Monday, January 30, 2017

Museum of Pop Culture

Exploring Seattle



As the monorail pulled into the Seattle Center station, I looked out the window and noticed wavy panels of steel between a clump of trees.  What's that building? I wondered.  It looks like the Disney Hall.
Then I saw it again--from the observation deck of the Space Needle. Ribbons of green on top of red and purple undulating rooftops.  What is that crazy building down there?
If my travel buddy had been with me, he would have pulled out his cell phone and instantly answered my question.  So bear with me while I digress for a moment.  The building in question, of course, turned out to be the Museum of Pop Culture and my own musing turned out to be spot-on correct.

But how did I gain that information?  Slowly.  Sensuously.  I allowed myself the pleasure of not knowing; the pleasure of wonder.  I walked over to the building and ran my hands along its cold exterior.  I looked up at the colorful sheets of metal.  I read the sign.  I bought a ticket and was given a brochure.  "When the world-renowned architect Frank O. Gehry designed the building, he was inspired to create a structure that evoked the rock 'n' roll experience without being too literal."

Ah.


The explosion of technological gadgets has allowed us to get any information we want within seconds.  A veritable encyclopedia of knowledge is literally at our fingertips.  Our phones are omniscient.  Always within reach.  And always on.  I'm not such a philistine that I don't recognize the benefits of these devices, but there are times when I need to turn the damn thing off.

It's so wonderful to pick a restaurant because of the aromatic smells wafting through the front door; not because of a Yelp review.  And I love getting lost.  Only then do I find something new; something that hasn't made Trip Adviser's Top 10 Things to Do in the City list.  I hate that robotic feminine voice telling me where I am every inch of the way.  I DON'T WANT TO KNOW.  I want to figure it out for myself.  I want to peel back the rind to get to the juice; rather than throw back a shot.


So here I am touring a museum where attention spans are meant to be short and senses are bombarded with bling.  The irony does not escape me.  I am a fish out of water.  Or am I?   The movie props and costumes lure me in.  The documentaries are fascinating.  Two hours disappear in no time flat. 

I walk in and out of exhibits quickly reading the Tweet-like documentation.  Gehry's magnificent building is pulsating so loudly with music that I barely hear the chirp of my own cell phone.  It is my son texting me. 

As I walk back to the monorail, I retrieve my phone and start texting away.  Here I am like the hundreds of people around me, not looking up at the sky, but down at a five-inch screen.  I have been sucked into this new world order, hook, line and sinker.  I fight it every day of my life, but it is a losing battle.

Like the Museum of Pop Culture pointed out, our lives are defined by the movies we watch, the video games we play and the music we listen to.

  All within the palms of our hands.











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