OJ welcomes the Roaring 20’s: Best of the Year and the Decade!

 Powered by Max Banner Ads 




It’ll be nice to be in a decade that’s easy to refer to as “The Twenties,” rather than awkward like “The Teens” or very awkward like the “Aughts” or the “Zeds” or the “Zeros.”

Beyond that, while we know very little beyond the fact that we know nothing, one thing we do know from our knowledge of history, about decades called The Twenties, is that they ROAR.  And the 2020’s are going to ROAR for sure.  The question of “in what way will they roar” will be up to you and me to determine.

But look at us going on.  We still have some wrapping-up business to do.  Like looking back at our biggest stories of this past year (2019) AND the decade since 2010, which is roughly when Vern Nelson bought this infernal blog from Art Pedroza for two dollars, and started running it.  Here goes…

The Orange Juice’s Biggest Stories of the Year (2019)

Our two most-read stories of 2019, for a total of nearly 8000 readers, were written pseudonymously by some of Vern’s friends from San Juan Capistrano, writing as “The Swallows” – The Con of San Juan: Burning Questions About Capistrano’s Derek Reeve, and Derek Reeve and Steve Oedekerk Investigated by the FPPC. Greg was mighty irritated by the wealth of anonymous accusations in the comments sections of those pieces, and The Swallows may not be coming back this year, we’ll see…

But let’s just say those stories weren’t us, so the MOST read story of the year by a regular Orange Juice writer was:

UPDATE!  This new story from Dec. 27 just shot up to number one:  Vern’s “Death By Shopping Cart: The True Anaheim Stories of Jennifer & Lisa.”  It’s gotten over 2000 readers in the first two days – on a holiday weekend  – and at this rate it might even pass up the SJC posts!  Someone must really be passing it around.

2. Ryan Cantor’s Fullerton Bushwhacking: The Attempted Political Murder of Bruce Whitaker.  Attempted political murder?  This very well-written piece is actually about the new Fullerton Council (minus Jesus Silva and Whitaker himself) taking away Bruce’s spot on the OC Water District board and giving it to newcomer Ahmad Zahra.  I don’t know if that’s murder, but it DOES affect the entire north/west/central half of OC that’s in that water district, as Bruce was a solid and knowledgable opponent of the Poseidon boondoggle, while Ahmad is still “keeping an open mind,” which probably means we’ve lost another OCWD vote to the KLEPTOCRACY.

3.  One of the special elections OC had this year was in March, for the district 3 Supervisor race to take Todd Spitzer’s place.  Greg’s ongoing special thread on that election, which sadly ended up being entitled “Don Wagner wins Supe 3 Special Election over Loretta &c“, was our third biggest story of the year.

4. And Vern’s Orange Hit by Districting Lawsuit – Read the Complaint was the fourth biggest.

5. Another special election this year was in Santa Ana (for Council and School Board) in which Phil Bacerra barely edged out our favorite, Manny Escamilla, for council.  The race was so close toward the end that Greg created this handy guide to help Manny voters (or any other voters) make sure their vote was counted.  Santa Ana: If You Voted For Manny Do This Now! became our fifth biggest story.

6.  A story Vern’s very proud of, Sidhu Majority Buries the Pauline St. Neighborhood with Downtown Anaheim 39 was our next biggest story.  Update?  It looks sadly like that “burying” (really gentrifying) is proceeding slowly but surely despite all the residents’ efforts.

7. One of Vern’s main topics for years has been the killings by Anaheim police, and this year his report from the civil trial over a 2016 killing, $13.2 Million Awarded to Vincent Valenzuela Family – Will Spitzer Prosecute the Killer Cops? was our next biggest story.

8. Greg’s useful and constantly updated roster of  those who are running in our NEXT election March 3, 2020, was the next most popular story:  Who’s Filed For What Office in OC?

9.  THIS story of Vern’s, Despicable! Jordan Brandman on Releasing the Stadium Appraisal, featured somewhere in the middle Vern’s description of two ways in which government officials can deal with the big economic interests in their area: Upright vs. Prostrate.  To illustrate this concept Vern created the handy illustration to the right, which Jordan and some of his backers immediately declared “homophobic.”  An interesting case of Rorschach Test, as most people see nothing sexual in the picture at all, and that section was not specifically about Brandman in any case – and it seems some of our critics absurdly confused the words “prostrate” and “prostate.”  But to this day Brandman goes around insisting comically that this blog AND the Anaheim Democratic Club are “homophobic” and “anti-Semitic.”  (Who knows where he got the “anti-Semitic” from, maybe because the Club has had some Palestinian-rights speakers?)


The 10th and 11th stories of the year also dealt with the Santa Ana special election for School Board:  guest writer Ben Vasquez’ Carolyn Torres: the People’s Choice for SAUSD, and SAUSD Bully:  Police Candidate Cecilia Aguinaga’s Lies & Sleazy Tactics written by “Zorro” who we can now reveal was Erick Carbajal.  This was funny because the screen name “Zorro” was originally used by this blog’s former owner Art Pedroza when he wrote about immigration, but during this year’s election when we lent the name to Erick, Pedroza was constantly attacking both Erick and Carolyn – in dishonest ways too.  The update is good news – Carolyn kicked ass and took names!

Good ol Claudio

12. Vern:  I’m starting to think this story of mine from January – Daly and Correa vs the People:  Vote People’s Delegates Slate This Sunday – is the reason top Lou Correa aide (and former OJ blogger, and Anaheim district mapmaker) Claudio Gallegos won’t talk to me any more.  For the past year Claudio gives me the evil eye, and on Thanksgiving he hissed “Don’t say a word to me until you get to your NINTH STEP” – which is the AA step where you make amends to those people you’ve hurt.  Huh?  This past January the conservative Democrat candidates for ADEM, backed by Correa and Daly, organized themselves into a slate, which with too-clever irony they called the “PROGRESSIVE” slate.  Meanwhile the actual progressive candidates had to call themselves the “People’s Delegates Slate.”  I told people to vote for the latter.  Claudio was in the former, and he didn’t get elected.  Apparently he blames that on me.  Whatever…

Let’s move on to…

Our top 20 Stories of the Decade (2010-19)

1. WOW.  Greg’s Recommendations on the 2018 Judicial Races was found useful by a whopping 18,505 readers statewide, edging out all our other stories of the past ten years.  Can’t wait for the NEXT Judicial Races!  

2.  Vern is most proud of this 2013 story of his, our second biggest of the decade, Appeal Filed for Jesus Aguirre, the Buena Park Teenager Serving Life in Pelican Bay.  Not only did over 18,000 folks read it, but the story (along with the tireless work of many people especially Jesus’ parents) helped get the young man’s sentence commuted by Governor Brown, and now he is doing well and studying computer science in San Francisco.

[We will skip over all our John and Ken’s Election Guides which was our way of getting lots of readers to our election guides while naming them after guys we knew called John and Ken, and used to get tens of thousands of readers, until the KFI show John and Ken threatened to sue us.  We’ll also skip our former rightwing blogger Geoff Willis’ deceitful “18 of the World’s Top 20 Hospitals are in the US,” which was intended as an argument against the necessity of health care reform, until it turned out these were NOT the best hospitals in the world but the ones with the most “web presence.”]

3.  Inge, who wrote for us from 2011 to 2015 and recently reached out to us for a reference (!), contributed our third biggest story of the decade, 2013’s Doomsday Businesses Laughing All the Way to the Bank, with nearly 13,000 readers.  

4. Now there is a Geoff Willis story for the ages – 2011’s Man Arrested When Shape-Shifting Hooker Turns into Donkey with over 12,000 readers.  As I used to frequently say back then,  

5.  Also getting over 12,000 hits this decade was the perennial, politically correct Christopher Columbus Was a Murderer, a Terrorist and a Pirate, written in 2010 by Art Pedroza under his pseudonym Zorro.  

6.  Back in 2011 Vern wrote about some political shenanigans going on in the town of La Habra, featuring Tim Shaw, Rose Espinoza, Darren Nigsarian, and other La Habra folks whose names we never hear any more.  Probably the reason it got over 11,000 readers, though, was because of Vern including La Habra’s then-infamous “OCTOMOM” in the title and the featured image:  “La Habra Hanky-Panky, and Not the Octomom, Either.”  (Vern, 2011, 11,042)

7.  Now here’s a really valuable 2014 piece by Vern that regains popularity every time a mobile home park gets bought by a profiteer like John Saunders and then the rent gets jacked up in a way the residents can’t afford.  And that happens a lot, and every time the residents contact Vern, who can’t really do much.  Written at then-Councilman Joe Shaw’s suggestion, this is Huntington Beach’s Mobile Home Uprising:  Which Side Are You On?

Hunt with Arpaio and the late Barbara Coe

8.  In retrospect ALL THREE candidates in the 2010 Sheriff race, in which corrupt, appointed Sandra Hutchens (appointed after the spectacular demise of Mike Carona) ran for re-election against murderous Anaheim Police Deputy Chief Craig Hunter and race-baiting libertarian former deputy sheriff and whistleblower Bill Hunt, sucked.  At the time, in the immigrant-bashing year of 2010, Bill Hunt, who was campaigning with Joe Arpaio and various Minutemen types, seemed to us the greatest danger, so Vern bashed him constantly.  But this piece got the most hits – almost 11,000 – probably because of the picture of crazed Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann who came to campaign with Bill.  The Company Bill Hunt Keeps: Now, Michele Bachmann?

9.  This 2013 Inge story is special because of its comments section, in which many of the former homeless “motel kids” featured in the Alessandra Pelosi documentary hooked up again and reminisced about their childhoods together:  Homeless: The Motel Kids of Orange County.

Loretta Sanchez10.  Being somewhat close to Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez at the time, and actually later playing piano at her wedding and reception, Vern was able to break the news of her engagement to over 9000 readers in 2010:  Wedding Bells For Loretta.

11.  Greg reached for nuance during the 2012 election with his I Despise Human Trafficking But I Oppose the Badly Drafted Prop 35, which was read at the time by nearly 9000 Californians.

12.  Our Ron and Ana Winship, in their free-associating way, reacted to a 2012 Bill O’Reilly book on the JFK assassination with Ain’t No Conspiracy … Nah! … and 8568 people read it!

13.  Vern’s scathingly irreverent announcement of cult leader Manhee Lee’s 2012 appearance at the Crystal Cathedral, Anyone Who is a Believer Will REGRET it if He or She Does Not Come See Instructor Manhee Lee This Saturday, continues to get numerous comments seven years later from both cult followers and those who like to ridicule them.

14.  Tony Bushala‘s Friends For Fullerton’s Future blog led the way in publicizing the grisly police murder of homeless Kelly Thomas in 2011, but at the time Tony had a “cross-posting” arrangement with this blog, so it was through the Orange Juice that 7737 readers first saw the awful photograph of Kelly’s mangled face.

15.  Another 2014 Vern Huntington Beach piece suggested by Joe Shaw:  High-Density Development in Huntington Beach:  Who Did it and Who’ll Stop it?  That movement in HB against “high-density development” has developed its good and bad facets.

16.  This 2011 Vern story, Who is Dave Ellis?  A Portrait of Our Fair Board Chairman, published in the midst of the controversial “Great Fairgrounds Swindle” (which we defeated!) received the author’s favorite compliment from commenter Nipsey: “It is unbelievably thorough, sad, funny, and scary.”  We would like ALL our stories to be unbelievably thorough, sad, funny and scary.

 17.  The brilliant Cynthia Ward can’t write for us any more, as long as she is the paid policy aide to Anaheim Councilwoman Denise Barnes.  But in 2014 she did contribute our 17th-biggest story of the decade (popular partly because of wannabe-councilman Lodge’s notoriety as boyfriend of Real Housewife Vicki Gunvalsen) – Steve Chavez Lodge is a Very Bad Man. 

18.  An old Art Pedroza story comes in as our #18 of the decade:  Does Criticizing the Vietnam War Mean You’re Anti-Vietnamese?  Hopefully a rhetorical question. 

19.  Early on in the Donald Trump administration, Greg sounded the alarm and a lot of people listened:  2017’s Trump Administration Pushes Bill to Defund Public Schools, Eliminate Free School Lunches, and End Aid to Disabled Kids.  We’re still trying to impeach the lawless motherfucker.

20.  And wrapping things up at #20 is a 2012 masterpiece from our Orange Juice Oracle – our house political astrologist – entitled “Rage From the Machine: an Astrological Analysis of Vice-Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan.”  I’d FORGOTTEN we had an Oracle.  You should also check out his pieces on Mitt RomneyDonald Trump, the upcoming 2012 election, the upcoming year of 2013, the “chaos that is 2018”, and how the Supreme Court would rule on Obamacare in 2012.  We need to get that Oracle back! 

Now come back in 2020 and watch us ROAR!

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.