Friday, June 22, 2018

Television – "See No Evil" (1977)

What I want
I want now!

In the last 2 or 3 lines, I told you about day one of my two-day trip to northern Delaware, where I rode the bike trail that parallels the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal.  You can click here to read that post. 

On day two of my trip, I first drove to Lums Pond State Park and rode the unpaved loop trail around Lums Pond.  It’s relatively flat and not so rough that you need a true mountain bike to handle it – my new 700x38-tired hybrid did just fine.

The Lums Pond trail is nothing special, but the weather was perfect, the trail was devoid of other bikers or hikers, and I had just refilled my iPod with fresh music.  So I had a very enjoyable ride.

On the Little Jersey Trail
in Lums Pond State Park
It was a short drive from there to St. Georges, Delaware, a very small town that sits almost directly underneath not one, but two C&D Canal bridges.

The St. Georges Bridge, which opened in 1942, is the oldest of the four-lane bridges over the canal:

For the last few years, only one lane in each direction has been open, and only vehicles weighing less than 15 tons have been to use the St. Georges Bridge, which will be closed to all traffic this fall while repairs are made.

The absence of the St. Georges Bridge will hardly be noticed because there’s a much newer six-lane bridge – the Senator William V. Roth, Jr. Bridge – that crosses the canal less than a mile to the west:

St. Georges was smack dab in the middle of the part of the C&D trail that I hadn’t ridden on the previous evening.  After riding west and then returning to my starting point, I took a break and had lunch at the St. Georges Country Store – which is more a bar and music venue than country store.

The former owner of the joint was a merchant mariner who learned to cook in New Orleans, so the store has a real NOLA vibe.  If you’re ever in Delaware and get a hankering for a muffuletta sandwich (complete with olive tapenade) or an alligator sausage po’ boy, get your big-ass ass to the St. Georges Country Store!  

The St. Georges Country Store
For my lunch, I opted for a simple egg-salad sandwich and potato chips.  The $5 sandwich was so overstuffed with the store’s mustardy egg salad that I could barely finish it.

*     *     *     *     *

The eastern terminus of C&D trail – Delaware City, Delaware – was only half an hour’s ride from St. Georges.

Battery Park in Delaware City
There’s nothing fancy about Delaware City (which is home to roughly 1700 souls), but it has its charms – including a quaint little main street and Battery Park, which overlooks the Delaware River and Pea Patch Island.

Pea Patch Island is home to one of the largest migratory bird habitats on the east coast.  

It’s also the site of Fort Delaware, a 19th-century coastal defense fort that was later turned into a prison for Confederate POWs:

You can visit Fort Delaware by taking a short ferry ride from Delaware City.

*     *     *     *     *

After briefly exploring Delaware City, I settled in on the deck of Crabby Dick’s Bar & Grill to enjoy a big-ass beer and the beautiful weather:

Half an hour after leaving Crabby Dick’s, I was back in St. Georges, where I packed up my bike for the drive home. 

Before getting on I-95, I decided to stop at Stewart’s Brewing to replenish my precious bodily fluids.  

I sat at the bar next to a couple d’un certain age, and ordered a beer.  A moment later, the distaff member of that couple leaned forward and said, “Excuse me, but I’m the woman who made your egg salad sandwich today.”

And indeed she was.

*     *     *     *     * 

Thomas Miller and Richard Meyers met in 1965 when they were 11th-graders at the Sanford School in Hockessin, Delaware – just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the C&D Canal.  

The two ne’er-do-wells ran away from school together and ended up in New York City, where they changed their names to Tom Verlaine (a reference to the French poet Paul Verlaine) and Richard Hell (a reference to you know what) and formed the band Television.

Television performed regularly at CBGB and Max’s Kansas City in 1974 and 1975, and quickly established a cult following.  But schoolmates Verlaine and Hell went their separate ways shortly thereafter. 

I bought Television’s debut album, Marquee Moon, shortly after it was released in February 1977 – which was shortly before I graduated from law school.  

You can call Marquee Moon a post-punk album, or you can call it an art punk album, just as long as you recognize it as one of the most original and influential albums of its day.

The musicians who have cited Marquee Moon as an influence include members of U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers, R.E.M. Joy Division, and Echo & the Bunnymen.

Click here to listen to “See No Evil,” the first track from Marquee Moon.  

And click on the link below to buy the song from Amazon:

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Kinks – "Sunny Afternoon" (1966)

Now I'm sitting here
Sipping at my ice cold beer
Lazing on a sunny afternoon

The Chesapeake & Delaware Canal – one of the only two sea-level canals in the United States – cuts through the northern isthmus of the Delmarva Peninsula just south of Interstate 95.  Ships going from Philadelphia to Baltimore (or vice versa) save about 300 miles by using the canal. 

The black oval marks the
location of the C&D Canal
The original C&D Canal, which opened for business in 1829, was only 36 feet wide and 10 feet deep.  The laborers who dug the canal with picks and shovels were paid an average wage of 75 cents a day.

Shortly after World War I, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers took over the canal and used steam-powered dredges to widen and deepen it.  Today, the C&D is 35 feet deep and 450 feet wide, which allows two-way traffic for all but the largest oceangoing ships.

That’s all well and good, but what’s more important to me is that there’s now a nice paved hiker-biker trail that parallels the canal for almost its entire length.

*     *     *     *     *

Now that I’m retired, I have more time for bike rides.  Because I’ve ridden most of the trails that are within an hour’s drive of my house over and over, I’ve expanded my search radius to include rides that are two to three hours away.  

It’s not worth it to drive that far, ride, and then drive back the same day.  (After all, the point of all this is to get out of the car and spend my time on a bike.)  So I’ve been looking for routes that provide enough mileage for two days of riding, justifying an overnight trip.

Lums Pond State Park
The C&D Canal trail, which opened a few years ago, is about 17 miles long.  Less than a mile north of the canal is Lums Pond State Park, which features several unpaved trails, including the eight-mile-long trail that circles Lums Pond.

Combine a round-trip canal trail ride with a ride around Lums Pond and you’re talking roughly 45 miles – which is a good distance for me to cover on a two-day trip.  

*     *     *     *     *

I had to take care of two doctors’ appointments and then visit my mother at her assisted living facility before hitting the road for my C&D Canal ride.  The traffic on I-95 was heavy, which meant it took closer to three hours to get to the trail instead of the two hours it should have taken.  So I wasn’t on my bike until almost 5:00 pm.  But it’s June, which meant I still had plenty of daylight to ride from the canal trail’s midpoint to its western terminus – Chesapeake City, Maryland – and back.

Here’s the Chesapeake City bridge, the westernmost of the five bridges that carry automobiles and trucks over the C&D:

And here’s the Summit Point bridge, which is several miles east of Chesapeake City:

Finally, here's a photo of the vertical-lift bridge that trains use to cross the C&D Canal:

*     *     *     *     *

After completing my ride, I stopped at Stewart’s Brewing in Bear, Delaware, for a beer – or two – and dinner.  

Stewart’s is located in a unremarkable suburban strip mall.  From the outside, it doesn’t look like anything special.  But the food is much better than what I would have expected from your generic brewpub.  

Stewart's Brewing
I ordered the BLT salad – essentially, a chopped version of a wedge salad – and added some ahi tuna to it.  The salad was excellent, and so was the tuna (which had been seared on the outside but was almost as pink as sushi on the inside, just the way I ordered it).

I first tried Stewart’s house-made wheat beer, which is actually made with equal parts wheat and barley.  I followed that up with a pint of Stewart’s maibock, a traditional German-style lager that was sweet and strong enough (7.5% ABV) to qualify as a doppelbock.  Both were distinctive and excellent.

*     *     *     *     *

I’ll tell you about the second day of my trip in the next 2 or 3 lines.  (Wait until you hear about the egg salad sandwich I ate for lunch!)

*     *     *     *     *

My bike-riding excursions often end with me sipping an ice-cold beer while I laze away a sunny afternoon – just like the singer of “Sunny Afternoon,” the 1966 Kinks single that was a top 20 hit in the U.S. and a #1 hit in the UK.

Years later, Ray Davies recalled the day he sat down and wrote the song:

I’d bought a white upright piano.  I hadn’t written for a time.  I’d been ill.  I was living in a very 1960s-decorated house.  It had orange walls and green furniture.  My one-year-old daughter was crawling on the floor and I wrote the opening riff.  I remember it vividly.  I was wearing a polo-neck sweater.

Click here to listen to “Sunny Afternoon.”

Click on the link below to buy the song from Amazon:

Friday, June 15, 2018

Jefferson Airplane – "White Rabbit" (1967)

And if you go chasing rabbits
And you know you're going to fall

In 1859, a wealthy Englishman who had emigrated to Australia was disappointed that the hunting there was so poor.  So he asked his nephew to ship some rabbits to Australia.  He hoped those rabbits would breed rapidly and provide him with good hunting in the future.

A British hunting party (circa 1868
It seems that the new rabbits crossbred with Australia’s existing rabbits and formed a hybrid that thrived in that environment.  The Australian rabbit population exploded, and threatened to denude the entire continent of plant life – which would have devastated the local sheep and cattle industries.

Hunters and farmers were given carte blanche to shoot rabbits.  They shot millions of them each year, with no appreciable effect on the population explosion.  

Other rabbit-control techniques included trapping, poisons, and the deployment of ferrets, but nothing made a dent in vast numbers of rabbits that infested Australia.

Between 1901 and 1907, the Australian government built the world’s longest continuous fence – the 1139-mile-long State Barrier Fence of Western Australia – in an attempt to protect the sheep- and cattle-grazing areas of western Australia from rabbits:

The fence was maintained at first by boundary riders riding bicycles and later by riders astride camels. . . .  In 1910, a car was bought for fence inspection, but it was subject to punctured tires.  It was found the best way to inspect the fence was using buckboard buggies, pulled by two camels.

The fence helped, but was not completely effective – in part because some rabbits jumped over it or dug under it, but primarily because there were already some rabbits in western Australia when the fence was finished.

The State Barrier Fence today
Scientists began working on biological control methods in the late-19th century, but it wasn’t until the mid-20th century that they came up with an effective strategy for controlling the Australian rabbit population, which had grown to an estimated 600 MILLION!

When the myxoma virus was released into the rabbit population, it quickly reduced the wild rabbit population to only 100 million rabbits.

But those rabbits developed resistance to the myxoma virus, and the population had rebounded to 200 million to 300 million by 1991.

Recently, the government unleashed a deadly and very contagious strain of calicivirus, which causes rabbit haemorrhagic disease.  (Advantage, Australian scientists – for the time being, at least.)

*     *     *     *     *

Australia is not the only place to be invaded by rabbits.

Click here to read a National Geographic story about Okunoshima, a small Japanese island that’s been dubbed “Rabbit Island”:

A rabbit-loving tourist on Okunoshima
A town on Whidbey Island, which sits in Puget Sound just north of Seattle, has been overrun by rabbits:

“There is feces everywhere and there are some illnesses that can be carried and transmitted,” Brian Miller, facilities director for South Whidbey School District, told [a Seattle television] station.  He added that rabbits recently dug up the middle school’s football field, which the district had to pay $80,000 to restore.   

The remote Scottish island of Canna – which was cleared of a serious rat infestation just a few years ago – is populated by only 19 human residents but thousands of rabbits.

The good people of Stockholm, Sweden have come up with a creative and practical solution to the problem of rabbit overpopulation.  

From The Local, an English-language Swedish news website:

Every year, the city of Stockholm kills off thousands of rabbits in an effort to protect trees and shrubbery in the city's extensive network of parks and green space.

According to Tommy Tuvunger with the Stockholm Traffic Office, the agency responsible for controlling the city's rodent and wild animal population, part of the problem rests with delinquent pet owners who decide to release their rabbits into the city's parks.

“Many of the released rabbits are tame,” he told the newspaper. . . .

Tuvunger explained that it doesn't take many newly released rabbits to do what rabbits are known for doing, much to the detriment of Stockholm's efforts to control the size of its rabbit population.

“People who think that the bunnies are cute and cuddly suddenly don't think they're as fun anymore and put the animals outside. They think, ‘There they can play with the other rabbits’,” he said.

Cleverly disguised Swedish rabbit hunters
Last year marked a new record for Stockholm's rabbit cull, with nearly 6,000 rabbits . . . being removed from Stockholm's parks.

But rather than simply disposing of the dead rabbits, the city instead froze them for eventual transport to a special heating plant in Karlskoga in central Sweden, where the bunny bodies are then burned as a form of bioenergy.

*     *     *     *     *

Grace Slick wrote “White Rabbit” when she was singing with the Great Society, a short-lived San Francisco band whose members included her then-husband, Jerry Slick.

The Great Society was offered a recording contract by Columbia Records, but by the the time the mailman delivered the contract, Grace had decided to join the Jefferson Airplane.  (Signe Toly Anderson, the Airplane’s original lead singer, had just quit that band.)

Grace Slick
The White Rabbit was one of the most iconic characters in Alice in Wonderland, which Grace’s parents had read to her when she was a child.  “White Rabbit” was one of the first songs she ever wrote.

Click here to watch a video of the Airplane performing “White Rabbit” on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Hüsker Dü – "Books About UFOs" (1985)

Walking down a sunny street to the library
Checking out the latest books on outer space

I’ve decided that it’s time to come clean about my substance abuse problem.  I’ve kept my addiction a secret long enough.

I currently have 36 library books and DVDs checked out, with another 14 on hold.  

Do those numbers suggest to you that I have a problem?

*     *     *     *     *

When I was a kid, my hometown public library allowed you to check out no more than six library books at a time.  During the summers, I would sometimes go through six books in one day and pick up another six the following day.  (We’re talking relatively short and simple books written for middle-schoolers – not “War and Peace” or “Great Expectations.”)

When I was a kid, the public library
was my home away from home
When I was a working man, I was able to keep my addiction to library books under control because I had a limited amount of time to spend reading.  As long as I had two or three books handy, there was little risk that I would run out of something to read.  (I subscribed to the New Yorker back then, when it was still readable – that gave me another reliable source of reading material.)

*     *     *     *     *

I believe the computerization of my public library is largely to blame for my addiction.  

A trip to the library used to mean a rather haphazard trip through the stacks – not the most efficient way to track down desirable books.  But once the library catalog became available online, it became much easier to search for books.

And I wasn’t limited to the books that were on the shelves in whatever branch I was visiting.  I could search the holdings of all of the library’s branches – the county where I live operates twenty branch libraries (not counting the branch at the county correctional facility) – and reserve as many books as I wanted.  And once a book I had selected was available, it would be delivered to any branch I chose, and I’d get an e-mail inviting me to pick it up at my leisure.  (The same was true of CDs and DVDs.)

My current library stash
If I wanted a popular new book, it might take quite a while before my name made it to the top of the waiting list.  While most books became available within a few days, you could never be sure.  This encouraged me to reserve more books than I could read in the short term – I hate to run out of books!

*     *     *     *     *

My hometown library allowed you to check out books for only two weeks.  You could renew them for another two weeks, but that was it.

My current library has a three-week checkout period, which can be renewed twice.  So you can keep most books for up to nine weeks.

For a library-book hoarder like me, this is the equivalent of free crack.  Even when I have a big stack of books at home, there’s no reason no to check out even more books – after all, I have nine weeks to get to them.

Years ago, the newest and most demanded books – like new novels by popular authors – could be checked out for only seven days, and you couldn’t renew them.  So if you weren’t prepared to drop everything and read a hot book, there was no point in checking it out.

Today, you can check such books out for three weeks – although you can’t renew them beyond that period.  But three weeks isn’t one week.  I’d never check out multiple seven-day books – why bother when there’s no way you’ll get to them all?  But I’ll go home with a big stack of three-week books even if I can’t renew them beyond those three weeks.  After all, a lot can happen in three weeks.

*     *     *     *     *

I used to not bother checking out television series on DVDs.  My library allowed you to keep DVDs for only one week.  

That’s reasonable if we’re talking about a movie that can be watched in one sitting.  But what about a twelve-hour TV series?  It’s possible to get through twelve hours in a week, but it’s not easy if you have a full-time job and a couple of kids underfoot.  Plus I hate to have to rush through a good series.

Recently my library changed its policy on DVDs.  Movies can still be checked out for only seven days, but TV series can be taken home for three weeks – and they can be renewed for two more three-week periods.

*     *     *     *     *

Of course, there’s no charge for checking out books and DVDs from the public library.  When something is free, people may overconsume it.  (Economists refer to this as “the tragedy of the commons.”)

Most people don’t overconsume library books – in fact, most people don’t read books at all.

But people who spent a good part of their formative years at the local public library – my parents both worked, and it was a lot cheaper to drop me at the library once I got old enough than to hire a babysitter – and who have recently retired consume library books like the crowd at an Insane Clown Posse concert consumes drugs, beer, and Faygo sodas.

*     *     *     *     *

I like a nice, fat 19th-century novel as much as the next guy.  (Anthony Trollope is simply the best.)  And some contemporary “literary” novels are truly remarkable – you should really check out Julian Barnes, Herman Koch, James Salter, Edward St. Aubyn, and Lionel Shriver.

But there’s nothing like a good modern crime novel.  I’m not sure whether the best American crime novels (like those by Michael Connelly, Dennis Lehane, and George Pelecanos) are better than those by the best Scandanavian authors (like Karin Fossum, Henning Mankell, and L. G. W. Persson), but they’re all great.

From an article about modern crime fiction in The Guardian:

At its best, crime writing offers unique insights into society, psychology and human behavior.  It can be both engaging and literate; compelling and well-written.  It can be innovative and surprising, but what it can't be, it seems, is feted in the same way as literary fiction. . . .

This is perhaps the rub: crime writers know that the people who matter are the readers, not the critics.  But it's high time that the critics – and the award panels – began to truly sit up and take notice of the importance of good crime writing.  

Amen to that.

*     *     *     *     *

The books I’m currently sitting on include some fiction classics (David Copperfield and a book of short stories by Dostoyevsky) and new literary novels by Julian Barnes and Hideo Yokoyama.

I also have some travel guides for France and Belgium and a couple of books about World War I.  (That war ended 100 years ago, and I’m going on a group trip in July that will visit a number of World War I-related sights, with some Gothic cathedrals and lots of Belgian beer thrown in for good measure.)

Most of my current stash of library books consists of crime novels.  For example, I’ve got several of George Simenon’s Maigret books – Simenon is perhaps the most underrated popular novelist of all time – and a couple of John MacDonald’s Travis McGee novels (which are a bit dated, but still interesting).

I also have the Jens Lapidus “Stockholm Noir” trilogy, three of Lars Kepler’s Joona Linna books, and Jo Nesbø’s Macbeth, so I’m well-stocked with Scandanavian crime novels.  

Then there's John Sandford’s two most recent books – one from his Lucas Davenport series and one from the somewhat related Virgil Flowers series.

I don’t have any books about UFOs.

*     *     *     *     *

“Books About UFOs” was released on Hüsker Dü’s 1985 album, New Day Rising.

The critics loved New Day Rising.  I love New Day Rising.  Case closed.

Click here to listen to “Books About UFOs.”

And use the link below to buy the song from Amazon.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Peter Gabriel – "Big Time" (1986)

Big time
I'm on my way, I’m making it
Big time

Washington restaurateur Aaron Silverman operates three very popular eateries.

The most formal of his trio of restaurants, Pineapple and Pearls, offers a 12-course tasting menu.  (As I understand it, you don’t know what you’re getting to eat until it is served to you.)

A Pineapple and Pearls meal used to go for $280, which included the wines and other beverages paired to each course, tax, and tip.  Silverman raised the price to $325 in April.

The way Silverman sees it, you should thank him for upping the cost of eating at Pineapple and Pearls.  From the Washington Post:

“There were a lot of things that we wanted to do to improve our food, our service, our employees’ lives, our guest experience as a whole,” Silverman said.  “We wanted to raise it as little as possible so the value's still there. . . . We've always tried to charge the least amount we can.”

Aaron Silverman is awesome!
The price hike will go toward a number of improvements, Silverman said.  It will ensure that he can have an additional person at the front desk to welcome guests and “make sure everyone has a welcome drink in their hand as soon as they arrive.”  It will also enable them to buy higher-quality ingredients for guests.

“It's little things. It's not like when you walk in there's going to be a tower of champagne and caviar waiting for you,” Silverman said. “It allows us to get slightly nicer or more expensive fish, or serve an extra slice of truffle.”

No more having to wait for my welcome drink plus an extra slice of truffle for only $45 more?  Thanks, Aaron!  You’re a prince of a fellow!

*     *     *     *     *

Pineapple and Pearls asks for a credit card number when you make a reservation.  Half of the $325 dinner “ticket” is charged to your card when you book the reservation.  The remainder is charged to your card the morning of your reservation.

Here's one-twelfth of your $325 dinner
I’ve never been asked to pay for a restaurant dinner in advance, but most restaurateurs aren’t as thoughtful as Mr. Silverman.  From Washingtonian magazine:

“A huge part of this concept is making fine dining really fun yet still elegant and refined,” Silverman says.  “That means getting rid of anything that takes away from pleasure – it sucks to pay that big bill at the end.”

I’ve got news for you, Aaron.  I don’t care whether I get the check before or after I eat.  It sucks to pay $325 for dinner period.

*     *     *     *     *

Once a dedicated foodie scores a Pineapple and Pearls reservation, he or she will do just about anything to avoid having to cancel it.  But as the poet said, the best-laid schemes of mice and men gang aft a-gley.

In other words, sh*t happens.

If you can’t use your reservation, Pineapple and Pearls is happy to refund your deposit if you cancel at least five days in advance.  

The Pineapple and Pearls home page
But if you cancel more than 24 hours but less than five days in advance of your reservation, you forfeit half of your deposit.

And if you cancel less than 24 hours in advance, you are S.O.L. – you can kiss your $162.50-per-diner deposit good-bye.

*     *     *     *     *

Last fall, someone who had to cancel a Pineapple and Pearls reservation at the last minute due to an emergency wrote Washington Post restaurant critic Tom Sietsema when the restaurant refused to refund her deposit:

I reserved dinner at Pineapple and Pearls for my husband and myself in July.  My husband, who's an active duty military officer stationed overseas, was flying in for a few days, and I booked us for the night he was scheduled to arrive.  He arrived on time . . . and went straight to the emergency room with hallucinations and a 106-degree fever that developed on the flight from something he'd had contact with before departure for the U.S.  Very scary.  

I called the restaurant, repeatedly, as I was driving to the hospital to advise that we wouldn't be coming; no one picked up, and voicemail wasn't offered.  So I sent an email.  My husband spent the night in the hospital but recovered fairly rapidly after a generous dose of Cipro.  

I heard from the restaurant the next day: they very kindly inquired about my husband's welfare (good) but explained that they did not make exceptions to their cancellation policy and would not offer either a refund or a credit (wow).  

So, a public service announcement for those booking at Pineapple & Pearls: No refunds/no exceptions.  Period.  Full stop.  If your dining companion dies, you'll still have to pay for his or her meal. 

Here’s how Aaron Silverman responded: 

When competing in a market such as ours (fine dining) it is becoming necessary and often common practice to treat the experience like that of a sporting event or a concert/show; treating it like the sale of a “ticket.”  Just like a concert or show, when one gets sick or has to cancel for any last minute reason, you unfortunately forfeit the ticket.  With that said, we only apply this policy for cancellations within 24 hours of the experience.  Cancellations made prior to 24 hours are issued refunds of varying amounts depending on the timing of the cancellation (5 days, 3 days, etc).  This type of policy is something we have to stick to in order to provide the experience we do at the price point we offer. . . .

For us, the only fair way to handle these situations is to firmly hold to our policy because otherwise we would then be in the business of quantifying hardship, which is an inconceivable practice.  In our ideal world, circumstances would be different but we strive to do the best we can with what we are given.

Aaron Silverman delivering a TED talk
The Post’s Sietsema took Silverman’s side:

While I'm sympathetic to both the would-be guest and Pineapple and Pearls, after hearing from Mr. Silverman, I'm inclined to side with the restaurant.  Dining establishments operate on very slim margins.  The comparison to concerts and sporting events is a good one.  And I appreciate a staff that's sincerely bothered by having to say "no" to would-be diners . . . . But as the chef pointed out, who wants to be in the business of quantifying hardships?

“I appreciate a staff that's sincerely bothered by having to say ‘no’ to would-be diners”?  Gag me with a spoon, Mr. Sietsema.  It’s easy to be “sincerely bothered” when you’ve just robbed someone of $325.

I don’t believe for a minute that a restaurant that charges as much for dinner as Pineapple and Pearls does is operating “on very slim margins.”

Also, Silverman’s comparison of a dinner out to a ticket for a sporting event or concert sounds reasonable at first.  But the analogy isn’t perfect.  Silverman says it is a “common practice” for restaurants to handle no-shows like he does, but I’m not aware of any other Washington restaurant that has such a policy.  If other restaurants manage to survive last-minute cancellations without charging diners a nonrefundable three-figure deposit upfront, why can’t Silverman?

As for not wanting to be “in the business of quantifying hardship,” give me a f*cking break!  I understand that customers lie to businesses all the time, and I’m sure it’s frustrating for restaurants when diners cancel at the last minute on the basis of some bullsh*t excuse.  But I would be willing to bet that this customer was telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about her husband’s medical emergency.

If you ask me, a businessman isn’t justified in screwing one customer because another customer has screwed him or her.

Of course, Aaron Silverman seems to have a never-ending supply of customers eager to pay whatever price he charges.  And local restaurant reviewers kiss his ass regardless of how he treats them.  It’s no wonder he doesn’t feel the need to give his customers the benefit of the doubt.

*     *     *     *     *

Let me make another point.

Pineapple and Pearls doesn’t take walk-in customers who don’t have an advance reservation.  But its website encourages you to check the restaurant’s Instagram account to see if there are tables available on any given evening due to last-minute cancellations.

Chowing down at Pineapple and Pearls
I’m guessing that Pineapple and Pearls is almost always able to fill tables that open up when a reservation is cancelled because there seem to be plenty of narcissistic foodies in Your Nation’s Capital who are willing to fork up $325 for the privilege of chowing down at Pineapple and Pearls and telling tout le monde that the experience was to die for.  

If my supposition is correct, those forfeited deposits are pure profit for Mr. Silverman.

*     *     *     *     *

Please note also that the woman who missed out on Pineapple and Pearls because she had to rush her husband to the hospital called the restaurant as soon as possible to let them know about her emergency.  

I don’t think I would have been worrying about cancelling a restaurant reservation if I had been the one taking a hallucinating family member with an 106-degree temperature to the ER.  

But no one picked up the phone when she called Pineapple and Pearls, and there was no way for her to leave a voicemail.  (I guess that additional front-desk person Silverman said he was going to hire everyone was too busy serving welcome drinks to answer the phone.)

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I wonder if the woman was correct when she said, “If your dining companion dies, you'll still have to pay for his or her meal.”  All I know is that Aaron Silverman didn’t deny it.

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Maybe I’m not being fair to Mr. Silverman.  But there are plenty  of restaurants in the Washington area that wouldn’t think of banging your credit card if you have to bail out on a dinner reservation because of a medical emergency.  I think I’ll eat at those restaurants and take a pass on Silverman’s joints.  

I’m guessing his restaurants will survive quite nicely without me.  But I know I can survive quite nicely without his restaurants.

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Peter Gabriel’s fifth solo album, So, was released in 1986.  (His first four albums all had the same title – Peter Gabriel – which is a bit confusing.)

So was a big seller – it went quintuple platinum in the U.S. – and was nominated for the “Album of the Year” Grammy.  “Sledgehammer,” the album’s lead single was a huge hit, and the “Sledgehammer” music video is said to be the most-played music video in the history of MTV.

Another song from that album, “In Your Eyes,” was featured in the 1989 film, Say Anything.  (Surely you remember the scene where John Cusack demonstrates his undying love for Ione Skye by standing in her front yard holding a boombox that’s playing “In Your Eyes.”)

So today’s featured song isn’t the best-known track from So.  It isn’t even the second-best-known track from that album.  But it’s a pretty good song nonetheless.

Click here to watch the music video for “Big Time.”  (It’s mostly claymation – can you dig it?)

Click below to buy the song from Amazon: