In Which the announcer accomplishes some exposition

When last we saw Hot Face, he had but barely escaped from the crazed clutches of the diabolical Dr. DeMoto! What's this? He's heading for the docks, hands in pockets, caressing a scrap of advertisement plucked from the pages of a Tinseltown Tabloid. But not so fast, O Hot One! Do you think the boorish bureaucracy of these decrepit colonies keeps a stack of exit visas ready for peniless, parentless peons like you? And with dermatological conditions, no less? But wait! He's wavering, then wheeling like a homing pigeon toward the stark storefront beyond which his true love may wait. Turn back, young man, turn back! Her father would cut off your fingers for stealing from their store; what do you think he'd do for deflowering his dainty daughter?

Bedeviled by these dilemmas, Hot Face collapses on a curb. How will he find his way out of this mess? Torn between the love of a good woman and the siren song of Hollywood, will Hot Face remain in the capital, or seek freedom abroad? To find out, tune in to the next exciting installment of... The Daring Escapades of Hot Face! Same Hot time, same Hot address!


The DC Outsider, or, Breathless Gossip from the Scene

First off, I wanted to get this out of the way: The 25th Hour is the best movie of this year. Of course everyone hates Spike--you can come up with your own explanation for why. But as I stood before the gleaming rows of movies at the video store last night, stricken with the VHS Anxiety of one who's been burned too many times, I realized I just wanted to watch the 25th Hour over and over again, each time for the first time. And the sound editing in the nightclub scene... wow.

Anyway, I've long had this theory about the DC rock n' roll scene, and why it's kind of dead right now. I thought that if you took the total number of musicians who have been in Dischord- or Black Cat-related bands, and worked out all the possible combinations of duos, trios, quartets and quintets, you would realize that they've all happened already. There are no new possible combinations left, and little new blood in the scene, and therefore all that's left are solo projects, which, as anyone who followed Rod Stewart from the Faces into his crooner phase can tell you, are often ugly. Very ugly. As if to disprove my theory, two ex-NoU, ex-MakeUp officials have pretty good records out now. The first is Svenonious' "Scene Creamers" record, which he did with Michelle Mae and this guy Alex from the band Golden, who are no slouches themselves. I remember seeing the "Golden Apollo Dance Party" at the Cat a couple years ago, and being more impressed with Golden than with DJ Apollo, aka David Candy, aka Ian Svenonious. With all apologies to those who were born on the floor, I never thought the Make-Up was music to change your life by, although some live shows came close. That opinion holds for Scene Creamers, but it's still pretty delicious psychedelic shit.

My neighbors Jimmy Canty and Jerry Busher are now "French Toast," and are mashing up Money-Mark style funk and Cure-style pop and other ingredients in a thick, gooey batter. The lyrics are a little weak, but the music is rockin', and Jerry, who you may remember as the mysterious "5th member" of Fugazi, is an absolutely sick drummer with a Brendan-Cantyish style. Their BugMan EP is available on Arrest Records. The weirdest news, picked up at Lili's party on Sunday, is that the Toast is about to do a stint opening for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I can't imagine how they're going to go over, even with the reputed addition of Steve Dore.

Also on Sunday, I met a guy named Al Bourgeois. That's his real name, not his punk rock name. Impressive.


In which the proverbial thin line separating love and hate is observed and, perhaps, breached

At the sound of the latch, DeMoto turned from his patient, drill still in hand. The boy, nearly too tall to fit in the doorway, wore an impassive expression, though inwardly he was locked in a dogfight with his capillaries, trying to keep the color from his cheeks.
“Je veux partir,” he said.
“Go, then,” DeMoto growled hastily. “You can see I am busy?”
“No,” the boy said. “I mean I want to go for good.”
The spill of backlight from the dental lamp gave Dr. DeMoto the air of a silent movie villain at the moment when he’s been exposed. His hand twitched, as though resisting the urge to rise to his moustaches for a bit of compulsive twirling. “There is a contract.”
“The terms of which I’ve more than fulfilled.” For months now, the boy had been “filling in” when Dr. DeMoto was ill or unavailable, which meant performing the lion’s share of the office’s procedures while DeMoto sprawled in a chaise lounge upstairs, watching his laudanum- and nitrous oxide-induced delusions emerge from and disappear into the slow, circular shadow of the ceiling fan.
“This seems improbable.”
“If you could produce some document…”
“You know well nothing was written down.”
“Perhaps you’d like this settled before the chancery court.”
“Perhaps I would!” But it was obvious to the boy that DeMoto wanted no such thing. The good doctor had been accused of many things by patients, colleagues, and employees, but a good poker face was not one of them. He could no longer resist the urge to twirl his moustaches, and he did so with all the zeal of a religious fanatic performing some arcane rite. In the background, the patient made a helpless gargling sound, and the boy’s eyes glided to the figure in the chair. The patient’s mouth had been forced open by a kind of scaffolding, rendering her speechless, but her wildly rolling eyes eloquently expressed the mingled trepidation and impatience she was feeling. DeMoto followed the boy’s gaze, his mind working furiously, and as he saw the flicker of compassion betrayed by the boy’s otherwise blank face, a look of diabolical inspiration passed across his own.
“I tell you what. She is to undergo the total cranial replacement. If you have worked here as much as you claim, you will be able to perform this yourself, sans the aid of myself? If you can accomplish this, then I will concede.”
Dr. DeMoto’s confidence faltered somewhat when he saw the boy’s grin. It was the smile of an alley dog who’s just stumbled across a cut of filet mignon. He hovered nervously in the corner, watching closely as the boy washed his hands and snapped on his rubber gloves. “Scheisse!” the boy’s mentor-cum-nemesis thought to himself. “The boy has already surpassed me.”
If asked about it later, the patient would have reported little memory of what transpired in the cramped little operating room (she had, don’t forget, undergone a cranial replacement). She would recall the kind eyes that beamed down at her from above the surgical mask, distracting her from the presence of the grotesque little Brandenburgher who observed from the periphery. She would recall a touch so deft, so delicate it was almost erotic. And she would recall the oddly paternal tears of the doctor when the young assistant with the brilliant smile unwrapped her bandages. They bespoke a pride at war with jealousy, and an avarice struggling to subdue something she might almost, if asked, have called love.
The boy formerly known as Hot Face stood at the door of the office that night, beneath a moth-battered light, shouldering his pack as DeMoto approached with the keys. The doctor extended his hand, then withdrew it, then extended it again, and finally, as the boy reached for it, withdrew it once more. “Get on with you, then,” the doctor said, and summarily slammed the door. The boy turned toward the neon street, with its brothels and cheap casinos, and smiled. So this is what it’s like to be free.
He had no idea what to do next.