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“Socially Accepted Leisure through Pain”

There’s this bar that opened up not too long ago in Mishawaka, which I will render unnamed, hence keeping this article classified in a way that, if not ensuring my safety, might let me avoid a lot of annoying questions. By all accounts, it’s a nice place, and they offer an amazing 32 craft beer draft options, as well as like a zillion bottle options. As far as the beer selection goes, and I’m kind of even a beer snob, but I wish they’d get a little more approachable — they seem to prefer More, Maplewood, Pax Verum and all these obscure, tiny breweries even to Bell’s, whose Two Hearted and Oberon, elsewhere ubiquitous, cannot be found there. 

As you might expect, it’s full of dudes with big beards and they’re all about tacos. So it’s like a combination of colonial times and primitive Mexican cuisine, in other words. Just kidding… I do know those are the trends today. 

I mean, the vibe reminds me of Hooter’s, or whatever, minus the naked women — it’s a big, well-lit, nice place that has pretty much everything you could ask for from a bar. A curious component I’d like to bring up, though, is the music. They play a constant stream of punk rock. Every day, all hours of the day, even into the wee hours of the morning, you can hear punk clamoring out of the speakers there, like a unilateral issuing from a musical Big Brother himself. Hooter’s, on the other hand, when I was in the one in Orland Park, Illinois, in 2013, played that dance-pop radio stuff that was popular at the time, and, which, I have to say, was way more appropriate for a bar, if not necessarily always being a step up in the artistic department.

But there are a couple problems I have with punk being pummeled out of the speakers in a bar setting like this, other than the fact that most of the bands are just intrinsically really annoying, whiny and overly earnest. One would be that, in my experience, it’s never been a good style of music to put on late at night, when the work of the day is over and people are trying to chill and relax. The very anatomy of the music is necessarily confrontational, plaintive and crude, elements typically askance with the concept of taking a load off.

My last point, and this is what probably pi**es me off the most about the fact that they play nothing but punk, is that sitting in that bar entails buying $8 beers, sitting on your a** and yacking it up with people, a very un-punk activity. Punk rockers, typically, grow up poor, or of relatively scant financial means. They berate bands that charge too much for their shows. And they’re activists, or anarchists by trade — not the functional figures to sit around “enjoying themselves,” and all that antiquated stuff. That was what those stiff-necked white-collar dudes like Yes and ELO were doing, that Joe Strummer and Johnny Ramone wanted to vehemently to combat and efface with simple, direct noise. 

It seems like in our culture today there’s a value placed on just sitting in a bar and drinking, doing nothing. It’s either this or this is just such a prized activity, so many people want to do it, that there will always be a presence of it in the community. For me, I know, typically what makes me want to go out is being at work all day and getting stressed, in which case, once I’m at the bar, I want to be able to relax, and not constantly uphold some cultural paradigm of “purity” (they even have a “No Stairway to Heaven” sign up above the exit, apparently a nauseating reference to Wayne’s World and Chicago, the metropolitan savior of humanity, of course). I mean, the juxtaposition of punk rock and people sitting there doing nothing just smacks of bet-hedging, like side-stepping the trap of “rock star” or “arrogance,” when, really, we all know there’s no better song to hear in a bar than “Sweet Emotion.” 

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