Thursday, July 07, 2011

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Long time, no write!

I've been running around like a madwoman, but things are finally getting back to normal (for a little while, at least... the summer is always crazy-busy -- why is that?). This past holiday weekend was spent NOT going to the Taste of Chicago with my visiting friend Nerdy P. It was just too hot out, and we weren't feelin' it. It sounds like we weren't the only ones: 2011 marked a 25-year low (2.35 million food-lovers) in Taste attendance, and now its future is a little bit up in the air. Yikes!

But rest assured that we did continue our annual tradition of enjoying the Sea Dog speedboat ride that leaves from Navy Pier and zooms up and down the coast of Lake Michigan. I think Nerdy P's son liked it. Would you agree?

OK, now on to the real subject of this post! The weekend before last (as in, the final weekend of June), my husband and I drove from Chicago to Pittsburgh for a charity event, and on the way we stopped in Cleveland to check out the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. When we moved back from Boston in 2003, my poor husband drove a huge truck halfway across the country with all our crap in it (while I flew home) and attempted to visit the HoF then... but it was closed. I still remember how annoyed and disappointed he was. And so I was a little bit nervous about this place living up to his expectations.

The good news is that we both really liked it. We spent about five hours there and could've stayed a lot longer, but needed to get back on the road. The first thing we did was watch an hour-and-fifteen-minute-long presentation that covered all of the 296 inductees since the museum opened in 1986. But somehow we missed the big wall with everyone's signatures?!? D'oh.

I had figured that the majority of the building would be filled with rock memorabilia and outfits and props and whatnot, but in addition to all of that stuff, there were a ton of interactive exhibits and films and video clips. Much more than would be present in a "normal" museum. The one I found most interesting featured The Beatles (no surprise), as well as some members of their production team, talking about each of their albums and what they liked and didn't like about it.

Speaking of The Beatles, you may have heard that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame boasts the world's largest collection of items from The Fab Four. So I was kind of expecting A LOT of Beatles stuff... but it was really just one wall of about 70 things -- from jackets, to John's glasses, to handwritten lyric sheets, to Ringo's drum head. Don't get me wrong, it was cool and I loved it, but I guess I'd envisioned some huge room or display space that would take an hour to get through. When I started thinking about it, though, I realized that I can't recall ever having seen any authentic "Beatles stuff," so maybe it's just so spread out all over the globe that it simply doesn't take as much as I would've guessed to be considered "the world's largest collection."

One thing I found kind of funny was that in the special "Women Who Rock" exhibit, there was security guard dedicated to watching over Lady Gaga's infamous "meat dress." Which, by the way, absolutely (obviously) had something done to it to preserve it... but unfortunately it was to the point that it didn't really even look like meat anymore, but rather just a weirdly textured spray-painted-red, plaster-filled dress. On top of that, it was in a fully enclosed glass case. So I thought to myself, "They have a security guard for this, yet no one dedicated to, say, Michael Jackson's sequined glove or Elvis's jumpsuit or any of the other awesome items in the building?" Weird. Maybe Gaga made having a guard a condition of loaning out the dress. Who knows.

I would've included pictures of all the neat stuff that was there, except that -- as in many museums -- you weren't allowed to take any photos. The restriction was lifted in the atrium, though, which was where I snapped the Moby/Gwen props to the right, which were used in Gwen Stefani's Southside video (you can see them here from the 43-second mark on).

One last highlight that's worth mentioning before I wrap up: A wall dedicated to Rolling Stone magazine and its co-founder Jann Wenner. This display has tons of letters that famous rock stars sent to Wenner (as well as his replies), and there are also fascinating correspondences between Wenner and photographer Annie Leibovitz, as well as journalist/author Hunter S. Thompson (who wrote for the magazine in the early '70s).

When I was preparing to write this post and wanted to make sure I was getting my facts straight, I came across this section in Wenner's Wikipedia entry about how he's supposedly kept a lot of groups from being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame... groups including my beloved Monkees! Damn that snob!

Despite that "who gets inducted" controversy, I would still highly recommend a visit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame should you ever find yourself in Cleveland. Musicians (like my husband) will probably appreciate all the museum has to offer a little more than plain old music-lovers like myself, but I can't imagine anyone who wouldn't find most of the major exhibits worth seeing.

Rock on,
- e


KarinSimmons said...

We were just there last week!! My husband and I took my daughter and nieces (all around 15-17 yo). I was kind of worried that they may not enjoy it. Luckily there was some familiar names in with the obscure (at least to them). I also enjoyed seeing the Beatles stuff. We didn't spend nearly the time you did there...we didn't watch the HOF inductee movie. Also, we did not see any "wall of fame" or anything. IS there something there like that? We realized that after we left. I was disappointed that we couldn't take pictures. Still don't really understand why.

I agree with you on Lady Gaga's looked like just paint on a mannequin. I was kind of laughing at the security guard too because my husband was actually carrying his big camera because we didn't know about the picture thing (he received a band thing to put around it saying he promised not to take pictures) and I swear the guard was following him to make sure he didn't take a picture!

Erika (aka "e") said...

Karin -

Wow, what are the odds that you were just there, too?

Apparently the wall of signatures is somewhere right by the inductee-movie theater. They need to make it more obvious!

I'm glad you guys and your daughter and nieces enjoyed the overall experience too.

- e

Caity said...

As a born-and-bred Pittsburgher, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a blog post or two about your escapades in the Steel City. Hopefully you ate well while you were here!

Sherylm said...

When I first looked at your post, I thought:' Wow, a mini Louvre museum in the US'...and then I saw how the architect was and understood why.

Sounds like you had a great time. I had read about the Lady Gaga meat dress being displayed there and wondered how they did it...

Julie said...

Hi e - dammit, I wish I'd known you were coming to Pittsburgh, I could have put you up in my B&B (Briarwood Manor). If you come back please let me know - I'd be happy to comp you and the Mr. a room.

Hope you had a good time in Pittsburgh - it's a great little city. :) Julie