Diary of a Mad County

Wednesday, Aug. 3
About 50 seniors march around Leisure World carrying signs and chanting about “assessment without representation.” Their beef is with Leisure World's governing board, the Golden Rain Foundation, a name which is either someone's idea of a joke, someone's idea of pure pleasure or the kind of funny coincidence that occurs when the elderly don't bother to stay current with what's going on in sexual depravity. The protestors want more of a say in decisions dealing with land purchases, building projects and whether the facility should change its name, perhaps to Dirty Sanchez's World of Bukkake. Now, say what you will about old people; say they are clawing, panicked, self-entitled, terrifying tableaux of what we are to become—and their homes smell of cabbage—but at least they still raise their voices in protest, if only to complain about that Asian waitress who's never around when you need her. God knows what it takes to get the rest of the American people angry these days. Today, 14 Marines are killed in two attacks in Iraq. That makes 20 Marines killed since Sunday. George W. Bush reacts by saying, “These terrorists and insurgents will use brutal tactics because they're trying to shake the will of the United States of America. They want us to retreat.” He says this while starting a five-week Texas retreat. In fact, this is Bush's 49th trip to his Crawford ranch, the 319th day he has spent, entirely or partially, in Crawford—nearly 20 percent of his presidency to date. Bush will surpass Ronald Reagan, well-known president and man of leisure, in vacation days; Reagan spent all or part of 335 days in Santa Barbara over his eight-year presidency, a total Bush will surpass this month in Crawford with 3.5 years left on his second term. This as America is as low as it's been in 10, 20 years? The economy has flatlined, we're involved in a war that gets more Vietnamy by the day, our kookiest enemies—Iran, North Korea—seem intent on restarting the nuclear arms race, and our standing in the international community varies between dangerous rogue and well-meaning bully. The American people's response? Outrage! Outrage over how Brad treated Jen. Concern! Concern this really may be it for Nick and Jessica. So let's hear it for the old people—better say it loudly, twice.

Thursday, Aug. 4
This lack of anger seems to be taking its toll on all segments of American life, especially law enforcement, especially law enforcement who are only law enforcement because they know the guy who heads law enforcement. Raymond Yi is suspended as a reserve Orange County sheriff's deputy because he flashed his badge and threatened people with a gun on a Chino Hills golf course. Far be it from me to criticize anyone for threatening golfers, but still, Yi's actions draw further questions about how one actually becomes a reserve deputy in this county. Current events suggest it involves a rigorous program of knowing Sheriff Mike Carona, hanging out with Sheriff Mike Carona, teaching martial arts to Sheriff Mike Carona and having naked pictures at your desk, though not necessarily of Sheriff Mike Carona.

Friday, Aug. 5
Not Saturday.

Saturday, Aug. 6
A somber anniversary as people remember a day when the world seemed to stand still and was forever changed. Yes, today is the 35th anniversary of the day 300 Yippies—members of the Youth International Party founded by Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin—swarmed Disneyland, chanted anti-war slogans, hoisted the Viet Cong flag over Tom Sawyer's Island and smoked pot on Monsanto's Adventure Through Inner Space—the latter of which I don't think is such a big deal since wasn't that the whole point of the ride? Dude is tripping on something, feels himself getting smaller, hungrier? Anyway, one of the protestors who was there, Mike Jones, said, “It was great social protest, great street theater, and it was fun to shake up the Disney establishment.” At a time when social protest has been marginalized into conspicuous consumption and street theater reduced to having one's existence validated by mugging to whatever camera is currently following the police and/or Anna Nicole Smith, it's nice that some young people still get it. Jones is 60.

Sunday, Aug. 7
Looks like I was wrong. People do still get out there and protest when things get bad enough. Today, in Newport Beach, about 100 protestors take to the streets, shouting and carrying signs reading, “Enough is Enough.” Finally, people are standing up to the scourge that is the Presbyterian church, specifically St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Newport, which wants to add about 35,000 square feet to the 104,440-square-foot church with the addition of a youth center, gymnasium and mobile command headquarters designed to crush resistance. Neighbors, some of whom call St. Andrew's “King Kong Church,” say the church is big enough and they are tired of the blight that is numerous parked cars along the street and hordes of children trampling their lawns, many times while illicitly talking, laughing and enjoying life.

Monday, Aug. 8
Former Angels manager Gene Mauch dies of lung cancer. Mauch managed the Angels from 1981 to 1987, guiding them to the playoffs twice and getting them oh-so-close to their first American League pennant in 1986, when, well, you know. I guess it's sadly fitting that a manager known for hard luck—the '86 debacle, the collapse of his “Whiz Kids” Phillies in 1964—would pass the day before the Angels start a three-game series against the Oakland A's, with whom they are now tied in the American League West. Less than a month ago, July 18, the Angels led the A's by nine games, but they haven't really blown their lead so much as the A's seem to be huffing whatever they used to pump into Adventure Through Inner Space. Oakland has gone 47-15 over the past couple of months. Actually, who cares? I wanted to tell you about Mauch, who was around when I covered sports for the LA Times in the '80s. I wasn't the beat guy, my friend Mike Penner was, and I recommend his piece on Mauch that appeared in today's Times. (Hey, Mike!) I was one of the guys who helped out when needed, which meant sometimes going to Mauch before or after a game and asking some ridiculous question (“How does Reggie's knee look?”). Mauch, considered a genius in baseball circles, had this terrifying tendency to think before he answered, which usually meant a good answer—and sometimes perfect comic timing. Once, when the Angels had played several consecutive games late into the night, one of the reporters on the beat jokingly complained the late hours were “killing my deadline!” Mauch smiled slightly, dipped his head, then replied, “You know, there are two things I don't care about: tits on a man and your deadline.” That, my friend, is good social protest.

Tuesday, Aug. 9
In a series of attacks, insurgents kill 16 people in Iraq today, including one U.S. soldier. The news is not all bad, though. MSN is reporting that Orlando Bloom and Kate Bosworth have reconciled.


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