Diary of a Mad County

WEDNESDAY, June 2 The Orange County Register runs a story about infidelity, rife with the usual talking heads and inane “well, duh” generalities: “Once an affair begins, a cancer begins to eat away at the heart of the marriage, say marriage experts.” Fascinating. These are the kinds of stories that started popping up in newspapers when editors wanted to “make a difference” and found actual journalism just too cumbersome a means. These are the kinds of stories editors fantasize people will clip and save on the refrigerator—an actual phrase in our biz—as if referring to a newspaper to solve your intimate relationships isn't sign enough you need intense therapy. (Hey, Harriet, maybe your husband's boinking his physical therapist because he's tired of you quoting the “Ziggy” cartoon.) These stories almost always come with a checklist, and this one has four: one for the cheater, one for the cheated upon, one on how to “affair-proof” your marriage (interestingly, castration not mentioned) and one about types of affairs (interestingly, “conflict-avoidance” affair is mentioned, while “hot-consummated-in-a-hotel-elevator-with-someone-only-interested-in-sex-oh-why-can't-this-really-happen” affair is not). (Worst checklist I ever saw was when I was working at the Long Beach Press Telegram and we ran a story on how to recognize if your kid was in a gang, and, I swear, No. 7 was “Comes home with clothes covered in blood.”) The affair-proof checklist urges couples to talk about their attractions to other people, something that could prove especially useful to men who find their penis too cumbersome an appendage.

THURSDAY, June 3 Speaking of hot sex, local billionaire/love machine/overlord of time, space and awning design Donald Bren gets a whole school named after him today as UC Irvine announces its School of Information and Computer Science will now be known as the Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences. Slick. They do this because they think Bren is a great guy and he gave them $20 million. If you think you can't buy everything in America, you're a complete idiot since the word “Bren” and “information” pretty much go together like “cookies” and “ass.” If ever there was a man who distrusted information—about himself, his thoughts, opinions and plans for world domination—that man would be Donald Bren, who, if the reports are to be believed, even Howard Hughes found “standoff-ish.” Through a press release (of course), Bren said he hopes his school will lift “our quality of life.” That's nice. Of course, at this point, the only way to improve Donald Bren's quality of life is with an all-chocolate seaside villa on Planet Boobsalot.

FRIDAY, June 4 Who do you think sleeps better? Haidl defense attorney Joseph Cavallo—who spits out 17-year-old girls—or the lawyer who does those radio ads bragging he got a guy out of a DUI who was blowing a 0.2? My guess? They both sleep just fine.

SATURDAY, June 5 Ronald Reagan dies. No snide comments. A man has died, God rest his soul. Still, puhlease, stop crying over the man. Stop calling it a “tragedy,” and stop saying how sad this all is. The man lived to be ninety-freaking-three! Yeah, he got Alzheimer's, but only after he was eighty-freaking-three. That's a good run for anyone, let alone some hunky dude who decides one day to become an actor and has a 30-year run in that business despite no discernible talent and a starring role in Cattle Queen of Montana, and then decides to become president of the Screen Actors Guild, and does, and then governor of California and then president of the United States. Respectful at a man's passing? Absolutely. Sad? C'mon. There's a short list of people who led such charmed lives as to elicit no sadness at their passing, only awe and envy—a list that includes Ringo Starr, Ed McMahon, the guy hired to guard Cameron Diaz's panties and Ronald Reagan. Charmed? Ronald Reagan is the most divisive political figure of my lifetime, and yet even the people who hated Reagan never really hated Reagan; they hated the people around him who seemed to be manipulating a nice old guy everyone couldn't help but like. So please, remember him as you wish, but not a tear in sadness. Even my 72-year-old Republican mother, who voted for Reagan in every election possible and to this day believes Nixon was only doing what FDR did before him, said upon learning of Reagan's passing, “Ohhhh,” in a respectfully inevitable way and then went back to her tap dancing.

SUNDAY, June 6 Frigging Lakers.

MONDAY, June 7 Hey, respect is one thing, but after three days of learning that Ronald Reagan was Jesus, Superman and Ronald McDonald, I think it's important to remember what a disaster his years in the White House were for regular folk. Under Ronald Reagan, the number of people living in poverty grew by a third. My daughter asked me about Reagan over the weekend, and I told her that one of the things that I remember was the first appearance of homeless families. It's cool if you want to think that Ronald Reagan loved you and cared about you—he didn't; from everything I've heard from his own kids, he didn't show much interest in them. Some of us look for love from great men, others in hotel elevators. Some of the former are renewing their efforts to get Reagan's likeness on U.S. currency, either replacing FDR on the dime or Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill. There is respectful resistance to both proposals since replacing FDR would be seen as a slap to Democrats, while removing Hamilton would be a clear snub to gays.

Actually, something good may come of all of this. Reagan's death has the issue of stem-cell research back at the forefront, since scientists say it's critical to battling diseases such as Alzheimer's. Fifty-seven U.S. senators sent a letter to George W. Bushasking him to relax his restrictions on the research, but, through a spokesman, Bush said he “believes we can explore the promise and potential of stem-cell research using the existing lines of stem cells.” See, because he's a scientist now and, anyway, most of his scientific focus is being directed toward the development of a non-lethal pretzel.

TUESDAY, June 8 Spent this morning commiserating with a total stranger about the Lakers, who play again tonight. There is nothing that unites us more than the shared torturous love and hate of this team, which is like the craziest girlfriend you ever had: constantly disappointing and humiliating you except for a few moments of exquisite pleasure when she shows up at your place at 2 in the morning, horny and returning your Fiat Spyder that she took without asking. Frigging Lakers. The guy I was talking to was naked, as was I. Standing there, naked and wet in the locker room of our health club, we were brothers in passion, regret and moistness. I felt very close to this nude, damp man. Probably should check the Register and then tell the wife.

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