Flash ‘Stache

Wanna ride?Congrats are in order to the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, which successfully morphed into a clone of Studio 54 last Saturday – but without all the pesky celebrities. That is, unless one counts Sun photog Flash Lely’s new mustache, which made a much-anticipated entrance at a fashionably late 9:15 p.m. and was greeted by a hurricane of air-kisses and well-wishing. The mustache, a self-styled hybrid of a Fu Manchu and a traditional handlebar, had received heavy spin in the local news cycle when first discussed on the Friday edition of Mornings in Sonoma on KSVY 91.3. Local gossip blogs and blurry cell phone photos of Lely’s facial hair fueled interest and by Friday evening, my own follicle folly (in the form of a modified Van Dyke meant to disguise me as my evil twin Dartagnon Howell) had been eclipsed in the public sphere. Observers have noted that music maven J.M. Berry and councilman Ken Brown have also entered the battle of the beards. Berry is in the midst of growing a goatee to replace the one he lost last week in an unfortunate shaving accident, whereas Brown’s salt and pepper contender is likely the result of a sudden lack of razors.

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Reptile rebuffed: Since there were only two candidates for the two seats up for grabs at the Sonoma City Council, incumbent Mayor Joanne Sanders and Laurie Gallian will go unchallenged. A third candidate, a California newt, was disqualified when the council successfully argued that the newt was not indigenous to an area within the city limits. The newt, whose natural habitat is throughout Sonoma County, but not specifically in Sonoma, was nonplussed and swore vengeance before being scooped into a jar and let loose in Maxwell Park.

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Comic Caper: Mick Robbins, the beleaguered head of wine-soaked public relations firm VinSpin, has riled legal representatives of comic book juggernaut DC Comics after he made statements in court regarding “Mxyzptlk,” a mercurial, trans-dimensional rival of Superman. Robbins, who is being tried for an alleged graffiti spree at Casey Hill Cellars, received a cease and desist order after stating on public record that the purple-derby-clad trickster’s arrival in his life accounted for his recent legal foibles. As Robbins attested, “When that little dude showed up is when everything went wrong.” When prosecuting attorney Lance Fishburn countered that Mxyzptlk is a fictional character, Robbins became incensed and lambasted Fishburn for falling for one of the comic book character’s “many tricks.” Mxyzptlk was introduced to comic fans in 1944 by Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster and has made sporadic appearances throughout the DC Comics oeuvre as a foil for a variety of characters. According to statements made by Robbins, the diminutive evildoer can only be vanquished when tricked into saying his own name backwards, which sends him back to his “source reality” in the fifth dimension. “You try saying ‘Mxyzptlk’ backwards,” said Robbins. “I can’t even say it forwards. How about some sympathy, people?” DC Comics could not be reached for comment.

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The so-called “Petaluma Pipeline,” 14.4-mile underground aqueduct engineered to pump Sonoma Valley wine to a new bottling plant near Lakeville Highway in Petaluma, is nearly completed. A recent test run made the pipeline only the second such conduit attempted in recorded history to successfully deliver wine. Its predecessor, the Roman Vinoduct, moved wine from ancient Rome to the harbor city of Ostia, but was capped when it later became apparent that the wine was being diverted downstream to the “party town” of Lucia (the root of our contemporary term “lush”). Engineers hope to avoid a similar fate and have not disclosed the location of the Petaluma Pipeline, though the recent spike in divining rod sales in nearby El Verano have some officials concerned.

A Room with a Bilge

Sink or swim.The mortgage crisis be damned. I just received a press release that offered ?a taste of the many real estate options available to you, the multiple-home owner.? The editor of LuxuryLife newsletter is pimping The World, a 12 deck ship replete with 165 private residence options, seven restaurants, a spa, golf (using biodegradable golf balls when one slices into the sea), a theater, casinos and night clubs. Oh, and there?s a jewelry shop when one gets a hankering for diamonds while in the middle of the Pacific. The best part of the release, however, is the name of the company proffering this lux-life meets Waterworld condo complex ? ResidenSea. Seriously, a pun? One would think the boat?s backers could have hired a more creative marketing team. One wonders what they would call those landlocked in foreclosed homes ? lost at bankruptsea? Whatever floats your boat.

Of Art and Artifice (and newts)

I prefer wing of bat.As this newspaper’s resident culture vulture, I’m frequently asked to attend all manner of fêtes and receptions, including a soiree for photo editor Ryan “Flash” Lely’s current show at the Sunflower Caffé. Having written the corresponding “illuminations” of Lely’s fine photos, I felt obliged to attend and was happy to find the evening a success, with many well-wishers in attendance. That is sans one would-be critic who huffed that the work must not be original since he had seen similar images and text published in both the Sonoma Valley Sun and FineLife Sonoma magazine. When I pointed out that Lely and I had published the work in the aforementioned periodicals ourselves to promote the exhibit, he accused us of plagiarizing Lely and Howell. I, of course, explained that we were Lely and Howell but he would have nothing of it. Later, after my nth glass of Robledo Family wine, I admitted to the man that I wasn’t me, but rather my evil twin Dartagnan, pointing to the tell-tale beard on my chin. He then accused me of being an imposter. “Ah-ha! So, then you admit that I’m Daedalus Howell?” He eyed me sharply, “Not at all, Mr. Lely.”

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On a roll: A Sonoma-based consumer advocacy group has tallied the amount of toilet paper lost when replacement rolls are queued for use. The term “pre-roll” refers to the amount of toilet paper pulled from the roll as one attempts to unroll its first sheets, an often difficult task since the inaugural sheet is usually glued. According to John Kreshner of Sonoma Bureau of Consumer Awareness, the amount of toilet paper wasted per annum in Sonoma is measured in miles. “In Sonoma alone, we waste enough toilet paper through pre-roll expenditure to qualify as a mini-epidemic,” said Kreshner. “Consider that, on average, it’s 15 rolls of toilet paper per mile, which means it’s 223 rolls from Sonoma to Napa. Through pre-roll, we’re wasting two percent or 4.5 rolls per household, or a quarter of a mile every year. That’s enough TP to go from the Plaza to Fourth Street East. We’re losing a lot of wipes here, people.” Kreshner released his pre-roll report via e-mail to the media, wherein he also lambasted local government for flushing his funding.

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Vino vandal: VinSpin CEO Mick Robins was formally indicted on charges of vandalism last week for allegedly tagging a local winery with the word “liars.” Robins insisted that the graffiti, sprayed on the side of Casey Hill Cellars, was part of a guerilla re-branding campaign for the winery, though proprietor Roman Casey denies retaining Robin’s services. “Everything is going to plan,” said Robins, who claims Casey asked him to create a “hip, urban” campaign. The result, Robins contends, was dubbed “In Vino Veritas” and included Robins tagging the winery as part of a “street team” in an effort to garner local press coverage. “Casey is supposed to say that we’re not working together, which is a lie, hence the new brandmark ‘liars.’ It’s genius, really. You’re interviewing me now as a direct result of my efforts on behalf of Casey Hill Cellars,” explained Robins. While Robins’ case is pending, Casey has requested a restraining order against Robins, which the accused insists is “marketing gold.” Said Robins during his arraignment, “I couldn’t have dreamed this up if I was high. And I’m pretty sure I wasn’t at the time.”

An Animated John Lennon Interview with a 14 Year-Old

John Lennon Interview with a 14 Year-Old

In my early teens, I received John Lennon’s Skywriting By Word of Mouth, a posthumously published anthology of poems, stories, riffs and drawings that continued the ear- and eye-candy Dada established in Spaniard in the Works and tunes like I Am The Walrus. The book had all of the anarchy, but none of the angst, an early teen needs while working up his own rebel chops. Moreover, Lennon’s free-associative style served as something of a junior league primer for the James Joyce in which I’d later (attempt) to steep.

Had Joyce included some pen and ink drawings, it might have gone better. To wit, below is a film that uses the soundtrack of actual interview conducted with the ex-Beatle by 14-year-old Canadian and animated in style that owes some of its DNA to Lennon’s own hand. The work is a fascinating pairing of found material and creative commentary.