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Jan-02-2010 14:40printcomments

The County Formerly Known as 'Orange'

“Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true, or is it something worse?” -The River by Bruce Springsteen

The Huntington Beach Pier at sunset
The Huntington Beach Pier at sunset
Courtesy: plan4preschool.org

(LAGUNA BEACH, Calif.) - With the dawn of a new decade, Orange County residents should reflect on what a blessing it is to live around here, what a miraculous job the Irvine Company, Henry Segerstrom, the Mission Viejo and Aliso Viejo Corporations plus the O’Neill and Moiso gangs et al have accomplished.

In the latter half of the 20th Century they managed to pave over paradise. Of course they had assistance, what with the willing, greedy, hands-out-what’s-in-it-for-me-attitude of the incestuous Republican political structure.

It wasn’t an easy job, this was well thought out and no fluke, but hey, somebody had to do it, right?

How can you not be grateful, even if the American Dream turned out to be an air-conditioned, gridlocked, contaminated nightmare?

What we need now during the recovery cycle is some spin, some management, some New Age damage control which enables us to repackage, to whore ourselves to the next generation of suckers while interest rates are incredibly low. Maybe one of those billionaire self-help, spiritual materialists we’re renowned for could assist us.

There’s no more fitting example of suburban entropy, the downside and insidious underbelly of white flight, than the broken promises of once-upon-a-time idyllic yet oxymoronic "sustainable development." Doubly true here among the bygone verdant slopes of formerly bucolic South Orange County.

So what better way to celebrate this new era than reinventing, rebranding ourselves as a hip County? Recording artists like Sean Combs and Prince do this by renaming themselves every few years to resuscitate or stimulate their careers. Around here they simply coined a phrase for media outlets, The OC, to fulfill that marketing ploy. Of course, 25 years ago who would of believed that an ecological dump like Fontana would be part of The Inland Empire? Quintessentially Hollywood, put a “The” in front of anything and you have the vapid So Cal cachet incarnate.

Actually, it’s hype not hip we seek as the last few acres of commercial orange groves were plowed under by the Irvine Valley Community College School District Board some 10 years ago and replaced by strawberry fields. Why? Because strawberries earn more per acre and it fit the trustee’s future revenue model. Oranges, what oranges, we don’t need no stinking oranges!

Our wonderful, bought-and-paid-for-by-developer cartel-campaign contribution-bling OC Board of Supervisors should embrace it, there’s no more apropos symbol (think Prince and his imaginary, unpronounceable moniker) we could come up with than the dollar sign: $$$ COUNTY, ingeniously simple to recollect-----Unlike our fading memories of citrus groves that stretched for miles.

Since there are no more oranges, we’re a rudderless and ill-defined ship anyway, so why keep those 3 fat juicers and green stem attached so prominently displayed in our logo, why not 3 dollar signs? Why not go one step further, re-phrase that Pete Seeger folk tune about death and Voila!, the new theme song: “Where Have All The Oranges Gone?” Gone to developer’s bulldozers, each and every one.

Perhaps Pink Floyd would sell us the rights to their seminal tune Money with its defining sound of cash registers ringing: “Ka-Ching!” I mean, how many dying counties have theme songs, let alone catchy ones by dying, seminal fusion bands? Nonetheless, we need to create an optimistic campaign strategy that promotes what we’ve destroyed. Eat your hearts out Wall Street, and Florida, you can keep your navel mascot. .

Salem-News.com photo of Orange County freeway system

Ground Zero for the rape of our previous incarnation is cookie cutter Irvine, a planned community that puts Daly City’s little boxes made of ticky-tacky to shame. Sure it’s the safest place in the USA regarding crime, but it’s also among the most boring and bland, built over those same citrus and lima bean fields of mythological lore. Its homeowners are vacuous, hollow people who voluntarily gave up parking motor homes in their own driveways or putting basketball hoops for the kids on their garage roofs years ago-----All in the name of tranquil homogenization. If you can’t hide it or cram it into your back yard with camouflage netting, then you don’t get to have it. And their elected officials LOVE sleeping with developers, they really really do.

Many in the OC actually believe that these land rapists have given back a lot of precious open space because they have (don't laugh) a conscience. This is a blatant lie, propagated by the media. These developers hand over seemingly valuable acreage to prominent NGO conservancies because it’s either vertical (steep and unbuildable), too remote hence economically infeasible, or there is some federally-listed endangered species in residence that significantly curtails their fiscal lust.

Next up for OMO: The Aliso Creek, a South OC poster child for political graft, watershed degradation, increased pavement and attendant aquatic pollution. Learn why environmental advocates (enviros) don’t call it “The Anus of Orange County” for nothing!

Prior articles on Salem-News.com from Roger Butow:



Launched in 2010, Odd Man Out is the creation of Roger von Bütow, a professional environmental consultant. Written exclusively for the Salem-News, it's intended as the next evolutionary step on the path of an eco-warrior.

Roger is a Southern California native who spent his formative years as a racial minority: A blonde-haired, blue-eyed surfer on the mean streets of the LA Harbor area. Running from gangs eventually trained him for his high school and collegiate track and cross-country career. Going to college part-time, disqualified for a student deferment, when his draft notice arrived in a fit of machisimo he joined the USMC in 1965, eventually attached to the 3rd Marine Air Wing.

Once honorably discharged, he resumed his college studies, majoring in philosophy. He dropped out in early 1972 when an opportunity to travel in Europe inexpensively for 6 months was too good to pass up. Upon returning, he and his former wife ended up in Laguna Beach, and though the marriage didn’t last his love of the place is in its 38th year.

Disgusted by chronic sewage spills and toxic urban runoff pollution that triggered constant beach closures in his area, he formed “Clean Water Now!” in 1998. Local surfers, skimmers and divers were pissed off, but there wasn’t a cohesive, unified and aggressive group response, zero leadership or activism facilitated by the Surfrider Foundation or Sierra Club regarding water quality impairment issues. You can write to Roger at: rogerbutow@mac.com


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Roger von Bütow January 4, 2010 8:19 pm (Pacific time)

I like what Cody wrote. A voice of reason in a heated milieu, the shooting gallery of online comment warfare is dead end for mature dialogue. Howsabout we all move on from personal attacks, and to honor those who feel that I'm trapped in some 60's time warp, I'll take on the snake oil and snake oil salespeople of the so-called "Green Movement"? I vow, in the very near future, to address bogus enviros and bogus technologies, OK? No holds barred, straight up named examples and critiques of these people and their phony solutions---Up to date, current discrete examples from not only The OC but national or international scammers. This has actually been a pet peeve of mine, and I too am frustrated by the misrepresentations by many who market themselves by wrapping themselves in a green suit. 90% of the ecological movement won't "OUT" or discuss these people, claiming we don't feed on our own. I submit that grifters are grifters---To harbor, to in essence tacitly condone these entities is to undermine the legitimate players. I've got several historical articles that will get my readers up to 2010 that I'll post in the next few weeks, then circle back to give folks my take on these new age Elmer Gantry eco-hucksters. I think this might interest a wider readership and help do what my personal mission statement mandates: Educate. Educate. Educate.

UrKiddingRight January 4, 2010 11:14 am (Pacific time)

Roger von Bütow says his critics (I'm a critic of his article, but not him) have two complaints: (1) they don't agree with him; (2) they think he hasn't walked the walk. Wrong. No one has said Roger von Bütow hasn't walked his walk. I've only suggested that Roger's article was nothing more than 1960's babble about "the man" (they paved over paradise in Orange County), when in fact the problem is simple and nothing to rant about: too many people want to live in OC and that's what you get when too many people want to live in a particular place. This is Salem, Oregon. A piece about S Cal asphalt isn't all that relevant. But worse, its just silly for this publication to include a 1960's style whine articles about how the big, bad sinister corporations put in a lot of asphalt in Orange County, California to accommodate all the people that wanted to live there.

Editor: OK, well nobody says you have to like it.  Painful truth about our world is not a fun subject.  Our studios and main operation are based in Salem but I'm sure you realize that we have over 40 writers throughout the U.S. and in other nations.  It's just too bad for the greed based developers that some of us actually recall that there were once orange groves everywhere in OC.  I may live in Oregon today but like Roger I am born and raised in Southern California.  Your lack of media in OC is a massive problem and that is what has allowed these developers to work at warp speed.  You suggest that the growth is some inevitable fact of life, yet we all know that south county is nothing but high priced luxury homes and apartments; they don't exactly accomodate a range of incomes.  You should appreciate the fact that a group in any location cares about this.  Thanks for your comment.  

C. R. Rodgers (AKA Cody) January 4, 2010 9:34 am (Pacific time)

There is a point in which honest debate and conversations of minds degrade. Having watched the forum closely, I find the story to be intriguing, some of the points within the comments to be founded, and some of the points from the editorial staff to be to the point. But, let me digress: Although the news agency isnt a government, I disagree that there are no rights--we as news writers have an obligation to our readers, and the rights of journalism are posted within AP guidelines. We follow those, then people have rights. As for what you, M. Mitchell seem to know, it appears is very little. All I can find in your words are baseless facts and violated insertions of careless comments. Let us keep to the story, finding not what we want to complain about, but that which we want to change--that which we want to make into a better tomorrow. As for the news: great job Roger Butow. I look forward to your next piece.

UrKiddingRight January 4, 2010 8:34 am (Pacific time)

The Editor's comments demonstrate Roger Butow's contributions to society in many ways. Fine -- I'm not arguing that. What I'm saying is that in THIS ARTICLE, Roger Butow is simply complaining "... they ... pav[ed] over paradise...". Duh. That's what happens when too many people come to paradise. To then rant and rave -- with admitted hyperbole -- and blame all the big bad corporations for it is not much more than an exercise in silliness. But what was more remarkable than Roger Butow's "condemn 'the man'" article was the Editor's obvious awestruck reverence for anything Roger Butow might say. This "publication" has a lot of maturing to do. This isn't the 1960's and ignorant condemnation of 'the man' is empty rhetoric that doesn't accomplish anything or enlighten anyone, even though the Editor might love this sort of blast from the past.

Roger von Bütow January 4, 2010 6:23 am (Pacific time)

It seems to me that my critics really have two complaints, but they are connected: They don't agree with me and believe that I have done little or nothing to address environmental problems in OC. You know, talked the talk withe ZERO Walk. So my thoughts/opinions have no merit because I have no product. Did anyone GOOGLE my name or Clean Water Now!, maybe the first NGO I founded CLEAN ALISO CREEK ASSOCIATION (C.A.C.A.) ??? I didn't think so. These two issues are connected because by questioning or challenging my "Bona Fides," my credentials and expertise they undermine, debunk or refute my ecological statements. First, I have NEVER been compensated (paid) for my extensive involvement these past 12+ years, so let's get $$$ incentive as my motivation out of the way. Second, I suggest that my critics spend a few hours and possibly a few of THEIR $$$ to go into the archives of the OC REGISTER, LA TIMES and OC WEEKLY. Go back to 1998 to get a genesis or full history. Then pick up the phone and call the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board (Cal/EPA), inquire about me or Clean Water Now! with long time staff members. Call the California Dept. of Fish and Game, US Fish and Wildlife Service at their Carlsbad/Oceanside offices. Contact the US Army Corps of Engineers (LA Office) or the parent State Water Resources Control Board (Cal/EPA) in Sacramentio, call up NOAA (National Marine Fisheries Service) in Long Beach, or the California Coastal Commission Long Beach branch. Call my bosses at KEEP CALIFORNIA BEAUTIFUL or call the OC Watersheds Dept.. If my critics need specific contact info for staff of these agencies to confirm my 12 years of product, just write to me directly. What I will do is start including those "Bona Fides" in my future columns to assist those who wish to take the "ad hominem" path instead of civil vibrant dialogue that such venues as this avail themselves to. I'm a public figure, I have nothing to hide, and even this column ODD MAN OUT is being submitted "gratis," without pay. Look up OMO and it is an honest admission that I know my voice might be a minority one, but the price of a healthy environs, like liberty, is constant vigilance. And I have been a persistent and constant voice for 12 years, just exactly what kind of community involvement/product these critics have as product is difficult to discern.

M. Mitchell January 3, 2010 4:13 pm (Pacific time)

No, I'm not part of the problem, sir but you certainly are. As much as we'd all like to think that we are being so green, I find it interesting to see all the renewable energy projects getting shut down by guys like you. Do you think that you'll ever be able to determine exactly what for sure it is that you do want? Sadly, probably not. You are of the mind set, "well, I have mine now and no one else thereafter, can have there's". The Earth belongs to all of us, sir, not just a few that think they are going to make a change by some actions and a lot of words, such as yourself. I'm sorry for your readers because of the lack of flexibility you fail to offer people in their opinions (freedom of speech, out the door?). I guess like you and Al Gore, everyone is stupid by comparison. Over and out.

Editor: This is a news group, it is not a government agency, do you honestly think you have 'rights' here?  I have no idea what you are talking about beyond that.  In the case of Mr. Butow, you criticize the people who are trying to actually make a difference.  I met Roger while researching the contamination of my former military base, the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station.  It is one of the many problems in Orange County that would remain dormant without the input and effort of people like Roger Butow.  

UrKiddingRight January 3, 2010 2:37 pm (Pacific time)

The editor is stoked to have Roger Butow and takes M. Mitchell to task for disagreeing with Roger Butow. Wow. I can't stand southern Cal because too many people what to live there and when too many people want to live in a certain place, that place will change (as M. Mitchell correctly notes). S Cal has changed -- it was inevitable. And Roger Butow has done nothing -- really -- about that. Sure, bitch, moan and complain about the man, but that's not "doing something." Instead, Roger just adds to the root of the problem by, yes its true, deciding to live there also. If you don't like the consequences of living where so many others also decided to live, then leave. All the bitching, whining and moaning won't change it. Indeed, the hyperbole probably has the opposite effect from what was intended.

Editor: Nobody is disagreeing over the fact that Southern California has changed.  Since you aren't exactly working under the warm lamp of knowledge, I will just tell you that your assertion that Roger has done little is just more hogwash.  You guys who don't even have the credibility to use your own name are capable of firing accusations, but you lack the sense to know how important it is to keep an eye on what is going on in your backyard.  Roger and I were both El Toro Marines and a whole bunch of our friends have died from cancer that we believe is connected to the massive plume of TCE (trichlorothylene) on the base, only one of many deadly chemicals in the soil and groundwater aquifers there.  So, Lennar and Irvine want to build houses on that deadly ground and a park for kids to play in, and we write about it (Roger included, he's generated previous articles about it on Salem-News.com) and now people are far more aware of the situation.  We don't go a day without an email from another former El Toro Marine thanking us for exposing this tragedy.  You have no idea how huge his contributions have been, and he and I are both part of a film that will be released soon further exposing these problems. Moreover, the TCE itself is being pulled out of the ground at the Marine base, and it is pumped untreated (treated the same as regular sewage rather than a deadly chemical) in a pipe courtesy of the Irvine Ranch Water District, and "puked out" of the Ocean Outfall pipe about 1.2 miles off Aliso Beach and discharged in about 125 feet of water.  People swim in it; Aliso Creek is a glaring tragedy, signs warn people of the danger, Roger fought tooth and nail to have those signs put up.  And you say he is inactive, believe me that I'm refraining from telling you what I really think of your comment.

You're out of your league here pal, thanks for giving me an excuse to review some of these things.  Hell, the LA Times called him one of the top 5 environmental activists in OC in 2001.  I know, facts can be boring and they certainly don't support your POV but nonetheless they remain.       

M. Mitchell January 3, 2010 1:47 pm (Pacific time)

In spite of the negativity of Mr. Butow, OC is still a beautiful place, compared to most other metropolitan cousins (like LA, immediately to the north, for instance). As sad as it may seem to a lot of people, EVERYTHING changes!!!! People change, the climate and weather change, daily, the universe is in a constant state of change. To sit back and be negative, saracastic and complacent, is a bit unreal! Sorry but that is true. For everyone opposed to any kind of change and if you hate change so much.....do you have children that you brought into this wicked, awful world? HA!! Gotcha. Maybe it isn't as bad as you make it out to be. Perhaps go and live in a repressive society like Cuba and now, Venzeuela and then come back to what was and still is, PARADISE. Remember, it's too late for all of us to revert back to the single celled creatures that started it all on our beautiful planet. Remember when the Earth was a molten mass? No, I didn't think so.

Editor: Maybe you are new to the picture, Roger Butow isn't.  He's been fighting the polluters for decades and unlike you, he has a real thought on this and understands the root causes.  Maybe you hail from one of the groups that is responsible, who knows, but I find it interesting that you take the tone you do with a person who is only trying to help.  Sarcasm?  Try finding somebody who knows as much and isn't, good luck.  One thing is clear; unlike yourself and so many others, he is doing something about it.  We are stoked to have Roger as part of our team.

B. January 3, 2010 10:21 am (Pacific time)

Roger, A bit harsh to read your summary and I agree with most of what you said. I lived in OC for 20 years, moved out of state and will move back next year - in spite of the reasons cited in your article. It's all about being closer to my family for me. B.

Roger von Bütow January 3, 2010 5:35 am (Pacific time)

Ray: Yeah, guilty as charged regarding the hyperbole (exaggerating) but I wanted to shock uninformed, non-OC residents as I have been shocked. I was dating a lady who was a department head at Irvine College when I found out about those orange groves via the campus newspaper. I actually watched the crew plow 'em under and it just broke my heart. They say a cynic is someone who when they smell flowers looks around for a coffin. It seemed to me that I was witnessing, quite graphically, the end of an era. Sorry about the Pink Floyd remark----My band in college to played TIME, a really depressing but astute tune. I tried, but must have failed in your case, to use the fading of PF who I also loved as a metaphor, you know the dying of the once upon a time bright light. Like most, I have specific memories, reference points of my life, to go with special musical pieces. Then again, why did bass player and co-writer Roger Waters have to leave PF and break up another incredible band?

Ray M. Tafolla January 3, 2010 3:49 am (Pacific time)

Roger, I am a 51 year old man who spent his first 10 years on a farm in minnesota and then the remainder here in orange county, I have spent 31 years in the building industry and have seen first hand the handy raping of the land from the Irvine Co.I can hardly wait to get the heck out.. I will assure your readers you are exaggerating,but ease off on Pink Floyd, Ok?

Josh A. January 2, 2010 4:27 pm (Pacific time)

I'm not really looking forward to moving to California... I'm kind of just blowing with the wind and right now the wind is my girlfriend whispering in my ear that she is picking up a pre-foreclosure somewhere between Oakland and Sacramento... a place called Oakley. I mapped all the foreclosures in the area with Google maps and I'm wondering if this isn't a ghost town I'm to be moving into (in 4 months). I have lived in Salem all my life and never traveled much or been in a foreign country (even Canada, with whom I have a great curiosity with their incredible ability to maintain peace with one another). I just hope there is some dirt around somewhere these sprawling metropolises look like nightmares from Google earth's POV.

Daniel Johnson January 2, 2010 3:23 pm (Pacific time)

Roger: Your first piece in your new incarnation. Well done.

I've just cancelled my plans to retire to Orange County.

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