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September 21, 1995 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 1995-09-21

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48-The Michigan Daily - We4eA.+ e4. - Thursday, September 21, 1995

Rock and roll is dead, spirit of music lives on in wax mannequins
Cleveland museum is a Hard Rock Cafe minus the caf6.MEMEME

By Brian A. Gnatt
Daily Music Editor
Welcome to the Rock and Roll Hall
of Fame and Museum. A sort of Hard
Rock Cafe without the cafe. A museum
with the feel of the Smithsonian, but a
place where the majority of the exhib-
its' subjects are still living. A place
where rock'n'roll will be preserved for-
ever, and a place where even my grand-
mother could learn about Alice Cooper
and Alice In Chains without being of-
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and
Museum chronicles rockmusic the way
Disney World's Epcot Centerchronicles
the world. It shows the wholesome parts
of the devil's music like that of Epcot's
Europe. You wouldn't find a bloody
civil war in Disney's little Yugoslavia,
and you won't find Kurt Cobain's heroin
needles in the Seattle exhibit. While
both are important influences that would
probably describe each exhibit more
accurately than anything else, they are
both omitted because of the utopia im-
age that's trying to be created by the
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a
cleaned up version of the rowdiest as-
pect of American culture. Instead of the
typical sex and drugs that go hand in
hand with rock'n'roll, the museum has
chosen to include more positive ar-
ticles. Instead of being able to view the
knife Sid Vicious used to kill his girl-
friend Nancy Spungen, the museum
displays Jim Morrison's Cub Scout
uniform and his elementary school re-
port card (with "excellent" marked

across the board).
The museum does have a varied col-
lection of memorable memorabilia.
From Janis Joplin's 1965 356 Cabriolet
Porsche, to pieces of Otis Redding's
crashed plane and Alice Cooper's guil-
lotine, the museum has been able to
establish a pretty thorough collection
of artifacts from rock history.
Take a walk into the amazingly beau-
tiful $92 million mirrored glass and
white cement building designed by
world renowned architect I.M. Pei (who
had to be convinced that rock'n'roll
was worth such a museum before agree-
ing to design it), pay the $10.90 admis-
sion fee, and you can look at the manne-
quins of Axl Rose, Bono, the B-52's,
Little Richard and David Bowie all
standing around chilling together. You
can look at slides of the Beatles, Sex
Pistols, Devo, Hole and Cinderella all
mixed together, and hear John Lennon's
"Imagine," Nirvana's "All Apologies,"
and the Breeders' "Cannonball" inter-
twined with each other. It's a party for
all ages.
While many of the museums' exhib-
its are mixed in with one another, a
chunk of them are organized by differ-
ent scenes and different time periods,
including Memphis during the heyday
ofSun Records, Detroit during Motown,
San Francisco's psychedelic scene, New
York and London's punk rock, New
York rap in the '80s, and Seattle from
With mostly lifeless looking manne-
quins (the weakest aspect of the mu-
seum), the exhibits show some of the

key figures of each day, like James
Brown in the Rhythm & Blues and Soul
display, the Temptations in Detroit, and
Grace Slick in the San Francisco ex-
hibit. The cases, which resemble those
used in the Smithsonian's Museum of
Natural History, include posters,
records, and clothes and other unique
artifacts from featured artists in each

ploring the vast amount of interesting
information contained on the discs.
The Seattle exhibit is quite strange,
paying homage to more recent bands
like Mudhoney, Tad, Soundgarden,
Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Featuring the
claymation figures from Alice In
Chains' "I Stay Away" video, and
Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell's
school picture from 1969 and one of his
1979 Gibson Les Paul Customs, the
exhibit is the most recent piece of his-
tory on display.
Other artists with their own exhibits
include Parliament Funkadelic, Michael
Jackson, John Lennon, ZZ Top, The
Who, Madonna and more. The Rolling
Stones donated an obscene amount of
memorabilia and were probably the
most prevalent artists in the museum.
More influential bands like the Beatles
and Led Zeppelin were
underrepresented because of the lack of
donations by the performers. Jerry
Garcia and Bob Dylan also choose not
to contribute from their personal col-
lections,but were still represented some-
Surprisingly, the '80s were almost
non-existent, and the museum's cover-
age of the decade was disappointing.
Besides the New York rap exhibit
(which featured agiant Fat Boys leather
outfit big enough to use as a spare tire
on a tractor trailer) and a brief MTV
exhibit, there was a large piece of mu-
sical history missing between the disco
and grunge eras.
Along with the physical exhibits and
CD-ROMs, the museum has numerous
short movies chroniclingrock'n'roll and
its major players. The movies are inter-
esting and include anything from rare
video clips to well overplayed MTV
The top floor of the building is the
actual Hall of Fame, a pitch black room
with the names and signatures of the
inductees etched and lit in glass, with
miniature liquid crystal television
screens showing pictures of the artists.
And for those of you who are so in-
spired by the magic of rock'n'roll and
want to buy aCD right away, the British
HMV Record Chain has a store right in
the museum. A bit overpriced ($19.99
for Pearl Jam's "Vs."), the store also
serves as the souvenir shop for the mu-
seum with T-shirts, key chains, and the
usual expensive souvenir merchandise.

While overwhelming at times, the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Mu-
seum is definitely a trip into the his-
tory of rock'n'roll, even without all
the sex and drugs that make rock'n'roll
what it is. Its very extensive collec-
tion of memorabilia will help to pre-
serve the music, but the place lacks
attitude. Search through the CD-
ROMs, and you may just find some
little hidden dirt or information that
didn't make the main exhibits, like a
video clip from the Sex Pistols' ex-
vocalist. John Lydon. When asked.

"What is rock'n'roll," Lydon re-
sponded, "Vast amounts of cash paid
to completely talentless assholes."
Whilerock'n'roll isn't dead, the Rock
and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
seems like an end to the music it set out
to glorify. The museum is just that - a
museum. Its look-but-don't-touch men-
tality makes it a bit less intriguing, but
still enjoyable. But if you want real
rock, try going to a club and checking
out what rock'n'roll is still about. "Vast
amounts of cash paid to completely
talentless assholes."

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Alice Cooper's exhibit gets gruesome.
Somewhat surprisingly, the museum
has a very extensive punk collection,
with Sid Vicious, Patti Smith and
Deborah Harry mannequins, a Joey
Ramone black leather jacket, and the
telegram sent to New York asking for
the return of Sid Vicious' body signed
Malcolm, Steve and Paul. The exhibit
also has various artifacts from other
acts, including a poster from the Sex
Pistols' Anarchy in the U.K. tour, fea-
turing the somewhat impressive line-
up of the Pistols, the Damned, Johnny
Thunders & the Heartbreakers with spe-
cial guests the Clash.
The museum also blatantly states in
an exhibit that "Iggy Pop is the godfa-
ther of punk" and features extensive
information on Pop, the MC5, and other
influential acts on various outstanding
CD-ROM stations around the complex.
With biographies, video interviews and
also the "500 Songs That Shaped
Rock'N'Roll" CD-ROMs, the muse-
ums' educational approach to
rock'n'roll shines through, and avisitor
could easily spend countless hours ex-

Continued from page 1
Speaking ofmore visible forms offame,
what does our not-so-mild-mannered re-
porter think of today's music (having
been fairly close to the birth of modem
"A lot ofit to me sounds regurgitated,"
he says. "I listened to Nirvana unplugged
and ... thought they should plug back in.
"I listened to R.E.M's "Shiny Happy
People," and it just sounds to me like a
Monkee's tune, a little bit of Led Zepplin
plus Blue Cheer. It begins to sound de-
rivative, I think."
He was a Rolling Stones fan back in the
late '60's. Moby Grape, Velvet Under-
ground and the "usual stuff from 1968"
floated his boat back then.
Of Jerry Garcia's recent death he said:
"It makes me real glad I didn't put on a
whole bunch of weight and take heroin-
I think those were two major, excellent
lifestyle choices. I mean, God, that dumb
fuck! What was going on with him? He
didn't have enough money, didn't have
enough fame? The guy had everything
going for him in life and what does he do
with it?"
On anotheraginghipster, the President
of the United States, P.J. asks me the
questions. "Is he a liar or is he a fool? I
can'tmake upmy mind... probably both."
So he inhaled, then?
"I can imagine him not inhaling. I can
imagine him sitting in a room, thinking
'Boy, I don't want to say no to this, or
everyone will think I'm a narc, but if I
inhale it might wreck my political career
later,' y'know?
"The guy is so ... self-admiring and
self-involved, so selfish, that you can
actually picture him getting into that. I
remember exactly that type of person
from the '60's and they were geeks then
and they're geeks now."
Not exactly showing respect for our
chief executive, but then again it's doing
exactly that which brings home the bacon

for Mr O'Rourke.
This brings him to the current crop of
Republican aspirants to Bill Clinton's
pad on Pennsylvania Ave., of which his
favorite is Sen. Phil Gramm.
"He's certainly not catching fire with
the public as well I might hope," he
admits, but puts this down to the fact that
the Republicans have a harder platform to
"Conservatism is a much harder thing
to sell than liberalism, because liberalism
just sounds so good. 'Oh, we're going to
help the poor... we'll give more money to
children,"' he intones in a sing-song way,
"whereas conservatives say, 'Look, this
shit doesn't work, we don't exactly know
what does work, life is very complicated,
the government can't do everything. Vote
for us, we'll do less for you.'
"It's a much tougher sell, and so you
have to be a very good salesman."
He doesn't think much of the chances
of any third-party candidate innext year's
presidential election, and is particularly
sour on Ross Perot He said, "Perot is a
spent force, I hope anyway. It became
clear that he had been abducted by aliens
and that's that."
As forthe great unknown political com-
modityknownasColin Powell,O'Rourke
believes that if Powell runs at all, he'll go
Republican "because that's a guy who
likes to win, and basically a third-party
candidate's a spoiler."
So who's the next President of the
United States, from 13 months away?
"I suppose, if it was just a matter of
betting, that I'dpick Dole, but I'll tell you,
it would be close odds with Clinton:
Clinton is very very good at campaign-
ing. That's really the only thing he is good
at," O'Rourke said.
So should we look for P.J. out on the
town tonight?
"I can't!" he said emphatically. "I'in
48 and ... what I've got to do is go home
and go to bed!"
Anyone who's read his work knows
he's lying.

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