Tag: Space Needle

Rock and robots

Monday, May 26th, 2008 | All Things, Arts, Music, Travel

From the Olympic Sculpture Park, we found our way to Seattle Center by following Broad Street up the hill toward the skyline-dominating Space Needle.

The 74-acre Seattle Center complex was built for The Century 21 Exposition of the 1962 World’s Fair, and serves as the cultural heart of the city: home to the Seattle Opera and the Pacific Northwest Ballet, i.e., the newly transformed Marion Oliver McCaw Hall, numerous theater companies, the Pacific Science Center, The Children’s Museum, and the Experience Music Project|Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame.

The centerpiece, of course, is the 605-foot Space Needle. On a rare, clear day — today was not one, alas — the observation deck offers panoramic views of the city, its surrounding mountains and Puget Sound from 520 feet above ground.

JM among others had recommended a visit to the Frank O. Gehry-designed Experience Music Project|Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame. CF and MT had visited this garish, multi-colored building a few years ago, back before the SFM replaced the “Funk Blast” wing with its much-missed ride. (Incidentally, I thought I was only one for whom the connection between rock and science fiction was lost, but apparently not.)

We toured through the permanent exhibitions, which included the excellent “Sound and Vision: Artists Tell Their Stories” — EMP|SFM’s collection of videotaped oral history interviews. I could have spent a couple of hours in that room of monitors and headsets alone, but at least I got to watch the clip of Nichelle Nichols telling the terrific anecdote of television’s first interracial kiss, which occured on the “Plato’s Stepchildren” episode of Star Trek TOS. Not that I’d know anything about thatnope.

The interactive stations offered the chance to simulate keyboard, drum or guitar riffs, or to tool around with amplifier effects at the “Jimi Hendrix: An Evolution of Sound” exhibit. (Reminded me a bit of Rock Band… and we know how I feel about that.) The “Northwest Passage” traced the development of the Northwest music scene, which apparently owes a lot — much more than I ever would have guessed — to The Presidents of the United States of America. (Them again?) The original handwritten lyrics to “Lump” are enshrined here. Oh, and some band named Nirvana had a few hits, too. On display: Kurt Cobain’s Lake Placid blue Fender Mustang from the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” video — pretty cool.

The SFM wing of the EMP|SFM was a cool, if random collection of science fiction memorabilia — robot toys, Star Wars action figures, a T-800 from Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the original model for the Death Star and a few other familiar characters.

Outside the museum, the annual Northwest Folklife Festival was taking place. Impromptu performances, the waft of incense, stalls selling hemp goods and holistic medicines… if I had been asked to guess at which of the two area festivals there would be a shoot-out this weekend, this would not have been my choice.

And live music… because we just can’t get enough. From the stage-facing beer garden, we sipped on cold beer and wine (organic, of course) as Little Big Man commanded the stage with his reggae sounds, wiling away the final hour before I hopped the Monorail (…Monorail …Monorail!) back downtown for the airport shuttle home.

Not that’s a full six hours. Once more: full Seattle flickr set.

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