Journalism's Best, uh, Deep Throat

Categories: Main, Moxley

Thirty days after April Fool's Day, Editor & Publisher magazine named Orange County Register boss Nelson Christian Anderson "Publisher of the Year" for the entire nation.

Though you may have laughed, that wasn't the inadvertent chuckle line about Anderson, who could pass as the father of both unruly Senior Deputy DA Brian Gurwitz and twin Newport Beach Superior Court Judge Craig Robison.

The magazine, through some doofus named Mark Fitzgerald, went on to assert this absurdity: "It's no exaggeration to say that an amorphous area known for Disneyland, orange groves, and pretty much nothing else, became 'The O.C' in large part because of the work of Chris Anderson and the Register . . ."

Well, if we're noting Orange County characteristics while Anderson's been sitting at his desk in Santa Ana with a calculator and worry beads, why not credit him with our beautiful sunsets, sandy beaches and surfer waves too?

Or our insane traffic congestion, sickening bigotry, corrupt cops, certifiable politicians, money-driven school administrators, vicious gangs, lazy bureaucrats, unchecked pollution and a journalism community so emanored with the powerful that it's favorite position requires knee pads and spit or lube.

(I've seen countless members of Anderson's reporting/editing crew apply either substance to satisfy local powerbrokers. Except for Mike Schroeder and Donald Bren--kings of all OC kings--who apparently reach ecstasy merely by the Reg staff assuming the position. Of course, no offense intended to Mike or you Reg folks I love and respect. You know who you are...)

Editor & Publisher went on to credit Anderson for personally taking "a mediocre daily" paper and making it great.

Hmmm.

Three quick points: Anderson presides over a website so difficult to navigate it should come with four Excedrin tablets and a cup of water. His news boys and girls rely on police press releases, insider gossip and Republican Party talking points for "news." Much of the best Reg reporting each year is done in spite of management.

The Reconquista Begins! (Book Edition)

The book version of ¡Ask a Mexican! officially hits stores mañana, but a quick look through the SanTana Barnes & Noble reveals it's already in stock. In anticipation of it, I've done mucho interviews in the past week--and it's only begun. Below is a quick run-down:

San Antonio Current

Rocky Mountain Chronicle

Squeeze OC (yes, you read right: our sworn enemy is nice enough to cover us--gracias!

La Bloga (bad-ass blog devoted to Latino writers)

Reuters

More to come. In the meanwhile, buy my book!

Schou Mug Shot Hits LA Times

Categories: Main, Moxley

Yes, OC Weekly investigative reporter Nick Schou got his mug shot in today's Los Angeles Times. No, he wasn't participating again in a riot, peeking inside an undercover DEA 18-wheeler or even driving solo in the HOV lane.

A year or so ago, Schou thought it'd be fun to perform his normal work duties, raise an infant son, pamper his beautiful wife, teach a journalism class at UCI and write a book. Sure, he looks like a zombie most days now and is often heard mumbling to himself, but he can point to all his accomplishments including the acclaimed, "Kill The Messenger: How the CIA's Crack-Cocaine Controversy Destroyed Journalist Gary Webb."

Back to why his pic appears in today's LA Times: He's one of the featured book authors at the paper's wonderful Festival of Books. See him at 1 p.m. in Moore 100 on the "Journalism: Getting the Story" panel moderated by Miles Corwin.

Schou isn't the only person who multitasks each day at OC Weekly's world headquarters. The unstoppable Gustavo Arellano will also travel north today but not to talk about food, sports, movies, his lovely girlfriend, tequila, Catholic Church sex scandals or his near monopolization of talk radio. He'll dish about the subject that made him nationally famous two years ago (with loving guidance, of course, from then OCW-editor Will Swaim).

Gustavo is the epitome of good timing. On Tuesday, Scribner publishes his book, "Ask A Mexican." Today, he'll be on the "Crossing the Border: Immigrant Lives" festival panel at 2:30 p.m. in Schoenberg Hall. In coming weeks, he'll face Sean Hannity on Fox.

Other OC-related authors featured at the UCLA-based weekend festival include Hugh Hewitt, T. Jefferson Parker, Barry Siegel, Barbara DeMarco-Barrett, Don Winslow and Jon Wiener.


Toll Road to Ruin, Chapter 11

Categories: Main, Moxley

This month Orange County's bumbling Transportation Corridors Agency (TCA) devised yet another new plan to solve its continual financial disaster woes: The government agency wants to change its name to the Transportation Corridor System (TCS).

Oh, and one other minor detail: They also want to spend an additional $4.7 BILLION in "speculative grade" debt for the 11-year-old 73 Toll Road that slices through Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, Irvine and Laguna Beach on the way south to I5.

Bend over baby: You're going to be paying even higher tolls!

A more accurate name for the new agency would be the Transportation Corridor Money Pit (TCMP) or the Agency for the Subtle Subsidization of Billionaire Real Estate Elitist Developers (ASSBREED), an explanation to follow.


In 1997, the Weekly predicted the 16-mile road would be a financial nightmare for at least four decades while the TCA, local politicians like Dana Rohrabacher and Chris Cox, the LA Times and the OC Register hailed the project as an international model. At one point, the Times put its banners on all the toll booths as a sign of support.

The mainstream media-political-corporate alliance that shilled for the 73 is one of the greatest frauds in OC history. At one point the road was supposed to cost less than $500 million. If the TCA borrows more money from Wall Street, the final cost of the project could someday easily exceed $15 billion. Talk about cost overruns...

The toll road was sold to the public as a way to decrease traffic congestion on the 405 and 5 freeways. It was a lie. The road was built at the request of Irvine Co. boss and political giant Donald Bren and his real estate development pals.

If the road has accomplished anything, it's this: it allowed Bren & Co. to green light dozens and dozens of residential and commercial projects they planned next to the passage. Massive amounts of new traffic from those developments quickly caused congestion on the road that was supposed to end congestion. Duh.

The same brain trust that sold us the 73 toll road wants to build another 16-mile toll road in South County.

If officials at the TCA, TCS, TCMP or ASSBREED continue their push for another publicly financed, private owned road (Wall Street investment houses are the owners until they bleed the road dry), at least be honest. It won't be to alleviate traffic. It will be to build more cookie cutter homes.


Daily Pilot Dimwit Disses Daniels

Categories: Main

As the world continues to react to yesterday's LA Times column by sports god Mike Penner about his decision to become Christine Daniels, leave it to Orange County to dick (pardon the pun) with her courageous story. Daily Pilot publisher Tom Johnson used his column today to announce changes in the Times' Newport Beach-Costa Mesa daily embarrasment and couldn't resist the opportunity for a dig at Daniels. "And, by the way, if you hear that I'm vacationing to Ireland in the next couple of weeks, know it's just for some golf and relaxation. I'll still be coming back as the same old Tom Johnson," the grinning fool snarks. Listen, pendejo: the least you can do is show some restraint in dealing with a colleague who's so much higher in the Times' hierarchy than you that she could sneeze on you and you'd think it's rain. But really: you should grovel at her feet and beg she doesn't slug you in disgust. To paraphrase that gay guy in Car Wash: Christine is more man than you'll ever be, and more woman than you'll ever get.

But Johnson's insult against Daniels is far from the worst information in his column. Apparently, Page One--the hallowed section of any daily paper, the place where reporters reserve the best, the most explosive news of the day--will now host a weather box. A fucking weather box. What's worse, each day will feature a new kiddie artist. Really, Johnson: do you have so little respect for your reporters that you're allowing the paper to become the county's version of The Mini-Page?

Laguna Beach Cops Justified in Resort Killings?

Categories: Crime-iny

moxley1.gifHighly reliable law enforcement sources gave OC Weekly access to audio tape recordings from Sunday's police killing of two guests at the ritzy Laguna Beach Montage Resort & Spa.

The audio reveals that the city's police officers repeatedly pleaded with Kevin and Joni Park to put down a gun they'd brought to their $2,200-a-night oceanfront bungalow. Both ignored the police orders. Oddly, the woman even asked officers to call police.

The officers, who must have been spooked, told Joni that they were the police. But their word apparently meant nothing. The nude 48-year-old woman, who was covered in sun tan lotion, refused to put down her gun and screamed for the cops to shoot her. Multiple shots were heard as she fell to the hotel room floor.

If the audio accurately depicts the event, the shooting was likely legitimate. The question remains: Why did the Laguna Beach police stonewall for so long about what happened? It seems they had nothing to hide.

The second unfolding mystery had been: Who were the two celebrities staying at the Montage during the shooting? Sources say David Sedaris and Tom Selleck.

Beers on Mike Penner/Christine Daniels

Categories: Main

Gustavo's note: Today, LA Times sports reporter Mike Penner announced he was undergoing a sex-change operation and returning in a couple of weeks as a woman. Here is Weekly theater critic Joel Beers' take on it...

Nearly 20 years ago, when I was a fledgling professional journalist at my first paid gig at Orange County's last daily afternoon newspaper, the Anaheim Bulletin, I wrote a piece exploring the media's role, if any, in the suicide of former Angels closer Donnie Moore. It was my first "big" story for the paper, and I was understandably nervous interviewing people whose baseball cards I still owned: Reggie Jackson, Bert Blyleven, Carlton Fisk.

I worked hard on the story, and was proud of it. And that pride was vindicated when co-worker John Penner casually remarked to me after the piece came out that Mike Penner, his brother and LA Times Angels' beat writer, had told him it was one of the best pieces that he'd ever read in the Bulletin. (I believe Mike wrote for the Bulletin before moving on to the Times).

For a novice journalist, it was just about the greatest compliment I could ever have received.
As a daily reader of the Times sports page over the years, I've obviously read Penner's writing—and not just because he once gave me a wondrous third-party ego stroke. I just always liked the spark in his writing, his wit and his use of language. And I always wondered why he seemed to bounce from beat to beat but never got what would seem to me the choicest of assignment: columnist.

Penner's done a lot: covered the Olympics, wrote about media, NFL lead writer. But, after 23 years, it'd seem he'd be a dean of the Times sports section as opposed to just another very good writer in a section that has a lot of them. (His most recent post is Morning Briefing, which is a fun read, but still a bit slight for a writer of such talent).

But the bombshell he dropped in today's Times is as provocative, stunning and just flat-out jaw-dropping as anything I've ever read in a sports page. Penner, reciting the many roles and titles he's played in his 23-year tenure at the Times, says that he's going on vacation. When he returns, he'll come back in yet another incarnation: Christine Daniels. Penner reports that he's a transsexual sportswriter and that, after 40 years, "a million tears" and "hundreds of hours of soul-wrenching therapy" he's made the monumental decision to come out in print.

He doesn't give many details: whether he'll undergo surgery, whether he fears being ostracized in the newsroom or in a locker room, why he's changing both his first and last names. And he doesn't "need" to, since it's his body, his identity and all that.

But, since he/she did use the Times sports page as his official unveiling, it's natural to hope that some kind of update on the transformation, or process, will be forthcoming. He says that, "almost universally" friends and colleagues have been supportive. But sportswriters cover sports, which remains a testosterone-riddled, hairy-chest-dominated world. While there is no shortage of pretty feminine faces on NFL sidelines, TV sports anchor chairs and the like, they remain anomalies in a field absolutely dominated by men. Men who mostly cover other men in a protracted state of arrested development and who, one surmises, revel in a locker room mentality that might promote snapping towels at a colleague's private parts but who would blanch at the prospect of a thoughtful, measured discussion of sexual identity, gender identity and all the complications thereof. In other words: Penner will return to a good old boys club as a woman. But a woman with a big-ass asterisk in the world of sports and sportswriting.

Good luck to him/her. It took extraordinary courage to take this incredibly personal decision and write about it in one of the most public of forums. As someone who's followed his career for so long, I'm obviously fascinated by how he progresses. But I'm equally fascinated by how this agonizing struggle, and apparently liberating decision, has affected Lisa Dillman, Penner's wife the Times' main Olympics writer. She isn't mentioned in today's column, but maybe it's too sensitive a point. I don't know. [Editor's note: Dillman recently announced she's divorcing Penner.] But they still work together at the Times, and whether it's some weird sort of morbid curiosity or genuine concern, I'd love to know her take on all this. What's it like to live with a man who constantly wrestled with his gender and, compounding that, what's it like to be a female sportswriter married to a male sportswriter who wasn't so male after all? How much agony did she go through in the marriage, and in this decision process? Does she feel cheated in any way? What's it like to fall in love and marry a man who secretly wrestled with being a woman? It's salacious, yes, but also profoundly interesting. And these are writers. Good writers. And it'd be a great read.

Not that any of us "deserve" to know. It's obviously personal and private. But the fact Penner/Daniels has come out in public print, puts it in the public eye. And as awkward, uncomfortable and superfluous as this incredibly personal story might play on a sports page, it's still a fascinating one. While I'll be the first to pre-order Penner/Daniels' autobiography, I hope this isn't the last readers hear of this incredible story.

T. J. Simers writes ad nauseam about his family in his frequently engaging column, but not since Jim Murray's heartbreaking testimonials 25 years ago on his failing eyesight and the death of his beloved wife, has a sports column in the Times felt at intimate and naked as this one. The Times, for all its problems, still has one of the best-written and most comprehensive sports sections in the country. It's also suddenly—jaw-droppingly so—gotten far more interesting.


MORE FROM STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN

Categories: Main

During his interview with OC Weekly, Austin touched on numerous subjects beyond his new movie career. There wasn't room enough to cover all of them in print; here, for the fans, he offers up some additional uncensored opinions.

On rumors of a WWE-brand beer: Oh, we were going to come out with a beer. And then we were in the middle of research & development and I even went down to Rochester, NY, to the place where we was gonna make the beer and participated in some of the testing and tasting and stuff like that. I can't remember what happened back then, but there was a difference of opinions between, I guess, me and Vince [McMahon] at the time, and we never came out with it, but were certainly going to. You never know… Maybe there's one down the road.

Kicking Donald Trump's ass at WrestleMania: Donald Trump was a class act. I think him doing business was good for us, and him doing business with us was good for him. It was to his credit that he took a Stone Cold Stunner. I take my hat off to the guy. He was wonderful to work with.

That scene in The Longest Yard where he beats Nelly up and uses the N-word: It was a very uncomfortable situation, because in using the language that I used, there was obviously a little bit of tension on the set. But that's what the script called for and that's what we did. It got a little old pretty quick. But it was all for the movie, and everybody after that point was happy-go-lucky again, but it was a tough day at the office.

Working with former WWE wrestler Nathan Jones again, this time onscreen: You know, Nathan Jones was a big Stone Cold fan. I remember when he came to WWE, he would stand in the middle of the ring before Monday Night Raw and he'd cut promos on me that he'd memorized for years and years and years. And when I went to Australia, there was Nathan Jones, he's trying to cut that same promo verbatim, word for word. It was incredible. It was funny. Nathan was a sweetheart of a guy… he's 6'11", 320 lbs. Yeah, we turned it up, when it was just me and him, we turned it up because we were both from the background that we have. Everybody else was treated with a little more care but me and Nathan Jones went at each other. But we took care of each other.

His "WHAT?" catchphrase, and how to counteract it: You know, there's a deal with that. I had so much fun doing that. Who would have known that it would have turned into what it would have turned into? All you do, if you're cutting a promo and don't want that "What!?!" chant to happen is you just change your cadence. You take out that little hesitation, that little pause, you don't give 'em room to insert that "What!?!"… and you continue accordingly. That's all there is too it. Pick up the cadence and hold back on the pauses.

Fellow Texan beer-guzzler and Smackdown superstar John "Bradshaw" Layfield: Let me tell you somethin'. We've been on so many overseas tours, where we're ridin' that tour bus and everybody's kind of goin' to sleep or playin' video games and me and ol' JBL are sittin' there sluggin' 'em back. And lemme tell ya somethin'… we never turned it into a contest because it would have been too brutal, but he's a guy who enjoys his beers just like I do. And when you're on tour, you're supposed to drink beer! That's what pro wrestling's all about! And he's a great, great drinking partner and I love to listen to him do his commentary on Smackdown. I think the guy's hilarious.

Potential wrestling mega-stars of the future: It remains to be seen. Right now, if Ken Kennedy can put it together, he's the guy that can do it. Right now, John Cena's doing wonderful, but at my level? He's not there… he's doing wonderful where he's at. But my level was the highest level that it's ever been and I don't see that happening in the near future. I want it to happen, though, especially for the lucky individual that it happens to.

Current WWE champion John Cena, and the mixed reaction he gets from fans: It's interesting. I've got respect for the guy, for the shoes that he's walking in. The girls and the kids love him, but your older guys seem to boo him. That being said, I don't care what they do… he's still their top guy. Right now, he's their top guy by far. To me, he's carrying the company and I think he's really responsible for the huge youth movement that they're seeing right now. Lots of kids. Probably the biggest kid fanbase that they've had in a long time. And he's great business for corporate sponsors, because he's got the good image, he says the right things, he looks the right way. He's got a lot going on for himself.

Brock Lesnar, "The Next Big Thing": He could have been, but he dropped the ball and decided he wanted to play football and was tired of livin' on the road. I like Brock. I wish him well. If he's happy with his decision, then more power to him. I tend to think that he'd like to come back.

The Rock's claim that it's important to lose as many matches as you win, to create a sense of jeopardy: First of all, that's bullshit. The Rock never went up to Vince McMahon and said, "I need to lose more matches." Ever. Now, I will say that when I first came to this company as The Ring Master, I got beat like a drum… and deservedly so. I was a nobody, I was a mechanic. And I was a guy… I could have good matches with top guys, but top guys needed to beat me. I loved being in the ring with The Rock. I have nothing bad to say about him, and nothing but good things to say about him, but let me tell you somethin'… there's no way that Rock ever went to Vince and said, "I need to lose more matches, so that people will think there's some jeopardy." I will guarantee you that.

Wearing a suit for the Hall of Fame, after refusing to ever do so in character: You go to the Hall of Fame, and I'm so happy to go every year, because of my love for the business and my respect for the guys who paved the way for cats like me and everybody else… Stone Cold Steve Austin is never gonna be a corporate guy in a WWE storyline. But in showing respect to the guys that were the best of the best, I'll wear a tuxedo any day of the week, to get out there and hang out with those guys, pay my respects and certainly, above and beyond, to be able to induct somebody into the Hall of Fame. It's a very big honor to be a part of that. You have to act and dress accordingly.

Former WCW head honcho Eric Bischoff,who fired him for not being marketable enough, and now says Austin should thank him for it: Well, I was mad when they fired me, but it was the best thing that ever happened to me. And he's right. Me and Eric buried the hatchet a long time ago. We're not around each other anymore, but when he was up on Monday Night Raw, Eric likes to drink beer, so we'd always have a few drinks after Monday Night Raw. The guy did what he needed to do back then, thought he needed to do and… they walked out, and it went really well for me. So I have absolutely no hard feelings towards Eric. He's actually a real funny guy.

The revived, McMahon-owned ECW: You know, I love all of the programming that the WWE tries to do, but it's such a diluted product from the original idea. That being said, the original idea being as violent and aggressive as it was, you know, I don't know how you run a promotion like that. I'm just glad that they've still got a show and the guys are still out there, getting a benefit from it, getting some TV time. I think there are guys that are always gonna have that kind of a ring style that's more conducive to a show like ECW, moreso than the traditional storytelling style, like a Ric Flair. So I think it's a good platform for a lot of guys, but certainly not too reminiscent of the original ECW...I'll never forget the day after I got fired from WCW. Paul Heyman was on the phone the next day. "Steve, come up here and go to work for us." "I can't, Paul. My arm's hurt." "You ain't gotta work, just come over and cut promos." "Really?" "Yeah!" There I was, the next week. Phildelphia. ECW was a good place for me. Someone finally put a microphone in front of my face and gave me camera time. Paul E. Dangerously, one of the best promos ever cut. He's puttin' me in front of the camera and says, "Go ahead." I said, "Well, I don't know what to talk about." He goes, "Just talk." And I did. We're coming out with a new DVD, coming out at Christmas, and there should be some of the promos I'm talking about on there. Things that were a big part of the Stone Cold that was yet to come. And Paul E. Dangerously, we used to travel together, me, him, Rick Rude. I loved the psychology of the business, his great mind and he was always good to me and ECW was a great place for me. And I'm grateful that he gave me that opportunity because it helped me to get into the WWF.

TNA wrestling, and their six-sided ring: I think that shape of ring… Strike that… I don't like that shape one bit. It just ain't pro wrestling. I enjoy people tryin' things, but when things ain't workin', retry or go back to what wrestling was made to be, in a 4-sided ring. The old squared circle. That's what people wanna see. That's what pro wrestling is. Put Ric Flair in that ring. Could he have a match? Yeah, but I don't wanna see Ric Flair in a ring like that. I dunno what Dusty Rhodes'd do in a ring like that or Jake the Snake Roberts. I damn sure don't know what I'd do in it. That being said, I wish TNA luck, because I want competition. But I think if they got rid of that ring and went to a squared ring, they could have more success. And I'm glad those guys have jobs and I wish 'em all safe health, good health and lots of money. And I wish all the people behind TNA all the success in the world, because competition's only gonna make them better and the WWE better and it's gonna give more boys more jobs.

'Fags Die' Killer Wins Court Point

Categories: Crime-iny, Moxley

Party animal/prostitute/tree trimmer Gregory Pisarcik had hoped an OC jury would see him as the victim of his, well, dead victim, a retired gay INS agent. It didn't work out that way. More and more, juries here aren't buying the "gay panic" defense, and now the 28-year-old killer is in prison. But good news comes to those who wait.

Last week, the state court of appeal based in Santa Ana overturned Superior Court Judge Frank F. Fasel's sentencing decision. The appellate court said Fasel must reward Pisarcik two days of credit for time served in the OC Jail before he was shipped to prison. We can only guess what Pisarcik would do with those two new days of freedom.

In 2002, he picked up Narciso Leggs at a Laguna Beach gay bar, went with him to Leggs' Tustin apartment, stripped and then proved Hannibal Lecter a cuddly kitten. He viciously clubbed, hogtied, mutilated, robbed and then murdered the 55-year-old known for his sweet disposition and charitable attitude. Pisarcik wrote "FAGS DIE" on Leggs' back, shoved a huge industrial flashlight deep into his rectum, cut off his ears and urinated on the dying man. Next, he walked to the kitchen refrigerator, got something to eat and showered, forensic evidence proved.

Days after the killing, Ventura County cops saw Pisarcik driving Leggs' car. A dramatic, televised highway chase ended at a farm with the defendant surrounded, threatening suicide and smoking a final bowl of meth. When he was caputured, he told police, "Don't put me in with the homos. I'm not a homo. That's why I killed him. I am not a homo."

Of course, life now for Pisarcik is nothing but raining men. Even worse, the two days' credit the court awarded him is essentially meaningless. Judge Fasel had sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole plus two years.

Now the punishment is life plus one year and 363 days.

Pisarcik had also asked the justices to overturn his conviction because of alleged "insufficiency of evidence" and prosecutorial misconduct by Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy—one of the best homicide prosecutors in California. The state court entertained those arguments too, and then quickly dismissed them.



REMINDER: "PAPRIKA" TONIGHT AT THE NEWPORT BEACH FILM FEST

Categories: Film and TV

Don't miss out on Satoshi Kon's newest anime masterpiece, tonight at 7 p.m. at the Lido Theater, a full month before anyone else in the country gets to see it.

More info here, but it looks like tickets are only available at the box office, not online.

And no, Satoshi didn't pay us to plug his flick. It's just that damn good.

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