Before my little brother, Cakeyboy, was a Strapping Young Buck, he was a 12-year-old fat boy with girl hair, and I, wondrously wonderful big sister that I am, used to take him to see his favorite band in the whole wide world: Fishbone. (Actually, according to the bartender Friday night who remembered Cake from all those years ago, I used to drop him off at the show and then pick him up afterward. Which is either more or less wondrously wonderful, depending on the 12-year-old you are.)
Now Cake is tall and thin and 23 and pulling Fanta girls—an actual Fanta girl, from the multiculti pop Fanta commercials, with a white smile so big and delighted at even the thought of that can of multiculti soda it makes you wish she had her own cartoon—and when I piled Cake, my small buttercup of a son and Cake's new friend Danielle into the car to go see Fishbone Friday night at the Galaxy, Danielle wasn't just ridiculously good-looking, and with a Fanta girl's rocking body, she was sweet too, and I, for one, just don't understand it. Don't people realize that Cake is a loser?
A Fanta girl? For serious?
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My little boy, of course, was doing that thing where you take a kid somewhere really, really great—like the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific, for instance, or Mexico—and out of nowhere, with no prior warning, the kid gets really clammy and sweaty and quiet and doesn't bitch or moan but is just silently and miserably near death at what should have been a rocking good time while you fret and feel but terrible. So we fed him some pineapple juice, slapped him around and waited for the dulcet shrieks of Bow Wow Wow. That's right! Bow Wow Wow and Fishbone performing at the Galaxy in two great tastes that taste great together! The Malcolm McLaren-mediated gang of former Ants rocking Burundi beats and fronted by Annabella, a former 14-year-old nymphet, was opening for Fishbone, a bunch of ska/groove/soul/sexy horns fronted by Angelo, a former gorgeous black man who used to sport giant liberty spikes (always a good look) but who now wears the exact outfit (white Nehru jacket and robes topped off with a saucy red turban) in which Samuel L. Jackson's scheming boxing promoter was clad in The Great White Hype.
Angelo growing old and bald was disturbing enough, but even more disturbingly, nobody in my very young party had ever heard of Bow Wow Wow but me. They obviously hadn't seen the ad that very day promoting a new Reese's Peanut Butter Cup comestible by taking Bow Wow Wow's biggest hit and changing it cleverly to "I Want Cookies." Two great tastes? Feh.
Still, you know it's a good Friday night when your very first note from the evening, written at a cocktail table right there, reads, "Friday night, Fishbone. Fuck, I already forget." You also know it's a good Friday night when, for the first time in a very long time, you go to a show that you're sure won't have a mosh pit—and it doesn't! The crowd of fat punks, Latino punks, hippie girls, a couple of brothers and people in excellent hats crowded onto the floor and wiggled happily during the sexy horns and the sexy reggaeton and the sexy keyboard player stripping down to his sexy combo of wifebeater and fedora. Danielle and I sunnily agreed: he could keep his hat on.
I don't know what it is about a Fishbone show: I honestly don't even like them that much, but every time I see them, it's one of the happiest nights of my life. Angelo does ridiculous shit like crowd-float upside down, playing the saxophone while people pull his pants off. Or else, like on Friday, he just runs down into the crowd. Either way, and even with a bunch of new backing musicians who weren't particularly jazzy or intricate, it's one of those all-love vibes that sticks with you for a while. Of course, that could have been the contact high.
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Bow Wow Wow was good too, and Annabella's neither old nor bald, and she sang "Louis Quatorze," so's I could die happy. Honey, close your eyes and think of England.
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With my buttercup feelinga whole lot better, we headed down Saturday San Juan-way for the sodden day and night of SwallowFest06. At the invitation of Sam and Anita, whom I first met almost a decade back stumbling in the women's room at the late, lamented Foothill during what was either an El Vez show or the fried-chicken-tossing of Southern Culture on the Skids, and whom I can always count on meeting in all the best beer lines, we joined a motley posse of champion freedivers and slogged from tri-tip booth to doctored-lemonade stand and back again to daytime-dance like white people in front of a pretty good soul band and a crowd of pirates, leather-men cowboys, a fly MaryPoppins and some seoritas con mantillas. It seems like every day is Halloween at a home for retarded children in San Juan Capistrano: the only things missing were an astronaut and an apeman, but it's possible they were just lost in the crowd. Then it was on to Sarducci's, where we were grabbed by strangers for a bit of country waltz; Nixon's favorite Mexican restaurant, El Adobe (it actually served American food when he called it out; they changed the menu to Mexi based on the president's mistaken praise), where we were sidelined due to the minor boy; and Casa de Sam and Anita, where there was lobster (from the freedivers) and liquor and a hot tub too. Earlier, Anita and Heidi had disappeared into the wilds of the Swallow's Inn. When there's a line of 40 people waiting to get into the Swallow's patio merely to stand on the other side of the fence, and it's no one in till one comes out, you can figure you're not going to see your girls again. And we pretty much didn't. They just wanted to have fun.