TUESDAY, JANUARY 22
While Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger gargles on expensive TV ads in support of four ballot propositions that would confirm California’s gambling expansion agreements with four Indian tribes, the federal government quietly approves a plan allowing the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians to add 5,500 more slot machines—for a total of 7,700 to its San Bernardino-area casino. The San Manuel tribe signed its pact with Schwarzenegger in August 2006, and has avoided conflicts with the opponents of the other tribes—labor unions and horseracing entities—by permitting the Communications Workers of America to organize employees and operating cross promotions with the tracks. Bottom line, timing is everything. Didn’t the Great Spirit say that? Maybe it was Bugsy Siegel.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 23
A week later, the second-graders at Valley Elementary School in Yucaipa are still talking about the visit they received from the Carl’s Jr. Happy Star—a man wearing a costume that looked like the logo of a second-tier chain of hamburger joints. Apparently, it doesn’t take much to make an impression on kids, and I’d bet that’s what the Carl’s Jr. marketers were banking on when they agreed to help teacher Ellen Mathers teach students the differences among producers, consumers, factories—and the assembly-line production of fast food that is fueling an epidemic of morbid obesity among young people in our country and around the world. They recited the definition of the first three terms and got a gift certificate for the local Carl’s Jr.—and the admonition to bring their parents—to drive home the last part. All in all, just another day of public service from the people who once brought us a commercial featuring Paris Hilton simultaneously humping a car and simulating fellatio on a hamburger while drenched in soapsuds.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 24
It’s not that Norco residents think their shit don’t stink—but instead that they don’t think their shit stinks any worse than their neighbors’. Or something like that. Why else would a group of them take issue with the city’s proposal that animal owners be required to regularly dispose of livestock manure? “I think we’re getting the cart ahead of the horse here,” says former City Councilman Harvey Sullivan—of course he did . . . somebody had to. “The city’s asking for mandatory manure pickup without a place to put it.” Norco prides itself on its horsetown reputation, stink and all, but it hasn’t been quite so proud about a state water quality violation in 2007. Sullivan suggests that the city hold off on any manure collection rules until a proposed plant that would convert manure into electricity gets built—and for those of you who think it’s funny that such a committedly backward place as Norco would be pinning its hopes on such a futuristic contraption, well, I think I saw one of those poop-to-electricity machines on an episode of The Wild, Wild West.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 25
As the dead body of a third avalanche victim is removed from the snow-smothered San Gabriel Mountains—and a missing snowboarder is found alive—the reality of a real winter begins to sink into the consciousness of Southern Californians who haven’t had one in quite awhile. An ongoing drought over the past several years—and a reliance on man-made snow at resorts—has apparently lulled skiers and snowboarders into a false confidence. “We depend on snow-making, and snow-making doesn’t lead to avalanches,” says Pete Olson, president of Mt. Baldy Ski Resorts. “It usually doesn’t snow enough to make anything happen up here.” With at least three feet or more of new snow in a matter of days, that’s changed.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 26
SUNDAY, JANUARY 27
The Lakers lose to the Cleveland Cavaliers—at the Staples Center, on national TV—and how shall we count the ways this reflects badly on Kobe Bryant? Let’s see: it’s the Lakers third loss in a row and their fourth in five games since 20-year-old center Andrew Bynum—who Kobe insultingly thought oughtta be traded during the off-season—suffered a knee injury. Short-memoried Laker fans had been extolling Kobe with chants of “M-V-P! M-V-P!” in recent weeks, but it turns out their team may miss Bynum more. Meanwhile, LaBron James—whose Cleveland team went into a tailspin when he got injured earlier this year—has turned the Cavs into killers since his return. Cleveland beat the Lakers down the stretch on Sunday without three of their regulars. One missed the entire game, another got hurt during the game and a third fouled out. Bryant? His coach benched him for awhile in the fourth quarter when his incessant shooting got his teammates out of their rhythm. Prediction: the Lakers won’t make the playoffs.
MONDAY, JANUARY 28