Do you want to know about the hair on an Orange County Register reporter's ass? Sorry for asking, but those of us bored enough to read ombudsman Pat Riley's Aug. 11 column were subjected to such nasty details. It's hard to believe a paper so stuck on pushing its right-wing “values” on everyone else would publish such smut, but it did. Ironically, the hairy-ass description came from Metro/Accent staff writer Jeff Kramer, in response to numerous irate readers who'd complained about Kramer's bad reportorial taste. For example: “Lee Jeans: Easily the hottest commercials of the Olympics. Cute guys in tight jeans go to comic lengths to chat up cute girls in tight jeans . . . Makes you long for a time before stalking laws.” Based on that and other musings, numerous readers complained. Anaheim's Tracey Lawhorn said the story was “very distasteful.” Another reader called the reporter a “slimeball” and said, “Mr. Kramer probably is pulling hair from his back to cover his bald head.” All of which prompted the unrepentant Kramer to ignore the substance of the complaints and respond: “I do not have a furry back. Actually, the distribution of my body hair is oddly bifurcated. A relatively hairless back and torso give way to markedly furrier legs and buttocks.” You never know what you'll find in the Register.
Register Family Values II. Lock the doors. Hide the kids. “The Village People are now family entertainment,” declared the Register's John Hughes on Aug. 30 in “YMCA: 18 years after it was born as a gay-pride anthem, 'YMCA' has come to symbolize wholesome fun.” My god, is there anyplace in the Reg that's immune to right-wing ideology? Is it possible for the Register to let go of its negative stereotyping–even in their human-interest Accent section? In explaining the popularity of the song–written and performed by a group of gay men–Hughes resorted to contrasting the gay community (“raunchy sexuality . . . randy men snorted amyl nitrate 'poppers' and . . . danced till sunrise or until meeting a mate”) with the population at large: “wholesome.” Gays aren't individuals, according to Hughes, they're part of the “gay underground” (my italics). The Navy considered using the Village People's “In the Navy” as a recruiting tool, said Hughes, until the Pentagon “learned of the general orientation of the Village People.” Furthermore, the disco band's members aren't gay, they're “homosexually inclined.” And even though he knows the Village People is composed of gay fantasy types singing about same-sex venues, Hughes pretends to be dumbfounded by the group's lines, “You can get yourself clean; you can have a good meal; you can do whatever you feel.”
Keep the Change. Even when they're trying to apologize for years of dissing former Irvine Mayor Larry Agran, the Register makes things worse. In a Sept. 6 editorial, the paper that once compared Agran to Stalin and Ceausescu now compares Agran's 1992 arrest in New York to the recent arrest of Republican Assemblyman Scott Baugh. Both, the Reg said, are examples of “grandstanding . . . by prosecutors in political cases.” That may be true, except that Agran was arrested–and charged with trespassing, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest in New York City–while trying to expand debate within the Democratic Party. The judge in Agran's case told the Times the prosecution “did not even come close to proving him guilty” of a crime. But the Register missed the mark. Agran's actions (demanding his due slot in a 1992 public presidential debate) were done in the open. Baugh and his gang, on the other hand, are alleged to have worked under the cloak of darkness to diminish the voices of voters who supported a Democratic rival.
R. Scott Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; and hailed by two New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing Southern California law enforcement corruption.