Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Whose Hall, Whose Fame?

Evidently, this week heralds yet another season of breathless anticipation of who will be inducted into some hall of fame in a ceremony we can't attend. The other day, I learned that R.E.M. is among the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees (along with Patti Smith -- aha, another woman! So how about Patsy Cline? Still no Patsy? You patsies.). Today, we learned that slugger Mark McGuire will not join Cal Ripken Jr. (my favorite player, such a class act and THE reason I started watching baseball) or anyone else in Cooperstown.

It got me thinking about this whole process of naming people to halls of fame. What's it all about, really? Who gets to pick? What are the criteria?

For the Rock Hall, I think the baseline is that a person has to have recorded 25 years, or had to release an album 25 years back from the date of induction. (I'm not clear on that but my friend Lynne would know.) I have no idea what the rules are for Baseball, other than a bunch of writers vote these guys in. There are scads more coming down the pike. What are the rules? Whose subjectivity gets to decide who gets in, and who stays out?

Of course I got to scoping out the Bluegrass Hall of Fame, created and populated by Bill Monroe himself. Talk about subjective...um, yeah, that's pretty doggone subjective. But I guess if you're the guy who kind of coined the whole "bluegrass" thing, you get a pass. With the criteria of "substantial and enduring contributions to bluegrass music," Monroe picked the first inductees himself, and I guess he did an ok job: Carl Story, Mac Wiseman, Seldom Scene, the late, great John Hartford....well, you can get a better idea here. The whole thing moved to Bean Blossom where each June you can attend an incredible series of weekend concerts celebrating bluegrass and Monroe as the daddy of it all. I confess I have no idea if anyone is responsible for adding to the roster every year. I guess I'd like to think some of the folks I've talked about on this blog would make it based on the criteria Monroe used.

Who would you nominate?

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