One night I went to two different parties at opposite ends of the spectrum. The first was at a giant house at the Coronado Cays that had a back yard on the water with a boat dock. The second was at a small bar in South Park crammed with college film students. One would have bottles of fine wine to go with the beer they had, the other had beers on tap and beer on the floor from where a few rowdy guys spilled their suds.
When I arrived at the first party in Coronado, I couldn’t believe the houses in the neighborhood. It was harder to believe that this house wasn’t even being lived in. It was Candice’s parents’ “summer home.” She said, “I usually throw a few parties here. We have bands play on the roof deck.” On the first floor, they had a catering company serving up Mexican food. The view was incredible. I saw a gondola go by, and somebody asked, “Are we in Venice?” His friend replied, “I think those are from Loews Resort.”
With the caterers’ setup, the beer, tables, and 20 people, it was starting to get crowded. I was told by Wendy, who put on the party with Candice and a few others, “We’ll be having the music upstairs. Just come up when you’re done eating.”
The spiral stairs led up to one floor, and I stopped to take in the view. I would still have to walk up another flight before getting to the roof. And when another couple was walking down, we realized there wasn’t room for both of us to pass.
When I got up to the deck, it looked like Woodstock. People were sitting on blankets. There was a beautiful fireplace that a few ladies were sitting next to. I heard Candice tell somebody to get some hot apple cider. That sounded good, but I had already staked out a good place to watch the band. I didn’t want to trek back down those stairs. She was telling others, “I have extra blankets if you need one.”
The first performer was Cary Pierce. He was in a band called Jack O’Pierce that was big on the East Coast, and even appeared on Rosie O’Donnell’s show. He showed a great sense of humor with his song lyrics and stories. He said, “This is one of the top five gigs I’ve ever played. This place is beautiful.” He then went on about how the backstage area at the Belly Up Tavern sucks, and you feel like you’re in somebody’s office, and you have to dodge the empty kegs. Pierce’s song lyrics had funny lines like “I can’t call and hang up on you/Because of caller ID.”
There was a helicopter pilot and instructor from the base at Coronado. He said, “When I found out Cary was playing here, I had to come. I have a briefing at 5:30 in the morning, but I used to watch this guy when I was in college back East. My wife is into him also, but she couldn’t make it today.”
Candice told me they were only going to invite a few acts but ended up having so many more. It looked like there were over a hundred people here. I saw a jar that said “donations,” and asked Candice later if that even remotely helps her cover the cost of how expensive this whole thing must be to put on. She said, “We got $201 in donations, and that went for the food only.”
Candice got onstage before the next singer and reminded people to keep their cell phones off, “unless your wife is at home pregnant or something.”
Cary Pierce played solo, but when Alex Woodard performed, he had a fiddle player, a guitarist, and bassist. His drummer is in the popular band Fountains of Wayne, and they’re out touring. Alex did a version of “Always on My Mind” that was the most beautiful I have ever heard (sorry, Elvis). He sounded like a combination of Springsteen and Dylan, but with a better voice. He did some great cover songs, including “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” which his fellow Encinitas resident Jack Tempchin wrote. He also segued into Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” during one of his tunes. Another great tune talked about “laying awake, wasting away/with Sinatra and Billie Holiday.”
There was only one bad seat on the roof. Since the area was packed, a couple had to sit against a wall by a hose. Their friend said, “You guys are snuggled up next to a hose.” She replied, “Who are you calling a ho?” One lady said, “Are you the reporter here? You’re going to write about this party? Just make sure it’s not a lame party review like Burl Stiff writes for the Union-Tribune. All he does is list people at the parties, and not what actually happens at them.”
As I was leaving, two of that woman’s friends were on the street yelling into a cell phone at the cab that got lost trying to find the party. They were going to the airport, so I gave them a lift. One said, “I fly into town for this party; it’s that cool. Now we have to go back to Scottsdale.”
The gal in the backseat said, “Are you going to write that you took us to the airport?” I said, “If I do, I’m going to change it to say it was two blonde stewardesses, and that I joined the Mile High Club.” The blonde in the front laughed, and the brunette said, “Why can’t you say we work at Bank of America? And why can’t I be brunette? A voluptuous brunette.”
Since this party ended around 8:30, despite the quick detour to the airport, I still had time to go to the party that some film students at SDSU put on at the Whistle Stop Bar.
Gavin Allen told me, “It’s called Brew and View. They’re movies that are perfect to drink to.” I was surprised how packed the place was. The bar had rows of seats set up like a movie theater. There were well over a hundred people here. The first film was called Glaadiator [sic]. It was a gay take on the movie Gladiator, and it was quite funny. The film was a finalist in the Berlin International Film Festival and has played in over 60 film festivals around the world. Not bad for the $13,000 the flyer said was spent to make it.
I was talking to two guys at the bar about movies. I asked, “Who’s the best filmmaker ever? Preston Sturges, Kubrick, Fellini...?” One said, “It’s got to be Hitchcock. Some film lovers love to praise Orson Welles. He was great early on, but became an overweight, overrated buffoon the last 20 years of his life.” I looked at his friend and asked him, “Who do you think the best filmmaker was?” He chugged his beer, smiled, and said “I’d say, without a doubt, it’s Seymore Butts,” a porno star/producer.
The next film was Ryan Powers’s Night of the Living Missionaries. It was filmed like one of those old silent movies, and the dialogue appeared on the screen after each scene. It was filmed with grainy images and eerie music. Powers has been a cinematographer in San Diego for over five years. The flyer for this event said, “He’s trying to make ‘the next big thing’ but so far has only succeeded in creating ‘the last small thing.’”
This film had two guys drinking beer in the back of their truck, when Mormon missionaries come up from the ground, with black slacks, black ties, and white shirts, and black and darkened eyes. And, of course, carrying Bibles. They go after the two guys and drag them out of the truck. One of them grabs a cross and fends them off for a little bit. When they get into the truck to drive off, the missionaries continue their chase — on bicycles, of course.
One film called Bun Bun was about a little girl who wants a bunny that her parents gave to another little girl at a birthday party. She cries so much about it that the parents plot to steal it back. The scene where they go into the baby’s room during a dinner party to steal it rivals the funny scene of Nicolas Cage trying to kidnap a baby in Raising Arizona.
During an intermission, I talked to Gavin outside. He said, “We try to do one of these a month, but sometimes that’s hard to do.” As we talked, everyone was coming out to say hi to him, and some wanted to talk about other movie projects. He had some trivia questions; prizes included tickets to Madstone Theatres. When he asked a particularly hard question that nobody answered, he said, “And the crowd goes mild.” Gavin might be the only person I’ve talked to about science-fiction films who knew a lot about the genre and actually wasn’t a geek (don’t write letters when you read this, Trekkies).
The crowd seemed to be mostly college students, and some dressed like they were beatnik poets. Maybe that gives them the look of eccentric young filmmakers. All of them were nice, and all enjoyed talking about movies, without the slightest air of arrogance in talking about their craft.
I overheard another guy talking about Woody Allen films. He said, “There aren’t better movies than What’s Up, Tiger Lily?, Sleeper, or Annie Hall.” I mentioned my favorite being Love and Death, and one guy said, “That was the last movie Allen made in that style, where he just threw in a bunch of jokes, one after the other.” We ended up talking for 15 minutes about our favorite lines and scenes from Allen’s movies.
The film Gavin was in was the longest. It was called Francis Kharati Presents Invasion 14. The flyer named all the people it would offend, which included “the Irish, or anyone who still finds Eddie Murphy even remotely funny.” This film was hit-and-miss, but mostly funny. It was fun when the crowd would see somebody they knew in the movie and would yell out his or her name or applaud. Some of the crowd got restless, since it was almost half an hour long.
There was a fake commercial for a video called Seniors Gone Wild that had old people stripping and dancing in their underwear. A girl next to me asked, “Where did they find the old people to do this?” Finally, there was a musical that was done by Justin Halpbern. The flyer said it was “a film that takes one through the playful and cuddly world of STDs, and it cites major influences such as Gene Kelly and Masters and Johnson. It’s reminiscent of The Music Man meets everyone’s favorite Afterschool Special.” The film was called Genital Warts: The Musical.