Though still years away from legally being able to rent a car, Jacob Wohl is a genius. He’s like one of those crazy-smart kids who master chess at age 5, though in his case, he’s taken the art of becoming famous for doing stupid shit to Olympian heights. Of course the kid lives in Irvine and is the world’s biggest Trump supporter; he practically has the words “I was raised by FOX News” tattooed on his forehead. Banned for life from trading by the National Futures Association at the age of 20 for defrauding investors? Check. Masterminded a plot to frame Special Counsel Robert Mueller for sexual misconduct that involves an investigation firm that seems to exist only on paper and has a phone registered to his mother? Check, check and check. Never mind that everyone on Twitter except the mouth-breathing white-supremacist portion (which is, admittedly, kinda huge and scary) thinks Wohl is the king of the douchebros—NBC News just did a big story on him! That means he’s a winner, right? Look, any idiot can become famous these days by defrauding investors or trying to discredit a renowned law-enforcement investigator, but to do so in ways that are so transparently dumb and insulting takes a balls-out genius so hammered on his own sense of entitlement that even Machiavelli would ask him to dial it back a notch. (Anthony Pignataro)
Four years ago, Pam Patterson stood atop the field as the lead vote-getter in San Juan Capistrano’s at-large City Council elections. But then, something happened. She championed a council resolution to oppose California’s so-called “Sanctuary State” law this year, which earned her a trip to the White House to meet with President Donald Trump. There, Pammy blabbered about terrorists crossing the border and how an attack would make San Onofre the next Fukushima. What a MAGA moment, eh? But a month before she went national, Patterson simply had to order food for a catered city meeting. But she refused to do so out of concern that the restaurant owners “are or were Middle Eastern” and probably served halal food because of it. Next, Patterson dragged her feet in turning over private-account emails about public business to the Weekly in a records request roil that lasted seven months and cost $77,000 after a political ally sued her to tie up any turnovers. All that was left was a re-election to lose. She raised a whole $185 on GoFundMe alone while a spiffy “Capistrano Shuffle” video highlighted her hypocrisies set to a groove. At the end of it all, Patterson placed a distant second in an election by district. There’s nothing Pammy could do, save for quoting QAnon in her farewell-speech mic drop, a stunt that put her city in national headlines again—and not in a good way. (Gabriel San Román)
It’s been 90 years since Mickey Mouse first whistled and wheeled his way into America’s heart in Steamboat Willie. The famed critter celebrated with a great fiscal year; money came out of his mouse ears thanks to Disney dominating the movie industry, Solo: A Star Wars Story aside. Theme-park revenues also ticked upward, ending with billions in the black. The only hardship for Mickey came in the form of those pesky theme-park and hotel workers in Anaheim who banded their unions together and commissioned a study on cast-member poverty. Tales of woe, from sleeping in cars to skipping meals, dampened Disney’s otherwise-dapper days. The report, coupled with a living-wage initiative tied to tax-rebate agreements Mickey Mouse otherwise enjoyed, dominated international headlines for months. Disney responded by calling on Anaheim’s local government to cancel a pair of subsidy deals that almost sucked the life out of the living-wage campaign. But voters passed the measure in a close vote, anyway. Mickey Mouse has been on a good-corporate-citizen parade since then, trying to repair Disney’s public image with every philanthropic check. But if the House of the Mouse starts off the New Year defying Anaheim’s resort-area minimum-wage law in preparation for litigation, it will be Villains Day at the park again. (GSR)
THE HOLY FIRE GANG
At around 1 p.m. on Aug. 6, Frank R.’s Cabin 15 on Trabuco Creek Road in Holy Jim Canyon burst into flames. By 7 p.m. that night, strong, dry winds spread the fire across 1,200 acres of the Cleveland National Forest. The fire ravaged communities along both sides of the Santa Ana Mountains: By the time the Holy Fire was fully contained on Sept. 13, it had destroyed 23,136 acres of forest, scorched 18 structures and injured three firefighters.
The Holy Fire made international headlines not because of its size, but because of the bizarre sideshow of characters it brought out.
The alleged arsonist behind the Holy Fire, Forrest Gordon Clark (a.k.a. White Trash Jesus) became the center of a media storm thanks to a series of increasingly strange acts, highlighted by the release of his email to Holy Jim Volunteer Fire Chief Michael Milligan, which threatened, “This place will burn!” Then, Clark’s courtroom antics—which nearly rendered him mentally unfit to stand trial—drew crowds to the Santa Ana courthouse. Of course, the OC Fire Authority’s arson investigation recently named Milligan as a likely suspect.
And then there’s Ashley Bemis, a San Clemente woman who allegedly swindled $11,000 through a fraudulent firefighter-relief fund. Via Facebook, Bemis conned people into donating money, mattresses and foodstuffs, which she said would be given directly to undersupplied firefighters by her firefighter husband Shane Goodman. Turns out, Shane didn’t exist, and Bemis was a practiced con artist.
Although Bemis made it onto Dr. Phil last month, and Clark’s story made it to Rolling Stone and The Sun U.K., it’s important to remember they’re innocent until proven guilty. (Liam Blume)