The Needles Eye

Talkin smack where smacks due

Photo by Jack GouldSo, any of you happen to hit the Spurgeon Building in Santa Ana on Jan. 8? We hate to gush, especially since it will just go to Max Presneill's head, and he's been talkin' some smack about us to anyone who'll listen, but we would never let that get in the way of our unbiased and impartial musings, except to say, you know, we sure wish it were someone else who was responsible for the liveliest, most fun art happening that's occurred anywhere in the county in the past five years. But Cal State Fullerton art czar Mike McGee and the often-pompous Presneill managed to do just that. Damn.

Several hundred folks straight from some mysterious corner of Pretty People Land took advantage of the 100 artists spilling out of offices on all four floors of the vacant building, and, oddly, people actually spent their time looking at the works instead of one another. Except when they were at the bar.

All the Santa Ana mainstays were in the house, of course, like Łberart couple Lori Hassold and Jeff Gillette(Gillette was responsible for the installation Weird Guy Hanging out in the Women's Bathroom, Breathing Heavily and Staring), the Yoko-ish Maria Schowengerdt, and the odd and sweet film guy Bob Pece. But there was new and very young blood bobbing about, too, which had the old folks like ourselves in somewhat of a dither.

Amid expectedly bad works, there were fabulously fun installations, the most successful of which, like Cynthia Minet's Chamber of Memory, were cheerfully gimmicky rather than attempting to be profound in the middle of a zoo. Frank Dixon offered a whimsical condemnation of Modernism (or was it a condemnation of those ignorant enough to condemn Modernism?) with a roomful of picture frames hanging over empty walls and a chair in the middle of the room with a whoopee cushion on it. The wall across from the chair was emblazoned with the legend "I think we've been had." In Minet's office space, a wet-sand-covered floor provided an amusement park-like discombobulation for any viewers in heels, while vials of scent ensconced on the walls offered campfire and beach smells that all seemed designed to bring back memories of youthful sexual escapades. Or was that just us?

Meanwhile, up on the fourth floor, a marathon performance piece featured rude young ladies (Melinda Ring and Liz Young) refusing to register the evening's guests in something straight out of Candid Camera. The women caviled and kvetched and insisted on getting everyone's name wrong. A lot of people didn't get the joke, and a few of them were pissed. But the women told them to shut up and sit down. Mostly, they did.

The afterparty at the former Patrick Webster Galleryin the Santora Building around the corner took an awfully long time to materialize—the DJs were taking their sweet time moving their equipment between buildings—but nobody left. We were sure all the sexy 22-year-olds wouldn't have the stamina to sit on the sidewalk with nothing to do; when we were 22, waiting was something only Russians did well—and then only when there were especially promising loaves of bread to be had. But the gallery, once opened, was immediately jammed with bonbon-shaking party people holding cans of beer that some of the supermodel boys were jovially passing out. Nice job, Mike. And Max, too. We guess.

So, any of you get over to Flock of Goo Goo at Linda's Doll Hut on Jan. 7? With the legendary Steve Soto, Greg "Adam" Antista, and members of the Cadillac Tramps prancing around in wide stripes and neckerchiefs, you can't go very far wrong. Any medley that includes Katrina and the Waves and "867-5309" has to have a committed band behind it. And while the band may have been pretending to be ironic, we can just see them, circa 1982, sporting pink shirts and big hair. Don't think you can put one over on us, Flock of Goo Goo!

So, any of you happen to catch the Republicanpresidential debate in South Carolina on Jan. 7? It was hilarious. First, you had angry black man Alan Keyes throwing temper tantrums like a Newport Beach deb waking up to discover that beneath all the bandages is the wrong nose; every time he didn't want to answer a question, he would rag on the questioner and claim it was inappropriate. (Example: a female reporter asked the candidates to describe the greatest mistake they'd made as adults. Um, correct answer: We work too hard? We care too much? Keyes got angry and turned it into a referendum on rude people asking questions they have no right to ask; ultra-right-wing alien baby Gary Bauer said it was the time he'd dared to cite a poll to Ronald Reagan, whose folksy wisdom he kept invoking the whole damn night, as though Reagan had been some kind of actual person who said deep and meaningful things; George Dubya Bush rambled inanely, with that look he gets, like an overexcited puppy whose brain ain't quite right about to hump your leg; nobody knows what Steve Forbes' fat head was talking about; Senator Orrin Hatch didn't understand the question; and only Senator John McCain actually answered, citing the appearance of impropriety of meeting with the Keating Five. You remember the Keating Five, don't you? Aw, hell.)

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