‘Barky bark!’ barked Barky

Scratch the Hawaiian-shirt-clad surface of every press-release-rewriting hack, and you’re apt to find a frustrated columnist. Woof!

Hmm, what to make of this: Empire, the spiffy new Randy Paragary nightclub at 1417 R Street (which is near 15th Street and nowhere near Unkle Snuffy’s Varmint Shack), is fixing to open on Wednesday, April 14. The Scene Weasel recently caught up with Brian McKenna, the longtime alt-rock promoter who’s handling the booking at Empire, via cell phone from Unkle Snuffy’s, where a sumptuous repast of feral kitty satay with a chili peanut and Valvoline sauce and some rather potent Sammy Hagar tequila proved to be momentarily distracting. McKenna “hepped” the Weasel to a bunch of stuff he’d already told those chaps over at Team Scoopy, along with, um, some other stuff. Empire’s April 14 debut will feature Sweden’s (International) Noise Conspiracy, Los Angeles’ Moving Units and our very own Low Flying Owls and Pipedown (actually an Auburn band). The 7:30 p.m. show is all-ages; the cover’s $12.

Before he fell off his barstool and got unceremoniously schlepped outside to a nearby Dumpster by Unkle Snuffy’s surly hillbilly dishwashers, the Weasel thought he heard McKenna mention some other top-notch shows he’s got lined up: Pennywise (April 25); Muse (May 4); the Distillers (May 15); Matchbook Romance (May 18); and the thoroughly wonderful Seattle trio Sleater-Kinney, which will appear on May 21 with the equally nifty Quasi. Heck whiz, if the Scene Weasel can wash the vomit out of his hair and beard and clean his Molly Hatchet T-shirt by next Wednesday, he might even make a rare appearance.

We like food; food is good. Sometimes we’re too lazy to walk a few blocks for lunch, so we make it to Hot Rod’s at 2007 K Street, which is just around the corner. Now, Hot Rod’s turns out a decent burger—not Nationwide Freezer Meats decent, but decent nonetheless. But even the best burger in the world cannot atone for bad videos. And at Hot Rod’s, those bad videos are shown on two video screens, which regurgitate an endless loop that features “Mickey” by Toni Basil, some nondescript video by Badly Drawn Boy that features Joan Collins, and an unwatchable Tori Amos clip for a song called “a sorta fairytale,” plus stuff by Cher, Mary K. Blige, the Knack, Ricky Martin, the Go-Go’s and that “moonwalk” chap whose nose keeps falling off. That might not be intolerable, but every time we’ve been into the joint, the same videos are playing. Here’s a hint, lads: Freshen up that mix, OK? Can you say “tired”?