Thursday, September 28, 2006
Another round in Seattle
It’s our last day in Coeur d’Alene Idaho, and it feels like it’s our last day in a safe harbor. We’ve been lucky so far, we have had friends all over the western side of the country, and so far, we have only had to spend two nights in a motel since we left over two weeks ago. So now it feels like we’re about to take off on a true adventure, one with out a safety net of our friends and their generous offers of laundry services and wireless Internet.
But it's time to backtrack a bit, since I have been so neglectful of this poor blog.
Seattle: Part Deux, September 20, 2006
Jeremy and I woke up late once again and, wouldn't you know it, we missed the ferry. Not wanting to waste another chunk of the day waiting for the next one to come at 3:30 p.m., we decided to brave the freeway and parking circus and drove to Seattle. On the way over, there were helpful little signs of the Space Needle and other landmarks to guide us to our destination. Luckily, our two goals were in the same spot The Space Needle and the Experience Music Project.
The EMP, in short, looks like an architectural joke, or perhaps six artists who couldn’t decide on a central theme for the building. But its chaotic nature seems to conjoin nicely with the musical theme, after all, isn’t chaotic music more interesting?
Another amusing thing about the museum was it shared the building with a science fiction museum that loudly and proudly played the haunting music to the X-Files. There were also flags for an art exhibit that had such obscure statements like "Liechtenstein Vs. Monet." How do artists, dead ones at that, duel may you ask? I have no idea. I just wanted to see the music exhibit.
Inside was a detailed explanation of the evolution of rap and hip hop. It defined both forms of music, which have become synonymous over time. Rap: a rapid form of lyrical speech. Hip Hop: a combination of musical forms including rap, scratching, percussion, etc. There were voyeuristic photographs of people, such as the late '70s rap group Fantastic 5, practicing their dance moves and poses in their living room before a live performance.
There was also an exhibit on the evolution of guitars, which Jeremy drooled over, as well as the guitar Eric Clapton had played to perform “Layla” with on the Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs album.
One of the larger displays was dedicated to local boy hero Jimi Hendrix. The legend of Hendrix was not lost on me. While I was exploring the University of Oklahoma campus in Norman two years ago, I came to learn of the ghostly image of the man on a cement wall on campus. Squinting at it, you could actually make out the eyes, nose and afro of Hendrix. As rumor had it, it was an old concert poster which had gotten wet and stained the cement decades ago. I also remember my short time as a music major, when the teacher told us that Hendrix actually had a four-inch thumb, and could manipulate the sound of a guitar that few others could replicate, just because of the sheer size of his hands. What I hadn’t realized was how young he was when he died. He was only 27. When I was 15 and just starting to get into music, I thought 27 wasn’t a completely unreasonable age to die. But now I’m 25, and I have accomplished nowhere near what Hendrix did, and probably never will. I have to wonder what other musical landscapes he would have explored had he lived to a retirement age.
The EMP also had a great costume display with outfits from Sonny and Cher, members of B-Unit, Elton John, Michael Jackson and dozens of others.
After the EMP we went to the Space Needle, and scoffed at the price to ride to the top: $14. How do they justify the cost you may ask? They don’t. The ride is short and the flags meant to entertain tourists while they wait are pun heavy and poorly written. There were more typos than the average alternative weekly. And not just the flags, the wall displays with the condensed history of the Space Needle (which was once the tallest building in the country, and is now only the seventh tallest in Seattle) were cut off literally in midsentence. However through all the gibberish, I did learn the Space Needle was built for the World's Fair in 1962, and that one of the advertising slogans was that it was a “Restaurant in the Sky.” Well the campaign worked and the Space Needle paid itself off in a matter of months. This fact only made me even more pissed off about forking over $14 for an elevator ride.
While we were up there, a young couple smiled and laughed as their 2-year-old child began screaming their head off. Slightly horrified by the situation and inwardly disgusted by our immediate reaction, we fled the indoors for the frigid outer ring and looked at the views, which included the EMP.
After hitting the touristy section of Seattle, we stumbled upon a section of town called Uptown. It was a lovely downtown area with more Thai restaurants than I have ever seen in a square mile. And it had a great record store called Easy Street Records, which just so happen to have a live show when we walked in. The band was New Found Glory and they were playing an acoustic show as a warm up for their upcoming tour for their album that had been released the day before. NFG was a little whiny for my taste, but the free show reminded me of the days of going to Tower Records, or some other record store in Sacramento to listen to the underage shows. Oh to be 15 again.
After the show, it was a slow drive back to Port Orchard, and a satisfying night of sleep, because the next day, we were to hit Ellensburg and Walla Walla.