Posted October 3, 2007 in News



We’re back in the office after our family-traditional Memorial Day Weekend backpacking trip—this year to the top of Mt. Baldy—where I think we thought a little about the military sacrifices we were supposed to be memorializing. We definitely thought about something. Out in Blythe, the curmudgeonly editor of the Desert Independent, Howard Markle, is back, too—and a little reflective about what this sad and celebrative holiday is all about. He writes: “Memorial Day Weekend is a three-day mark on the calendar, between Mother’s Day and Flag Day. We’ve once again done our duty to those who gave their youth to the cause: we vets and draft dodgers and conscientious objectors, we who are too old and too young, we mothers, and we four-F rejects. We stand in grief on this hallowed ground and wonder about the quackery that causes us to take up arms.”



A press release sent today at 3:30 p.m. from the office of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is titled “Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Moreno Valley Soldier.” It refers to Sgt. Clayton G. Dunn II, who suffered fatal wounds when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Iraq’s Salah Ad Din province. “Sergeant Clayton Dunn’s death is a loss to all Californians,” read the release. “Clayton risked his life in order to safeguard the life of all Americans. Maria and I offer our deepest condolences to his family and friends.” Nine minutes later, at 3:39 p.m., another press release from Schwarzenegger’s office mourns the death of Staff Sgt. Thomas M. McFall, of Glendora, also from an IED detonation. Fifty-four minutes later, at 4:33 p.m. Schwarzenegger’s office issued still another release, this time mourning the death of Pfc. Daniel P. Cagle of Carson, again from an IED.



In the wake of Kobe Bryant’s ultimatums to the Lakers—trade me . . . no, don’t trade me . . . yeah, trade me; those are ultimatums, aren’t they?—old feelings stir deep down inside, as if the possibility exists that I might become a Lakers fan again. God, how I used to love that team! I’m glad Kobe said what he had to say, because it seems as if this could bring renewed life to this stagnant team. What if the Lakers really were to bring in new players who could actually complement each other in a system that would bring back basketball the way it was meant to be played? But then team owner Jerry Buss has a long phone conversation with Bryant, and releases a statement that reads, in part, “I assured him that we will continue to pursue every avenue possible to improve our team with him as the cornerstone.” With Bryant as the cornerstone? So, he’s not leaving? God, how I hate the Lakers.



The annual Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival begins its three-day run at Lake Skinner, but while most everybody’s merlot-shot eyes are trying to focus skyward at the hot-air ships floating amid the hills, people who have their priorities straight are hunkered around the Johnsonville Big-Taste Grill—basically, the biggest barbecue in the world. The thing looks like a haz-mat truck with its tank busted open, but the artery-clogging poison inside—it can cook some 2,500 bratwursts per hour—smells a lot better than chlorine gas. More specs: it’s 65 feet long, weighs more than 53,000 pounds and is sponsored by Johnsonville Sausage, the No. 1 Sausage brand in America. Yes, it is amazing . . . that the No. 1 sausage brand in America is called Johnsonville.



Almost five percent of the 29,589 ballots mailed out to Big Bear residents for an upcoming vote on whether or not to fund a new swimming center are missing, according to park district director Reese Troublefield, yet the on-line headline in the Big Bear Grizzly reads: “Not Many Ballots Reported Missing.” Yes, it is amazing . . . that the park district director trying to sort out the controversy is named Troublefield.



Long-ago talk-show host and horse-lover—not in that way—Merv Griffin is developing a 300-luxury-home equestrian community in South La Quinta, on a once-remote spread where he originally moved to get away from it all, but which is now nearly surrounded by other luxury developments. Yes, it is amazing . . . because I didn’t even know Merv Griffin was still alive. He’s 81.



The U.S. Justice Department apparently still plans to send a team of federal agents to San Bernardino to combat a surge in guns, gangs and murder (Operation Phoenix is just going soooo well, isn’t it?), even though the action was announced by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Friday—three days ago—and Gonzales can no longer remember a thing about it. Amazing.


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