All Stars Of LA Performance Art VI

The Knitting Factory, Hollywood

Once upon a time in the village square a man would appear with a donkey and a trestle, and he would collect pennies from the crowd, saying, “Two more, and up goes the donkey,” but it never would. But I once sat in a sidewalk café in Paris one sleepy Saturday morning when a big man appeared wearing a snare drum, which he flammed and paradiddled calmly but loudly while another man urged a goat step by step up a trestle in the square, afterwards collecting coins.

This session of performance art took place at the Knitting Factory on Hollywood Boulevard, a West Coast version of the New York venue. Hollywood Boulevard is dead, but the management thought it needed malls and bad art, so they built the Galaxy mall (with the Knitting Factory in its side) down the street from the Chinese theater. On the other side is the new Academy mall, where the Oscar® ceremonies are to be held, and farther down is the subway station with its art display. The tourists come anyway, and there’s Musso & Frank’s Grill with a bronze plaque on it (a Monumental Business), but the Pig & Whistle* has “gone to pigs and whistles”, and the Egyptian theater has signs on it forbidding autograph hunters.

The sculptor George Herms comes out and plays some rinky-dink percussion, puts an egg carton on his head and tells some jokes (“Second-hand smoke isn’t what’s dangerous, it’s second-hand thoughts.”). He also plays the garden hose and the musical saw. Lida Abdullah scrubs books in a washtub, all the while reciting, The war is over! Things that have not been touched become dirty!” Keith Antar Mason tells a tale of racial profiling, while a mime in blue paint and a policeman’s cap skulks about.

The Dark Bob (formerly of Bob & Bob) shows a short film on his secret and mysterious origins, a Chaplinesque tale of NO DOGS ALLOWED. He sings. John Fleck meditates on many things.

Andy Dick, the sitcom performer, with a larval image in the national press, turns out to be an accomplished cabaret artiste, funny, satirical, entertaining. With guitar and keyboard accompaniment he enlivens the evening for a half-hour or so, and then it’s over.

*God bless the Yuppies, they have now restored it.