Big concrete structure with roundedness to the buildings and one big triangular side

It’s a hot day in July and I’m driving into Cleveland, Ohio. I’ll be staying at some nameless and faceless motel in the big-box suburbs, out there with the Home Depots and Olive Gardens. It reminds me of an old song by The Beautiful South – “[t]his could be Rotterdam or anywhere, Liverpool or Rome.”

Cleveland used to have a reputation for being ubiquitous. Tennessee Williams once said that “America has only three cities, New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans. “Everywhere else,” he explained, “is Cleveland.” In 2018, though, it seems like it would be lucky to keep even this non-distinction. Now it’s just a nearly abandoned crater, surrounded by suburbs full of white people who love their racist baseball team.

And oh yes, the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. They have that too. I can see dingy signs demanding that I take exit 195A and pay $23.00 for the chance to see some of Keith Richards’ clothing. Or perhaps a moving tribute to the “giants of the blues” or whatnot. Lifetime achievement awards to the bands of the baby boomers. And, more recently, Bon Jovi.

The Hall is already fairly lame and more than a little morbid. You know what you’re supposed to do when you get a lifetime achievement award don’t you? You’re supposed to retire and crawl off to die. And nothing says eternal youth like taking the stage right after a series of posthumous tributes. “In twenty years I’ll be dead just like those guys [makes sign of the goat]!”

It’s also misnamed. Rock ‘n Roll was a popular music fad that lasted only about a decade, from the early 50’s to the early 60’s. Little Richard, Eddie Cochran, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and of course that one guy from Memphis. Much of it written by Tin Pan Alley songwriters like Carol King, Doc Pomus, Jerry Lieber, and Mike Stoller. It was fast wild, crazy, music, and didn’t even last as long as its predecessor, Big Band Jazz.

In 1963, the Beatles (previously a fine rock ‘n roll band) had a massive hit in England with the song “Please Please Me.” And that was it for “Rock ‘n Roll.” As Bob Dylan once pointed out, everything after the Beatles was British Pop music. The music literally lost the slightly off-balance swing that made it so danceable in the first place. If you find true Rock ‘n Roll in the Hall, it will be in the “influential elders nobody actually listens to” section.

British Pop, however, has had a shelf life of 65 years and counting. While it has allegedly branched out into a thousand sub-genres, musically speaking there isn’t much difference between the Beatles, Judas Priest, or Breaking Benjamin. British Pop peacefully co-exists with Rap and is gradually subsuming country music.

The Hall, of course, does not limit its inductees to British Pop. It has inducted blues acts, R&B acts, doo wop, folk and just straight up pop acts like Madonna. Although if you think about it, Madonna’s “Borderline” has pretty much the same backbeat as most of the Motley Crue catalog.

But it is 94 percent British Pop. And, bluntly this genre hasn’t got much room left for innovation and but still offers a lot of room for bloat. And in recent years it has bloated plenty.

The Hall has generally made passable selections. Prior to 2015, there are only a few acts that I would describe as irredeemably shitty (Hall and Oates, the Velvet Underground, and Elvis Costello stick out). But recently they have started to bring in the trash. Mindless, self-indulgent crap like Journey, Yes and the Moody Blues. Desperation to sell induction ceremony tickets is increasing. 

And now in 2018 they have inducted Bon Jovi. I mean, what the fuck? It was my firm understanding that – outside of six or seven people in their late 40’s with greying mullets – there was universal agreement that this wank-rock band sucked. Their 1987 hit “Dead or Alive” contains what might actually be the dumbest lyric of all time: “I walk these streets, a loaded six string on my back; I play for keeps, ‘cause I might not make it back.” Every time someone sings that line a fairy develops a coke habit. Although they have seen a million faces and purportedly rocked them all, I figured even that band hated that band.

I’m not going to claim that there is some act which is more deserving, because as noted above I think the whole thing is rather silly. But goddamn, you can’t come up with anything better than Bon Jovi? What next, Night Ranger? That Pina Colada song guy? Godsmack? Mike Love as a solo artist?

Kids, you had a nice run but it’s time to pack it in.  As Robert Earl Keen sang: “[g]oodbye Cleveland, turn down the Rock 'n Roll turn down the lights; Goodbye Cleveland, goodbye, good luck, and good night.” 

 “This is truly a grassroots effort, from the initial organizational structure, to the volunteers who spread the word and, to the individual voters whose ideas and thoughts will be considered as we comprise the actual ballot wording,” according to Harris. “It’s our state, our citizens, who are demanding that we do something to reduce the amount of crimes involving guns that are committed by people who should never have had them in the first place.”

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