The Duelist

Greg Vaughn invited me to his birthday party in North Park. He was the guitarist in a band that played at a party I wrote about last year. I remember hearing just a few songs before the cops shut them down. I arrived at Vaughn's party early so that I could make it to a concert I was going to that night. It's awkward at the start of a party when there's only a handful of people and you don't know any of them. Everyone looks at each other and tries to make small talk.

Vaughn was a good conversationalist. One of the women mentioned the weapons he had hanging on his walls, which was something we were all curious about. While Vaughn discussed the collection, I wondered if anybody would bring him a weapon as a gift. I found out that two people did bring him weapons after I left. (It must have been like shopping for Lizzy Borden.)

Another woman asked him to take down one of the three pairs of nunchakus -- the weapon Bruce Lee used. "Chucks" have two wooden handles connected with a short chain and you swing it around. Vaughn told us that he doesn't like people to use them if they don't know how. He gave us a demonstration of how the weapon is used. The women were impressed, and I uttered the line from Napoleon Dynamite: "Chicks dig guys with mad nunchaku skills." I spent ten years practicing with chucks as a kid, so I asked Vaughn to hand them over. He handed me the foam ones. I said, "The real ones. I won't break anything." I swung them around my back, between my legs, and crisscrossed them from arm to arm. I challenged him to a "duel," not sure if that was the right word for a karate fight. He then pulled a samurai sword off the wall and said, "Okay." Everyone laughed.

Vaughn's walls displayed axes, swords, and a spear with a blowdart gun attached. I said to one of the guys, "If you don't have any luck with the ladies, you can ground up a roofie, put it on the end of one of those darts, and tag someone in the neck."

Vaughn used one of his bedrooms as a music studio. The room had a drum set, guitar posters on the wall, and a variety of instruments lying around. I saw a small black-and-white photo he had of Little Richard with a printed autograph. I asked Vaughn if he had met him. He told me he met Little Richard's brother handing these out at a concert. I laughed because I was given the same photo along with a Bible when I met Little Richard in L.A. I asked for his autograph, and he handed me the picture with the preprinted message, "God loves you and cares for you. Please don't forget that. Little Richard." I asked Little Richard if he would sign the photo, and in that squealing yell of his, he said, "It's already signed, man! Ain't you happy with that?"

There were a lot of musicians at Vaughn's party. One wore a shirt that read, "Support local music -- Sleep with a musician."

Another guy told me that he's in a band called Suckornaut. I asked if that was the name of a spaceship. He explained, "When somebody is asking about a band, they say, 'Do they suck or not?'"

I met a sound engineer who had worked with famous musicians. When I found out he had worked with one female singer I like, I peppered him with questions about her. He was low-key about it and said that she's great to work with. Someone else at the party told me that he had been nominated for a Grammy for work he did with that singer.

He told me before I left the party that he'd prefer I didn't mention the woman's name. I will say, though, that her 1970 album is not only one of my all-time favorites, but at the time was the biggest selling record by a female artist ever.

There were supposed to be belly dancers at Vaughn's party, and when one woman came in, a guy next to me said, "She must be one of the dancers." She had long blonde hair and was wearing a half-shirt. It turned out she was a local DJ who appeared in Playboy magazine when they ran a story about female DJs. I heard her talking about going to one of the parties at the Playboy mansion. (Note to self: crash party at Playboy mansion.)

Vaughn was opening up another bag of chips, and he still had the chucks in his back pocket. A woman who showed up late asked, "What does he do with those things?" I said, "He plays drums with 'em. And I think he uses them like chopsticks, too. They're quite versatile."

Another lady had the foam chucks and was hitting her friend. The friend was getting annoyed, but her constant cries -- "Ouch! That hurts!" -- didn't slow her friend down a bit.

Before I left the party, Vaughn told me about one of the bands he plays in. They're called Blasphemous Guitars and play alternative versions of Depeche Mode songs. They had a gig later that week at the Hard Rock Cafe in La Jolla, and since I have a female friend who loves Depeche Mode, I brought her to the show.

There was a cover charge at the door, and we asked if we had to pay the cover if we were eating dinner. We were told we did, so we snuck around to the back patio and grabbed a table. When our waiter took our order, he told us we could go in and enjoy the show afterward.

The songs were clever and funny. They combined "These Boots Are Made for Walking" with a DM song. They combined "Walking in my Shoes" with "Walking on Sunshine." And the keyboards that I hate in DM songs sounded a lot better mixed with two guitars.

Vaughn wore black vinyl pants, bat wings, and black lipstick. He left his weapons at home.

Crash your party? Call 619-235-3000 x421 and leave an invitation for Josh Board.

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