Diary of a Mad County

Wednesday, March 29
The Anaheim City Council unanimously approves a preliminary list of 150 candidates to be considered for enshrinement in the city's “Walk of Stars.” City leaders are hopeful the Walk will do for Anaheim what Hollywood's Walk of Fame has done for that urine-stained, miserable vortex of sadness and crime populated by the broken as well as by horrified visiting hayseeds who demand to be taken to Hollywood and suddenly realize why their Southern California hosts repeatedly said, “I don't think you want to do that. It's not what you think.” The Walk was the idea of Gerald Ishibashi, who said that the success of shows such as The O.C. has made Orange County “a brand in itself now, and Anaheim is a key player.” Yeah, pretty much anyone who watches The O.C., based in Newport Beach, or Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County is thinking they'd like to visit a landlocked town with a sizable German population—the kids love them some Fatherland. After the vote, Councilman Harry Sidhu said of the Walk: “I think it'll bring a lot of tourists right from Hollywood to come see our stars.” Now, I've never met Councilman Harry Sidhu, but the man is either an idiot, deranged or a shameless tool, because I can guarantee you no one, NO ONE, is going to drive directly from Hollywood to Anaheim to look at the ground. The only place tourists drive to directly from Hollywood is the E.R. or back to the hotel for some therapeutic shuddering. As for the stars, say what you will about Hollywood, but its Walk features the likes of Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn and Jack Nicholson. These are stars. Gwen Stefani? Perhaps. Wally Joyner? Not so much.

Thursday, March 30
The White House announces the resignation of chief of staff Andrew Card, and there is much rejoicing throughout the land as people hail the end of Card's reign of terror. No more will people say, “Damn that Andrew Card!” No, now they say, “Who the hell is Andrew Card? Is he the dude who shot the guy in the face? Or is he the dude who ratted out the CIA chick? Or is he the dude who did nothing after Katrina? Or is he the other dude who did nothing after Katrina?” Turns out it's none of those. As Bush's chief of staff, Card was the gatekeeper regulating who got in to see the president, which means he's had the past six months off, President George W. Bush being the political equivalent of bird flu herpes simplex cancer of the bowel with a gonorrhea chaser these days.

Friday, March 31
We're rich! Yes, according to market research firm TNS Financial, the number of households with a net worth of at least $1 million rose 8 percent to a record high of 8.9 million. Apparently, being rich is now all the craze, replacing bitter poverty, bread lines and lousy credit as America's preferred lifestyle. Of the eight U.S. counties containing the most millionaires, four are located in California, probably due to all those illegal aliens getting rich off tips and gardening routes. Orange County ranks third in the nation, after Los Angeles County and Cook County, Illinois. According to TNS, there are 113,299 millionaire households in Orange County, half of whom have shows on basic cable.

Saturday, April 1
Nightmarish experience involving San Francisco, Barry Bonds, pretty dancing ladies and forcible organ harvesting. Not enough space. Maybe next week.

Sunday, April 2

Monday, April 3
“Did you hear about Buddy?” Weekly editor Will Swaim asks me in that searching way that clenches you the way the phone ringing at 3 a.m. does. “What about him?” “He died Sunday.” “What? How?” “Heart attack.” Buddy Seigal was the music editor of this paper for a time. He was a short, squat, powerfully built guy, though the powerful part may have had more to do with his attitude than physique. He seemed tough, but he could be disarmingly generous in his comments about something you'd written or about your lack of musical sophistication. And for a guy who exuded cool, he could be bald-faced affectionate, and by affectionate I mean walk off the stage on which he'd been performing at the office Christmas party, take you in his arms and kiss you full on the mouth to the delight of your son. (Buddy, I said I'd never wash my lips after that, and I never have.) But the first thing I thought of when I heard of Buddy's passing was about how he left the paper. One day, a paper-wide e-mail from Buddy showed up that began by saying he was resigning as music editor because he and Will had differing ideas about what the Weekly's music section should be. I remember reading that first sentence and thinking, Oh, Christ, here comes the crusher. Buddy Siegal, who once wrote “David Bowie has always sucked harder than Jenna Jameson on crystal meth,” could crush. Instead, what followed was a request by Buddy that there be no whisper campaign on his behalf, that people not spend time gossiping about his departure—newspapers being teeming petri dishes of gossip, digging up and dishing dirt being our bread and butter. He emphasized that this was simply a disagreement between colleagues. There was no good or bad guy. Graceful, dignified, dare I say, mature, it bowled me over as it has ever since; I don't think a week goes by that I don't think of that e-mail. We live in a time when to disagree with someone invites demonization—perhaps questions about your patriotism. We live in a time when everyone seems desperate to hold the high ground of victimization. Buddy would have none of that. Responsible and forthright, you might say his message was the action of an evolved human being, or you just might say it was the action of someone being a man. My friend Ed the Priest once told me that we achieve immortality not through grand accomplishments but simply through the way we conduct our lives. A good life, he told me, never goes unnoticed, and though our names will surely fade, our conduct, our way lives on. It's that part of us that goes on forever, changing worlds. Buddy changed mine.

Tuesday, April 4
Too bad Tom DeLay never met, or got an e-mail from, Buddy Siegal.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *