By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
When the lawyers finished their arguments, Judge Wilson carefully announced his decision. Fish and Wildlife must re-evaluate the critical-habitat designation with new information on the economic impact. The builders have won this round. But during the two years the new designation might take, will the current protections remain or be struck down? Judge Wilson is supposed to rule on that this month, after receiving a reply from the NRDC and briefs from the Department of Justice. And when he does rule, I’ll do everything I can to be there, alone again in the gallery, a solitary voice for the gnatcatcher.
CONVENTIONAL WISDOM: The Erica Effect
There are those who dismiss daytime dramas as so much ersatz emotion, but you cannot so easily dismiss the throngs of fans who’ve come from as far away as Dallas, Wisconsin, Miami, Toronto, even Italy, to meet 19 All My Childrencast members Sunday during the first of three “ABC Super Soap Weekends” at Disney’s California Adventure.
On the agenda are sign-and-snap sessions with the stars, press-conference-style Q&A’s, soap couples playing Who Wants To Be a Millionairefor audience prizes (“You guys won these people a tote bag!” chirps the host) and “Casting Calls,” in which a few lucky gals get to grope soap studs in re-enactments of steamy love scenes, then get a videotape of the performance. In between, fans can chow down at the Soap Opera Bistro on “One Leaf To Live Salad” and choose from the “All My Chilled Wine” list, or check out the “Soap Link” store, which sells mugs, T-shirts, General Hospitalscrubs and size-2 designer hand-me-downs from All My Childrenstar Susan Lucci. (“We’ve sold her handbags, shoes, even her divorce papers,” reports a salesperson.)
Of course, the biggest draw is, in fact, Lucci, who’s played scheming, seductive Erica Kane for more than 20 years and through 11 soap-opera marriages. The Ericans arrived as early as 3 a.m. to line up for wristbands entitling them to an autograph, a photo-op and especially a one-on-one moment with the doyenne of daytime.
Wearing pink leopard jeans, gold stiletto mules, a black sweater and a nonstop smile, TV’s tiny terror, barely 5 feet tall and no wider than your left thigh, clearly knows how to work the crowd — teens with Farrah flips, the occasional eccentric with a topiary-animal hairdo, a couple of husky mamas who look alarmingly like Bruce Vilanch and lots of hefty, kid-schlepping moms. This could be Vegas, Graceland or, hell, The Jerry Springer Show.
And at the moment it seems as if a Springer-like scene is about to unfold. Young Victoria from Victorville, you see, has been denied an Erica-access wristband and is quite distraught. But instead of throwing Jerry punches, Victoria is overcome with Oprah-like emotion when she sees Lucci from afar. Miraculously, Lucci spots her young fan and, moving away ä from her handlers, goes over to Victoria and hugs her.
“I’ve been through so much,” Victoria says later, between sobs, explaining her failed efforts to get the required wristband. “A complete stranger is getting her autograph for me. I’m not like a typical fan. She’s just my downtime every day. I can’t believe she hugged me! I’m just so happy! Out of everything I’ve been through, she hugged me! I was up all night, and this beautiful woman hugged me!”
—Vicki Jo Radovsky
The first thing you learn about Your Taxman is that he doesn’t want his name used. Or his address. Or the names of his many celebrity clients — even those whose murky demise has only served to prolong the intrigue surrounding their Byzantine fortunes.
The second thing is he never takes on new clients unless they are referred to him by another client, giving the whole thing a slightly illicit air. And, as if to confirm your references, he frequently quizzes you on the whereabouts of these missing links — by extension, connecting you and everyone else back to the common roots and branches of his sub rosa society.
And third, no matter who you are or where you come from, this is a benevolent dictatorship. You serve at his whim, obey his rules, and you always have to wait.
But on one point, everyone agrees: He has an almost mystical understanding of the tax code, and he can save you enough money to counterbalance any amount of eccentricity or grandstanding — even if it means waiting for hours on end, listening to the accretion of his storied life pass by in a slow-streaming, never-ending monologue, from which you may take wisdom or succor, as you wish.
“Contrary to popular opinion, the IRS is very easy to get along with,” he says, apropos of nothing. “They just have three things they ask of you: That you stay in compliance, that you keep in contact and that you render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. Other than that, they’re really pretty flexible.”
Housed in a residential apartment complex someplace in West Hollywood, where a Picasso guitar–shaped pool glows turquoise through the long night as a constant beacon, Your Taxman hosts an endless stream of TV actors, all-night waitresses, studio musicians, rock managers, postal workers, mob hitmen and tongue-studded circus people who make their annual pilgrimage here. He’s been doing this for 16 years now, as evidenced by the flying tangle of white hair and the thick band around his middle, and he estimates he sees roughly 1,400 clients a year — which, in the final weeks of tax season, come at the rate of 25 a day. He always orders takeout for whomever wants it, even though his clients are apt to bring him culinary bribes — cookies, pasta, collard greens — and there’s always plenty to drink, giving the proceedings an increasing festivity as night stretches into morning. He claims to sleep only three to four hours a day, and to have never lost an audit. And he never turns anyone away — including his ex-wives’ ex-husbands — unless they deserve it.