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There's a museum ... and it rocks
June 2000

I mean, there's nothing in this world which could prevent human beings from collecting and displaying the bits and pieces of their existence on Mother Earth. The species "homo sapiens" seems to be addicted to present its collections of whatever kind (Susan Sontag has written a nice novel about this topic called "The Volcanco Lover" - don't ask me why she chose that title, because the book is about collecting, oooh, and what a book it is.)

Once people set up a museum, I get the feeling they set out to strangle the living units so that everybody can visit the corpses. Let's face it, a museum is for all of the ancient things and cultures and painters and writers and you-know-what, but is it the adequate location for contemporary rock-music? Have we grown so old that we don't realize we're dead?

A museum for rock music? Sounds like I have to move to the department of archeology or so.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I was wrong as always when my hot mind feels things ain't ok. I better learn to calm down a bit and check out what these irritating events may mean.

I did this time and I spent hours - yep: hours! - surfing the web-site of the Experience Music Project, which reports about a museum to be established in Seattle sometime in the summer of 2000. The main sponsor is Paul Allen, and if I get my memory cells right, he once was with Willy Gates programming DOS and/or Windows.

Anyway, Paul Allen spends a lot of money to set up this museum which is spectacular, to say the least. The architecture of the building in itself is pure rock-music. Look at it and be amazed.

The content, of course, is even more spectacular, as it offers access to roughly 80,000 items (yep, you read it well: eighty thousand) ranging from guitars to lyrics, from stage costumes to song sheets, and so on. Paul Allen is a collector, y'know, and if I'd live in Seattle, I'd be grateful that he is ;-))

The museum will provide a feast for the gourmet of rock music. It offers multimedia facilities for those who have the high-end components of current computer technology. I checked out some of the stuff and it was great to be there - virtually, of course. It also satisfies the visual freaks of web-surfers and it certainly provides enough stuff for everybody who wants to know more about this cultural and economic phenomenon called "rock music".

One thing, though, that I couldn't find, and it may be ultimately my fault, are references to Indigenous rock music of America. Looks like the museum seems to ignore the history of the country where rock music experiences its greatest successes.

Or do the organizers of the museum believe that rock music reaches beyond the boundaries within and between cultures and offers the bridges to connect these spheres, and therefore, it doesn't need a section on Indigenous rock?

Who knows?

In my humble opinion, rock music, unfortunately, as any other economic sector of our so-called developed societies is determined by other values than respect and solidarity.

If I had a message to Paul Allen, I'd say, make sure you display the history of rock music in America in a way including the contributions of Indigenous People.

Will he listen?

Copyright © by Eberhard Wenzel, 1997-2001