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So Happy I Could Punch Myself 

Wednesday, Nov 15 2006
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Wednesday, 11:17 p.m.: “This has GOT to be violating some labor rules.” We’re not lawyers, but my comrade and I are fairly certain that authorities should be tipped off to tonight’s Silverlake Lounge show. “Heisenflei” (a.k.a. Julie Edwards) of two-piece L.A. darlings The Pity Party is simply working too hard: She’s manning the drums and keyboards and performing lead vocals, and, to our lazy eyes, it looks illegally exhausting. Her cohort, “Maurice-Robert,” ekes out hollow guitar riffs and contributes backing harmonies, and the duo’s effect is impressive, raw and quite a spectacle. Eastsider rock fixtures from Silversun Pickups and Autolux are in attendance, and before leaving I trade a five-spot for the Pity Party’s EP, which is packaged in a cardboard sleeve built from a recycled pizza box. In the interest of full disclosure, I admit that their catchy, experimental pop has inspired me to perform The Robot. In public.

Thursday, 2:20 p.m.: After a banking mishap leaves me with a negative balance, I’m forced to dig through change in my Subaru’s ashtray and buy a Big Gulp instead of lunch. Then I head to Griffith Park, to cry on a bench. It’s a bright, crisp November afternoon, and through the rustle of dry leaves, I begin to discern the faint song of a horn in the distance. My self-absorbed bummerfest is gradually interrupted by the approach of an elderly man in khakis and a polo shirt, ambling through a grassy field and warbling improvisations on a clarinet. He takes a few arthritic steps, trills a complicated melody that echoes through the surrounding gulleys, then takes a few more steps. As he passes me, he raises a hand, waves, then continues playing bursts of music until he reaches the parking lot and drives away in a burgundy sedan. Leaves scatter around me, I sip Dr. Pepper, and am so happy, I could punch myself in the face.

Friday, 8:06 p.m.: “I feel like a mime right now, even though I’m .?.?. singing? Eh, maybe it’s the hat.” It’s goth diva Abby Travis’ birthday; she has the flu, and is rambling charming, soft-boiled monologues during an early show at Safari Sam’s. The raven-haired vocalist/former Beck and Elastica bassist is a striking figure with shockingly perfect bone structure in a cleavage-bearing tuxedo ensemble with matching top hat. The audience is peppered with drooling males and birthday well-wishers seated at tables for the dinner show as she performs husky cabaret waltzes with her signature acerbic lyrics. As Ms. Travis introduces a number dedicated to “all those fucking assholes that just got voted out of office,” and proceeds to sing the rapid-fire lyrics “Lies lies lies lies lies lies lies lies,” the crowd hoots, and a man next to me orders some kind of soup.

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Friday, 10:42 p.m.: Because one performer in a top hat is not enough, a cohort and I venture south of the 10 to Fais Do-Do for “A Night of Strange Talents.” Shouldering through a sharply dressed gothic throng, we catch the end of an act involving a man’s face pinched by more than a hundred clothespins before “Mr. Uncertain” busts out in a hat and tails to bang on a keyboard. Through the lipsticked grin of a maniac, he sings about public bathrooms being “the place where clandestine love can bloom,” and extends an open invitation to the crowd for a postshow tryst. A compelling offer, but we opt for midnight drive-thru chalupas instead.

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