The coifed and the conflicted

Hair Wars 2008 is an ongoing runway showdown-cum-bitch fight between 12 of Sacramento’s fiercest salons, and the latest bout took place last Thursday at The Park Ultra Lounge. Not a root went untouched on the back patio, where the ruthlessly coiffed styling elite shot skeptical glances at one another’s brow jobs from across the catwalk trenches. Chic warfare, yes, but the cocktail tumblers were plastic. Keepin’ it real.

I’m accustomed to dancing myself sweaty in $5.99 Rite Aid slip-ons, so I was at once impressed and disturbed to witness an excess of bedazzled, poly-blend halter tops and 30-something men with pricey hairstyles worthy of fire-hazard warnings at The Park. At one point I was plowed into by such a gentleman, who barely missed my toes with appletini spillage.

“I have to get through. My girlfriend is in this show,” he mumbled, the aura of someone not accustomed to apologizing. Moments later a Paris Hilton body double appeared on the runway, wearing a transparent thong, platinum extensions and some rubber cement. Said man’s wanton hairstyle all but obscured my view of the stage, but judging by the yelping that ensued, she must’ve been pretty hot.

The Park, however, is just a microcosm of urban Sacramento, perhaps the ideal city for those with commitment issues or, better yet, personality disorders. Why? Because no matter what grid coordinates you call home (or rented home), you’ll land yourself on a different planet—complete with its own peculiar little aliens—simply by wandering a few blocks.

Consider: Two days after the Hair Wars and a mere five blocks away, Second Saturday proved once again an engaging study in contrasts. On K Street, a volunteer group asked passersby if they were registered to vote, prompting a lavender-headed woman—tugging a wagon-o’-kids, no less—to bark “Fuck no!” Outside Grind & Groove, the Generals set up for a sidewalk show while a gaggle of sorority girls, perched on a rooftop across the street, gyrated to Jack Johnson, proffering their own brand of performance art. I tried to break away from the pedestrian mob and take in the Sacramento School of Music’s string-quartet serenade, but it too was interrupted by the Vengaboys’ “We Like to Party” remix (from hell), blaring unapologetically across the street.

I’m sure there was some art out there, but I can’t be certain.

Less than a block away, a hip-hop show—a mosaic of flat-billed caps, neckerchiefs, Chrome bags and a Yoda backpack-wearing rapper dragooning the mic—was going down at United State. “Doors open, drivin’ down J Street,” the emcee boomed, the crowd throwing its hands up, electric with the cool evening air and the brief nod to Sac—this crazy little planet we all call home.