Diary of a Mad County

Wednesday, Aug. 16
Orange County Superior Court Judge Pamela L. Iles is “rebuked” and “admonished”—maddeningly, the story in The Orange County Register doesn't specify in what order—by a state commission for violating the rights of some lawyerless defendant in a domestic-violence case a few years ago. Apparently, the guy didn't want to obey Iles' order to pay $1,000 to a women's shelter, so she threw him in jail for a month. This ruthless exercise of power sounds perfectly awful, in a fascinatingly Tower-of-London kind of way . . . yeah, the throwing in jail, sure, but even more the rebuking and the admonishing. Do they still do that? Personally, we would have forgone the rebuke—a single buke, vigorously effected, is usually sufficient—and instead substituted a good dressing-down, followed immediately by a robust upbraiding, whilst periodically knocking the judge down a peg or two with merciless tongue-lashings. The admonishing? We're cool with that.

Thursday, Aug. 17
Kerry Getz
, the singer-songwriter who's as close to a wandering troubadour as OC's got, opens for Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven at the Galaxy—a performance that constitutes her so-long-for-now to doing sorta-biggish-venue shows. That's a less-than-definitive and even-less-than-final farewell, yes, but maybe you could cut her a break. After four gigs a week for 24 years—that multiplies out to 4,992 appearances at coffeehouses, bars, hotels, clubs and shopping centers, plus one political fund-raiser at my house—Getz doesn't have any practice saying goodbye. So she's just slowing down, making room in her schedule to go back to school to become a veterinary assistant. The best moment of this last-ish show . . . well, other than the ones in which Getz rips her sweet pinafore voice into the shreds of handbags-and-gladrags sexiness while wringing sounds out of her guitar that it's exciting to imagine her wringing out of me? That comes when she admonishes a bunch of yakkers in the back—people who, she says, “obviously don't give a shit”—to pipe down so the rest of us can hear. Oh, yes. We loves the admonishing.

Friday, Aug. 18
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin again drags Orange County into his argument that racism was at the root of the federal government's slow response to Hurricane Katrina. Speaking to the National Association of Black Journalists, Nagin proclaims, “I, to this day, believe if [the hurricane] happened in Orange County, California, or South Beach, Florida, [the slow federal response] wouldn't have happened.” Nagin may have a point, but his argument is contradicted by the fact that Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County just started its third season and the federal government has yet to lift a finger.

Saturday, Aug. 19
Not everybody sees the Blessed Virgin Mary in the big chocolate blob that dripped beneath a vat at Bodega Chocolates in Fountain Valley this week. But enough people see something—the Maltese Falcon, a Russian nesting doll, a nasty doodad they once saw on sale at Spanky's—that we all get a few moments to contemplate anew the beautiful subjectivity of the spiritual experience. For some, the miracle is as simple as the fact that the little blob of chocolate wasn't eaten first thing. For others, it was the deeper satisfaction that a story has finally arrived to top the time Gustavo Arellano insists he saw the Blessed Virgin Mary in a bowl of guacamole.

Sunday, Aug. 20
Tiger Woods
charges away from a first-place tie to win the PGA Championship so dominatingly that the world reacts by anointing him the greatest golfer in history. It feels like nitpicking to note that he only has to shoot a 68 to do it. Nothing wrong with a 68. It's a very good score. Excellent, even. But it presents some questions: Should it be good enough to earn Woods a five-stroke victory in the last major tournament of the year? Does it qualify as dominating? Is Woods really the greatest golfer in history, or is he the only great player in one of history's worst eras? Can you believe Woods was really raised in Cypress? In 10 years as a pro, Woods has won 12 titles in the four major tournaments (Masters, British Open, U.S. Open, PGA)—second all-time behind Jack Nicklaus, who won 18 majors in 25 years. But Nicklaus was a star among a galaxy of them; in addition to those 18 wins, he finished second in majors 19 times—to such legends-in-their-own-right as Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson and Steve Ballesteros. Contrast that with the far-back pack chasing Woods today, which includes guys named Shaun Micheel, Luke Donald, Sergio Garcia and Adam Scott. Phil Mickelson, the closest thing Woods has to a rival, shot a final-round 74 to finish 12 strokes behind. Much is made of Woods' influence on golf—the young people of varied ethnicities he attracts to the game, the higher level of physical conditioning he has introduced. But by the time that fresh-faced rainbow coalition arrives on the pro tour, Woods may be gone. And as far as his influence on contemporaries . . . have you seen Phil Mickelson? Dude's got man-boobs!

Monday, Aug. 21
The image of the Blessed Virgin Mary appears on the cell phone screen of OC Weeklyclassified account executive Rita Kallas. Actually, it's been there since June 10, when she took a photo of the inside of her just-emptied cup of Turkish coffee. Turns out it's a tradition among the Lebanese—Rita was 5 when she came to the U.S.—to turn over a just-finished cup of coffee, let the wet grounds streak and dry, and then let a fortuneteller read your fate in the pattern of the dark marks against the white ceramic. Rita's mom does the fortunetelling for her family and friends, and she was the one who pointed out the resemblance of the dried coffee-ground streaks to the Most Holy Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ. “Catholics in the Middle East pray to the Virgin Mary when they are going through hard times,” explains Rita. “Her appearance means she is watching over you. I took a picture of it because it's rare for a shape like that to appear. When it happens, it's like, 'Whoa.'”

Tuesday, Aug. 22
Gustavo, still devoted to Our Lady in the Guacamole, insists the photo of the Virgin of the Coffee Cup more accurately resembles the Sinai Peninsula.


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