Whenever I hear the name Ian, I think of the singer of Jethro Tull. Or my friend’s grandfather, who knew everything about sports. He was like Rain Man with statistics. If you were talking about the Hendrix song “Hey Joe,” he’d say, “You know, Simon and Garfunkel mentioned Joe DiMaggio in one of their songs. He had a .325 lifetime batting average.”
When I heard there was a San Diego woman named Ian who threw “amazing parties,” I was skeptical. She calls her place near SDSU “the house of the future,” and it is one of the most interesting houses I’ve partied at.
It had a long deck that overlooked a stand of eucalyptus trees. There was a bar at the end of it for people who wanted to drink. The other end led into a yard with a fire pit.
The party was a fundraiser for Synergy, which is an art group that Ian is a part of. The theme of the event was “urban pulses.”
When I walked up, I saw a few lowriders. One was at the bottom of a long driveway. At the garage door, graffiti artists were painting.
I asked one of them what “urban pulses” was about. “It’s raising money for the arts center down in Barrio Logan.” The cover charge at the door was part of the funds being raised.
The flyer listed DJs, performance artists from San Francisco, and bands. One of the bands was called Culture Clash. Another was a hip-hop group called Pyramid Empire.
Inside were several works of art you could bid on. My girlfriend bid on a piece that had a golfer in it. She said it would make a great gift for her boss.
I ran into an artist I had met at a previous party. I couldn’t think of his first name, but I remembered his last name was Lucas (because of the Suzanne Vega song “Luka”). I wish more song titles could help me recall names.
There was a band playing in the living room. Their version of “Light My Fire” sounded like a hipper version of José Feliciano’s cover. I told them that after their set. When I asked the attractive Latina backup singer if she has any say in what songs they do, she told me that she didn’t. When the singer came over and started explaining how they pick their set list, my cell phone went off. It was a call I was expecting, and I excused myself.
As I went out to the patio to take the call, my girlfriend continued talking with them. I realized that in all the years I’d had a cell phone, that was probably the rudest thing I’d done with it.
I decided that when I finished the call, I’d go back and apologize. After the ten-minute call, I hung up and walked in, but the band was nowhere to be found. My girlfriend was sitting on a couch near the fireplace, which was in the center of the living room. She had no clue where the band went. She thinks their name was Fearless Planet.
I noticed bowls of M&Ms near us and said, “At least you picked a great place to sit,” and I scooped up a handful. Then, people kept bending over with their backsides in my face when they came over for M&Ms. And my hands were three different colors. (Note to self: find out who came up with the ad line “melts in your mouth, not in your hands” and try to get them fired.)
I went to look at the art on the walls. There was work by an artist named Gibran Isaias Crol. He started drawing when he was five years old after seeing his father painting on poster board. His bio stated that after his mom and dad split, he took out his aggression spray-painting neighborhood walls and researching graffiti art. He told me that he’d reconnected with his dad and now geared his artwork toward tranquility and love.
A woman named Naimeh, who is a part of Synergy and works to promote local artists, suggested some artists I should talk to. When I was in the kitchen grabbing some chips and salsa, she said, “You should find a guy named William Henry. He’s a self-taught San Diego artist who does street art — Chicano murals, gang writing, punk, and even surf and skate art. It’s the aesthetic of West Coast street graffiti.”
I asked Naimeh to point him out to me, and she left to find him. I figured that’d give me a good ten minutes to scarf down the chips. I never saw her again.
A guy walked by who had a woman on each arm and one painted on his shirt. I told him it was a cool shirt. He said, “You know what? Everyone keeps saying that. I think I’m going to auction it off.”
“If someone buys it, what will you do, drive home without a shirt?” I asked him.
He said, “If that’s what it takes, man! Hey, they can take my pants, too. I’ll sell them.”
Later I noticed he had a bidding form taped to his back. I yelled from across the room, “Do you have any bids yet?” He told me he didn’t, but that he’d get some. I said, “You know, that’s not a bidding form on your back. Someone just wrote ‘kick me’ and told you it was a bidding form.”
When the DJ played an R&B track, he was dancing spastically. I took out a pen, went up behind him, and acted as if I were trying to fill out the bid form on his back but his dancing was preventing me from doing so. A few people laughed as he turned around, but he looked like he wanted to slug me, so I retreated to the M&M bowl.
I ran into an artist named Santos Orellana, whom I had met at a street fair. I remembered him talking about being raised in Honduras and that he was once a chemist but quit that job to pursue his dream of being a muralist.
We talked about his art and he told me about a piece he did for Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson Arun, The Life of Gandhi. I thought about telling him that I once was at a party with Errol Flynn’s grandson but didn’t want to disrespect him. Orellana has a one-man show coming up at Colosseum Fine Arts on Kettner Boulevard in February. He said it’s called “Fragmentos.”
I told him I’d try to make it and figured that if I mentioned it here, he couldn’t get mad if I’m a no-show.