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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49 Responses to “A Surf Report Road Trip to Cleveland — Part 2”

  1. The top display does change.

    When I was there, it was all about Elvis. They even had the TV he shot.

    Was Janis Joplin’s car still there?

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  2. Jeff — did you see Jeff Magnum’s (Dead Boys) bass in the Hall of fame? They just put it in there….

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  3. I’d like to see a case full of drug paraphenalia that belonged to Iggy Pop and James Williamson…though it sounds like Iggy pretty much mooched drugs off of people, so I doubt that he had a clean set of works that he carried around.

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    Tipsey McChugney Reply:

    I was thinking along the same lines, with spikes from Dee Dee Ramone, Stiv Bators, and Johnny Thunders filling up a few display cases. Perhaps some of these same rigs might have found their way into Iggy’s veins as well.

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    Rat Bastard Reply:

    Most likely they did. Great minds…

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  4. They have never allowed photos to be taken there. I don’t know if it is a security issue, or a money making issue.

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    Alex Reply:

    Money making. They claim it is becuase the “artists” don’t want their shit photographed.

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  5. I would like to see on display at the R&RHOF-

    1) Stevie Wonder’s driver’s license
    2) Mama Cass’s fully stocked fridge
    3) A tanker truck full of the blood that was replaced from Keith Richards’ body to help him and Mick kick the big H.
    4) Ozzie’s actual brain (or what’s left of it)
    5) Janis Joplin’s armpit hair
    6) A cut-out section of Bon Scott’s lung
    7) John Denver’s teeth (and affixed windshield)
    8) Buddy Holly, RIchie Valens and the Big Bopper (all fused together as one)
    9) Rick Savage’s severed arm
    10) Elvis’s massive turd that caused his heart attack

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    Rick Reply:

    Rick Savage might object to you severing his arm to display it in the museum. Rick Allen, on the other hand (pun intended)…

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    Bill in WV Reply:

    Either/or, they’re from the same band. I’m sure Savage would give an arm or a leg for Rick Allen.

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    WB in OH Reply:

    I would pay $22 to see the massive turd that killed Elvis.

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    madz1962 Reply:

    I’d throw in an extra $10 if it included a ruptured intestine!

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    bikerchick Reply:

    And a light snack of peanut butter and banana sammiches.

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    Root 66 Reply:

    Isn’t that at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia?

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    WB in OH Reply:

    After a quick google search it looks like they have a 40 pound turd on display but whether it killed Elvis, wasn’t clear.

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    Bill in WV Reply:

    Well, actually the 40 lb turd would have left The King’s body, had he still been alive to see his daughter marry Michael Jackson.

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  6. Great pictures! I would have wept if I saw “A Christmas Story” house because I love that old stuff. I’m a nostalgic fool!

    That being said, at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, I’d love to see some of the artists favorite childhood toys or games. It would be knda cool. Did Ringo have a set of lawn darts? Did Janis like Barbie dolls? Was Mick a Tiddly WInk kinda guy?

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    Bill in WV Reply:

    I hear Pete Townsend like the “Ken” doll VERY MUCH!

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    bikerchick Reply:

    LMAO!!

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    madz1962 Reply:

    HA! And here I thought he may have liked “GI Joe – with the Kung Fu Grip!”

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  7. I’d like to see a uesd Keith Richards needle.

    And Bob Dylan did try and donate some of his used clothes but they had to burn them due to an EPA regulation dealing with public areas.

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  8. The only thing I remember from the R&R Hall of Fame was a guitar built out of car parts made for ZZ Top. And a WW II submarine on the nearby lakefront. Wish it had been open for tours at the time.

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  9. Loved the bunny suit thrown casually on the bed. Nice touch!

    Missing at the RARHOF:
    The contents of Rod Stewart’s stomach.
    Roach clips from the Dead.
    Unused condoms belonging to Freddie Mercury.
    Johnny Cash’ ring of fire.
    The candles in the wind belonging to Elton John.

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    madz1962 Reply:

    Freddie Mercury’s giant toothbrush.

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    dto Reply:

    Stevie Nicks hair fan.

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    Bill in WV Reply:

    I always thought she just sang through a fan when recording an album. Ever heard her version of “Silent Night”? Sounds like a herd of sheep getting sodomized.

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  10. The bat that Ozzy bit the head off of might make for an interesting display…or maybe Michael Jackson’s nose.
    Sounds like the “Christmas Story” house was the clear winner on this trip. Many people I know have been there and jsut love it.
    At least you got to enjoy some good ‘ol Buckeye hospitality from “Nell” and “Paul!”
    What kind of accent do Ohioans have? I want to know what we sound like to everyone else!

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    madz1962 Reply:

    “Nell Carter” reference made me LOL!

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    Root 66 Reply:

    We have a few in our cafeteria downstairs, too…eating all the profits!

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    chill Reply:

    Many years ago I had a project in Findlay, Ohio. I was baffled when my point of contact asked, “You want a pop?” The other things that struck me about the place was a) no black people and b) no foreign cars.
    .

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    Root 66 Reply:

    Yes–much to my own chagrin, it was years before I realized people called that stuff “soda!”

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  11. When I went to the Hall of Fame a couple years back I thought it was overall boring save for a handful of items, and was incredibly disappointed. Which was a shame because I had really high expectations for it. Like Jeff said, it was mostly guitars and costumes – and most of the costumes were torn / wrinkled / arranged completely haphazardly. I’ve seen yard sales that were better organized. Additionally, upstairs in the theatre they had a nonstop movie of the inductees arranged by the year they were inducted, and after the film was over you were ushered into the round hallway where the artists signatures were etched in illuminated acrylic. And people were filing by looking at this very reverently and somberly. And I ……. just didn’t get it. And of course it all dumps out into a gift shop. The building IS neat looking, and when we were there the lake around it was frozen and covered in snow, which was pretty. But overall it was a big let down. Add to this the list of rules of what you could and couldn’t do at the place (which included the no photography, among others – I thought rock was about NOT having rules Goddamnit) and it felt more like the Rock and Roll Hall of Lame.
    That same trip we went to the Christmas Story house and I snapped some Smoking Fish pics. (ahem) That was much more entertaining, if a bit goofy.

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  12. Thye R+RHoF needs to have CBGB’s awning. I think that would decrease the suck incrementally.

    I started listening to Jean Shepherd on the radio around 1970 or so, and I was completely mesmerized. Holy shit, can this guy spin a yarn.

    Christmas Story is a mashup of several of the stories from the radio show – the BB gun story, the tongue-on-lamppost story, the flat tire story, etc., were *each* the subject of a 45-minute radio show. The dogs-and-turkey story was part of a larger story about the hillbillies next door, the Bumpuses. There were several Scut Farkas stories.

    There was also lots of non-childhood stuff: Army stories, ham radio stories, marching band stories…

    I found the motherlode of Jean Shepherd audio at http://archive.org/search.php?query=jean%20shepherd – the sound quality varies, but there is decades worth of gold there. The ultimate podcast.
    .

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    chill Reply:

    Thye = The, of course. Waterhead.
    .

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    bikerchick Reply:

    Thanks Chill! We’re taking our virgin camper this weekend to Virginia’s Beach at Lake Erie to break it in. Hopefully, if I get service up there, I’ll have tons-o-relax time to listen to the old broadcasts. . Sounds fantastic!

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  13. The only thing I remember from the R&R Hall of Fame is Janis Joplin’s VW Bug and Elvis’ pink caddy. And some clothes in big cases. Other than that nothing sticks out in my mind.

    When I was there (about five years ago, I think) the temporary exhibit was dedicated to Bruce Springsteen.

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  14. How about the thewvsr cd collection?

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  15. Went to the RRHOF a couple years ago and I was also disappointed. Springsteen was the top floor exhibit but the stuff they had was not all that interesting. His 1960 Corvette was there and you could tell he actually drove it. It was no car show vehicle.

    http://www.ohio66.com/springsteen/default.asp

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  16. Was the R&RHOF building designed by I.M. Pei? Everything he does is a friggin’ pyramid.

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    WB in OH Reply:

    Very keen I Madz…http://rockhall.com/visit-the-museum/learn/building-architecture/

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    WB in OH Reply:

    Very keen I? Eye, jeeper socks I must still be drunk! Aye aye Cap’n!

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    madz1962 Reply:

    I know he’s famous and all, but jumping Jesus on a moped, find another shape. Let me tell you from experience – these goddamn glass pyramids leak and the way they reflect sunlight, the birds keep flying into them. In other words – the design SUCKS.

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  17. The last time I went to the Rock Hall (been twice) was in the early 2000′s and their temporary display was all rap and hip hop music. So much that they had giant banners of someone’s gold-plated grill everywhere. Talk about sacrilege. Needless to say, I haven’t been back since

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  18. I’m guessing they didn’t have one of Phil Spector’s prison jumpsuits on display did they. But that would be pretty cool. Fucking weirdo.

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  19. Ok…first…I’ve never been to Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame which is totally unexcusable for a man guy at my level of addiction for the game. I’ll go when they decide to let Pete Rose in. I’ll be there the day it happens if he’s there and not urn.

    Second…I’m ordering some of those glasses over there on ‘Further Evidence’. They are totally cool and I want some and so does what’s her name. I love those things.

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  20. No reason to have any mention of Dylan in the hof. He just saved rock in the 60s so all the pretty boys could wear those pansy stadium concert outfits in the 70s and 80s for later display in the hof.

    And might as well not mention the other three Horsemen of the Apocalypse of rock n roll either. Perhaps one day they’ll dedicate a back porch smoking area to Dylan, Little Richard, Ike Turner and Robert Johnson.

    C’est la musique.

    jtb

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  21. I wanna hear more about N & N, the translucents, Nancy and Mumbles….the whole family. If Nostrils is such a douche, how’d he get some young chick to bang him? Come on…give us details

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  22. For those of you who don’t have a twitter account, here is the best reason to get one. Just to follow Tim Siedell, when it was announced that Katie and Tom were breaking up Tim posted the following…

    Tim Siedell?@badbanana Congratulations to Katie Holmes for finally chewing all the way through her leg.

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  23. Displays….let me see if I can stretch out a bit and come up with something.

    Courtney Loves underwear drawer that has never had anything in it.
    A body bag room for the 27 club.
    A gold plaque with the lead line and the four chords to, “Smoke on the Water”.
    Peter Fonda’s helmet and that redneck’s goiter from, “Easy Rider”.
    Frank Zappa’s middle finger.

    [Reply]

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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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