Last fall I was on the web researching the origins of Captain Fantastic Pinball Great and discovered that the National Pinball Museum was relocated from Georgetown to Baltimore. My question is that’s the best thing that has ever happened to that Museum. Get the hell out of D.C. Let’s just our fickle city embraces this treasure of great potential. In the same way the government muscle gets behind institutions like the National Aquarium and The Port Discovery with signage and fast track improvement through the bureaucracy, The Mayor needs to get down to the pinball museum for this place is a gem in the making, one of the true defining flavors that can keep Baltimore unique and dissolve into touristy schlock.
On Saturday after an ice storm the kids and I made our way at the location at Power Plant for an afternoon playing the history of the silver ball. All I could think of if this place existed back in the day, it would have changed my life — I don’t know if that would have been a good thing.
Twelve bucks got you a debit type card which you could swipe from machine to machine. By doing so I took time to notices the sublets between machines which wasn’t hard considering one point I could be playing a baseball game from 1952 to Ted Nugent 1978. It’s amazing to note the subtleties in the bells, the ruthless small flippers of the past the rush to heap all kinds of glitz a la The Guns and Roses machine of the 80s. I was digging all of it, the woodworking and the hand pumps from the early days to slim down elegance of the 70s.I recalled the moment when we were dazzled when machines started going out with electric light score keepers instead of the rolling numbers. The folks at the museum were cool enough to let my nine-year old slide without a card considering she wouldn’t be playing any games on her own.
Being weened on Video and Computer, DS, pinball was a great leap for her and her younger sister. The only time they ever experience pinball was an app on my iTouch. They seemed to get a drawn in a bit, but in the end it was me who they had to drag out kicking and screaming. These pinballs after all we seen as the downfall of civilization way before Atari showed up. I tried to stave them off by telling them that maybe we could be regulars that after a while they would nail these games, just as repeated play makes them experts out of Wii, that they would emerge as pinball wizards kicking boys’ butts. But they weren’t having none of that and we scooted with still time on the card. But I’ll be back.
Some of the cool games: Funhouse, The Creature of the Black Lagoon. Dirt Bike and the soccer. The display of the earliest, primitive models on the first floor was also impressive.