By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Photo by Anne FishbeinSince the dawning of CBGB, the big question for the die-young-or-just-die punk scene has been "What happens to aging punk rockers?" Now Phranc, former member of seminal L.A. punk/new-wave outfits Nervous Gender and Catholic Discipline, has provided an answer. The self-proclaimed "All-American Jewish Lesbian Folksinger" and owner of Phancy Records has put away her safety pins and invaded the inner sanctums of L.A.’s living rooms — as your friendly neighborhood Tupperware Lady.
And not your ordinary Tupperware Lady either, as evidenced by her debut party last week at the Fairfax District home of Laurie Kay, co-producer of the film Phrancumentary. With such local luminaries as Muffs lead singer Kim Shattuck and ex–Lou Reed drummer Danny Frankel looking on, the crew-cut icon of folkie-punk plucked a baritone ukulele and belted out her soon-to-be-recorded single. The Jonathan Richman–like tune, an ode to her new way of life, is titled, appropriately enough, "Tupperware Lady."
"I’m a little nervous. This is my first Tupperware party," Ms. Phranc confided, bringing many of the assembled bohemianati to their feet. "Most of you in the entertainment and music businesses know the insecurities and ups and downs in finance in this career. I wanted to sell things, and I wanted to sell something I believe in. I believe in Tupperware!"
Indeed she does. As a recent trainee in the fine art of home sales, Ms. Phranc started out a little tentatively. But 15 years of stagecraft soon shone through. A nifty party game called "Well, I Never" was well-received. (Everyone in the room says something they’ve never done; those who have done what the other person hasn’t applaud. My entry: "I never voted for a Republican.")
Then Ms. Phranc got down to the nuts and bolts of pitching the product. Order forms were passed out (along with free mini-spatulas). Soon everyone in the room appeared to be checking off various crispers, containers and strainers. The final tally was unknown at press time. But given the artist-unfriendly door policies of most back-in-the-day punk clubs, her maiden Tupperware outing probably earned her more than her music gigs.
"I’ve been making indie records in the ’90s," she said after donning her "Tupperware Lady" apron. "Did records for Kill Rock Stars, and I have my own label. But tonight is Tupperware first!"Contact Phranc at email@example.com.—Johnny Angel
Military-industrial giant Rocketdyne has been reeling the last few weeks from a barrage of negative publicity about pollution problems at its Santa Susana Field Laboratory. Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer has demanded a more stringent cleanup at the San Fernando/ Simi valleys–straddling site. And Channel 2 News produced a four-part exposé, albeit one that rehashed material presented first in Offbeat and elsewhere. But what really caught our attention was the recent admission by NASA official Allen Elliott that military testing had contributed to the contamination. At a public meeting last month of the task force overseeing the cleanup, Elliott said that 77 percent of the 21,509 engine tests conducted 1954-83 at the lab were for the Department of Defense. Rocketdyne officials had accused this reporter of lying when I disclosed last year that the company was a major supplier of America’s nuclear arsenal. Now, we learn that not only were engines for the nuclear-tipped Navaho, Atlas and Jupiter missiles tested at the Rocketdyne site. About a third of the 1.73 million gallons of the toxic solvent TCE, used to hose down the engines, may have seeped into the soil, Elliott said. The Cold War lives on.
Ants in Our Pants
Woody Allen’s earnest performance aside, do you really like ants? Oh, sure, you admire their industriousness, their ability to plan for the long winter ahead. But when you wake up in the morning, as OffBeat will confess to having done on occasion, to an inch-wide column of them marching toward the ice cream bowl you neglected to rinse out at 2 a.m., you stop thinking about joining PETA and start thinking about ant-icide. Right?
OffBeat thought we’d found the perfect solution when a kindly neighbor gave us a stick of something called "Chinese Chalk," which she swore stopped the insect troops in their diligent little tracks without resort to harmful chemicals. But alas! After a bit of detective work, OffBeat discovered that the cure is worse than the disease. The chalk — which is also marketed under the names "Miraculous Insecticide Chalk," "Cockroach Wipeout Chalk" and even "Pretty Baby Chalk" — was analyzed in 1998 by Cal/EPA and other agencies. They found that the supposedly nontoxic chalk contains insecticides banned in the U.S., and for good reason. The agency’s Department of Pesticide Regulation warned that the products have been mistaken for common household chalk and eaten by children, who became sick. The most serious case came in 1994, when a San Diego child was hospitalized after eating insecticidal chalk. More recently, a Visalia toddler fell ill after ingesting a product labeled "Miraculous Insecticide Chalk."
"Obviously, making an insecticide look like a toy is dangerous — as well as illegal," said former pesticide agency Chief Deputy Director Jean-Mari Peltier. "We would have the same problem if they made it look like a lollipop, or packaged it in a soft-drink bottle."