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 Rebecca SchoenkopfAre we there yet?
No, we are not there yet, unless you happen to be picking up this paper on Wednesday or so, at which time I very well could have lapsed into a stress coma, and at which time we also probably won't be there yet anyway since Rehnquist's boys are going to need about a month to marshal their arguments as to why John Kerry isn't really president. Did you know I was the first columnist to put in print the prospect of martial law? As far as I can tell, I even beat the bloggers to it.
Of this I'm very proud.
I'm also sober (don't worry: it's just for a month!), which made Saturday's foray to my favorite group grope in the entire world, Yorba Linda's Canyon Inn, nasty, brutish and short. The place just really isn't the same without the ol' beer goggles on.
Oh, don't get me wrong. Even on cranberry-and-sodas instead of the Canyon's vaunted Irish Carbombs, the place was a goldmine, if by goldmine, you mean never-ending horror. At the end of the night, I had acid cheeks from laughing at everybody: the oooold ladies (who I bet were actually rode-hard 36-year-olds) in white lace and stretch pants who were lying on the pool table and waving their legs in the air. The man in black (who was awesome) who did skippy karate-chopping line dances even after (especially after) the music stopped. The same really good cover band full of old punky biker types playing the disco they loathed for the sodden crowd—amid the omnipresent Sublime cover tunes, which by law must be played in order at the Canyon Inn.
It turns out I'm even more judgmental when I'm not drinking. Who would have thought it possible?
Of course, that was after we had cranberry-and-sodas at Fullerton's Continental. And we were too sober there, too, at least once the Up With People jazz combo started playing. I mean, the musicianship was tight, and girlfriend had pipes on her—as well as a gorgeous figure. But she was the perkiest motherfucker I've maybe ever seen, and she wouldn't shut up, rambling with not a goddamn thing to say ("Hey, everybody! We are going to party tonight because it is Friday and we have all had a week, huh? We're gonna party! We're gonna have fun! And this is our bassist! He's wearing his '80s clothes today! Ha, ha! That is funny! And we are gonna party! Because it is Friday! And it will be fun!"), and in the very first song, they all took solos. Solos are for the end of the night, when everybody's sloshed but us!
The next night, I didn't want to go to a bar. The Canyon, while hilarious, was just too much work the night before. I wanted to, like, go to Barnes & Noble and have a cup of tea! Instead we got in a fight at The Spectrum. Forget Red vs. Blue. The real divide in this country is blonde vs. brunette.
We'd had a really terrific time at the Improv, where two of the three acts were outstanding and even the horribleness of the MC was fun because Gina and I got to make appalled faces at each other with each new bit. He went from doing trailer-park-in-hurricane jokes to a five-minute bit on telling the phone company his name was Richard Big (but wait! Are you ready for this twist? His friends call him "Dick"!) so it would show up on caller ID as Big, Dick. Five minutes! Big, Dick! Did I mention it was a five-minute bit? Then he went on to observe that people are nude too long in gym showers, which no comic—if I'm remembering correctly, I saw Greg Behrendton "too nude" maybe five years ago—has ever done before, and how he liked to crack his belt to make fake gay-sex sounds in the stall. In other words, he wasn't just bad. He was stupefying.
The middle act, Dwayne Perkins, was doing traffic jokes, but they were really good, smart, funny traffic jokes. Any one of the paths he traveled—basketball, homelessness, the props your family gives you for dating within your race after having dated outside of it for a long time (Everyone? I present . . . Laquisha!), and stupid athletes—had unlimited hack potential, but he wasn't hack, and he didn't do fake gay-sex jokes or talk about telling the phone company his name was Richard Big. (Five minutes!) (On the equivalent of the "Harry Dick" jokes that were around in 1981, when I was eight.) (Perhaps you remember?) (They were call-and-response.)There was a man named . . .
Harry Dick.He lived in a town named . . .
Harry Dick.The people didn't like . . .
Harry Dick.So they hung him by his . . .
My head, she explodes!
Your head, does she explode as well?
After our middle act explained that he doesn't drink, and yet people always want to buy him a drink, and nobody ever offers to buy him a delicious piece of cake (which would be delicious!), we sent him a piece of chocolate motherfucker, which was awkward because the MC was sitting next to him, and we didn't send the MC a piece of cake and we had no words of gratitude for the MC's funny set because it was horrible and we hated him—in fact, we hated him so much we even hated his hair—and then Dane Cook came on, and while we'd been primed for him by Perkins' smart, funny shit (athletes who say it's about who doesn't want to go home the most, when clearly if you put the Oakland Raiders up against a team of abused children, it would be the children who didn't want to go home the most), we weren't prepared for the absolute adventure of 45 minutes of fast-talking web spinning about sounds that make you want to punch a baby, and five minutes on the lady at NASCAR who got a tire to the face with a nice Highlander payoff, and the coziness of blowing on hot cocoa and watching Justice Files because it's got justice and it's got files, and how everybody's in love—or lerve, as Celine Dion pronounces it—and how you're not, and you're listening to Journey's Greatest Hits disc 1 (not disc 2, which is shit) and it's like standing outside a party in the rain, and even the retarded people in the neighborhood are getting married, and then something about not liking it when girls have teeth that fight in their mouths.