Wednesday, July 13, 2005

San Francisco's Musee Mechanique

"Witness an execution," the machine says. So what the heck, you drop a quarter into the machine. The miniature castle doors open and you see a miniature little dude with his neck under the blade of the guillotine. A few moments later, the blade comes down, slicing off the little dude's head and his little head falls into a basket. Then the castle doors close. Poor little dude.

"See the artist's models undress," another machine says. That sounds fun. I drop a quarter into another machine and put my eyes up to it. A half a dozen pictures from the 1920s the size of flash cards flash by. Wow, did I see what I think I just saw? Cool! I saw 1920s nudity!

If you were ever curious to see what arcades looked like prior to video games, you'd love the Musee Mechanique. It's a place in San Francisco, now in Fisherman's Wharf, that houses games made from 1889 to the modern day. I have no idea why they included modern day games. I guess it was to make money because the first time I went there, they didn't have them. Or maybe they were there to entertain the kids.

Anyways, the bulk of the arcade games were very old. You had everything from Laughing Sal to a collection of fortune tellers. You had games that if you're old enough, you might have even witnessed them at beach boardwalks, like beat the arm wrestling machine games or mechanical boxing.

The bulk of the machines seemed to be from the 1920s. I've always admired the 20s, thinking that was the time to be alive. People had serious fun and if we had a way to measure fun, I'm convinced the 20s would beat the 60s. Sure, they didn't live as long, but they had fun living.

Nothing has changed except for better graphics. Whereas before they made games out of machines, now we use computer technology. It's still sex and violence that people want to see.

About half the games either consisted of someone dying or someone getting nekkid. No, there was no porn and the nudity was more voyeuristic than exploitive. However, pornography did exist back then. Of course, the Musee Mechanique wasn't going to include it, as they shouldn't.

In 1895, Thomas Edison invented the motion picture. The first porn that we're aware of was made in 1899. I'm willing to bet that someone made a porn in 1896.

All and all, Mrs. Zombieslayer and I had a blast spending quarters in these old machines. She had her fortune told by three different machines, all of which actually gave you a printed copy of it. Also worth noting, they had music machines (pre-jukebox) as well. If you like that old music, it's worth dropping a few quarters in them. Of course, today's kids seemed to find the old machines boring, going immediately to the video arcade games in the back.

3 Comments:

Blogger Bridget Jones said...

TRES cool, ZS. You guys would be fun to hang out with. Wish we lived closer...Bridg

7/13/2005 3:26 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

That sounds like fun. I can't play all those newfangled video games anyway. At least you learn something watching that!

7/14/2005 7:18 AM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Bridget - Well, if you're ever in California...

Laura - yeah, I used to be a big time gamer when Quake3 came out, but now cutting way back. They're addicting. It was so neat to see what people did in the old days. They made their arcade games with machines. You'd probably find the exhibit fascinating.

7/14/2005 9:46 AM  

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