Life is worlds that collide, crashing down again,
Life is worlds that collide, it's what you make of it,
You're playing God with my life, what gives you the right?
-"Control Freak," by The Abuse
It was two worlds that collided in the pre-dawn hours of Aug. 7 that has led them here.
About 100 hard rockers are huddled on the sand of Mission Beach just after nightfall on Sunday night, drinking beers, smoking cigarette after cigarette, crying, occasionally laughing half-heartedly.
At the center of the semi-circle in the sand is a knee-high sawhorse. At the base are 20 or so tall, thin candles anchored in the sand. Their light glints off the cellophane wrap of two sets of roses lying on the ground. Four prayer candles give off a soft hum of light around a framed photo of a 34-year-old woman, a fire in her eyes, a microphone clutched in her hand. She's daring the photographer to catch her in that moment.
Her name is Paulette Valenzuela, lead singer of San Diego's hard-rock band, The Abuse. I had met her during a bowling tournament for the San Diego Music Awards last year; she was loud, brash, instantly likable.
And at around 4 a.m. on Aug. 7, she was shot to death in her Ocean Beach apartment.
"This is my fourth pack of cigarettes," says a friend as he repeatedly slams a pack of Marlboros to his palm, packing them too hard. It breaks the silence, awkwardly for some, thankfully for others.
A girl in a red sweatshirt, her arms pulled inside the sleeves, will occasionally laugh throughout the night. It's her way of grieving.
Another woman will sit on the bench, loudly telling passersby exactly how it all went down, what happened to bring us here. A few will cast disapproving looks her way, possibly angry that she's sharing their private pain with complete strangers. But that, too, is her way of grieving.
As the night goes on, people will feel more comfortable to laugh or share a story. The first hour, however, is probably the first time 100 friends of Paulette's have gathered and not taken extreme pride in making extreme noise.
"Paulette, can you sing to me?"
-a post to message board for The Abuse, Feb. 24, 2004
This was a last-minute vigil for Paulette. Originally to be held outside the offices of Rock 105.3-the radio station of choice for San Diego's hard-rock scene-the vigil had to be moved when station programmers realized Paulette's next-of-kin hadn't yet been contacted. TV news stations had to be called and told to chase another story-her family didn't yet know.
Here in the bayside sand at Liverpool Court in Mission Beach, the candles are having trouble staying lit in the night air. It's early, just after 8 p.m., the time announced on the band's website. As the crowd grows, it will form a human wall that keeps the candles burning strong.
Most everyone is dressed in black-although their funereal garb is anything but traditional, and most probably dress this way on a normal afternoon. A young man's black T-shirt reads, "Too many humans-not enough recipes." A causally dressed blonde woman, who normally would look out of place among this crowd, sobs uncontrollably. Another girl carries around a scrapbook that likely contains her own personal photos of Paulette. She guards it close.
Two men talk about solacing themselves with music. "Not tonight, man, not tonight" one says. "Maybe some Stryper."
An elderly couple stops at the edge of the gathering, politely inquires what happened. It is probably the first time someone their age had came upon a gathering of Paulette's heavy-metal friends and truly empathized with the sound they were making.
From the elderly couple's vantage point, they probably couldn't see the photo of Paulette, how alive she looked. Paulette was used to people looking at her, but not like this. She was used to being the center of attention, but not like this.
According to two sources close to the band, who spoke on condition of anonymity, this is the series of events that led to the death of Paulette Valenzuela:
Paulette and a few friends were having a small, mellow gathering over a few beers at her apartment in Ocean Beach on the night of Friday, Aug. 6. Three men approached the apartment, looking to join the party; Valenzuela welcomed them in to share what she and her friends had.
As the three began to leave Paulette's apartment around 4 a.m. Saturday morning, a steak fell from the pants of one of the men, who had obviously stolen it from Paulette's refrigerator. The singer, known for her take-no-shit personality, confronted the man. At that point, he brandished a gun and announced he was robbing everyone, ordering them to hand over their wallets and valuables.
Reportedly, Paulette refused. She calmly grabbed the man's hand, pulling it, with gun, to her own head. She attempted to call his bluff, in disbelief that anyone-especially someone she had invited into her home-would commit such meaningless violence. Startled, the man pulled the gun away, aimed it at her chest, and fired one fatal shot through her heart.
San Diego Police Sgt. Jorge Duran confirmed that there was a "verbal argument" in her apartment, and that "a male pulled out a handgun and shot her in the upper torso." The "shooter," he explained, "is a black male, in his 20s, about 5-foot, 10-inches with a corn row hairstyle. He also had the name "Snoopy' tattooed on the left side of his neck."
At press time, Duran said a team of detectives is looking into a few leads concerning the shooter's whereabouts, but no one had been apprehended. The suspect is facing one count of murder, said Duran, "with gun allegations, which is always an enhancement."
If the accounts of that night are accurate, it means that Paulette lost her life for petty theft and for insulting a violent man's pride. It also means she died the way she lived-standing up for her friends and what she believed was right.
Our bad: Contrary to what we reported last week in "Locals Only," Ray Brandes does not sing on the current TV commercials for Del Mar Racetrack. Brandes was one of two who tried out for the part, which actually went to Mike Stax of The Loons, who play at The Casbah Aug. 15. Stax and Brandes are both former members of the same band, The Tell Tale Hearts, and we're sure this misprint will rekindle the old band feud about who was the real genius behind the project.
Blink-182 will perform live on the Fox-TV's Teen Choice Awards Aug. 11.
Nickel Creek also puts in a pair of TV appearances this month, with a stint on NBC-TVs Late Night With Conan O'Brien Aug. 12 and a full set on KPBS-TV's Soundstage Aug. 19. Keeping Time: New Music from America's Roots, a film featuring the group, will air on the Sundance Channel Aug. 15 and 27.
Weird Al Yankovic is considering a parody version of Gary Puckett's "Young Girl" for an upcoming album.
Trainspotters will want to check out the John Gummoe website www.rhythmoftherain.com, which has posted renditions of his hit song "Rhythm of the Rain" as performed by famous artists including The Percy Faith Orchestra and Neil Sedaka among others.
Alejandro Escovedo is the cover boy for the August issue of music mag, ICE.
The Supersuckers' new DVD Live in Anaheim, out last week, is slightly mistitled, as a good part of the concert was taped at The Casbah last year.
Both Cattle Decapitation's Humanure and As I Lay Dying's Frail Words Collapse are among the first six albums released in Japan by Metal Blade Records this fall. You can add the Best Buy and Musicland retail chains to the list of those now refusing to stock the Cattle Decapitation album due to its cover art, which features a cow pooping out human remains.
It looks like three members of '90s indie-rock heroes The Nephews will reunite this fall. The band were revered for their quirky psychedelic rock, so much so that Rocket From The Crypt covered their "Transcendent Crankiness" as a bonus cut on the "On a Rope" CD single. Tim Ellison, Robb Abramson and Chris Marstellar (currently drummer with the Buzzkill Romantics) will join forces with '60s punk legend Sean "Talk Talk" Bonniwell as a latter-day version of his original group The Music Machine for a tour of Germany and Spain this November. They will be in Spain at the same time as several other locally connected acts, including the Crawdaddys, and will play at least one date with the Black Diamonds in Benidorm.
Aug. 11 will be one of the first chances to see 51 Guns, the new project spawned after local punk icons Agent 51 called it quits earlier this year-which sounds a bit like old Stone Temple Pilots with some glamorous guitar solos thrown in for good measure. They'll play the "Loudspeaker Showcase" along with The Dragons, The Millionaires and Grandpa Drew at The Casbah on Aug. 11.
Speaking of 91X's "Loudspeaker," the nominees for this year's San Diego Music Awards will be announced during the show's broadcast Aug. 15, live from the Whistle Stop in South Park between 6 and 8 p.m. Come on down and cheer your favorites.
Tip of the week: Thrice fans who are already checking out the solo acoustic show by lead singer Justin Kinsrue at the Epicentre on Aug. 14 should get there early. Opening is No Knife guitarist Ryan Ferguson, whose solo material has set a few ears abuzz lately. B