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Far from succumbing to any sophomore jinx, the disheveled, half-shaven romantic Pete Yorn has taken his influences and combined them with the confidence only success can bring, turning out a splendid follow-up to the freshman promise of the now-gold 2001 debut, musicforthemorningafter.
WEAKEND PLANNER PUTS ON
FULL-COURT PRESSURE
The War Will Be Televised (Talk About Reality TV), but So Will a Lotta Basketball Games
 As we were preparing this weekly feature Thursday afternoon, the pathetically under-achieving UCLA Bruins, whose beleaguered coach, Steve Lavin, is just one loss away from his inevitable pink slip, scored an improbable (to say the least) overtime upset of top-ranked Arizona in the first round of the Pac-10 Tournament. It’s games like this that keep us wanting more, and that’s exactly what we’ll get over the course of the next three days—much more, in fact—as practically every conference in the NCAA’s elite Division 1A holds its annual tournament, with each conference winner getting an automatic bid to the national championship tournament, which bears the semi-official title of March Madness; the first round of 32 games takes place next Thursday and Friday. Another, far less appealing kind of March Madness may also take place next week, if our fearless leader so decides. In that case, CBS, which exclusively televises the NCAA Tournament under a long-term pact, will move the games over to its various cable outlets so that we can watch the war on the network. Now, isn’t that comforting? This weekend, though, should just be about basketball, and for the duration of Championship Week, which concludes Sunday afternoon with the announcement of the 65 teams in the tournament, with seedings and first-round pairings, we’ll gratefully live in the moment... Whoa—USC has just upset second-seed Stanford. This is gonna be fun.

WEAKEND POPCULT TOP 10
1. Andrew Loog Oldham Speaks:
We’re putting this item first because the event in question is happening this morning from 11-12:15 at the venerable Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, where the first New Music Reporter Convention is being held all day. The legendary Oldham, the Rolling Stones’ original producer/manager, will give the keynote address for the confab, after which he’ll rap it down with our own Roy Trakin, who promises to keep the Shecky shtick to a minimum out of respect for this special occasion, since Oldham, who lives in Bogota, Colombia, is rarely seen, or heard, in public these days. A piece of living history, and Trakin playing straight man—you don’t wanna miss that, now do you? —BS

2. Pete Yorn, Day I Forgot (Columbia, 4/15): Far from succumbing to any sophomore jinx, the disheveled, half-shaven romantic has taken his influences and combined them with the confidence only success can bring, turning out a splendid follow-up to the freshman promise of the now-gold 2001 debut,  musicforthemorningafter. This is the following day, which provides the maturing singer-songwriter with a clean slate and a rekindled desire to tap into those bittersweet pop memories without allowing them to overwhelm you. It’s also a chance for Yorn to further explore the ’80s Anglo-rock textures of forebears R.E.M., U2 and Psychedelic Furs on the first single, “Come Back Home.” With Ramones/Only Ones emopunk (“Burrito”), Beatlesque whimsy (the George Harrison-inspired “When You See the Light”) and even the mournful strains of vintage Neil Young (“Turn of the Century”), the result has an optimism and vulnerability impossible not to embrace. —RT

3. Rodel’s SXSW Picks: On to the South-by tip, here’s an alphabetical list of acts to see—or say you saw—along with the other list of acts I’ve compiled, which can be found in my SXSW preview, elsewhere on the site: AKA’s, Armor for Sleep, Army of Fresh-men, Arthur Yoria, Avenged Sevenfold, Betchadupa, Casanovas, Christensen, Coin-Op, Cope-land, Cory Branan, d.u.s.t., Dead Meadow, Divit, Drones, Eighteen Visions, El-p, Evermore, Fags, Fall Out Boy, French Kicks, Gadjits, Happylife, Hockey Night, Ikara Colt, Instruction, Jibe, Kinesis, Locale A.M., Morningwood, Open Hand, Pepper’s Ghost, Polyphonic Spree, Rapture, Realistics, Rise, Riverboat Gamblers, Rocket Sum-mer, Roger, Rye Coalition, Sahara Hotnights, Schel Reaux, Sights, Soviet, Spades, Spindle, Squad Five-O, Stellastarr, Stereo, Stills, Waking Hours, Washdown, Witnesses and Youth Group. Of course, you may also want to check out anything from Sweden, Australia or New Zealand, just to be safe. —RD

4. Girl Scout Cookies: As you’ve probably noticed, it's that time of year again. Aside from the lure of the killer chocolate-covered Thin Mints, the chocolatey coconut confection they call Samoas and the classic buttery Trefoils, picking up a few boxes means you're supporting a tradition that helps girls think on their feet, feel confident in their abilities to do things and function beyond their normal reality. Support young women seeking another kind of independence…or just get fat on some pretty yummy cookies. Either way, it's a good thing. —HG

5. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Telecast (VH1): This year’s induction ceremony was highlighted by the Police's first performance in 18 years and juiced up by acrimony between Elvis Costello and former Attractions bassist Bruce Thomas (no relation to Attractions drummer Pete Thomas). The longstanding rift prevented a full-on reunion of that trailblazing band, although Costello played three numbers with his present combo, the Imposters, which includes Pete Thomas and Attractions keyboardist Steve Nieve. Bruce Thomas did show up, but his acceptance speech was brief, to say the least: "Thanks for the memories—that's it,'' he snarled, then stomped off stage and out the door, trophy in hand. Costello flipped a bird in response. Hopefully, VH1 has chosen to include the mini-fireworks in its coverage of the event, as well as Neil Young’s incendiary comments as he inducted beloved music-biz legend Mo Ostin. "Tonight we're having a good time, but we're going to kill a lot of people next week,” Young asserted. “Let's not forget about that—we're making a huge mistake. I feel like I’m in a huge SUV, and the driver is drunk as a skunk." The special starts at 9 Sunday. —BS

6. Family Business (Showtime): At last, a reality show for pervs like me. Known in the "adult entertainment" sphere as the producer-director-star of the mega-profitable Seymore Butts franchise, a sweet-natured Jewish guy named Adam—who employs his devoted mother as accountant and his irritable, streetwise cousin as his go-to business guy—struggles to get his "gonzo" porn epics completed, to raise his son and to find love. While most such programming brings out the worst in humanity, this Showtime series chronicles the life of a likable dude in a stigmatized profession. Yearning for a relationship with a woman outside the industry, he meets prospect after prospect who can't handle what he does for a living. Yet Adam's obvious generosity and compassion shine through, especially in his moving relationship with his kid. A key detail: After lovingly preparing the boy's lunch, he draws a face on the brown paper bag. It's the kind of everyday tenderness that "reality TV" all too often overlooks. Of course, the graphic cavorting of naked porn stars might help the ratings, too. And the misadventures of a novice male who gets a "shot" in one of Seymore's movies will be instructive for all guys who think they could be "adult" performers for real. —SG

7. Jesse Malin, The Fine Art of Self-Destruction (Artemis) and live at the Troubadour: Poised as the umpteenth next Dylan, this D*Generation big-haired punk turned Noo Yawk troubadour is the latest in a noble line that stretches from Elliott Murphy through Bruce Springsteen to Julian Casablancas. His Ryan Adams-produced solo bow features songs like “Queen of the Underworld” and “Wendy,” which proudly wear their heart, and cultural references, on his T-shirt, while onstage, Malin’s roots are made clear with knowing, between song-patter that references both Johnny Thunders and Lydia Lunch. Ya can’t help but embrace him, especially after a ramshackle finale of “(What’s So Funny About) Peace, Love and Understanding,” that ends with trashed microphones and overturned drum kit. For Malin, self-destruction has cleared the way for a promising new beginning. —RT

8. Tao Asian Bistro: A dear friend on a plane from Nashville insisted that this mirror of Paris' Buddha Bar was the place I needed to go on a recent trip to New York. When I did, it was too loud, too crowded, too warm. But then it was Saturday night and the tranquility of the Far East was negated the frenzied crowd yearning to be hip. Come when it's not "rush hour" and bask in the flowing waters, the carved statuary, the fusion food—and know for a few moments, the calm can move from the outside in. (42 E 58th St., 212-888-2288) —HG

9. Oscar Countdown: You’ve got two more weekends to catch the key movies, so check the local listings and/or ramp up your groveling for screeners. Editor in Chief Lenny Beer suggests that I make a point of seeing Chicago, so that I’ll have a clue as to what’s going on during the Academy Awards telecast next Sunday (3/23). He also helpfully suggests the state of consciousness he feels will optimize viewing pleasure…for my consideration (as the saying goes). Speaking of screeners, I urge you to score copies of a handful of films from last year that are as watchable as they are adventurous, powered by a number of Oscar-worthy performances: The Man From Elysian Fields (Andy Garcia, Mick Jagger), Roger Dodger (Campbell Scott, Jennifer Beals), The Secretary (so I’m told by my wife and boss; Maggie Gyllenhal) and Igby Goes Down (Kieran Culkin), which I just saw last night and adored. And don’t forget the foreign-film sector: Y Tu Mama Tambien is amazing. —BS    

10. Big Urban Myth Show (MTV): The hostess is nominally annoying, but it moves fast and debunks (or proves) all those tall stories that have no quantifiable genesis. The Shakira Bug truly is a computer virus that will take you apart, and poppy seeds will indeed throw a drug test—but most of the rest is merely hoaxsome, if you will. These guys do the empiric testing to validate whichever stories are being examined on that episode; sometimes the results are downright hilarious. In an attempt to get to the truth of the Wintergreen-Lifesaver-spark-generating rumor, they actually dressed up two guys as sugar atoms and have them bump into each other to simulate the kinetic reaction triggered by friction with those chemical elements being acted upon with force. Then, to reinforce the spark reality, they shot people in the dark chomping and sparking. Think of it as a street-level Mr. Wizard for slacker youth. —HG

RIP THIS JOINT
The Hardest Button to Button: There’s an old axiom (dating back to the Vietnam era, I imagine) that bad times bring good music, and the new music I’ve come across in early 2003 does seem to possess a palpable sense of urgency, which is probably the result of the now-pervasive awareness that the only certainty is uncertainty. That said, I’ve always found close vocal harmonies particularly life-affirming, and there are plenty of harmonies to savor on this 80-minute compilation of just-released and soon-to-be-released music.

1.     White Stripes, “The Hardest Button to Button” (V2): Along with single “Seven Nation Army,” this rocker is built on what sounds very much like an actual bass lick, and in the context of this band, that’s gotta be the hook—especially the way Jack White (if that is indeed Jack playing the lick) teases us with it. Great title, too.

2.    Taxiride, “Get Set” (Warner Music Australia): On this 2002 rerecording of the Melbourne band’s 1999 Aussie smash (it should’ve been a hit in the States, too, but that’s another story), they demonstrate their transformation from a harmony group (and precursor to The Thorns) into a rock combo. But with Taxiride, happily, the harmonies coexist with the power chords.

3.     The Thorns, “Dragonfly” (Aware/Columbia): The Crosby, Stills & Nash comparisons are inevitable when considering the new harmony-focused project from Matthew Sweet, Pete Droge and Shawn Mullins, but this aerodynamic beauty owes at least as much to Yes as to “Marrakesh Express.” Love the “Cover it up” chant and the psychedelic instrumental break.

4.     The Jayhawks, “Stumbling Through the Dark” (American/Lost Highway): This tune, co-written by Gary Louris and the aforementioned Sweet, is so engaging that they had to do it twice—and quite frankly, I can’t decide between the opening and closing versions.

5.     Lucinda Williams, “Bleeding Fingers” (Lost Highway): Lucinda has long threatened to rock out, but it took her until now, on the new World Without Tears, to make good on that threat. Another contender for Best Stones Song in 20 Years—in fact, I’d love to hear them cover it.

6.     Dan Wilson, “Sugar” (unreleased): I assumed Wilson’s first post Semisonic, post-MCA project would be one of those hermetic efforts a la Todd and Lindsey, but I was way off. In fact, he cut almost all the tracks live (including vocals) with a bunch of friends, including, on this stunning ballad, Sheryl Crow. “I just got so tired of the ‘unlimited time and use any sound that you want’ approach that I went completely the opposite way,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Hilarious that it would still sound like my more usual accretion process, but it makes total sense.”

7.     Spoon, “Everything Hits at Once” (Merge, 2000): After being blown away by last year’s artistic breakthrough, Kill the Moonlight, I zipped over to Amoeba and bought (OK, traded for) the two previous albums. While there are hints of the most recent LP’s to-the-bone brilliance on the earlier efforts, it’s the opener of Girls Can Tell that most vividly reveals where this late-blooming band was headed. This study in syncopated anguish sounds like an outtake from Elvis Costello’s Trust.

8.     Todd Rundgren, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” (from Songs From the Material World, Koch): Haven’t heard Todd the Guitar God really crank it up in years, but here, working with the great Tubes drummer Prairie Prince, he plays with controlled abandon in tribute to one of his influences, and the thrills last for the track’s entire 5:45 length.

9.     Warren Zanes, “Sidewalk Sale” (Dualtone): Speaking of Todd, the younger Zanes sibling (remember the Del Fuegos?) taps into the Runt-era recipe of self-deprecation, poignancy and lyric acuity on this cleverly detailed litany of post-breakup debris.

10.  The Thorns, “Runaway Feeling”: Droge, who takes the lead here, displays his gift for Tom Petty-style midtempo rock, but when the massed harmonies kick in, the track heads straight for the stratosphere. Producer Brendan O’Brien picked the right opener when he sequenced the album.

11.  Daniel Lanois, “Sometimes” (Anti-): The Canadian master of atmosphere, best known for producing U2 and the Emmylou Harris classic Wrecking Ball, seems to be channeling the Bob Marley of “No Woman, No Cry” on this liltingly earnest cut from his upcoming third solo album.

12.  John Mayer, “Something’s Missing” (Aware/Columbia)): Mayer has been playing this highly contemporary song of yearning (which he says sets the template for the tone of his projected follow-up to Room for Squares) onstage for months now, and until he cuts it in the studio, this extended live rendering, complete with the requisite guitar commentary, will do just fine.

13.  White Stripes, “I Want to Be the Boy…”: My office mate Trakin compares the cut to Gasoline Alley-era Rod Stewart; I hear it as Longplayer-era Faces, complete with Ian McLagen-style barroom piano and Ron Wood-like slide work—but that’s plenty close enough for rock & roll, innit?

14.  The Incredible Moses Leroy, “Everybody’s Getting Down” (Ultimatum): The airy vocals evoke vintage SoCal pop, the burbling beats are derived from contempo hip-hop, the lyric is a bird’s eye view of the human comedy taking place on terra firma far below. Gently seductive, highly original.

15.  The Thorns, “I Can’t Remember”: Columbia has boldly decided to go with a ballad as the first radio track, but “I Can’t Remember” is no limp-noodle lament; it’s a powerful look at a troubled relationship in which the lyric refrain and the melodic lift are of a piece. The track evokes vivid memories of Sweet’s 1995 album, 100% Fun, his first collaboration with O’Brien (and among the most satisfying projects in my erstwhile A&R career). If it does become the hit Columbia believes it to be, the world will be a better place.

16.  Calexico, “Just Like Stevie Nicks…” (Quarterstick/Touch and Go): In which the Arizona sound-collage collective unexpectedly comes up with a killer pop hook. This needs to be on the radio, and I don’t mean just NPR.

17.  Pete Yorn, “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” (from We're a Happy Family, DV8/Columbia): I don’t have Yorn’s second album yet, but his contribution to the just-released Ramones tribute album shows him at his most natural and unmannered. Love the crunchy, chimy guitars, and he sings this innocent declaration like he really means it.

18.  Jason Mraz, “The Remedy” (Elektra): So maybe he’s not cool, and maybe bringing in Mayer’s guy, John Alagia, to produce was a bit obvious, but, man, does young Jason hammer out the hooks on this confection. And his acrobatic vocal is impressive. I have no guilt about this pleasure.

19.  Patrick Park, “Silver Girl” (Hollywood): The Colorado native came to L.A., where his shimmering folk-rock, fingerpicked acoustic and wispy vocals have all kinds of historical context, and promptly got himself a record deal with Hollywood, which is putting out his first proper album next month. This delicate song is the crystallization of Park’s sound.

20.  The Jayhawks, “Save It for a Rainy Day”: In case you’d forgotten, Louris & Co.’s new single will remind you that these guys can harmonize, too.

21.  The Thorns, “Now I Know”: Under two minutes in length and drop-dead gorgeous, this is the ultimate showcase of The Thorns’ magical vocal blend.

22.  Calexico, “Whipping the Horse’s Eyes”: There’s still some room left on the CD-R, so here’s a little (1:24) Morricone-by-way-of-Tucson coda. Bud Scoppa

SHINY ROUND THINGS
Minus 5, Down With Wilco (Yep Roc):
Wilco actually outnumbers the Minus 5 four to three on this oddball collaboration, but the Chicago band takes a supportive role to Minus 5 protagonist Scott McGaughey, who’s written or co-written all 13 songs, taking the lead vocal on all but one, and whose pop scholar’s sensibility shapes the album’s sonics—as usual, he dares you to spot the Beach Boys and Byrds lifts. Like XTC’s Andy Partridge, McCaughey is part jokester, part misanthrope (characteristically, he’s subtitled the record “A Tragedy in Three Halfs”), and his aggressively tongue-in-cheek persona, conveyed by an endearingly wobbly tenor, dominates the proceedings, from opener “Days of Wine and Booze” to closer “Dear Employer.” Quintessential line: “They call me DJ Mini-mart/’cause that’s where I work” (from “Retrieval of You”). Wilco seems to have carted over the all the leftover noise from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and dumped it here, but in this context it’s transformed into the sort of aural whimsy found at the end of Pet Sounds. —BS

Everclear, Slow Motion Daydream (Capitol): On his band’s fifth album, Gen X icon Art Alexakis confronts the contradictions between the carefree thrills of youth and his current responsibilities as an adult and parent. In the rollicking, tongue-in-cheek single, “Volvo-Driving Soccer Man,” he laments that “all the porn stars have moved out to the suburbs to become blonde-bland-middle-class Republican wives,” though in “TV Show,” he longs—only somewhat ironically—for a home where “I could see my television family waiting for me.” The string arrangements on “Chrysanthemum” and “A Beautiful Life” show a musical maturation, but there’s still plenty of Alexakis’ righteous anger. The Ramones-like “Blackjack” is a blast at the domestic crackdown on civil liberties, while the epic closer “The New York Times” takes on 9/11 angst with urgency and hopefulness. Roy Trakin

TRAKIN’S PICKS TO FLICK
Willard (New Line Cinema)
Premise: Remake of 1971 horror film, with Crispin Glover in the Bruce Davison role as the shy young worker who exacts bloody revenge on his overbearing boss when one of his pet rats is killed at work.
Stars: Glover in a casting coup, Laura Harring, Full Metal Jacket’s drill sergeant R. Lee Ermey as the cruel boss, Jackie Burroughs.
Director: Glen Morgan, the co-writer of Final Destination, in his feature debut.
Thumbs Up: Glover’s performance is being favorably compared to Anthony Perkins in Psycho, with plenty of on-screen Hitchcock homages.
Thumbs Down: No Michael Jackson singing “Ben,” which was featured in the sequel of the same name.
Soundtrack: None.
Website: www.Willardmovie.com offers information on cast, filmmakers, production, story synopsis, photo gallery, flipbook, downloads and information on the rats, including a way to send a “Rat Pack.”

Agent Cody Banks (MGM)
Premise: Teenager gets recruited by U.S. government to be a special secret agent in what appears to be a take-off on the Spy Kids movies crossed with Harry Potter.
Stars: Frankie Muniz, Hilary Duff (hugely popular teen star of TV’s Lizzie McGuire), Angie Harmon, Ian McShane, Judge Reinhold, Cynthia Stevenson.
Director: Harald Zwart (One Night at McCool’s), with several screenwriters, including Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (Ed Wood, That Darn Cat, People vs. Larry Flynt).
Thumbs Up: Looks like some flashy special digital effects… and lots of ‘em (more than 250)
Thumbs Down: Frankie Muniz is definitely an acquired taste.
Soundtrack: Hip-O Records album includes Butch Walter, The K.G.B., Papa Dee, Askil Holm, Katy Rose, Infinite Mass, Junk and John Powell.
Website:
www.MGM.com/AgentCodyBanks/ offers gallery, trailers, video clips, e-cards, cast and crew bios, production notes and downloads within the context of a computer program.

Bend It Like Beckham (Fox Searchlight)
Premise: An Anglo-Indian girl who wants to play soccer and is inspired by her idol, real-life soccer star David Beckham, goes against the wishes of her orthodox Sikh parents, who would prefer she just found a boyfriend and perfected her cooking.
Stars: Parminder K.Nagra, Keira Knightley, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Anupam Kher, Archie Panjabi, Beckham.
Director: Gurinder Chadha
Thumbs Up: If it effectively taps into the soccer moms and daughters of the world, could be an indie dark horse along the lines of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Full Monty or Monsoon Wedding.
Thumbs Down: America hasn’t exactly had a love affair with soccer, let alone soccer movies… or should we say football?
Soundtrack: Milan Records album mixes Indian artists such as Craig Pruess, Malkit Singh, Bally Sagoo, Gunjan, Bina Mistry and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan with pop acts Texas, Blondie and ex-Spice Girls Victoria Beckham (wife of title character) and Melanie C.
Website: www2.foxsearchlight.com/benditlikebeckham provides information about the film, a photo gallery, trailer and clips, an “ask the psychic soccer ball” feature, message boards, mad-libs, e-cards and a quiz that reveals what type of personality you are.

The Hunted (Paramount Pictures)
Premise: An FBI “deep woods tracker“ captures an assassin who makes a sport of hunting deer hunters in the forests outside Portland for fun in a deadly cat-and-mouse game.
Stars: Tommy Lee Jones, Benicio del Toro, Connie Nielsen, Jenna Boyd.
Director: Veteran action director William Friedkin, who looks to restore the luster of his French Connection, Exorcist days.
Thumbs Up: Trailers have the feel of a Fugitive.
Thumbs Down: Friedkin hasn’t had a real box office success since '85’s To Live and Die in L.A.
Soundtrack: Varese Sarabande album includes the original score by Brian Tyler.
Website: www.huntedmovie.com lets you see the trailer, register for news updates, lets you learn about the movie through an interactive game that includes survival tips, cast and filmmaker information, clips and downloads and information about kali fighting and close quarter combat, with behind-the-scenes videos with experts of both. —RT

DENISE’S WEAKEND COCKTAIL
Here’s a little lesson for all of you men out at the bars trying to pick us up—if a girl is sitting alone at the bar, that does not make her desperate and lonely. I stopped by my local watering hole Friday evening to grab a quick cosmo, hoping it would knock me out. The place was packed, but I managed to find a seat at the bar, a rarity on a Friday night at 11 p.m. I was sitting there, enjoying my cocktail, when I suddenly felt The Stare bearing down on me. It’s the one a guy gives right before he pounces, like a hunter who’s eyed his prey. There I was—a sitting duck. He waltzed over and laid his best line on me, “So…third wheel?” I spat back, “No, the only wheel.” He was suddenly overcome with amazement and commented on how “confident” I must be to be out all alone. Why is this so surprising? Do single women not go out by themselves, and if so, why not? Are people afraid of the “stigma” of being alone? He wasn’t the only guy who made his approach that night, as if I needed saving from my loneliness. It’s really irritating. I’ve never felt awkward about going to dinner, the movies or a bar by myself. Does this mean I’m confident? Probably, but why isn’t everyone. My friends in NYC go out by themselves all the time, and nobody makes a big deal about it. What is it about L.A. that makes “just one” a bad thing? My cocktail of the week is dedicated to all you other strong, independent, single women who are trying to maneuver your way through life as “just one.” We’re only Alices trying to distinguish fantasy from reality in this nonsensical wonderland.

Alice in Wonderland
1 oz. Herradura tequila
1 oz. Tia Maria
1 oz. Garner Marnier
Shake with ice and strain into a shot glass

After a few of these, you might be seeing vanishing cats and dancing cards. Last Sunday, I decided that I wanted to treat myself to brunch. Since I woke up alone, and my roommate had other plans, I thought I would go by myself. I chose this cute little French restaurant and upon entering was greeted by the host, who waited politely for my companion to come in the door behind me. I just stared at him because, unless he knew something that I didn’t, there wasn’t anyone following me in. When he finally realized that there was no companion, he spit out in his pretentious French accent, “Just one?” I responded with my head held high, “Oui…just ONE.” He then ushered me to the back table by the bathroom, where they seat all the lepers.

De’s L.A. bar pick of the week: Ladies—if you wish to revel in your singleness, I have a treat for you. This weekend, drive to the beach. First stop—rent rollerblades at the Santa Monica Pier and skate to the Venice Boardwalk. Between the Pier and the Boardwalk you’ll make the same fortunate discovery that I made last Saturday. It seems that there is a men’s roller hockey league, which plays early afternoons in a parking lot off of the PCH. There are about 30 hot guys, skating around, playing hockey—eye candy if I’ve ever seen any. Have a seat and watch, or stop and act like you’re fixing your skates if you’re shy. You’ll be thirsty after drooling over the hockey hunks, so stop at Dean’s “Muscle In” Cafe, located on the boardwalk underneath the pier. They have an outside patio that you can skate right up to and have a cocktail. This place is pretty happening on weekend afternoons, plus it’s great for people-watching. Dean’s has become a weekend ritual for Murray (my dog) and me. An added bonus—they have a couple of waiters who aren’t hard the eyes.

De’s diss of the week: James Beach in Venice is getting a thumbs-down for one reason only—the bartender sucked! He was slammed, so I won’t give him a hard time about waiting forever for our drinks, but I will give him shit for his inability to make a drink. I ordered my usual—Ketel One cosmopolitan, but I received something with sour mix in it. Every bartender knows how to make a cosmo, and if they don’t, they should get a day job. I went back to the bar, and I wasn’t even bitchy, which is amazing. I informed him of the mistake, told him what I had ordered and watched as he poured some premixed drink into a martini glass and handed it to me. I politely let him know that I had ordered, and paid for, Ketel One, which is more expensive then the cheap crap they put in premixed cosmos. Off the cuff, he told me it was Ketel One and went about his business. I’m blonde, but not a dumb one. Bar owners/managers do not premix anything with Ketel One—it’s too expensive. The jerk ripped me off with cheap vodka, which I’m sure was the cause of my hellish headache the next morning, or maybe that came from the multiple cosmos I drank throughout the night, at a different establishment.

Some of you guys have been giving me grief in your e-mails. It seems that there are men out there who feel that I’m being a little “gender biased.” I am, so tuff—deal with it! What fun would it be for me to make fun of my fellow gender-mates? I love you guys, but I love giving you shit even more. Until next week—hugs and kisses.
Denise Bayles

Contributors: Denise Bayles, Lenny Beer, Darren Cava, Rodel Delfin, Holly Gleason, Simon Glickman and Roy Trakin

Edited by Bud Scoppa

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