WHEN CAMERAS GO CRAZY CULTURE CLUB – When Cameras Go Crazy by Kasper De Graaf chronicles the meteoric rise of Boy George, up to 1983. Who could’ve imagined it? That a gender-bending, Grammy-winning band would catapult to pop superstardom, in the conservative climate of the Regan era? The book is chock full of George’s iconic and enduring contemporaries in 1980’s London: Steve Strange (Blitz), Malcolm McClaren (Sex Pistols, Bow Wow Wow), Sue Clowes (The Foundry), Leigh Bowery (performance artist) and Vivienne Westwood (fashion designer). The book captures the group’s early naïve charm and couldn’t have predicted their decline; in the midst of scandals and pitfalls of fame. Much later, the group was featured in a sad reunion tour and VH1 documentary: depicting them as bitter, portly, hardened, middle aged men; vying to rekindle the brilliance of their youth. George in particular has been vilified in the press for drug addiction and court involvement. Last year’s television movie (Worried About the Boy, 2010) by the BBC – was able to recreate some early magic moments. The lead actor is destined for more work, he was great. The same hand is apparent in all of the BBC’s productions: constrained budgets, imperfect production and at times it has a “homemade” feel. If you’re interested in things post punk/ new romantic – check out the early music, book and video clips.
CHABOT SPACE & SCIENCE CTR. – The Chabot Space and Science Center is located in Oakland CA. Three large telescopes (Rachel, Alvin, Leah) are located within observatories on the upper deck. Public viewings takes place on Friday and Saturday, but watch the weather closely. The Pacific’s marine layer often pushes through the Golden Gate in the summer months, up the Oakland Hills. The planetarium show is inferior in quality, compared to its neighbor across the bay, at the CA Academy of Science in Golden Gate Park. Its exhibits are mostly geared towards children, but the telescopes should not to be missed! Chabot is the largest public facility of its kind in the USA. The telescope observatories offer the public’s best view from earth, onto the vast distances of the Milky Way.
The Steinbeck Center is located in Salinas, CA. The exhibits are thematic, arranged about his major works. For example: The Grapes of Wrath, The Red Pony, Cannery Row and East of Eden. What did I like? I really enjoyed some of the objects like notebook pages (in his tiny cramped handwriting) as well as Pulitzer/ Nobel awards. Also, the exhibit reinforced the ways that Steinbeck adhered to the adage ‘write what you know’. Salinas and Monterrey are the foundations for his greatest works. What didn’t I like? The exhibit designer had good intentions. But, the visuals are all over the place, sort of like attention deficit disorder. Each sentence or fragment goes along with an artifact, icon or picture. Instead of covering a work at a level of complexity, the choppy execution doesn’t allow the eye to focus on any area in particular. It would have been good to see more depth and less breadth across the space that’s available to the center.