“Thanks for coming,” said the “promoter” of my band’s live radio performance last night. “Irvine is conservative and weird, and it is difficult to get bands to come here.” Such is the glory of radio—-if Irvine’s citizens are conservative and weird, who cares? I only met cool Irvine indie-rock appreciators who work at KUCI 88.9 FM. These appreciators were armed with vegetarian burritos!
Still, radio does have a downside. Live music requires an audience. Upwards of 30 people were tuned into to my band’s “show” via virtual interlinks, but my band could only direct its bristling live energy at a camera operator, a soundman, and a few encouraging burrito-buyers. If we had concentrated, we could have directed our energy at the various microphones and wires that carried our music and images across the country and world. However, it is much harder to perform for electronic components than for a guy standing in front of the stage at a club banging his head, contorting his features into a “jam face.”
I was sad to leave Irvine without a greater understanding of the community. Irvine is ostensibly “in L.A.”—-in that fashion peculiar to sprawling Los Angeles where 20 miles from L.A. means “in L.A.”—-but I was left with many questions about the suburb. Is Irvine in L.A.? Why, when, and by whom was Irvine founded? Why does the Irvine sun shine so bright and why is Irvine’s landscape so dusty and yellow? Are there beaches in Irvine, or surfers? Where are the surfers? What do students study at the university? What famous persons hail from Irvine? Where did Irvine’s indie-rock appreciators get those wonderful burritos?
Perhaps I am not missing much—-that is, perhaps Irvine is “conservative and weird.” I can confirm that an acquaintance of mine is a student of UC Irvine who took an extended leave. Though she had the opportunity to complete her degree in two brief half-semester sessions and had a free place to stay near campus, she balked because she found the strip-malled community so oppressive. I believe that my acquaintance is trustworty—-this is, I trust that these oppressive strip malls exist. However, my time in Irvine was spent on-air being digitally streamed to the ears and eyes of 30 people. Thus, I must admit that I was unable to confirm the existence of these alleged oppressive strip malls.