WE CAME FIRST – Ten years of the Orange Juice Blog!

Yes, we came first, damn it.  I shoulda done this post on July 11, but the time she slips away.  Yes, 7-11 was the ten-year anniversary of this august and scabrous blog.  As far as I can tell anyway, Art Pedroza‘s first published Orange Juice post was THIS one on July 11, 2003.  The perpetually infuriating Pedroza (no, no, I will stay positive throughout this celebratory post) was still a Republican activist back then, tapped with the impossible task of making the OCGOP more welcoming to Latinos. 

As much as we deride Art for his seemingly convenient about-faces through the decade, this first post of his shows two themes he’s never or rarely deviated from – a hostility to unions, particularly Project Labor Agreements, and a sticking up for Latinos against the nonstop Republican onslaughts – in this post, referring to Newport Beach councilman Dick Nichols’ notorious complaint that Mexicans were taking up too much grass in his town.  (The post also shows Art’s love of facile labeling of people – here, “pro-business” and “anti-business,” and quite appropriately it includes CURT PRINGLE, whom we’ll be picking on later this week.)

This maiden OJ post came several months before the now-immeasurably discredited Matt “Jubal” Cunningham launched his Republican-centered OC Blog (which became “Red County,” which died last year.)  AND about three years before the now-departed, reputed nice-guy, and execrable cartoonist Mike Lawson started the Liberal OC (still going “strong.”)  Those were the three biggies of the OC Blogosphere this past decade.

What memories, huh?  No?  Let me jog them.

Sean Mill, Thomas Gordon, and Claudio Gallegos.

Remember these three Santa Ana characters? When I first discovered this blog around 2005 or 6, it was mainly them and Art.  I loved that they were all so different politically, but equally feisty, sticking it to the man in Santa Ana and the OC, or at least it seemed that way.  Claudio particularly had developed a body of work showing the anti-Latino racism in Costa Mesa, from then-mayor Allan Mansoor, his mentor the unabashed white supremacist Martin Millard, and their “Costa Mesa Improvers.”  All the hundreds of posts of Mill, Gordon, and Gallegos have been vanished though (or I would link to them) in a recurring pattern – either a fit of pique or in Mill’s case political self-protection.  Every time one of these guys deletes all their posts, I protest loudly feeling that we’re losing a bit more OC history.  But who listens to me.

Larry Gilbert, and the Winships!

Remember Juice-Brother Larry?  Cranky but likeable (when you met him) old Republican warrior against eminent domain?  At least his body of work here is still available – 1420 damn posts, from 2006 until he left in disgust when I wrote my piece “Fuck September 11” on the tenth anniversary of that horrible attack.  (Ah, that one pissed a lotta people off.)  You don’t NEED to remember the odd, quaint Winships, the Corona Del Mar old-school Republican couple who also joined the blog in aught-six (here’s their 601 posts) – they are still with us, and good-naturedly affording us the periodic opportunity to “Comment Like the Winships!

Sarah Spinosa and me!

If you can remember way back to 2008 – can you?  Art’s webmaster and main co-blogger was the erratic “centrist” Sarah Michelle Spinosa, with her severe hard-on for the OC Weekly‘s Commie Girl.  Her big body of work is also vanished, as with her inevitable blow-up with Art, she moved it to her own Centrist OC, which looks to be not so active now.

But that was the landscape when I joined, having first gotten Art’s and Claudio’s attention by fighting with them over whether it was appropriate to protest Loretta Sanchez over her continuing funding of the war in Iraq, and then fighting with Sarah over the chances of Debbie Cook to beat Dana Rohrabacher for Congress.  It seemed like Blog Wars between us and Liberal OC and Red County were all the rage those days, so I contributed as best I could, by insulting EVERYBODY in “Can’t We All Just Get Along” and “What it takes to be a Blogger in the OC.

Red Vixen and Terry Crowley!

As you all know I spent a lot of 2009 incarcerated, but while I was out and through a lot of early 2010, two dominating voices on the blog were:  the anonymous Red Vixen – whom I still have never met or identified, and allegedly neither has Art (and pictured to the left as I still picture her) – and an old Republican friend of Art’s, Terry Crowley.  My bestest ally, and my despicable nemesis!  I miss ’em both.  Remember Red and Terry?

Me and Red used to kick ass tag-teaming haters in the comment sections.  And Terry, if you’ll remember, took a ferocious interest in me, repeatedly using the old 80’s routine “Hey Vern!” as an intro to demolish (in his mind) my liberal blather.  He took a special and very dishonest interest in the destruction of ACORN that was going on then;  he had an eccentric litany of names he’d call us liberals – “coffee filters,” “heavy breathers,” “carpet-munchers,” – and he was sure Obamacare would be defeated, the non-fact of which we rubbed in his face with “Remembering Terry Crowley.”  Finally he made the mistake of jumping on the anti-immigrant bandwagon by creating a new “Raza Blanca” character, and me and Art both agreed to give him the heave-ho.

But damn, I miss Red Vixen.  She was funny, and right on.  And supposedly, a former Republican even.  And on this blog from mid-2008 until the Liberal OC’s Dan C’s stalking drove her off.

Lawsuit, turnover to Vern

Putting it gently.. a lot of stuff Art and Sean wrote around aught-7, 8, 9, pissed off a lot of people and hurt a lot of feelings.  So I think, when there developed a tug-of-war over some URL’s, and Art mischievously linked some of his enemies up to NAMBLA and hemorrhoid sites, his rivals at Liberal OC screamed like he was some pederast, sued him, and won (when he inexplicably refused to defend himself.)   Very short version.  This led to him selling YOURS TRULY this blog for TWO DOLLARS.

So since then … well, two years ago is not so much nostalgic.  Unless you were part of the Occupy Orange County crowd like me and my new colleagues Greg Diamond and Inge.  (Sorry all you other valued contributors to the blog, I’m only mentioning folks who have done over 100 posts.)  We still like to think we are, and strive for, comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable, as Gustavo and everyone around here says these days, but WE SAID IT FIRST!  In the OC, at least…

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.