Sunday, August 15, 2010

Around Town: Yippee Skippy

It was a warm Wednesday morning in the foothills, the sprinklers were on, a few hours after sunrise. I walked along Foothill Boulevard with Miss Audrey Hepburn, our black Lab mix rescue dog from the Pasadena Humane Society.

Suddenly, Miss Hepburn began to growl. I looked up. Before us stood a thin-faced, young man, dressed in a red Stanford sweatshirt, sporting a baseball cap with the words "La Cañada Flintridge." He talked into an imaginary cell phone.

Not again! It was that process server from West Los Angeles, still hiding out in the local storm drains, looking for witnesses.

The process server stopped talking and looked up.

"Good news," he said, "I'm going to interview Skippy McChrystal."

"Huh?" I asked.

Miss Hepburn continued to growl.

The process server continued, "This is my chance. My chance to get into the mix. I'm gonna serve him."

"McChrystal?" I said. Suddenly, it dawned on me. Skippy McChrystal was Gen. Stanley McChrystal's wicked twin cousin.

Miss Hepburn continued to growl. The sun continued to rise. The sprinklers continued to sprinkle. The process server disappeared down Foothill Boulevard, trailing doughnut crumbs and scraps of toilet tissue.

A few days later, I went to the post office. The new issue of Rolling Stone had arrived. Inside was a piece on Skippy McChrystal, the evil twin of Gen. Stanley McChrystal. It went something like this:

Skippy McChrystal stands and looks around the Econoline van that his traveling staff of one has converted into a full-scale operations center. The floor is crowded with empty Starbucks grande-size coffee cups, and pizza boxes crisscross the van's thick carpet.

Dressed in off-the-rack Army Surplus casual — camo flak jacket, camo sweats and a blue tie, McChrystal is way out of his league. La Cañada Flintridge, as one of his advisers says, is the "most anti-process-server city you can imagine."

Skippy hates fancy restaurants, rejecting any place with candles on the tables as too Westside. He prefers Bud Light Lime (his favorite beer) to Bordeaux, "Ronin" (his favorite movie) to "High Noon." Besides, the public eye has never been a place where McChrystal felt comfortable: Before President Obama put him in charge of Canada, he spent five years running Sacramento's most secretive black ops.

"What's the update on the City Council meeting?" McChrystal asks the process server. The city has been rocked by two massive City Council meetings in the past week alone, calling into question the process server's assurances that he can wrest it from the city's duly elected representatives.

"We have two more meetings next week, but that hasn't been confirmed," the process server says.

"I'd rather have my ass kicked by a roomful of people than go to this City Council meeting," McChrystal says.

He pauses a beat.

"Unfortunately," he adds, "no one in this town except for Otis Hutchins and the Thursday Club could do it."

With that, he's out the door.

"I didn't know he had a donkey," said Miss Hepburn.

"It was probably a tuba," I said.

To be continued…

ANITA SUSAN BRENNER is a longtime La Cañada Flintridge resident and an attorney with Law Offices of Torres and Brenner in Pasadena. E-mail her at

Around Town: Yippee Skippy -

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