To fully appreciate THE SMITHS (pictured) convention at THE PALACE, you needed to brush up on your Smithsology, including what German car the band used in the early days (white Mercedes-Benz), and which year MORRISSEY appeared on a British game show (1984, with GEORGE MICHAEL). Plus memorize the discography from A to Z. And most importantly, sport your tallest pompadour, cuffed jeans with wallet chain, and plucked eyebrows (men) or tired-looking Bettie Page ’do with painstakingly vintage ’40s frock and cat-eye glasses (women). Rare concert footage and pictures of the Manchester foursome, including the real man of the hour, guitarist JOHNNY MARR, loomed large over the crowd, 99 percent of whom were still teething when the Smiths formed in 1982. It sure didn’t take playing “Meat Is Murder” to prompt a mad dash to pick up the PETA pamphlets on converting to vegetarianism — out of respect for the Great Vegan himself, no doubt. After the look-alike contest and trivia rounds, JOSE MALDONADO, the singer for the tribute band SWEET & TENDER HOOLIGAN, pulled off a very credible and eerie finger-waving, microphone-cord-swinging and gladiola-throwing Moz. The other man of the hour was the gracious-as-always host RICHARD BLADE, who’s leaving his longtime KROQ DJ gig this week to teach scuba in the Caribbean. Some of the loudest cheers of the night, however, went to the guy who jumped onstage waving his flag of Mexico. ¡Viva Shoplifters del Mundo!

—Siran Babayan

Trickle-down theory

Call it a good idea that went nowhere. Or, more accurately, went two hot miles down the dusty L.A. River bank. The ARROYO ARTS COLLECTIVE’s “River Visions” exhibit drew both river and art fans, such as artists LOLO BOERS, KEIKO FUKUZAWA and DENNIS CALLWOOD, Zoot Suit Riot survivor SAL SANDOVAL and his wife, EDDY BELLO-SANDOVAL, although there wasn’t much in the way of either water or art. The front gate of Rattlesnake Park might well have been marked “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here,” for much of the smattering of art was impossible to discern among the river’s detritus (“Is it art or just another shopping cart?” asked sculptor EDDIE WIZELMAN). Still, SUZANNE SIEGEL’s Loaves and Fishes made us laugh: a cutout fisherman standing in the water, and painted bread slices climbing the concrete bank toward Weber’s Bakery, just behind the fence. And DEBORAH THOMASWalking Meditation of painted shingles arrayed throughout was lovely. But we soon found our yuppie-gal self quite alone down long artless stretches of urban blight, hardly comforted by the ubiquitous spray-painted messages of the local yokels. No security. No water. No entertainment. No body! Until, down in the riverbed, at LANE BARDEN’s installation, we encountered a group of young toughs simultaneously threatening and posing for a photographer. “If you fuckin’ print this in the L.A. Times . . .!” (We understood completely!) Deep into unknown territory, LAURA SILAGI’s printed quote from Heart of Darkness struck a chord: The horror. The horror.

—Constance Monaghan

Ladies and Gentlemen: Betty Rocker!

We followed our noses outside the recent X show at HOUSE OF BLUES and found local band BREECH clad in aprons behind a table of brownies, lemon bars and all kinds of cavity-inspiring treats. In a bare-bones effort to raise money to record their second CD, Breech is rehashing the days of grade school, when all your economic problems could be solved if you just had a few folding tables and the will to bake. Trying to whip the DIY spirit back into a crowd of aging X fans waiting for the valet to bring up their Range Rovers, singer MISSY GIBSON herded the confused hordes to the band’s setup across the street, handing out fliers and evoking quite a few strange looks. JOHN DOE himself hovered curiously around the table, to which the band responded by throwing an oatmeal cookie at him before he jumped into a packed van and took off. After being threatened with a $200 ticket by a cop (we thought they liked baked goods!), the Breech brigade packed it up and set up outside El Rey, where, appropriately enough, Matthew Sweet was playing. Taking the cake were two boozed-up gals who called Missy the next day and claimed that it was a “Hello Dolly Bar” (?!) that made one of them sick, not, of course, the several hundred Absolut-and-cranberrys she sucked down at the show. In true Hollywood spirit, she reassured Missy that she wouldn’t sue, and then asked if the band she was promoting could do a show with Breech.

—Jen Hitchcock

I Love Dimitri From Paris When He Sizzles

“I tripped up on this rad-ass after-hours party at a Denny’s of all places. It was all you could eat ’n’ drink for seven bucks all night long, and chile, the DJ fucked me up!” We pouted with envy while listening to our pal, who, bedecked in a One Day at a Time crew-member jacket, a leopard-skin cowboy hat, and goggles, rattled off tale after tale about his merry adventures at the Winter Music Conference in Miami a few weeks back as we waited to get into VYNYL, where DIMITRI FROM PARIS (pictured) was doing mad needle damage. We fought our way onto the jimmy-jammed dance floor amid a tribal posse of bumpin’ ’n’ grindin’, bass-lovin’ freaks who were nowhere near gettin’ enough of Dimitri’s funky French mélange — soul, house, salsa, jungle, disco. Fallin’ into the groove were’s STEVEN ALLAS and local spinmaster MARQUES WYATT, workin’ up some lather while scores of scantily clad girlies in Playboy bunny ears pranced ’n’ yelped at the edge of the stage — no doubt in homage to Dimitri’s latest CD, A Night at the Playboy Mansion. The only thing missing was HUGH HEFNER.

—Derrick Mathis

Edited by Kateri Butler & Libby Molyneaux

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