Veterans Day, so no mail delivery—the favorite kind of day for a former U.S. Postal worker in Hesperia, who’s now facing heavy federal felony charges for dumping about 900 pieces of mail behind a bush in the desert. That most definitely was not the right way to respond to a bad case of the fuck-it-alls. On the bright side: No fatalities!
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 12
The Morongo Casino Resort & Spa lays off 95 employees—all of them dealers or table-game operators—as the growing recession continues to downsize the gambling industry. It seems like a long time since February. That’s when Indian gaming interests were pouring tons of money into campaigns for Propositions 94, 95, 96 and 97, which asked voters to approve expansion of their slot machine operations in exchange for giving the state government a higher percentage of their revenues—millions of dollars that were supposed to keep California’s coffers flush for years. That was nine months ago. Meanwhile, Pechanga Resort & Casino—Riverside County’s second-largest private employer—laid off about 400 of its 4,700 employees in July. Now laid-off casino workers will likely join the growing numbers of unemployed Californians seeking relief and sapping the state’s already deeply indebted budget. You win some, you lose some, I guess.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 13
I want Oscar de la Hoya to defeat Manny Pacquiao when the welterweight boxers square off on December 6 in Las Vegas—but not so much as I would have liked to have seen de la Hoya kick the crap out of lightweight comedian George Lopez today when the two briefly sparred for the cameras during a press conference in Big Bear.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 14
A day after about five million people cheerfully pretended that they were going through a 7.8 earthquake on the southern San Andreas Fault, about three times as many people participate in an even-greater fantasy—their daily-life denial that this catastrophe is ever really going to happen. Try as they might, nobody could really take Thursday’s Great Southern California Shakeout seriously. The little exercise in preparedness had hundreds of school kids diving beneath their desks, businesses evacuating employees and hospitals treating play victims all done up with fake blood, makeup and wax, while television stations interrupted their regular programming to announce the drill and cover it as they might a major earthquake. But today nobody was mourning the death of a couple thousand people or fearing for the hundred-thousand more trapped beneath non-retrofitted buildings or trying to reach the people cut off from civilization by the collapse of freeways or figuring out what to do first to repair the water, gas and electrical systems destroyed in the temblor’s 200-mile path. Now that would have been a dress rehearsal!
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 15
San Bernardino Sun features editor John Weeks has a public breakdown, leading off his column with this not-so-hidden cry for help: “I am so angry I can’t think straight.” Even in his admittedly diminished state, however, Weeks remains a real newspaperman, which is to say, thoroughly committed to accuracy . . . which is to say, the column that follows provides complete and unarguable proof that he really and truly cannot think straight. Weeks goes on a rant that boils down to this “nut” graph: “I am calling on the entire Inland Empire to band together to save the Mellowdears. We must not ignore their plight.” Most people naturally thought this was Weeks’ distraught response to the news that the U.S. Forest Service pulled twice as many marijuana plants from the San Bernardino National Forest this year than 2007. And most of us related: yes, we wondered, what would become of all the mellow dears who have been huffing all that herb? But Weeks was actually all whacked-out about a senior singing group called the Mellowdears, which was recently evicted from the Ontario mobile home park where they have been holding their rehearsals for almost 20 years. Which . . . ya know . . . is a real bummer. Totally.
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 18
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 17
It’s back to work, and Joe Lyons of the Inland Empire Business Journal looks in his closet for his analysis of a tumbling economy that is threatening to take the shirts off our backs. He reaches for one of several items bearing the image of his favorite Disney character—Grumpy—does a little anecdotal research, and discovers he’s far from the only person making this particular sartorial choice these days. And he begins to wonder: “What attracts people, especially adults, to Grumpy? Perhaps it’s the times we live in. After all, as the old chestnut goes, the difference between an optimist and a pessimist is that the pessimist is better informed.” And finally, Lyons comes up with this piece of financial advice for all of us: “Close out your stocks and 401K’s. Invest in Grumpy ware.”