Anyone can play video games at home, but privately owned pinball machines are fairly rare, vintage ones from the sport's heyday even scarcer. And so we give thanks for Beatnik Bob's (official name: Beatnik Bob's Museum of Mirth, Mystery and Mayhem), located on the third floor of the City Museum. The vision of local artist Bill Christman, Beatnik Bob's appeals to the childlike wonder in us all. Its beatnik motif and freak show/American pop culture ephemera aren't at odds with each other; they're part of a theme. Think of it as a carnival funhouse filtered through a black-turtleneck prism. The pinball machines are spread throughout the space under movie-set-quality lighting, mainly concentrated in a corner alcove where the serious pinballer can get his game on with no distractions. Argosy, Abracadabra and other relics stand ever ready to take your coins. For its quarter-eating behemoths in an atmosphere of righteous sensory overload, we give a flipper finger salute to Beatnik Bob's.
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