It was a rough couple of weeks for most of us—except those lucky people with small lumps of gravel where their big, gorgeous, bloody hearts should be—and I don't know about you, but I needed me a cowboy. And some chili and beer couldn't hurt either.

So it was just a quick trip up the 57, and then onto some other freeways, and then some more, to beautiful San Dimas (no, really, it's kind of beautiful), where a real live rodeo, with real live cowpokes, was perpetrating.

Since Linda Jemison's firecracker sister, Keri Rodriguez, was singing the national anthem for Saturday's roping and bucking, we sat by the corrals (no general admission for us!), where the cowboys were changing their pants and doing lots of really impressive stretches. We made no eye contact. We're shy.

It was a gorgeous day for a rodeo, unless you're a calf, in which case you spent the day getting almost trampled by men on big, scary horses and occasionally being wrestled to the ground and tied up by your poor, spindly little calf legs. But look on the bright side! At least nobody was chopping them up into veal!

Presiding over the animal abuse (with a headset like Janet JacksonMiss Jackson if you're nasty) was the saddest rodeo clown in the whole dang world, reciting a host of jokes he'd gotten off the Internet, including that one that's in the form of a hillbilly letter and says stuff like, "We don't know yet if the baby is a boy or a girl, so we don't know if you're an aunt or an uncle." Remember that one? His name was Gizmo, and I don't want to make fun of him because I imagine that he used to be a rodeo rider but got hurt, and they keep him on out of pity. It's the only explanation. He kept saying things that weren't jokes, and when the capacity crowd didn't laugh—ever—he'd complain that we didn't get it. He didn't even get chased around by a bull. Mostly, he just said words—word, word, word, word, word—but he was also in charge of policing the arena for the occasional stray strap after the broncs had been freed of them; apparently, they strap them across the groin to make 'em real mad, and I have to say I'm with PETA on that one. How would you like it?

Meanwhile, some beeyootiful ladies rode around with curly blond hair and makeup thick enough to caulk the Hoover Dam. They were Miss California Rodeo 2000 and Miss California Rodeo 2001, and if you could have told 'em apart, I would have given you a dollar. At first, we assumed Miss California Rodeo 2001 was pissed that Miss California Rodeo 2000 was still hanging around, lapping up glory that was no longer her due. But then it turned out Miss California Rodeo 2000 had just a few days before been crowned Miss California Rodeo 2002, so I guess Miss California Rodeo 2001 will just have to re-apply her lip gloss and suck it up. What fun!

Friday's F. Scott Hess opening at the Orange County Museum of Art was disgraceful. Oh, Hess' works are gorgeous (though the larger galleries are showing a collaboration of "sound sculptures" with the Orange County Philharmonic Society that comprise things like hot-pink guitars suspended in the air and playing from a computer program; the squares were in ecstasy). And I'm not even talking about the art critic (who shall remain nameless, and no, it wasn't I) who, once the free wine was cut off at 7 p.m., threw a fit like she was Courtney Love, calling the bartender (who was just doing her job by charging for drinks) "that nasty gray-haired thing." No, what I'm talking about is the museum's new program of serving only bread and cheese to the important people (we who are invited to come early), and then bringing out the real food once the riffraff get there. No! No, no, no, no, no!

From there, it was off to the Galaxy Concert Theatrefor Wonderlove, a darling group of boys (managed by Jemison) whose album is delectable but who for some reason decide to leave all their hooks at home whenever they play live. Still, they were a sight better than the sweet little Slayer clones who opened the show. They were loud! And you know what Mikey Hobbick says: If it's too loud, turn it down.

Sunday night's Los Straitjackets/Trucker Up show at the Mouse House of Blues was terrific, as heard from the patio bar. As background music for chats with people like Dave "The Chairman" Mau, Adman, tall drink of water Cher Greenleaf, and assorted Garden Grove bartenders and wicked funny Fullerton waitresses, it worked beautifully (Big Sandy's Robert, who's touring with the Straitjackets, crooned like Dominic Chianese), but you couldn't have gotten us inside for all the Ketel One in Irvine.

Trucker Up did their usual tunelessly delightful program of trucker songs, like the immortal CW McCall anthem "Convoy." Los Straitjackets, though, play straight-ahead surf guitar with their only gimmick being their Mexican wrestling masks (though the drummer was decked out as the Creature From the Black Lagoon). There just really isn't much to look at there; they should steal some shtick from the Tiki Tones and get a dancing girl or four to frug away, gladdening the hearts of all who see them. Or they should get a cowboy. Or maybe just some veal.

Come and get it!


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