By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
So there we were Sept. 29 at Costa Mesa's Galaxy Concert Theatrefor Other Star People, and the bouncer didn't seem to know he wasn't supposed to let us backstage. That would have been great—and don't think we didn't appreciate it!—except there wasn't anybody back there, and there wasn't anybody out front, either. We hadn't seen the Galaxy that empty since our friends Harvey Dangerplayed there on a Tuesday.
And it's your loss, dears. The Galaxy is putting on what amounts to Miller Blind Dateshows—fantastic bands playing before audiences we shall describe as "intimate." Go to the Sun Theater (née Tinseltown) all you want—hell, we do, and so did the Galaxy's fabulous bookers, in a defection that might have left Galaxy and Coach Houseowner Gary Folgner "sad and lonely" but which he handled very graciously. But the Galaxy's got history, and it's got style. And unlike its sister, the Coach House—which is straight out of Footloose—you can dance at the Galaxy. Of course, we've been hearing raves about the Sun Theater, too, except from some disgruntled service staff who say they're being forced to put 25 percent of their tips into a kitty for management; also, all double drinks are now double priced, which in our case means a $12 martini. Management remains silent on this one. But the Sun has Lucinda Williamscoming soon, and that's good enough for us. And we wouldn't be surprised if Sun booker Ken Phebushas Chris Isaakhiding out over there.
Anyway, we did get to meet Other Star People, who should be owning the college charts right now as a kind of poppy confection of Oasis and The Pixies, with a little Sabbath thrown in so everyone can yell real loud. Todd is the boyish drummer; guitarist/singer Xander is a cute Goth; Jennifer Finch(formerly of L7) now calls herself Precious and wields her guitar like a giant strap-on; and Junko, a beautiful, tiny Japanese girl whom the rest of the band made work the merch booth after the show, has the immaculate stillness of Billy Zoom, but with cornrows. And while Junko stands back, marvelously detached, Precious and Xander yell in fake British accents and do choreographed hopping and rock-star windmills like Pete Townsendby way of synchronized swimmer Esther Williams. Cool. Really, though, Interscope Recordsshould pop for a merch guy so sweet Junko won't have to do it. They've got a good thing here, and they should be throwing fat gobs of dirty money (and gobs of fat roadies and merch dudes) at the band. In the land where we are queen, these people would not be carrying their own guitars and hawking their own CDs!
Other Star People were the definite highlight of the evening, by far beating out the headlining, Shirley Manson-meets-Joan Jettsinger of Joydrop. Apparently, in addition to giving us The Kids in the Hall, Canada is also still exporting tough girls in camouflage. Cool, but not as cool as our new friend Precious, who chirped, "E-mail me!" after spitting onstage and doing all manner of cool rock-star-chick shenanigans. She's so complex!
Openers Neve were sweet, too, and we very much liked their Pretty in Pink-soundtrack tunes, but not as much as the 15-year-olds who were swaying below the stage with their arms around one another's shoulders did. Or the table of lesbians in front of us. Or the woman behind us who knew all their words.
We headed to the rarefied air (we love rarefied air!) of the University Clubat UC Irvine, where the armchairs are leather and the bookshelves elegantly sparse, for a campaign-debt-retirement and fund-raising roast for once-and-again Irvine City Councilman Larry Agranand his band of merry Agranistas. Airports make strange bedfellows, and we found ourselves sitting next to ancien radical Republican Tom Rogers, head of the local GOP for a good part of this century—and, God, maybe even the last one—and his sweet and lovely wife, Mrs. Rogers. Hi, Mrs. Rogers! Rounding out the table were another guyand Mark Petracca, scourge of all Letters-to-the-editor sections in this fair county.
Most of the evening was spent fondly recalling Agran's 1992 bid for the presidency. Yes, of the United States. Of America. It was the tale, one participant recounted, of the "small Jewish mayor who would be president." Oh, and there was that one time he got arrested trying to muscle his small, Jewish way into a New York debate.
Hosts Chris and Peggy Mears(she's an Agran aide, and he's an aggressive trial attorney who does a lot of sweet pro bono work; both are former actors) began things charmingly by making out on the podium for about five minutes. It was just like late-night Cinemax!
Then some people started saying mean things about Agran's stature and his—oh, let's call it "quixotic"—run for president. Then Petracca got up—who knew he was a prop comic?—and told us all the things he has learned under the gentle tutelage of the Irvine Co., e.g. that Bob Dornanwas an American who fought and died for his country, and told some inside baseball jokes, mused on the meaning of the slogan "Irvine Ranch: A Time for People," and really, really went to town on the massive developers.
Luckily, the Irvine Co. was in the house, making for one of those very tense and still gracious political situations, like when we run into "Democratic" Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez and she graciously doesn't punch us in the throat. The Irvine Co. rep was very funny, too, saying he hadn't wanted to depress attendance at the fund-raiser and so he'd kept his attendance a secret. "I only told one person," he said dryly. "I left a voice mail with Dave Christensen." Ho, ho, ho, hee. (If you don't get that joke, you don't go to enough Irvine City Council meetings, which are the most fun council meetings going since Santa Ana City Councilman Ted Morenowas indicted on nearly a dozen counts of bribery, extortion and a host of campaign-finance violations. See, Irvine Mayor Christina Sheahas a daughter who got popped for possession of meth, and then Shea had a meltdown during which she voice mailed Christensen messages accusing Agran of all kinds of bad, cabalistic type things, and Christensen leaked her voice mail all over the place, and last we heard, Agran's suing. He does that.) But we're just wondering: Larry, what are you doing taking contributions from the Irvine Co.? Didn't you once run people out of town on a rail for doing the same thing? It's times like these we're glad we held that little coup and named ourselves "Orange County's Best Citizen" even though you had five votes and we only had three (or was it two?). None of our votes came from the Irvine Co.!
On Sunday night, we headed back to the Galaxy for Wayne "The Train" Hancock, straight from Austin, Texas, and we promptly fell asleep on the very comfortable couch backstage, having been up till all hours the night before at the Thousand Oaks Denny's, waiting for people we knew to traipse in. Apparently, though, we've been gone too long. See what we do for you people?
But although we got to see Big Sandy's Robert, whom we haven't run into since the last time BR-549was in town, and Chuckie the swing-dancing former federal bounty hunter, the Train was a little bit of a letdown. Sure, he still sounds just like Hank Williams Sr., and, yes, he and his band were wearing Hawaiian shirts as though they're running for election to replace Jimmy Buffettas president and cabinet of Margaritaville. But we actually preferred the middle act, the Graveyard Farmers, who reminded us of a friend's old band, Ghoul Brynner. The Train seemed a little out of steam. If only he'd had Chris and Peggy Mears there! He would have perked right up, we're sure!Perk up with Commie Girl at CommieGirl99@hotmail.com.