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The County Formerly Known as 'Orange'Roger Butow Salem-News.com's 'Odd Man Out'
“Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true, or is it something worse?” -The River by Bruce Springsteen
(LAGUNA BEACH, Calif.) - With the dawn of a new decade, Orange County residents should reflect on what a blessing it is to live around here, what a miraculous job the Irvine Company, Henry Segerstrom, the Mission Viejo and Aliso Viejo Corporations plus the O’Neill and Moiso gangs et al have accomplished.
In the latter half of the 20th Century they managed to pave over paradise. Of course they had assistance, what with the willing, greedy, hands-out-what’s-in-it-for-me-attitude of the incestuous Republican political structure.
It wasn’t an easy job, this was well thought out and no fluke, but hey, somebody had to do it, right?
How can you not be grateful, even if the American Dream turned out to be an air-conditioned, gridlocked, contaminated nightmare?
What we need now during the recovery cycle is some spin, some management, some New Age damage control which enables us to repackage, to whore ourselves to the next generation of suckers while interest rates are incredibly low. Maybe one of those billionaire self-help, spiritual materialists we’re renowned for could assist us.
There’s no more fitting example of suburban entropy, the downside and insidious underbelly of white flight, than the broken promises of once-upon-a-time idyllic yet oxymoronic "sustainable development." Doubly true here among the bygone verdant slopes of formerly bucolic South Orange County.
So what better way to celebrate this new era than reinventing, rebranding ourselves as a hip County? Recording artists like Sean Combs and Prince do this by renaming themselves every few years to resuscitate or stimulate their careers. Around here they simply coined a phrase for media outlets, The OC, to fulfill that marketing ploy. Of course, 25 years ago who would of believed that an ecological dump like Fontana would be part of The Inland Empire? Quintessentially Hollywood, put a “The” in front of anything and you have the vapid So Cal cachet incarnate.
Actually, it’s hype not hip we seek as the last few acres of commercial orange groves were plowed under by the Irvine Valley Community College School District Board some 10 years ago and replaced by strawberry fields. Why? Because strawberries earn more per acre and it fit the trustee’s future revenue model. Oranges, what oranges, we don’t need no stinking oranges!
Our wonderful, bought-and-paid-for-by-developer cartel-campaign contribution-bling OC Board of Supervisors should embrace it, there’s no more apropos symbol (think Prince and his imaginary, unpronounceable moniker) we could come up with than the dollar sign: $$$ COUNTY, ingeniously simple to recollect-----Unlike our fading memories of citrus groves that stretched for miles.
Since there are no more oranges, we’re a rudderless and ill-defined ship anyway, so why keep those 3 fat juicers and green stem attached so prominently displayed in our logo, why not 3 dollar signs? Why not go one step further, re-phrase that Pete Seeger folk tune about death and Voila!, the new theme song: “Where Have All The Oranges Gone?” Gone to developer’s bulldozers, each and every one.
Perhaps Pink Floyd would sell us the rights to their seminal tune Money with its defining sound of cash registers ringing: “Ka-Ching!” I mean, how many dying counties have theme songs, let alone catchy ones by dying, seminal fusion bands? Nonetheless, we need to create an optimistic campaign strategy that promotes what we’ve destroyed. Eat your hearts out Wall Street, and Florida, you can keep your navel mascot. .
Ground Zero for the rape of our previous incarnation is cookie cutter Irvine, a planned community that puts Daly City’s little boxes made of ticky-tacky to shame. Sure it’s the safest place in the USA regarding crime, but it’s also among the most boring and bland, built over those same citrus and lima bean fields of mythological lore. Its homeowners are vacuous, hollow people who voluntarily gave up parking motor homes in their own driveways or putting basketball hoops for the kids on their garage roofs years ago-----All in the name of tranquil homogenization. If you can’t hide it or cram it into your back yard with camouflage netting, then you don’t get to have it. And their elected officials LOVE sleeping with developers, they really really do.
Many in the OC actually believe that these land rapists have given back a lot of precious open space because they have (don't laugh) a conscience. This is a blatant lie, propagated by the media. These developers hand over seemingly valuable acreage to prominent NGO conservancies because it’s either vertical (steep and unbuildable), too remote hence economically infeasible, or there is some federally-listed endangered species in residence that significantly curtails their fiscal lust.
Next up for OMO: The Aliso Creek, a South OC poster child for political graft, watershed degradation, increased pavement and attendant aquatic pollution. Learn why environmental advocates (enviros) don’t call it “The Anus of Orange County” for nothing!
Prior articles on Salem-News.com from Roger Butow:
Launched in 2010, Odd Man Out is the creation of Roger von Bütow, a professional environmental consultant. Written exclusively for the Salem-News, it's intended as the next evolutionary step on the path of an eco-warrior.
Roger is a Southern California native who spent his formative years as a racial minority: A blonde-haired, blue-eyed surfer on the mean streets of the LA Harbor area. Running from gangs eventually trained him for his high school and collegiate track and cross-country career. Going to college part-time, disqualified for a student deferment, when his draft notice arrived in a fit of machisimo he joined the USMC in 1965, eventually attached to the 3rd Marine Air Wing.
Once honorably discharged, he resumed his college studies, majoring in philosophy. He dropped out in early 1972 when an opportunity to travel in Europe inexpensively for 6 months was too good to pass up. Upon returning, he and his former wife ended up in Laguna Beach, and though the marriage didn’t last his love of the place is in its 38th year.
Disgusted by chronic sewage spills and toxic urban runoff pollution that triggered constant beach closures in his area, he formed “Clean Water Now!” in 1998. Local surfers, skimmers and divers were pissed off, but there wasn’t a cohesive, unified and aggressive group response, zero leadership or activism facilitated by the Surfrider Foundation or Sierra Club regarding water quality impairment issues. You can write to Roger at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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