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Experiencing The Experience Music Project

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In honor of what would be Jimi Hendrix's 65th birthday today, I am posting my impressions of The Experience Music Project in Seattle.

Last November I visited the Experience Music Project. Many of my Seattle friends are boycotting EMP because of its founder, Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft. He pissed off a lot of people by building Qwest Field with taxpayer dollars after it had been voted down twice.

The building is another strange Frank Geary design. I am not an expert on architecture, but I find his buildings disorienting. At some point in a Geary building I am usually surprised by an unexpected flight of stairs, "Where did those come from? I thought I was on the second floor".

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The main draw for me was the huge collection of Jimi Hendrix memorabilia. I expected the usual - a few guitars, a few costumes, and maybe a guitar pick or two. It's more like someone just followed Hendrix around every day of his life picking up everything he ever set down. There are intimate family letters (His family referred to him as "Buster"), early drawings (Hendrix was also a great visual artist), and anything else your mother might keep in a box in the attic.

I was deeply affected by a letter Hendrix wrote from the air force, where he discusses a simulated jump, and how many of his fellow recruits backed down. He discusses the thought process that made him choose to jump, and it reveals a deeper philosophy of life. It had to do with choosing to go ahead and live your life all the way, about grabbing opportunities while they are at hand because they may never come your way again.