The Austin Chronicle

After a Fashion

By Stephen MacMillan Moser, May 10, 2002, Columns

LOAFIN' WITH LU "Come on ... we're going to have dinner with Lucinda at Stubb's and watch the opening act," my sister Margaret said. Well, I didn't need to be told twice; dinner with Lucinda Williams is always a riot. I arrived bearing gifts for Lovely Lu, including one of those fabulous snow globes that Saks has of the city of Austin with the bats flying around. Lu looked wonderful, sporting her own version of a neo-New Wave look, wearing gorgeous red lips, sunglasses, a wifebeater from Jo's Hot Coffee on South Congress, red satin pants (she must have taken my advice and bought a thong: there was no Visible Panty Line this time, thank you), and great jewelry, as usual. She had beautiful hair color, though she opted for the bed-head look that you know I'm so fond of. We were joined by the ever-charming songstress Mandy Mercier, who has a new album coming out soon, LOL. It was at Lucinda's show last year at the Backyard that I very nervously drove my own car alone for the first time, with Mandy leading the way in her car. Needless to say, it's a bond that we'll have forever. Dinner on the balcony overlooking the stage was charming, with fans sidling up to Lu asking for her autograph. We watched Lu's Australian discovery, the very sweet Ann McCue, warble through her set, and afterward Lu departed to her tour bus to get ready to perform. She reappeared onstage wearing her signature cowboy hat, but apparently upon seeing the legions of females in the audience who copied her look, immediately removed it, and sang like the battered angel that she is. It's always amazing to watch from our VIP vantage point and see the legions of fans who know every word to every one of Lucinda's songs. They're always there early to be right up front, and are so revved by the time she appears that they begin swaying and flailing their arms immediately. She did not put on the same shattering, high-powered performance that she did at the Backyard, but then again, any performance by Lu is sublime. I swooned when she sang my favorite song "Essence"; that whole album was the soundtrack to an unhappy affair of mine. A fan once remarked that her label should send out razor blades as schwag with her albums, and it's actually a pretty funny idea. But there's nothing quite as poignant as a sad love song floating on the breeze of a steel guitar. We patiently waited afterward at the "meet-and-greet" (I just loathe that term; it always sounds so ... you know, unspontaneous), and the fans were effusive, as Lucinda made herself available to them. I spent most of the time having an in-depth conversation with the Hotel San José's Liz Lambert about Internet sex, neither of us divulging the respective sources of our information. Liz was trying to slink away quietly, until we got wind of a possible outing with Lucinda to drink Smoking Krakatoas at Dino Lee's bar Ocean's 11. Bon vivant that I am, I was all for that. "Liz," I told her, "I won't permit you to leave. You'll miss the best part!" But there was another conspiracy afoot ... one which advocated that Lu not go out and party down, but save her voice for the next night's show. That theory is the one that won out, so we all retired to Magnolia and had a lovely late-night repast. Then she was gone in the darkness, on to Houston, New Orleans, and St. Louis, taking away that voice that can rip your heart out.

RADIO, THE SOUND OF SALVATION? Tube tops and strappy sandals have sprouted up all over Sixth Street like mushrooms on cow pies -- well, of course, for many Sixth Street fashion failures, strappy sandals and a tube top never go out of style. Not unlike the babes from the Showpalace and Exposé, whose trashy ads on the radio play tawdry stripper music that sounds like it is performed by monkeys on instruments manufactured by Playskool, with a presumably gorgeous babe who sounds like she's got a mental deficiency (and a mouthful of ... something) moaning, "I'm soooo hot." Yeah, babe. You're hot all right, like a festering wound. Naturally, the ads for Sugar's brag about their gorgeous babes ... but wait a minute, didn't Renée Zellweger once work there? But as long as we're talking about bad radio ads, I find the ads for Lasique to be among the most annoying on the radio. With that revolting phone number (555-VEIN or something like that), and that nag with the grating voice whose delivery could wilt grass. It reminds me of when a team of doctors determined that one woman's seizures were caused by the voice of Entertainment Tonight's Mary Hart, whenever she came on the air, the tremors would begin ... But is there anything worse than the Wendy's radio spots? Whether he's inviting you to join the party in his mouth, or weeping over a dropped chicken nugget, that repulsive dimwitted character Lou is offensive in every way possible. Exactly whom are they trying to appeal to with such stupidity?

AT IT AGAIN International gossip sources say that there is the sound of wedding bells in the air as serial homewrecker Helena Bonham Carter continues in her path of destruction. The rumor is that she'll be marrying director Tim Burton any day now. The New York Post's Page Six claims that HelBonCa befriended actress Lisa Marie during the filming of Planet of the Apes and then stole Marie's longtime boyfriend, Burton, away from her. Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't this smell just like what she did to Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson? I know, I know ... it's a jungle out there.

SPRING THOUGHTS Can't think of anything much nicer this time of year than sitting on the deck of Ruby's BBQ on a lovely spring evening. It's is unquestionably my favorite barbecue joint in town. Though there are, of course, several other excellent places, Ruby's is the one that does it for me. The service is always friendly -- owners Pat and Luke are everything you want proprietors to be -- and the food is heavenly. If I were to be sentenced to death for some horrid crime of fashion, I'd want my final meal to be from Ruby's, with a great big bib so I didn't muss my final outfit. We're well into spring again, and you know what that means ... that's right, Laura Bush is wearing a whole new array of suits illustrating just how far you can go with menopausal colors.

TONIGHT! TONIGHT! The Club DeVille Spring Fashion Extravaganza is tonight (Thursday, May 9, 8pm).

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