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R. Crumb Keeps on Truckin' at Royce Hall 10/29/09

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Robert Crumb's appearance Thursday night at Royce Hall in UCLA was like the artist's famous face-melting "Stoned Again" poster. A great start, but it ended badly. From the beginning, it was hard to guess which R. Crumb would show up on stage, the self-loathing, misogynistic misanthropic, insensitive curmudgeon or the boyishly endearing, insightful artist.

Robert Crumb immediately won the crowd over with his clever, open comments and the occasionally goofy, "Oh boy." He comes off exactly as you hope he would. He had a great rapport with the moderator, art historian and longtime friend Francoise Mouly. He spoke in great detail about his progress as an artist, his life in France, and especially about his latest work, a faithful rendering of The Book of Genesis. He spoke lovingly of his wife, artist Aline Kaminsky-Crumb and their daughter Sophie. It was all orange sunshine, flowers and lollipops, a good trip.

But the problem with psychedelics is that bad vibes spread like wildfire. It takes just one troublemaker to bring everyone down. Our personal lameass of the night was seated in the balcony and ruined the Q&A with self-promoting declarations and bizarre questions that just pissed Crumb off.

Although Crumb repeatedly called for security, no one kicked the loudmouth out. I guess they didn't think they needed bouncers for a lecture. Which is too bad, because a a lone security guard and a microphone for questions could have averted the unpleasantness.