Drink Locally

Say Again?

Yo, barkeep! Give Ted Nugent the night off!

By John Chandler March 24, 2009

Attention bartenders and bar managers: on behalf of everyone in the known universe, I’d like to respectfully request that you turn your music down to a conversational level.

Last night I was working my way through a pint of Hopworks Lager at Gold Dust Meridian, when it occurred to me that I was losing every other word spoken to me by my friend Anne Marie (happy birthday!). Normally, I just shrug, smile, and continue to nod my head emphatically at the appropriate dialogue gaps. See, my hearing isn’t the greatest under optimal conditions. I’ve been playing bass in bar bands for more than 20 years, and this stratagem has resulted in about a 15 percent hearing loss. Not only that, I still listen to heavy metal and punk on a daily basis. Fine. You make your choices and you live with them. Curse you, Celtic Frost!

However, Anne Marie was having trouble hearing me, too. As far as I know, her hearing is flawless. So why were we both shouting?

Because the bartender (or other authority figure in the back) was blasting the tunes. On a Monday night. I don’t know if it was the bar iPod or the jukebox, but it was effin’ cranked to eleven! And this isn’t the first time my “relaxing” evening out has been hijacked by some employee’s infinite playlist.

I understand that music adds to a convivial atmosphere and general sense of merriment that induces the clientele to roister just a a little bit harder, to perhaps throw caution to the wind and order another sazerac. On a Monday night.

However, if listening to music was my ultimate goal, I would be at a venue where rawkin’ out was the primary attraction. I would be at the Roseland having my eardrums obliterated by Motorhead, or whatever ensemble happened to be in town that night. But when I go to a neighborhood watering hole for a beer (on a Monday night), my mission is to share pleasantries with my pals. Vent. Unwind. Palaver. Shoot the bull. That sort of thing. This can be difficult to do when the bartender is going through an ironic Journey phase.

At this point, feel free to make disparaging comments about my advanced years. “Just turn down your hearing aid,” or “Don’t bring your ear trumpet to the bar with you, Grampa,” are both excellent. But I know the difference between loud music and LOUD MUSIC. This same situation came up at the Sway Bar a few weeks ago as well. Hardly anyone in the place, and the bartender (or other authority figure in the back) is laboring under the illusion that what a table full of chatty customers wants, more than another Makers and soda, more than free beer nuts, is to be introduced to the sonic wonders of Shellac or Slipknot, to the point where an amiable exchange between comrades becomes an aural impossibility. Our party of eight ended up walking down the street to the Morrison Hotel where we weren’t being pummeled by somebody’s “extreme” musical tastes.

OK, give me some feedback here. Am I being unreasonable? It wouldn’t be the first time. I was an alternate on the 1996 Olympic unreasonable team. When I get a bee in my bonnet, I’m worse than Andy Rooney after his third Red Bull. Should I simply take my business elsewhere? Or can I use this blog to make a braying ass out of myself the way God and Al Gore intended?

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