Thursday, March 29, 2007

7-24-2007 – Latitude 53

Even after all the wonderful gifts he’s given me, even after Manimal, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forgive Glen A. Larson for ruining whole genres and numerous subgenres of music for me with his Knight Rider theme. Ever since that hypnotic staccato riff was sampled, remixed and bhangrafied in the late ‘90s, I haven’t been able to hear Indian music – or any of its Romani descendents that came paintwagonning over the Carpathians – without seeing a vision of David Hasselhoff, head to neck in black leather, neck to crown in glossy black permcurls, leaning against his robotic Trans-Am.

So there he is in my mind’s eye as Tza and Zza Gabor, the Slavic Sibs, spin their ass-moving gypsy beats for the arterati filling the room for Latitude 53’s “Love Bytes” fundraiser. Art and Hasselhoff… the combination wanders my thoughts back to my longest period of sustained work in a single style, in elementary school, painstakingly drafting elaborate KITT-inspired control panels, sometimes five sheets of paper taped, stapled – or “tapled”, for extra security – into wraparound panoramas of buttons, dials, joysticks, switches and screens. I remember making one that had three ejection buttons, one for each passenger seat – as the imagined driver, I knew I would gladly perish in whatever southern Californian pyrotechnic cliff-plunge claimed my beloved futuristic ride…

“Have you tried the mini-cupcakes?!”

I have indeed tried the mini-cupcakes... and the cream-cheese rollups, and the spring rolls, and the bruschetta, and the rosemary/black-pepper spread that’s basically herbed butter; a beautiful spread illuminated by “LOVE” spelled out in fairy lites, perfect for sopping up all this generously-poured wine. I hadn’t planned on “doing the alcohol thing” tonight, but… but it’s for a cause! It’s for Art! This place supports emergents and wayfinders, and if Latitude is to survive and thrive, it is every art-lover’s duty to make the scene and get as buzzed as possible without lurching into the walls and pulling down the pictures. Note, also, that beyond a certain point of unreliable glass-handling it’s considered polite to switch from pigmented reds to non-staining whites.

The silent-auction pickings are, you know, kind of just there. A few interesting pieces sharing wallspace with some terrifically dire material, same as it ever was in this unpredictable Freeport of a gallery. Not that a night like tonight is about the pictures, really; it’s about the laser-intersection of people and scenes, the meeting and chatting with the people you last met and chatted with at some similar event a season ago. All around me sparks of conversation, ideas, plans, “email me!”… and the place a showroom of beautiful people, every type and style of fox, like the Shopkeeper of the World has lined up all his samples for our perusal. It’s the kind of scene where you have to consciously control the creepy threesome-troll impulse:

“Um… my wife and I think you’re very beautif-- UWAAEEEAAAKKKK!

Jesus! What’s that noise? I thought this was a “silent” auction? No such luck. Our glamorous emcee, “charmingly neurotic culture snob” T.L. Cowan, has taken the stage and begun the hour-long process of shrilling out the results of the chance-auction draw. All our hopes and dreams for donated art and miscellaneous middle swag are nestled in those draw-baggies, our numbers destined to come up – how could they not? We put ten dollars of tickets in there, and we know how odds work. Slowly, the lot-drawing process screeches its ear-splitting way around the room…

Does everybody love a winner? Not so in this case, friends; in a random-draw situation, one person getting multiply lucky draws whispers and suspicions. When it’s just wine and t-shirts and gift certificates, OK, whatever… but there’s a darling blue handbag up there, the object of many a young lady’s covetous ticket-stuffing… and when one of the Lucky Buddies is announced as its proud new owner, and she has to carry it hung on her arm because her hands are full of all the other junk she’s carting away, the rhubarb boils with more conspiracy theory than a JFK convention:

Overheard by the canapés: “It’s gotta be a fix.”

Whispered by the wine bar: “They had a system! I totally saw them signalling!”

Out with the cigarette smokers: “Did you notice how she didn’t actually announce a number?”

Such excitement! To be fair, it really was an adorable little clutch… I’d be sour-graping it, too, if I’d been denied some congruently desirable treasure – a new-in-box Dreamcast, maybe, or a case of Yellow Label. But, really, in the end, everybody wins: it’s drama like this that makes the art world go ‘round, right? Drama… plus the cash money we’ve all, win or lose, freely showered upon our beloved 53, long may she live.

No comments: