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 GouldI have this boss—I'll call him "Bill"—who just hates it when suddenly everyone in the office turns in a story about Long Beach at the same time. His voice gets all silky and reasonable as he explains, once again, why the paper has to be about Orange County. Exhibit A, naturally, is the paper's title.
Sure, we annexed the LBC, but it still ain't as local as he'd like it to be. So rather than put him through my sojourns through the hipper parts of Iowa by the Sea (didja know that's the now-obsolete term for the supa-urban Long Beach, which from now on I shall call "SnoopTown"? Didja?), I decided to spend the weekend almost exclusively in the hipper parts of Los Angeles. But there was almost always a good reason! And there was almost always cocaine!
Oct. 20's tenuous OC connection came in the form of the grass-skirt-wearin' King Kukulele. Kukulele grew up in Fullerton, and I think that counts. Don't you?
Since Kukulele had made the trek all the way from his Echo Park digs to Club Mesa for Oct. 18's ultrafab Neal Pollack reading (which I had organized and featured this immortal bombastic poesy: "Would you rather be a human-rights observer in Colombia than attend the MTV Video Music Awards? Are you an American? Do you have a DSL hookup in your loft apartment? Are there poor people in your neighborhood? Where are you tonight, oh, sweet Jesus?") at Thee Word Thing, it seemed the only decent thing to do was reciprocate. (Word on the street was Kukulele, who apparently has nothing but time, managed to attend two more LA-area Pollack readings in the next two days, bringing to mind the Commie Girl Salad Days when I tripped over a sheepish Big Sandy at four BR5-49 gigs in a row.)
Right. So, that Friday, King Kukulele wowed the crowds at Echo Park's Taix French restaurant with classics like "I Want a Blowup Doll for Christmas"and zippy li'l uke-accompanied numbers extolling ocean-bacteria safety ("Don't go swimming for 48 hours after a storm") and multigenerational third marriages ("I'm My Own Grandpa"). Meanwhile, two older, sharply suited Afro-Cubans—how do you say?—yakked loudly at the bar. Didja know that Fidel Castro has killed 63,000 of his countrymen? And that if you don't vote for him, he shoots you? I didn't realize Castro even bothered with elections; it's kind of like when we have you vote for Orange County's Best Citizen. It doesn't matter whom you try to elect. I will be the winner every time. Unfortunately, I had to believe the two: they are 32nd level Masons, and we all know Masons never lie.
After I'd been schooled in Castro's dastardly ways for about a half-hour by two men reactionary enough to have risked their lives fleeing socialism, Mario the Salvadoran bartender leaned into me. "Miami Cubans are bullshit," he told me succinctly. Then he bought me a strawberry margarita. And another. And then a dashing middle-aged Frenchman offered me some cocaine.
From there, a hardy group of Eurotrash and Silver Lake songwriters bumped over to a hangout for old German men and the cocaine with which they tried to ply innocent, young, German-speaking Jewesses. While stooped over the toilet tank in the women's room—class-ee!—several of us discussed, well, let's see. . . . Oh, yes. Cocaine. That was it. Also, I'm pretty sure some extremely besoffen Herr offered me a job walking his dog. I don't think it was a euphemism.
the next day, I headed to the Midnight Special Bookstore on Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade to say my goodbyes to Neal Pollack. Didja know he's the greatest living American writer? It's true! And who was that tabling for Libertarian presidential candidate Harry Brown outside? None other than OC's wackiest Libertarian, Doug Scribner! After entering the address for the after-reading party into his Palm Pilot, the ever-faithful Scribner met a group of us for drinks at More, a Santa Monica restaurant/bar that has the distinction of being the snottiest goddamn place I have ever been—ever. And I've been to The Cowboy!
From there, thank the good Lord, it was downtown LA for another much-anticipated party thrown by Kedric Francis. Francis writes for the Newport Beach-based OC Metro and edits the Newport Beach-based Brain.com. I think that counts. Don't you?
Francis, who lives in the penthouse of the once-starlet-filled and now Section 8 Alexandria Hotel, hosted approximately 800 people, most of whom had really good haircuts. (For those who doubt my ability to count crowds, my estimation skills have been honed by years of guessing what my grocery total will be before the checker finishes ringing it up. It was definitely 800.) Keeping it real among the many, many people posing were my brother Eric, who sat in Francis' room and read about Hieronymus Bosch, and the Traveling Langstons—Brian, marketing director for the Orange County Museum of Art; his twinkly wife, Betty; and their precociously gorgeous, cool 14-year-old daughter, Justine, who was sporting a hat of the pimpest proportions. Also there, looking handsome, was LBC funkster band Mention's Handsome, Handsome Erik and the LA Weekly's Judith Lewis. As for the other people, I didn't know them. However! From the adjacent rooftop patio (which at a fabled, long-ago shindig had seen the last moments of a jumper), one could see them grooving and swarming like it was Studio 54. Also, there was a Naked Guy whom security was trying to 86 when Francis stepped in and saved the day, allowing the Naked Guy to remain swinging. Francis is totally like that. It's all about tolerance, although I didn't happen to spot any blow lying around. Maybe next time.