They’re Fun To Look At But Not All That Bright

The title of this post is the answer to the age-old question: “How are men like lava lamps?”

One of the exhibits I just saw at the Center for Contemporary Art made me think of that old joke. It also made me miss the lava lamp I bought in 1969 and gave away some time in the late ’70s before I moved from Brooklyn to Boston. I bought a new one for my office when I worked at UC San Diego in the ’90s, but it wasn’t the same. Maybe I was missing my tie-dyed bedspread, worry beads, and long hair. Well, I know I was missing my hair.

You may remember that my cousin Al and I visited Sevilla’s Center for Contemporary Art in June. There were a couple of exhibits of interest at the time, but for the most part, although the property is fascinating, I was disappointed. I have been talking with Adela, who is a painter, about going back together to see what’s new. We’ve been waiting for her brother, an art student, to arrive in town. Adela texted me early Sunday morning and asked if I wanted to walk over with them and another friend of hers. I met them after breakfast and we crossed the river in the blazing heat — and, of course, brilliant sunshine.

Spread through a huge number of galleries was a special exhibit called “Abstraction and Motion.” The first large gallery we hit contained five projection screens with what looked like close-ups of lava lamps in constant movement. Music played that beautifully complemented the motion. Unfortunately, I didn’t note the name of the artist and I’ve been unable to find it online. I’ll keep looking. In the meantime, I have a feeling one of my faithful friends will come up with it!

I would have been very content to simply sit on the floor amid the larger-than-life lava lamps, listening to the music and enjoying my flashbacks… I mean memories. But, after leaving this room, the exhibit got even more interesting and the flashbacksmemories… got even more vivid. I have so much more to share. For now, I’m off to bed with Grace Slick’s voice singing in my head…


Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

27 thoughts on “They’re Fun To Look At But Not All That Bright”

  1. I had a lava lamp back in the early seventies and haven't thought about it in years. I don't know what happened to it, but I still have my bong. Ahhh…if only I could recall the memories.

    1. Stephen:
      I wish I still had my bong! It was a green glass and ceramic beauty given to me as a high school graduation/going away to college present by my friend Carole (commenter above) and another friend. My-Mother-The-Dowager-Duchess immediately said, "That's just for decoration, isn't it?" I said, "Of course it is." Sadly, the "decoration" broke during one of my moves.

  2. I must go and have a rummage, I know we've still got our original lamp somewhere. Way back in the early seventies I remember they used to have lava lamp 'patterns' showing on some cinema screens, as a precursor to the film. Sometimes they were more interesting than the films. 😉

    1. Elaine:
      Well, this "lava lamp" exhibition was like being back in college and sitting on the folding table opposite the clothes dryers at the laundromat watching the clothes spin. I could pass hours doing that. Let me know if you find your original lava lamp!

  3. I reckon they changed the chemical gloop inside lava lamps (the early ones were probably more toxic than a very toxic thing) – I have had several and by the time they warmed up and started moving it was usually time to fall into bed! I saw one about a metre tall once in a shop, now that one I _did_ covet and had to be dragged away from, forelornly waving my wallet and yelling to the shop assistants about delivery …

    1. The Owl Wood:
      We've gone minimalist (well, everything's relative) but if I saw a metre-tall lava lamp I'd have a hard time NOT buying it. Can you find out if they deliver to Sevilla?

  4. Oh those flashbacks/memories!! Never know when they will 'hit'!! lol
    Looks like a very interesting exhibit not to mention space……man! (kidding..I think).

    You are such a hippie at heart!

    1. Ron:
      Amazing. And then came Jefferson Starship and then just Starship. I loved them! I was only 13 at the time of Expo '67. Not old enough to take off for Montreal on my own.

  5. My son gave me a bong once for my birthday… I think he tried to pass it off as a vase… Don't know whatever happened to it…. But about the art exhibit… guess I'm too "realistic" to appreciate the abstract… Oh well… nice colors.

    1. Spo:
      It's like the game show "Jeopardy." The answer was given in the title of the post and the question was given in the first paragraph. So, in reality…

      Q: How are men like lava lamps?
      A: They're fun to look at but not very bright.

      It wasn't very funny to begin with. And now, as you can see, it got a whole lot worse. Sorry!

  6. White Rabbit will give you flashbacks even if you never took drugs in your life!! Whenever I hear "We Built This City" I cringe for Grace.

I love your comments.