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
The e-mail from Evil Bollweevil, Quiksilver's marketing director, inviting us to the Continuum party Friday night at Quiksilver's HQ admonished, "No knuckleheads allowed, please." That, of course, begs the question of whether the self-awareness required to know one was a knucklehead would thereby preclude one from the graceless state of knuckleheadedness. Perhaps not. Perhaps it's an epithet the tattooed wonders carry with pride, like Dittohead, Parrothead, and however it is the listeners of that smug, bombastic little gnome Tom Leykis identify themselves.
Whichever the case, the party was long on dancing fools and short on morons, as De Facto (a buncha guys from At the Drive In aided and abetted by Ikey Owens, the former Teen Heroes keys player who has hands like small hams) wrapped up the music at 11 p.m.—unfashionably early, especially since we were just arriving unfashionably late. According to the invite, Jimmy Eat World and Skunk's excellent Frank Jordan (relocated here from exciting Sacramento) were playing, too. Did we catch 'em? Absolutely not! They must have played the party-time equivalent of the Early Bird Specialat Denny's; we wonder if any old codgers sat around gumming liver and onions and complaining about the damage to their hearing aids during their performance.
We would have gotten a beer and stuck around without any entertainment besides watching the pretty, sotted girls fall on the lawn, but by that time, the guys tending bar were hoisting ice chests over their heads and drinking the spilled dregs. That's usually a bad sign. Still, there were chips and salsa!
We flew from the industrial parks of Huntington Beach to Fullerton's Tropics for some hick-life karaoke. It turns out that even bars that look like meth dens have their share of karaoke pros—the cats who go up again and again to soothe our heartaches with their fine basso voices on tunes originally made big by Sonny & Cher. (Tropics had a roster of about five peeps who took turns singing while the other 20 folks in the comfortably trashy bar sat in their booths and drank their cares away.) One of the singers was a young-looking, tube-topped blonde straight out of 1977. She was roughly Stevie Nicks-sized and sang beautifully. I wonder if there's any joy in her daily life or if she only lives to hold the karaoke mic in her hand. If I'd seen that Gwyneth Paltrow karaoke movie, I would compare it to that. Tropics is highly recommended. Just don't do like you did with The Fling and overrun a perfectly good dive bar with all your goddamn hipster friends.
The highlights of the week came courtesy of the increasingly invaluable House of Blues at Downtown Disney. I don't want to like the Mouse House, but it's become impossible to keep away, especially since talent buyers John Pantle and Sean Striegel are bringing in acts like The Flatlanders and the immortal Les Paul. Two shows of that caliber in one week—and a near-empty house. I guess that just means more Les Paul for me. Still, don't do the House like you did Linda's Doll Hut, which will be shutting its shabby doors Aug. 31. You're gonna have to show up if you want OC to host the kind of shows to which we're already becoming accustomed.
The Flatlanders—legends Butch Hancock, Willie Nelson-voiced Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Joe Ely—played to a little more than a hundred people May 30, their voices soaring on the beauty of the line "Did you ever see Dallas from a DC-9 at night?" On other songs, they traded verses back and forth like Run-DMC, especially on that one song about the baseball stadium. You know that one? The one where some chick says, "Kiss me on the strikes, and I'll kiss you on the balls." Hoo! Good one!
In the audience, women with glasses, no makeup and hair down to their thighs danced right in front of the stage, while over to the side, a frat boy did a sexy holding-on-to-the-handrail dance in front of a cute blonde all in white who shook her plummy ass mesmerizingly. These two had very clearly come to Disneyland, decided the hip thing to do in the hood was head to the House of Blues, and met. They were entirely out of place among the old country-and-blues hounds, but I approved of them. Instead of standing around, sulking and feeling alienated, they shook their tail feathers at each other in a public mating dance and made the most of the situation. They would also leave together later, very obviously to have some slamming vacation sex. I love vacation sex!
Two nights later, Paul played to a house that refused to be as packed as it should. One would think every guitarist in five or six counties would have been in attendance, taking notes—especially since the man is 86 years old. And to the well-dressed woman sitting right behind us: lay off the nose candy. It makes you yammer unattractively during what's supposed to be rapt silence.
As such guests as Dave Edmonds played beautiful dirty-hippie music (it sounded like Tull, or maybe Moody Blues), the Doobies Brothers' and Steely Dan's resident Republican Skunk Baxter jammed, and local Slash look-alike Eric Sardinas wheedly-wheedly-whee-ed, Paul sat on his stool, his feet resting on a milk crate, and studied their hands. He was utterly absorbed with watching them play. His own hands, of course, are like giant Frankenstein paws, while his shoulders and knees are bony and painful-looking. He wears old-man shoes and a sweater.
"I'm arthritic, and I can't play like I used to," Paul told everyone. "So I decided to be funny instead!" He laid down what was practically vaudevillian patter, in which he flirted, smitten, with his hot Australian bassist; apparently, in Australia, they grow 'em all like Elle MacPherson, but besides that, she could play like fire, and people were quick to point out that it wasn't that she played well for a girl. But between jokes, Paul and his Les Paul Trio performed lush old standards, the same ones he used to play with Mary Ford. During "Making Whoopee," which was sung by his rhythm guitarist, Lou Paul (who looked uncannily like George Deukmejian), Les Paul cracked himself up like Eddie Murphy used to back in the days when Murphy was raw. "I invented the multitrack machine," he crowed, pleased, to the audience. "And I have a guitar named after me. Did ya know that?" He recalled playing Needles, California, to four bartenders and an Indian. He offered the bassist all he had to give: his money. The bassist smiled and smiled—and then, horrifyingly enough, it looked like she was flirting with Eric Sardinas!Take Les Paul's money instead, pretty bassist lady, and make him happy.Call out the girl for her misdeeds. CommieGirl99@hotmail.com.