Photo by James Norton
Shot on Scene
God, it’s almost too easy. Let’s see here. Overuse of hair gel? Check. Pinky ring? That’s right. Spray tan? You bet. Necklace and bracelet that probably have some deep and quasi-spiritual meaning in some ancient Chinese religion? Condouchius say: Oh, hell yeah. But it wasn’t all bad at the invite-only grand opening of Downtown’s newest oonce-oonce club, Fluxx. The spot formerly known as Aubergine has a pretty sick design, a ridiculous sound system and a pretty knowledgeable fella set to book some live bands there (see Locals Only). And if there’s any advantage of having giant liquid-nitrogen tanks that spew fog into the club, it’s almost certainly this: I’ll never have to see this guy dancing next to me again.
Eric Howarth, co-owner of Hi-Speed Soul Records and M-Theory Music, can now add another title to his name. He has confirmed to CityBeat that he’ll be booking live bands, art and fashion shows at Fluxx, the new Downtown club. He says he’ll put on events once or twice a month on weekdays starting in May. “Their bread and butter is the Friday and Saturday night crowd,” Howarth says via e-mail. “But they’ve got a great sound system and a set up very conducive to live music, so they asked me to book bands when I want to in the location during the other nights.”
Celtic and Latin folk band Skelpin has won a World category nomination in the annual John Lennon Songwriting Contest for the song “The View.” It was chosen from thousands of entries and will compete against 23 other nominees in the running for 12 Lennon Awards and the Maxell Song of the Year. The winners of the Lennon Awards will be announced on May 1, and the Song of the Year winner announced in July.
Joe MacAskill of country-popsters Trophy Wife and Jaye Furlonger (formerly of hard-rockers Nautical Disaster) have a new project, Pony Death Ride. Asked about the music via e-mail, MacAskill described it as a “lounge / cabaret / punk-type thing.”
Che Café will host a show benefiting the all-ages venue and vegetarian café on Saturday, March 20, with art and live music from The Mattson 2 and Illuminauts.
The Enrique Experience
With the piquancy of a freshly prepared bag of Tostilocos, satirist-cum-author Gustavo Arellano, that lover of inverted exclamation marks, made a special appearance at Barrio Logan’s Latte Mi Corazón to discuss his syndicated “¡Ask a Mexican!” column and eponymous book. Occasionally interrupted by the coffeehouse’s espresso grinder, Arellano—a sort of low-rider-driving Abigail Van Buren, talked about everything from Mexicans’ obsession with Morrissey to the prevalence of light-skinned telenovela actors. Wondering what the ultimate Latino fast-food turpitude is? ¡Read on!Enrique: Strangest question you’ve ever received?Arellano: One that comes to mind is: ‘Is it true Mexican women engage in anal sex to keep their virginity?’ There’s actually been sociological studies showing that’s a myth—maybe 10 percent of Mexican women engage in anal, and not to remain virgins, but out of pressure from their men who want a little bit of the butt.How do you justify blogging that NPR ripped you by launching “Ask an Arab,” when some argue that you copied Chappelle’s “Ask a Black Dude”? That’s why I closed with an old Simpsons quote: “If this is anyone but Steve Allen, you’ve stolen my bit!” I would have liked for NPR to at least do a profile on me. They did “Ask an Arab” and haven’t done it again because, I’m sorry to say, “Ask an Arab” sucked; it just fell by the wayside.Who’d win in an arm-wrestling match, a Hispanic or a Chicano?The Chicano because he’d probably be burlier and angrier. If you’re calling yourself Hispanic, you’ve sold out and probably made peace with your vendido-ness. I ate two Jack in the Box tacos earlier. In a scale between Cheech and Lou Dobbs, where does that land me?Jack in the Box tacos are a phenomenon unto themselves, because they’re not made with meat, so they’re not really tacos. Cheech and Chong are total stoner business, so when it comes to being on the ganja, anything goes. If you’d had Taco Bell, though, it would’ve been the ultimate sin.Who is a bigger Uncle Tom, you or Carlos Mencia?[Laughs.] Carlos Men-steal-ya, because I don’t steal from anybody. Carlos has been shown to steal jokes. Also, I’m always out there helping out AB 540, DREAM Act and Puente students. Teachers and principals know that if they ask me to speak to their students, I’ll be there—just tell me where there’s a good Mexican restaurant nearby.
From refurbished dives to the shiniest clubs, we scout and then rate the newest nightlife destinations. Grades are based on a five-bottle rating system with one bottle being poor and five bottles being a must-go-there-now.I’m not sure what was going through the minds of the creators of Quality Social (789 Sixth Ave., Downtown). Their “upscale dive” concept, where the only rules are that there are no rules, seems like a trite attempt to attract some kind of mythological breed of bargoer—the kind that, after working the 9-to-5 all week, slides into his skinny jeans and flannel to become a weekend hipster warrior. Unlike some of its Gaslamp neighbors, QS has no dress code and promises unpretentiousness, complete with Boones Farm and Pabst tallboys on the menu.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I didn’t like the idea behind QS from the jump. It seemed disingenuous at best that two guys from Chicago—one of whom used to work for nightlife impresario Rande Gerber (the guy behind two failed bars at the Hard Rock Hotel, not to mention Cindy Crawford)—would open a bar in San Diego that’s modeled after the best parts of a dive bar but fancy enough to appeal to a more affluent set.
For the most part, my trepidation proved valid. If I can compare it to anything, both in aesthetic and vibe, it would be Bar Basic. It’s big, with stone walls and floors, two bars and giant red leather booths all around. The staff is friendly enough, and the food is lovingly made using local meats and produce. The pictures of dive-bar bathrooms on the walls of the men’s room, shot by The Style Shark’s Ben DeCamp, is a ridiculous and no doubt calculated attempt to win some kind of street cred with the El Dorado scenester set, while, conversely, the bar serves up high-falutin’ cocktails from Chicago mixologist Charles Joly at reasonable prices.
Here’s the thing, or, more accurately, the problem: There hasn’t been a dive bar in the history of dives worth its margarita salt that started out saying, “I’m going to try to be a dive bar.” They just are. What QS is is a facsimile of a copy of a reproduction. That’s not to say the formula won’t work for at least a little while. It hasn’t stopped the masses from flocking to places like True North, which also has a laissez-faire attitude when it comes to patrons, much to the chagrin of North Park locals. But at least Bar Basic and True North have niches.
A blasé and indecisive mindset has never benefited a club or bar, even a dive. And by attempting to be everything to everyone, Quality Social is an establishment with no identity at all. It’s not experimental; rather, it’s taking advantage of an imagined trend. Hipsters don’t want to hang out with blazer and T-shirt-wearing bros, and vice versa. It’s a nice idea, even novel, but it’s neither realistic nor plausible, and what’s worse, it’s been naively and farcically executed.Rating: 2 Bottles