I know it’s only Rock n Roll Hall of Fame (But I like it)

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There’s only one rule at Cleveland’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame: there are no rules! The second rule of the rock ‘n’ roll hall of fame: NO PICTURES! Therefore, I have little to nothing for ya when it comes to pics of the collection inside. Rock ‘n’ roll may be a medium of defiance (or at least it was when it began) but at the HOF they are quasi-fascist and somewhat materialistic. And The Sports Bank is kind of like what’s written on Woody Guthrie’s guitar “this machine kills fascists.”

So TSB readers, are you adequately prepared to rock?

By Paul M. Banks

birthplace of rock-n-roll

In case you were wondering why the rock n roll hall of fame is located in Cleveland, it’s because the first official rock concert was held there, promoted by the first disc jockey ever to host a rock show on his radio station in the early 1950s. The plaque above tells the story, and inside you’ll learn all about it in more detail on the second floor.

Believe it or not this is actually the fourth music museum I’ve been to as a tourist in the past 18 months. Not bad for a “sports guy” eh? The other three: Graceland, Sun Studios and the Experience Music Project, all of which I attended with an attractive, but emotionally unstable blonde woman. Sounds like your stereotypical rock star girlfriend/wife/road beef doesn’t it? But that’s what seeing certain artifacts from various musical artists will do to you…remind you of what you were doing in your life, who you were with, where you were etc. when said music was popular.

Like tremendous douchebag Dick Clarke is credited with saying, “music is the soundtrack of your life.” And that’s a semi-retarded tautology, because what the hell else can a soundtrack be other than music? Seriously, it’s mind-numbing, and Clarke is a talentless hack who was in the right place at the right time, but it’s still impossible to tour this hall without thinking about that.

Other Hall of Fame observations/musings from the basement floor, the main exhibition:

-Pearl Jam smashed guitar, and the MTV Rock ‘n’ Jock softball jersey worn by the lead singer of Alice-in-Chains. This is a pretty impressive collection of grunge era memorabilia, but the best collection is obviously in the EMP in Seattle. Unfortunately, for the EMP that’s about all they really have. And it’s not worth going WAY OUT to Seattle for that.

-Lots of Elvis artifacts, and it’s really impressive if…you haven’t been to Graceland. I just wish one of the two museums had at least one of the televisions that Elvis used to shoot. That real life anecdote is HILARIOUS to me. It never gets old!

-The Beatles, the “rich man’s Oasis.” Elvis spawned thousands of impersonators, the Beatles just four (that band named Oasis). I loved seeing Ringo Starr’s birthday card from John Lennon. In my eyes, they are the two Beatles whose legendary quotes have impacted my life the most. The former’s “I’m warning you with peace and love that I HAVE TOO MUCH TO DO!” and the latter’s “life is what happens when you make other plans.”

-Jim Morrison’s Cub Scouts uniform- how unexpected, how “ironical,” no wait it makes perfect sense.

-You knew I’d be all over the hip-hop regalia, including Flavor Flav’s clock, Biggie’s XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXL Raiders jersey and Jay-Z’s Carolina Hurricanes jersey. Yes, black men do wear hockey jerseys.

However, you can’t learn the story of rock ‘n’ roll without learning the story of race in America, just like you can’t understand the story of the NBA without understanding the history of race in this nation. It’s way too complex to get into here, but the story of rock and “pop” music is built around white people flat out stealing black music and “mainstreaming” it. Except you’ll hear it told with with adjectives such as “urban” (code for black) and “rural” (code for white trash). The music of the anti-establishment, of resistance loses its identity when it’s co-opted and corporatized.

Like George Carlin said, “the mainstream is a stream because it’s so shallow.”

But to close on a lighter note, this is by far the best hall of fame when it comes to displaying the inductees. No busts, or plaques, or walls, just a large theater with state of the art sound. A 60 minute film plays on repeat with clips of every class in action. If you don’t get up and dance when the snippet of Earth, Wind and Fire’s “September” plays, you’re simply deceased. It’s just that no one has told you yet.

My main takeaway from the Rock ‘n’ roll Hall of Fame is influences. Without Madonna, you have no Britney Spears. (Feel about that fact as you will). And it’s true across the board in all fields, not just music. Without Joseph Stalin, there is no Saddam Hussein. Without a Dan Bernstein, you wouldn’t have a Paul M. Banks

“If you’re looking for youth, you’re looking for longevity, just take a dose of rock ‘n’ roll. It keeps you going. Just like the caffeine in your coffee. Rock ‘n’ roll is good for the soul, for the well being, for the psyche, for your everything. I love it. I can’t even picture being without rock ‘n’ roll.” –Hank Ballard

“Commercial rock ‘n’ roll music is a brutalization of the stream of contemporary Negro church music an obscene looting of a cultural expression.”  –Ralph Ellison

Written by Paul M. Banks, president and CEO of The Sports Bank.net , a Midwest-focused webzine. He is also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, the Chicago Tribune’s blog network, Walter Football.com, the Washington Times Communities, Yardbarker Network and Fox Sports.com

You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank and @bigtenguru

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