Strange days in River City

Youth storm the Capitol: While protesters took on the ministerial conference, the California Legislature was quietly being taken over this week by 138 students from around the state who belong to a group that calls itself the 4-H. Bites spoke to ringleader Pat English on Friday, when the group was setting up camp in the downtown Holiday Inn. “We initially knew there was a USDA meeting, but we didn’t realize it was gonna be such a to-do,” said the 4-H Youth Development Program rep. “But you know, we’re a citizenship conference, and we figure what better lesson can these kids see than citizenship in action?”

A centerpiece of the annual program is a model state Legislature in which Democrats and Republicans are replaced by Golden Eagles and Grizzly Bears. Thankfully, there will be no budget debates or district gerrymandering because the conference only lasts five days. But there will be an election.

“The governor gets elected Sunday,” said English.

And he gets recalled when?

“That isn’t in our schedule,” said English. “We’ll have to weave that in in future years when this whole process gets deeply embedded in the California system.”

English was cautiously optimistic regarding the logistics of moving her mock legislators from the Supreme Court building to the Capitol and back to their hotel on Monday.

“There’s nothing we can do but just move forward,” she said. “We’ll be walking way south to go way around it to get to the Holiday Inn. Say a little prayer for us.”

Urine the money: Bites experienced one of those increasingly frequent so-my-life-has-come-to-this moments on Friday while talking urine with Brian O’ Neel, the press secretary for Assemblyman Tim Leslie, R-Tahoe City. Leslie is pissed off at Caltrans, which he accuses of spending too much money to dispose of urine-filled bottles found alongside state roadways, and has sent a letter demanding that Caltrans clean up its act.

“Why are we spending up to $8,000 and using hazmat teams to remove a bottle of urine, when you all you need is a pair of rubber gloves, a pair of goggles and something to put them in?” asked the deficit-conscious O’Neel.

It turns out Leslie’s district is known for its roadside urine bottles. “If you were a private contractor doing this, you’d make most of your money along the stretch of I-80 in our district,” said O’Neel. “It’s one of the two biggest interstates in the country, and after you leave Reno, there’s not a lot of places to stop off at.”

Though Bites was previously unaware of the urine-bottling phenomenon—and never imagined it was a hallowed tradition that’s reaching biohazard proportions—O’Neel insists it’s commonplace: “I’ll tell you, I’ve been stuck in traffic in L.A., and it’s occurred to me plenty. But I could never figure—how are you gonna get it in that small opening? Unless you get one of those wide-mouth bottles.”

Stalking points: Being a craven media construct, Bites feels a sense of kinship with Adam No. 46, “a teen idol living right in the neighborhood of Auburn.” Adam is the local focal point of an elaborate promotional campaign for the “sizzlin’ summer” premiere of a national magazine called Boy Crazy. Boy Crazy, Bites has learned, was created “to be a proprietary brand that facilitates young girls’ interest in learning more about boys—at a stage in their lives when they are enthusiastic and motivated to do so.” So, it was only natural that what began life as a Web site and a set of collectible trading cards has now morphed into a newsstand product.

All of this brings us back to poor Adam in Auburn. Though he’s available for interviews and would love to chat with Bites—“about what Boy Crazy means to him, what kids in [our] area are interested in, and advice for teen girls … and their guys!”—there is a dark side to the Boy Crazy phenom. The kit includes a full-page media advisory cautioning against revealing Adam’s full name or any other identifying information to anyone, anywhere. “The Boy Crazy concept is designed for girls who are exactly that—boy-crazy!” warn the folks at Decipher Specialty Products Group. “So, it’s somewhat difficult to predict what a boy-crazy girl might do.”