Diary of a Mad County

Wednesday, Dec. 7
John Campbell
wins a special election in the 48th Congressional District to replace former Congressman Christopher Cox, who disappeared several months ago and is presumed either dead or head of the Securities Exchange Commission. Campbell, who on a good day can pump himself up to ordinary, is less than an impressive candidate, and his “victory” reflects as much: in an overwhelmingly Republican district, where even the Democrats are Republicans, he manages to get only 45 percent of the vote. Independent candidate Jim Gilchrist, running on a single-plank platform of getting tough with illegal immigrants, gets 25 percent. Despite his boy's lackluster showing, Orange County GOP Chairman Scott Baugh gloats that it “looks like it didn't work out for Jimmy One-Note.” Hmmmm. It appears that Scott didn't get the memo that with a crappy economy, murderous foreign policy and a president no one in his own party would touch with a 10-foot Geiger counter, illegal immigration is about the only issue the Republicans have for next year. Campbell, for his part, wants to focus on the future. “Right away, I expect to be voting to make the Bush income tax cuts permanent, to cut the growth in future domestic-spending programs and to allow drilling for oil in the vast domestic supply fields of Alaska,” he wrote in his online journal, adding that he was looking forward to “exciting life experiences and clubbing a blind baby seal.”

Thursday, Dec. 8
In other election news, Gwen Stefani's “Hollaback Girl” earns a Grammy nomination as Record of the Year. The Grammys are among the lamest of the entertainment awards, outdistanced only in cheesy cluelessness by the Golden Globes (TV, movies), the Golden Showers (prostate, bladders) and Pulitzers. So it's not like I'm surprised that an organization that saw something in Christopher Cross would also see something in “Hollaback,” which is “Achy Breaky” lame. But Record of the Year? No. I assumed “Hollaback” would be recognized in a novelty category, you know, competing against that “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” deal or something by the Wiggles. But, okay, Record of the Year. It got me to thinking that if “Hollaback” actually won, would it be the worst Record of the Year award winner? Well, it would get some serious competition from Santana's “Smooth,” Bobby McFerrin's “Don't Worry Be Happy,” Toto's “Rosanna,” Cross' “Sailing,” and Captain and Tennille's “Love Will Keep Us Together.” To find out which is the lamest, I constructed a scientific sampling with these five songs, awarding five points to the lamest and one point to the least lame. I then very scientifically administered the survey to the three people in the office who weren't at Panda Express at the time. The scientific results? “Sailing” is the lamest of them all at 12 points, just inching out “Don't Worry Be Happy.” I would like to reiterate, if I haven't already, that I graduated from college—well, Long Beach State.

Friday Dec. 9
On this day 15 years ago, at the end of 30 hours of torturous back labor, the most wonderful girl in the world was born. I know you think I'm being cute, but it's true. Sunny, smart, funny Bunny Gurrrl, born today, 15 years ago. Mmmm, I remember it as if it were yesterday: the 30 hours of painful back labor, the tension, the tears, the nurse saying it was probably a good idea for me to stop watching Saturday Night Live and witness my daughter's birth. The things we do for kids.

Saturday, Dec. 10
Richard Pryor
dies today, and I immediately think of Vincent Blair. I went to a Catholic high school, Pius X, that no longer exists, but when I attended it in the mid- to late '70s, it had a student population pretty evenly balanced between Latino, African-American and white kids. Anyway, one thing that quickly became apparent to me as I made African-American friends was a devotion to Pryor, especially among the guys, that bordered on the spiritual. My friend Vince was the most evangelical, and he'd taken to spreading the gospel of Richard whenever the opportunity presented itself. And it seemed there wasn't a situation Vince couldn't sum up with something Pryor had said. “Richard say, Richard say . . .” and off he'd go. Thinking about Vince, it occurred to me that for all we're going to hear about the effect Pryor had on comedy, what might get ignored is the effect Pryor had on the development of hip-hop. I remember how particular Vince was about using the exact language of a Pryor joke, the words mattered, the exact words, delivered in proper rhythm. Likewise, though many comedians had created fictitious wives, mothers-in-law and miserable home lives to skewer, Pryor was the first I can recall to open his life so completely, whether it was growing up in a whorehouse, his drug addiction or his heart attack; it was the kind of self-revelation that became a hallmark of hip-hop. So, thought I'd just add that. Hey, Vince, check it out: and deep, too!

Sunday, Dec. 11
The Orange County Sheriff's Department takes a crime report for the theft of a 2001 Ford Crown Victoria stolen for the second time in two weeks. The car's owner? The Orange County Sheriff's Department. Yes, the department's white Crown Victoria with side spotlights on each front door and a siren is taken from a parking lot at the Theo Lacy Jail in Orange. Law-enforcement officials are said to be looking for a thief with mechanical skills—the car was hot-wired—who also happens to have the largest set of balls this side of Christiane Amanpour.

Monday, Dec. 12
Here is how things go around here: our cover story this week is about a man Gustavo Arellano describes as the “worst” pedophile in county history. And for, like, five minutes today, Matt Coker and I debate whether this is hyperbole. “I mean, I dunno how Gustavo can make a statement like that—I mean, does he know all the other pedophiles?” “I dunno. Do you think there's some kind of record book?” “Even if there was, it all depends on how you define 'worst.' I mean, are we talking sheer numbers or, you know, what he does with them?” After five minutes, we agree we have the stupidest jobs in the world and have been enormous disappointments to our families. (Well, I feel that way, and I'm just assuming the same goes for Matt.)

Tuesday Dec. 13
Stop us before we kill again.


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