VENICE HENDRIX

We're suckers for hucksters. It's partly liberal guilt, partly a genuine admiration for beautifully filigreed bullshit. And we seem to give off sucker vibes, even when we've bathed that morning. Hucksters are drawn to us from miles around, carefully positioning themselves as they try to gauge our projected itinerary. And Venice hucksters are second only to those of New Orleans, who have elevated hucksterism to an art form. There they are often compelled by raucous applause to perform encores. Venice is not far behind, though. The fellow depicted above looked and sounded like--well, you know how in science fiction movies the mad visionary inventor constructs two cubicles and places unwitting volunteers in them, in hopes of magically switching them, but something always goes awry? None of these guys ever seems to question their goal: is it really worth all this time and treasure to cause two people to switch places? Couldn't they have just asked politely? Regardless, my point is that if you placed an imam in one cubicle and a tricycle in the other, when the experiment went horribly wrong, the guy above might be what you end up with. Plus, appropriately, the sound he coaxed out of his guitar was very like the existential screech you can imagine being emitted by a poor soul trapped in an imam/tricycle purgatory. My purchase of a CD and t-shirt from him was as much an effort to make the noise stop as an appreciation of his art, which was worthy of polite applause if not a standing ovation. I give him 3 1/2 stars.