Scrubbing Bubbles

Illustration by Bob AulLike Mexico City bellhops, Southern California Water Co. officials on May 22 warned residents of at least 700 homes in Stanton and Cypress: “don't drink the water.” Firefighters accidentally released foam retardant into the two cities' drinking water systems while battling a small blaze the night before. Residents were told not to drink, bathe or cook using tap water, even though fire officials claimed the retardant was organic, nontoxic and in its diluted form comparable to soapy water. Parents of children with Tourette's syndrome campaigned to have the retardant permanently added to their taps so their kids can brush their teeth and wash their mouths out with soap at the same time.

YOUR CALL CANNOT BE COMPLETED AS DIALEDClockwork is saddened to inform you that a pop-culture icon is no more. In the wee hours of May 17, Pacific Bell and the National Park Service up and yanked out that lonely phone booth that's 14 miles off I-15 in the desert between Barstow and the state line. The Mojave Phone Booth (or “MPB,” the nickname bestowed by a legion of devotees worldwide who called; made pilgrimages to; and created websites, media stories and even a feature film about the site) was removed because of litter, potential wilderness damage and an unattended campfire being left at the height of the fire season near the attraction and one of the biggest stands of Joshua trees in the country, said a Mojave National Preserve spokesperson. The disconnection “offended” Mark Soden, who advises students in the Edison High School Digital Music Club, which—as Wyn Hilty noted in her Machine Age column (“The Launching Fad,” Feb. 18)—is creating a piece dedicated to MPB. Soden believes officials missed a golden opportunity. “People were going out there anyway,” he said.”They could've made it an attraction to educate people about the desert.” Though saddened, Digital Music clubbers plan to release their dance number on by the end of June. Perhaps it can be played at the funeral.

TAKE MY TOLL ROAD—PLEASE! Orange County Transportation Authority members agreed on May 22 that state lawmakers should buy the county's toll roads—which generate more controversy than traffic—and make them freeways. However, the state apparently has more pressing transportation needs than bailing out OC's horribly failed toll roads. Perhaps we could sweeten the deal by throwing in other regional disasters like El Toro International Airport. Or the Santa Ana River. Or TBN headquarters. Or the Santa Ana Zoo. Or Dana Point beaches. Or . . .

STUCK IN THE MITTERMEIER WITH YOU Who do you suppose lusts more after County Executive Officer Jan Mittermeier: The headline writers at the Orange County Register or their counterparts at the Times Orange County edition? You've got to wonder what kind of nasty thoughts conjured up this headline in the May 23 Reg: “Supervisors Act to Strip CEO of El Toro Powers.” With the Reggiehaving successfully turned the most powerful woman in county government into a dancer at Captain Creem's, the Times came back two days later with “Mittermeier Gets It From Both Sides.”

TORCH SONG TRILOGY Assemblywoman Pat Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) blamed that commie front known as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for killing her bill that would have lengthened prison sentences three to five years for people who set fires to places of worship in California. The ACLU and the Friends Committee on Legislation, a Quaker-sponsored lobbying group, filed letters that argued arson penalties are already severe, with current law adding three years to sentences for criminal fires that cause bodily injury and 10 years to life for arson that does $5 million damage. After her bill bit Le Big One in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on May 25, Bates whipped out a press release titled “ACLU Kills Sentence Enhancements for Church and Synagogue Burnings.” No mention was made of the Quakers because, you know, they're Christians.

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