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Music, turkeys, a soda pop quiz

Rare are the moments you find Frank Sinatra and Parliament sharing the same jukebox, but that's exactly what I encountered recently at t.he Rack, the new purple felt billiards hall on Platt Street in South Tampa.

I loaded the jukebox with a dollar bill and thought fondly about the upcoming looks of bewilderment I was sure to get when The Way You Look Tonight was followed by Flashlight.

The problem is I'm still waiting.

After a torturous 75-minute wait to hear any of the four songs I requested, I left the Rack dejected (despite sinking two balls with a nifty ricochet shot). It appeared some other patrons had filled the jukebox with 50 of their favorite songs.

Their favorite songs, however, consisted of a most depressing string of slow and moody tunes. I realize a pool hall isn't a disco, but because the most upbeat of their selections was Bob Marley's Redemption, I had to go pop a couple of Prozac to avoid throwing myself off the nearest bridge.

There is undoubtedly a need for jukebox etiquette, primarily because some people skipped kindergarten and missed that segment on Sesame Street about sharing.

Rule 1: Limit yourself to four or five songs. It's a public music machine, not your personal CD player.

Rule 2: Imagine yourself as a DJ, not a man catering to your personal whims. Avoid that long-lost track you discovered in a drug haze back in school 22 years ago.

Rule 3: Skip really long songs. Everybody may get a chance to hear their favorites if you're not playing Stairway To Heaven.I know there may be some who think there is no need for jukebox etiquette, but ignoring these rules can lead to something more sinister. You see, AMI/Rowe, makers of the jukebox at the Rack and the self-proclaimed No. 1 manufacturer of commercial and home CD jukeboxes, has a new technology called My Song First.

For additional credits (that is, more money), you can place one of your songs ahead of everyone else's. The technology has not been installed at the Rack, but it's so devious one friend has labeled it "Republican." (Hey, devious was Jeb's word, not mine.)

I'm not trying to get fellow Florida alumni riled up, but I was a mite surprised when I learned the Gators did not finish in the top 10 of the Turkey Bowl last year.

Turkey Bowl? To encourage donations, Metropolitan Ministries allows alumni to earn one point for each donation of a turkey, toy or $10. Top 10 finishers from 2001 included South Florida, Florida State and Tampa, as well as Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh and Georgia. But Florida did not crack the top 10. Turkeys.

The competition began three years ago when the Virginia Tech alumni association donated 200 turkeys. On Monday, the Hokies came through with a donation of 300 turkeys.

But there is time to catch them, and a dire need with Metropolitan Ministries expecting to serve a record 9,400 families this year (up 1,000 from last year). Make donations in the name of your school at the ministries' holiday tent on the 2100 block of N Florida Avenue.

I knew people were particular about Coke and Pepsi, but not until Monday did I discover somebody who thinks there's a difference between Sprite and 7-Up. And I've known this person for 18 years.

I'll go to my grave thinking the two drinks taste the same, but the next time my wife asks for 7-Up, I will get 7-Up. Or I might get Sprite and put it in a 7-Up bottle just to see if she can really tell.

That's all I'm saying.

_ Ernest Hooper can be reached at (813) 226-3406 or Hoopersptimes.com.

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