Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh

Random quick thoughtage

Stuff I pondered while running errands (dropping off a s00j CD at a radio station; returning a DVD set to the library; and having a burger at Burgerville) this afternoon:

* I overheard a snippet of conversation on the streetcar: "It used to be called 'Special Ed,' but it's not anymore because it's not P.C."

A thought I'm trying to form: I wanted to say to that person If language changes in a way you like, you'd never call that 'P.C.'; you only apply that to a language- or term-change you don't like.

Does the term "P.C." have any real meaning anymore? It's like it's a convenient boogeyman term, adapted to whatever denigrating meaning people want to apply it to. That person certainly was no George Carlin, actually pondering in an interesting way the deeper meaning of the changing language we use. She just was going I don't like that term, so I'll mock it.

To self-pimp, here's how I've talked about a language change, specifically about changing the names of mall. Third paragraph. Or you could read the whole entry; I think it's a good one...

* My phraseology, let me show you it: I had cause this afternoon to take the bus-and-sidewalk route I used to take to my OHSU job. Coming up a hill I was walking down was John, one of the people I used to work near, headed home. He said hi; so did I; he wished me a good weekend; I waved and told him "Escape well!"

* Burgerville (where I ate a cheeseburger topped with sauteed Walla Walla Onions because, hey, I craved them and they're in season) has jukeboxes, and the restaurant I ate at was playing an interesting mix of music. I was moved by one song to try to find the name of the song, but the jukebox guide wasn't functioning, and I doubted the employees would know what the song (which almost sounded like Tom Waits, but wasn't) was. Still, worthy and interesting song I hadn't heard before.

This reminded me of a more annoying jukebox situation I remember from thirteen years ago. It was 1995, during a college break, and I was at Lloyd Center in Portland for lunch. Recently opened there on the edge of the Food Court was a fake diner called Billy Heartbeats. Bad choice. The food was unmemorable, and the decor was forced -- I figured it was a failed attempt to emulate Jack Rabbit Slims from Pulp Fiction. My waitress was cute (yes, I still remember that), but that was about all that was worthy.

The memorably annoying thing was the music. The sound system would start playing some obscure Fifties song that I'd never heard before, but just as I'd start tuning into that song to go "What is that?," the song would fade out, replaced by something I'd heard either 10,000 or 11,000 times in my lifetime. I was getting "Tequila" or "Hound Dog" when really I was more in the mood for a deeper cut. And the presentation -- just a snippet of a deep cut, then a full-length chestnut (a short Fifties song, but still) -- called attention to itself, at least when a musicphile was listening. If the intent was to be comforting by playing the familiar music, why the fading-out deep-cut snippets that called attention to themselves? It's a taste of something not heard as much, but with that taste taken away and replaced by the chestnut. (Okay, there's a mixed-up metaphor in there somewhere.)

I was never moved to eat at Billy Heartbeats again, though it's survived to 2008, to my surprise.

* That's enough random thoughtage for now.
Tags: language, music, peregrinations

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