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As a reader of music blogs, I think joe Warminsky had some valid critiques of the music blogosphere (Music in Review, “Post Rock,” 12/22/06). But as a writer for the blog Music for Robots, I did want to respond to his point that “popular” and/or older acts go “unnoticed” by the blogs. I can’t speak for the rest of the blogs, of course, but a major determining factor for the music we post is the labels who understand what we’re doing. Our blog readers want music along with the blurb, and the major labels aren’t usually going to give us a track to post. So the universe of songs we can write about is somewhat limited by who is willing to give away music for free (we do not post music without the band’s permission). This obviously tends to trend toward younger, less known, and indie bands and labels. Now that’s not to say there’s a shortage of quality product—we always have more great songs than we can keep up with, but the nature of the majors doesn’t lend itself to what we’re doing. I’m guessing the rest of the big blogs are in the same boat. It’s not that we don’t pay attention to the radio, or what the radio was playing years ago, or that we’re too young. (I’m 30, and the rest of the Robots are right behind me.) There are some older and bigger acts that do get it and are willing to share their music with the Web. When we get the chance, we love to write about them. My guess is time will prove that artists who do this will win out.
David “robotdave” Willett
I am really disappointed in the Washington City Paper’s review of Comet Ping Pong (Young & Hungry, “Buy, Buy This American Pie,” 1/5).
I expected a scathing exposure of the subpar, overpriced pizza and the sorry, expensive excuse for a salad. Instead, I got the equivalent of a Fox News sit-down with President Bush. It seems your reviewer is a little too chummy with James Alefantis and Carole Greenwood to reach an obvious conclusion: skip Comet Ping Pong.
For shame, Washington City Paper.
Fine Whining Establishments
It is hard to read alcoholic-beverage-license-holder restaurants’ caterwauling about having to comply with the 45 percent of sales or $2,000-per-seat food-sales requirement with a straight face (Show & Tell, “Grub Crawl,” 12/22/06). One wails as if the world were ending: “Alcohol in your system is alcohol in your system. Food in and of itself doesn’t solve the problem.” But this remark exemplifies the absurd extremes to which lax alcohol-beverage regulation has led us.
Food in your system absorbs alcohol so it doesn’t enter your bloodstream and impair you as quickly. Food in your system takes up space in your stomach, which leaves less room for alcohol. Food in your system makes you less hungry, so you might not feel a need to consume as much alcohol. Food in front of you gives you something else to do with your hand and mouth instead of downing another pitcher of beer.
Ward I Councilmember Jim Graham was not being hyperbolic when he was quoted saying, “It used to be that a restaurant was just a nightclub.” The city’s ABC law used to require that an establishment’s “chief source of revenue” be from the sale of meals. For three decades the ABC Board pretended these words didn’t mean what they said until the courts in 1986 tried putting a stop to it. Instead, the D.C. Council, on an emergency basis, repealed the requirement that restaurants serve any food. Then the Council “modernized” the ABC law to allow restaurants to get away with a mere 45 percent of food sales and created new tavern and nightclub categories with no food-sales requirements.
The District of Columbia has one of the country’s highest per-capita alcohol consumption levels, which translates into alcohol-beverage-inspired campaign contributions galore, which translates into lax regulation. For a long 20 years, this requirement has gone effectively unenforced, allowing taverns to pretend to be restaurants and pay lower license fees. But even this was too onerous for the industry, so a few years ago it persuaded the Council to allow 45 percent OR $2,000 per seat. And now it is still caterwauling at even these watered-down requirements finally being enforced.
This is an industry that never will be satisfied no matter how little regulation there is or how many concessions its economic clout and campaign contributions can wring from the city government. It will always want more. Even if there were no regulation, it would demand the city subsidize its operations, which the city is already doing by allowing sidewalk cafes for nominal fees.