If you want to know how relevant large sections of the Orange County Register remain to good journalism in Southern California, one need look no further than last month, when the paper's two marquee columnists, Frank Mickadeit and David Whiting, announced they were leaving their posts–Mickadeit, to become a full-time lawyer, Whiting to restart as an editor.
And Orange County responded with a giant…yawn. Good, because that's the best farewell those two hacks deserved.
Whiting's column was always a meandering mess, but it reached its lowest points whenever he'd sprout a hard-on for any guy with a badge, which was far too many times to recount here. He was merely carrying the torch for long-departed Register columnist Gordon Dillow, who never met a boot he didn't want to tongue slather. The best thing that can be said about Whiting? Moxley nailed it when we named him to our 2012 Scariest People issue–"Whiting's lisp is somewhat sexy."
A far more sad–but telling–tale is what happened to Mickadeit. He started a decade ago in the middle of the Haidl gang-rape trial, attempting to become the Herb Caen of OC. And he succeeded…in telling the stories of the rich and mighty and white, with a couple of bones thrown over the years to everyone else. The man became full of himself (just ask the people who had him as a return guest to speak to their civic groups…), and became irrelevant over the years to everyone except GOP leaders. How irrelevant? Someone had to remind me that Mickadeit was leaving, so little do I bother with the Reg nowadays after its epic fail of a paywall–so I didn't read his farewell column until earlier this week.
Reading Mickadeit meant peering into a psychological profile of someone who desperately wanted to be accepted by the lords of Orange County and become one–what proper columnist boasts of smoking cigars with politicos, or going rummaging with longtime GOP head Tom Fuentes, a pedo-priest apologist of a man that Mickadeit creepily adored? Over the years, this aspirational bullshit became more and more apparent, so much so that when Mickadeit inexplicably announced he was pursuing a law degree a couple of years back, the Weekly's news team all surmised that it must be so that he could get a cushy gig with a law firm somewhere.
And guess what was Mickadeit's reason for leaving the Reg? He's getting a cushy gig with a law firm.
How telling of Mickadeit's sense of self that he took space in his final column–an otherwise touching letter of gratitude to his geriatric audience–to take a swipe at me. In it, he wrote "After awhile I felt I was repeating myself and had lost some edge. Certain of my friends whose opinion I respect and some whose I don't (Hey, Gustavo!) said the same thing."
What did I ever do? I can't remember, but I do remember Mickadeit once left a sniveling voice mail after I ripped him apart for something. But I hadn't written about him for at least a year. Nevertheless, his animus toward me was so bad that when I greeted him at the Fullerton Library late last year when I was about to introduce novelist Hector Tobar, it looked as if Mickadeit had choked on a Gulfstream cigar. But, seriously, Frank: I'm touched that you would give me a shout-out in your farewell–and I thought I was petty!
Good bye, David and Frank: OC won't miss ya except for dirty cops and bigwig dipshits who relied on ustedes for valentines and now must look toward Matt Cunningham for solace….