The chief was bellowing again and reaching for his Pepto Bismol. "Schoenkopf! In my office!" he shouted, and I could tell his mug would be as purple as a Tahitian sunset. "Sure, boss. What's the 911?" I shot out in staccato submachine-gun fire, preparing to swallow half my syllables in the stylized manner of Jennifer Jason Leigh until I was as unintelligible as Helen Keller. "Dance clubs!" he thundered. "We need more stories on dance clubs! Damn it, Schoenkopf! I've told you until I'm blue as a society dame's wig: dance clubs! DJs! Techno and raves!" I blanched but intrepidly held my ground like a GI surrounded by nothing but a squad of spaghetti eaters. "No problem, big guy! I'll just give one of those DJs a ringy-ding and interview him over the horn and find out all about this dance-club scene. It'll be swell!"His voice got as menacing as a mangy dog's. "Put on your party shoes, Schoenkopf," he said. "You're going in." I could feel the hot tears bubbling up behind my peepers like Old Faithful and dug a fingernail into my palm. I'd be padgoozled if I'd let him see me bawl. Just like a broad. "You won't be disappointed, boss." I almost strangled on the words like a bum with no choppers chewing on a tough steak. I got on the horn with my partner in crime. "I'm not able, Mabel!" she said, smacking gum in my ear like a low-rent hoofer. "We're making a beeline to the Foothill to see Big Sandy. You wanna tag along?" I bit my lip. "The chief says I have to go to a dance club," I whispered. I guessed I would be flying solo. Hopefully, this wouldn't turn into The Amelia Earhart Story. I decided to start with Geckos Mission Viejo. I knew from past experience there would be lots of GI Joes there; them I could handle. But to ease into it, I stopped at the Swallow's Inn in San Juan Capistrano-a honky-tonk full of sociable types who might have just been sprung from the joint, but at least they're friendly. They had a couple of new bruisers working the door. One I'd seen before as a customer, when he was leaving on the arm of a huge, feisty broad who had just kicked him in the head. He looked happy. The other I didn't know. It was him who stood there and watched as a tubby load of a guy started poking me in the shoulder. "I'm a former Navy SEAL," the big buffoon was muttering and giggling like a teenybopper, still poking me. "But this girl scares me." "First, I don't like you poking me," I told the wiseacre. "Second, I don't like being laughed at, see?" He kept poking, but his giggles grew into giant, minute-long guffaws. He pointed. He laughed. He pointed. He threw his bean back and laughed some more-8 inches from my face. I looked over at the door guy. "You must have told him something pretty funny," he said and walked away. The Swallow's-which was named OC's Best Bar last year by this very rag-might want to take a more proactive approach when its employees get an eyeful of petite Janes getting insulted and manhandled by lousy drunks. I'm not sure I'll be hoofing it back there, despite the fact that they often host Chris Gaffney & the Cold Hard Facts and on this night had a perky band led by a perky brunette who kept calling out, "I think this one's a Power Jam!"I made tracks over to Geckos. There, at least, everyone's trying to make time, so they're not as likely to be louts. And the management wants to make sure the joint's stocked with dolls like a pond's stocked with trout, so if anyone gives you grief, they'll probably throw him out on his melon. After all, if it weren't a comfortable place, all the off-duty burlesque dancers from Captain Creem would stop bumping and grinding all over the railings. At least, yours truly assumed they were all off-duty burlesque dancers; I've never seen so many Lulus writhing and twisting and rubbing themselves up and down and purring like cats full of mice to tunes like Cake's "Never There." It's a scream. One old Tom-who looked just like Bob Dornan, no joke-was up on the catwalk, too. Just like the birdies, he was doing knee bends and hip wiggles and shaking his maracas over the railing. I hope nobody decided to punch his lights out in the parking lot. The jarheads can be a tad intolerant of other orientations. I got the big man on the wire. "Boss," I told him, "we need to annex Big Bear Lake just like we annexed Long Beach. I'm up here for $ellout Productions' show at the Swatch World BoarderCross at Bear Mountain, and every Joe on the entire mountain is from OC. "And they're healthy, boss. I've never seen so many smoking, drinking blokes and birds look so healthy! The Pushers are here, chief, and Unwritten Law and The Skeletones and Dial 7, and everyone is real chatty and keen! Nice fellas!" "Schoenkopf!" he roared, and I could hear every little drawer rattle as he reached for his Scotch. "Bad connection, boss!" I whooped. "You're coming in like a goat chewing an old boot. I've gotta skedaddle back down the hill, chief, before the roads freeze over. There are Action Sports Retailer parties at the Juke Joint and the Foothill that I've gotta cover, Kahuna. I won't let you down!" I met my shooter at the Juke Joint in time for The Sinners, the singer of which was sporting an ugly shiner. The boys had a good rockabilly thing jiving, and the audience of cover boys and girls was gaga for them, when they weren't too busy being gaga for one another. The place wasn't at capacity, though, so we roared away and over to the Foothill, where the TNT sounds of 00 Soul were sure to have an ASR-packed crowd of surfer boys and betties. We weren't disappointed, and we watched the pretty people snake up and down one another's chassis like ants on a wiener at a Fourth of July picnic in Norman Rockwell land. We spotted Violet Burning lead singer Michael in the jam. "Did you get to 00 Soul's gig at Disneyland?" he asked us. "Nope, dope. We had other plans, Stan," we told him. "What was the story, uh, Maury?" "It was wild," he told us. "There were all these tourists, and this one huge black guy who was about 6-foot-7 and about 150 pounds was right by the stage. All of a sudden, he started doing the Electric Slide, and about 50 tourists immediately joined in. It was surreal."I squinted at him. It was time to put the screws to him. "Are you sure it was the Electric Slide?" I asked harshly, taking my pencil out from behind my ear. "Could it have been . . . the Power Jam?" He broke down and started blubbering. "It could have been," he whispered. "It could have been a Power Jam." Finally, someone else was crying.
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