Mary Bogue

Mary Bogue is always wondering about how we walk through life, and sees it as a dance; sometimes we're wearing high heels and doing the tango backwards in a man's arms, other times we're line dancing in flats while picking up after kids, and when we're lucky, we're barefootin' it freestyle.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Nuts and Chews

Here's the deal. I'm a dark chocolate chick. Give me dark chocolate in any combination of fruit, creamy center or nuts and I am there. My mom on the other hand is strictly milk chocolate and "chews." Polar opposites, yet I love her. She will swear to you with all the conviction in the world that milk chocolate is better, and I, armed with the latest research and my passion for all things dark chocolate, will attest to the benefits of dark chocolate and even act indignant at the "opponents" view.

Kind of like tonight. I went to my Monday night haunt - the Italian restaurant where I occasionally sing and depending who you asked about the venue, they either want the TVs louder and the live music softer, or the musicians want the TVs off. Both are vehement. Nuts and chews. Dark vs. light. They're both candy. But bottom line is, which pays the bills? The television/bar patrons seems - oh, so very droll, so I root for the live musicians and the singers. Then I look at the row of empty tables and the broke-ass musicians coming in to play and sing, while nursing a beer costing $3.50, and by the way, the restaurant gave them a coupon worth $4.00 in honor of their "gift" of talent. On the other side of the plastic spit guard/room divider, is a row of loud-mouth patrons hooting and hollering over the football game. Plebeians, I think. Yet, upon reflection, those ARE the folks paying the bills tonight. I hate it. I want the arts to win every time. But complacency is a disease, and now too comfortable to see the picture, the house band pianist shows up with old marinara sauce on his tie and a smirk of imperialism. The folks at the bar don't pretend to give a shit, don't apologize for it, and the truth is, it is they who pay for the lights, Workman's comp, busboys, waitresses, and so on. Both are candy, but one is nuts and the other - chews.

Change! Change! Change! "Turn off that TV and listen to us. " Really? Why? Because your music is so esoteric, so thought provoking, so intellectual? How intellectual can it be if because of its very complacency it sucks the air out of the place and extinguishes itself. Oh, crap. You mean, this wasn't a high school party where we could just come hang out and play and sing and not pay the piper? Truffles cost money. You want the best? Sure you do, but are you willing to pay for it?

The truth is, the really great musicians worked last night and Saturday night too. Maybe even Friday night. Tonight is their day off. They rest. The "jam session folks" come in, nurse a glass of Rose or a cold Coors for three hours, spread their instruments across a clean tablecloth and want a round of applause when all is said and done. Nuts and chews. Is it plausible to think that one's talent is so great that the restaurant should stay open in order to satisfy their high school "jam" sessions which sound more like a practice session? Do I want to get up and sing my ass off? Absolutely. Do I think I should get up there and do it for free - gracing all who come to eat and are lucky enough to find me singing? Yeah, I kind of wish. But the truth is so far from that. And yet I hear others complain, "The owner is cheap." Wow, I think. Let's review. You came in, took up a table, screwed up the linens, dirtied a water glass, left no tip for the help, soiled a linen, kept the lights burning by the very nature of showing up, used the restroom , tp, and soap and still didn't even bring a chart for the bass player, let alone the pianist, and had the nerve to be flat or read your lyrics while "singing" your heart out to no one in particular, because you didn't even think to bring anyone who might order more than the free bread. I guess what I'm bitching about is the air of entitlement I see in so many folks these days. Doesn't matter if its your kids or your co-workers, it's lame, people. The truth is, we all need each other to co-exist in the arts or in the restaurant business in such hard, economic times. And then to hear someone whine that they got $50 for the night; while crappy pay for the "professional," it leads me to wonder what is it that makes that this person's work so much more valuable than the poor woman who stands in her sensible shoes all night long, working the tables or the guy in the back, washing dishes and not a place to sit and take a breather for hours.

While we may all like the candy, some of us need to remember that it costs money to keep the store open, the candy lady passing out the darks and lights, chews and nuts, truffles and hard candies and pay the cashier, the rent, lights, insurance, Workman's comp and so on. Where are you going to get your dark chocolate fix, your milk chocolate high and your nuts and chews if the candy store goes belly up because you want more free samples and walk out with a couple of suckers instead of a pound or two of candy. We have become so of the "let the deep pockets suck it up" mentality, that we are the nuts. Chew on that my fellow singers and musicians who fail to market their craft, press the flesh, engender customers, forget to asks for requests, or shake a hand, asking them to make reservations for your upcoming show. Then we can all sit around and talk about the good ol' days when restaurants had live jazz every night of the week. But we won't be sitting around a white table linen having that conversation, and chances are as this Titanic sinks, there won't be any musicians playing as we sink into the depths of a dark chocolate sea. And all the while you'll be remembering when someone asked if you would like that gift wrapped. No thanks, I'm waiting for my sensible chews.

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