Saturday, May 26, 2012

Cleveland - Day Two

The Wyndham more than suited our needs for a nice quiet night.  Friday had been really warm and the A/C in the room really cooled things down well.  I heard no noise overnight, either from the street or from other guests.  The room was large, the beds were comfortable and the bathroom was big and clean.

Included breakfast was buffet style with a made to order chef.  Initially I took french toast and scrambled eggs from the buffet but honestly they were awful, as if they'd been out for hours (and it was only 8 a.m. at this point!).  So I asked the chef to make me an omelet and it was wonderful.  After a Starbucks iced coffee and a large glass of OJ, we were on our way to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

It was about a mile walk from the hotel, which would have been fine as Saturday dawned cooler and lower in humidity, but we knew we'd be on our feet for the entire time at the Hall so we opted for a taxi.  Again, everywhere we rode through, we saw next to no one.  Granted it was Saturday morning, but this was a large city.  It wasn't until we reached the Hall that we saw other people, but still not the throngs we expected, and even at mid-day and late afternoon at the Hall, it never got uncomfortably or annoyingly crowded.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is built alongside Lake Erie.  It's entrance and main foyer is a glass pyramid, similar to that at the Louvre, and indeed IM Pei, the artist who designed the pyramid at the Louvre also designed the Rock Hall.  From the outside, I could already see the trabants that were part of the stage design for U2's Zoo TV tour.  As a U2 fan who believes Zoo TV were their best years, I was already getting nostalgic and chomping at the bit to get inside.  I took a ridiculous number of pictures of the trabants (German cars that were retrofitted to be stage lighting for that tour) and the Zoo TV sign itself. 

Beyond the lobby, visitors are not allowed to take photographs, which is probably a good thing because if I'd photographed everything that interested me, I never would have gotten out of there.  The short story is this:  even if I didn't necessarily care for an inductee's music or style, I at least respected their accomplishments and was simply blown away at some of the iconic memorabilia I saw there.  The list is endless, really, because we spent nearly 5 hours being completely consumed by the exhibits.  There were handwritten lyrics (The Beatles, Billy Joel, Sex Pistols), rejection letters, stage costumes, photographs, playbills, handwritten setlists from concerts, original albums, and just about anything that would count as paraphernalia that one can imagine.  Michael Jackson's sequined glove, dresses from The Supremes, BB King's guitar, Angus Young's shorts, James Brown's stage was just all entirely overwhelming for one day.  I keep thinking back to things I saw that all of a sudden pop back into my head.  Overwhelming is all I can come up with.

One part of the exhibit pays tribute to "Legends of Rock" and has entire displays for individual artists or bands.  U2 had it's own gallery here and even I was impressed by what was there, and I'd seen quite a lot in Dublin years ago.  As there are so many inductees though, not every inductee has anything at all on display, and my sister and I were disappointed to have been visiting when REM was not represented at all in any display.

It so happened that my sister and I are true children of the music video era.  We were 11 and 7 when MTV went on the air and grew up in the musical age of MTV.  The Rock Hall had a fabulous 11 minute video documenting the birth and life of MTV, how its viewership grew and attributed the development of music video to four artists:  Madonna, Michael Jackson, Peter Gabriel and Tom Petty.  Initially we both balked at that premise, but soon came to agree with it, when we thought back to all of the landmark videos they all did and how with each one, the envelope was pushed a little further.  It was fun too to relive our past seemingly before our eyes as they flashed bits of videos from hundreds of artists in quick fashion.  It was scary how quickly names of artists, songs and lyric all came back after being hidden away in the corners of our minds for so long.

The Rock Hall has a cafe (I use that term loosely; it was two cash registers and a movie theater type offering) where we grabbed a drink and a cookie for a snack, which we enjoyed out on the balcony overlooking Lake Erie.  The Rock Shop was good sized and had plenty of interesting souvenirs for sale.  We did our best to boost the economy there, believe me.

By the time we were done with the Rock Hall, we only had about 2 hours before we had to leave for the airport, so we made our way back toward our hotel and had a late lunch at, you guessed it, Bricco.  This time we each got a sandwich and the nachos, along with a martini or two.  And again, the entire bill was less than $50.  A bargain.

Our hotel summoned a car for us and we made the quick trip to the airport (about 20 minutes, no traffic of course!).  Check in was quick and we had time for a quick gelato and shopping in the Rock Hall shop at the airport (which had more, different merchandise) before our flight home.  Our 6:00 flight landed in Boston at 7:25 and we were home by 8:45.

A great, relaxing long weekend in a surprisingly sleepy town!

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