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Love is Blonde

Photo by Rebecca Velten

“United we rock!” someone yelled from the crowd. Yes, it was a different SPACELAND. A new Spaceland. A Spaceland brought together not by the raggedy Elliott Smith–ian dreams of countless rock & roll bands but by our nation’s tragic events . . . Okay, so maybe we’ve been watching a little too much Dan Rather lately, but you could feel the love in the room when the reunited — and it feels oh so good — CONCRETE BLONDE took its big heart to the little stage at Sunday’s benefit for the NEW YORK FIREFIGHTERS 9-11 DISASTER RELIEF FUND put on by this very paper with many great bands, such as THE BICYCLE THIEF, THE HANGMEN, SLYDELL, THE BELLRAYS, THE PIPELAYERS UNION and GRIFT. (You, dear reader, can still donate to the fund at www.iaff.org.) After XANDER SMITH’s RUN RUN RUN played a set that sounded an awful lot like the band Bush — hey, admit it, you like ’em a little — JOHNETTE NAPOLITANO (pictured), JIM MANKEY and HARRY RUSHAKOFF lit into classic Blonde rockers “The Sky Is a Poisonous Garden,” “God Is a Bullet” and “Still in Hollywood.” Though the band broke up in the mid-’90s, it felt like no time had passed. Even more exciting were a handful of brawny new songs that indicate Concrete Blonde is back in a big way. Guess some crazy things were said to lead to the split, but we don’t need an explanation. Liz and Dick did the same thing, and we all forgave them, too.

—Libby Molyneaux

SCI-Arc de Triumph

The first bit of good news about the new SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF ARCHITECTURE (SCI-Arc) is that even though it’s “somewhere downtown,” it’s a lot easier to find than the older versions, which were “somewhere on the Westside.” You simply take Alameda south, turn left on Traction, pass the ghost of Al’s Bar and go three or so blocks down until the road begins to curve, and you’re there. And then you get the rest of the good news: Gary Paige’s $6.1 million redo of the former Atchison Topeka Freight Depot, a 29-foot-high reinforced concrete structure that is as long as the Empire State Building is tall. There’s nothing precious about Paige’s functional design — think dry wall — and already the interior of the Depot has the messy, lived-in look of a college studio–cum–dorm room. At 10 on a Saturday night, a surprising number of students sat at their drafting tables, working on plans or models. Outside, TOM SCHNABEL played music while the architectati ate, drank and were not MERRY NORRIS, “art consultant and all-around benefactress.” All checked out what were undoubtedly the world’s most expensive napkins. For this alumni-sponsored fund-raiser, EAST OF EDEN, a slew of noted architects and artists — FRANK GEHRY, DANIEL LIBESKIND (sketch pictured), ED RUSCHA, JAMES TURRELL (great sketch), MARK MACK (ibid.), THOM MAYNE, MOSHE SAFDIE, DENNIS HOPPER, STEVEN EHRLICH, MICHAEL ROTONDI, HIRO YAMAGATA and CESAR PELLI among them — drew sketches on napkins, which were then framed and silently auctioned off. Among those in the bidding were PETER NOEVER, founder of the MAK Center at the Schindler House (a special honoree introduced by architect ERIC OWEN MOSS); art diva ELYSE GRINSTEIN; downtown developer TOM BUILDMORE, uh, GILMORE; napkin (and other media) artists BILLY AL BENGSTON and JENNY OKUN; choreographer HEIDI DUCKLER; Richard Meier Associates principal MICHAEL PALADINO; Clinton Library landscape designer GEORGE HARGREAVES; and MEHRDAD YAZDANI, designer of the Vermont and Santa Monica Red Line station as well as a napkin. The most successfully expensive napkin by far was Ruscha’s, bringing in $4,000. Curses to POLLY OSBORNE, one of those deep-pockets types, who outbid yours truly on a nice but far less costly napkin from Herman Hertzberger. Kudos to her for raising the evening’s gross — an impressive $100,000. Now, if they can just get the kids to clean up their rooms.

—Tom Christie

Hams On the Grill

Fifty years ago, the CINEGRILL was a name-dropper’s paradise, where one could ogle famed frequenters such as Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable and Monty Clift. But these days we had to be content with the unquenchable SKIP E. LOWE, gorgeous GRACE ROBBINS (ex–better half of novelist Harold) and an elegant woman introduced to us as the PRINCESS ADA, widow of the late Russian bon vivant Prince Doumanoff, who were among the cheering crowd paying tribute to the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel’s legendary cabaret room, which closed its doors this past weekend (it’ll reopen in the spring in completely reconstructed form, in a new location elsewhere in the hotel). The marathon lineup of nearly 30 performers included JASON GRAAE (Forbidden Broadway), who knocked ’em dead with “Blow me . . . a kiss from across the room . . . Suck me . . . in with your charms . . .”; that Diva of Dive, LOTTE TROUBLE, doing her Santa Monica Boulevard version of Marlene Dietrich dressed like a jungle dominatrix, with earrings that were longer than the show; the sidesplitting TERESA TUDURY, belting out her loopy lament “The Last Heterosexual Alive”; 3rd Rock From the Sun’s ELMARIE WENDEL, sex symbol extraordinaire of the senior crowd (pictured); Days of Our Lives’ GREGG MARX, who amply proved that “even a Jewish boy has the right to sing the blues!”; Tony winner MIKE MAGUIRE of Les Misérables; comedian (or is that “enne”?) PAUL JACEK, in full bridal drag; and more, more, more. But the highlight of the evening came when we were introduced to the acid-tongued chief of the fashion police, MR. BLACKWELL, who turned out (who woulda thought?) to be the sweetest old guy you’d ever want to meet. No rags or bitches that night.

—Mary Beth Crain


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