Friday, December 12, 2008

The Grammy Museum

I went to the company holiday party yesterday. Normally this would not necessarily be a great subject for a blog post, but it was held at what may well be the coolest spot in Los Angeles right now: the Grammy Museum. It opened less than a week ago, so we may have been the first group to have a party there.

I wasn't really expecting much. I like music, but I have no musical ability, and I wouldn't call myself a huge fan. I'm not sure I've ever watched the Grammys.

But damn is this a cool museum. Our party was on the roof, which has a nice view of downtown LA. Wolfgang Puck provided the food, which included a blood orange cream puff with ginger cream. That gets my vote for Dessert of the Year, although I would consider adding a touch of lemon.

The museum occupies four floors, three of which are for exhibits. I only saw the fourth floor, but it was very hip. There's an interactive exhibit, laid out on a table, that takes you through the history of music, genre by genre. You can browse through related genres, so you can go from progressive rock to indie rock to punk, and end up at hardcore. I think I listened to more kinds of music in that 20 minutes than any other short timespan in my life. It felt like I was finally experiencing a museum really using new technology in a great new way. Welcome to the 21st century.

If you've ever been in a Hard Rock cafe, you've seen walls splattered with music paraphrenalia: Madonna's bra, a guitar played by one of the Monkees. They're usually kind of cool, but not really amazing.

This place had one exhibit that is unlike anything in any Hard Rock cafe. Miles Davis' trumpet, Louis Armstrong's trumpet, Buddy Holly's guitar (which actually said "Buddy Holly"), Jimi Hendrix's bass, B. B. King's guitar, Elvis' guitar, Yo-Yo Ma's carbon fiber cello, and a bunch of other stuff that really impressed other people, but which I didn't really recognize. Talk about priceless.

So I can strongly recommend the Grammy Museum. I found one detail that took me way back, to a time before I was born. In the sidewalk are plagues for each year of the Grammy's. One of them, from I think 1962, said "Best New Artist - Bob Newhart."

Welcome to the past, and welcome to the future. Here in LA, we constantly struggle with the tension between art and commerce. And every now and then, we remember which one is really important.

No comments: