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Tuesday, June 20, 2000

If we designed a rock museum, here's how it would look (and smell)

by Melanie McFarland and Patrick McDonald
Seattle Times staff

A high-tech shrine to Jimi Hendrix. An interactive sculpture by Trimpin. A building designed by a world-class architect. This is supposed to be a rock 'n' roll museum?

We don't think so.

If this were a real rock museum, you'd be patted down at the entrance by bouncers, and if you didn't have any drugs, they'd give you some. Strippers could wiggle their way in for free. Members of Katrina and the Waves, Tommy Tutone, Nena and Nu Shooz would rip your tickets.

The floor would be sticky with spilled beer, the air alive with the funk of B.O. and patchouli, and all the toilets would automatically overflow.

There would be an entire annex called H.E.M.P. devoted to Schedule II narcotics and the rockers who loved them. It would be hosted by a robotic Jerry Garcia; Whitney Houston would cut the ribbon at the ceremony; and an interactive musical bong (with online directions by Cypress Hill's B-Real) would be the centerpiece.

Another feature would be the Jailhouse Rock Room, with excerpts of prison poetry by Scott Weiland and Rick James, audio rants by Tommy Lee, and a real-time satellite link to Dade County's Bobby Brown Suite. You could stroll down Pamela Des Barres Alley, with swinging doors at the entrance and free penicillin shots as you leave.

The punk-rock exhibit would hurt you.

If this were a real rock 'n' roll museum, it would include the Gallery of Prince's Ex-Girlfriends, the George Michael Men's Restroom, and the Michael Jackson Day-care Center.

The "experience" ride would put you in a car with Tupac and Suge, or James Brown's crazy interstate cop chase (wwwwOOOOOOWWW!), or in Keith Moon's Rolls as he plunges into a swimming pool, capped off with a digital re-creation of Courtney Love's mind-melting anti-cheese rant.

The cafeteria would serve the Karen Carpenter green-salad-and-iced-tea special and for heartier eaters the Mama Cass Ham Sandwich with a side of Al Green's Searing Grits.

You would have to hold up a Bic lighter to see the exhibits, your clothing would be automatically infused with the smell of smoke (pick a variety), and docents would wander through the building yelling "Free Bird!" at awkward moments.

And after you left, your ears would ring for three days. What?

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