“Brilliant. Scabrous. Irreplaceable” – The Orange Juice’s Top Stories of 2012.


First I’ll name the stories that I’m NOT counting, as our most-read of the year, and why.  For one thing I don’t believe ten thousand people clicked on MY 2011 piece “La Habra Hanky-Panky – and not the OctoMom, either!” because they were really interested in the hijinks of Republican politicians in La Habra as they tried to sideline Rose Espinoza and all other Democrats that year.  I’m sure the reason that people have been clicking on that story more than any of our others is only because I randomly mentioned the La Habra resident Octomom in the title, and because they were looking, hungrily, deviantly, for the image below.  (And hats off to the OC Weekly for knowing better than us what a ratings-booster the troubled, liver-lipped woman is.)

Also not counted:  our rightwing former blogger Geoff Willis‘ completely mistaken 2010 piece “18 of World’s Top 20 Hospitals Are In U.S.”  This despite the fact that 8000+ people click on the story every year, unfortunately probably looking for what the top hospitals are.  There were two huge problems with the story, which I attempt to explain in an editor’s note I added:  First of all, Geoff was trying to make the illogical point that any healthcare reform in the US was unnecessary because we DO have some good hospitals.  But more damningly, it turned out that the study he based that article on was not rating hospitals by any kind of quality, except their “web presence.”  What do you think, should we take that story down to avoid further mass disinformation?  But then I think, no, there’s a really good, informative and angry comment thread attached.  So for this New Year we’ll just ask once more, as we have SO many times:

Likewise Art Pedroza’s cleverly titled but typically prudish “Happy ending for massage parlors in Santa Ana” continues to draw thousands of hits a year while doubtless disappointing an equal number of horny johns.  And I could only WISH that thousands of people each December were reading my “The True Story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”  but I’m pretty sure they’re only looking for the image I used (stole).  I hope SOME of them read it, I think it was the best thing I’ve done…

No, we’re not going to count any of those stories, in our list of our top 15-or-so popular stories.  And what we do come up with sadly  doesn’t include what I thought was some of our best work this year:  me and Mayor Quimby‘s work foiling the OCTA plot to stick toll lanes on the 405Ryan Cantor‘s brilliant (and successful) takedown of Chevron’s Coyote Hills plans;  any of my good stuff on Anaheim’s struggle to overcome corporatist crony capitalism, anything from Inge or Francisco, or any of the stuff we did this year on Occupy.


BUT I am very proud of our 2012 story which got the most hits this year, from across the state and nation:  Greg Diamond‘s masterful (yet unsuccessful) demolition of this year’s Prop 35:  “I Despise Human Trafficking, but I Oppose the Badly Drafted Prop 35.”   This incisive, profound, and ultimately politically self-destructive tome failed to stop the friendly-sounding “anti-trafficking” initiative, but provoked fascinating commentary and was widely reprinted and linked, BUT also helped sour our feisty associate editor’s relations with the craven local Democrat Party, and certainly didn’t help him in his state senate run.  So I say, excellent work!  In the tradition of Tom Paine pissing off all his fellow former revolutionaries with “The Age of Reason.”

NUMBER TWO.  MY most popular story of the year, for some reason, at over 5000 views, was “Anaheim’s unhinged, litigious bully Cheryl Sanders: An OC Blogosphere Parable.”  Well, it was kind of  a fun story, that reflected badly on some crazed Anaheim bureaucrat and Art Pedroza, and reflected well on the Friends for Fullerton blog and a pro-bono law firm.  But still?  This was the year I wrote the masterpieces “I Become a Republican,”  “Disney’s Incest Problem,”  and “A Complete Mauk-ery.”  What’s wrong with you people?

NUMBER THREE.  Less a “story” than a resource, and a tradition that Art Pedroza began and I continued for the long-suffering teachers and workers of his city’s troubled school district, “Santa Ana USD Thread – 2011-12 edition” also got over 5000 hits, and over 200 comments.

NUMBER FOUR.  I’m proud to say that our valued Political Astrology columnist, the highly mysterious Orange Juice Oracle, got nearly 5000 hits with his “Rage From the Machine: An Astrological Analysis of Vice-Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan.”  Hm.  Great piece of writing, like he always does, and culminating in a stirring finale on the coming matriarchy.  But why such interest in Paul Ryan?  I suppose those are all people who googled “Paul Ryan Rage Against the Machine.”  Hope they stayed to read the brilliant and insightful piece.  And voted the right way.

NUMBER FIVE.  My exhaustive, traditional, highly influential and legally dubious “John and Ken’s 2012 Orange County Voters’ Guide. By Vern.

NUMBER SIX.  Mine.  And controversial.  And perhaps deceptively entitled.  “Oxford Prep, Capistrano reactionaries’ pet charter school, caught spiking its test results!”  Apparently a couple of investigations, of unknown “independence,” cleared the charter school of these charges.  And now everyone’s bitching for me to retract the story.  Hey, we broke the news that the accusations were made and the investigations were coming, and we’re not an “objective news source” either.  All the charter-school boosters got to have their say in the comments section, the election went well, and a good time was had by all!

NUMBER SEVEN.  Good old Ron and Ana Winship hit one out of the park with “Ain’t no Conspiracy….nah!!”  in which they say …. something … about the JFK shooting.  I THINK they are skeptical of the single-bullet theory, and definitely dismissive of some book Bill O’Reilly wrote about the assassination, so how bad can that be?  2903 readers say “Not so bad!”

NUMBER EIGHT.  My “OJ’s Debbie Tharp jailed, in Costa Mesa’s war on free speech and medical pot.”  That was breaking news and the Orange Juice was there to videotape it.  The court cases are still proceeding…

NUMBER NINE.  Our research assistant Miss Info Asperger went a little screwloose, I’d say, with her “Underwear! The evil, and the magical.”  as she tried to correlate the incidents of underwear bombers with the Mormon phenomenon of magical underwear to make the case that Romney would be best at protecting us from scary Muslims.  Well, thousands of people did read it, but thankfully not enough to turn the election.

NUMBER TEN.  My “All’s War and Love in FAIR Board Meeting…”  Good taste, people.  Why this one, in particular, I don’t know, out of all my stories about the Fair Board, the OCTA, and Anaheim, but it did paint a rollicking portrait of pugilism among our OC political potentates!

Sorry, can’t stop.

11.  Another Greg Diamond post, one on the Santa Ana school board race, where he takes on Pedroza and others …  “Will the Apple Go to the Teacher? Eleazar Elizondo Takes His Final Exam,” got thousands of hits  – who woulda thunk?  These people shoulda come out to vote for EZ, I think some dickwad got in instead.

12.  Our wild progressive activist Duane Roberts scored big with his “Containing a Rebellion: Leaked Anaheim PD Report Labels Working-Class Mexican Neighborhoods as ‘Hot Zones’” – partly because it released previously secret Anaheim PD documents that had been found in a trash can and leaked.

13. What the hell happened in Monday’s “The Voice”? (Spoilers)  Um… I think this was Diamond’s joking demonstration of what can REALLY get a lot of hits.  Nice that it ONLY came in at 13.

14. Did OC CEO Tom Mauk cover up Bustamante’s ravages for months? And what did Supervisor Campbell know?”  That was me.  I’d had some county insiders contacting me for a while about these allegations, and couldn’t totally confirm their stories, but once the shit hit the fan I was ready to roll.

15.  The Winships with “How much should a gallon of gasoline cost?” – published last March during one of our disquieting spikes.


16.  Finally.  My “Disney’s Incest Problem” for which I took a lot of grief for what came across as gay-bashing of the County’s premier power broker Curt Pringle.  This piece was mostly given to me by dissident Disney insiders, and it provides a perfectly beautiful cartography of Anaheim’s corporatist power structure.  Hm, it’s still important.  Maybe we can still get MORE than 2,094 people to read it.

17.  Diamond’s “$33 TO $1: Ed Royce’s Misleading Victory Over Jay Chen”  Yeah.  That IS how much Royce squandered squashing his worthy rival.

18.  My “Breaking news on Garden Grove cancer victim Niko Black, and her fight to get her home back from Wells Fargo.”  Okay, I’m not so proud of that any more, I always tend to fall for the stories of the underdogs, and there IS an epidemic of illegal foreclosures, but it doesn’t seem like Niko is a case of that.  I nearly published a retraction-piece, “Perhaps Niko Black is not the ideal poster-child for illegal foreclosures” … but I just didn’t have the energy.  If she wins her crazy case before she dies, good for her, we’re not in the business of comforting the comfortable and afflicting the afflicted.

19.  Diamond’s “Have you heard the one about Obama’s signing the NDAA?” posted on the FIRST DAY of 2012, takes issue with his fellow Occupiers’, progressives’ and libertarians’ exaggerated cries of alarm about this president’s dictatorial strain.

Last, 20.  Oh, perfect.  “Goodbye from Geoff Willis”  Haha, that was kinda fun.  At the beginning of this year Geoff slunk off, getting tired of being ganged-up on by all of us leftists and libertarians.  As always we wish Geoff good luck with his “Thinking Right Blog” – as much as we think it’s full of nonsense, he IS an Orange Juice alumnus – and we’re very happy with our more reasonable Republican/conservative voices we’ve acquired this year – Ryan Cantor, Boutwell, and Matt Munson.  Oh.  Yeah.  What we were having really angry fights about, which led to Geoff’s departure, was his series based on some police informant he had, contending wrongly that the serial killings of homeless folks in the north county back then were part of a gang initiation… this explains our research assistant Miss Info Asperger’s piece on Geoff’s departure, “Defection of Conservative Blogger may be part of Gang Initiation.

Well, so, how’re we doing?

The original “How’m I doing” guy, Mayor Ed Koch.

As we enter the Year of the Lord 2013, I think we should ask ourselves, Are we holding firm to the manifesto I laid out here when I took over the blog two years ago:  Speaking Truth to Power:  New Orange Juice Rules.

Well, punk?  Are we?

There I laid out goals of “striving for a variety of opinion, we will continue to skew pro-immigrant, pro-gay, and anti-racism,”  “holding the powerful accountable,” without unnecessarily picking on underdogs (I was thinking atthe time of Pedroza’s sudden, mercenary, shilling for Mayor Pulido and hissavaging anyone who opposed the Small Dark Lord.)  I also promised the “freewheeling argumentation you’ve come to expect here” as well as our “rowdy sense of humor, unpredictability, and irreverent civic-mindedness.”

Have we got all that?  Well I hope you say yes, but if not maybe it’s YOUR fault – this is a damn community, you know!

And this year – in between silly election seasons – I want us to start focusing our attentions on the real power brokers in this county – The Pringle-dominated OC Business Council (OCBC), OC Tax, the OCTA, and our beloved Supes.  Hold on to your hats, and keep coming back to the Orange Juice, YOUR political mosh pit!

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official political troubadour of Anaheim and most other OC towns. Regularly makes solo performances, sometimes with his savage-jazz band The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.