Gary Webb: Pariah No More

Photo: Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images, Design: Dustin Ames

A few months after Gary Webb killed himself with his dad's old pistol, I stood shirtless in my back yard, staring at the full moon. The sky was black and cloudless, the moon blurry. Earlier that night, I'd poured myself several splashes of single-malt scotch. I shook my fist in the air and screamed.

I'd been a mess ever since Dec. 12, 2004, when the Sunday-morning edition of the Los Angeles Times hit my porch. As usual, I had opened the paper to the last page of the news section, where the Times tended to bury its most important stories. "Gary Webb, 49, wrote series linking CIA and drugs," read the headline, and suddenly I realized I was reading an obituary. Webb, the article stated, who "wrote a widely criticized series linking the CIA to the explosion of crack-cocaine in Los Angeles, was found dead in his Sacramento-area home Friday. He apparently killed himself."

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The Best in Orange County Sports and Athletics, 2014

Rickett & Sones

In honor of the recent release of our 2014 Best Of issue, we've compiled a list of the greatest sports and athletic activities Orange County has to offer. The winners range from professional to amateur with awards for the Best Gym, Best Angels Player and even pole dancing gets an award this year. Enjoy!

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Disneyland: The Gayest Place On Earth

Photo: Austen Risolvato | Rendering: Dustin Ames

Two young men are walking down Disneyland's Main Street on a chilly September evening, holding hands. The older one is wearing a flamboyant blue kimono with a dragon emblazoned on the back. He shows no signs of nervousness as he tries to comfort his companion, who's dressed simply in a pair of pants and a shirt. Escorted by half a dozen security guards, they make their way toward the park's entrance.

The guards are unhappy, their faces stern. They direct the two men to the office, located next to the entrance gate, just inside the park. It's dark out, and most of the crowd--younger couples out on a Saturday-night date--are still deep inside Disneyland. But the night is over for this pair.

The date is Sept. 13, 1980, and 19-year-old Andrew Exler and 17-year-old Shawn Elliott are about to be thrown out of the park because they wanted to dance.

With each other.

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Down and Out With Deportees in Tijuana

Andrew Galvin
Exterior of Casa del Migrante, Tijuana

Armando is my third interviewee of the night, the one I want to write about. Unlike some of the other deportees, he doesn't seem beaten down by his fate. He smiles a lot and exudes confidence. His black hair is pulled into a tight ponytail. He brings a lightness to our conversations that the others can't. He seems as though he'd be a fun companion for a road trip back to his home in Mexico--with me driving him there.

We're sitting in an office at Tijuana's Casa del Migrante, a shelter for working men who just got booted from the United States and are either waiting to cross the border again or wondering how to go back home to their pueblos. I'm behind a desk. Armando is in a chair, facing me.

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Meet OC & LA Law Enforcement's Favorite Rats!

Illustration by Luke McGarry

Anthony Calabrese suffered no vision problems and wasn't a moron in September 2012, but the 23-year-old college student couldn't have known he had just seen a mirage inside the Orange County Jail (OCJ). Only a madman would think law enforcement officers had staged an elaborate, multi-hour, multi-pronged con game aimed at prompting him--one of 6,000 local detainees--to inadvertently forfeit his constitutional right to not self-incriminate. But Anaheim police detectives and sheriff's deputies anxious to solve a March 2007, drive-by murder indeed targeted Calabrese, whom they suspected of Barrio Small Town gang membership, for trickery.

The notorious Mexican Mafia ruthlessly reigns over all major Latino gangs in Southern California and, according to law enforcement officials, maintains a no-drive-by shootings policy; any affiliate who violates it without their permission suffers severe repercussions. Because deputies believed Calabrese might have violated the no-drive-by policy when he allegedly killed rival Citron Street gangster Armando Hernandez, and because a recovered "green light list"--a gang document detailing the identities of individuals to be attacked on sight--included Calabrese's name, they placed him in protective custody. Calabrese's housing location away from the general inmate population also--not accidentally--gave officers an easier forum to employ their secret weapon: a pair of ratas.

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Tom Tait Is Anaheim's Mayor In the Middle

Illustration by Kevin McVeigh

A portrait of Max Strobel hangs in a hall on the seventh floor of Anaheim's City Hall, just outside the mayor's office. The aged black-and-white photograph of the city's first mayor, elected in 1870, is one of dozens of photos of the men who've held the job over the past century and a half. White whiskers recalling Walt Whitman and bushy Nietzschean mustaches from the 19th century fade into the clean-shaven mugs of the 20th; hairstyles and glasses reflect the passing decades. Big, tall, skinny, small, it's a smorgasbord of faces save for one thing: They are all white men.

The last portrait belongs to the current man in charge, Tom Tait. He's the end of this parade in ways both literal and symbolic. Thanks to white flight and a rising immigrant population, Latinos now make up 53 percent of Anaheim's population, while whites now constitute just 28 percent--half of what they were 20 years ago. A city once so reliably Republican that it gave Orange County its only U.S. senators (Thomas Kuchel and former mayor John Seymour) now has more registered Democrats than GOPers. And in a position where each mayor mirrored the establishment-friendly policies of their predecessors, the mild-mannered Tait turned into something no one expected when he was first elected in 2010: a populist.

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Where's the Beach? Orange County's War Over Public Sand

Cameron K. Lewis/OC Weekly

It's 7:02 on a recent summer evening, and the main gate at Strands Beach, located next to a parking lot on Selva Road on the north side of Dana Point Harbor, slams shut. The gate, which opens to the Strand at Headlands development, locks at this time every evening from May through September; from October to April, the gate shuts promptly at 5 p.m. Factoring in seasonal changes in daylight as well as daylight saving time, this means that no matter what time of year it is, the sun is still shining when the gate closes and blocks off the beach to all but the wealthy homeowners who live there. (Though there is public access less than 200 yards north of this gate.)

According to California's state constitution, the gate shouldn't even be there: All the sand below the high-tide line is public property, and access should be guaranteed to anyone. But over the past few decades, throughout the state--especially in places such as Malibu and South Orange County--you'd be forgiven for thinking the beach is for millionaires only: Well-heeled homeowners use everything from bogus no-parking or no-trespassing signs to private security firms to keep the public away.

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Randy Orbach, Paroled Stalker at Center of March Weekly Cover Story, is Arrested Again

Photo by John Gilhooley/OC Weekly
Randy Orbach, shown at home in Newport Heights earlier this year, swore prison reformed him.

So much for Randy Orbach's redemption song (allegedly). The parolee and subject of a Weekly cover story in March has been arrested on suspicion of making illegal contact with the ex-girlfriend whose complaints of being harassed sent Orbach to prison in March 2010.

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An A to Z Guide to Being Undocumented

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Term used by the federal government and legal system to refer to all immigrants, legal and otherwise, in the U.S. Also used by bigots (in combination with "illegal") to try to seem clever. Silly bigots!

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Toby G. Scammell Cops to Using Insider Info to Make Killing Off Disney Acquisition of Marvel

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Marvel's "The Avengers"
If Marvel needed a comic book villain who commits fraud, Scammell would be a fitting name.

The company learned this first hand thanks to the federal securities fraud prosecutions of 29-year-old Toby G. Scammell, who pleaded guilty Monday to having made about $192,000 in profits by purchasing Marvel Entertainment Inc. stock options immediately prior to its acquisition by the Walt Disney Co. in August 2009. The San Francisco resident now faces up to 25 years in federal prison.

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