Photo by Rebecca SchoenkopfMy small buttercup of a son and I were at the Orange County Fairgrounds for that most American of pastimes (besides shopping): to be awed by muscle and speed and carburetors and oily purple smoke, just like the Jerry Bruckheimer masterpiece Days of Thunder, but with beleathered dudes on tiny little motorcycles instead of tiny little Tom Cruise. We were there for Speedway. Didn't Elvis do a motocross movie? No? How about Evel Knievel? Vrooom!
Okay, we were there to harangue the masses, too.
The plan was sinister: I would make merciless fun of the stuck-in-the-'70s motocross mulleted meatheads and right-wingers at once by conflating the two and making them appear quite cornpone and stupid! I would do this by using the ever-popular "push-poll" style of interviewing (my second favorite, right after my interview style consisting of telling the interview subject, at length, about me). I would ask questions about politics and then point out their terrible (and stupid!) inconsistencies and the state of their hair. Ha ha, idiot trash!
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Unfortunately, I couldn't get up the nerve to start yammering at strangers at a motorcycle race. I was afraid of the long-lasting trauma to my sensitive son should I get lynched.
So for a while we just watched the action: the LAPD sergeant who raced but came in last; the sparks that flew from the metal shoes on the left feet of the skidding racers (the bikes have no brakes, did you know?); the oily purple smoke that was both festive and bizarre. Made from burning ethanol, it smelled like octopus, I think, or maybe cumin. Is someone making falafel? And did you bring enough for everyone?
"Are there any sidecar fans here tonight???" the announcer asked, clearly rhetorically, and we roared. Then he made jokes about Pamela Anderson. He was very lecherous. I've always wanted to say this, preferably while standing tall and slutty like that Cha Cha DiGregorio chick in the drag race scene in Grease: Gentlemen, start your engines!
It was solstice, and the sun was still high (the witchy solstice festival Covenant of the Goddess luckily isn't being held until a week late, June 28 at noon, at Orange's Eisenhower Park, so we weren't at all conflicted on where to go) as we watched a beautiful middle-aged brunette with an Indian headband and feathered roach clips in her thick mane buy a beer. We made friends with awkward teenage boys eating hot dogs. "Hey, can I take a picture of you eating that hot dog for the Weekly?" we asked them. "Huh?" said the one eating the hot dog. "Totally!" said his friend. We watched the extraordinarily slutty teen girls (pushing 14, maybe) shuffle sullenly to the extraordinarily clean restroom in a pack of too much makeup, really good hair and low-rise jeans that should come with a speculum. We watched the star-spangled duo Jo Jo and Randy win the sidecar race, to great crowd love.
Expected Stupidity No. 1: It's the economy, people with mullets. Okay, so we just had an election six months ago, but when has the will of the people ever mattered to our friends who are turning in their recall signatures? The right smells blood in the never-popular vicinity of Gray Davis, but with nothing to peg on him but the lousy economy, they keep talking about how California is in massive debt and gunning the recall engine like a stolen Maserati. But the national economy? The $6.3 trillion debt? The 3 million jobs lost? Bush? No, no: those are the result of recession, war and terrorist attacks—and have nothing whatsoever to do with the president, who cut taxes ($257 for me and you, $100,000 for the Brens of the world), declared war, and according to loads of published reports ignored August 2001 warnings that had the FBI convinced terrorists were planning to seize airplanes and ram them into the World Trade Center. Hey, what do you want from the man? He was on vacation!
Stupidity No. 2: The missing WMD. A third of the electorate believes we already found 'em. Two-thirds thinks Saddam was behind the World Trade Center attack. I don't really care about all that. What I care about is making the most of the wonderfully utile push-poll style of interview to remind the fickle and clearly Alzheimer's-riddled electorate that Bush is a liar.
At last, since the guy in front of us was wearing a Narcotics Anonymous jacket, I figured he might not lynch me, maybe.
OC Weekly: Hi! Mind if we ask you for theOC Weekly what you think of the Gray Davis recall?
Guy in NA jacket: I don't really mind if he's recalled or not because I'm a convicted felon, and Davis is really just into putting more people in prison. The prison guard unions pretty much funded his campaigns.
I know! They totally did! But it's not like anybody else is gonna get elected and then be better. Like, 'Oh, elect me, I'm soft on crime!' So are you gonna vote . . . oh, wait. You can't.
[Cool three-person pileup turns our attention as my son flaps his arms in glee.]
Nope, I can't.
May I ask what you were in for?
Is it true that two-thirds of people inside are in for drug charges, and two-thirds of those are in for simple possession?
Yeah, it's true. I was in for simple possession.
For how long?
The last time was six and a half years for about a half a gram of methamphetamine.
Oh, my god! As a citizen of this country, I apologize. So I saw your NA jacket. How long have you been clean?
It'll be eight years on the 13th.
So although the guy supported the recall, he had a really good reason for doing so! I was terribly disappointed. We moved on to the fancy bleachers, and halfway up spotted seats reserved for the OC Weekly. We could have saved ourselves a cool $13.
The fancy, reserved bleachers aren't as much as fun as the trashier section. Should have known. But in front of us was a muttonchopped trucker from Bishop. I'll bet he's an idiot!
OC Weekly: Hi! Can I ask you for theOC Weekly if you care at all if weapons of mass destruction aren't found in Iraq?
Bishop trucker: I'm a Bush supporter, I drive a truck for a living, and I listen to a lot of talk radio. I don't think he has lied, but there has been a lot of misinformation out there. I think he was given misinformation; he can only know what he's told.
But do you think maybe he was given misinformation because the administration was pushing for evidence? Maybe they didn't say 'phony it up,' but it was like 'wink wink.'
Oh, no doubt about that. Definitely.
Are you faithful about voting? Do you think we should recall Davis for problems with the economy when nobody's trying to recall Bush for the national economy?
Yes, I vote. I tend to be very conservative, but I wouldn't vote for the recall.
Are you just saying that because it's what I want to hear?
No, not at all. Both of my kids just graduated from college, and they tend to be more liberal, but the one thing I've taught them is to know why, and to defend it and debate it.
Then, after helpfully explaining everything there was to know about bike racing, our new trucker friend watched my son for me while I went to smoke and didn't kidnap him at all. He was a swell conservative! But I was having a problem. Nobody was being stupid even a little! Everybody was all informed, and cared about stuff! I dragged my son off, bitching and whining, with two races to go—we'd been there for days. There were security guards in the parking lot. Last chance for stupid!
OC Weekly: Hi! Can I ask you for theOC Weekly what you think about the Gray Davis recall?
First guard: I don't care about that.
Second guard: I think it's gonna be a waste of taxpayers' money. I'm not real pleased with him, but that's coming out of our pockets. How many millions will the election cost?
I've heard from $10- to $30 million.
First guard: Jesus!
Behind us, the cycles vroomed for America and Americans, proud and fat and freethinking. But although I'd stereotyped an entire (if very small) arena full of folk and found my conclusions wanting, my hope springs eternal. I bet if it had just been monster trucks instead, we would have found our idiots in spades.
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