TUESDAY, DECEMBER 25
Kobe Bryant deposits 38 points into the ass-kicking machine—and 20-year-old center Andrew Bynum pours in 28 more—during the Lakers’ big Christmas afternoon win over the Phoenix Suns. Actually, I couldn’t care less about the win. Screw Kobe. And that’s my point. He is getting screwed by an ass-kicking contraption that translates everything he contributes to every Lakers win into a boot up his own butt. Kobe Bryant is no Laker. He made that clear when he complained about his secondary role to Shaquille O’Neal during three straight championships. He made it even clearer last off-season, when he demanded a trade while cruelly demeaning his teammates—especially Bynum. When called on it, Bryant couched his self-centered attitude as a desire to win; apparently, he believes it’s his birthright to win a certain number of titles on his way to the Hall of Fame, supported by a cast of teammates who are just good enough to help him do it without ever overshadowing him. The thing is, the Lakers teammates he degraded are winning. This is not only ruining the rationale for his trade-me demand—which he still hasn’t withdrawn—but holding him to public ridicule. Even normally sycophantic national TV sportscasters haven’t been shy about pointing out to him—in live interviews—that he predicted that the Lakers and Bynum weren’t very good. What does Kobe say? Not much, although it’s clear he’s trying to take credit for it. “That’s my responsibility to this ballclub, continue to crack the whip,” he says after today’s game. Mostly, though, he just squirms. But Kobe can’t wiggle his way out of the ass-kicking machine. It’s a beautiful piece of justice.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 26
If you survived Christmas without going a little crazy, be grateful. Some people didn’t, and some of those ended up in Riverside County’s psychiatric facility, which continues to violate state law and brush off oversight. State investigators recently discovered that the overcrowded facility continues to hold patients in the emergency room for longer than 24 hours. Last summer, a yearlong investigation by the Riverside County grand jury reported that patients often have to lie on the floor, are subject to violence, that staff members were not reporting serious injuries and that medical records were incomplete. How can CEO Doug Bagley just slough off accusations like that? With the help of the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, who took a quick look at a year’s worth of grand jury work and simply rejected it.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 27
Negotiations to bring the Phoenix Suns to Indian Wells for a pre-season game in the city’s tennis stadium next autumn begin. That would be cool. But let’s hope not too cool. The game would be the first NBA contest ever played outdoors.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 28
Good news for everybody who loves the Coachella Valley: It’s getting even valley-er! So much water is being pumped out of underground aquifiers that the land is sinking—as much as one foot in parts of Bermuda Dunes, La Quinta and Coachella, itself. Of course, there’s a downside. Damage to infrastructure—including sewers, pipes and roads—could cost taxpayers millions. Oh, and they might get a little thirsty, inasmuch as the underground aquifier is the valley’s only source of drinking water. But don’t worry, it’s for a good cause—the profit margins of gazillionaire developers, not to mention all the pink-skinned, blue-haired golfers who love to go out to the desert to play on lush carpets of thirsty hybrid grass. They probably won’t mind toting their own bottled water with them, or paying somebody to do it.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 29
A headline in the San Bernardino Sun poses the increasingly non-musical question: “Are Music Stores Fading Fast?” Of course, the answer is “Duh.” But the demise of big record-retailing chains doesn’t bug me. I’d like to see big bookstores go with them. And big coffeehouses and flower shops, too. Some stores just seem better as small-business operations. Plenty of independent record stores, which can adjust to the market and their customers—which employ people who actually know something about music—seem likely to survive. Until I get an iPod, anyway.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 30
The ass-kicking machine? What I said, again.
MONDAY, DECEMBER 31
Residents of Big Bear resolve to be not-quite-so-big in 2008, many of them pledging to follow in the footsteps of their favorite Olympian—marathoner Ryan Hall—and together accumulate one million miles of movement before he toes the starting line in Beijing on August 24. The great thing about One Million Miles For Ryan Hall is that there’s no fund-raising involved. People just move—jog, snowshoe, walk, skip rope, take a hike or even take a treadmill. The idea is better physical fitness. I resolve to keep track of their progress.