February 18th @ Free Times Café

Don’t you hate rhetorical questions?

I could stop now but let me push on…

As much as I dislike rhetorical questions, I can’t stand them when they made are by a machine. Let me give you an example.

On days when I am driving in the city I sometimes need to park in a parking lot. Parking lots these days are increasingly automated. You get your ticket and then pay on your way out. Recently I parked at the Eaton Centre. I dutifully got my ticket and, at the end of my day, as instructed, went to the “pay station” to get ready to leave. I put in the ticket, inserted my credit card, and on the screen it said “$456 – OK?” (I may have exaggerated the amount on the screen, but it seemed like a lot).

It is the “OK?” part of the transaction that I can’t stand. The pay station isn’t interested if I think $267 is an appropriate amount to pay for parking (again, I can’t remember the exact amount, but I’m trying). There is no option for me to say “You know that’s not OK but here’s what I’m willing to do – how about I give you $15.” I have no choice. I either pay the amount requested ($174.64 I think) or leave my car in the lot accumulating even more charges.

We should ask more of our machines. For one thing they could be honest with us. As bad as I feel about paying $98 to park for a few hours, don’t make it worse by pretending I have a choice. I think it would just be better if the machine said “$74.37 – sucker!!!!” That’s right, I would prefer to be extorted openly by machines rather than have them provide me with the illusion of freedom of choice.

At Gordon’s Acoustic Living Room, where we entering our 373rd year of monthly shows at the Free Times’ Café (College just west of Spadina) we know there is a place for machines but also a place for people. The place for machines is in front of and behind the people on stage helping to make the music we play a bit louder and more intelligible to those gathered around to listen. Some folks in the band even use machines to store their songs and as an aid to remember the words and the chords (it’s not that we’re old and forgetful, it’s that we do so many songs we can’t possibly remember the 2,673 tunes, give or take a few, that we do).

So please join us on Sunday, February 18, at 8 pm. And not that you need any other incentives but there is no cover and lots of choice of food and drink, and on top of all that Monday is holiday (for most of us) so you can stay late (late being 11 when we wind things up). And I promise there will be no rhetorical questions. If someone in the band asks “Are you having a good time?” rest assured we are genuinely interested in your answer. I hope you can join us.

OK?

Jonathan

P.S. Here is where I often say something accurate about the bagpipes but I just heard a bagpipe version of “Don’t Stop Believing” on the radio and that says all you need to say about what is clearly the devil’s instrument (and I’m not providing a link because I care about you and no one should have to suffer through that).


February 18th Set List:
Set #1: Set #2:
Hector The Hero
Gumboot Cloggeroo
I Wonder
500 Miles
World We’re Waiting For
The Wanderer
Danny’s Song
Mary Said…
Long Black Veil
Histoires sans parole
Log Driver’s Song
Lake Of The Cagoma / Butterfly
Dead Flowers
Rocky Top
One Of Us…
Changes
Boney Fingers
Cradle Song
Pale Blue Eyes
Them Dance Hall Girls
Loke Dore Waltz
Country Squall
Get Together
Save The Last Dance For Me
Glenora Ferry