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Beverly Hills Finally Gets Some Trailer Park Ambience

September 01, 2002|MARK EHRMAN

INVITED TO: Grand opening of the Airstream Diner in Beverly Hills with performances by Daniel Lanois and Devo.

GO WEST, YOUNG HIPSTERS: "There is a Silver Lake mafia, and Fred is the kingpin," says Donovan Leitch (here with sis Ione Skye) of the peculiarly geographical allegiance commanded by Fred Eric, the Vida and Fred 62 restaurateur. Sure enough, the debut of this latest Fred venture, Airstream, a faux '60s trailer-cum-diner, has the Eastside bohos out in force. "It's like Silver Lake invades Beverly Hills," says Daniel Lanois, Silver Lake resident by way of Quebec, who performs a set of pedal steel guitar music. "You should hear what Fred's paying me," adds the New Orleans-flavored musician and producer of projects by Emmylou Harris and Bob Dylan . "I'm not going to have to produce any records for years." The sole reveler hailing from the city's breezier zones seems to be "Gilmore" guy Milo Ventimiglia, "representing the Venice Mafia," he says, checking out the actual Airstream trailer in the parking lot next to the stage. The event also attracts Gina Gershon, Rosanna Arquette and Beck, who arrives with family members in tow. "My nephew, he's obsessed with Devo," says the Lake's favorite son, himself a longtime raider of retro culture. "So we came down to give him a little taste."

ARE WE NOT (OLDER) MEN? "The very first time I heard Daniel Lanois is when I met my husband," says former "Baywatch" babe Traci Bingham, exhibiting unimpeachably boho taste. "We're here to celebrate." The real draw, of course, is catching a rare show by New Wave-era mutant rockers Devo. "We're from Ohio, and Airstream is [in] Ohio, and Ohio has more trailer parks than any other state in the nation," says cherubic frontman Mark Mothersbaugh by way of reintroduction. "This is a special Ohio trailer-trash rendition of a song from our first album." The band launches into a slow and twangy version of its 1978 breakout hit, "Jocko Homo." Three songs later, they're gone. But visions of yesteryear linger as former KROQ deejay Jim "Poorman" Trenton takes the stage. "I was the first person out here to play Devo on the air," he brags, then asks the crowd if they want Devo to come out for an encore. Everyone hollers affirmatively, but the band, like the Poorman's old radio station, seems to have left him for good.


Celeb Quotient: *

Needs a dash more 90210 A-list to spice up all the 323 hoi polloi.

Wow Factor: **

Plenty of retro eye candy, though the musical acts were over in a blink.

Grazing Level: *

Cute food--fried mac-and-cheese balls, chili and chips in a Fritos bag, Southwest chicken salad in a Chinese takeout box--but spotty distribution. No matter--there's a real vintage diner (Norm's) on the way home.

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