So we roll into the OC on Friday. We meet my in-laws and go to dinner on the Bay side of First Street, at De Lazy Lizard Bar and Grill. It seems to be a new place in Ocean City, borrowing its concepts from two existing restaurants: Dead Freddies (on-site playground) and Hooters (tight t-shirts with plunging necklines for the female staff). We got there during the ‘Live Music’ early show. It was, as you’d expect, a frat ‘bro’-type dude playing an electric acoustic guitar. He couldn’t do anything with his guitar, so he’d probably have done just as well to invest in a krokeyokey machine, and his voice was the typical nasal tenor you’d expect from a ‘bro’ playing in a heavily-guarded citadel of a megabar in a resort town. The poor bastard. I pitied him.
He looked like he was getting to be thirtyish, and playing the ‘wacky’ party songs of his youth — a deadpan version of that awful Biz Markie song; you know the one, the one that sounds like an unfortunate simpleton bleeding his poor idiot’s heart out. The one your stoner friends still sing along with in public places. The one Pepsi uses; or was that Mountain Dew? or crab juice? And you’ve got to feel for a guy like that whose music tastes are now going the way of prairie dogs and Conestoga wagons, especially after I surveyed the crowd at De Lazy Lizard’s bar/citadel. I’m almost forty, and I’m younger by a good decade than De Lazy Lizard’s early Friday evening crowd. Dudes and their dates in their fifties who want a place to drink where they can still smoke; they no more desire ‘live music’ around them than they desire a prostate exam.
Times like that are when it can’t possibly pay to play ‘familiar’ tunes. I mean, as long as nobody’s paying you any attention, when no one’s encouraged to pay you any attention, or, even worse, when people are encouraged to treat you as a human jukebox where they ask you to play ‘Angie,’ you start it up, they shove you off the mic, sing a verse before wobbling back to their seat to throw up and nobody notices the difference, why, for the love of sweet Jeebus, would you just play stuff everyone’s heard a zillion times? What, besides money, could you possibly get out of it? If the money were right, I guess one could just eat shit for two hours and be the song monkey on the barstool, but I’m just not convinced that’s the case. No one on behalf of the impregnable bar fortress is treating their live music as any kind of big deal, or something worth getting excited over; it’s just another ‘thing’ you’ve got to have at a big beach restaurant. Like arthropods and fish on the walls, or cheap pirate-themed crap for the kids. Or big-screen tv with the sound off, closed-captioning ON, and tuned to a sports channel.
I used to pass by poor hapless assholes like the Mr. Jay Fratsby mentioned above and feel like I, too, had somehow missed my Call To Adventure. Years ago, after the first time everyone I knew frosted me over, this used to keep me up nights. But over time, I’ve just come to feel ‘better you than me.’
And it’s only occurred recently. First time I felt indifferent, or, even better, a pitying condescension towards some guy slugging it out for hours on end in front of an uninterested crowd was back in the spring. Half my social circle had gotten into the ‘Hunger Games’ books, so we went to see it at the movies. We went to a bar after the movie to talk about it. (Don’t judge me. My last social circle was too dumb to put a plan together like ‘meet at movie theater. Stay conscious for 2+ hours. Go to bar and talk amongst selves without disappearing for a few hours to score bindle. Say goodbye to one another without having to console at least one member of a dangerously unstable couple, or talk other member of dangerously unstable couple down from acts of histrionic drama and violence.’ I’ll take this Poindexter stuff eight days of the week.) We go to this brightly-lit suburban hellhole — made up to look like a brewpub built in a rehabbed industrial space in some inner city that isn’t Baltimore, DC, or Philadelphia — at no time between walking in the door and having a seat do we see a sign saying ‘Live Music Tonight! Look At This Sad Asshole!’ Nope. Poor doof has his PA stuck in a booth, and he’s playing wedged between tables. I know these days in live music, they really make you feel like YOU’RE the one who’s supposed to be roping people into some apathetic crap tank, that YOU’RE the guy who’s supposed to provide all the razzle-dazzle lights and sound, and furthermore, YOU’RE the guy who’s forcing his awful music and lack of charisma on this establishment, ‘we were just doing you a favor which you repaid by sucking,’ but that was just going a bit too far.
And then he starts. Nobody pays him any mind, except these two middle-aged couples. HOLY SHIT, THOSE WEIRD OLD BAR PEOPLE WERE FANS OF MINE WHEN I WAS STILL TRYING TO ‘BREAK IN’ LOCALLY!* You know what I was thinking:
“Hey, looks like I really dodged a bullet there!”
I also feel the same whenever I see Facebook friends photo sets from ‘modern outlaw country’ gigs. I swear, those people look like the unfortunate results of the introduction of genes from the type of person called a ‘grit’ when I was in high school into the bloodstream of a Juggalo. A ‘Grittalo,’ if you will.
*In the HoCo, holmes.