Friday, February 27, 2009

Deep-Fried Thoughts

Which is more depressing? Having two bars in your neighborhood, Chili's and Applebee's? Or having just one bar in your neighborhood, Applebee's?

Here in Terra Linda (developed before builders were required to know Spanish) we're now stuck with just Applebee's. The other apostrophe restaurant, Chili's, closed. Such is the recession.

Even when I'm going through an alcohol-free phase, I do enjoy bars, just as I enjoy coffeehouses. Both offer observational and conversational opportunities, and bars offer more of the latter. And here's my theory: If you've never been to an Applebee's, you cannot claim to understand America.

Who was the conservative pundit who said Obama didn't seem "like the type of guy who would fit in at Applebee's salad bar"? It was David Brooks who wasn't aware that Applebee's doesn't have a salad bar. Just a bar. If he'd hang out there, he might get a little closer to his nation's pulse, even though the pulse is slightly occluded by cholesterol.

Not long ago, during happy hour (23-ounce beers for $3), a burly guy looked around Applebee's horseshoe-shaped bar and said, "I'll bet none of you have been to work today."

One guy ventured that he had. Another guy said he had been engaged in child care. Five other people, and the burly questioner, an electrician, admitted they were out of work. A couple of the people had worked in stores in the half-shuttered mall and couldn't stop returning to Applebee's for happy hour, even though they were unhappy.

The electrician said that naturally he knew I hadn't been to work. Five years of retirement can do that to you.

Since then all the happy-hour conversations seem to come back to lack of work, shrinking prospects for retirement, closing businesses and failing newspapers. As a former newspaperman I am pleased to report that working-class Americans, the Applebee's clientele, are connoisseurs of daily newspapers and will miss them.

No, they may not be connoisseurs of food. But the chips and salsa aren't bad and go well with three-buck Bud.


Zoomie said...

Guess I'd fit in at the bar, then, since I'd miss the Chron if it goes...

cranky said...

Yeah, I'll miss it, too. I was talking to an old friend who said readers had been trashing the new Chron design, but then said, "No, no, we don't want you to go away."
Why did they bother to do a redesign? Maybe it's like cleaning the house before putting it on the market.
On the other hand, they'd been planning to do this for a long time and decisions are hard to stop at that place.
I have it on good authority they were planning to go with a tabloid format. So we may lose the Chron, but we haven't gained a tabloid. There's that.

Zoomie said...

Oh, god, not another tabloid! I'd rather lose it altogether than have it lower itself to that. :-(

Chilebrown said...

Is Applebee's really a bar? Our local Applebee's, Pinole, is way to bright and they let Children color with crayons on the bar.
Did you know William Brand from the Tribune? I just found out about his tragic accident. I may have to go to a non Applebees bar and hoist one in his honor.