Saturday, September 10, 2011

This Comedy Blog, Established In 2010

The year was 1990. President Bush's father, President Bush, was in office. Macaulay Culkin starred in Home Alone but was still years away from dating Mila Kunis. Sinead O'Connor had the most popular song of the year with "Nothing Compares 2 U," and had not yet begun her transformation into a sexually frustrated blogger.

And, across the street from where I now live, a bar was established. It wasn't a memorable moment at the time; heck, I wasn't living in my current neighborhood back then, so I didn't even know the bar existed until I moved here. But fortunately, the bar has taught me its own little history lesson. There's a huge sign outside its entrance: "Established In 1990." Where were you when this bar was established?

From here on out, I will never forget the year the bar opened for business, because the bar won't let me forget it. The bar obviously feels it's important for customers to know that it's been around for over 20 years. I can't understate the significance of this. I can't even state the significance of this. I don't know what the significance is.

I have never stepped foot inside this bar. The simple fact that it was established in 1990 is not enough of a drawing card, as far as I'm concerned. Consider this: I was established (born) in 1980. I have 10 years on the bar across the street. It should be visiting me. It should send a waitress over to my apartment with a plate of mild wings and a soda. Only then will I enter the bar.

I don't mean to pick on this particular bar. There are plenty of other bars and restaurants with signs indicating when they opened for business. They all use words like "established" or "since." "Since 1925." Since 1925 what? Since 1925 you've been hanging a sign that reads "Since 1925"? I may not understand the reasoning behind this line of advertising, but I will argue this: I believe it's pointless for a restaurant to hang that kind of sign if it opened in the 2000s. If your restaurant is younger than Central Perk, there's no need to call attention to that fact.

But hey, there are a lot of restaurants to choose from in any town. They need to distinguish themselves from the competition somehow. I suppose one way is to promote the year they were established. Another way is to come up with hyperbolic slogans for its dishes. This is especially the case with restaurants that specialize in hamburgers. I can't tell you how many burger joints I've been to over the years that claimed to have "the best burger in town." How they verified this, I have no idea. Each time, I had my doubts. It's a completely subjective debate that boils down to each individual's specific taste. Try convincing the Hamburglar that McDonald's does not have the best burger in town. If there was a better burger in town, he would rob that restaurant instead.

While some restaurants may have the "best burger in town," others may have the most "famous" burger in town. "Come try our famous hamburgers!" "Famous" is such a strong word. The word "fame" should be reserved for people or inanimate objects that have earned it, like the Slurpee or Snooki. A hamburger that's "famous" in a town of 20,000 people would be a C-list hamburger at best. It wouldn't even merit a brief mention in Hamburger Life Weekly.

You really want "famous"? Enter a restaurant and check for a wall of fame, with autographed pictures of celebrity customers. Believe me, if a person with an even remotely recognizable name walked through that door and enjoyed the food, there will be a framed photo of him/her hanging somewhere for everyone to see. It doesn't matter how famous he/she is/was; the important thing is that he/she was there and wishes the owner "all the best." Put it this way: If, say, a baseball player from the 1980s once had a plate of spaghetti at a restaurant, wouldn't that entice you to eat there too?

The short answer: yes. Partly because you would know the restaurant was established during the 1980s, at the latest.