July 27. A Costa Mesa man left his $200 Audiovox cell phone on the seat of his '92 Chevy Blazer, locked the car, and went inside his house. One of the car's windows was left slightly ajar for ventilation. The man awoke the next morning to find his cell phone gone, yet the car remained locked and the window was still slightly open. Curiously, the long-handled barbeque tongs from the victim's outdoor grill had been disturbed. You do the math. Hint: police found ash marks on the car seat.

A FRIEND IN NEED IS A POSITIVE CASH-FLOW OPPORTUNITY, INDEED July 30. A 24-year-old Mission Viejo woman enjoyed a Newport Beach party until her video camera was lifted from the kitchen table. The boogieing was halted as partygoers searched for the poor woman's camera. As the probe stretched into the wee hours, prospects for discovering whodunit dimmed. Suddenly, a "friend of the victim's brother" weaseled himself to the front of the suspect line. The loquacious attendee offered that he knew who had stolen the camera. When pressed, however, the potential informant explained he would only divulge the identity of the thief if he received a finder's fee of $100. Are you kidding me? Even if you ain't voting for Lieberman on account of his ethnicity, you can surely recognize the chutzpah.

PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG VAGRANT Aug. 3. Viewed one way, what occurred at a residence being rebuilt at 6200 W. Oceanfront in Newport Beach was a routine, if pungent, case of trespassing and vandalism. Viewed more perceptively, however, with an eye for form and subtle iconoclasm, we may have a daring new artist among us. Operating on a scale reminiscent of Christo, the unknown minimalist intruder threw cans of wood stain Jackson Pollack-style all over the second floor. Dark splotches tainted the master bedroom and bathroom walls and splattered the marble floor tiles in the shower. In a winking homage to elephant-dung maestro Chris Ofili, our local neo-Dadaist capped his freeform untitled piece by defecating on the unfinished floorboards. The artist's personal effects—a glove, flask, tin of chewing tobacco and 50 Mexican pesos—were deftly strewn about the residence in what critics and police concede might be a signature of the fledgling genre. As of this writing, the building contractor who discovered the three-bedroom, stucco-wrapped sculpture and the owner of this ground-breaking-and-entering work had not addressed the press. Police—and presumably curators—are searching for the anonymous author.

ONE HIT FIRST 1/10 OF A MILE, TWO HITS EVERY 3/10 THEREAFTER Aug. 8. A cabdriver picked up a tipsy couple at the Lion's Den in Costa Mesa at 12:45 in the morning. As the pair entered the cab, the driver engaged his fare meter, which automatically begins counting at $1.90. Quite understandably, the male passenger questioned why they owed nearly 2 bucks when the cab hadn't even left the curb. The passenger got increasingly heated and instructed the driver to reset the meter. This being impossible—the meter is set to begin counting at $1.90, regardless—the driver attempted to explain; a language barrier only exacerbated the situation. The angry couple got out of the car and walked away, with the cabdriver in pursuit still explaining the surcharge. Suddenly, the male wheeled and punched the driver in the face, mashing the bridge of his glasses against his nose and opening a small cut. By the time police arrived, the unidentified couple had disappeared into the night, presumably on foot.

DIRE WOLF, LINE 1 Aug. 10. And finally, in honor of the Furthur Festival—moved from Arrowhead Pond to Universal City Walk this Thursday—a 33-year-old Newport Beach man enlisted police help in halting a spree of annoying phone calls. Over the past year, he has received approximately 600 calls from an unknown male subject requesting to speak with Jerry Garcia. Garcia, of course, is busy at the moment: he has been dead for five years. Presumably, police advised the victim to "hang it up and see what tomorrow brings." And we bid you goodnight.


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