Diary of a Mad County

Photo by James BunoanMONDAY, August 11

Remember Robyn Hubbard and Chris Silvas? They're the husband and wife who signed on as cleanup supervisors for the OC Fair this summer but ended up quitting over what they believed was the harsh treatment of their teenage employees. Doesn't ring a bell? How's this: Robyn's the chick who submitted her resignation by stripping off her uniform—down to a bra and thong—right there in the middle of the fair. Boom! Well, they called today and said they'd received a lot of calls about the article we wrote about them, including one from a county fair official who apologized for their experience and assured them that fair folk would “try and make things better.” So, when Chris and Robyn went to the fair on its last weekend they expected to see things better. What they found were teen cleaners whose name badges had been replaced by numbers, an eerie reminder of the maintenance manager's dictum—”We need to stamp out the kids' individuality”—that set Robyn to peelin' in the first place. Not only were the kids reduced to numbers, their badges were now color-coded to correspond with various areas of the park where they were required to stay. So, if a kid working in the blue area got a hankering for the deep-fried flan in sector green, he was out of luck. As you'd expect, this worked like deep-fried crap. Chris talked to a kid who'd said he'd been fired twice and hired three times. Apparently, by “make things better,” fair officials meant they'd get at the real problem, which was, you guessed it, OC Weekly. Robyn was told that one of the fair managers scurried about the grounds—apparently she had the coveted “rainbow” clearance—gathering up bundles of the newspaper and dumping them somewhere where large numbers of people wouldn't find them. Given the fair's low attendance, we're guessing that was the entrance.

TUESDAY, August 12

I got this e-mail about a band in the Midwest called Racebannon that had to cancel their tour because their van's tires suffered a blowout, which wasn't so bad except that the van they were attached to was currently engulfed in flames. I related this bit of bad luck to music editor Chris Ziegler, who said that if I wanted to know about bad luck I should talk to Justin Pearson, lead singer of San Diego-based The Locust. He had run into Pearson, who goes by JP, Sunday at Che Cafe, and was surprised to see him since the singer had just recovered from meningitis. As they stood listening to music, Ziegler, deft in his attention to detail, noticed something peculiar in JP in that he'd collapsed to the floor and was clawing at his head. Turns out that a cockroach had flown into JP's ear while he was standing next to Chris (you do the math) and then bored down to JP's eardrum, screwing up his equilibrium to the point that he could neither stand nor walk. He was taken to an emergency room where the offending roach was removed “with a pair of those alligator tweezers,” thus ending one of the worst insect-related rock injuries since that bug flew way up Fiona Apple's ass at the MTV Awards.

WEDNESDAY, August 13

It used to be that when folks came to visit you from god knows where, the first thing they asked was to be taken to Disneyland and once you did, they told you they were Scientologists, and they tried to heal your sister while she slept and your mother kicked them and their boyfriend of indeterminate race out of the house. Good times! So, my 12-year-old niece was visiting from Colorado and I asked her if she wanted to go to Disneyland and she said that would be nice but what she really wanted was to see the new Paul Frank store in South Coast Plaza because “in Colorado all we've got is a couple of [Paul Frank] T-shirts and one pair of socks.” Barbarous! So I went with the niece, the daughter, the son and the son's friend, and the only people who could have been happier were the other nine- to 12-year-olds in the shop. They all started talking about their favorite Frank wear, an impromptu 'tween happening, with my son and his friend, the quarterback of the local Pop Warner team, joining right in. I couldn't imagine a boy my son's age talking designers with his friends when I was a kid. Well, I can imagine it. It's just that the image is always accompanied by that boy being pounded by crazy Leroy Baker from down the street.

THURSDAY, August 14

Much of the eastern part of the United States and parts of Canada go dark, though that may be news to you as it is to the rest of the major broadcast outlets—and Fox News—since they only have eyes for New York City. We're inundated with round-the-clock images of the bravest people in the world—New Yorkers—pulling through in our greatest city—New York—during a time of unparalleled hardship if you don't count that Detroit, Cleveland and Toronto are all experiencing the same blackout and that we here in California went through a whole summer of them two years ago. Never mind that. New Yorkers, we're told, are plucky and resilient and will get through this because “they're New Yorkers.” A bit different from the response we got, which was that we were a bunch of do-nothing dumbshits who deserved what we got for being Ken Lay's bitch—or was that George W. Bush? New Yorkers are lauded for their cool heads and that they haven't gone wilding, you know, any more than usual. As if, faced with the same crisis, the people of Detroit had reverted to cannibalism—but, you know, no more than usual.

SATURDAY, August 16

Tonight I saw the greatest, stupidest thing ever at Costa Mesa's Orange County Speedway: Demolition Derby Night. Pffft, you say, a bunch of cars tangled in a chaotic mess rife with collisions, injury and leather jumpsuits—big deal, so Bristol exit off the 405. Well, putz, I went to Demolition MOTORCYCLE Derby, where grown men on motorcycles—except for the dude on the minibike—rode around toting PVC pipe trying to flatten the balloon other participants wore atop their helmets and on their bodies. They were all there: Dukie, Guy on Minibike, LAPD Officer, Dude in Jock Strap and Cape, a veritable who's-who of what-the-hell? The derby started with most of the smart money on the LAPD guy, not so much because he's a cycle cop, but because everyone figured he had plenty of experience wielding a club. But he was soon eliminated, as was jock guy and minibike guy and so many others, until Dukie was the last one standing—sitting, actually—on his bike, his groundbreaking strategy being to jettison the pipe and just ram people with his bike. How very resilient of him. Must be a New Yorker.

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