By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
By Charles Lam
Photo by Jack GouldANNOUNCER: Once again, OC Weekly editor Will Swaim!
SWAIM: You know, I think if our publication performs one valuable service it's showing people how they can have a good time.You know, having a good time isn't as easy as when many of us were young, when all you needed was a Glock, a bodhi bag of Jagrmeister and a dozen or so Erik Estrada action figures—good time, good times. Things are so much more complicated these days. Yet we still believe in pursuing the simple pleasures. Things like the Best Hike in Orange County. That would be the one to Santiago Peak. There's poison oak and the nighttime temperature drops are designed to kill; there are false trails and scrubs that rake your hide. But there's also a view unparalleled in Orange County. Nearly a mile up in the sky, with breathtaking views to downtown LA, Catalina, Riverside County and points south. The Tower of Babel should have been this close to God.
[Ooohs and aaahs.]
SWAIM: And speaking of the Almighty, where in heaven is the Best Gay Bar? Why, Laguna Beach, of course. It's called Woody's at the Beach, and we have absolutely no idea why it's called that. Really. This place used to be Little Shrimp, and it's a relaxed place with cool bartenders and good food. The kind of place both locals and tourists can feel welcome. The kind of place with killer views.
[Ooohs and aaahs.]
SWAIM: And let's say you're looking for a club but you want to feel like your somewhere else, like not in Orange County. Then it's La Vida Roadhouse for you. La Vida Roadhouse doesn't feel like the beach, it doesn't feel like the suburbs, and it sure as hell doesn't feel like the city. It feels like the Middle of Nowhere with a really nice patio. To get to La Vida Roadhouse, you drive on a winding mountain road until you're sure you've past the club and then you keep going a ways. It's windy, it's treacherous, it's desolate, it's scary, it's inland. Enjoy!
SWAIM: Or how about a sports bar? The Best Sports Bar. It's called House of Brews, and it's got a grand ballroom swank thing going on with lush drapes, a big fireplace, tons of massive wide-screen televisions, rich artwork and great food. Big-screen sports and creative window treatments—what more can you ask for?
MAN IN THE CROWD: Celebrities!
WOMAN IN THE CROWD: Yes, celebrities!
CHORUS OF VOICES: "Celebrities!" "Yes, they complete us!" "I think Liz Taylor was never more beautiful than she was in Place in the Sun!" "You're such a bitch!"
SWAIM: Celebrities? Why didn't you say something. How about the Best Place to Spot a Geniune Celebrity? Would that help fill the void in your pathetically lacking lives?
VOICES: "Yes!" "Absolutely!" "You betcha!"
SWAIM: Then head over to the Ritz-Carlton in Laguna Niguel. In any given week, there are more than a handful of internationally famous, high-mantainence, shade-wearing celebs hiding out in the county's most expensive waterfront hotel. Enjoy! And now, speaking of celebrities, it gives me great pleasure to present our own Commie Girl, Rebecca SCHOENKOPF, here to present the awards for Best Bar and Best Artist.
[A crash followed by tittering are heard backstage.]
SWAIM: Rebecca SCHOENKOPF!
[A piercing shriek is heard backstage.]
SWAIM: Rebecca SCHOENKOPF, ladies and gentlemen!
[SCHOENKOPF enters stage left and immediately trips over a mic chord, her left shoe flying off. She springs up again.]
SCHOENKOPF: I'm fine! I'm okay! Thank you! Thank you very much!
[Applause. SCHOENKOPF collects her left shoe. More applause.]
SCHOENKOPF: Good evening! I am here to give the awards for some categories of awards! But first I need to find my shoe.
[Camera pans to Sugar Ray front man Mark McGrath in the audience. He is wearing sequins and looking befuddled. He is also missing his left shoe. A stagehand enters, plucks Rebecca's shoe from her hand and hands it back to her.]
SCHOENKOPF: Oh, thank you! That is so sweet! Where was it? Never mind. I guess that's not important. First up, we have the award for Best Bar. You know, I have a few thoughts on this subject, which I'd like to share with you all since you can't really leave until the commercial break. Ha! What makes a good bar? A bar is for meeting people and drinking alcohol. A bar with a cute bartender is a much better bar than a bar that doesn't have a cute bartender, but if the bartender's a jerk, that nullifies his looks. Also, bartenders should buy a round when you've been tipping well. Like, for instance, I've been going to The Swallow's Inn in San Juan Capistrano for three years now, and the bartender has never bought me a drink, and I always tip well. And even after I told him he was getting the award for Best Bar in OC, he still didn't buy me a drink. I once bought a round for my girlfriend and me, and then I only had like 5 dollars left, and there was this guy there who'd made me cry last time, and so I said to the bartender, "How about a drink on the house?" And he started getting all, "The No. 1 rule is, 'Never ask.' Now that you've asked, I'm definitely not buying you a drink." And he was going on and on about it. Like he would have bought a round if I hadn't asked!
[. . .]
SCHOENKOPF: That is such bullshit! In three years he hasn't!
SWAIM: Rebecca, do you mean to tell me you already informed the Swallow's Inn that they won? And then you tried to weasel a drink out of it?
SCHOENKOPF: . . . No.
SWAIM: That seems to be what you just said.
SCHOENKOPF [hurriedly]: The nominees are: the Swallow's Inn in San Juan Capistrano.
[Video shows the brassiere- and bumper-sticker-festooned bar. Some bikers are clogging up the doorway. A fat, bearded band is playing a Merle Haggard song. An ancient couple in matching beaded Western outfits is dancing. A tall drunk brunette is bending over and touching the floor, her ass in a Marine's face. Applause.]
SCHOENKOPF: The Little Knight in Costa Mesa.
[Video shows Tony the bartender, smiling and remembering everyone's name. He is serving spaghetti. The bar is crowded with skate punks and fashion-industry peeps, from barely of age to mid-30s. A guy is cheating at pool. People are watching the John Travolta/Nick Cage masterpieceFace/Off on the TV screens. It is loud. Applause.]
SCHOENKOPF: The Four Seasons Hotel Bar in Newport Beach.
[Video shows the spacious, rattan-decorated bar. Two millionaires from out of town talk to each other on the stools. A sequined blonde stands next to the grand piano, crooning jazz standards. On a couch, a toned 40-year-old woman is making out with an unattractive, puffy, bleached-blond man. The camera swings outside to the cabanas by the pool. Two ill-shod, scruffy people are having champagne on chaise longues, sheltered from the wind. The staff has to be nice to them because for all they know, the loungers are ill-shod, scruffy dot-commers. Applause.]
SCHOENKOPF: The Fling in Santa Ana.
[Video shows a tiny little pompadoured man singing Neil Diamond's "America" on top of his piano bar, while a preprogrammed synthesizer drops out the beats. Scattered around the red, red room are very old drunk people. But pouring through the doors to sit on the cracked vinyl banquettes are early 20s hipsters. The old drunk people are getting displaced. Applause.]
SCHOENKOPF: And the winner is: the Swallow's Inn!
SCHOENKOPF: Okay, our next category is Best Artist. You know, I've been writing about the Orange County art scene for five years now. Sometimes you guys impress the pants right off me. No, I mean right off me.
SCHOENKOPF: And sometimes I mock you, but that's just because I love you.
[She looks like she is going to sneeze, but then she bursts out laughing.]
SCHOENKOPF: Oh, I can't lie to you guys! Sometimes you come out with the most tedious twaddle I've ever had the misfortune to behold! And that's another reason to love you. Critics have a lot more fun raping and pillaging than they do making nice. It's just a fact of life. But I would like to point out that there are a lot of kick-ass places to show in this sweet li'l town of ours. Props to Giardina Fine Art, Misfit No. 9, Diane Nelson, FACT, Ron Breeden, Max Presneill—hell, all of Santora—and the Laguna Art Museum. Unfortunately, we don't have a category for Best Gallery. But know that you are all doing good work, and we see all and appreciate all. Well, okay, most of you. Can you imagine being an art critic in, like, Fresno? Jesus Christ on a bike! Okay. The nominees for Best Artist are . . . Jorg Dubin. Jorg won last year, so we probably won't give it to him again this year. But the Laguna Beach painter is a self-taught Figurative master. He paints primarily in fish-belly green, giving his subjects that salmonella/Goya look, and he gloomily covers topics like the grading of Laguna Canyon and Waco, Texas.
[Camera pans to Dubin in the audience. The 40-ish redhead is resplendent in a fez, sunglasses and velvet smoking jacket bearing a button reading, "The King's Order of the El Mysah." He is so cool.]
SCHOENKOPF: Damn, you're cool, Jorg! Our next nominee is Ellen Rose. Ellen's paintings are so juicy and sexy and full of joy—whether she's painting gangly, freckled boys at a post-nuclear beach or fat, sensual circus ladies in a lot of blue eye shadow—well, they just make you want to eat a peach, you know? Or a whole pizza.
[Camera spots Rose in the audience; she is a woman of a certain age, with Sally Jessy glasses and a Cher-like headdress. She waves and flutters her eyelashes.]
SCHOENKOPF: Our next nominee is Laurie Hassold. The Costa Mesa sculptor uses material like dead birds, which she collects (and pets!), and yet her works aren't offensive like Damien Hirst's—they're just creepy. Laurie can be pretty creepy, too, but if you don't like it, she'll just kick your ass and be done with it.
[The camera finds the 6-foot blonde in the audience. As usual, her leather miniskirt barely covers her naughty bits. She flips off the camera, then smiles.]
SCHOENKOPF: Our last nominee is Sandow Birk. The Figurative Classicist Postmodernist Appropriator is all the rage right now, because everybody just loooooves his exhibit about Northern and Southern California going to war, which was pretty damn funny and great, to be honest. He was on the cover of the New Times a few weeks ago, and the next week he had a review in the LA Weekly. You wanna know how often the LA papers come down to OC to cover shit? The president could be assassinated at the Nixon Library, and they'd probably just do the interviews by phone.
[Camera pans to Birk, who looks bored.]
SCHOENKOPF: And the winner is: Sandow Birk!
[Sandow bounds onstage, grabs the trophy and jumps out a window. Showgirls begin filing onto the stage to lip-synch and smile to the number "Music" by Madonna. Nobody understands why Madonna is singing about the bourgeoisie. Anthony Pignataro comes onstage and leads Rebecca into the wings, as she's gotten tangled up in a knot of showgirls and can't find her way past their kicking legs and is about to cry. Swaim comes back onstage.]
SWAIM: Rebecca Schoenkopf, everyone! Be sure to look for her in the new David Lynch film Disgusting Things Done With Day-Old Produce.
[Ooohs and aaahs.]
SWAIM: Well, I think all of us would agree that if one thing is missing from the show so far it's dangerous clowns living outside the law. And since former Santa Ana City Councilman Ted Moreno wasn't available, we'd like to offer this short film by Jim Washburn. . . .
[A large screen rises from behind the stage. The titleI Had a Dream There Were Clowns in My Cupcakes appears above the words "A film by Jim Washburn."