Commentary,Food & Wine,Opinion,Wine

Dan Berger’s “Sound of Tension” Hit a Chord

My Vintage Experiences just arrived, and as I was reading Dan Berger’s lead story, I found myself nodding in agreement.

Dan wrote:

The “music,” and I use the term quite loosely, was mainly a series of shorter pieces each with an assertive drum beat. Thumping bass notes were thoroughly annoying and a real intrusion on the dinner scene. It put all four of us on edge.

Just a few months ago, Jose and I decided to never again visit a restaurant that years ago was a real favorite. When it opened, one of my daughters got herself a part time job as a wait server, while she helped to put herself through college. So, the place obviously means a lot to us. I actually begged the owner to come to Windsor in the first place, because I knew that we needed a restaurant with this quality of food. Jose and I used to travel out of town to dine at his other place. The food was, and still is, always good. I really enjoyed the owners, and the ambiance worked. Over the years its morphed into a noisy sports bar atmosphere, in the front of the restaurant. In the back end of it, where families are dining, I found myself lost in some kind of a time warp of the 70s and loud, headbanger music… From the experience, I realized that the entire restaurant is now a sports bar, because all the noise from the front carries over, including the blaring piped in music of hard rock, and it’s pervasive.

When I was into rock and roll, I knew that there were many forms of rock. Headbanger rock is just guttural, grinding and pounding rhythms, and speaks to the warlike factions within the male beast. There’s no room for sensuality. Remember, I had the ability to be backstage at concerts for a couple of decades, photographing rock and rollers. I chose whom to photograph and whose concerts I wouldn’t ever step my foot into. I can easily say that headbanger is definitely not one of my faves… Most especially while I’m eating and trying to digest.

[This isn’t a headbanger, BTW. I wasn’t there to photograph any of them; but, this image best represents my rock and roll days. It’s Mark Andes of Heart.]

So, imagine me trying to eat a great dish to something so abrasive and loud that I actually began a headbanger list… One after the other, after the other, they came, with no rest for the weary. Having an ex rock and roll DJ  for a husband, he gave me every name of every song and the performers. (As a DJ, he played it all… the good, the bad, and the ugly.) After about 12 jock rock songs, I had made it through my meal, downed my glass of wine like I was slugging away beer, and swore “never again.”

For me, it’s a shame, because the foods are exciting; but, exciting foods don’t NEED rock and roll that’s intended to insult all sensibilities, because performers are “working it out.”

I know it’s not a generational thing, either. I am of the generation that spawned this music, and I didn’t like it then. Why would I suddenly like it now?

After this experience, I did eventually throw my napkin away with the wretched playlist on it. I had more interesting things to write about, and the memory of the event had faded… Why dwell on it, I thought as I threw out the napkin. Now, Dan’s story brought it all back, as did something that Richard Elia just wrote, as quoted from Decanter:

Not only that, but ‘nothing has contributed to wine’s romantic deterioration more than restaurant music… Looking for a romantic table with a bottle of wine, a bit of candle light, quiet conversation, and a little culinary euphoria?’ You won’t find it in America.

Come on out to Windsor, Richard. I’ve got a table for you and someone you care about at Chinois Asian Bistro. These places do exist, even though the noisier ones seem to be more in demand… It’s the masses, people. They’re taking over as population continues to soar.

It’s clear to me that we have to pick where we go very carefully, if we’re looking for that quiet spot where food, wine, and conversation can joyfully intermingle. (It’s only fair to note that Dan was in Las Vegas… Not exactly on the romantic edge of living, and so there’s no surprise there. The beat is constant and throbbing so you’ll get up and head for the tables to throw all of your money way.) It’s when we try something new, like when we’re traveling, or when we return to a favorite haunt that’s been through some metamorphosis that’s clearly not on our same wave length that we have to exit stage right, never to return.

Look, restaurateurs are all trying to make a living, and if they find a formula that returns dividends, you can’t blame them for going that route. We – who are in the wrong place at the wrong time – must segue stage left,  leaving that place for those who love that atmosphere. To each his own, and we’ll find our own quiet places that bring peace, harmony, and great digestion.

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2 Responses to “Dan Berger’s “Sound of Tension” Hit a Chord”

  1. Roger says:

    The timing of your story is perfect.

    My wife and I have been patrons of a local wine bar for several years, as well as being members of their wine club. It was a casual lounge music style establishment where you could easily speak to everyone at the table without raising your voice or leaning in to hear them speak.

    Recently (within the last year) it has changed owners and transformed into a place that is more concerned about the music scene than the customers. The last time we were there we had to wait until the performer (yes, one person) was done in order to communicate because he was so loud. He even said,

    “I love playing music man, and I love playing loud you know?”

    The owner actually encouraged it. Well, I guess if you can’t play well you should play loud.

    Since then we’ve dropped our membership and moved on to other places where they understand the importance of atmosphere when it comes to wine or culinary delights.

    When will they learn Jo?

  2. Jo Diaz says:

    Even when they go under, they won’t know why, Roger. Suggestion boxes work, but then you have to be interested enough in feedback to do something about any suggestions.

    A place is only as good as its owner… Or, “a fish rots from the head,” as another saying goes.

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