The Needles Eye

Photo by Jack GouldSo, any of you happen to hit the Spurgeon Building in Santa Ana on Jan. 8? We hate to gush, especially since it will just go to Max Presneill's head, and he's been talkin' some smack about us to anyone who'll listen, but we would never let that get in the way of our unbiased and impartial musings, except to say, you know, we sure wish it were someone else who was responsible for the liveliest, most fun art happening that's occurred anywhere in the county in the past five years. But Cal State Fullerton art czar Mike McGee and the often-pompous Presneill managed to do just that. Damn.

Several hundred folks straight from some mysterious corner of Pretty People Land took advantage of the 100 artists spilling out of offices on all four floors of the vacant building, and, oddly, people actually spent their time looking at the works instead of one another. Except when they were at the bar.

All the Santa Ana mainstays were in the house, of course, like berart couple Lori Hassold and Jeff Gillette(Gillette was responsible for the installation Weird Guy Hanging out in the Women's Bathroom, Breathing Heavily and Staring), the Yoko-ish Maria Schowengerdt, and the odd and sweet film guy Bob Pece. But there was new and very young blood bobbing about, too, which had the old folks like ourselves in somewhat of a dither.

Amid expectedly bad works, there were fabulously fun installations, the most successful of which, like Cynthia Minet's Chamber of Memory, were cheerfully gimmicky rather than attempting to be profound in the middle of a zoo. Frank Dixon offered a whimsical condemnation of Modernism (or was it a condemnation of those ignorant enough to condemn Modernism?) with a roomful of picture frames hanging over empty walls and a chair in the middle of the room with a whoopee cushion on it. The wall across from the chair was emblazoned with the legend "I think we've been had." In Minet's office space, a wet-sand-covered floor provided an amusement park-like discombobulation for any viewers in heels, while vials of scent ensconced on the walls offered campfire and beach smells that all seemed designed to bring back memories of youthful sexual escapades. Or was that just us?

Meanwhile, up on the fourth floor, a marathon performance piece featured rude young ladies (Melinda Ring and Liz Young) refusing to register the evening's guests in something straight out of Candid Camera. The women caviled and kvetched and insisted on getting everyone's name wrong. A lot of people didn't get the joke, and a few of them were pissed. But the women told them to shut up and sit down. Mostly, they did.

The afterparty at the former Patrick Webster Galleryin the Santora Building around the corner took an awfully long time to materialize—the DJs were taking their sweet time moving their equipment between buildings—but nobody left. We were sure all the sexy 22-year-olds wouldn't have the stamina to sit on the sidewalk with nothing to do; when we were 22, waiting was something only Russians did well—and then only when there were especially promising loaves of bread to be had. But the gallery, once opened, was immediately jammed with bonbon-shaking party people holding cans of beer that some of the supermodel boys were jovially passing out. Nice job, Mike. And Max, too. We guess.

So, any of you get over to Flock of Goo Goo at Linda's Doll Hut on Jan. 7? With the legendary Steve Soto, Greg "Adam" Antista, and members of the Cadillac Tramps prancing around in wide stripes and neckerchiefs, you can't go very far wrong. Any medley that includes Katrina and the Waves and "867-5309" has to have a committed band behind it. And while the band may have been pretending to be ironic, we can just see them, circa 1982, sporting pink shirts and big hair. Don't think you can put one over on us, Flock of Goo Goo!

So, any of you happen to catch the Republicanpresidential debate in South Carolina on Jan. 7? It was hilarious. First, you had angry black man Alan Keyes throwing temper tantrums like a Newport Beach deb waking up to discover that beneath all the bandages is the wrong nose; every time he didn't want to answer a question, he would rag on the questioner and claim it was inappropriate. (Example: a female reporter asked the candidates to describe the greatest mistake they'd made as adults. Um, correct answer: We work too hard? We care too much? Keyes got angry and turned it into a referendum on rude people asking questions they have no right to ask; ultra-right-wing alien baby Gary Bauer said it was the time he'd dared to cite a poll to Ronald Reagan, whose folksy wisdom he kept invoking the whole damn night, as though Reagan had been some kind of actual person who said deep and meaningful things; George Dubya Bush rambled inanely, with that look he gets, like an overexcited puppy whose brain ain't quite right about to hump your leg; nobody knows what Steve Forbes' fat head was talking about; Senator Orrin Hatch didn't understand the question; and only Senator John McCain actually answered, citing the appearance of impropriety of meeting with the Keating Five. You remember the Keating Five, don't you? Aw, hell.)

Then you had ugly rich guy Forbes taking credit for his wealth—Daddy had nothing to do with it, we're sure—and promising over and over again to reform the tax system, replacing the graduated income tax with a flat one. We wonder why.

And then you had all of the candidates obliquely hammering on Bill and Monica, including—bizarrely enough—George Dubya, whose own shenanigans are as icky-frat-boy as they come. At least this time that snatch Diane Sawyer wasn't around; we still get hackles remembering how she smugly hammered Al Gore on the tedious question—as though straight-laced Gore were somehow to blame for Clinton's trouble keeping it in his pants. In fact, so far as we know, Gore was only to blame (along with toe-sucker/swinger Dick Morris) for persuading Clinton to sign the welfare bill into law.

So, any of you happen to read the terrific article in the Jan. 9 Los Angeles Times about California's growing income gap? The Times was at its best here, juxtaposing pictures of Silicon Valley moguls, just gone public and getting into their new Ferraris, with pictures of people living in actual tarpaper shacks just down the road. The paper also examined the philanthropic habits of said moguls—and they seem to be giving Orange County a run for its money in the Embarrassing Stinginess category. Amid all those vaunted private thousand points of light, OC households average a pathetic $1.39 per year in charitable giving—and Internet princes aren't much better. According to the Times, they can't give away their money because then it'll take that much longer to get to the magic number of 1 billion. And who wants to lose that race? Thinking about holding Bill Gates up to us as some kind of charitable paragon? Don't. When you've got $90 billion —just one man has approximately 1 percent of the nation's wealth —giving away $100 million here or there still leaves you with a whole lot of lettuce. We don't see these folks climbing through the eye of a needle. Perhaps we should eat them? Or, hell—maybe we should give them a flat tax. Ferraris and Arabian stallions trickle down, don't they?

Eat the rich with Commie Girl at But don't expect an answer right away. Her modem's fried. Still.


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