Fantastic planet

The horror, the horror: Bites couldn’t help thinking the Bee’s cover story Monday, March 27, a gripping saga by Mary Lynne Vellinga concerning Oak Park’s ongoing travails, was straight out of Heart of Darkness. All the elements of Joseph Conrad’s literary classic were there, beginning with the picture of a courageous Caucasian colonist towering over a young native boy as if he were about to give the lad a paternalistic pat on the head. Like Marlow searching for Kurtz, we navigate up river through a jungle of street crime and quadrupling home values. “It’s kind of like evolution in a way,” states one colonist. “Who’s going to come out on top?” Bites grew anxious. What awaits at river’s end? Vellinga (or, more likely, her editors) keeps us in suspense till the 34th paragraph of the 43- paragraph story. There she informs us that the colonists are loath to admit that, looming over the whole scene, like some long-forgotten primal impulse, is the specter of gentrification. Bites begs to differ. With home values already quadrupled, gentrification no longer looms. It has arrived.

Howard’s end: Bites has taken a chomp or two out of Howard Kaloogian on occasion, but never, never have we called the Republican activist and defender of the Reagan faith an idiot. Bites leaves that up to the experts.

The main man behind Move America Forward and a contender for the San Diego congressional seat recently vacated by convicted bribe-taker Randy “Duke” Cunningham was the first-place winner on this week’s list of the “Top Ten Conservative Idiots” on Democratic Underground, a left-leaning political Web site.

Turns out that Kaloogian had posted a photo, purportedly of downtown Baghdad, on his official Web site last week. The caption touted the pic of a bustling street as proof that the city is “much more calm and stable than what [sic] many people believe it to be.” But the photo wasn’t of Baghdad. Some alert bloggers matched landmarks to a corner in the city of Istanbul.

Geography note: Not only is Istanbul not Baghdad; it’s also not in Iraq. Istanbul is in Turkey. U.S. troops are not currently fighting in Turkey, nor is there a civil war—oops, Bites meant to call it “sectarian strife.”

As if it needed any further irony, the photo supposedly was taken when Kaloogian was on the “Truth Tour,” a junket for talk-radio hosts that was put together last summer by Move America Forward and included local KFBK host Mark Williams. Kaloogian, on his Web site, later explained that the photo was a simple mistake. The real outrage, he explained—doing his best impersonation of Biff from This Modern World—was those “blame America first” bloggers who pointed it out.

Peculiar pen pal: Self-proclaimed pagan priest and vampire Triston Jay Amero made big news here a couple of weeks back.

Amero, a.k.a. Lestat Claudius de Orleans y Montevideo, a.k.a. Lord Cactus, hails from El Dorado County, so when he was arrested at the end of last month using 110 sticks of dynamite to blow up two La Paz, Bolivia, hotels, he was a shoo-in for the front page of the local paper.

Bites was blown away by the article and all the more intrigued by a phone call from Los Angeles Times reporter Lee Romney, asking what the Bolivian bomber’s connection was to SN&R.

Seems that back in 1999, Amero’s aunt placed a classified ad for him, seeking compassionate young people to write to him while he did time in the California Youth Authority for assault and help “keep him connected to the outside world.”

“He’s intelligent, white, hetero, into fantasy/sci-fi novels, history, the stock market and growing exotic cactus,” the ad read.

When compassionate young ladies started writing Amero, he got mad. He sued the Sacramento News & Review for violating his right to be left alone.

The suit went nowhere, but it did offer a glimpse at the man Amero would become. It’s all handwritten with flowery references to “this dread court” and peppered with a liberal sprinkling of mysterious Scandinavian runes, as well as a self-designed personal seal with a majestic cactus on it—looks like a giant saguaro. As pro per suits go, it’s a piece of art. Still, he might want to get a lawyer for the Bolivia thing.