Bungalow Jukebox Ju-Ju
D’ya know what joss sticks are?
The tame definition in Wikipedia is that they are slow-burning sticks of incense, burned before idols in religious ceremonies. Well sure, you could use them that way…just as you could use your new $1,000 I-Phone to make a phone call or prop your book open while you read.
Or, your joss sticks could be notched and imprinted in such a way that when you tossed them like pick-up-sticks (remember them?) and pondered the resulting pattern, you could deduce future strategies for living. Or, as posited in Guy Boothby’s peripatetic “Dr. Nikola” novels, you could rule the world and direct its populations to nefarious, but profitable ends.
How about tarot cards; similar purposes minus the world domination option (and don’t they look pretty on the table?)
Or tea leaves, or crystal balls, or palms, or horoscopes, or odd number coincidences, or Madame Cleo …or the Daily Racing Form for that matter.
Guidance; that’s usually all we’re seeking. Oh sure, we’ll take world domination, but that’s not our primary goal. We just want a subtle or crude finger-post suggesting; “Ya, might wanna try this.”
I admit I’ve tried all of the paths mentioned with pretty consistent results; zip, nada, uh-uh.
…there is one oracle that’s been spot on.
Once upon a time there was a restaurant/bar in Lexington called The Bungalow. They had fine mimosas, sinfully delicious desserts (thank you, John Barker Gray), killer “Eggs Nova Scotia”, a later night crowd of vague genders and chimerically specific wardrobes,
…and a legendary jukebox.
There was a central master jukebox with satellites at the perimeter tables. The satellites had those wonderful manual tabs that could be flipped from A-3 (“I Believe in Love”-Barbra Streisand) to D-4 (“Johnny Angel”-Shelly Fabares) in a 1980’s second.
I loved that jukebox.
I adulated that jukebox.
I trusted that jukebox.
These were early Shoppers Village Liquors days for me. I would go to my office on Saturday mornings, check in with every store, check in with Rob (the owner), pick up Janie, have brunch at The Bungalow, and work in the stores in the afternoon. This was a “happy place” for me.
I could pretty well determine what kind of day it would be by the selections heard on the jukebox at brunch. Would be a “Stop! In the Name of Love”-Diana Ross and the Supremes kind of day, or a “Cry Baby”-Janis Joplin disaster of a day?
It rarely steered me wrong.
I think everyone rued the eventual demise of The Bungalow, but few were aware of the collateral damage of losing that jukebox. Guilty as charged.
About the year 2000, I had the great good luck to a do show with Michael Thompson. As to be expected, he was excellent in his role and excellent company to boot. Michael had served a good bit of time as bartender at The Bungalow. One night at rehearsal he handed me a jewel case with two cd’s. It was a compilation of all the selections from the jukebox at The Bungalow. He had also taken the matchbook cover from the restaurant and rendered it into a cover for the cd. What a treasure!
If you can wear a cd out, I have just about worn this one out.
And yes, if I pop it into my playlist and hit “random” and “String of Pearls”-Glenn Miller chirps free, I go about my day with a bit more irrational confidence. Or if “Beyond the Sea”-Bobby Darin starts crooning, I go find Janie and we talk vacation possibilities.
You can keep yer joss sticks.