The Plan

The Hootenanny
Hidden Valley Ranch
Saturday, July 7

You know that fine line between enthusiastic devotion and creepy obsession? Well, my friend Jonny—whom you might remember from his past OC Weekly appearance as the Guy With Perfect Teeth—is right there with his love for Social Distortion's Mike Ness. Actually, that's not fair. Jonny isn't a creepy zealot. Sure, once he said he'd like to wear Ness' skin, but I think he meant it figuratively. Regardless, he was pretty crushed when he couldn't go to this year's Hootenanny. I mean, he has tattoos and greasy hair and everything! And if his zippy little Japanese sedan weren't so damn economical while at the same time affording its passenger a relaxing, smooth ride and startling amount of legroom, he'd trade it in for a classic American custom car faster than you could say, "More swallows tattooed on the side of my neck, please!" But Jonny couldn't go, not only because he had to work, but also because he didn't want to be around all the Bettie Page girls who (to him) are like kryptonite and would most likely cause him to explode in some sort of frustrated, orgiastic, testosterone-fueled frenzy.

"Can't you leave your penis at home and just go enjoy the music?" I asked.

But apparently he doesn't go anywhere without his penis. And so, feeling bad for earnest young Jonny, I vowed to get Ness' autograph for him.

Now, you must understand that I'm not the kind of person who gets autographs, and yes, I think that makes me better than you. But today I was sucking it up. I had a plan and everything. So there I was, backstage, musing about the plan, when suddenly a small amount of hell broke loose because Ness, flanked by security guards, was walking to his trailer from some spot about 20 feet away and all these people were yelling his name and trying to get him to sign various shirts and posters and whatnot.

"Abort plan, abort plan!" I screamed to no one in particular.

Still, though, I lugged Jonny's CDs and a Sharpie around with me the rest of the day, trying to find a time to execute the Plan, but it was ultimately all for naught.

Damn the plan! Damn it to hell! It let me down in a time of need. I would not want to be in the trenches with the Plan.

Too bad he didn't want John Doe's autograph. Doe (who played earlier in the day) seemed infinitely approachable, hanging out with his daughter and looking all fresh-faced and windswept. A.J., guitar player for OC's Throwrag, who played the Blue Caf stage (located far from the main stages but close to this horrible, cheesy, poo smell), asked Chuck Berry to sign his guitar, but apparently Berry declined, saying it would be like an endorsement.

As for the music—well, wouldn't you rather hear about all the ridiculous shoes women were wearing? They were ridiculous! I mean, there's a time and a place for gigantic platform wedgie things with long wraparound ankle straps, but this wasn't it. But apparently it was. The Hootenanny is crazy like that!

Supersuckers and the Reverend Horton Heat put on wildly entertaining shows complete with all sorts of fancy flourishes and crowd-pleasing posturing. Cadillac Tramps were in good form. Everyone was fawning all over Chuck Berry because without him, we wouldn't have rock & roll or electricity or the Internet, so it's warranted fawning, and at 84 years young, he's quite the living legend, so go him! Go Chuck Berry! Woo!

Social Distortion closed the show, playing a long but base-covering set rounded out by new songs, old songs and older songs. "This song was written almost 20 years ago; it was the first love song I wrote," said Ness before breaking into "Another State of Mind." The band then played "Mommy's Little Monster." I kind of like the old stuff best, but that's just because I'm classically retro and vintage without even trying. Of course I'm kidding: I have the wrong car and hair to be "classically retro and vintage." Nothing a little judicious shopping couldn't cure, though.

The Hootenanny, you see, is equal parts fashion parade and music festival. "God, I really don't like all this cowboy shit everyone's all of a sudden wearing," confided a friend as we walked through the crowd. She wasn't referring to Ness, though, who incidentally was wearing a fringe jacket.

And did I mention that I never got his autograph? I didn't. But shed no tears. I'll just go out and get a tattoo to make myself feel better; maybe a bird on my neck or an anchor on my arm or maybe "Locals Only" in Old English script across my midriff.


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