Disneyland revealed on July 29 that it will close its 39-year-old Submarine Voyage ride after Labor Day weekend and not reopen that section of the theme park until 2003. Disney Imagineering is apparently kicking around plans for a Lost City of Atlantis adventure to possibly replace the subs. Clockwork's advice? Screw Atlantis, boys, and devise an attraction that unlocks the mysteries off our own coast. Just dig a huge underwater tunnel from the old Submarine Voyage station to the Pacific Ocean. Unlike fake Magic Kingdom rides-it took Clockwork five trips through that damn Indiana Jones line before we figured out that giant boulder was never going to flatten us-Voyage to the Bottom of OC's Dirty Beaches will employ real working underwater-research crafts. Riders will operate mechanical arms to collect all kinds of things. For instance, scientists from 20 public agencies began gathering water samples on Aug. 2 in the largest joint water-quality study ever to determine how safe Southern California beaches are for swimmers and surfers. Why not let passengers on Voyage to the Bottom of OC's Dirty Beaches get those samples and keep the Poindexters in their air-conditioned labs where they belong? The Surfrider Foundation announced last week it is fighting a proposed plan that would reduce sand erosion along Seal Beach and Sunset Beach through the use of submerged tubes-in other words, a wave-reducing breakwater-running parallel to the shoreline. Moving around buckets of sand? No problemo for the Voyage to the Bottom of OC's Dirty Beaches, which can also participate in underwater beach cleanups. Imagine the look on Little Joey's face on his first Mission to the Storm Drain Runoff Point (“Look, Mom, I got a colostomy bag!”). It's about time tourists started putting in their fair share around here.MERCEDES RULE Fletcher Jones Motorcars in Newport Beach says on its radio spots that it is the top Mercedes-Benz dealer in the country-so it must be true. But the Ward's Dealer Business Magazine's September edition bestows that honor on another OC Mercedes dealer: the House of Imports in Buena Park. Fletch cried foul last week, so Ward's did some investigating and reportedly determined that the Buena Park dealership erroneously included used-car wholesale earnings with retail sales. The mag vowed to correct the error but also told the Register their revised figures still showed the House of Imports as the largest Mercedes seller, although Fletcher Jones did earn the most income when you include sales and service. In an unrelated story, the Reverend Wiley Drake said First Southern Baptist Church of Buena Park will begin building its homeless shelter by Aug. 20. CLINTON SHOOTS, SCORES! July 30 was a tough day for President Bill Clinton. It started with the embarrassing disclosure that independent counsel Kenneth Starr has asked the FBI to test the DNA of alleged First Splooey on Monica Lewinsky's dress (obviously, Monica didn't inhale). But Clinton was allowed a few moments of joy that afternoon when the House of Representatives voted 260-163 against a resolution that would have blocked the president's extension of a trade waiver for Vietnam. The vote was a stunning rebuff to an eight-month lobbying effort by Van Thai Tran's OC-based coalition that wants human-rights conditions set before trade benefits are granted to those commies in Hanoi. Among those down with the coalition are Representatives Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) and Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove), who see eye to eye about as often as Spike Lee and Shaquille O'Neal. “This is corporate welfare to communists at its very worst,” Rohrabacher reportedly said. “I have no doubt that the Vietnamese communists think that we're a bunch of saps.” Sanchez said her constituents want to see more strides made in human rights and expedited family reunifications. Tran now plans to lobby congressmen who voted against the resolution before the waiver is reviewed next June, but others in OC will be pushing the other way. Globetrotting businesses are just itching to crack into a new market, and the Orange County Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce believes trade can bring about cooperation on such issues as American MIAs.
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.