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Unhappy Visitor Damages Observatory's Pendulum

October 10, 1985|JOHN KENDALL | Times Staff Writer

A 240-pound brass weight swinging at the end of a 40-foot wire crashed into the pit of Griffith Observatory's giant pendulum when a disgruntled visitor grabbed it and hung on, police said today.

"It was a very dangerous thing to do," said Dr. Edwin Krupp, director of the Griffith Park Observatory. "He's very lucky to be alive, in my view."

Airman 1st Class Michael John Olivas, 22, was placed under arrest Wednesday night by an unidentified person and turned over to Los Angeles Police Department detectives, who booked him on a charge of vandalism.

The trouble started, Krupp said, shortly before 10 p.m., when a group of late arrivals were denied admission to the observatory's laser light show programmed to the rock music of Led Zeppelin and "started becoming abusive."

After ejecting some of the disappointed fans, Krupp said, a staffer heard the unmistakable "twang" that told them someone had grabbed at the taut pendulum wire. Then the weight crashed through painted glass below it.

Breaking the 50-year-old pendulum in the observatory's lobby is the most serious incident since the beginning of the Led Zeppelin Laserium show in August, Krupp said.

"This particular show, by its nature, seems to draw a crowd that is ill-mannered, frequently drunk and absolutely inappropriate for this place," he said.

Damage to the pendulum was estimated at about $2,000.

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