By Allen David
My, oh, my, how I fear for the fate of Dug Begley. Sure, being the designated road rage-aholic of the Inland Empire otherwise known as the transportation columnist for the Press-Enterprise—is prestigious, and the pay is undoubtedly great . . . especially per-word, since there are only 278 of those in today’s column. Can you call 278 words a column? I’d call it a lead, although not to Dug’s face, which is already showing so much strain in his mug shot that his shirt collar looks like a blood-pressure cuff. And now Dug’s gone and gotten himself all hot and bothered again, this time about all the texting that’s going while people—especially young people—are supposed to be devoting all of their attention to driving. Duggy quotes a study by an organization he calls the California Office of Traffic Safety, which finds that while cell phone use by drivers is up across all age groups, it doubled—from 9 percent to 18 percent—for drivers between 16 and 25 years of age. What a fuss and ruckus that set off Dug. No, he does not pretend to be perfect. He acknowledges that he has “done it . . . picked up my phone and answered it or read a text while behind the wheel.” But he quickly dilutes his guilt. “We’ve all slipped, I think,” he says. And then . . . well . . . then he makes a weird request: “So take me out back and flog me.” Getting no volunteers on that one, Dug gets back on topic—and his high horse. “I don’t do it anymore,” he says using a phone while driving, “especially now that it is illegal.” And so now we have it. Dug isn’t so much bothered by the safety hazard as he is by the law breaking, by his craving for obedience. And yet, he seems to concede that his case is hopeless. Society has slid too far down the slippery slope to hell. “What do you do when you see someone texting while driving?” Dug Begley ponders. “I know some people honk their horns or yell. If that makes you feel better, go for it. What do I care?” Umm, ya think we should call somebody?
THURSDAY, MAY 10
Cal State San Bernardino economics major Natalie Dorado enters her eighth day without food, along with about a dozen other students from Cal State University campuses throughout the state who are protesting the system’s policies with a hunger strike. That’s what they’re calling it, anyway—a hunger strike, in which they pledge to go without solid food until the CSU meets their list of demands. But it has turned into a crash diet—that is, the students’ hopes to affect change have crashed into the brick wall of disinterest.
FRIDAY, MAY 11
Natalie Dorado and the other members of Students for Quality Education calls off its hunger strike/crash diet this afternoon. That list of demands, which ranged from tuition freezes to pay rollbacks for CSU administration? “While none of (the hunger strikers’) demands were met,” the group said, “they feel this phase of their campaign was a victory.” Dorado, for instance, lost 12 pounds.
SATURDAY, MAY 12
Lakers win Game 7.
SUNDAY, MAY 13
Clippers win Game 7.
MONDAY, MAY 14
The $9.2 billion budget deficit that was projected for California government is re-estimated at $15.7 billion, and it seems certain that the anticipated cutbacks will fall most heavily on the poor and the sick—but when Gov. Jerry Brown describes the fiscal picture confronting the state as “a pretzel palace of incredible complexity,” well, it almost seems worth it.
TUESDAY, MAY 15
The organizers of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival still haven’t finished counting the money they made across two weekends last month—apparently, they reached the end of all known numbers and have been delayed while mathematicians think up some more—but that doesn’t stop them from releasing ticket prices for next year’s event. In the spirit of the times, the prices are expensive. A general admission pass will be $349; a general admission wristband with a shuttle pass is $399; a VIP pass is $799; car camping is $85; tent camping is $85; a companion parking pass (overnight parking spot for friends camping) is $30; VIP parking is $150; shuttle passes are $50 and $80, for local and Palm Springs. Luxury camping packages that include tickets for the festival come in at $2,000 and $2,900 for two people and $3,400 and $5,200 for four people. Yep, that’s expensive, all right. But unlike the poor and sick, there is always enough money for tickets to Coachella.