I Heart SCV
February, 2018 - Issue #161
With Valentine's Day not so far away, you might start thinking about that special someone. But just because you find them unique and one-of-a-kind doesn't mean the rest of us do. Lots of people are good partners, tell corny jokes, have adorable dimples and share your fondness for '80s music. The world is lousy with overrated soulmates. To really stand out in a crowd the size of Santa Clarita, it takes more. You don't necessarily have to be the best at something, but you do have to have taken a path followed by few others.

Unusual Mayor for Unusual City
Out-going Mayor Cameron Smyth is the typical politician - charismatic, rehearsed and always "on." In-coming Mayor Laurene Weste isn't. If you didn't know she was the mayor of Santa Clarita, you'd probably expect that she owned a shop that sold healing crystals or had done a thesis on Finnish Literature or something similarly obscure. She is rather private, rather quiet, rather a mystery. This remains the case despite the fact that 2018 marks the fifth time she's served as mayor; the first time was all the way back in 2001.

So what do we know about the enigmatic Laurene Weste? She is drawn to the mystique of the American West; she is committed to causes including the environment, seniors and animal welfare; and she's usually politically conservative, though not aggressively so. On the City Council, she is averse to conflict. Stoic and often on horseback, she can seem more cowgirl than gavel-wielder. As she took the reins of the City yet again for 2018, Weste observed, "This is a very unusual city." She meant it in a complimentary way, so she probably isn't concerned when Claritans notice that Weste isn't so usual herself.

Charles Manson's Newhall BFF
Sending one letter to infamous murderer Charles Manson would be one too many for 99.9 percent of the population. But Newhall resident Michael Channels sent Manson over 50 letters, leading up to a meeting in 2002. The two developed something of a relationship. Channels sent Manson letters and some money to help out with medical expenses in prison. Manson sent Channels letters and even a Halloween mask he created himself (Can you think of anything creepier?). And now, after the death of Charles Manson, Channels is involved in a dispute over who will take his remains.

Channels claims to have been mailed Manson's will, the legitimacy of which will be scrutinized in court soon. In the document in question, Manson seems to disown all of his family, which would leave Channels in charge. If the purported will doesn't hold up, Manson's grandson, Jason Freeman, would likely take his grandfather's remains instead. In an interview with the OC Register, Channels said that if he's given the body, the plan is cremation and scattering Manson's ashes in the desert. Hopefully a desert far from Santa Clarita. Whatever happens, Channels isn't your usual Claritan.

Final Exams
Teaching at a community college isn't something that most people do for very long. College of the Canyon's Dan Takeda is a notable exception. He's finally retiring after 46 years on the job. Who knows how many thousands of students must have heard his lectures? (Takeda could probably figure it out - he's a scientist.) Based on online reviews, he was known for a rather wide-ranging style, prone to tangents and asides. Some students loved him, others didn't, but all seem to agree that he pushed students to learn by demanding a lot of them.

Maybe this is all sounding a little cliche, but Takeda's endurance is worthy of celebration. Community-college classes aren't quite teeming with the hyper-motivated students that the Ivy Leagues take for granted, so going for nearly half-a-century demands intense dedication. And appropriately for Valentine's Day, the unusually-dedicated Takeda met his wife in an unusual way. She was a new lab tech, and she caught his eye by saving the day upon discovering a potentially-explosive substance in the lab. Santa Clarita's standouts run the gamut, but for some reason, they all heart the SCV enough to call it home.
This column is intended as satire and a (sometimes successful) attempt at humor. Suggestions, catty comments and veiled threats intended for the author can be e-mailed to
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