Metropolitan Homesick Blues

Southampton Stories & Other Stuff

Posts Tagged ‘Jazz

BACKGROUND MUSIC – I.E. – NOISE

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Sunset at the harbour mouth, Southampton.

There was a time when you couldn’t get on an elevator without the all-pervasive presence of some innocuous music playing somewhere behind your head. You were forced to listen to sugary, non-imaginative arrangements of popular standards and top 40 songs. It was called Musack and it came at you relentlessly in malls, offices, the dentist’s chair, airports just about every public place you can think of. There was no escape. After a while it turned into a non-descript din you became use to…white noise.

Lately, though, I’ve noticed that Musack has morphed into something bigger, with much more variety, louder and so much more annoying. The Internet is partially to blame, as are those who generate their own tailor-made ‘mix-tapes’ for their places of business – particularly restaurants.

Restaurateurs are under the impression that I like to listen to their choice of music while dining. They seem to think that my meal will be more enjoyable if their ‘mix’ is played loudly. To make sure my dining experience is further refined they place speakers everywhere and then direct me to a table directly beneath them.

A restaurant is not a dance club. I don’t need to ‘feel’ the bass. I don’t care to bob my head to today’s ‘hits.’ Gangsta Rap is not my thing. Country & Western is not for me. Loud, annoying music does not make a meal enjoyable. It is intrusive. It gets in the way of conversation.

At the point when the server comes and asks, “Is everything to your liking?” I usually say “NO, turn the *&^%%%##### music down!!!”

Why not just play harmless ‘New Age’ nonsense. Jazz Fusion would be nice. So would simple Classical favourites. The Internet has all kinds of non-invasive music to choose from. Or, maybe just don’t play anything at all.

The natural background sounds of the restaurant would be fine with me. Let the establishment generate it own sound – let its own room tone become white noise.

That’s all you really need.

Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

October 24, 2010 at 1:16 PM

Macs Redux

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The Trials of Living in a Small Town

In my very first Blog on this site I wrote about the routine pleasure of venturing out for my morning paper.

“Big city newspapers don’t get home delivery in small towns. Which means getting out of bed, getting dressed, getting in your car and driving into town to Mac’s Milk on Highway 21 to see if the Star has made it from Toronto three hours down the road.”

That was back in January 2008.

A year later nothing has changed. I’m still a creature of a habit that relentlessly starts my day, regardless of weather. There’s the odd time that the Star doesn’t make it. So I make do with the Globe or the Owen Sound Sun Times. There was one stretch where the Star was consistently late and the others were on time. I sent off an email to TorStar but they never answered. They probably don’t care about some small town complainer. Where’s the equity in making me happy?

Notwithstanding (love that word) I came smack up against the reality of small town living this morning. Macs was closed. The lights were on. The door was locked. The place was empty. And there was no way I could get my hands on a morning paper.

Just then, the guy who delivers the papers arrived with what I wanted. 

“Where are they?” he said.

“I dunno,” was my simple reply.

“Guess I’ll just leave them out here. I got other deliveries to make in Port.”

“But it’s snowing.”

“Too bad. They’re wrapped.”

“Can I take one? They know me. I’m a regular. I’ll pay them tomorrow.”

He looked at me like I was some kind of thief. “Nope. They count ‘em. If they’re short, it costs me.”

Tempted as I was, I resisted. As I watched him leave I realized that there was no other place in town that (a) had papers and (b) were open. Southampton was deserted.

And that’s the thing about small towns. You can’t always get what you want. Here in Southampton there’s one radio station and it doesn’t program Jazz or Classical Music. The local paper only comes out once a week. The Saugeen Times is up-to-date and available daily online but it’s not the same as holding and folding newsprint. Nobody carries the weekend New York Times and there’s no bookstore that stocks newspapers from around the world.

Am I complaining? Not really. Are there things I miss? Definitely!

But, yesterday, driving along Lake Huron’s shoreline we saw two Bald Eagles riding on the wind. This morning they glided high above my backyard.img_41481
Deer tracks crisscross the snow. They wander through scratching for wild apples in the snow and munching on tender Sumac branches.

The fishing boats are out of the water and dry-docked in the harbour parking lot. 

img_40341There is pack ice on the shoreline and floes floating down the river towards the harbour mouth.

Winter sunsets burn up the sky. A full moon lights up my neighbourhood. Walking after a snowstorm leads you through pristine paths. And winter quiet has restoratives powers you just can’t buy in the big city.

I never did get my paper. I went back after 7:00 AM and Macs was still closed. Tomorrow morning, I’ll ask them what happened.

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Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

December 19, 2008 at 6:55 PM