Laser-Guided Melodies and a Boy Named George
? WOW, SUCKERPUNCH! I’ve been waiting years for the Griffith Observatory to reopen — years! — and when it does, I find out they’re not bringing back Laserium.
I’m sorry to have to break it to you. But it’s best that you hear it from someone who cares, and who knows how confused you may be feeling right now.
If you moved to L.A. during the past few years when the Observatory was closed for rehab: Laserium is the original rock & roll laser show, founded at the ?Griffith Observatory on November 19, 1973. An American classic, like roller rinks and minigolf and monster movies. It’s so L.A., they may as well ?call it “L.A.-serium”! Copied by many; loved by all. A classic!
Taken for granted!
Cut down too soon.
I just can’t feature it. The Observatory people go to all that trouble to renovate one of our most genuinely magical landmarks: home of a real-live Tesla coil and Rebel Without a Cause and spliff-friendly bushes and such a view of our city, and (once upon a time) the one and only original rock & roll laser show — and they don’t bring Laserium back? I ask you, in all seriousness: Why would you reopen anything, ever, without employing a rainbow of dancing, prancing laser beams and a shitload of Zeppelin?
The good news is, apparently the people who invented Laserium have been doing shows for a couple years off-site, under the radar. In Van Nuys, specifically. And every Saturday night in November the Cyberdome of Van Nuys shall rock with three classic Laserium shows: Beatles, Zeppelin and — uh-huh — Dark Side of the Freakin’ Moon, dude!
Drugs are most definitely not required for enjoyment, by the way; nor is ’70s nostalgia. Part of Laserium’s charm was that it tried to keep up with “the times” — the last one I went to before they closed the Observatory featured, like, Seal and Lenny Kravitz. (And you know, Seal didn’t sound so bad in that context.) I am fully prepared for a future in which Laserium is jamming Chamillionaire and Justin Timberlake.
For show information visit www.laserium.com or call (818) 997-3624.
? NEWSFLASH: BOY GEORGE A DIVA. According to recent reports, the former members of Culture Club are right miffed at Boy George for being a showboating, self-absorbed know-it-all. In other words, they’re angry at Boy George for being Boy George. Most recently, George accepted a songwriting award for “Karma Chameleon” without the rest of the band. Former boyfriend and band mate Jon Moss retaliated by revealing that George had some pretty embarassing ideas back in the ’80s. “He wanted to call himself Papa George,” said Moss, “and he wanted to call us Caravan Club.” Ouch. That does hurt. Then again, if Moss is so good with names, how did he come up with “Culture Club Reborn” — which is what they’re calling their new, Boy George–free lineup, coming soon to a venue near you? (That’s even worse than “The New Cars” — Todd Rundgren fronting two guys from the Cars who are neither Ben Orr nor Ric Ocasek. I didn’t just make that up. They’re playing House of Blues Dec. 5 and 6.)
Moss and the other ’Clubbers should recall that they really do owe whatever fame and royalties they have to George and his mighty charisma. No recording artist before or since, however talented, has been able to break the American market so successfully with a pure drag, honest-to-gosh-gay image. (Look at the poor Ark, that Swedish gender-casual glam band who had to cancel its recent American tour after an unfunny joke about airplanes and the White House.) It’s not so easy for the boys who dare to wear lipstick in America. And while Boy George’s lyrics were political at times, his personal style, paradoxically, constituted his most substantive message: freedom, wit, whimsy. So Irish. So gay. Such a beautiful freak. Why, just the other day, I was reading the new Betty & Veronica Double Digest, and Jughead was dressed in Boy Jughead drag! (I’ve always wondered about that Jughead . . .)
Which reminds me of a poem by another L.A. classic, Charles Bukowski (thanks, Peter Case). Here’s a bit of it.
Style is the answer to everything.
A fresh way to approach a dull or dangerous thing.
To do a dull thing with style is preferable to doing a dangerous thing
To do a dangerous thing with style is what I call art.
. . . sometimes people give you style.
Joan of Arc had style.
John the Baptist.
Style is a difference, a way of doing, a way of being done.
Six herons standing quietly in a pool of water, or you, walking
out of the bathroom naked without seeing me.
? FREEDOM IS NOT COMPLETE unless we are all free to be stylish. That’s the liberation of rock & roll and pop. That’s our birthright as Americans. It’s also why we should never, ever feel self-conscious about liking stylish music by stylish souls. We should demand it. You know. Like John the Baptist style. Rick James style. Boy George style.
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