Niagara Gazette


March 2, 2014

SINGER: Ingesting obligatory music

Niagara Gazette — A Brooklyn restaurant, where on certain “prix fixe” nights no one talks and waiters take orders via Charades-type maneuvers, seems a bit extreme; but it must certainly offer fine opportunities for savoring a book or newspaper while one eats. And like many, I’m sure, I’ve been seated in restaurants beside a gaggle of 29 skittish, verbose, compulsively giggly types impervious to others, and who can certainly affect one’s eating delight, making one long for Seinfeld’s “low talkers” — or no talkers?

But what really cuts into eating delight for this particular gent is obligatory music, generally, overplayed oldies that blare at you as you try to concentrate on the food — and who cares about an older person’s high blood pressure or whatever? Really, I’m fine with talk — it’s always been around. But I’d be truly happy if more restaurants featured no music whatsoever, though it almost seems a legal stipulation that there be tunes booming from the box at all times — and with speakers sometimes arrayed around the room. The Stones may have asked to “gimme shelter,” but in too many restaurants, there’s no shelter to be found!

Maybe worse than hearing some oldie for the umpteenth time in your life, so that you know each line as you try to taste the food, is when all you hear over the crowd is a bass thud-thud-thud, and no tune or lyrics you can identify. Anyway, I hope the odd restaurant will take a leap of faith and cut out music for a month, even over certain individuals’ objections, and see if profits decrease. Bet they don’t ...

That would be even more the case, I believe, when it comes to book sellers. Fancy brick and mortar venues feature much good reading and enjoyable browsing possibilities, which from their profit-oriented point of view should hopefully lead to many discretionary, unplanned purchases; but not so frequently, it seems, when intrusive music makes you exit more quickly than you really wanted to do! This is particularly so for seniors who are big bookstore aficionados, as young people more and more flee to Amazon or other such internet ordering systems.

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