A Surf Report Road Trip to Cleveland — Part 2

On Monday I told you about Day One of our big Cleveland adventure, and today I’m going to briefly describe Day Two, otherwise known as Thursday.  Confusing, huh?  Let’s get started.

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame

Steve doesn’t drink coffee, so he doesn’t understand the urgency of an addict.  We ended up at a sad cafe, inside an office building with very little activity, about two hours after we got up.  My brain was screaming: “What the fuck??  Where’s the caffeine?”  A two-hour lag can flat-out destroy a man.

But I finally had a mug in my hand, and was standing in front of a self-serve tankard.  And it spit out about a third of a cup, and started fizzing and popping.

“Um, do you have any more coffee here?” I asked Nell Carter, who was wiping things down with a rag nearby.

She looked at her watch, and said, “No, I didn’t make more, because we’re prepping for lunch.”

Grrr…  They were friendly there, and had gone overboard in making us feel welcome.  In fact, there was a whiff of desperation in the air.  I got the sense this was a brand new business proposition — and Steve and I were the only people in the house.  Also, there was nobody in the halls.  I don’t know what kind of building we were in, but it wasn’t exactly a beehive of activity.

So, I didn’t want to give them a hard time, but this coffee situation was unacceptable.  I needed about three large cups, stat.

“Want me to make some more?” Nell asked, doubtfully.

“I’d really appreciate it,” I said, doing my best impression of a kind and well-adjusted human being.  It was 10 am.  There should be coffee on-hand!  What in the pearl-handled hell??

After we had our mediocre breakfasts, and I was reasonably caffeinated, we paid the bill and were getting ready to head over to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.  But before we could reach the door, the owner (I presume) came rushing out and gave us brochures about their catering service.

“Thanks, but we live in Pennsylvania,” one of us told him.

“Well, you never know!  If you ever find yourself in need of catering service in Cleveland, I’m your man.”

So, we have that covered, at least.

At the Rock Hall, I started snapping photos, and within a few short minutes some asshole told me to put my camera away.  “Put it in your pocket,” he ordered, a bit aggressively.  Ohh… this wasn’t starting well.  I didn’t care for this prick’s attitude, t’all.

Here’s what I got, before I was cut-off by Paul Blart.

Admission was $22, and we saw all of it in about two hours.  It was pretty much what I expected.  I felt like it could’ve been a little better, but it wasn’t bad.  There was a tight focus on guitars and clothes…  So, if you’re into guitars and clothes, it’s definitely your place.

Every once in a while I did see something that was extra cool, though.  A bunch of drawings that Jimi Hendrix did during high school, for instance.  It was standard art class stuff, not very good.  It managed to humanize the guy, more than just five of his guitars behind glass could ever accomplish.

And they had Westerberg’s original handwritten lyrics to “Here Comes a Regular,” which caused a stirring in my loins.  Plus, John Lennon’s leather jacket, purchased in 1960 and worn extensively during the Beatles’ Hamburg days, felt like a genuine religious artifact.

But those moments were too few, I think.  I enjoyed my visit to the Rock Hall, but felt a bit — just a bit — disappointed.  A shitload of guitars and stage costumes make up the bulk of the displays.  There was a lot of repetition.  The Baseball Hall of Fame does a better job of offering those little humanizing moments.  Oh well.

Also, I saw almost nothing about Bob Dylan(?!), the Kinks, REM, and a few other artists of that caliber.  However, they had a large display case dedicated to Todd Rundgren.  WTF?  Nothing against Todd, of course.  I like him, but he hasn’t had the same impact as Bob freakin’ Dylan.  Seriously.

The biggest displays were dedicated to Elvis, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Jimi Hendrix.  And upstairs, on the top two floors:  the Grateful Dead.  The Dead memorial, however, is temporary.  I think they change it periodically, like once a year or so.

I’d like to take my kids to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame someday, and maybe spend a little more time looking around.  And then I can probably wash my hands of it.  One more time will be enough.  Yet, I return to Cooperstown, again and again.  I sound like a snob, I know, but I felt like there was some tiny (but important) thing missing.

A Christmas Story House

This wasn’t on the original agenda.  But one of us mentioned it during our drive across Pennsylvania, and by Thursday morning we’d decided to go.  I like A Christmas Story, Steve LOVES it, and I’m a big fan of Jean Shepherd, who co-wrote and narrated the film.

So, after we left the Hall of Fame, I plugged the address into the GPS, and we took off.  And drove into the heart of a bad neighborhood…  Here are a few pictures I snapped.  Ralphie’s house is surrounded by shitty dumps.

But check this out.  Pretty cool, huh?

Across the street is a gift shop and a museum.  We bought tickets for the next tour of the house, which was supposed to start in 20 minutes.  And Steve bought the biggest leg lamp they offered.  The thing is huge!  The same size as the one from the movie.  I bought a postcard, for a dollar.

Inside the museum they had a small display dedicated to Jean Shepherd, which I appreciated.  The movie is semi-autobiographical, about his childhood in Indiana.  He was a genius humorist who doesn’t get enough credit.  So, at least they gave him a little bit of attention there.  I was gonna be pissed if they didn’t honor the man.

The tour started a few minutes late, but the woman gave an interesting talk about the making of the movie — and why they chose to film in Cleveland (and Canada).  She said she worked alongside Jean Shepherd many years ago, at a Worlds Fair.  I was intrigued by this fact, and tried to get more info, after the fact.  But it turned out to be a conversational cul-de-sac, and I learned nothing new.  She didn’t seem too interested in chatting.

Here are some pictures I took inside the house.  For some reason I didn’t get any of the living room.  But you can probably get a feel of the place.  It’s authentic, and well-done.  I’m glad we decided to go.

The drive home

We nearly had three (three!) wrecks, because of people changing lanes without looking.  What the hell, man?  One of them was way too close for comfort, and I think my anus might have turned inside-out.  It was scary.

And we saw some young girl, in her teens I’d say, almost get MASHED by a tractor trailer.  She had to go way into the median to avoid a catastrophic accident.  Then she flipped the driver off, with a sustained finger and horn blast.

It was mayhem out there — much worse than normal. And I was in the passenger seat, with no control whatsoever.

We also listened to the late, great Robert Schimmel while driving, and had lunch at Cracker Barrel.  Mmmm…. chicken and dumplings.  I wish I had a big platter of the stuff, right now.

And I need to go now, so I’m gonna stop right here.

For a question, I’d like to know what kinds of displays you’d like to see at the Rock Hall.  You know, to spice things up?  Maybe David Crosby’s original liver in a jar?  That kind of thing?  Please tell us your ideas in the comments section below.

And I’ll see you guys again soon.

Have a great day!

Now playing in the bunker
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So, who is this guy?

Thanks for stopping by! My name is Jeff Kay, I was born while JFK was president, and it's all very embarrassing and corny. Today I'm a suburban husband and father, who is sometimes accused of being a bit tightly-wound. The West Virginia Surf Report! is my creative outlet, and insurance policy against completely losing my shit. I hope you'll stick around and participate in the lively community of geniuses and curmudgeons who hang out here every day. I love a full 87% of them! And while you're at it, please follow me at Twitter and Facebook.

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