By Allen David
Like a mini Queen Mary sitting like a huge embarrassment in a mini Long Beach harbor, an 84-foot, 93-ton side-paddle boat named the Princess is marooned in mud and weeds on the shores of Lake Elsinore. The punch line to this scenario—and although the punch was telegraphed, it looks like it will be a knockout—is that in 1999 a group of Lake Elsinore investors spent $87,000 to truck the Princess from Long Beach. But their plans to create a sightseeing attraction by giving grand tours of the lake never left the dock. It’s sad end for a ship with a storied history—built with a glass bottom and underwater lights by chewing-gum magnate William Wrigley in the 1920s for tours of Catalina Island and used for parties attended by the likes of Jimmy Stewart and J. Edgar Hoover (reportedly ravishing in a low-back evening dress with sequins that were the perfect light-catching compliment to his badge)—but it looks like it’s going to get sadder. The glass bottom was covered with planks more than 50 years ago, and Stewart and Hoover are dead. The Princess is, too, but it looks like she’s not going to be allowed to rest in peace until she provides one more disappointment. The Lake Elsinore Princess Foundation wants to raise $1 million to fix her. But pewter pins that originally sold for $7 now cost whatever you want to pay. Somebody has suggested that a pro basketball player may want to help, because, you know, that rotting hulk is “like the Mona Lisa or the Eiffel Tower.”
THURSDAY, JULY 19
My cell phone suddenly ceases to take a charge, necessitating two trips to the phone store at the mall, then a third race-against-time drive four cities away to get the thing replaced. Along the way, various attendants have to get into my account and ask me for my password, which is “Batman” (which is soon not to be “Batman,” now that I’ve written it here), which embarrasses me again.
FRIDAY, JULY 20
At 9:15 p.m., Weekly editor Roberto C. Hernandez receives an email from Ross French at UC Riverside with a subject box that reads: “Statement from UC Riverside Regarding James Eagan Holmes.” The body of the e-mail says, “James Eagan Holmes — DOB 12/13/87,” and then continues, “The University of California, Riverside can confirm that a person by this name graduated from UCR with a BS in neuroscience in the Spring of 2010. His last known address was in San Diego.” At 9:48 p.m., Hernandez forwards me the e-mail, introducing it by writing, “Mr. David, Read this weird, cryptic email from UCR below…it sounded weird and cryptic until I Googled the guy and came up with this…” Hernandez includes a link to the website of CBS News. When I click it, this headline appears: James Holmes, 24, identified as suspect in deadly mass shooting at Aurora, Colo., movie theater. It is followed by a story that begins with a paragraph that reads, “The suspect apprehended in the mass shooting at a suburban Denver movie theater has been identified as James Eagan Holmes, 24, law enforcement sources told CBS News correspondent Bob Orr,” and concludes with these two sentences: “The mother [said] Holmes couldn’t find a job after graduating from a public university in California. The University of California, Riverside, confirmed to CBS News that Holmes graduated in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience.”
SATURDAY, JULY 21
The people who say stronger laws and restrictions on gun possession wouldn’t have prevented a wack-job like James Holmes from attacking people in a movie theatre are correct. But the body count would have been much lower if people couldn’t own anything worse than a shotgun and a six-shooter.
SUNDAY, JULY 22
At a big rally in Aurora, people are told this mass murder will not be what the city is ultimately known for. If I had just lost a family member, and some politician told me that . . . well, now is when I get to be grateful—and that politician, too—that I did not just lose a family member.
MONDAY, JULY 23
As rumored, James Eagan Holmes’ hair was Batman-villain orange when he went comic-book on a movie theatre packed for the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises. That’s how he wears it at his first court hearing, anyway.
TUESDAY, JULY 24
Closure-watch: Who will be the first person to say it?