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TRAGEDY returns to Asbury Lanes, as the ONLY metal Bee Gees tribute you’ll need see this weekend puts on their bowling shoes for a bit of Saturday Night Kegler — while lensman Mike McLaughlin is among the vibey visionaries represented in PINK NOISE, the 3rd Anniversary group show opening at Parlor Gallery.
All in all, it wasn’t the best week in which to be PINK.
Between the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s face-reddening “Pink-Gate” PR debacle, and the viral backlash against the infamous McNuggets “Pink Slime” photo, the once-proud color of Barbie and Elvis and Quisp was looking a beat-up and pulpy shade of purple by Friday. Which is why Pink Noise, the official Third Anniversary group show installation at Asbury Park’s pop-art paradise Parlor Gallery, could not have arrived with better timing to pull the PINK back from the BRINK.
A chance to feel “In the Pink” is especially needed here in a week with the news that Asbury Lanes — that Cold War-era tenpins taproom turned kitschy-cool alterna-arts odditorium — had been sold by its longtime owner to local developers Pat Fasano and Vince Gifford. It’s a bit of news that set off brain-alarms in anyone for whom the Lanes has served as everything from Fellini-esque corner bar, to a destination worth crossing several state lines to reach — and, justified or not, it was a potential tragedy that put many of us on a reflexive “Save the Roller Disco” alert straight out of 80s movies like Xanadu and Lunch Wagon.
Of course, the Lanes is no stranger to Tragedy, having hosted this hemisphere’s premier all-metal tribute to the music of the BeeGees many times over the years. Tonight, February 4, the 2012 edition of the continent-crossing metalizers (brothers Barry Glibb, Mo’Royce Peterson, and Robin Gibbens, with little brother Andy Gibbous Waning on bass and family patriarch The Lord Gibbeth, on drums) retakes the center Lanes in a late-skewed setsnack for which your award-winning DJ Jack the Ripper will serve as “amuse bouche.”
Before that, however, the windows of the Cookman Avenue arts bloc’s Parlor Gallery will be steaming up like an electric casserole dish, as First Saturday rages in downtown Asbury and some dozen music-minded artists (including DEVO poindexter Mark Mothersbaugh) team up for a de-waxing blast of Pink Noise.
Debuting with a reception between the hours of 7 and 10pm — and continuing, ‘case you miss it (we’ll be in Red Bank for opening night of August Wilson’s Jitney at Two River) through March 5 — Pink Noise takes its name from the soundtech process by which a room is “tuned” for best audio reproduction (ask your Norton), and it features a slew of music-inspired artworx that include the fluid moshpit seascapes of AP photog Mike McLaughlin, the almost folk-art painted wood 80s star figures of Thom Lessner, the vivid comix-inspired paintings of Robert Piersanti, the screenprint-on-vinyl-record portraits of Daniel Elden, and the postcard-print rug art of Mothersbaugh, subject of a past solo show and a guest (via Skype) to the Parlor of unearthly delights.
It’s a fun way to mark the third birthday of Parlor Gallery, which opened in early 2009 as the successor to Crybaby Gallery, with Crybaby’s “Juicy” Jenn Hampton partnering here with super artist Jill Ricci and Michael “Glamour Bomb” Walker in a busy operation that’s already outlasted many other entries in the mercurial local-artscape sweepstakes. Together with the ever-vivacious Sarah Potter, the Parlor mob has created a serious destination showcase for the kind of Pop Art that most other regional galleries won’t touch; spotlighting Ricci’s own work in addition to the sublime graffiti of Porkchop, the blood paintings of Jordan Eagles, as well as Bradley Hoffer, Lisa Brawn and others whose work is rarely seen on the walls around these parts. It’s a large, inviting, brightly lit venue where lovers of the truly outre can celebrate the ascendance of octopus-tentacle chandeliers, molded plastic robots and dyspeptic-looking ceramic cupcakes — a place whose annual Erotic Art exhibits still manage to get some folks’ Jockeys in a jumble even in 21st century Asbury Park.
The show’s also a reminder of the symbiosis between Parlor Gallery and Asbury Lanes, with Juicy Jenn and Sarah the (most uncommon) common denominators betwixt the two hipster haunts. Equal parts va-va-voomacious Buddhist blondeshell and tough-talking music biz “Sid Sidstein,” Jenn serves as de facto den mother to a Lanes team that boasts Layney Lanes, Jack the Ripper, Lori Hatred — inheritors of a revamped retro legacy that began under artist and auto customizer Meldon Van Riper Stultz and brought a wild new identity to the Atom Age alley. A peculiarly “punk” place even when it was trying to be anything but (its location next to the old Fast Lane meant you could find people like Wreckless Eric and David Johansen having a pre-show beer there), the latterday Lanes has hosted exploitation film kingpins and garage rock legends; United States congressmen and sex scandal Lolitas; drag queen superstars and even legendary pro bowlers. In addition to the amazing run of live music that began with a pioneering gig by the Ribeye Brothers, the Lanes has served as a a place for weddings, after-hours ghost investigations, sketching classes and pin-up makeovers, gay bowling and old-school burlesque, film festivals and live game shows, garage sales and at least one fancy quasi-formal benefit gala.
Upon announcement of the sale, the new owners (who’ve also bought the house next door to the Lanes) immediately got busy, removing the hedges that lined the front of the building, and initiating a long overdue replacement of the toilets — quite possibly displacing one of the resident ghosts in the process. As Jenn tells it, the activity is part of a big-plan freshening up of a 50 year old landmark which for too long had been operating in “maintenance mode.”
Jenn, whose wish list for the beloved Lanes has included such basics as a new roof, heating system and bigger bar, had much to offer — off the record, natch — on the new developments Laneside, when we spoke to the native daughter of Punxsatawney, PA at the gallery the day after Groundhog Day. More on all that as things coalesce around this transitional time over on Fourth Avenue (and yes, inside this little arts ‘n entertainment blog is a truly killer blog straining to get out).
We depend upon Sarah — club co-booker, hostess of Sex Toy Bingo and a person who’s positioned to trademark the word “YAY!” — to send us out on an upbeat note, going on record as seeing “a lot of positive things coming from it” when quizzed about all that’s new and exciting at the Lanes.
For now, the previously announced schedule of entertainments remains intact — with the exception of the March 10 concert by Anti-Flag; cancelled due to unrelated factors tied to the band’s participation in this spring’s big Bamboozle Festival in AP. And for First Saturday, the windows of the Parlor steam up in anticipation of another packed house, in a series of increasingly popular and de rigeur opening events.
We’ll cap this ongoing saga for the time being with some observations by All Tomorrow’s Parties festival founders Barry Hogan and Deborah Kee Higgins, who we interviewed this past October at the end of their inaugural event in Asbury — an occasion that saw Barry say of the Lanes, “when we saw that place for the first time, we fell in love with it. We thought it was the most fantastic venue to use; to build a whole event around.”
“If they ever tear down the Lanes, we wouldn’t want to come back,” declared Deborah. “It would be like tearing the heart out of the community!”