Diary of a Mad County

SUNDAY, April 28 A buncha kids and their parents fly kites, make posters and race for free candy at the American Lung Association of Orange County's Free to Breathe Kite Festival in Huntington Beach. The event kicks off somebody's idea to name May National Clean Air Month, but the lung nuts later release figures proving that's wishful thinking around these parts. Indeed, you gotta wonder why they'd even let kids and their fragile lungs run around outside given that, for the third year in a row, Orange County scored an “F” on the association's Clean Air Report Card. Because our chunk of pricy real estate gets lumped in with smoggier Riverside County for regional reporting purposes, we're ranked one of the top 10 most polluted areas in the whole U.S. of [cough, cough] A. Betcha won't find that in the county's slick visitors and convention bureau brochures.

MONDAY, April 29 Like Jason or Michael Meyers or Freddy Krueger or whoever's in that Scream mask or the Olsen Twins, Peter Solomona refuses to go away. He's the Buena Park resident who put a bullet in the head of 17-year-old Brandon Ketsdever in 1999. Now Solomona—whose defense has been that he was trying to prevent Ketsdever from stealing a plastic bag with a pumpkin face on it from his front yard (it worked!)—is heading into his third murder trial. The first jury deadlocked in favor of convicting him of second-degree murder, while the second had its verdict tossed out by a judge who believed he improperly instructed the panel. Solomona's attorney wants the murder charge kicked down to voluntary manslaughter, but negotiations with the Orange County district attorney's office reach an impasse today. It obviously takes George Argyros-type money to get the DA to reduce charges.

Actress Tawny Kitaen pleads not guilty to charges of domestic violence against hubby Chuck Finley, the ex-Anaheim Angels, now-Cleveland Indians pitcher. Cops called to the couple's Newport Beach home on April 1 say Finley had been cut and bruised. He filed for divorce three days later. Kitaen has reportedly checked into rehab for addiction to painkillers. Good thing, according to Finley's divorce petition, which portrayed Kitaen as a suicidal drug abuser and included a list that allegedly shows the medications she has been prescribed—and abused. On 131 separate dates between April 24, 2000, and Feb. 22, 2002, a rotating roster of 20 doctors prescribed to Kitaen: Actiq, Adderall, Ambien, Amitriptyline, Ativan, Atrovent, Augmentin, Biaxin, Catapres, Ceftin, Cefzil, Choral Hydrate, Claritin, Clomid, Clotrimazole, Cephalexin, Dalmane, Demerol, Dermatop, Desyrel, Desyrel Dividose, Diflucan, Effexor, Flovent, Halcion, Hydrocodone, Imitrex, Klonopin, Levaquin, Lithobid, Lortab, Lotrisone, Maxzide, Midrin, Motrin, Neurontin, Norco, OxyContin, Penicillin, Percocet, Phenergen, Prempro, Prednisone, Promethazine, Propranolol, Restoril, Risperdal, Seconal, Sectral, Seroquel, Serzone, Singulair, Sonata, Suprax, Terazol, Topamax, Trazodone, Trimox, Tussionex, Valium, Valtrex, Vaniqa, Vicodin, Vioxx, Xanax, Zanaflex, Zomig, Zovirax, Z-Pak, Zyprexa and Zyrtec. It could not be confirmed whether any of these doctors ever treated Elvis Presley. Kitaen got pills, creams, patches and inhalers, and she often got appointments on consecutive days. She must have damn good insurance!

TUESDAY, April 30 Nintendo of America announces it'll hire 50 people at $100 per day to play GameCubeand GameBoy this summer at fairs, malls and concerts. Candidates for the Nintendo Street Team must be at least 18 years old, never have kissed a girl and already have snagged a bootleg Attack of the Clones video. Actually, the age restriction is true, but the real qualifications and application deadlines are at www.nintendo streetteam.com. And if you don't know how to get there, don't bother signing up. WEDNESDAY, May 1 Clockwork's favorite item ever: sometime between late tonight and early Thursday, a 1993 Ford Explorer is stolen from in front of a Bellflower home. What's so special about that? The SUV belongs to an Orange County sheriff's deputy who left inside six loaded guns, a badge, a sheriff's department windbreaker and a bulletproof vest—yep, a veritable Make-Yourself-Into-a-Cop Kit (batteries not included. Or maybe they were. Hell, everything else was). Sheriff Mike Carona's office later issues a statement assuring the public the department has no policy prohibiting deputies from stowing such items in their cars. Gee, thanks, we feel a lot better now.

Illustration by Bob Aul
THURSDAY, May 2 A dad finds 30 heavy-duty razor blades and 29 nails among the playground equipment at Parc Vista Park in Laguna Niguel. Nails and razor blades have also been turning up recently at playgrounds in Laguna Beach, Mission Viejo, Newport Beach and Costa Mesa. Is it tough to be a kid these days or what? While cops, politicians and the media demonize young people, they're lugging backpacks overloaded with school books, filling their fragile lungs with air pollution and cancer-causing pesticides (according to a just-released report based on testing near Orange County school yards), and fending off horny priests (if they're young Catholic boys) and ministers (if they're young Protestant girls). Kindergartners in Indio had to flash their undies to a school nurse to prove they weren't bleeding after a janitor spotted blood on a toilet seat. It turned out a little girl skinned her knee—probably on a nail or razor blade at the playground.

The nutbar host of MSNBC's Alan Keyes is Making Sensegoes off on guest Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) for refusing to vote for a resolution affirming U.S. support for Israel over Palestine. Rohrabacher rationalizes that now is not the time to take sides if the goal is Mideast peace, that both the Palestinians and Israelies have terrorized innocents and that Ariel Sharon is no better than Yasser Arafat. Keyes accuses Rohrabacher of running his mouth off without evidence (oh, Keyes is one to talk), and Gerrie Schipske, the Democratic Party's sacrificial lamb in the November race for Rohrabacher's seat, piles on. Schipske tells us Dana has a “long-standing bias against the state of Israel” because he received campaign contributions from Arab and Muslim organizations and strongly supported the [Reagan-era] Muslim Mujahadeen in Afghanistan. “[H]e has the audacity to go on television and say he has 'searched his heart' on this issue and he feels Israel's response to the 19 months of Palestinian attacks is 'terrorism,'” says Schipske. The real outrage is Keyes and Schipske believing the lives of innocent Israelis are worth more than the lives of innocent Palestinians.

FRIDAY, May 3 Twenty Disneyland patrons complain their throats hurt, but no one is hospitalized. A Mouse House spokesman says a guest standing in line may have accidentally released mace or pepper spray. The attraction? Honey, I Maced the Audience.

Shoot! SUNDAY, May 5: A sea of Mexican pride in Santa Ana.
Photo by Jack Gould

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