A couple weeks ago I had jury duty in Inglewood (home of "The Forum" - where the Lakers use to play). Running errands during the lunch break I stumbled across this sign in nearby Hawthorne. OK ... WHAT is the "Beach Boy Monument"?? (Isn't it the Beach Boys?) I had a few minutes - had to stop and see.
Then I remembered: Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys grew up in Hawthorne. Maybe this was their boyhood home? Close ... but not exactly.
Located in a quiet residential neighborhood, on the corners of Kornblum Ave. and 119th St., is where the boyhood home of Brian, Carl and Dennis Wilson use to be.
OK, a monument ... but why no home? Then I realized - I was up against the Century Freeway. In an ironic twist of fate, The Beach Boys' - who glamorized California's "car culture" as well as, of course, surfing - childhood home was demolished to make room for Los Angeles' most recently constructed freeway, the Century Freeway ("The 105").
The plaque reads: It was here in the home of parents Murry and Audree that Brian, Dennis, and Carl Wilson grew to manhood and developed their musical skills. During Labor Day Weekend 1961, they, with cousin Mike Love and friend Al Jardine, gathered here to record a tape of their breakthrough song "Surfin'." This marked the birth of the rock group known worldwide as the Beach Boys and the beginning of an historic musical legacy that would change the recording industry. The music of the Wilsons broadcast to the world an image of California as a place of sun, surf and romance. Brian Wilson would become a legendary producer, arranger and songwriter.
For Beach Boys fans, the monument commemorates Brian, Dennis, and Carl Wilson - as well as their cousin Mike Love and David Marks and Al Jardine. The image face of the landmark was inspired by the album cover of Surfer Girl. In another ironic twist, the Beach Boys were a singing group who sang about surfing - but none of whom actually surfed.
You can see how close the freeway is to the monument. I've driven by spot this dozens of times - never knew it was there.
Here's a few photos of the neighborhood Brian, Dennis and Carl grew up in. Just your typical working class community. The neighborhood - like all of Los Angeles - has changed since "The Boys" grew up here. Some homes in the neighborhood had bars on the windows, but I also saw some real pride of ownership and nicely kept up homes. The palm trees in front of the home below definitely says "California".
I've blogged several times previously about the idea of legacy - how we invest our lives. As a Christian, I appreciate and am challenged by the words of Hebrew prophet Isaiah: "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever." Isaiah 40:6,8
Grass and flowers: they're an integral - and often beautiful - part of the Creation. Isaiah's point isn't that they're "good" or "bad" . . . but simply that they're temporal.
Very few of us will ever have the house we grew up in recognized - let alone a monument placed where it stood. But even that is ultimately very temporal. In light of eternity, I'm wondering how much time and effort I place in things that are simply temporal.
My character, the things we do for others, how I treat others (especially those who are different than me), justice, compassion, forgiveness . . . those are the things that matter.
I like what C.S. Lewis once wrote: "Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither."
Borrowing from the title of a Beach Boys song, wouldn't it be nice if that's how I really lived out my life?
You'd have to be a real Beach Boys fan to make a special trip to see the monument. But if you're in the area and driving by (it's very close to the Lowe's in Hawthorne) it might be worth seeing. Either way, a great reminder - for me, at least - of what I want to invest my time on.