Introducing our newest blogger – Joe Hill!




Joe Hill.

So, I don’t remember if I mentioned this here, but a couple weeks ago I got an e-mail from fabled “anonymous” OC blogger Joe Hill.  And, at his insistence, we met up last night at Quill’s in Santa Ana.  And somehow I got suckered into buying, even though I’m not drinking these days (in general.)

Friendly guy, a little high-strung.   I started by complimenting the work he’d done while at the Liberal OC.  “Good, useful, intelligent stuff.  Then I saw where you moved to Art Pedroza‘s blog – OC Politics or Political or whatever it is.  First I read his interview with you, ‘Introducing Our Newest Blogger – Joe Hill!‘  After just a moment I was all, this isn’t a real person talking. This is some prank by Art.  He makes Joe sound like some ventriloquist’s dummy.”

“Well… but that did happen.  He sort of paraphrased what I said after the fact.”

Art Pedroza.

“Really?  And the stuff you’ve written for him since then, I’ve read some of it.  It really doesn’t seem like the same guy who wrote for the LibOC.  I mean, this new ‘Joe Hill’ has all the same biases and hatreds as Pedroza does, he’s very unfair to all the same people Pedroza doesn’t like, although the writing doesn’t SOUND like Pedroza, I was thinking maybe it was Sean Mill…”

“No, it’s me, it’s me.  Yeah, funny story there… I’ll explain later.  Bartender!  Another double Scotch?  You sure you don’t want one, Vern?”

“Nah, I’m on the wagon.  Maybe another time.  So, what did you wanna talk about, Joe?”

“First of all, I just want to tell you what a great job you and Diamond are doing with the Orange Juice Blog.  And Mayor Quimby, Ryan, Inge, all the others.  It’s good hard-hitting stuff, never a dull moment, but not poisonous like it was before you took over.  Best blog in the county now, hands down.”

“Really?  Thanks!”  I probably blushed.  “I think so too, but it’s always good to hear it from other people.”

“I’d like to write for you guys.”

“You’re leaving Art’s blog now?”

“No, I’m gonna keep doing what I do there, analysis, attacking politicians who irritate me … but on the Orange Juice, I’d like to focus on the foibles of Orange Count’s bloggers themselves, the guys I’ve come to know this past year, Dan Chmielewski, Art Pedroza, Chris Prevatt…”

“Really?  I’m enjoying staying away from all that petty infighting.  I’m not sure those guys are worth it…”

Dan Chmielewski

“Oh, but they deserve it, Vern.  And you KNOW you always get lots of hits with that stuff, when you attack the other blogs.  People love that.  And these guys ARE influential – not as influential as they think they are, but they do have some influence.  And they are ASSHOLES, all of them.  Worse than assholes, they’re all SELF-RIGHTEOUS PRICKS.  The only thing they’re good at is justifying everything they do.”

“Hey, these are my friends you’re talking about!  Or, at least … I try to stay cordial with them.  We share tips, rumors and stuff…”

“You should hear how they talk about YOU.  Vern.  They are FAIR GAME.”

I sat and thought, and Joe ordered another double Scotch.  The Rolling Stones’ “Street Fighting Man” was pounding out of the jukebox.  “Hey, said my name is called disturrrrbance,” sneered Jagger.  “I’ll shout and scream, I’ll kill the king and rail at all his serrrvants…”

After a minute I said to Joe, “You know, even though Art and Sean did plenty of stuff on the old Orange Juice that made me sick, that Liberal OC lawsuit against Art was bullshit.  Don’t you think?”

“Oh, that lawsuit was bullshit for sure!”

“Yeah, Art’s gonna end up losing his home for doing to them exactly what they were doing to him – sitting on a domain name they wanted, trying to get his back.”


“How about when Art linked those domain names to NAMBLA, to try to get them to trade him HIS site back?  And then when he decided that was over the top, he linked to sites about hemorrhoids.  I thought that was funny.”

“Yeah, so did the judge.  He ruled against him on other bullshit grounds, which couldn’t be helped because Art refused to show up and defend himself.  Speaking of the NAMBLA prank… check this out, you got your laptop there?”  I pulled out my laptop and he pulled up this old article of Dan C’s.

“Remember this one, Vern?  Entitled ‘Why is [sic] Art Pedroza and the Orange Juice Blog Promoting Pederasty and Gay Porn?’    The fact is, NOBODY would have known about this prank beyond half a dozen pricks, if it weren’t for this article by Dan.  It was Dan C. and the Liberal OC who got a thousand people to visit the NAMBLA site, probably people who’d never heard of NAMBLA.  But they still call Art a child molester over this.  ZERO self-awareness over there at the Liberal OC.  They’re so dumb, the whole time I was there they didn’t realize I’m the guy who comments as ‘kenlaysnotdead’ – something they were always trying to figure out.”

Chris Prevatt.


“Of course,” Joe whispered, glancing around.  “Don’t print that though.  Excuse me, bartender, another double scotch?  Yeah, that was miserable hanging out with Dan and Chris, they’re so obsessed with Art and Sean, even now.  Those two guys are like their reason for living.  They can’t go five minutes without bitching about them.”

“Yeah, that’s what I’ve heard from a lot of their friends.  I’m glad I was able to pull this blog out from under all that, when Art sold it to me.”

“For two dollars.”

“Yep.  You know your OC history.”

“Why do you think he did that?”

“Well, he wanted to protect the blog from the lawsuit, have it keep going, it was like his child.  He wanted to get out of blogging and protect himself.  And he thought I’d do the best job keeping the Orange Juice good and relevant.”

Joe Hill looked at me sadly.  “You’re the only person in the county so naive that you don’t realize he was hoping Dan and Chris would go after YOU instead for the 60 grand?  He wanted YOU to end up with the liability.”

I gulped.  “Yeah, I’ve heard that theory.  It was a dumb idea if that’s what he was thinking, and it obviously didn’t work.” [*update – see first comments below]

“You sure you don’t want a scotch?  Come on, this brand is fucking great.”

“All right.  Just for tonight.  Tomorrow I’m on the wagon again.”

“One double for my friend Vern here, bartender!”  The brown liquid sloshed on the ice and tasted bracing.  Now the Violent Femmes were blaring.  “When I’m out walking I strut my stuff and I’m so strung out…”

Finally I said, “I still don’t understand why Art never fought that lawsuit.  Never set foot in the court.  The judge ended up believing everything Dan and Chris told him – that they lost money off of all these shenanigans while Art and the Orange Juice MADE money.  Pure nonsense.  I would have been glad to show up in court, back up Art, and show the judge what nonsense that was.  That was provable, with records.”

“You don’t know why Art wouldn’t defend himself?  I know why, and I’m gonna write about it.  Two words – HARD DRIVE.  He’d sacrifice his home, and his family, to avoid ever having to hand over that hard drive of his, and to protect the people he’s protecting.”

“You mean, Sean Mill?”

Sean H. Mill.

“A lot more powerful people than Sean.  But yeah, that bastard Sean too.”

“Hey!  Sean H. Mill is the most respectable, honorable Planning Commissioner Santa Ana has ever seen!”

Joe Hill stared at me for a moment.  “Now I know you’re joking.  You know what else I have at home?  EVERYTHING Sean wrote, Sean and Art both, during the old ugly days at the Orange Juice – everything they deleted before they left, when they decided to try to go ‘respectable.’  The stuff making jokes about Beth Krom’s dead son, everything.  Stuff people have forgotten.  I think we should re-publish it all, one piece a week, to show what those two guys are really like.”

“I don’t know, Joe…”  I took another sip.  Finally I continued, “Still, you have to admit, Pedroza – along with Matt Cunningham and Mike Lawson – despite all their faults, we still have to give them props for starting the Orange County blogosphere.  They’re like our godfathers.”

“Yeah… I guess so,” grunted Joe Hill.  “Whoa, Jesus, look at those jugs!  I’ll be back in a minute, Vern.”

He wasn’t back in a minute. One thing led to another.  His very brusque and unsuccessful courtship led to a fistfight, and when cops who were already there tried to drag him out of Quill’s, Joe Hill took a swing at one of them, which did not turn out well for him.  I ended up having to pay for all his drinks.  But once he’s out of Theo Lacy, we have an account waiting here for him!  Welcome Joe Hill!

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, or 714-235-VERN.