For many San Diegans, 2002 was one of those years best spent in the beanbag, contemplating KGTV anchor-dude Hal Clement's nose hairs. There was no reason to go out there in the real world, which Hal assures us is occupied by strange schoolmarms doing random thong checks and child killers mingling with wife-swappin' pot heads.
Better just to hunker down and hope it all blows over.
It was that kind of year, which is why some San Diegans are moving toward 2003 like bloated seals wallowing into the ocean, hoping for a safe haven from the strange men with baseball bats.
These folks took a pounding in 2002, reminding us that our lives may be hell, but at least we're not them:
* Poet Quincy Troupe was vilified for lying about a college degree on his résumé, shocking San Diegans who believe the best poets need to take classes in calculus and the history of lint in order to achieve greatness. Meanwhile, members of the San Diego City Council and civic leaders sung tributes to outgoing ethically-challenged Councilman Byron Wear, who often claimed to have achieved the Herculean academic feat of completing two years at San Diego State, even though he had never finished a course.
* Term limits forced the Rev. George Stevens off the San Diego City Council, eliminating God's official walkie-talkie to city government. Whether the topic was anal sex or parking permits in Mission Beach, Stevens always made it clear that his viewpoint came directly from his regular chats with the Big Guy, which made him a tough man to debate. With Stevens gone from the council, a bitter God will have to rely on lightning bolts and The X-Files reruns to communicate with the masses.
* John Moores' image went from friendly philanthropist and dorky owner of the Padres to Evil Billionaire and weasely doubletalker. Moores' year included his pithy decision to revoke a promised gift to San Diego State University after the Daily Aztec ran a column criticizing him and a big-time Enron-style scandal at one of his moneymakers, Peregrine Systems. He also managed to piss off some of his biggest supporters by changing the plans for the downtown ballpark, cutting down a park and adding office towers, a classic bait and switch. But he was officially labeled as a wacko when he announced his willingness to shut down baseball for a year rather than give in to the players union. Such crazed talk scared even his fellow owners, who immediately decided to settle.
* After several columns in the U-T news pages with breathless details about her vacation in Africa, desperate news section columnist Diane Bell found a new low when she devoted the first part of her column to news of a man who found lost kittens-and, wow, get this!-took them to an animal shelter. A few weeks later Bell landed another big scoop when she reported that two "San Diego friends" had an "interesting wager" on the next day's San Diego Chargers-Buffalo Bills game. The loser would have to buy the other guy lunch and-wow, get this!-"wear a Raiders jersey throughout the meal."
* Clear Channel Communications-owned KGB-FM dumped afternoon disc jockey Jim McInnes, who had been with the station since Jerry Ford was president. Although McInnes was replaced by rock preacher Mojo Nixon, the move was widely seen as further evidence of soulless Clear Channel's efforts to eliminate live voices from the radio. At about the same time, Tom Petty released "The Last DJ," a mournful look at corporate radio eliminating disc jockeys. Clear Channel stations around the country, thinking the song was about a basketball player, put the song in heavy rotation.
* It was another good year for City Council staffers, once known for little more than their ability to fetch coffee. With the addition of Charles Lewis and Michael Zucchet, the council is now dominated by former council aides, a job usually handled by faceless, no-talent bureaucrats. With San Diego's beer-gut puppet masters eager to push political dweebs on to the council, Kevin Faulconer was considered a front runner for the second district seat, even though he described himself as a "public relations executive," which translates in the real world as "toady bootlicker." But it was not meant to be for Faulconer, who lost, suggesting that even voters think PR people don't know crap.
* San Diego State University was torn with scandal and conflict over whether it was appropriate to have a half-naked dude with a spear serve as the school mascot. Administrators wracked with angst couldn't decide on a new mascot, but tried to call in air strikes to prevent support for the ol' half-naked dude. Amidst the academic turmoil, State was once again named one of the best party schools in the country.
* Black clouds circulated around KFMB-TV's sports geek Ted Leitner when reports surfaced that he may finally get the boot. Leitner's possible demise sent staffers scurrying to figure out what the station could do with the money saved from Leitner's salary. They calculated the extra money could be used to hire five photographers and maybe three or four top-notch news babes from Yuma, although most agreed management would probably spend the money on a new weather radar computer that can also play "Grand Theft Auto."
* In a true display of fatherly love, suburban child killer David Westerfield tried to blame child pornography found on his computer on his son, ignoring advice in Better Parenting magazine against accusing kids of your perversions. The son took the stand to deny that he was collecting pictures of little girls, contradicting dear ol' Dad. The jury believed the kid, assuring that 2002 would be a really lousy year for Westerfield.