Day 331: KISS Mini Golf

KISS by Monster Mini Golf

KISS by Monster Mini Golf

While I haven’t played the iconic Pebble Beach golf course yet, I have played miniature golf at a KISS-themed course. I’d like to think that it’s an icon of another kind, either of rock band merchandising or Las Vegas excess.

In either case, it was an awesome experience.

As a kid growing up in the late ’70s, KISS was everywhere. I remember seeing the KISS Alive II poster in my cousin’s room and being scared yet fascinated by the four characters, especially the blood-spewing Gene Simmons.

Whatever shock value they had in the early part of the decade was gone by the time I was listening to them in elementary school. They had their own comic book and starred in a terrible made-for-TV movie, KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park. After the disco-influenced Dynasty album (the poster of which I had hanging in my room, which led to my parents questioning my sanity), the band went into a down period before resurrecting itself in the mid-’80s.

I saw the band twice during the ’80s and grew out of them shortly thereafter. But the second my wife bought a Groupon for a round at the KISS by Monster Mini Golf experience, I was ready to Rock N Roll All Nite (and Party Every Day). We joined my brother’s family during the Thanksgiving week for a trip through our past as we introduced the kids to KISS’ music through the miniature golf course, which is a sentence I never thought I’d ever write.

It was an absolute blast. While the kids enjoyed playing glow-in-the-dark golf, I was loving all of the details on the course, highlighted by the ongoing KISS music blared throughout the place. Every hole had some kind of KISS or rock music theme to it, from maneuvering around Peter Criss’ drums to putting right through Ace Frehley’s Les Paul. There was even an animatronic KISS band at the center of the room that would occasionally come to life.

Of course, the only way to end a KISS round of golf was at the 18th hole’s tongue ramp into the Gene Simmons face (shown above).

Day 114: Personality

Living Colour

Living Colour

Driving home tonight, I listened to a song I haven’t heard in a while: Cult of Personality by Living Colour. It features one of the Greatest Rock Riffs of All Time and it always manages to pump me up.

The song reminds me of a lot of things, but mostly I think about how I once saw Living Colour, Guns N Roses, and the Rolling Stones at the L.A. Coliseum. The concert started in the late afternoon, with Living Colour playing to a half-empty stadium. I remember being mad that more people weren’t there to appreciate the band’s virtuosity, especially Vernon Reid blazing away on the guitar. Of the three bands that day, Living Colour was by far the most technically proficient.

But who rocked the hardest? The Rolling Stones, without a doubt. I was surprised that a bunch of geezers (I thought they were old then, not knowing that 20 more years of farewell tours still lay ahead) would totally own the Coliseum. I felt that Guns N Roses would steal the show that night, given that they were the hometown boys who made it big.

To put it mildly, Guns N Roses sucked. There wasn’t much energy in the band and I wasn’t the only one there that thought they were just going through the motions. Years later, their lackadaisical performance that evening was explained on an episode of Behind the Music: they were going through a period of heavy drinking and drug use and would soon break up.

It’s a shame that Guns N Roses didn’t complete the trifecta of a brilliant night of rock music. Between the Stones and Living Colour, though, there were moments that will last my lifetime, whether it was Eric Clapton joining the Stones for a song or Vernon Reid launching into one of the Greatest Rock Riffs of All Time.