TUESDAY, MAY 13
Dock Ellis, a 63-year-old resident of Apple Valley, joins a waiting list for a liver transplant. He’s got cirrhosis. If you’re not old enough to remember when Ellis was an All-Star pitcher for the World Series champion Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1970s, well, consider it further proof that all the best memories have been taken. Guess you’ll have to be satisfied with that really great day you had playing World of Warfare. Ellis exemplifies a bygone era in baseball. How bygone? Well, you’ve got some choices. He’s most famous for throwing a no-hitter while high on LSD. He brought his politics to the locker room—and unlike today, they weren’t Republican politics. In 1971, he challenged baseball to start two black pitchers (he and Vida Blue) against one another in the All-Star Game. In 1973 he went on the field wearing hair curlers after an Ebony magazine story about his hair styles. In 1974, when the Cincinnati Reds pitchers threw too close to his teammates, he hit Pete Rose, Joe Morgan and Dan Driessen consecutively, missed Tony Perez, then threw two pitches at Johnny Bench’s head before being removed from the game. There’s also the fact that his not-so-major-league pension doesn’t provide him with health insurance. Personally, however, I think it’s this: in Ellis’s era, the Pittsburgh Pirates were good.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 14
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger unveils his proposal to cut $3 billion from the state’s Health and Human Services agency, a plan that will likely pull the health care rug out from under millions of poor people. State officials acknowledge the plan will “affect real people,” but suggest that the rugs that are pulled out from under the poor can possibly be recycled as body bags, thus achieving further savings.
THURSDAY, MAY 15
Same-sex marriage is legalized in California by a 4-3 vote of the state Supreme Court, and talk predictably turns to the sanctity of marriage. As much as I hate to admit it, that’s legitimate. As a divorced heterosexual, I hereby offer my apologies to all same-sex couples who are considering marriage: I hope I didn’t totally degrade the institution for you. Far more worrisome to the institution of setting up housekeeping is the latest change in the trendy houseparty, which has recently gone from selling Tupperware to sex toys and now to Tasers. The electro-zappers that cops use to subdue violent suspects are now being marketed to living rooms full of guests sitting on folding chairs. They come in a variety of sweet colors, offer all kinds of accessories and cost only about $350. Come to think of it, they sound an awful lot like sex toys.
FRIDAY, MAY 16
The City of Banning’s historic Anti-Fun Policy is being challenged in court by a developer, who says the local government had no right to rescind the permit it granted him in 2001 to build a drag racing facility. The planning commission revoked the permit in January and the city council upheld the decision in March. Both decisions do seem a little bit like overkill—based on the invisible letter of the unwritten law against having anything enjoyable to do in Banning, rather than its spirit, which developer Andy Marocco has been clearly honoring. I mean, it’s not as though developer Marocco has actually built the racing strip during the seven years he’s had the permit. And he has been calling his project Drag City, in obvious tribute to Banning.
SATURDAY, MAY 17
Corona, which perhaps was Banning’s sister city in another lifetime, maximizes a hotter-than-hell spring day by reminding its residents about the worst sides of human behavior. A so-called Public Safety Day—staged for the benefit of shoppers at The Promenade Shops at Dos Lagos—features harrowing demonstrations of the extreme means that law enforcement must have at its disposal to ward off the evil thievery and violence that constantly threatens our way of life. There was a police helicopter, an armored truck, a S.W.A.T. mobile command center. Among the shows staged for the kiddies in what was billed as a day of family fun: sharpshooting snipers, hostage rescue teams and attacking police dogs. Good times, sure, but I’m unconvinced that there is any real bottom-line effectiveness to any of this—not when the weenies in the Radio Disney booth were permitted to go on and on without so much as a Taser shot fired.
SUNDAY, MAY 18
I awake energized by last night’s season-ending concert by the San Bernardino Symphony’s at the California Theatre of Performing Arts, which included Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 3 in D major and Ludwig Van Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major. That’s what it said on the program, anyway. I was there to stare at Sophia Loren, mother of San Bernardino Symphony conductor Carlo Ponti, Jr. In case you’re wondering, still hot … her, not him.
MONDAY, MAY 19
Somebody dies in Fontana, but does not rest in peace. Nobody rests in peace in Fontana. The city has no cemetery. Hasn’t for 108 years. Everyone agrees it’s a grave problem.