On their website and their promotional material, the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame suggests that you’ll spend three to four hours on an average visit. That’s a bit of an understatement.
Mind you, I can see how someone who’s not a music fan–or someone who only likes modern music, for that matter–could zip through all six floors in a couple hours. But after seven hours, I hadn’t left the main floor basement. I’m not the type who reads everything about every exhibit at a museum. Not normally, anyways. But this museum was different.
From ZZ Top’s Eliminatormobile to Janis Joplin’s psychedlic Porsche, and artifacts spanning from Hank Williams Sr. to Marilyn Manson, there’s lots to see at the Hall. As expected, some legendary acts–Elvis, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors–have their own wings, while others are divided into regional scenes (Motown, San Fran, Seattle, et al). It was great to stare at the original psychedelic posters from gigs at Filmore’s in the late 60’s, proof that today’s “stoner rock” artists are pale imitators. And some of those outfits, man… Jimi Hendrix sure was a flashy dresser! (And not a bad artist, either. A bunch of his high-school notebook sketches were also on display…)
But while a picture’s worth a thousand words, cameras aren’t allowed at the HOF, where staffers roam the aisles to make sure that guests obey the rules. (Personally, I’d rather write a thousand words than take a picture, so I don’t have any photos of my trip.) And there were plenty of words to be read, from fan mail to Elvis to hate mail sent to the Stones (from the island of Fiji, no less!) to a letter from Malcolm McLaren to Johnny Thunders, asking him to move to England and join the nascent Sex Pistols. Also, it was interesting to read label-issued bios and early concert reviews of artists like Hendrix and The Ramones, even though I had to press my face up against the glass to do so.
Having spent so long on the main floor, I breezed through the remaining levels, which were dedicated to Les Paul, Alan Freed and (temporarily, I’m assured) Bruce Springsteen. The place closes at 5:30 every day except Wednesdays, otherwise I easily would’ve spent a couple more hours there. Did I mention that I arrived shortly after 10 am?
Had I stayed longer, I would’ve seriously cut into my drinking time. Aside from Peabody’s, downtown Cleveland doesn’t offer much in the way of bars (or anything period, cept for empty storefronts) until you get close to Quicken Loans Arena, where sports-themed taverns start springing up left and right. Although I’m not Irish, I headed to a massive Irish pub called Flannery’s that was within stumbling distance of the stadium. The place had a whole buncha British beers on tap, along with imported Labatt’s. Their 10-dollar steak sandwich had lettuce and tomato on it, which was kinda weird, cuz everybody knows that a steak sandwich isn’t made to be eaten like a sandwich. Anyways, the place was pretty decent, but in hindsight I kinda wish I had gone to the joint that served buffalo ribs and bison burgers instead. Bison is some heavy shit!
Quicken Loans itself is a sparkling, modern arena–not unlike the ACC, except with more reasonable beer prices. That being said, getting a beer there can be tricky if you’re a Canadian citizen. I wasn’t ID’ed at Flannery’s or by the beer vendor who stopped by my seat, but when I got up between periods of an AHL clash between the Toronto Marlies and the Lake Erie Monsters, I was given the royal runaround at the concession stands.
If you’re like me, you’d probably think a concession stand that only serves nachos and beer is the greatest invention since the ‘head shop. Lemme tell ya, there was a large plastic trey of tricolour chips with chicken, beans, jalapenos and cheese with my name on it! But when I asked for a beverage, they asked for ID. So I showed ’em my passport. They told me they wouldn’t accept it, and I had to go over to “the bar,” which was thattaway. So I went to a stand that only served alcohol. They said they wouldn’t accept my passport, and I had to go to “the other bar,” which happened to be next to my section. They didn’t like my CDN ID either, so I finally said “Okay, here’s my driver’s license. You probably couldn’t find Alberta if I gave ya 20 minutes and a map of North America, but it is valid identification in that province.”
I finally got my Labatt’s. Oh, and the home team won, 6-3.
P.S.: As Vancouver 2010 gets underway, Smokin’ Green is proud to present the Stoner Olympics, with heavy-rockin’ tuneage from Sweden, Finland, Germany, Greece, Belgium, Japan and Argentina! Be sure to tune in at 1 am at 88.1 fm on yer radio, channel 947 on yer TV or www.ckln.fm on yer computer!