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Celebrating thirty-five years of everyone's favorite lamp

By Ellen Fox

JULY 3, 2000:  Welcome to the thirty-fifth anniversary party of the lava lamp. The first rule about lava lamps, however, is that there are no lava lamps. There are only LAVA® brand motion lamps, as I am reminded in a press kit, in a follow-up letter from local lamp-maker Haggerty Enterprises and even a pen-on-paper demonstration of the correct nomenclature by CEO Tim Haggerty.

As party-goers nosh on raw oysters and novelty cocktails at Harry's Velvet Room, Haggerty presses a ball-point pen into my complimentary lamp-shaped notepad to show me just how to phrase the psychedelic objet d'art's legal name. It is a surprisingly un-groovy concern to have about such a long-time, laid-back fixture, man. But Haggerty--the square!--wants to make sure consumers differentiate between his original lamps and those knock-offs rolling in from China. Counterfeit LAVA®s can't be posing too much of a threat however, as Haggerty's lamps sold more in the retrograde-crazed nineties than in the sixties, seventies and eighties combined. The company--situated at Dickens and Austin--does about a $1 million in sales a week, quite an improvement on those days before 1976, when Haggerty's father bought the company from a man named--dig it--Hy Specter.

Speaking of which, does Haggerty himself ever like to sit back and chill with the lamp, smoke a doob and watch its colored blob do its plasmatic dance? "I've had a couple of pops," he offers, "but I have asthma so I don't smoke anything."

Didn't think so.

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