One More Endless Summer

Ready to “Do It Again”? Beach Boys Wilson, Marks, Johnston, Jardine and Love

Christmas has apparently come early for music lovers in the form of last week’s announcement that all of the surviving Beach Boys intend to reunite for a 50-city world tour next summer in recognition of the legendary band’s 50th anniversary. That would be founding members Brian Wilson, Mike Love, and Al Jardine, along with Wilson’s longtime road replacement Brian Johnston and early Beach Boy David Marks (the one who thought he stood a better chance at success by forming his own band, David and the Marksmen, surely one of the most tragic career missteps in the annals of popular music). The quartet are to be supported by Wilson’s backing band, according to Love, who acknowledged that his cousin Brian has vacillated on his commitment to the tour. “He has his moods,” said Love, “no doubt about it.” All of which means that we can only buy our tickets and keep our fingers crossed.

There was a time when the prospect of a Beach Boys reunion would not have excited me at all. I grew up dismissing them with a dose of contempt, an arrogance born of ignorance along with the fact that I became musically conscious around the same time that the band was hitting its nadir. All that I could discern was a long list of vacuous hits about cars, surfing, and girls. To me, the Beach Boys were the vanilla ice cream in the Baskin-Robbins of pop music. They were a K-tel collection. What a shame that the people who made such a substantial contribution to American music should have seemed frivolous and inconsequential to a young person a mere decade after their prime. But there was a bearded Mike Love prancing about onstage in a stocking cap and bathrobe, and I could not conclude otherwise. Read More

Art For Hoi Polloi: M.C. Escher

From 1963: Why settle for ants on a log when you can have ants on a Mobius strip?

As an aging member of Generation X, I can attest to the existence of certain rites of pop culture passage that have shaped our perception of the world. Eating Pop Rocks, for example. Acknowledging the profundity of Dark Side of the Moon. Attempting to reconcile a Rubik’s Cube. Discovering the Three Stooges. And surely somewhere in there, as our brains expanded to fathom the limitless wonder of human history and the unknowable infinity of our universe, we were all exposed to prints by the Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher.

You know the work, if not the name. The famous pair of hands emerging from a flat sheet of paper to draw each other. The self-portrait of the artist as seen in the reflection of a hand-held sphere. Tessellations of birds, fish, and other creatures. Impossible architecture in which columns defy logic, stairs descend endlessly within a closed loop, and strange beings walk upon every surface of a convoluted interior. All were the creation of Maurits Cornelis Escher, who was born in the Netherlands on this day in 1898. Read More

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