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Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere

everybody seems to wonder
what it’s like down here

I was in a bar once in San Francisco having a crackers and cheese dinner. While some might point to the inadequacies of such a meal, I think it fills a certain niche on select occasions. There was a guy there in his thirties with glasses and disheveled blondish hair – kind of a nutty professor meets angry youngish man type. It was still early, but he had apparently been drinking for most of the day. The only other people there were one patron (a woman who knew this guy) and the bartender – a pretty young German girl who was playing Neil Young on the cd changer. I was on my third or fourth cracker with cheese when the guy told the bartender to change the music. She handled him well, politely suggesting that we take a vote. While there are certain parts of the democratic process from which I abstain, I’m not one to sit idly by while someone disrupts a scenario like that – a pleasant early evening in a near empty bar with crackers, cheese and some low volume Neil Young tunes. So we voted. Three against one. Neil stayed and Angry Youngish Man became more so.

He started on quite a rant about Neil being the epitome of an overrated musician; how his guitar playing was awful, his voice whiny and shrill, and his song writing inane and over-celebrated. The two women explained that they were among the masses who had apparently been duped by Neil’s tired act, and generally encouraged this guy to pipe down. But he was having none of it and continued his tirade on Canada’s most inept import. Normally I’ll steer way clear of such conversations, much as I would anyone making some sort of passionate political argument. But “Everybody Knows This is Nowhere” was playing and something in the lyrics made me think about sitting there, next to this guy. So I politely suggested that I concurred with the ladies, and that perhaps he hadn’t given Neil a fair shake. This really set the guy off and he started pointing his finger at me and lecturing on his musical expertise. He was livid – so much so that he didn’t pick up on my non appreciative vibe upon seeing his index finger pointed in my direction. A more prudent side of me prevailed and I moved several stools down. The music kept playing and he eventually left the bar in a huff, but not before I attempted to calm him by asking what he’d been listening to on that particular day. He paused momentarily for effect before answering, “Patti Smith”.

I’m not as liberal with these calls as I once was, but I’m pretty certain this guy was an idiot. (12/6/07)

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