Diary of a Mad County

Photos by Jeanne Rice (top)
and Vu NguyenWEDNESDAY Aug. 11 State Attorney General Bill Lockyer warns the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA), the folks who brought you The 73: The Loneliest Little Toll Road—a children's classic—that any plans to extend their deserted highway through San Onofre State Beach park are unacceptable. In a strongly worded letter—boo-yah!—Lockyer said noise, air pollution and other side effects of the road would damage the park. TCA officials countered by saying Lockyer's letter was just one of more than 6,000 critical communications they've received—which sounds an awful lot like “Fuck you very much” to me. You? A lot of those communications came from environmental groups who oppose the extension because of the impact of more sweating humans on the area, but I think they may want to rethink their position. If a pristine environment unsullied by human contact is their aim, there are few organizations as talented at creating things nobody wants to be around as the TCA. My God, have you ever driven on the toll road? I've been on it a couple of times, and it's spooky, like that Twilight Zone episode in which the guy is the last man in a post-apocalyptic world. Remember that one? It was called—what was it?—oh, yeah, every Twilight Zone ever made. And that cloying toll road sign on the 405 at Harbor is like the most pathetic boyfriend you ever had: promising you anything, begging for attention one moment, threatening you the next. You feel bad you use him when it's convenient for you, but he makes it so easy. Then you start to feel really scummy and you try to break it off, but he always comes back, writing weird rhymes, talking shit about the 405 . . .

THURSDAY Aug. 12 Orange County Business Journal publishes its list of the county's richest people, complete with profiles of same, some with accompanying pictures. The profiles tell you how they got their money, what they do with their money, where they're going to get more money and proves conclusively that of all the things money can buy—power, love, happiness—won't get you a good haircut. Donald Bren is listed as the county's richest man/urban legend with $7.5 billion. That sounds like a lot—the No. 2 guy, a Mr. Ernest Rady, has a pissant $2 billion; for shame, Rady—but doesn't take into account the millions Bren spends every year for Inviso-Crme and body doubles. Weekly coverboy and former Broadcom exec Henry Nicholas is third at $1.6 billion. Spanish Ambassador George Argyros dropped a spot from last year to sixth; apparently some of his investments aren't performing, though Argyros is doing very well in the booming Spaniards Hating His Guts market, which he has just about cornered. People love this crap—I guess everyone assumes they'll be rich someday after they hit the Lotto or persuade a bunch of suckas to invest in a useless toll road—so the Journal now prints 30 pages of Wealthamania, including one piece headlined “Stealth Wealth” with the sub headline “Many of OC's rich live quiet lives, below radar.” Still, make no mistake, the rich are different than you and me. They have radar.

FRIDAY Aug. 13 If ongoing terrorist attacks and the return of Ashlee Simpson's album to the top of the charts didn't hint loudly enough, today's business news makes it official: evil wins! Newscorp, parent company of Fox Television, Fox News and Fox Industrial Elderly Hip Breaker, announces record profits from such properties as the morally repugnant Trading Spouses to the musically repugnant American Idol.

SATURDAY Aug. 14 The Olympics go into their first day of broadcasting events. In an effort to counterprogram, local PBS affiliate KOCE hits back with Dr. Wayne Dyer, a bunch of '50s doo-wop groups you wouldn't pay to see at a free summer concert and a guy who should really have a sandwich. It's all part of KOCE's ongoing/never-ending fund-raising efforts, and to be fair, LA affiliate KCET does the same thing. And the thing is, they look into the camera and tell you that you should write them a check because PBS gives you valuable programming you can't find anywhere else—true—and then they back it up by showing a bunch of infomercials: New Age gurus, piano lessons, money managers, and a health nut so thin and sallow one assumes he's advising Maria Shriver. And they're all selling stuff: books, CDs, DVDs. If PBS really believed in what it was saying, they'd just show its stuff: Nova and Masterpiece Theater, American Experienceand Frontline. Instead, we get that show about the people who make the vases, and when they cut for a pledge break, everyone's holding a vase and looking at the camera as they hold a vase and talking as they hold a vase including that one guy with the weird, pleasured smile that says, “Yes, this is my vase, but you have no idea what's going on in my pants.”

SUNDAY Aug. 15 The United States Dream Team gets blown out by Puerto Rico in Olympic basketball, and folks are just miserable that a team with such high expectations seems to play down to its competition, can't hit a midrange jumper and is disinterested in playing defense. Hi, America, welcome to what it feels like to be a Lakers fan. Welcome to the complete joylessness of following a team expected to win every game, including playoffs, by 30 points. Welcome to that odd turn in attitude where you actually start rooting against them, partly as spurned lover, partly because you believe, this time, this most humiliating loss will finally kick a little sense into them and then everything will be okay and they'll never put you through this again. Until the next time. In a related note, the NBA season is just a couple of months away and I, for one, like some of the moves the Lakers made, including getting Lamar Odom. You know, he's a Dream Teamer. Hmmmm. . . .

MONDAY Aug. 16 Like everyone, I think it's a scream that a mildly retarded man inhabits the White House. I mean, it's funny when George W. Bush gets all mixed up with words and ideas and the difference between soup and gravy. Yes, it's all very funny when he falls off bikes and chokes on peanuts and says ridiculous things like “Bring it on!” The problem is people are so used to him saying stupid things that they don't seem to catch it when he says exactly what's on his mind. Today, for example, in a speech announcing a major shift in troop alignment, he says his “new plan will help us fight and win these wars for the 21st century.” These wars of the 21st century. Which wars would thosebe? I know about the one where we're going door to door in and have no exit strategy—that one I'm familiar with, but there are others after this. And after that? You know, even the most maniacal leaders—and I'm not going to invoke any of their crazy names, but you know who I'm talking about—paid lip service to finding peaceful solutions to their problems. Of course, Bush may see invoking more war as the only solution to his problems.

TUESDAY Aug. 17 Toll road called this morning; let the machine pick up.


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