Arts Devo

Arts DEVO loves surprises and the sound of Ace Frehley’s guitar



I wonder if it’s still there? At some point early in Arts DEVO’s senior year at Central Valley High School (in what is now the city of Shasta Lake), one of his fellow Falcons had the inspired idea to fling a slice of American cheese through the air inside the cafeteria. His spiral was so true that the limp square took off like a tiny helicopter in a vertical trajectory that sent it straight up to the ceiling, where it landed with a slap in the middle of one of the acoustic tiles some 20 feet above. To everyone’s amazement, the gummy cheese product stuck there for the rest of the day. And the next day. And every day for months.

To say that I was pleased at this development is an understatement. Every day, just as the sun would rise, so too would my shining orange star, never fading. Seriously, it never dulled, cracked or got moldy. And I got no end of enjoyment from its presence, saying out loud or in my head upon viewing it: “I can’t believe it’s still there!”

I’ve always gotten a cheap thrill from such out-of-place oddities, and I’m always on the lookout for them. When they show up, I make it a point to check in on them regularly because the thrill only intensifies the longer they endure.

For example, as soon as the leaves started falling this past autumn, I made it a point to cruise by the Chico Unified School District office near my house to see if the bear and dog were still there. And sure enough, high up in the branches of two tall trees out front are the white stuffed puppy and red teddy bear that some smartasses tossed up there more than three years ago! They’ve survived wind and rain and the heat of intense summers, and discovering them entirely intact each year when the leaves are out of the way makes me shout with excitement. Go see for yourself. And if you know of any other trivial attractions in town, please share.

Shock me! Ace Frehley’s show tonight (Jan. 24) at Feather Falls Casino is sold out! I do not have one of those tickets.

My very first album was Alive II by KISS. When I was 8 years old, my parents enrolled in one of those mail-order record clubs with the introductory offer of 11 albums for a penny, and they let me make one of the selections. Since double-albums counted as one choice, I randomly picked the KISS one.

That choice turned out to be the beginning of, well, basically everything for me. Like a scene out of some cheesy coming-of-age movie, I sat in front of the record player with my headphones on and was lifted out of that tiny apartment and into a fantasy world where 8-foot-tall demons spit fire and a spaceman played a guitar with such intensity that smoke billowed forth. From that moment on I was a rocker, concerned with little more than listening to records and going to shows (and eventually playing guitar and writing songs) from that day to this day.

I chose Ace “The Spaceman” Frehley as my favorite character, and my mom made a super-sweet homemade costume so I could be Space Ace for Halloween. And today, even though most of the charm of KISS has worn off for me (dig the anthemic crowd-pleasers, not so much the crass cheesiness and misogyny), I still enjoy Frehley’s contributions—his melodic guitar riffs and way-cool relaxed vocals on the rare tracks he sang. And he’s still at it, having released a new solo album (titled Spaceman, naturally) that retains the gritty guitar and glam-rock swagger that he’s known for.

If you got tix, it promises to be a killer show!