Goodbye, Old Friends

Photo by Keith MayIt was a sad week, my dears, as two old friends passed on to that great big nightclub in the sky. The Abilene Rose, holding down an empty corner of Fountain Valley since April of 1998, held its last sock hop Sunday night, pulling the leopard-skin rug out from under the steady stream of pompadoured rockabilly boys and tube-top-wearin' Betty Paige girls who came and jitterbugged but never seemed to order a damn thing. Chalk another one up to the price of gas: serving an average of 18 dinners per night just won't keep the utilities on, no matter how often the unbearably sexy Prince of Darkness Jimmy Intveld swings by. A steakhouse can't survive on Budweisers alone. It may be the beginning of the end for the hepcats and chicks who've been keeping the rockabilly light alive; even Linda's Doll Hut is putting on just two rockabilly shows a month. You're done, kids! Time to find a new decade!

And John Schmitz, the John Birch Society director turned rabid, race-baitin' OC congressman, has passed on from cancer. He was Bob Dornan before Bob Dornan was cool, but he was probably better known to the younger folks as Mary Kay LeTourneau's dad. You remember Mary Kay, the Washington state teacher who had two kids with her 13-year-old student? Well, like father, like daughter. Schmitz was forced out of public life after it was revealed the family-values guy loved families so much, he had two of 'em. Godspeed, Congressman. We'll miss you. Throw another Jew on Heaven's barbie for us!

But cue Elton John: the Circle of Life rolls on like a Firestone tire. The same week the Abilene Rose went out with a bang-up set from The Paladins (with Big Sandy and Johnny Ray sitting in), the House of Blues in Anaheim turned on its twinkly Bayou lights. I don't want to like the new House of Blues, sitting as it does in Downtown Disney—the new little strip of shoppers' heaven as fake and manicured as Universal CityWalk. But it's kind of like the San Juan Hills Toll Road: you want to despise it, but damn if it doesn't get you from Costa Mesa to San Juan Capistrano in 16 minutes flat. The House of Blues opened with a Weekly-sponsored preview night Jan. 10 featuring The Tiki Tones and—he's everywhere, like Forrest Gump and Linda Tripp—Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys. The new venue kicks ass: it's small and cozy—even if the genu-wine African-American folk art sometimes seems perilously close to Little Sambo.

Big Sandy, as always, set the VIP crowd (King Kukulele, Linda Jemison and a quorum of Busstop Hurricanes among them) spinning across the floor. This was helped in no small part by the ferocious moves of Li'l Mikey Folmer and Chuckie the Former Federal Bounty Hunter, who can each twirl a woman like a Tilt-a-Whirl.

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The Tiki Tones, meanwhile, feature a woman who may be the best go-go dancer ever. She's kind of thick-bodied and has fat legs (not to mention stunning aqua and cobalt hair). And she is more woman than I've ever seen on one stage, sunnying up the place with an ever-present goofy smile and moves that would knock the breath out of even Gwen Stefani, who's pretty able to aerobicize a stage herself.

Speaking of Stefani, I saw her up close for the first time at the birthday party for Cakeboy's celeberrific Kristoff at DiPiazza's Lava Lounge Saturday night. Stefani is disgustingly, superhumanly pretty in person. Feh! Also, even though her relatively new song "A Simple Life" is kind of bizarrely constructed, it has two of the most honest lines I've heard in forever: women don't usually admit to hoping to get knocked up by accident, nor does anyone ever say that it's mostly selfish people who refuse to have kids. I don't know if I want to fight her or hope she'll be my friend. On second thought, fuck it. I don't need a friend that pretty. Watch your back, Stefani! It's on!

The Dub All-Stars' Ras and All Day's Paul were in the house, too, both behaving shockingly well.

And Lake Forest's Gypsy Lounge is becoming home-away-from-Fullerton for acts like Jay Buchanan and Square—two bands as inseparable as Siegfried and Roy. We caught Square (with Buchanan running sound) Friday night; singer Sean Beste and his pretty girlfriend, Sara, now have matching pink Gwen Stefani hair. On Sara, it's darling, but on Sean, it makes him look a little puffy. I highly recommend cucumber extract, Sean. Gets rid of bags in no time. Square were terrific, as always. The songwriting is dangerous and poetic, and the boys (especially the puckishly Beck-like James Valentine, who really, really hates it when people say, "Where it's at" as he walks by) have prog-rock chops worthy of Yes. Sho' nuff! But the Gypsy Lounge, which is cozy and filled with nekkid-lady bordello paintings, may be a little too comfortable, as the audience sank into the many couches instead of getting up and shaking it as they should have. What are you people waiting for? The Tush Push? Let it hang, darlings, and have a Coke and a smile.

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