Friday, April 30, 2010

Restaurant Music and Other Hazards

I discovered a couple of new blogs this week. One is called Sunday Magazine, and it gives the best stories for that day in the New York Times--100 years ago. As it is a relatively new blog, I was able to go through all of the entries, and one of them was about the annoyance of having musicians play in restaurants. I was reminded of a blog post I did about three years ago, lamenting the difficulty of finding quiet spaces. While most restaurants don't have live music (some may on certain nights), almost all restaurants pipe in some kind of recorded music, presumably to enhance your dining experience. I am not a fan of such enhancements--I would rather have it quiet while I'm trying to eat, or at least have the music be non-intrusive. I definitely judge restaurants by their music choices.

Many restaurants choose to play soft rock, and this makes me want to drive my fork through my forehead. I hate soft rock. Most of it is melodramatic love songs--the women sound pathetic, and the men, to quote Dave Barry, sound "like they're having their prostate examined by Captain Hook". I hate it when people I'm talking to are melodramatic, and it's the last bullshit I want to hear when I'm trying to properly digest food. A study was done that suggests that restaurants and bars play music because it makes people drink more, and therefore spend more money. I imagine they're drinking to drown out the sound. That's what I would do, anyway. Though I usually just go home with a stomachache, and vow to avoid the place in the future.

I have a favorite restaurant in Flemington. I usually stop in during odd-hours, which means I might be the only person in the dining room, or one of maybe two or three people. At Christmastime, I actually walked in to a quiet dining room. There was Christmas music playing--the obnoxious kind--but it was very soft, and someone turned it off. I found out that it was my waiter. The manager came out and asked him to turn the music up. I was the only person in the dining room, so he came over to me and said, "You don't really want to hear Christmas music, do you?"

"No, actually, I don't."

He nodded. "That's what I thought. I don't either."

He left the music off, and presumably told the manager that it was disturbing the clientele. I gave him a bigger tip that day.

I think soft rock in particular annoys me, because it's usually smarmy love songs--either professing eternal, undying love (which is total bullshit), or nearly suicidal with grief over losing a partner, usually one they've cheated on (which does not elicit a sad reaction from me--more of a "you deserve to be punched in the face you weasel" kind of reaction). Neither style aids digestion very well, and I have to wonder what idiot marketing group decided that this was the best crap to pipe into restaurants.

The other thing that has always annoyed me due to its apparent insincerity is Jesus advertising. I drove into the parking lot at work today, and there was a random car parked there with a "No Jesus, no peace" bumper sticker. Now, I am not anti-Christian, nor am I opposed to Jesus in any way. But when I see something like that, I want to tell the person. "Screw you. You can find peace without Jesus." It's the same reaction I have when proselytizers from any Christian-derivative religion ask me if I've "found Jesus", or suggest that I "need Jesus." Many Christian faiths, particularly the Protestant ones, are fond of "missionary work". Avoiding obvious sexual jokes, I think that missionary work sponsored by a church to help the needy is great. But missionary work designed to "convert" others is downright insulting and offensive. It's fine to talk about religion or one's religious beliefs, but missionary work suggests that the proselytizing group has it right and you obviously have it wrong. Religious belief is as personal as genital hygiene, and I'll thank others to not get involved in it.

I hate to pick on Jesus, but in this culture, he is the one most often thrown in people's faces by the judgmental and self-righteous, and therefore the name leaves a bad taste in one's mouth. There is more phoniness and insincerity per capita with Jesus in the United States than any other iconic figure. Even though I was raised Catholic, and have no aversion to anyone's Christian faith, I'm not really interested in how Jesus "saved" anyone--no more than they are interested in my religious experiences. But that was the subject of yesterday's blog, so I won't bore you by revisiting it.

Instead, I will point you the other blog I discovered this week, "Hyperbole and a Half". I recommend the post on the "alot". I liked it--well, a lot.

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