Bow Down

One day, KROQ in Los Angeles, which is a much better station than KROQ in New York, was hosting a party for the movie “Swingers” and they were playing a lot of that Zoot Suit Riot kind of stuff. It was ’97, it was the time for swing music to pendulum back in to national consciousness sort of like “Latin” music (actually Latino good looking musicians singing white music) made it’s small mark in the summer of ’98. As I listened in the car, I heard and then remembered the Squirrel Nut Zippers from a few years hence in the Happy Chap, so I went to the mall to buy their record.

As I was buying the record, the girl in the store glowered at me with disdain. I *obviously* was only buying this record because of the KROQ promotion. Then the girl I was with said, “Do you know if Swingers is playing anywhere?” The movie had, of course, been out of the theaters for about a year. The girl behind the counter said as much and then said “The corporate heads at KROQ are just milking it to sell albums…”she picked up SNZ and said, “like this one.” She smiled and shoved it in the bag.

Last year, we went to Otto for dinner. Otto is one of Mario Batali’s restaurants here in New York. I love Mario because of his cooking show, I wrote a blog about it some time back but since I don’t have the capacity to link, you’ll just have to find it or trust me. Anyway, I love several things about his ethos, he believes that simplicity is key, he believes in buying the best ingredients to begin with and fucking with them as little as possible, and he is knowledgeable about *why* something is made a certain way.

That being said, I have his cookbook and I’ve eaten at his restaurants a couple of times and I’m not a huge fan of his actual food. But I adore him.

At Otto, I was talking to the waiter, and as I talked I could feel Michelle shrinking in her chair. “We came here because I’m a big fan of Batali’s TV show.” “Oh. Really.” said the waiter. “Sure,” I blabbed on. “No matter how stressed out I get, it’s nice to watch a guy cook who really knows what he’s doing. I watch it as much to relax as to learn any recipes or anything.” “Yes, well,” our waiter said back, forcing a smile, “I think most of the people in this restaurant are here because of the TV show. You’ll be uspet, I’m sure, to learn that Mario isn’t here tonight.” Michelle was mortified.

Okay, here’s the deal. I don’t care if you serve food in the very best restaurant in the best foodie town in the country, you’re still a fucking servant. I know there are skills behind what you do, you have to have tenacity and strong forearms in order to carry those trays, and sure you have to know the program at the register. But you are a servant. You serve. You *butle*. You butler me when I come to your store.

You may think you are privy to something special and important, but you aren’t. It’s just food. Soon, it will be poop. Yes, there are people who have more refined taste buds, but loving food is like loving sex. You’re supposed to. If humans didn’t love food, we’d be goddam dead. Do you mean to tell me that you have been thinking about *FOOD* all this time?

Why aren’t we sitting around discussing the finer points of cunnilingus? God I would love to stumble across the group of people snearing at one another because they haven’t discovered the latest masturbatory techniques. Food and sex are the *basest* things we deal with in this world, they are the guaranteed home runs. Sure, you can have a crappy meal and a bad amorous encounter, but to live your life with some sense of superiority because you have good onion technique is insane.

In a fit of pique, my father once said something to me at a dinner party. I was about seven or, I don’t know, twenty, and I mentioned that the guests were all wearing tuxes and so were the waiters, and my dad said, “Yeah, we’re all wearing tuxedoes, but the waiters and the musicians show up for the performance at the back door, the guests all come through the front door.”

I don’t know if that’s an exact quote, but it’s nice to know, in my heart, the a symphony orchestra job is a blue collar job. A shi-shi waiter is a glorified errand boy. That guy at Otto? He’s getting better and better at his job, spending day in and day out refining his waiter technique, years spent bringing food from a guy who can cook it out to a guy who can afford to eat it, never getting any closer to being either of those guys.

Oh, and if you’re working at a chain record store in a mall? Just kill yourself. Take as many other employees as you can with you.