Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Serious advice for White Horse Tavern and other misguided bars

Stevie Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely" should never be played to a crowd of wheezing drunks in a half-empty bar at 2 a.m.

The drunk id has bad taste in music. I have the iTunes purchases to prove it. (Hello, "Somebody Save Me" by Cinderella.)

Mp3 jukeboxes do nothing but empower this bad taste. My humble prediction -- mp3 jukeboxes will be the ruin of many good bars.

Just like a good bartender knows when to cut people off before they puke or start a fight, a good bar should know that drinkers from all walks of life shouldn't be given instant access to thousands of songs -- many of which suck, qualify as guilty pleasures, or are actively despised by all but two or three patrons.

The scene at a generally good, if inconsistent, West Village mainstay at 2 a.m. on Sunday:
  • one member of my group is visibly passed out;
  • one lectures me about the evils of A-Rod;
  • a third plots his Journey selections for the jukebox;
  • and "Isn't She Lovely" turns the bar into my own Abu Ghraib.
I made my exit before Journey came on, but not before two half-witted 22-year-old fucktards (I think they were interns at a Gap) got their grubby paws on the mp3 jukebox, selected Mr. Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely," an assortment of current dance-punk (or whatever you call that Bloc Party, Killers-style bullshit), "Hotel California" (some dance to remember, I'll dance to forget), and other audible assaults that no one needs to hear when it's one beer too many and several tequila shots too late.

In that situation, "Isn't She Lovely" should only be played to clear out customers so staff can go home.

I'll defend my musical tastes against anybody's, but like driving ability, it's impaired by alcohol. My mind turns back to college, and I'll want the likes of Skee-Lo, Chumbawumba or (forgive me, but yes) Hanson. Mildly amusing in an apartment with five friends. Not cool in a public drinking establishment that doesn't specialize in karaoke.

The bar should not give those choices. White Horse Tavern should know better than to make every last English-language song available to every moron with dollar bills, y'all. In this situation, we are all victims, and if given the opportunity, we will all be perpetrators. And the dirty bar that smells like piss will take on the ambience of a wedding reception.

We need our options limited to the bar staples: the Stones, Bowies, Velvet Undergrounds, and Johnny Cashes; some John Fogerty and some old U2. The only time Billy Joel ever sounds good is after midnight on a jukebox. If you're not a hardliner, you can get some Wilco. I'm no tyrant.

But at 2 a.m., you want to shoot a man in Reno just to watch him die.

What's another alternative? That somebody's body is a wonderland. That John Mayer will come onto an mp3 jukebox, and by virtue of song choice, that body's wonderland will demand to be bruised and broken and brought to justice by an angry mob of drinkers.

[Note: Many thanks to Gawker for the link. Now that our site has been linked by Gawker, Thrasher's Wheat, and a Daily Kos diary, we've hit the trifecta and can die happy.]


99 said...

Cash encouraged at 2AM? How long have you been at NYU? Two semesters?

kona said...

There's nothing more jarring than going into my beloved McManus' for a much needed after work drink, only to be assaulted with Eminem and the corner of drunk guys rapping along. Time and place, you know?

Although I'm definitely guilty of playing Journey. I don't even listen to Journey, but I can't stop myself.

Miss Heather said...

I cannot agree with you more.

As it happens, my bedroom abutts to the back of a local (Greenpoint) bar and one morning (12? 1? 2? Later???) I was awakened by some Lionel Richie song blaring to the drunken (caterwauling) approval of the bar's patrons. Being in a primitive semi-waking state, I (naturally) wanted to pound the living shit out of:

1. The bar's owner.
2. The person who saw fit to give the bar's patrons access to this steaming pile of horse shit.
3. The patrons of said bar. All of them.

Mind you, this was the same bar that (the first and last time) I went there I requested "Highway to Hell" for my friend's birthday, only to have some cocaine-addled waif with a shitty haircut look at me like I had 8 heads.


For what it is worth, I take a less(er) dim view of Stevie Wonder nowadays. This 'turning point' happened about a month ago when I got to watch New York's Finest 'intervene' in a domestic situation. A rabid woman was screaming at her current (ex?) boyfriend while a neighbor was blaring "I Just Called to Say I Love You". She screamed "Go ahead, call the Police." And someone did just that--- and that's when it got really good.


Jeff said...

There is never anything wrong with Skee-Lo at any time of day.

CrimeNotes said...

99 -- you retarded fool. As if one of the great American singer-songwriters is the exclusive province of NYU kids and Reese Witherspoon fans. We thank Gawker for the link, but a dumbass like you can traffic in ignorant shit elsewhere and enjoy "I Just Called to Say I Love You" and Bloc Party on your own terms. Being contrarian doesn't make you witty. What's next, "Blood on the Tracks" is so Jerry McGuire? You fucking idiot.

kona, I think "time and place" says it all.

Heather -- I don't have a dim view of Stevie Wonder at all, especially his early days, and I'd never look down at "Superstition" playing late at night. I don't know that as a matter of principle I look down on any of the artists I mentioned (except maybe John Mayer). I've lived one floor over a bar for three years, though, and when its musical tastes took a turn for the worst and the Thursday night bass coming through my floor changed, so did my sleep patterns.

jl said...

doors, neil young and nirvana post 2 on sunday. ill throw in radiohead for the newbies. if you take your guns to town, you have to toss in highway patrolman

Sal said...

This is a growing problem. It's amazing how you can watch the mood of a bar change from under the influence of Sticky Fingers to trying to keep down the influence of Linkin Park. And who still wants to hear "Slow Ride"? Who keeps putting this on jukeboxes everywhere I go?

Having a mp3 jukebox is a good way to make your bar generic. Because even people with good taste make poor choices when faced with infinite options. And if you're like me, you're too lazy to actually "download" the new music, so you go with the albums visible on the screen.

The best bars are in control of their own atmosphere.

slinkybender said...

You wanna clear out a bar, try Ana Lovelis.

The only people left standing will be the nosferatu.

Kos said...

Tom Waits should be on every dive bar's jukebox. Preferably, Heart of Saturday Night, Closing Time, and Rain Dogs

CrimeNotes said...

Jeff -- your comment shows why you and I cannot be trusted.

jl -- I should've mentioned Neil, but I've written so much about him that I try to limit myself.

Sal -- You hit the nail on the head.

slinky -- I'm a nosferatu, and Bipolar Girl gets to me like garlic.

Kos -- You say Tom Waits. The bars say Ashlee Simpson.

Flop said...

How have we gotten this far without mentioning "My Humps"? If there's any song that should make you flee from a bar ...

Megan said...

Muddy Waters is a fine addition to any jukebox.

Galloway said...

Well said. Leave freedom for the real political arena, totalitarianism is the only option for jukebox politics. Check me out at www.berzerko.org if you ever get the chance.

Galloway said...

Well said. Leave freedom for the real political arena, totalitarianism is the only option for jukebox politics. Check me out at berzerko if you ever get the chance.

evilgirl said...

the day beast of burden was removed from my favorite bar, i was very sad. i think i may have destroyed something, or at least someone.