Photo by Jack GouldWe live in a neighborhood where the Craftsman bungalows come cheap, women sell snacks out of their living rooms, and the ice cream truck rolls through up to seven times a day. In the summer, the neighborhood kids don't eat anything else.

On the corner, the Original Gangsta sits in his driveway on a crappy folding chair, shouting at us every morning in capital letters as we walk our boy to school. He shouts like an old black man because that's what he is: "GOOD MORNING! HOW YOU DOIN' TODAY?"

Except when we're hung-over (he's awfully loud), we are always happy to see him and the several young men hanging out all the livelong day. We figure they'll give a real good talking-to to anyone who messes with us or our boy child.

On the night of April 6, the OG's oldest son was murdered. He was shot in the building's laundry room and covered with a burgundy rug that had been hanging on the fence. He was 24. The OG found him the next morning. With 40 neighbors congregating on the corners, the rumors were as thick as snot. "He'd been in there three days!" we heard one neighbor—a very fat, very sweet man whose kids our boy isn't allowed to play with because they're mean and rotten—say. "Don't nobody wash they clothes in that building?" some neighbors tsked. Every rumor was false.

Four days later, the OG's wife was waiting with their little kindergartner granddaughter for the same bus that takes our boy out of the ghetto to a school with actual trees on its campus. The OG's wife wasn't crying until we asked how she was doing. "That was my oldest son," she said, and she told us she thinks his baby's mama had him killed. "They didn't have to kill him. They could have just beat him up, and then I could have taken him to the hospital." She made a trip to the hospital sound as dreamy and delightful as a picnic in Prague. How she wished she could have done that for him; maybe she remembered a time when she did take him to the hospital all beat-up but was cranky about it—and didn't know then what a gift it was, being able to soothe him and heal him and keep him safe.

There's really no graceful transition from a crying woman with a dead child to what an utterly fabulous weekend we had, and to tell you the truth, we don't really feel like trying. So we'll start with a plea to you, our beloved readers, to defend our honor and that of the Weekly's lovely and talented Calendar editor, Anna Barr. We have been besmirched in the most wearisome, platitudinous way by Shecky! magazine (www.sheckymagazine.com/bricolap.htm). Shecky! is "the WWW's most beloved online magazine about standup," at least according to its editor, who calls us boringly and painfully self-referential (us?) because we referred to Jay Mohr as a smug, prissy white boy and spelled our personal friend Patton Oswald's name wrong, a mistake for which we refuse to take responsibility and shall instead blame upon the first factchecker we happen to see. Of course, this editor is as painfully uptight as the Italian-American groups boycotting The Sopranos; he wrote to Anna that she had "unfairly malign[ed]" standup comics because a blurb at the top of the comedy listings in the Calendar section says, "The OC Weekly takes no responsibility if the acts suck." We really don't feel like getting into a flame war, but we hope you will—except for those of you who find us boringly and painfully self-referential, of course. You keep your mean little thoughts to yourself.

We were going to keep our mean little thoughts to ourself when we went to see Rick Rockwell of Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire? infamy. But a funny thing happened on the way to the Brea Improv: Rockwell charmed the pants off everybody, including Steve Baby, an ungainly, large, suited man with a cute li'l blond girlfriend who told the opening act he was there to laugh at Rockwell. Within minutes of Rockwell's entry, Steve Baby was laughing and clapping like a seal and shouting things like, "You are the man, Rick!" So we were forced to snitch on him, telling "Rick" exactly what Steve Baby had been saying about him half an hour before. We also snitch on all the neighborhood kids when they're rotten. Hey: it takes a village. We're very popular.

Rockwell is much handsomer in real life than on TV; his chin isn't nearly as Lenoesque. And he was slyly self-deprecating even while ceaselessly bashing his ex-wife, Darva Conger. On the heels of a Los Angeles Times story that accused him of only taking his dates to places like Souplantation—and then only if he had a coupon—he lamented frequently that his coupon-clipping days were over. "Millionaire price check on generic toilet paper," he intoned, imitating delighted supermarket checkers giddy to have something on him. "Oooh, 15 cents off, Mr. Millionaire!"

But while Rockwell's free-for-all, audience-participation set had even straight men offering their hands in holy matrimony, unfortunately his non-Darva material was flat and—ooh, how do I say this without getting the Shecky! folks mad at me?—derivative. Not as derivative as the poo-poo jokes of The Drew Carey Show writer who middled that night, but we know we've heard that line that goes, "In my America, women wouldn't wait to get to Kmart before they started beating their kids." And we're almost positive we've never seen Rockwell's act before.

But aside from that, Rick Rockwell killed.

CommieGirl99@hotmail.com. Please join us for Fabrik, the OC Weekly fashion show, Thurs., April 13, 8 p.m., at Costa Mesa's Shark Club. $6.
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