“We’ve gotta have a great show, with a million laughs… and color… and a lot of lights to make it sparkle. And songs – wonderful songs. And after we get the people in that hall, we’ve gotta start ‘em in laughing right away. Oh, can’t you just see it…?” — Judy Garland, “Babes In Arms”, 1939.
Not far from my home there’s a small dilapidated inn that’s over one hundred years old (hardly a venerable age by European standards, but a cause for hyperventilation in history-starved America.) I’d mention its name except the owner would probably spit in my next draft beer. It’s not like he needs the publicity. People routinely line up to get in.
This inn is more than a shithole. It is a gratuitous shithole. Something between gallows humor and <i>esprit de corps</i> pervades the well-heeled clientele who flock there. Soggy hot dogs get forked out onto paper plates and communal piles of condiments litter the tables in nondescript plastic pouches. No detail has been spared that could possibly obscure the owner’s abiding contempt for his patrons. Surely his refusal to fix the gimpy tables is tied to some perverse, service-sector pique. On Saturday’s the average wait time for a bench exceeds thirty minutes. Splinters cost extra as do refills on sodas.
Adding insult to appetite, there are probably a dozen new restaurants within a half-mile radius where the thoroughly mortgaged owners sweat every detail: the menu, the décor, i.e. that whole obsequious and tiresome mélange known in marketing circles as <i>the dining experience.</i> Such can be the affection-bias enjoyed by venerable acts and storied buildings. Chef Gordon Ramsay would also do well to note that, while the customer is king, the latter sometimes prefers, in lieu of a before-dinner aperitif, a swift kick in the balls; as to why, well, that’s sort of between the king, his blue blood and his dominatrix…
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While I’m on the subject of Scott Walker, here’s a pre-Bish Bosch essay in Skope magazine from 2011, ‘ON THE SOUND PRACTICE OF ACHIEVING A MORE CONVINCING SILENCE: SCOTT WALKER’S ‘THE DRIFT’ AND ‘30 CENTURY MAN’. He’s a fascinating artist with a trajectory that is at least as interesting as his music.