TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 28
As news arrives that 20-year-old Jeromy D. West has just become the 53rd Inland Empire resident to be killed in the war in Iraq—that calculates out to 1.8 percent of the 2,883 U.S. deaths since the fighting began—a committee of IE veterans intensify their efforts to … change the name of a six-mile stretch of the 215 freeway. Yep, that’s the kind of thing you can spend your time on, you know, when you’ve still got the luxury of time, which is to say, when you didn’t just die at age 20, half way around the world, in a conflict that just about everybody agrees was a mistake—most of the exceptions being people who got taxpayer-funded contracts to build the bombs that blow things up or people who got taxpayer-funded contracts to rebuild the things the bombs blow up. Anyway, the Riverside Military Heritage Committee figures that slapping a new name–something like Veterans Highway or Patriot Memorial Highway–on signs along Interstate 215 would be a good way to remind drivers of this region’s long military legacy. Not that everybody necessarily needs such signs to remind them. A lot of people drive that section of the 215 to get to Riverside National Cemetery—which, thanks to our region’s ongoing military tradition, just happens to be the fastest-growing military cemetery in the country.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 29
Qua. It’s a word. You could look it up. I just did, after I read it in the November issue of Esquire–in The Answer Fella column, which noted that “no other word feels as good to write as qua: It’s so fucking erudite.” The definition of qua? It’s an adverb that means “as being” or “as” or “in the character or capacity of.” For example, you could say “Qua father, he felt sorry for the boy, but qua police officer, he took the boy to jail.” But all of this knowledge arrives one day too late for the guy who wrote qua in a story I edited yesterday, because yesterday I thought qua was a typographical error, so I deleted it. Sorry, dude. Well, I’m not all that sorry. Qua editor, it is my right to delete any damn word I please.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 30
They’re watching the thermometer out in Palm Springs tonight, wondering whether it’s going to drop to the all-time low of 19 degrees—that’s cold–and worrying about what that’s going to do to their gardens. They’re worrying so much that The Desert Sun runs a big—although really not very informative–story about how to protect flowers and vegetables planted outside the house. Significantly, there was no story about how to protect the people who will spend the sub-freezing night outside because they don’t have a house. That’s colder.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 1
Christians begin the countdown toward Christmas, some by opening the first little paper window on their Advent Calendars, others by checking off another shopping day on their Gregorian models. Either way, it’s sort of a metaphor for Mary and Joseph’s exciting but nerve-wracking search for a safe place to stay as the birth of the Baby Jesus steadily approached. So is what’s going on in Beaumont, where some working parents are suddenly in a desperate search for a safe place to leave their children during the day, now that the elders at the Beaumont Presbyterian Church have decided to evict the 53 youngsters who have been using church facilities at the Kids Place day-care program. Some elders explained that Beaumont Presbyterian’s pastor, the Rev. Scott Mason, wants to use the rooms occupied by Kids Place to start a youth group—uhhh…a bunch of kids would kind of seem to be a youth group, but whatever—and others complained that the day care was costing too much money. Those may be legitimate reasons, but invoking them at the outset of the holiday season and in the middle of the school year was weird timing; aside from the in-your-face to the spirit of good will, most day-care programs are full and finding places for the evicted kids won’t be easy. Actually, the parents in Beaumont have a little more time than Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem—church elders won’t be putting up the “No Room at the Inn” sign until Dec. 29, four days after the 2006th birthday of the child who Christians believe was sent to save the souls of sinners … which in this case ought to provide comfort and joy to at least one of Beaumont Presbyterian’s elders, the one named Richard A. Sinner.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 2
Residents of two high desert communities remain calm despite Victor Valley Daily Press reports that an other-worldly phenomena—one that defies the basic laws of mathematics—occurred at two local events. Reporter Katherine Rosenberg’s story about the awards ceremony for the High Desert Slimdown Challenge—a weight-loss contest—stated that although Robert Edgar unequivocally won the event by losing 152 pounds during the five-month competition, “the room was filled with winners.” In the same issue of the paper, reporter Ryan Orr’s story about Apple Valley’s fourth annual Most Talented Kid contest described the same eerie outcome, writing that “although only the top three performers in each category took home trophies, everyone came out a winner.”
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 3
Food Not Bombs feeds the homeless at Fairmont Park in Riverside, as it does every Sunday afternoon at about 12:30 near the entrance at the Bowling Lawn. See, the idea is that food is better than bombs. If you like that idea, go to HYPERLINK "http://www.riversidefnb.org" www.riversidefnb.org. Or go to Fairmont Park this Sunday.
MONDAY, DECEMBER 4
Oh, you better watch out
when you run a red light.
Santa don’t care,
but his Big Brother might.
New cameras are surveilling town.
Riverside just hung
eight on its streets.
New cameras are surveilling town.
They see you when you’re speeding,
they know when you don’t brake.
Protesting won’t do any good,
‘cause they got your ass on videotape.
Maybe these things
will save somebody’s life,
but the rest of us lose
another privacy right.
New cameras are surveilling town!