The Rundown

By Allen David

Posted June 2, 2011 in News


Wait! Do I detect the scent of a partial solution to Riverside Sheriff’s Department’s $60 million budget gap in the air? Does it seem that Riverside County Supervisors Marion Ashley and Jeff Stone, County Executive Officer Bill Luna and Chief Financial Officer Ed Corser are getting a whiff of it, too? Cagily, nobody’s talking—nobody except Riverside Sheriff Stan Sniff. And you know what they say—he who smelt it, dealt it. And they are apparently right. Sniff admitted that he “sketched out” a proposal that would narrow the $60 million deficit to $17 million and would eliminate the need for large-scale, immediate layoffs. Sniff had the makings of a stinkin‘ grin on his face as he described what he had been working on internally. Finally, he just came out with it. “I floated the idea that seemed to resonate in the room,” Sniff said proudly. The look on everybody else’s face left no doubt about that. But Sniff seemed certain that this was more than his own hot air; that his inhaling of the early strains of a triumph that could be shared by all. A week after things looked so dire, he seemed to believe that he was going to come out of this smelling good. Of course, your own always do.




Gil Scott-Heron dies today in New York, but the world doesn’t know it yet. His transition has not been televised.


The 99 Cent Only stores are pretty hard-core about adhering to the pricing policy laid out in their name—unlike, say, the Motel 6 chain, which raised the price on the half-dozen dollars they used to charge for their rooms . . . ohhhh . . . I think way back in the 7th century. Or J.C. Penney, which everybody used to just call Penney’s, but which was named for their founder and not for their prices. Or Big O tires, which turn out not to be free. But today we find a little crack in the 99 Cent Only guarantee, too. Turns out it only applies inside their stores, not out in their parking lots, and certainly not under circumstances in which you leave your car in the lot of the Yucaipa store on a very hot day with the windows rolled up and the doors locked—and your 2-year-old kid inside for 40 freakin‘ minutes! And the fact that the kid was secured in a car seat and that you spent the entire 40 minutes shopping at the 99 Cent Only store do not count as mitigating factors—not when somebody calls the cops, and San Bernardino Sheriff’s deputies see the 2-year-old covered in his own sweat and waste and have to break into the car, where the temperature was more than 90 degrees, and Yucaipa firefighters have to treat him for possible dehydration. Under those circumstances, when you come traipsing back to your car with bags full of 99 Cent Only crap, you will find yourself in deep and very expensive shit. Like, arrested on suspicion of willful cruelty to a child and facing bail that is more than 100,000 times more expensive than the costliest item in that store. And yet, somehow, some people will think that’s not expensive enough. In fact, lots of people. How about, everybody?


We get the news about Gil Scott-Heron’s death two days ago—at the outset of Memorial Day Weekend, which I’m wishing were more poetic than it is feeling . . . but maybe that’s the poem. I saw Scott-Heron perform twice in my life—and, I guess, his, too. Both were very shocking experiences. Scott-Heron was late and thin and ashy, worn in ways only the pipe can wear you, and yet his voice still blazed, like how fire sometimes springs, full-on, when somebody stirs what look like dead embers. (What is that, anyway, when fire does that? Some kind of weird scientific reaction? Or a cosmic reward to whoever has whatever it is that gets them to stir what look like dead embers?) Anyway, both times I saw Scott-Heron I spent most of both shows wondering whether Scott-Heron’s addicted, disintegrating condition was a betrayal of his wise-and-furious-and-funny lyrics or whether it validated them. Both, I decided. Who was or am I to pass judgment on Gil Scott-Heron? In case you have forgotten or just never knew, there was a time when, if you truly wanted the world’s long-hidden to be revealed, if you were truly ready for the world’s long habits to be rethought, Gil Scott-Heron could show you, provoke you, shock you, set you to thinking deeply about what you never could have imagined considering—and doing it with an anger so truthful it was ultimately pure love.


Turns out it’s not just the revolution—nothing consequential is being televised. I’m not even that fired up about Game 1 of the NBA finals tonight.


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