Chicken Soup for the Prez

I spent the better part of an hour Tuesday (before wandering off to the kitchen in search of snacks) being held hostage to my television like I was Patty Hearst so I could report for you—you!—the question of who delivered standing ovations and who didn't during all the sundry State of the Union promises of George Bush fils. (Answer: It was pretty much up to New York Democrat Charlie Rangel to keep his butt in the seat; he also laughed his ass off when the president called for passage of a stimulus package, which I found heartwarming), while everyone else popped up constantly—up and down, up and down. I wasn't sure if they were going to keep standing or start to kneel—like Mass with a Monica twist.

Now, I know I'm just a girl, and math is hard! But one unanswered question remains in my silly little noggin: How is the President's proposed deficit spending different from Governor Gray Davis' proposed deficit spending? Republicans here in Cali are wetting themselves in indignation about the Bland One's fiscal irresponsibility. But in Washington? Quick, everybody! Standing O! I particularly liked how the prez subtly shifted blame for our economic mess to tax-and-spenders—that is, liberals: "We will run a deficit that should be small and short-term, so long as Congress restrains spending and acts in a fiscally responsible way."

Are the Dems too afraid of the epithet "obstructionist" to point out that the reason we're in the hole is so that each of us could get up to a $300 rebate ($258 for me; hundreds of millions in proposed retroactive tax cuts for Enron—even though they haven't paid taxes in the past four out of five years anyway)? What'd you spend your rebate on? I spent mine on my electricity bill. It just about got me through the summer months.

Okay, so I guess that's more than one unanswered question. Here's one more: When did people in the gallery begin woofing like an Arsenio audience?

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Although watching the belated ovations—when people would climb to their feet with obvious resignation and only because everyone else already had and because most of the men and women of the U.S. Congress are followers, not leaders—was fun, the maudlin citations of children crying over their departed Sept. 11 loved ones was unconscionable and grotesque. Did the president really say a little boy had left his football at a memorial site with the note, "Dear Daddy, Please take this to Heaven. I don't want to play football until I can play with you again someday"? Leave the chicken soup for the soul to Oprah, George.

I have so many more quibbles with Tuesday's address, but let's end with something on which we can agree; you know I hate to be so un-American as to have opinions contrary to what the government says I should believe. So how about this: Hamid Karzai looked great, didn't he, folks? And, just like the President, I, too, am for Head Start.

Hey! Did y'all hear our own Little Supervisor Who Could, Gaddi Vasquez, got confirmed Jan. 25 for his post as director of the Peace Corps? You didn't? I, myself, never was sure why Gaddi was the only one to resign in shame from the Board of Stupes following what was until Enron the most shocking bankruptcy in the nation's history, but here's what the LA Times has to say: "Vasquez was cited in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission report that accused county officials of misleading and defrauding buyers of $2.1 billion in municipal securities, findings that Vasquez rejected." (Memo to Stephen Ambrose: that is how one cites the work of others. Note the quotation marks.) Muchas gracias, LA Times!

Hey! How about the flap with the nekkid Department of Justice statues, The Spirit of Justice and The Majesty of Law! Attorney General John Ashcroft is such a puss, isn't he?

Hey! You wanna know who the biggest puss in the whole world is? This guy Jeff Warden at UC Irvine, who's suing Beta Theta Pi! Now, I hate fraternities as much as the next good feminazi. But Warden's lawsuit for the distress he suffered during a weekend of hazing is just embarrassing. As written in the LA Times (wet kiss to you guys!), the frat guys were making the pledges eat yucky stuff! Like raw eggs colored with green food coloring! Say it isn't so! "One pledge objected, and a member pushed the youth's face into the plate, Warden said," the Times reported. "'It scared us,' Warden said. 'We knew if we didn't do it, we'd be next.'" Waaaaah! And here's this: "The pledges were offered beer, and Warden said marijuana was passed around. He said he didn't smoke and insisted on having a soft drink. As the evening went on and Warden still refused to drink beer, fraternity members chanted his name, 'Jeff, Jeff, Jeff,' so loudly that he couldn't hear himself talk." The humanity! And wait! There's more! "As he lay on the ground, he said, he was forced to join in a simulated sex act with the two other pledges." Oh, also, he had a grand mal seizure. Puss!

The opening of "Can You Take It" Saturday at the Bradford Gallery (he's the guy who used to do those really well-drafted pictures of celebrities you used to buy at swap meets) was overflowing with pretty much everyone we know, from morbid Laguna Canyon painter Jorg Dubin to jewelry maker Bill Gallagher to, oh, hell, lots of people. Really. The surprise of the evening was to see once-and-future OC boy-about-town Willie O'Leary (a.k.a. Cornelius) looking like John Walker Lindh and showing off his drawings, alongside faves Pat Sparkuhl, Constance Esposito, Frank Dixonand Tom Dowling. I once read a full-page article in the Times OC praising O'Leary to the heavens, which was odd because then-critic Cathy Curtis was pretty famous for being really mean and hating everything, just like Life cereal's Mikey. Yes, O'Leary's installations were fabulously obsessive-compulsive (four-foot high turtles, for instance, composed entirely of found cigarette butts), but the real explanation for Curtis' curious favor seemed obvious when one looked at the full-color photo of O'Leary himself: he was a babe! At the Bradford Gallery, O'Leary will show off his compulsive-obsessive behavior by being there all the damn time until the show closes Feb. 24.

Our homegirl Arrissia reports that Nikka Costa, who performed at the Mouse House of Blues Sunday, "can make love to a mic stand like she's fricken Mick Jagger and Janis Joplin humping Sly Stone." Arrissia continues: "She's got eight people backing her up like she's Kool and the Gang." Arrissia hopes you all will have the chance to see Costa for yourselves, which seems entirely possible: Costa is young and fresh and doesn't seem to be on heroin, so it's unlikely this will be your last opportunity—provided she doesn't pull an Aliyah. Nikka Costa, please stay off heroin and overloaded airplanes. Thank you.

Finally, my boyfriend and I attended a performance of modern (in the 1920s sense of the term) Russian composer Shostakovich's second and third symphonies at the LA Philharmonic. They were fine—but pretty much only because they were love-drenched odes to Lenin and the Revolution, which had me positively tickled. Aside from that, they didn't sound very good. Truly lovely were selections from Borodin's "Prince Igor" and Liadov's "The Enchanted Lake," which were swirly and tinkly like waterfalls—and almost totally ignored by the Times reviewer who instead went on and on about Shostakovich. This makes me wonder: does our preference for music that's pretty make us the classical-music-world equivalent of people who are into, like, Impressionism? Should we just take our cheese-in-a-can and get back to the trailer park? Da. Thank you!

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