A good portion of L.A.'s bread-and-circus crowd eschewed Coachella, opting to gear up for Burning Man instead. I AM TECHNOLOGY, the latest "I Am" party presented by ZION CITY a city located "in the depths of, or at the center of, the Earth," according to founder TEO CASTRO, who has hosted fetes such as "I Am Coconut" held on a beach in Thailand took over Hollywood's QTOPIA mega-space. Members of the DREAM CIRCUS THEATER troupe wove among the revelers, breakdancing, contorting on sashes hung from the ceiling, re-enacting alien love rites and morphing into human gyroscopes. Die-hards of the underground scene (those people who drove out to desert raves in the early '90s) knocked out some spectacular costumes, including the black-helmeted man covered in flashing blue electrodes who surreptitiously passed something pill-sized to a gorgeous moon creature clad all in shimmery silver, while Spundae's DJ SHAYN ALMEIDA spun some funky breakbeats. The couple had some finely honed sneak tactics, because the eagle-eyed guards took away anything that resembled drugs or weapons. The more virtuous (or less crafty) worked up into their states of ecstasy from sugary fruit drinks, vegan cookies and the virtuoso violin stylings of LILI HAYDN bowing away from a mad, oversize techno-junk stage set, complete with a working bellows contraption.
ALL LIT UP
"Think of tonight like Coachella without the patchouli and white tube socks," said postmodernist hero DAVE EGGERS as he took the stage to frantic applause at McSWEENEY'S VS. THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS. Singer AIMEE MANN, cartoonist MATT GROENING and literary lion GEORGE PLIMPTON were among the latte-drinking Ivy Leaguers and dime-store chic hipsters who filled UCLA's ROYCE HALL to witness FODs tear up the stuffy constructs of literary readings with a combination of spoken word, song and Eggers' patented weirdness. As TMBG strummed along with original ditties, diminutive NPR staple SARAH VOWELL ruminated on the touristification of tragedy in places like Salem, Massachusetts (much funnier than it seems, especially since Vowell sounds a lot like Bart Simpson), and then came Brit Lit goddess ZADIE SMITH's story about sex, love, cigarettes and hair entitled "The Girl With Bangs." But it was Eggers' shamelessly honest, hysterical story about a boy (accompanied by covers such as the Steve Miller Band's "Fly Like an Eagle") that solidified his status as the Elvis of Literature, and reduced self-respecting women with Ph.D.s into gushing, "He's so cute." By the time TMBG took center stage and JOHN FLANSBURGH urged everyone out of their seats to shimmy-shimmy-shake, we were all too happy to oblige. The screaming crowd rushed the stage, while Flansburgh promised to "fucking rock you" over the opening chords to "Birdhouse in Your Soul," and the audience became a sea of bobbing heads and clapping hands as the geeks got their groove on.
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A RIVERS RUNS THROUGH IT
Sure, she's a boil on the butt of celebrities and gets paid to comment on their ill-fitting ensembles with her dead-weight daughter. But how can you hate a woman who once described Dennis Rodman as looking like a doorman at a gay bed-and-breakfast? JOAN RIVERS, the mother of all yammering yentas, ripped through her one-woman show Broke and Alone . . . in L.A. at the "ugly and disgusting" CANON THEATER in B.H. like a bat outta Bloomies. "I'm 187 years old and I'm here talking to a bunch of drunks and gay guys," she said, introducing herself to a packed house that included CANDY SPELLING, wife of Aaron, and fellow E! commentator TED CASABLANCA. Subjects of scorn ranged from the Valley and the war ("I'm upset about a country that has no Chanel boutique") to the usual suspects: the Clintons, Liza, Jacko, Whitney & Bobby, Siegfried & Roy, Cher ("She cruises Toys R Us") and Anna Nicole Smith ("She proves you can gain weight on drugs"). Rivers (also known as "Nana Newface" to her grandson) is even funnier when turning on herself. "I'm gonna have myself cloned to see what I really look like," she shrieked. She has a lot of wisdom in those Botox-smoothed wrinkles. Her advice to the ladies? Think of fake orgasms as common courtesy, don't get into bed until he gives you jewelry, and marry for money, money, money! Just call her Pimp Mammele.