Sunday, December 05, 2004

The Waiting Room of Hell

There was a time, back in the day, when the employees of Big Bookstore had some control over the music that is played "overhead". There were rules - nothing with lyrics, nothing too "hard" or "poppy" - but generally, if we stocked it, we could play it. Nowadays, the music we play overhead is dictated to us by Big Bookstore headquarters, and as a general rule, it is complete ass (™ Meateater). There are six CDs that rotate on the overhead sound system. In any given month there will be at least one CD (if not more) from the following set of artists: Josh Groban, Andrea Bocelli, Sarah Brightman, the Three Tenors, or the Irish Tenors. For the last six months the selection has included a CD put together by the local easy listening station to support a cure for breast cancer. This CD includes songs by Billy Joel, Madonna, and Dido. Dido. Like I said. Ass. And we can't stop playing it until we've sold all the CDs. There are 78 left. I have actually considered taking up a collection to purchase the remaining CDs just so we can finally be free again.

We used to have live music at Big Bookstore every Friday night in the Cafe. The artists were local, and ranged from jazz combos to Celtic groups to folk singers. Once, during Hannukah, we had a Klezmer band which led the customers in an impromptu horah throughout the store. The music was always too loud, and occasionally very bad. Sometimes it was very, very bad. Banjer Dan comes to mind. Banjer Dan played the, um, Banjo. And told really inappropriate and bigoted jokes about the Middle East in between songs. To this day, if you mention his name, you will elicit shudders of remembered revulsion from the Big Bookstore staff. Then there was the "classically trained" singer who came during the holidays and insisted on having her own precious nativity set as a prop while she sang. Just in case people didn't get the message that her Christmas carols were about, you know, the birth of Christ and shit.

This past weekend, Big Bookstore hosted a special event. It was a live music event to promote a Christmas CD by a guy who used to be the lead singer for a big rock band that's been around since the late 60s. In the 60s and early 70s this band Did Not Suck. However, the cheeze factor on this band's output began to steadily rise, along with the singer's falsetto, from the late 70s onward, until it reached a peak of Cheddarosity in the mid-80s. So the Has Been singer has been a solo artist for the last twenty years or so, trading off of his association with the band, but never quite achieving the same success and fame.

We had strict instructions for this event. The Has Been needed the employee bathroom to be vacated for 30 minutes prior to his arrival. It made me wonder if the Has Been knew about the Big Man - our Saturday night music seller whom we love, but for whom a 30-minute Zone of Exclusion must be established after he graces the employee restroom. Also, we were not permitted the barest whisper of a mention of the Has Been's former band.

The Has Been was glossy. He was shiny. His fake tan practically glowed with a radioactive luminosity. His hair was bleached and blowdried to perfection. I was reminded of nothing so much as Abba. He sang for 20 minutes, emoting his way through such slices of holiday Camembert as "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." Rivulets of molten Velveeta flowed downwards from the Music section as his audience received this performance with the enthusiasm that only the freaks who worship C-list celebrities can muster. Afterwards, he signed his CD, while the burlier supervisors kept his insistent fans at a safe distance.

Then the Has Been was off into the night, and we returned to our previously scheduled overhead listening: Christmas with the Beach Boys.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I, for one, miss The Jingle Dogs.

'Bark bark bark
bark bark bark
bark bark bark bark bark'

Translation: Jingle bells
jingle bells
jingle all the way!

I would rather hear dogs barking and cats being tortured than the crap that's played there now.

P.S. Leave The NIGHT CREW alone. I will not go out with a wimper.

9:38 PM  
Blogger ereshkigal said...

Who said anything about the Night Crew? Disgruntled Bookseller likes to think of herself as an honorary member of the Night Crew - even though the Night Crew is mostly populated by antisocial, cranky, slightly paranoid freaks. To continue the family analogy from a previous blog entry, the Night Crew is like the adult child who won't move out and has turned the basement into a combination pot den/bachelor pad, complete with 70's shag carpet.

Also, I prefer the Jingle Cats

1:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I shudder to think what the leaky-diapered babies in the kids section would do to shag carpet. It'd be nice to have in the back room though...


4:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

so how's that night crew/disfunctional adult child thing working out for you?

9:54 PM  
Blogger meateater said...

Hey, Hey that is a little sick even for me. I would like to get back to the topic at hand. My trademarked saying, ASS is so true. I believe that many of the things big bookstore does could be place into this catagory. The music however could be placed into an even worse catagory that i like to call hot, sweaty, hairy ass.

12:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So do we shag now, or shag later?
Yeah, Baby...yeah!

10:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It pains me to say this, but, while the music plaing overhead is complete ass, who even notices it. This is the first holiday season I can remember where I haven't fielded even one question about who is plaing overhead. The whole damn thing is so low-key that customers don't even notice there is music. While I would hesitate to request actual Christmas music, it seems kind of stupid of Big Bookstore to turn the busiest shopping season into just another time of the year. Where are the freakin' Christmas decorations? Where's the damn Christmas table? We're going to be stuck with those stupid holiday titles well into the new year at this rate. I, for one, don't want to have to see Mary Higgins Clark and her also-ran daughter's Christmas book still in the store in the new year. However, if we consign these once a year crap titles to out of the way endcaps and mid-section faceouts, that's exactly what we'll be stuck with. we're a retail establishmant dependent on the holiday season for a good deal of our yearly profits. It would make sense if we at leat acknoledged that the crappy holiday had arrived.

11:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, why did he need the bathroom for for 1/2 an hour? Don't tell me it was his dressing room. Imagine the feeling of dispair as he looks in the mirror, "I am dressing in the crapper of a bookstore at which I am performing for a whopping 20 miniutes." That would have to be a harsh slap of reality for the has-been.

5:02 AM  
Blogger ereshkigal said...

Actually, he ended up using it for less than five minutes. Perhaps it was because he was running late. Or perhaps it was because he was dressing in the crapper of a bookstore at which he am performing for a whopping 20 minutes. Or maybe he could feel the bookseller cooties beginning to swarm all over him. Who knows?

4:53 PM  
Blogger ereshkigal said...

Er, that was: "at which he was performing."

11:05 PM  
Blogger Entil-Zha said...

I like Christmas music in general, but I would've been quite content to go my whole life without hearing N'SYNC's "You Don't Have To Be Alone (For Christmas)." I guess you have to be exposed to the musically blasphemous crap being vommitted forth in order to really appreciate the classics.

9:40 PM  

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