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
Photo by James BunoanThe woman pours another thimbleful of sake for her date before pouring one for herself, a light tremor in her hands. He continues: an eight-minute monologue about his friend who's surfing Tavarua and has sent him the tape. The guy's surfing triple overheads! It's totally amazing! He does not ask her anything about herself—not even her opinion of Quiksilver or Hurley, surf companies whose names he is dropping, and I have the feeling he works for one of them, but I'll be damned if I'm about to listen closely enough to his ramblings to figure it out. I am, in fact, ready to stab him in the throat with a chopstick. I mean, he's not even rambling about himself, a faux pas that at least could be explained with wanting to open himself to a woman, wanting to achieve emotional intimacy. Nope. Her place on the totem pole of his regard is clear: he would rather ramble on about his friend.
Long Beach's Wasabi has always been a good spot for a first date: it's hip and loud, and the fish is as fresh as the come-ons. But then the ladykiller launches into the retelling of how, at this one meeting, he held up two blue disks over his ears, and it was just like Princess Leia's buns, and how all the people at the meeting totally busted up—and, and, and it was just hilarious!—and then one of the girls who was at the meeting called him from a traffic jam to reiterate that even though she was stuck in traffic, she started thinking about how he turned those disks into Princess Leia buns and was just totally dying! Because it was hilarious!Right about then, the check arrives, and the pretty datee, who hasn't said one word but keeps pouring herself more bracing sake, slips her credit card, which is already out and at the ready, to the waitress. The implication is clear: Scheherazade over there is getting none. She will not be beholden to him for so much as a tense kiss on the cheek. It is everything I can do not to lean over her and tell him he is the worst first date on whom I have ever had the misfortune of eavesdropping. By the way, does he realize he ain't getting none?
Repeat after me: Have you ever traveled to Tavarua? Do you enjoy surfing and the ocean, or do perhaps your interests lie elsewhere? I think you are as lovely as Princess Leia, and I would love to hear your opinion of the situation in Iraq or the latest spate of reality shows! What doyou think?
Don't be that guy. For all our sakes.
* * *
The goodly folks at the Canyon RV Park and Amphitheater in Yorba Linda had set up extra bleachers for the overflow crowd at Saturday's folk festival. A lovely, breezy day; 20 musical acts; and the sweetest, shadiest amphitheater perhaps in the county. But overflow? That wouldn't be a problem as, aside from the 20 musical acts, we counted two groupies and seven—maybe eight—older folks in cowboy boots who'd wandered over from their campsites. (One old guy, who looked very like a German tourist, needed new jeans; his were so tight he was sporting a camel toe. That's right: we could almost see his vagina!)
The park itself was stunning: each RV had plenty of space to cultivate its own little garden and picnic area. The grass was verdant. There was a pristine playground and even a pool, whose water was neither black nor scummy. And since you couldn't see the 91 freeway it abutted through the canopy of trees, you could pretend the roar of the passing cars was the roar of a mighty river.
Meanwhile, onstage, a guy who sounded like James Taylor but looked like a frat boy sang songs of love that started to morph into something like Faith Hill's "This Kiss." The next band was a three-piece. A sweet-looking kid who had a Yao vibe was on bass; he had the same inexpressive, good-natured look to him as the humongo Chinese Rocket. On vocals was a hefty boy with Valley Girlbangs sprayed up from his forehead and Bianca Jagger sunglasses on his round face. He looked like a mix of DJ Daniel, Sean Lennon and Yoko Ono, but without the tempering good influence of DJ Daniel's innate hipness or Sean Lennon's cute and stylie Shonen Knife girlfriend. I loved him—but not so much his puss rock.
* * *
We took the 241 toll roadfrom Yorba Linda down to Laguna Beach for the BC Space Gallery's "Now What?" The toll road was pristine, winding for miles through vast, empty hills of rich pear-green, some round and gentle and some creased and ridged. We even saw a lake! I give the hills two years before the backhoes rev up.
BC Space, meanwhile, was filled with Greens and old Jewish ladies and Santora gallerista Jean Fitch Jones,all of whom were talking traitor stuff! like, "Are they really going into Syria next? Oh, dear!" I left the Republican boyfriend outside. He wouldn't have enjoyed it. By the time the peacenik poetry program started, it was standing room only, with overflow (sorry, folk-festival folks, but this one actually overflowed) hearing the panel from the surrounding galleries. It was sweet and homey: old folks brought in wine and trays of homemade doughnut holes (they tasted oddly of pork) and strawberries, and, not out of the ordinary considering the Lefty nature of the gathering, a bowl of lima beans. You can't take those vegans anywhere!