that Nadya Suleman's father expressed concern for his 14 grandchildren because he feared his daughter could be driving under the influence with some of them aboard, Octomom checked herself into an Orange rehab for Xanax addiction on Oct. 30. Her managers managed to change the gossip-press accounts midstream by saying she entered the rehab because she was exhausted and didn't want to become a slave to the medication she was previously prescribed for depression. Whatever Suleman was taking, her monthlong stint at Chapman House Drug Rehabilitation Center—which included breaks to visit her family and shoot a music video out of state—took the focus off a video showing her passed-out drunk in OC and her father, Ed Doud, saying, "Sometimes she starts drinking vodka, whatever, so maybe she should not be driving." The multiple AVN porn-award nominee lost her driver's license in February for driving the wrong way on a one-way street, then failing to appear in court. (NS)

The city of Anaheim likes to bill itself as a business-friendly, less government/more freedom kind of town. All that highfalutin, conservative, free-market rhetoric went flying out the window in November, though, as the City Council unanimously voted to crack down on yard sales, making NIMBY Anaheimers' wet dreams come true. City officials shied away from the idea, citing potential polarization when a councilman proposed it way back in 1994; two decades later—with Anaheim reeling from seething unrest—the council thought it perfect timing to enact an ordinance reducing the side hustle of many of its working-class residents to four preset weekends per year! Worse yet, Hill International Inc., which employs failed council hopeful (and one of 2012's Scariest People) Steve "Chavez" Lodge, received millions in a resort-connected deal during that same meeting. Feed the mouse, starve the Mexicans! (GSR)

For the past year and a half on Navel Gazing, nearly every Monday has been devoted to an Orange County pioneer—whether a council member, school-board trustee, Republican Party chair, businessman or other—who was a member of the Ku Klux Klan during the 1920s, when the Invisible Empire ruled central Orange County. Through the award-winning "OC Pioneers Who Were Klan Members" series, readers have learned there are streets, schools, buildings, even monuments named after these people, so how has the public reacted? With vitriol—toward the Weekly for uncovering the Klukkers. Who knew Register readers also read the Weekly? (GA)

Bitter feelings filled Woods Cove Hall in the UC Irvine Student Center the evening of Nov. 13 as the student government's 16-member legislative council unanimously passed a resolution calling on UCI's administration "to divest from companies that profit from the apartheid and occupation in Palestine by the Israeli government." These include Caterpillar, General Electric, Hewlett Packard and Raytheon, according to the group Irvine Divest, which called the non-binding resolution a "historic" first in the UC system. Three days later, UCI administrators responded it's not the policy of the campus or the UC system to divest until the U.S. government tells them to. Nevertheless, executive members of the student government adopted the resolution later in the month—as Israeli tanks swarmed Gaza. (MC)

We didn't see this one coming: On Dec. 3, just a month after voters in Colorado and Washington voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, the DARE program dropped pot from its elementary-school-level curriculum. Apparently, the nation's longest-running anti-drug program finally awoke to what its critics have been saying for years: teaching little kids about weed smoking generally makes them want to hurry up and do that. Except for the little punks who promptly turn in their parents for growing pot in the house (NS)

When the Anaheim City Council voted 3-2 to subsidize two luxury hotels near the wilting GardenWalk in January, it transformed residents into a band of angry chingones. The massive $158 million in total tax breaks united lefty progressives and right-wing libertarian types in their denunciation of the corporatist trio's actions. Anaheimers took to public comments, town halls, protests, even a charter-amendment petition drive over the months. The council majority scoffed at them all, explaining their love of developer welfare in bland, technocratic "public-private partnership" tropes. While the efforts fell short, a number of opponents lawyered up and mounted a legal challenge. In a ruling handed down in December, an Orange County Superior Court judge voided the deal, writing that it violated the transparency-minded Brown Act. Despite that, the new council, especially with Jordan Brandman speaking in favor of the subsidy in the lead-up to his recent election, can bring the whole desmadre back to the forefront in the New Year. They can't be that arrogant, can they? (GSR)

Porn star Carmella Bing, who was born Sarah Marie Fass, was apprehended in Irvine early Dec. 5 and cited for drug-paraphernalia possession by police chasing a stolen car she was riding in. The 31-year-old was cited, booked, released but otherwise not linked to the Mercedes-Benz stolen in Panorama City or the phony credit cards and driver's licenses found inside. By the time investigators were done, a suspected identity-theft ring was exposed and three men were arrested. Around 2:30 a.m., a patrol officer had seen the Mercedes with paper license plates speeding along Lake Forest Drive and eventually found it abandoned in a residential driveway. Fass was found in a back yard. Speaking of back yards, Anally Yours . . . Love Carmella Bing! is among her 138 adult films. (MC)

The introduction to this article—which appeared in print as "Project Un-uncensored: Looking back at 2012 news that was fit to blog but not to print . . . until now"—was written by Matt Coker. The photos were curated by Taylor Hamby.

These colors do run
These colors do run
David Le


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