Larry Larsen’s “China Virus” vs. Matt Cunningham’s Burnt Teddy Bear Shrine.

Larsen, Teddy Bear, Cunningham

Larry Larsen is a great man, and an Anaheim hero.  The kleptocrats of the town hate him.  And he is most certainly not a racist.

On the other hand, he’s a guy of a certain age who doesn’t realize the impact of his words, and it’s good that he’s no longer on the Sister Cities Commission, during these times when anti-Asian hate and violence really is at an epic level.

Larry fought in the Army, against Chinese Communists and Chinese-funded Vietnamese Communists.  This is back when, for better or worse, the guys fighting in that war believed they were fighting for the freedom of the Vietnamese people.

For more than fifteen years, as a volunteer alumnus at Anaheim High School, Larry has invested immeasurable time, energy and money fighting for Anaheim’s most-at-risk, inner-city kids.  He fought to get gym lockers, a swimming pool, and sufficient lunch tables for the thousands of kids there who lacked a voice at City Hall.  Larry pretty much forced the school board to purchase an available vacant lot by the High School from Taormina, because he knew they needed more parking.

Back when his friend Lorri Galloway was a pretty good Councilwoman, there were two teen suicides of AHS students jumping off a bridge at Euclid and the 5.  Larry and Lorri talked the girls’ friends into speaking at Council, something they were afraid of at first but did a stellar job of, and the City put more fencing up there so that this wouldn’t happen so easily.  One of the things that gave him most joy was playing Santa Claus at the Eli Home for a lot of underprivileged Latino kids (albeit an unusually skinny Santa.)

In 2012-14 the people of Anaheim were fighting to get district elections – a reform nearly 70% of the public ended up voting for.  One of the main objectives was to get some Latino representation in this half-Latino town.  The power structure here, led by Disney and the Chamber, wishing to either defeat that reform or postpone it as long as possible, created a Citizens Advisory Board to study the matter for a long time, with two members each appointed by the five Councilmembers.  Since the Council at the time was 3-2 against districting, there were only 4 out of 10 members fighting for it – Vivian Phan (an Asian), Bill Dalati (an Arab), Martin Lopez (a Latino), and Larry.  With sheer perseverance and sound arguments, Larry’s minority finally made it happen, one thing he is most proud of.

When finally allowed to, after the Council wasted $3 million of our money trying to prevent it, Anaheim voters overwhelmingly chose district elections, and in 2016 that allowed us to briefly have a Council majority not beholden to Disney; two of that majority were Latino.  Since then the power structure has dealt with that setback in two predictable ways:  QUADRUPLING their spending on Council elections, and recruiting Latinos who would follow their orders.

Fast forward to a couple months ago, Larry is Moreno’s appointee to the Sister Cities Commission, and that Commission is exploring partnering with Pudong, a city in the Shanghai Province, as another sister city for Anaheim.  Larry lost it, repeatedly blaming the “China Virus” on that country, and claiming they owe us $150 million for what the pandemic has done to our city and nation.  Not good things to say when we are in the middle of an epidemic of anti-Asian hate and violence.  And since then he’s doubled down, and has now been removed from the Commission, unanimously.

I wouldn’t be writing about this at all, because it’s kind of embarrassing when a good friend of yours “of a certain age” gets all politically incorrect, and then doubles down.  But since this was discovered and publicized by the Chamber’s blogger-for-hire Matt Cunningham (and increasingly deranged Councilman Jordan Brandman) it’s being used as a cudgel against our only honest Councilman, Jose Moreno, since he appointed Larry.

Before we move on to Cunningham, let’s make a couple of ancillary but relevant observations:

  • It’s no coincidence that Pudong, out of all Chinese cities this Disney-funded Council could have chosen to make a sister city of Anaheim, is the location of Shanghai Disney Resort.
  • It’s been inaccurate, for a while now, to call China “communist” – they are a repressive capitalist dictatorship.  (Not that this reflects on the many undoubtedly good people in China and Pudong.)
  • This Pudong sister city project was on the table years ago, but the Chinese dictatorship put the kibosh on it due to their anger at the Dalai Lama’s friendship with former Mayor Tom Tait (another Anaheim hero.)

Cunningham, an enigma wrapped in a scorched Teddy Bear.

Who’s Matt Cunningham?  (If you don’t know.)  Well, not to go back too far, but since 2012 the formerly right-wing Republican blogger who once complained “Blogging doesn’t pay the bills,” has been a blogger for hire, paid by the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce (even though he lives in Orange) to spin the propaganda and craft the arguments for Anaheim’s ruling power structure.  If there’s any constant to his Anaheim Blog (now Anaheim “Independent”), it’s to encourage the transfer of wealth from Anaheim’s public to Disney and Chamber-connected businesses (most of them not even headquartered in Anaheim.)  When it’s convenient he uses “conservative” arguments, because that’s what he’s most familiar with, but if not he’ll use whatever comes to hand.

During Disney and the Chamber’s fight against district elections he used, unsuccessfully, every bogus argument he could think up.  So Larry Larsen was always on his enemies list.  But his enemy #1 for all these years has been Councilman Dr Jose F Moreno.  It’s an obsession, but he is paid for it.

Why Matt’s sudden concern over Larsen’s insensitivity to Asians? (Or, actually, China?)  Matt has never written a cross word about former President Trump, who was the source and aggravator of all the “China Virus” talk.  (That would upset whatever Republican readers he has – including Mayor Sidhu and Trevor O’Neil.)  He has never once written about racism, except to ridicule the idea as a liberal, “woke,” fantasy.  But now he suddenly emerges as a defender of the endangered Asian-American masses, once it looks like a way to bash Moreno.

And STILL I wouldn’t be bothering to write about any of this, EXCEPT that Matt just had to include this little whine toward the end of his last piece:

“When local progressive activists (and some opportunistic politicians) sought to destroy this writer [Cunningham] by grossly misrepresenting a satirical blog post, Moreno had no time for reaching out in collective humanity. Instead, Moreno went into eye-for-an-eye mode and publicly joined the political lynch mob seeking to destroy my ability to earn a living.”

Some of you may not know what he’s referring to, since it happened almost eight years ago.  So let me take you back there, to December of 2013.  The Anaheim Police Department, under the de facto rule of loose-cannon Deputy Chief Craig Hunter, had just killed seven young mostly Latino men (one Filipino, one white) in the space of 12 months.  Most of them shot in the back fleeing, most of them unarmed.  David Raya, Marcel Cejas, Bernie Villegas, Roscoe Cambridge, Martin Hernandez, Manuel Diaz, Joel Acevedo.

So then, as Matt told it, he was strolling by City Hall one day and saw a burned, ripped-up teddy bear lying on the ground, and had a flash of inspiration:  He went and purchased a few votive candles and set up a shrine around the bear in imitation of what Latino families do, took a few photos, and built a “satirical post” around it, complete with fake quotes from Moreno and a left-wing group, blaming this “teddy-bear-i-cide” on racism within the system.  He really thought that was clever and hilarious.

When my wife Donna, mother of Joel Acevedo, saw that post, the first thing she did was rush to the bathroom to throw up.  Then she sent Matt message after message begging him to take it down; he responded sardonically that she lacked a sense of humor.  When she ended up cussing him out, he printed that, so that she would look irrational and unhinged.

National, even international news caught on to this and Matt was the embarrassment of Anaheim for quite a while.  He eventually had to take the post down, with a whiny note that too many people misunderstood his “satire.”  I don’t know of him losing ANY paying work though – Then-Supervisor Todd Spitzer removed him from the Parks Commission, and he lost his OCTA-shilling contracts, but the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce went on paying him, as they do to this day.

I’m happy to say this was Matt’s first and last attempt at humor, but it does show you what he thinks is funny – Mexican kids getting killed.  This is YOUR spokesman, Anaheim Chamber.  And I submit that Matt Cunningham isn’t worthy of licking Larry Larsen’s boots.


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.