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| January 29, 2003 |
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We Came, We Saw, Our Feet Hurt
OK--first imagine this. You're off to a day at a museum. You approach an imposing angled and jutting glass building-You cross a stone esplanade flanked by the usual plantings, the usual signage, the usual strategically placed stone seating areas. -could be any civic building in any medium size American city. And then, yikes!! Blasting from speakers placed around the plaza is...wait, could it be? Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrell singing "Ain't No Mountain High Enough?!" Talk about your cognitive dissonance. You have arrived at the Rock and Roll Museum and Hall of Fame. The second clue that this isn't your mother's museum outing may be the crowd--everyone looks like someone you might have gone to college with. Everyone is in jeans. Some have brought their children to make the pilgrimage. Right from the door, we expected great things. Perhaps our expectations were too high.
At first glance, I.M. Pei's building is impressive. From the lobby, it soars through five stories of glass, steel, cantilevered escalators, and views of Lake Erie and Cleveland's less-than-inspiring skyline. The entrance level generates excitement. This is gonna be big fun--a whole museum dedicated to rock and roll. It's a wonder that the place exists at all. The first exhibit, however, is in what can only be called the basement. From a central open area, the crowd is funneled through dark tunnel-like hallways flanked with hanging exhibits in no particular order. Each mini-exhibit is behind glass and mixes silly mannequin figures with genuinely interesting stuff like guitars, original sheet music, play lists. The combo platter of the sublime and ridiculous has some high points--Bo Diddly's homemade box guitar, John Lennon's school report card, the Rolling Stones food and drink order on tour, songs later to become hits scrawled on scraps of paper, for instance. We do hope that the collection of Michael Jackson mannequins as he slowly turned into Diana Ross was there more for comic relief.
Don't get us wrong--if this had been the hors d'oeuvre tray, it would've been an excellent overview. We searched in vain and through five floors for the main course. There wasn't one. There were excellent photographs of performers, interesting videos of Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, some kind of interesting album art, a radio studio broadcasting live, and not much else. Granted, we were there while several sections of the museum were closed while they install their very first in-depth temporary exhibit, a look at the 60's Psychedelic Years. Optimisitc fans can only hope there will be many more in-depth exhibits to come.
The Hall of Fame itself is on the sixth floor, which is reached by climbing a spiral staircase into a dark rotunda. A dark hushed rotunda. Built into the walls are monitors showing still photographs and signatures of the inductees, along with brief quotes about them. Period. No artifacts, no audio, no video. In fact, it looked more like a memorial to dead minor politicians than a celebration of that most subversive of musical forms. One has to wonder,"What were they thinking?!"
In fact, the whole museum leads to that question. It seems the curatorial philosophy of the place is to treat rock and roll as a serious museum subject, no different than, say, the postage stamp museum. It could work if there were in-depth exhibits, room to roam, some sort of chronology, and the chance to learn something one didn't actually know before. Part of the problem for those of us of a certain age is that we remember this stuff--we're too close to it. There isn't enough scholarship to teach us something new or enough fun to make it a giant group flashback. It would be interesting to hear reactions from people who somehow either slept through the last three decades or are too young to remember them.
If you're planning a pilgrimage despite our lukewarm review, be sure to check out the museum's web site .
In fact, if you're not planning a pilgrimage, go to the web site anyway--in many ways it's easier to navigate and more comprehensive than the museum itself.
Posted on January 29, 2003 1:10 PM
really feel for you. Really I do. My dear brother was K.I.A. in Vietnam 40 years ago!! Our mother never really got over loosing her first born. She did loved him so, and still does. He was my big brother, and I still feel him watching over me. But damn-it...that's not good enough!! I want Harold here, NOW with us!!!
When my Godson got married this fall, we were all sitting with our fingers crossed and prayers on our lips that he, would not be called. Thank God he wasn't. But I know that many were...I prayed for all those nameless faces also. One side of my family 'lucked' out, and was not called. The other side sent four young men. Again, thank God they came home seemingly unharmed. But what if something sets them off in 10 or 20 years?
I have always maintained that the leaders of the two countries that are at odds, should be locked in a padded room. Let them work it out, or let the best one win!!! This form of reasoning may very well have it's place. If they think that they may very well loose the fight so to speak, I don't think that they will be so fast to come out shooting!
Please, my prayers and good wishes I send to your sons, and to the many thousands of other unknowns. And yes, there is an Iranian family that lost their sons, or whole families! I pray for them also. Bin Laden involved another country (Afganistan)in his EVIL war. The Afganiaistans didn't kick him out or imprison him. Now they have paid for it. But they are mothers and fathers and siblings. They love them as we love ours. That should never be taken away from them.
Peace and blessings for your sons and for all others.
In Gods Name;
Posted by: Trudi on June 24, 2003 1:14 PM
You may be interested to know that Bo Diddley, one of the founding fathers of rock & roll and the popularizer of the world-famous "Bo Diddley beat", has just launched his new website and online store. The site, which with typical idiosyncrasy he has named "Bo Bo Diddley's Turnup Root", is located at http://www.turnup-root.com/
Posted by: David Blakey on July 11, 2003 5:18 AM
Vote for your favorite deserving but overlooked artists into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at:
The top 20 vote-getters at this point are:
Posted by: Garrett on August 23, 2005 12:54 PM
1. Joan Jett
3. Van Halen
4. Black Sabbath
5. Doobie Brothers
6. Lynyrd Skynyrd
7. Dire Straits
8. Def Leppard
9. Yes (3.37)
10. Peter Gabriel (solo)
14. Deep Purple
16. Alice Cooper
17. John Mellencamp
18. Pete Townshend (solo)
19. Duran Duran
20. Pat Benatar
Why is it that a band from the late 60's, massive albums and cd's, three the past year and a half, have been overlooked. Poco deserves to be "Inducted into the Hall of Fame".
Posted by: Geoff Kersey on October 5, 2005 5:52 PM
www.poconut.com has a petition page. Do these guys a favor, publish their story.
Hey--I loved Poco. Still listen to some of their stuff. By gum, I think we should do a story on them. Adding to the list.
Posted by: jan on October 6, 2005 7:17 PM
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