The Most Beautiful Girl in the World

Ladies and Gentlemen, Miss Chile Pepper 2003!

Photo by James BunoanSaturday's Chili Cookoff at San Juan Capistrano's Swallow's Inn was a creature of such meaty goodness, such gassy joy, so many juicy old ladies shaking their bonbons, they should have it every year!

They already do have it every year, and judging by this year's revelers, they should be getting over their hangovers just in time for the next one. Those old people know how to party!

You couldn't move through the marauding hordes. Smoke from the stoves was as toxic as that particularly desolate stretch of the 405 where you come up from Lake Forest and look in horror at that ashen blanket hovering over the well-mannered suburb of Irvine. Fat Harley- Davidson drunks bellowed like wounded bears, and they were all Hesh-ed out like they were at a Whitesnake concert. I think I even saw some shredded acid wash under Ug boots.

One band, all in hula shirts, comprised big Latino dudes playing Hessian heavy metal, and a Grateful Dead cover band played "Sugar Magnolia" and all the other staples in a really fast rock style while the old people swung. The dance, I mean, not the sex-swap so popular among old sexy Fountain Valley bigots as seen in The Lifestyle. But maybe that was coming later.

As for Miss Chile Pepper? Cue Bert Parks. She was my hero, on a par with that 78-year-old lady who does the splits at The Fling. She had to be in her sixties, with big, spiky, unnaturally red hair. And her breasts, in their white mesh shirt with a low-cut bodice, were magnificent and saggy (like down to her belly button), and she wore no bra whatsoever as she stood up before God and everyone and shook 'em like she was churning butter.

She was wrinkly and saggy and old, and she was absolutely beautiful. No Botox for her, she was just the way the good Lord made her (you know, except for the hair), and the crowd went appropriately insane.

Thank you, Miss Chile Pepper 2003, for showing us the light and the way.

Since I tend to avoid Huntington Beach whenever at all possible, it seems I—and by extension, you—have been missing out on the crunchy wonder of the Liquid Den. With its cement floor painted green (now why didn't Linda's Doll Hut and Club Mesa and their Amazing Quicksand Carpets think of that?) and its scads of washed-looking grown-up punks (who're, like, 40, and clean), and the fact that Lob books there not four or five nights but seven nights a week (and Lob's own Instagon unleashes its ungodly shrieks and screeches there every Sunday), that means there's always a loud, loud band to drink your Bud to. Of course, watching old punks heft Heinekens instead is a bit disconcerting, but as a Champagne and caviar-on-new-potatoes kind of Girl, I'm not really one to point fingers. Ha! I'm just kidding! I'm the best finger pointer in this wonderful world!

The bathroom graffiti alone is worth a trip. I can't vouch for the men's room, but the women's room had such doozies as "A man a plan Panama," with the almost-forgotten "a canal" inserted above it with a carat, like an editor's note. Another one informed us that the writer is addicted to "lsagna." I didn't get that one at all, but thinking back on it later, and its odd reference to not wanting sausage, I wonder if the "lsagna" wasn't more of a lez-agna type of message? You people of gayness and your constant speaking in code!

We were there to see The Distraction, because our natty shutterbug, James Bunoan, pounds The Distraction drums, and he is always there for us, and we are never there for him. We're trying to be more selfless and giving in the new Millennium, which has been on for two or three years now depending on whether you believe the killjoys who say 2000 was really part of the last one, but whatever. Math is hard!

Standing about were people who were not Jan from the Vandals or ska impresario Tazy Phillipz, which was very confusing, as they looked just like them. Lob, once I'd determined that it in fact was Lob and not some Lob impostor, agreed.

The Distraction was incredible: James beat on the drums with his mouth open (it's always good to see what kind of faces drummers make) but still looked sharp in his houndstooth jacket, tangerine shirt and aqua tie (he looked like he'd cleaned up for a 1983 appearance on American Bandstand), the singer did David Byrne moves but with a lot more epileptic eye rolling, and the guitarist and bassist were wearing a sweater and a casual-Friday striped accountant shirt. "Too Late" was terrific, featuring the singer shrieking "Too late!" exactly twice in the entirety of the song, and the rest of the time just seizing. "Yeah Yeah Yeah" was good, too. If I knew my hip young crunch bands, I'm sure I would have a reference, but I can't remember if it's The White Stripes or The Oblivians or The Strokes that they sound like. Sue me!

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