Ace was a shitlord theorist even back in high school. In this story, “D.J.” is named after his former calling. Bobby struck gold and now lives idly for women and wine, both in moderation.
Ace: I drove to the Jersey shore with D.J. and Bobby this past weekend. Remember the dive last year that you called the “dinosaur bar,” which was full of old rednecks?
PA: Yeah. I drank Miller Lite from a plastic cup. But it was our oasis from the dindu noise they played at all the other bars.
Ace: Rock music on the jukebox was nice, but what sat wrong with me, when you and I were there, is that we had to settle for that dump to finally hear our sound. And then, remember how those two scrawny Cholos went up to the jukebox and put on Reggaeton? You and I wondered why the fuck we’re in a place that’s full of drunk tough guys and nobody does a damn thing about this blatantly disrespectful act.
PA: They were more drunk than tough. But yeah, you and I didn’t do anything either. “It’s not the time yet,” is what I said. Not my home turf, pick your battles, the bartender isn’t doing anything so why should I.
Ace: So on Saturday, D.J., Bobby, and I popped into that same “dinosaur bar” and the music was good, if a bit long in the tooth. Older acts like Guns N’ Roses. Then, a fat thirty-something woman waddles over to the jukebox.
PA: Oh shit. That’s trouble.
Ace: Oddly though, she put on some of those old-school crooner selections. Perry Como and the like. I don’t mind it, but it wasn’t the right vibe.
PA: Definitely could have been worse.
Ace: Superannuated is what it was. So Bobby says “I’ll put something on” and gets up from his chair. He puts on Lush.
PA: Heh, we all know your feelings about Alternative Rock.
Ace: Yeah, it’s the faggiest fucking crap. Well, the song starts, and my reaction was “this sucks, this sucks…” and then the intro halts and… “THIS ROCKS!” And I told Bobby that this is surprisingly good. He laughed and said “You know I wouldn’t do you wrong, brother.”
After that, things went downhill. Someone put on ten, or realistically, more like six songs of pure undiluted hardcore ghetto rap.
PA: Who did that!?
Ace: It was a normal looking, forty-something White gentleman. There were three blacks there, and they started monkeying it up. And then D.J. commences to bust my balls: “I told you people enjoy that music — see, even the bartendress is feelin’ the beat.”
PA: The bastard loves to kick you when you’re down.
Ace: But I said “This is war” and asked him to remind me what was that Death Metal band he once played to drive the schwoogs from his venue. He said it’s Meshuggah. I asked him to spell it for me, and I went over and put that on.
PA: Nice move. What did the blacks do?
Ace: It was funny, the life went out of them and they just kind of sat huddled together.
PA: I remember D.J.’s explanation about how those arrhythmic parts unsettle them, besides of course the insane growling vocals. Something about how every fifth beat is off, that fucks with their heads.
Ace: So then, one of them goes up to the jukebox.
PA: Bring it on, jukebox wars! Did they escalate?
Ace: Surprisingly, no. They put on black artists but nothing obnoxious. Michael Jackson, that kind of stuff.
PA: See, you show some firepower and the other side is willing to negotiate.
We’re a fractured nation. More accurately, a hodgepodge of nations elbowing at each other in contested public space. The stuff of wars. Back in America, kids rocked around the jukebox. Today, smart proprietors control all music, usually by streaming Pandora.
I had some thoughts about the cycles of popular music here.
It’s time for a coffee. I take mine with Meshuggah.