Two-Buck Chuck

Photo by Rebecca SchoenkopfMy pal Jim Washburn wants to write a song called "Who Brought the Charles Shaw?" Charles Shaw is the $2 cabernet Trader Joe's has been offering in considerable glut; the only problem with the smooth wine is that everybody now knows it only set you back $2. Do you really want to be the one who lugged it to the party?

The answer, of course, is of course!

So we were delighted to see the Charles Shaw—in Dixie Cups!—at Pece/Jones Gallery Saturday night, along with a bowl overflowing with Cheetos.

We were soon met by Orange County Registerart critic Daniella Walsh. "Hmmm. Two-Buck Chuck," she announced, and we all had us a Dixie sip.

The monthly Artists Village opening was more happening than we'd seen in some time. New blood has arrived in the form of the damn-dirty-hippie paintings of Dave Maestrejuan(bearded like Kris Kristofferson) upstairs and The Art Bar in the basement. Sadly, the Art Bar isn't a bar at all, but rather a craftsy store where you can make pretty objets out of imported Japanese paper or rent by the hour table space supplemented with an outlandish supply of pens and stamps. Luckily, Memphis is a bar, and it was jam-packed, too, with a jambalaya featuring God's (or Diego's) most perfect shrimp and with a blueberry-apple cobbler that makes you want to rip off your own head and kiss yourself.

People were everywhere: flooding Legacy Arts for a glimpse of the collection of African art therein; rubbing against one another in Vladimir Cora's Vladimir Cora gallery; and tripping over themselves at Grand Central, which has been so slavish a lo-art booster it's now showcasing the works of Robert Williams' wife. Grand Central is just lucky that Suzanne Williams' trippy Minimalism is actually really good.

Or they'd be hearing from me!

Meanwhile, at Joseph Musil's Salon of the Theatres, Ricki Vincent was performing his adults-only puppet show Thoughts From the Id. While we couldn't really figure out why it was adults-only (there were only a couple of scattered fucks), it was impressively rhymey. I haven't heard poetry that rhymes (with the exception of Mojo's poem to Joe Millionaire, "I Choose You") since The Cat in the Hatcame back!

Also meanwhile, the cats at the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art (OCCCA) were playing host to . . . Brendan Fraser? Art blonde Laurie Hassold reports she had a 15-minute conversation with George, George, George of the Jungle, until a prim and persnickety friend determined that the chat had gone on too long for someone whose husband wasn't in the immediate vicinity and broke it up. We immediately went in search of Fraser—to snap his picture—but he was already gone, and all we got was this. We suck.

Photos by Fraser are included in OCCCA's "Freeze Frame: Photographs From the Society of Motion Picture Still Photographers." The exhibit is charming and full, but Fraser's photos, while serviceable, are perhaps not the best things in it. Also, the exhibit tends to flaunt photos of whatever stars happened to be in the flicks more than the really beautiful art shots by the same photographers. Just like this column.

Speaking of inane celeb sightings? Saturday afternoon, I guilt-tripped John Cusack into giving me a buck to cover my tip at the Malibu Diedrich Coffee. He looked at me like I'd just wiped my nose on his sleeve, but he forked over the bread, since I called him out by name, and he knew it would end up in a tabloid if he didn't. He clearly didn't remember the last time we met, when he was out of his head like he was Robert Downey, Jr. and ignoring his darling, blonde fashion-editor girlfriend in favor of hanging on a huge Danish bodybuilding dude. Of course, that was eight years ago, and as I was not the bodybuilding dude—or the fashion editor, if you were confused—there's no reason he would remember.

Laurie says Fraser, by the way, is totally down-to-earth. Cusack? His sister's way cooler.

Friday night, we were passing Blair Field when we spied happy families and cute teenage girls entering therein. Showing a thrilling spontaneity, we immediately ditched our plans and went in, too. We had no clue what we'd find—we had a half-baked idea it would be a Wilson High football game—and were thrilled (spontaneously) that it was in fact a baseball game between Arizona State and the Cal State Long Beach Dirtbags. For a measly $7 per, we sat in reserved seats (which you really don't need—the ballpark's tiny) and drank beer and watched Arizona get whomped like Tom Daschle's Democrats. Behind us, four girls told one another their outfits were cute and considered at length different cheers they should cheer. My favorite was (with a Snoop Dogg cadence) "Long Beeeach! What? Yeeah." But that was the all-purpose cheer. They tried to come up with specific cheers for specific players they knew. Like this: "You guys, Paul is coming up! What should we say when Paul comes up?" Except that they never did decide on what to say when Paul came up. I wish they'd said, "Long Beeeach! What? Yeeah" more.

But it was lucky Chuck, their most favorite of players, who got a screamy ovation from the girls whenever he was at the plate (which was often, as the Dirtbags were batting around each inning against hapless ASU). And when Chuck got walked, a joy as pure as Britney Spears was felt all through our section.

Final score, after three hours and 40 minutes, was 11-5, but it was nowhere near that close.

For the Dirtbag schedule and tickets, call (562) 985-4949.

Say! Did you happen to see reports that the county is proposing $97.9 million in cuts from clinics, social services (like investigating child-abuse claims), disease control (just in time for smallpox!) and water-quality monitoring? This, from the home of Surf Shitty and Aliso Creek. I guess what we don't know can't hurt us.

Did you happen to see those stories the very same week on Orange County spending $207 million (including $135 million in debt from the previous owners) to buy 10 miles of 91 toll lanes from a private company? Perhaps it's silly of me to conflate the two; at least the LA Times, in its coverage, never mentioned one with regard to the other. I'm sure there must be subtleties that I just don't understand. Math is hard.

Apparently, it's better to spend the money now on what has already been a massive boondoggle because there was a "no-compete" clause with the company that meant we couldn't so much as fix a pothole in the other lanes or they'd sue, sue, sue! (Reliance on public/private partnerships for things like toll roads was a cornerstone of the much-missed Bill Simon campaign.) Let's see: we could test water for fecal coliform, beef up services for abused and neglected kids, and give old people some hot lunch—or we could buy some toll lanes to Riverside.

Blame for the county's mess, of course, isn't going to the toll-road thugs, or to the bumbly Supes, but to The Governor. Darn Gray Davis! With all that lovely money, we could have bought more than 103 million bottles of Charles Shaw.

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