Love and war

Localized anger: Can you feel the political tension? It’s palpable, as if it’s building to some kind of bursting point. Unfortunately, it has little to do with next week’s lackluster election, or even with its potential to change who controls Congress.

The writing is “not in the paper, it’s on the wall” as the singer once sang. It was at Luna’s Café during the Kerouac Festival on Friday, when Sacramento poet B.L. Kennedy screamed expletives at the crowd and urged them to force a regime change in Washington, D.C. It was on the streets of D.C. and San Francisco the next day, when 140,000 people showed up to protest American warmongering.

And it isn’t just Iraq that is animating people. It’s our imperialist tendency to use war as a solution to any problem. The federal war on drugs, with its regular raids on marijuana-growing operations that are legal under California law, is causing tense standoffs between state and federal cops and fueling backlashes, such as the measure on next week’s Nevada state ballot that would legalize even recreational use of pot.

Meanwhile, corporate corruption, eroding civil liberties, global warming, persistent poverty and other pressing problems are shoved to the back burner because of concerns about some tinhorn dictator we created half a world away.

Hasn’t this farce gone on long enough? Somebody tell our emperor that he’s not wearing any clothes.

Local bunny: Speaking of nudity, Bites was reading the December issue of Playboy last week … just for the articles, of course. Anyway, there was this one article entitled “Women of WorldCom,” which featured naked former employees of the disgraced telecommunications giant.

Already riveted by a stirring story of turn-ons and pet peeves, Bites’ attention was grabbed even more firmly by Mavia Dawn Nygard, who, as it turns out, lives in Sacramento and was a 1994 graduate from Bella Vista High School in Fair Oaks.

“I miss my job at WorldCom,” Nygard told Playboy. “I worked in the most incredible building in Sacramento—it was the highest, most prestigious building, and we were right at the top.”

In a follow-up chat with the lovely Ms. Nygard, Bites learned she worked in the Wells Fargo Center downtown since 1996 and managed to get a decent severance package just two weeks before the layoffs and stock plummet began.

An aspiring model (check out, Nygard sent Playboy a “what about us?” e-mail shortly after catching the “Women of Enron” pictorial a few months ago. The magazine responded by asking for photos, and, pretty soon, she was headed down to the Playboy Mansion for a photo shoot and VIP treatment. “I felt like a rock star,” she said.

For the single photo that ran in the magazine and a few that ran on the Web site, Nygard said she garnered “five figures.” And, on Monday, she’ll start a new job in the mortgage business—her first job since WorldCom. Yes, for resourceful women with great assets, corporate scandals needn’t be such a bad thing.

Local Lorax: OK, enough with the skin-deep, back into the heavy stuff. Susan Moloney has been on a hunger strike at the Capitol for 23 days, while she tries to get Governor Gray Davis to live up to his 1998 campaign promise to ensure “all old-growth trees are spared the lumberjack’s ax.”

Well, this week, she got some support from Green Party gubernatorial candidate Peter Camejo. The two staged a press conference at which they called it shameless that the Davis administration is approving logging plans that cut away at the final 4 percent of the state’s old-growth trees.

“This should not be necessary,” Camejo said of Moloney’s fast and the activists who live in trees to prevent them from being cut down.

Louis Blumberg, a spokesman for the administration’s forest policies who showed up, claimed that “all of the ecologically significant old growth is protected” on public lands. He called those being felled on private lands by Maxxam and other companies “incidental.”

Bites loves these kinds of tortured euphemisms. Given that Camejo is the only candidate in the race who is “ecologically significant,” maybe environmentalists should consider the spoiler consequences of voting for him to be “incidental.”