Archive for July, 2010
11 Jul

The Top 11: Summer Albums

I like to do a Top 11 list because I always feel bad for the one thing that just missed the Top 10.

These are albums that I always seem to call up during summer. The albums may have nothing to do with season, but for some reason I associate them with sunny, warm weather. Several of them are often played with the windows rolled down and the music cranked.

1. Pet Sounds – The Beach Boys

I listened to this constantly on a beach in Mallorca, Spain. “God Only Knows” is one of the greatest songs ever.

2. The Grand Illusion – Styx

This was the high school album for our clique. I think we wore out 4 cassette copies constantly playing it over and over.

3. Girlfriend – Matthew Sweet

I’m not sure how or why this turned into a summer album since it came out in the fall, but “Girlfriend” is a great windows-down song.

4. Skylarking – XTX

This one just screams summer. Even birds and flies make guest appearances. “Summer’s Cauldron” kicks it off in a lazy-day style and it never lets up.

5. Indigo Girls – Indigo Girls

I remember painting a kitchen during a summer evening and playing this over and over. I think the next day I pretty much knew all the lyrics.

6. Cosmic Thing – The B-52’s

“Love Shack,” “Roam,” enough said.

7. Rickie Lee Jones – Rickie Lee Jones

Laid back and just plain cool. “The Last Chance Texaco” is dusty, hot, and brilliant. One of my favorite albums of all time.

8. Loose – Victoria Williams

Quirky and playful with some great songs like “Crazy Mary,” which was covered by Pearl Jam. Some folks don’t care for her voice, but I love her unique delivery.

9. Too-Rye-Ay – Dexys Midnight Runners

“Come on Eileen” is an 80s iconic summer song, but there is a lot more here to dig into like “The Celtic Soul Brothers” and cover of “Jackie Wilson Said.”

10. Vacation – The Go-Go’s

Yes, this is not their best album, but with that cover image and the title single, it simply reeks of summer fun.

11. The Garden – Merrill Bainbridge

This is a real gem that has been lost along the way. You may remember her bouncy hit “Mouth,” but much of the album is full of dreamy pop that is perfect for the season.

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05 Jul

The Real Life: Scenes from a Restaurant, Pt. 1

My days of being a waiter were short-lived. I did 2 years worth and have no plans to return to that profession. For me it consisted of long hours and hard work that put me on a financial rollercoaster. Plus, you have to serve the random public and rely on them for your income. It is a ghastly job and I applaud anyone who can make a career as a server.

I had been told that I was a very good server. Still, no matter how fast, friendly, or attentive I was there were always people who tipped like crap. It is really deflating to connect with a table of people who had a good dining experience and then on a $100 tab they leave a paltry few buck. My advice to people? If you are going to a place where the entrees are $25+, don’t tip like you are at the Coney Island. If you don’t have the extra money or don’t want to spend it, then I heartily suggest you find the nearest chain restaurant and enjoy your chili cheese fries and endless pasta for $5.99. You can leave your $2 tip there.

So who are the good and bad tippers?  It can be random, but there are certain folks that when they sat in our sections at the restaurant, we looked on them either with joy or as a lost cause. I always got my best tips from tables of women, aged 30+, having a girls night out. I just paid attention to them, chatted with them, complimented them, made them laugh, and flirted a little.  It added to their night and they usually rewarded me for it. Sure, they knew I was out to make money but they didn’t care. They were having a good time and it was a win-win for both sides. Also good tippers are the drinkers. When someone at a table said “another round,” it filled me with glee. It was amazing how looser wallets became after a couple of martinis.

The worst?  Most people would think the retiree crowd would top the list, but actually in the upscale restaurant I worked at they were usually quite good. Older folks with a good nest egg are always appreciative of good service and tip accordingly. The “fixed income” crowd tended to stay away due to the prices. But the ultimate worst tippers for me were middle aged, snobby pseudo-rich folk. You could be the best server in the world and they would still look down on you and give you nothing. I could spot them coming in the door and would say to myself “please, not my section…not my section…” You know the ones – the women are skinny as rails, coiffed to perfection, and designer labels from head to toe with the guys extra tan, slightly paunched, big gold rings and slick hair pulling up in their midlife crisis sports car. Awful people, awful tippers. There are other groups of people who are notoriously bad tippers and any server can tell you who they are, but this particular sect of people would just irritate me more than any other.

I guess what I’m trying to say is tip your servers, ladies and gents. If someone is working hard and taking good care of you, then do the same for them. They are just trying to make a living the same as you.