Diary of a Mad County

Photo by Tenaya HillsWednesday, Feb. 16 To the surprise and chagrin of virtually no one, Commissioner GaryBettmancancels the NHL season. Owners and players now must be concerned whether they have overestimated the public's desire to wait for hockey, given that in the time slots normally reserved for NHL games, ESPN programmed poker tournaments and saw its ratings go up.See, I never studied sports marketing, but I can't imagine it's good when world-class athletes get beat by five guys in nylon jackets and pacemakers.

Thursday, Feb. 17 Home-building giant LennarCorp.of Miami successfully bids to buy 3,718 acres of the old El Toro Marine base. Lennar, which bid for the property online—later snagging a bitchen vintage Skynyrd concert T; suck on that,FreeBird69—said it plans to build 3,400 homes on the property along with retail centers and industrial parks. So, summing up, Miami gets Shaq;we get a Best Buy and gridlock. Reports conflict as to what exactly Lennar paid for the property, though it's around $1 billion, about $400 million of which will go to the city of Irvine for development of its GreatPark.The only other major bidder for the property was StandardPacific,which admitted it was hesitant to buy because of ongoing questions about contamination in the ground due to chemicals such as the cancer-causing solvent trichloroethylene, which the Marinesused for decades to clean aircraft and which kids could someday be using as mud pies—you know, the kind they just love to sink their teeth into. Kids.

Friday, Feb. 18 Uh-oh. ArteMorenotalks to the media today about some big ideas he has as an owner, some of which apparently don't include Anaheim.Asked if his recent battles with the city over changing the name of his team has soured him enough to think about eventually leaving Anaheim, Moreno said he had been contacted by representatives from other regions interested in having the Angelsplay there. “Yes, people talk to us,” Moreno said. “Obviously, we're in a lawsuit with the city of Anaheim. Why wouldn't everybody else around start thinking that we're in an old stadium and we're not happy?” Oh, snap! Now one thing I doknow about sports marketing is things start getting nasty when owners start talking about an “old stadium.” Old stadiums were the excuses used to get the Ramsout of Anaheim and the Raidersout of Oakland and then Los Angeles and now Oakland again. When owners start talking about old stadiums, it's like your girlfriend mentioning how you two “never do anything anymore,” or your boyfriend asking you why you don't use your gym membership more often; when you hear it, you figure a breakup is imminent.

Saturday, Feb. 19 One fifty, eighty-five is what the guy who runs Blendssneaker boutique at Costa Mesa's Lab anti-mall tells 100 tennis-shoe collectors—including Weeklyboulevardier ThomasVanDo—who'vedriven from all over Southern California and waited outside in the rain all night to buy the new LebronJames“Denver” or “Temptations” sneakers from Nike. (Actually, Van Do, who prefers to go by TVD,his DJ name, showed up Saturday morning.) Everyone made like it was TicketMaster, Van Do tells me later—much, much, much later, almost past deadline—for the mere chance to shell out $150.85. Blends is the only place in California selling what Van Do terms “a funky-ass sneaker,” and the store had only 62 pairs of the shoes. They're all gone now. When he finally got his Temptations, shortly after 11 a.m., Pasadenian LamarMills,18, whipped out his tongue and started licking the white matte-finish high-tops with pinkish-purple patent-leather accents. “I gotta lick 'em,” Mills said. “It's fresh, and it's my tradition.”

Sunday, Feb. 20 HunterS.Thompsonshoots himself. The man could write an ending.

Monday, Feb. 21 Because apparently there is absolutely nothing of any real importance going on in the state like imminent cuts in education and human services, Assemblyman TomUmberg(D-Santa Ana) says he will introduce the “Truth in Sports Advertising Act” in Sacramento that will require teams that use one geographical area in their name but play in another to disclose that fact. Funny, no one thought this was an issue when the Los Angeles Lakers played in Inglewood or the Los Angeles Rams played in Anaheim. The bill is obviously aimed at the Angels' Moreno but would affect the Los Angeles Galaxy, who play in Carson; the Golden State Warriors, who play in Oakland; and the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, who don't play at all.

Tuesday, Feb. 22 I call the Washington office of Congressman ChrisCox(R-Newport Beach) to ask about that quote in Salonin which he supposedly says we're still finding chemical and biological weapons in Iraq (see “He's Got Gas!” page TK). The receptionist asks me what I need to know, and I say, “I wanted to ask about a quote attributed to him in Salon.com.” To which the receptionist says, “Ahhh, the Salon quote.” She says she'll have Marilyn,who deals with the media, give me a call. Marilyn does and asks what I need. I say I want to talk about the Salon quote and whether she's familiar with it, to which she says, “Oooooh, yes.”


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