Look! Were Patriots!

On the Fourth of July weekend when I was a shiny li'l 16-year-old Communist, I lost my virginity on a CalPIRG camping trip. When I got home that afternoon, there was a note from Commie Mom on my pillow. “Rebecca,” it read. “Your father and I are divorcing. Call me at Joyce's. Love, Mom.” That night, I went to the Oaks Mall parking lot to see the fireworks, and my '81 Ford Escort breathed its last in the mall's only exit aisle—facing the wrong way—while 20,000 people honked unceasingly, shaking their fists and cursing my name, for making their trips through gridlock just a little more impossible. So this Fourth of July could have been a lot worse.

Mark and Michelle Edwardshad invited my small buttercup of a son and me to a party (someone else's party, as it turned out, and it was hugely great) on Main Street to watch the thousandth-annual Huntington Beach Independence Day Parade. I love a parade, especially one with Shriners! First, they drove around all crazy in their Shriner dune buggies. Then the Tin Lizzies paraded through in li'l Shriner cars. Then there were Shriner clowns doing clowny things. Their signs said, “Know a crippled child? Call a Shriner!” Fabulous! And if you know somebody who's emotionally crippled, by all means, give him my number.

A band rode through on one of the parade's few floats (most people just marched), getting seriously funky, and I was loving it until I realized it was a seriously funky rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” and then I got seriously embarrassed.

The labor folks had quite a contingent, with bricklayers and Service Employees International Union folks following Vietnam Veterans and Proud of It. There were also a float full of Huntington Harbor Republican Women Federated—with a dancing George W. Bush!—and the Greater Huntington Beach Interfaith Council. I dig interfaith councils, but the music piping out sounded like “All By Myself” but worse. Oh, and there was a “Let Us Pray” float, too, with a pilgrim and a redskin shaking hands and a re-creation of the flag at Iwo Jima but with a fireman.

Some Scots in kilts looked like big fat hobbits, and Ms. Senior America waved her ass prettily. But it was the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association (OC chapter) that made me cry, doddering down the street as they were. Of course, I'd already had two Bloody Marys, so the cryin' came easy.

That night, I hit Gay Peter's on Long Beach's Ocean Boulevard for a party that looked like a beer commercial. Attractive young men and women drank Smirnoff Ices and lit off extremely illegal fireworks while Handsome, Handsome Erikof Ruby Diver piped out music from the Caddy he had sold back to Peter but with whose stereo he apparently felt quite at home. And there was risotto! Meanwhile, the entire beach below whizzed with bottle rockets and professional-grade shit flying past people's heads. Patriots had gotten serious. Every once in a while, a tank rolled down the street, just to remind us all we were under martial law—except the cops couldn't even attempt to control the mayhem. Maybe they were just guarding us from the terrorist hordes swimming over from Catalina.

Saturday's Afternanny at the Doll Hutwas pleasantly packed with peeps I hadn't seen there since Linda Jemisonsold the legendary dive. Dave “The Chairman” Mau barbecued in the back for Gary Gomez, Russell Scott (of the Red Hots), Paulywith the big mustaches, La Femme Cassandra (looking svelte and gorgeous in black), and various and sundry Blasters, who never did get to play the Hootenanny that day because singer Phil Alvin was a couple of hours late, and X certainly wasn't about to push back its appointed stage time to accommodate Phil Alvin's compulsive tardiness.

It was off to Long Beach's The Space for a party that was frighteningly full of people who had not dressed in theme (it kind of makes you feel for the Club Rubberguys, who claimed that people weren't really trying anymore). The Space's theme? Come as your favorite TV character. So while there was a fab Eddie Munster, a sexy Cher, and a very tall Flying Nun, most of the hundreds upon hundreds of people just looked like Santa Monicans. Maybe they had come as people on Blind Date. Very disconcerting.

Still, the Space's extravagant quarters (a warehouse by the port) had become even more so with the addition of a beautiful, torch-lit outdoor stage to complement the two inside. Jay Buchanan had a powerful following crowded inside, and his opening number—the theme from M*A*S*H; hooray, suicide!—was brilliant. Still, he's starting to fall into droney self-indulgence to go with his cool-looking beard and scruffy ponytail. It might be time to perk it up a bit, but I've been known to be wrong. The Fullerton and Long Beach scenes are starting to cross-pollinate again, with Buchanan and Wonderlove making the trek frequently to hang with cats like Scott Devours (Oleander, at last count) and Chris Hanlin (The Dibs). Life is being breathed back in to both areas, which is good as Long Beach's shelf life of cool had just about expired. There are only so many times you can see the same six people in the same 12 bands. Someone should start a band of Catalina terrorists to make music for the cops in tanks.

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