Our cover story this week is my examination of one of Orange County's most infamous legends: the Indian massacre at Black Star Canyon that all of us know about but that most likely didn't happen, and definitely not how we've heard it. It's a story that took months of research, and made me delve into beaucoup archives, so OC history is swimming in me right now, you know?
I was never able to find definitive primary-source proof that the Black Star Canyon slaughter ever happened, which got me thinking: what other OC holy grails are there, artifacts or incidents that might or might have happened or treasures that exist but haven't seen the light of day due to its explosive content? There's actually quite of few of them floating around Orange County, and the following are just the most prominent. Enjoy, and pass it on!
7. The Gun that Gave Trabuco Canyon Its Name
Every student of OC history knows that we got the name Trabuco that's affixed to a canyon, hills, creek, high school, streets, and numerous other local landmarks to a sap of a Spanish soldier. According to the diaries of Franciscan father Juan Crespí, who accompanied the Portolà expedition that marked the first European excursion through Orange County, an unnamed soldier (himself a holy grail) lost his trabuco (a blunderbuss, which is an old-timey rifle) in what's now Trabuco Canyon, and his fellow troops named the canyon in his (dis) honor.
In August, the Bowers Museum Blog ran a fascinating blog post regarding the gun. The museum's archivists thought the trabuco mystery solved when they came in possession of the above gun, found in Trabuco Canyon. But a closer examination revealed it to NOT be the blunderbuss in question. Hmm…
6. The Full Identity of Gwen Stefani's Chola
In 2005, Anaheim's own Gwen Stefani made waves with her video for “Luxurious,” which had her dressed up as a chola out of Westside Anaheim down to the eyeliner and flannel. Stefani told the press she got the inspiration for the fashion from a chola named Mercedes back when she was a student at Loara High School. Okay…but what was Mercedes' last name? Who did she roll with? Did she end up dropping out of high school, or did she grow out of it. Most importantly: did Gwen ever track her down and kick over a couple of thou in royalties for stealing her bit?
5. The Location of Angels Stadium's Indian Burial Ground
Remember how people used to bring this old saw up every time your Anaheim Angels blew it. Now that they're owned by Arte Moreno, we can at least blame the living for the Halos' mediocrity. But…given we know next-to-nothing about the Gabrieleños that populated OC north of modern-day Lake Forest, and given Angels Stadium IS near the Santa Ana River, and given that rivers played a special significance in the lives of Southern California's indigenous, and given that my uncle once told me they found arrowheads when he was setting concrete in the construction of the then-Anaheim Arena, one wonders…
4. Ronald Caspers or His Boat
Caspers Wilderness Park is named after Ronald Caspers, a notoriously corrupt, anti-Mexican supervisor who became beloved only after his boat mysteriously disappeared off the Baja coast in the 1970s.
But…the boat was never found, let alone the corpses. And until then, rumors that the disappearance was staged, that a bomb blew them up, or that a marlin swallowed them whole will swirl around the incident. For a better understanding of Caspers and his boat, we direct you to our canyon pals at Dissent the Blog.
3. A Picture of Walter Knott and Walt Disney Together
It's bound to exist somewhere, no? After all Walter Knott created the country's first theme park with Knott's Berry Farm, and Disney created Disneyland, inviting the Knotts to its grand opening back in 1955. The two corresponded with each other, knew about each other, were as wacky politically as the other…and yet no one has ever uncovered a photo of the two. Hell, there's a photo of Malcolm X and MLK together–what about a Disney-Knott handshake, at least?
2. Kobe Bryant's Rap Album
The kids probably don't know this, but back in the late 1990s, when the Lakers superstar was just a snot-nosed bastard, Bryant recorded a rap album. See, his eternal rival, Shaquille O'Neal, had already recorded a couple, all of which sold well considering their execrable rhymes–and if Shaq could piece some words together, why couldn't Kobe? After all, he had been a rapper in high school, and was part of a hip-hop crew.
The results will never truly be known. Oh, there was a single released: "K.O.B.E” starring Tyra Banks, and seen above. It was so horrible that the album Bryant recorded was shelved forever. He's never released it, and probably never will, turning him into the Helmut Dork of hip-hop. Grantland did a great history of the mess earlier this year–now, Kobe, release it! Especially since all anyone remembers from your rap days is Shaq telling an audience…take it, Shaq!
But all of these holy grails pale in comparison to…
1. The Newspaper Clippings That Show Former GOP Chair Tom Fuentes was Caught in a Gay Sex Sting By Cops
Shortly after the death of Fuentes, Orange County Register columnist Frank Mickadeit launched into a tirade in his column against Irvine Valley College professor Roy Bauer for "rehash[ing] for his blog a bunch of 40-year-old innuendo about Fuentes to smear his memory and never documented a single original fact” without explaining to his geriatric readers what exactly was the hubbub.
This was all a kabuki show: the “innuendo” wasn't about Fuentes' corruption (documented many times over) or even his protection of pedophile priests (also documented) but rather the greatest holy grail in OC political history: that decades ago, Fuentes was caught in a gay sting by cops, and the incident made it into the newspapers. It's a story that's floated around OC for decades, one told to me by Democrats and Republicans, old-timers and newbies alike, one so persistent that a previous generation of Weeklings combed through the archives of the Los Angeles Times and then-Santa Ana Register from the mid-1960s through the mid-1970s–every single day–in the hopes of finding the mythical clipping…which they didn't.
The closet-homosexual trick is one of the oldest in the OC political playbook. This year alone, I've received claims that–let's see how general I can be here–a current prominent OC Republican politician and former prominent OC Democrat suck each other off at the nearly weekly parties held by LA/OC Jacks, and that power brokers rule a current mayor because they have uncompromising pictures of the pol engaging in gay sex. That's all hearsay, of course, which I ignored (but I DO have photos of a pastor's Grindr account–stay tuned…), but the Fuentes clipping story has persisted over the years despite there being no concrete proof. Back in 2005, I even received a phone call from someone who claimed Fuentes had seduced them as a YAFer in the steam room of a certain Republican hangout–and that he wasn't the first. But when I asked him to meet, the guy never responded.
Did the Fuentes incident happen? Probably not. BUT…Mickadeit's vehemence to trash Bauer over the incident makes one wonder…