The Next Big Thing

Photo by James BunoanYou jaded hipsters can thank me now or you can thank me later, but I have discovered our newest star in the unlikeliest of places: Santa Ana's creaky Ye Olde Ship. That's right, Big Sandy: you might have discovered Phil Shane, but I have discovered Pete “The Treat” Dawson. Now everyone go be a fan, right away!

On Saturday nights (but only until 11 p.m., when the place capsizesor something), Pete strums. And while he strums, he programs his Elba and pumps the pedals on his footie-controlled bass, and he plays not one but two harmonicas that sound as rich and full as Chris Gaffney's accordion. And while he does all that, the old salt sings. In the most poignant, honeyed warble, he sings of England and Britannia ruling and all the other seaswept shanties one expects from a creaky old Brit bar. No, he doesn't know any Clash—but Burt Bacharach? He has a few! And as he sits behind his synthesizer (in a captain's cap straight from Muskrat Love), he chats gratefully with the seven people who have come to see him play.

But, my friends, five of those seven were annoying young wanna-Mods who wore newsboy caps and thought they were sensitive and interesting, like Morrissey, except they blabbered constantly to one another and were neither. They kept making requests like Pete was a jukebox, one after another (not just a few judicious favorites, but any song by any British band they could think of), and they were requesting Blur and snickering because Pete is clearly old and un-with-it and they are young and full of oats. But they are dull, and Pete is interesting. And Pete, when singing “That's Amore,” gets racy and sings the dirty version: “When she says, 'What the hell/Let's go get a motel'/That's Amore.” And Pete is sad-eyed and gentle. And Pete is British but sings with an American country-and-western accent, even on Beatles songs. And when people ask Pete for an original, Pete is humble and self-deprecating and says things like, “I can't write my own songs. That's why I'm playing here.” Also, Pete welcomes guest singers, so warm up your pipes and go on Saturday from 7 to 11 p.m. Watch Pete with rapt attention. Cheer Pete. Adore Pete. Buy Pete a cognac and make him your own. But mostly, shut your yaps.

* * *

Earlier Saturday night, we'd hit the new Caged Chameleon at the old Koo's Art Caf, for a Foxy Ladies and Men Enter the Dragon party. We were there to celebrate the birthday of the Chameleon's Richard Espinachio, and the party was appropriately mad and perfect, with empty rooms given over to Bruce Lee projections and sexy loungy cushiony places crying out for a hookah. We dined on the vegetarian stylings of Richard himself (Richard is an amazing cooker!) and took in the amazing change Richard and Eric have wrought in the formerly hard-lived-like-a-hooker Koo's. We were, however, distraught by the lack of a trace of the Koo's graffiti wall. “We got a ton of shit about that!” Richard confirmed. “We promise, we'll do [a graffiti] exhibit!” Partying alongside Richard and Eric were Huntington Beach oldster-supervisor Randy Pesqueira and his David Amendariz; artist Ken Ruzic; and some of the most glamorously earthy fag hags this side of Grace Adler. The fright wigs, though, were generally not a good look for the boys, girls or birls.

* * *

Last week, I was lazy and didn't want to continue my As Seen on TV Gift Guide. The week before, I wasn't at my most productive either. But whew! Now we be back on the game! All “gifts” can be purchased at the As Seen on TV store in The Block at Orange. Go shop!

• Miracle Mitt. Do I really have to tell you that this is not a gift for a wife or girlfriend, but rather only for an anal-retentive sister or gay friend who has already expressed a wish for one? Apparently, I do, since my best friend Greg the Fireman was all set to give Annie His Special Lady a set of tires for her 30th birthday. However, I'm happy to report the chemical-free duster is handy and does work—unlike . . . • Twist 'N Hook.Since I rearranged my room and blocked the door to the side hall, I now have to walk the length of the living room every time I want to pee. In order to not give the neighbors a big, fat show every night, I must either wear pajamas or—much more likely—a robe. I would like to hang this robe by my bedroom door, and I would like to do that with a miraculous Twist 'N Hook, which can be used again and again holding up to 20 pounds! Except they don't. They don't even hold a robe. Unless you lick the back of them, which is not on the directions or anywhere in the ad. Licking Twist 'N Hooks is gross. • Marvin's Magic Drawing Board. Couldn't figure out how to use this cool-looking thing for the life of me. My son lost interest after exactly seven seconds. • Twist N Dry. More comfortable on one's head than a big huge towel, for those going for the Elizabeth Taylor Bald Years look. Doesn't absorb that well, but nice and lightweight for those who, like me, have slender, swanlike necks. • Euroblaster. Do you live in Long Beach? Do you wake up every morning to freshly fallen silt from the prettily belching port? The Euroblaster works great at cleaning one's disgustingly dirty house, plus you can shoot neighborhood ruffians with a stream of water as forceful as the Reverend Lou Sheldon's hot air. Be sure to hide it inside the house when you're done, though. Leaving a hose accessory that looks like a gattling gun unattended is like leaving Todd Spitzer with a television camera. It's tantamount to entrapment.


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