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Between The Lines

BYRON DE ARAKAL --

January 30, 2002

FROM SOMEWHERE IN NEWPORT BEACH -- The situation here in this

once-tranquil seaside hamlet is unraveling with some dispatch, though for

now I am safe. But only for now, as it's quite murky as to who holds

power.

Our party waited out the pitch black and frigid cold of night holed up

in a windowless storage room at a popular local eatery called Original

Pizza, just off McFadden Square. It's proprietor, a friend and

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well-connected chap named Robert Kalatschan, assured us we'd be safe from

the anti-development warlords and their marauding band of petulant

followers.

Kalatschan -- a streetwise merchant -- warned us, however, that it was

dangerous now for journalists to travel without escort. He advised us

that our safety was only assured provided we proclaim the names Bren,

Koll and Sutherland as infidels on occasions when confronted by aging

torchbearers with the word "Greenlight" stenciled to their foreheads.

We made it here by sheer luck and a little blackmail. We were spirited

to our location in the trunk of an automobile owned by Bob Caustin, a

grenade thrower in the local environmental movement. Caustin at first

refused to accommodate our need to reach the battle zone. But when we

confronted him with infrared satellite imagery that clearly showed him

hosing down his driveway in the dead of night -- and informing him that

we would have no qualms turning it over to the Santa Ana Regional Water

Quality Board -- he relented.

Caustin wasn't our first choice. Our original plan was to reach the

front lines of the Greenlight Revolution undetected by stowing away in

the carriage of Allan Beek, a top general of the anti-development

insurgents. But intelligence reports revealed his 1961 VW bug to be too

small for our party and ill-suited for the cratered streets of the Balboa

Peninsula. Nonetheless, we are here.

The Greenlight Revolution has entered a new and ominous phase. And the

battlefront has shifted to the peninsula, where heavy gunfire has broken

out between the city's elected leaders and the moujahedeen of the

Greenlight movement over a 147-room resort called Marinapark near the

city's historic American Legion outpost. The shape and intensity of this

battle is the freshest evidence yet that the once peaceful activism of

the Greenlight Revolution is quickly escalating into a coup d'etat

against the city's power structure.

Sutherland Talla Hospitality Co. -- whose ambassador, Stephen

Sutherland, has been engaged in extended shuttle diplomacy in search of

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