Tuesday, April 01, 2008

“April Fools Day Blogger Party” Reflections

Wax Thoughts
We'd taken BART and the street car over to Fisherman's Wharf for the "April Fools Day Blogger Party at the Wax Museum," now in its 45th year. The ride was uneventful, at least on the way there; however, on the busy trolley back, the bus driver told passengers to hold onto their purses because pick-pockets went fishing there.

Barry Bonds stood at the entrance batting…as we walked out the museum. Of all the African American replicas I'd seen that evening, he was most realistic. Piles of baseballs were next to him as a net filled with more balls hung near by. But as I said, I'd missed Bonds on my way in, just as I missed President Bush. I don't know how I missed Bush. But then again, it probably an unconscious choice.

When we walked in we were met by Jesus and his disciples… JC on the rock delivering his sermon, his tasty last meal--he was in good company as others in the panoply of religious icons: Confucius, the Buddha and a display without images for Islam and Prophet Muhammad--were near by. It was interesting seeing all these religious references in an amusement, but perhaps it was like the Mormon display in Hawaii near the tourist spot in Honolulu. Proselytizing doesn't take a day off even when one is having fun.

I was also taken aback by the lengthy installation on King Tut…nose Angelized, along with the noses of the Sphinx and the boy king’s relatives. I'd seen better at museums in Washington DC, Ft. Lauderdale, and even at the de Young in San Francisco. I wasn't certain if the sign stating "real gold" was actually true. One could touch or wave one's hand over a device and a narrator's voice would tell the visitor information about the display. I skipped the King Tut--nothing but lies, I could tell this from what was there.

Oh yeah, the Titanic was there too, the movie version of the story and the brother who'd been aboard the ship when it sank was not depicted in the scene. (I'd seen him in the exhibit in Ft. Lauderdale also. It was very well done.)

The art section didn’t reference any of the great black artists, American or African and this absence of significant black artists and historic figures continued throughout the museum--it became by default almost a theme--Hum, let's see who is left out. Great reverse history lesson, but was it necessary? I was happy I hadn't had to pay for this.

Under the title of comedy there were no black comics, and although, the leading ladies included Oprah and Halle, absent were Hattie McDaniel, Lena Horne, Abby Lincoln. Mary Alice and Beah Richards. Mary Alice and Samuel Jackson were central to The Matrix, and they were no where to be found either in that display. I wonder if the curator knew that a black woman who the story and had to sue the directors to get paid and won?

Where was Morgan Freeman? Michael Jordan didn't look himself at all. I certainly wouldn't tell Denzel Washington to visit this museum. He looked pretty bad. There are a lot of black sculptors in San Francisco, the owner should hire one for the black displays...the current artist is not doing a good job.

I didn’t even see Sidney Poitier. None of the Negro League players were present and if there was a "Wizard of Oz," then where was "Cabin in the Sky"? "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," would have appeased me a little.

"Gone with the Wind" had an entire window to itself. What's next, "Birth of a Nation?" I wasn’t certain if it was cultural insensitivity or ignorance, the cultural imbalance. As we walked out the museum, past the horror chamber and the electric chair where I was scared out of my seat…we walked by scenes of peace makers like Martin King and Mahatma Gandhi. I don’t remember seeing Desmond Tutu.

Alice Walker and Toni Morrison were absent as well.

Michael Jackson didn't look that authentic and Muhammad Ali looked like he had a process, my friend commented. I liked Eddie Murphy, and Will Smith looked close enough to be recognized. James Earl Jones was absent too. How was this possible when he was the voice of Darth Vader, but then again, I don’t remember Stars Wars at all—R2 D2?

August Wilson wasn't there, neither was Phyllis Wheatley. I don't remember seeing Bill Cosby?! Maybe some of our folks were in the horror chamber, which I skipped.

It had been over 30 years maybe since my last visit, so I didn’t know what to expect. I knew Michael Jackson was there because I remember the fanfare around his addition, but there were so many cultural heroes and stakeholders absent. Where were the Vietnamese or Koreans? They are certainly a presence in San Francisco.

The Museum has Chinese owners and I don’t know if this has anything to do with the selection of exhibits, but that is certainly no excuse. Oprah and Halle were behind the white stars. To get a photo I had to walk round the display and shoot them from behind. It was as if Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott needed to visit San Francisco. Maya Angelou was also missing and besides her poetry and writing, she was the first woman conductor on the San Francisco Cable Cars.

I would think scenes from Alice Walker’s "The Color Purple" would have been in order, or at least Alex Haley’s "Roots." Malcolm X was also absent or if he was, I didn't see him. The founders of the Declaration of Independence had a scene—it was rivaled only by JC’s spread at the Last Supper. I wondered why George W. Bush was missing in the presidential suite and as I said, I saw him as I left.

I don’t know if I’d recommend he Wax Museum, just because it gives a skewered look at popular western culture—there are so many missing elements. It doesn’t represent my reality or my world— As a time capsule…such a place would not give future generations any idea of what was important to me. As it stands, I don’t exist.

What a difference between this wax museum and that in Washington DC honoring Frederick Douglass. Oh yeah, Sister Harriett Tubman was another heroine absent in the panoply of peace makers. Let’s just say, I didn’t remember seeing her. I was so overwhelmed by whiteness I am surprised I recall who was absent as well as I still do.

The Event: April Fools Day “Blog Party” at Wax Museum www.waxmuseum.com

Blogging Community invited to “eat, drink and blog merry” on Tuesday, April 1, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. San Francisco's Wax Museum at Fisherman's Wharf (www.waxmuseum.com)is celebrating 45 years as a popular international attraction at the City’s number one tourist destination. To celebrate the landmark’s 45th anniversary, the Museum is inviting the Blog-o-sphere to check out the Wax-o-sphere to special party and tour, 6pm – 9pm, Tuesday, April 1 (145 Jefferson Street, at Fisherman’s Wharf).

“Where else can you mingle with Paris Hilton, Vladmir Putin and Barry Bonds?” says Wax Museum owner Rodney Fong, noting that grandfather got the idea for the Museum having seen the wax figures at the Seattle World's Fair. “If you blog about the Wax Museum already, come on down. If you haven’t, but need an excuse to party on April Fools Day, set up a blog and meet us beneath the bow of Titanic or outside explore King Tut’s on April 1.”

Tonight, lap-tops with Internet access will be set up onsite for partiers to record their thoughts, images and videos from the party.


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