Diary of a Mad County

SUNDAY, July 7 Life is no picnic nor is life a beach at Picnic Beach after about 100 gallons of raw sewage spill into the ocean and close the popular Laguna Beach spot on the last day of the busy holiday weekend. The shitcicle is blamed on a bunch of blue and pink Handi-Wipes jammed into a sewer line that backed up and forced poop into storm drains. The city reacts by going door to door and telling people in the vicinity of the spill, “Hey, numbnuts, don't go jamming a bunch of blue and pink Handi-Wipes into the sewer system.” They should pass out Metamucil while they're at it.

MONDAY, July 8 A $411,600 kennel is being built for two bomb-sniffing dogs arriving at John Wayne Airport in August, The Orange County Register reports today. If that sounds like a lot of scratch for two fleabags, that's because it is. Ontario Airport's police chief tells the Reg that his kennel—similar in size and features—will cost only $25,000. The price disparity raises yelps in an anti-El Toro Airport chat room, where one poster, jokingly calling himself Don “Dogman” Bren, offers to have his Irvine Co. carpenters construct low-income “Doggie Domiciles” for $199,999 each. Another Netizen suggests the steep price is necessary to pay for a nearby Great Bark Park. “Contractors charge double Riverside costs when work is performed in OC,” writes Xdemo, obviously unaware Ontario is in San Bernardino County, not Riverside. “The rest is for the litigation budget, considering that it may have to go to the ballot four times since the Board of Supervisorsis incapable of making a good decision on their own.”

Illustration by Bob Aul

TUESDAY, July 9 James Abernathyis accused in Orange County Superior Court of killing and mutilating his dog to impress his girlfriend, and because a conviction would represent the third strike against the 40-year-old La Habra man, he could spend the rest of his life rotting in prison. He allegedly chopped off his German shepherd Marie's head with a sword, pounded a wooden stake into the dog's chest and plunged pruning shears into its neck. Abernathy's dad reportedly says his son wanted to show his girlfriend that he loved her so much that he'd kill his prized dog for her. Whatever happened to flowers?

Over in another OC Superior courtroom, Defend the Bay files suit to stop Irvine's massive Northern Sphere development. The City Council in June blessed the Irvine Co. plan to plop 12,350 human—not doggie—domiciles on 7,700 acres of land. Defend the Bay, which claims the Northern Sphere environmental-impact report is wholly inadequate, originally threatened to put the project before voters. Rightly fearing the Irvine Co.'s power and checkbook in an election, the group instead chose the courts. Chris Mears, an Irvine councilman in the Irvine Co.'s pocket, blabs around town that Defend the Bay is a front group for hated pro-El Toro Airport forces who want to stop development around the former Marine Corps base to keep prospects for a commercial airport alive. Two problems: 1) Everyone knows a commercial airport at El Toro is deader than Sinatra; 2) Defend the Bay is not a front group for anything other than keeping Irvine Ranch Water District wastewater and toxic runoff from Irvine's farms, golf courses and green lawns out of Newport Bay. That supposed progressives like Mears and Mayor Larry Agran know this but continue to play the El Toro card on behalf of the Irvine Co. is shameful.

WEDNESDAY, July 10 The American Medical Marijuana Association and National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) issue a “California Congressional Alert” over their pal Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove) sponsoring the anti-rave bill in the House. A rash of teens overdosing on club drugs throughout the country spurred the legislation that would severely punish promoters if they knew or reasonably should have known controlled substances were used at their events. The legal eagles at NORML fear the bill's broad language would outlaw cannabis clubs and pot rallies. It particularly harshes their mellow to see Sanchez's Juanita Hancock on the bill because she has staunchly supported the right for disabled and terminally ill people to have doctor-recommended medical marijuana.

Six months after the fact, National Public Radio(NPR) apologizes to the Traditional Values Coalition(TVC) for the conservative Christian lobby being mentioned in a January Morning Edition story about the FBI's anthrax investigation. During a Capitol Hill hearing on public broadcasting in which Republicans repeatedly cite the story as proof of NPR's liberal bias, NPR president/CEO Kevin Klose gives his “personal and professional apology” to TVC and Andrea Lafferty. But Lafferty, the Anaheim- and Washington, D.C.-based coalition's executive director and TVC founder the Reverend Lou Sheldon's equally homophobic daughter, says “a simple apology is not enough,” calls a correction NPR broadcast eight days after the story aired “pathetic” and figures all NPR staffers must have “graduated from the school of anti-Christian bigotry.” It's enough to make you want to send NPR an angry letter!

THURSDAY, July 11 Brea-based Home Instead Senior Care sends your favorite antique pocket watch a list of tips caregivers can use to keep elderly folkscool during the summer. It reminds us so much of an April 25 story in the Orange City News about keeping canines cool during the summer that we devise a little game: indicate whether the following tips apply to the elderly (E), dogs (D) or both (B). Answers are at the bottom of this space filler.

1) Keep water everywhere they'll be on a hot day.

2) Encourage them to drink water even if they don't seem thirsty.

3) Remove heavy winter coats.

4) Keep them out of direct sunlight on hot days.

5) Encourage them to rest during the hottest part of the day.

6) Look for slurred speech, disorientation and the possible onset of a stroke, which may mean they flipped on the heater instead of the air conditioner.

FRIDAY, July 12 South County residents battle a heavy case of the terrorism-inspired, media-fueled, oh-my-fucking-God-the-world's-about-to-end jitters when the Camp Pendleton Marines brass decides now's the time to blow 81mm medium-extended range mortars; 155mm, M198 Howitzers; and 500-pound bombs. If your overheated dogs and elderly folk didn't shit themselves on the Fourth, this 6 a.m.-to-midnight kah-booming surely does the trick. Remember: that's the sound of your former freedom!

ANSWERS: 1) B; 2) B; 3) B (put Gramps' heavy clothing in storage until fall; shave long-haired Fido down to an inch of coating); 4) B; 5) B; 6) E, unless you have a really talented D.

Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.

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