By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
Beck Blanket Babble On
The Flash had looked forward to the Beck concert at Mesa Amphitheatre Saturday night with great anticipation. Beck and his band didn't disappoint. More on that later -- first, the Flash must go off on the abuse dispensed by The Man!
"Security" is simply mo-ronic at the big grass bowl.
The Flash and some friends dutifully pack blankets and carry sealed one-gallon jugs of water to take into the show. We do this because someone at the amphitheater box office told the Flash earlier in the week that each item would be legal.
The Flash's phalanx gets to the entrance about 40 minutes before showtime, raises hands to allow a quick frisk for God knows what, and look forward to a primo seat. But, no.
"Can't bring blankets in," a security functionary tells us. "There were some sexual things that happened last time, okay?"
Not okay, but not wanting to start the evening off with a Flash fire, we trudge back to the car, get back in line, again edge toward the turnstile.
"Oh, you can't bring gallon jugs in," a second guard tells us this time. "But we've changed our minds about the blanket, so you can go back and get it if you want, okay?"
Verbal sparring ensues. Stones are passed. The Flash is in rare form, hearkening to the subject's insignificance in the universe and his promising future as a glue product. But the mo-ron is twitching to use his walkie-talkie and call in Mesa's finest (that is, those officers who aren't off somewhere banging each other, perhaps under a blanket), and the Flash realizes that good music is more uplifting than fighting The Man. So there's another trip to the car to drop off the water and grab the blanket.
We finally get in on the third try and survey the scene: scores of people sitting on blankets, several of them sipping from gallon jugs. This upsets the Flash's sense of egalitarianism and fair play -- and this particular essay begins to ossify.
Also, the Flash is very thirsty.
Thankfully, Beck eclipses The Man, evoking memories of such classic showmen as Mick Jagger, Prince, Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison and James Brown. The show's funk-revue format is more akin to something by George Clinton, big-band spaceman Sun Ra or gospel's Kirk Franklin than anything else.
Beck pulls out the classic performer/audience bonding trick early in the 90-minute gig: "Hey, turn down the lights so I can see who's out there."
He's a musical and visual collage, a cool, inventive guy who sometimes reminds one of a quirky old blues singer who's been cursed to look like David Spade.
As the last song ends, Beck tells the audience he'd like to play another hour, but that the Mesa curfew dictates otherwise. He struts offstage, but soon returns in ambient light, not to perform an encore, but instead to hang yellow "crime scene" tape across the front. The unexpected performance art hits home.
The Flash guzzles water all the way home.
Speaking of música, the Flash's favorite all-female mariachi group, Reyna de Los Angeles, comes to Blockbuster Desert Sky Pavilion on Sunday as part of the Mariachi Espectacular 2000, one of those foot-stompin' mariachi festivals that are popular with Valley Latinos.
The Flash will be the first to admit the Reynas fill out their unique trajes de charro in a more Espectacular way than their male counterparts, but they aren't bad to listen to, either.
These exquisitely trained female mariachis play compositions written by José Hernandez, founder of both the Reynas and Mariachi Sol de Mexico. Hernandez has conducted symphonic orchestras, worked on movie soundtracks and recorded with Willie Nelson, Linda Ronstadt, Selena and Vicente Fernandez, among others. He's famous for his eclectic compositions, so you never know what to expect from the versatile Reynas. Whatever the tunes, the Reynas are sure to pull at heartstrings.
The Flash will sneak in water in a concealed hiker's Camel Back.
The Spice of Death
An actual conversation, transcribed on a napkin by the Flash at a Valley Indian restaurant. The interlocutors are two "mature" couples, possibly from Nebraska:
Woman One: "Boy, this is spicy."
Woman Two: "That's chicken curry. It's hot. Not stove hot. Spicy hot."
Woman One: "Yes, it's hot."
Woman One: "How is the lamb?"
Man One: "It's hot."
Woman One: "Cooking hot or spicy hot?"
Man One: "Spicy hot."
Man Two: "Mine was stove hot. They don't cook it much when it comes. But it sizzles in the bowl and cooks. So it is cooked and it is hot."
Woman One: "So it's not spicy hot?"
Man Two: "Yes, it's spicy hot, too. But it's also stove hot."
Woman Two: "Mine is just spicy."
Woman One: "Whew. Mine is spicy."
Man One: "Would you like some rice?"
Woman One: "No."
Woman Two: "Oh, this is spicy."
Man One: "They said it's curry."
Man Two: "I've read there are many curries."
Woman One: "This curry is spicy."
Woman Two: "My curry is spicy, too."