In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.

Try Advanced Search

  1. Seattle Squeeze: New Urban Living
  2. Checking In
  3. Ben Aronson's Representational Abstractions
  4. Rock is ... Forever?
  5. We Need the Arts: A Sob Story
  6. Form Following (Commercial) Function
  7. Two Humorous Items from the Financial Crisis
  8. Ken Auster of the Kute Kaptions
  9. What Might Representational Painters Paint?
  10. In The Times ...

Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette

Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Joanne Jacobs
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes

Redwood Dragon
The Invisible Hand
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz


Our Last 50 Referrers

« Test Drive: Slow-Drying Acrylics | Main | Secession and the Fed »

February 11, 2009

End of an Era? Sign of the Times?

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Muzak files for bankruptcy.



posted by Michael at February 11, 2009


Why would a company like Muzak, which has been established and successful for decades, be carrying a heavy debt load?

I don't know the story, but this suggests that Muzak was being used by its parent company as a bargaining chip for acquisitions and mergers, or as a way to dump profits and/or losses from other subsidiaries.

Muzak must be a cash cow. Somebody forgot that you shouldn't kill the cow that gives the milk.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on February 11, 2009 7:31 PM

Its obvious that the owners of this company borrowed a lot of money, stole it, and then declared bankruptcy.

So yes, it is a sign of the times.

Posted by: Nano on February 11, 2009 7:45 PM

They can get in line...

Posted by: Charlton Griffin on February 11, 2009 8:10 PM

More signs of the times:

And that welfare news just got better for all those uninclined to actually get up and go to work:

Thankfully, I don't live in CA. All I've got to pay for is someone else's mortgage and their cable bill.

Posted by: In the Red on February 11, 2009 9:52 PM

Agreed that there likely were some financial shenanigans. Not only is the debt load high, but the company's assets are preposterously low.

Posted by: Peter on February 11, 2009 10:30 PM

Shouting Thomas has the right idea, only going back 10 years ago, when ABRY Partners made a bundle.


Posted by: Julie Brook on February 12, 2009 9:10 AM

It's depressing to say this, but muzak, insipid as it was, was far easier to tolerate than its successor, flat panel TVs playing tabloid cable shows or dedicated infomercial feeds.

To think that looking back on it, muzak will be seen as a bulwark against ambient cultural deterioration. Yikes.

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on February 12, 2009 5:26 PM

Peter: It's depressing to say this, but muzak, insipid as it was, was far easier to tolerate than its successor, flat panel TVs playing tabloid cable shows or dedicated infomercial feeds.

To think that looking back on it, muzak will be seen as a bulwark against ambient cultural deterioration. Yikes.

Yes, yes, yes. I'm beginning to find a lot of public places intolerable - Winston Smith's telescreen is everywhere. Insipid, low-volume instumental music is an audio paradise compared to what assaults the eye and ear in stores, at the gym, at the goddamned doctor's and dentist's office...

Seriously, does constant ear-rape and eye distraction cater to a genuine consumer preference? Hey, maybe it does, and I'm just too old and my skull isn't empty enough to require it. And it's not just too loud for these public spaces, it's generally vocal music of incredibly poor quality.

I appreciate the usefulness of loud, head-banging music - say, in the weight room at the gym. But I'm mystified why, e.g., the rest of the gym - where every member brings his own music device, and every aerobic machine is equipped with a personal telly - is scorched with a "music" feed loud enough to interfere with personal listening. And I remain utterly perplexed by the sensory gang-rape concept: the locker room, like a proliferating number of public spaces, has both the blaring TV set on the idiot channel, and the ultra-shitty vocal music feed, set at a comparable volume. I don't get it - even correcting for the natural irritability regarding noise that comes with advancing age. Even if it were interesting programming and excellent vocal music, what would be the bloody point? Hey, I know people vary in their tastes for manner and degree of sensory stimulation, but...I do not fucking get it.

The dentist does this, too, but at least the twerps on CNN proceed with the sound off while the crap vocal music drones on at modest volume. Pointless and irritating, but at least it hasn't yet driven me to stabbing the hygienist with her plaque scraper; not sure I can vouch for my continued self-control in the louder, dual-assault venues.

Like most women, I love the leisurely ritual of shopping for clothes and household items - or, at least, I used to. The ear-rape has become so unbearably irritating in most malls and department stores that I limit my visits to dire need and surgical strikes. Once, after being driven out of a local department store in exasperation, needed items unpurchased, I thought that perhaps they might appreciate a little customer feedback on why they had lost some sales revenue. So I looked up their customer service address and emailed a polite note essentially suggesting that, while I was sure they had sound marketing research proving the appeal of this aural environment to their most lucrative demographic, perhaps they could pull in a bit more revenue catering, at least in some parts of the store and at some hours, to their non-moronic, non-philistine, non-brick-skulled, er, more mature customers (or perhaps provide good-quality noise-cancelling headphones to members of the cranky old fart shopping demographic).

I received a pleasant, illiterate reply from the realms of the Idiocracy (addressed to my first name - Hi Moira! - natch), explaining that their music was received from a satellite subscription, and please feel free to contact them if there was anything else they could help me with. Oh well, there ya go! It comes from a satellite! Whatcha gonna do? Those satellites, ya know! Act of God! Sigh. Serious noise-cancelling headphones are awfully pricey, and I don't really like the idea of moving around in public cut off from important sensory information. My super-power fantasy? The ability to melt down speakers with my mind.

Target, blessedly (at least our local Target), pumps in nothing, except, reasonably, in the gadget section. Bless them, bless them, bless them.

Posted by: Moira Breen on February 12, 2009 7:59 PM

Old Navy is a hellscape of corporate pseudo-pop. And by corporate, I mean produced specifically for Old Navy. It sounds just close enough to normal crap pop to almost pass, but then you notice something isn't right. I cannot stand to be in there more than 5 minutes because of it. They have cheap, decent clothes for kids, though, so we but from them online.

Posted by: JV on February 12, 2009 9:16 PM

Moira and JV - start shopping at small local businesses instead of corporate chains. Even if they have music or flat screens serving up stuff you find offensive or distracting you can make your opinion known to the owner, usually immediately and in person, rather than via an e-mail to a customer service rep. who is likely to be a subcontractor on a subcontinent half a world away.

Posted by: Chris White on February 13, 2009 7:12 AM

Chris: I roll my eyes in your specific direction. Three out of the four examples I gave were local businesses. I relayed the response from mega-corp because it was amusing. You don't seriously think I suffered in silence in the other places, do you?

Posted by: Moira Breen on February 15, 2009 3:31 PM

I once asked the waiter at a chain oriental food establishment who's name goes unfortunately well with "Too much for lunch", to turn down the blaring music. My party were the only customers (Shockingly, no one else was up for Chinese/Thai-style shrimp at 10:45 on a Saturday morning.) and we still were having difficulty communicating with each other across the table. It took them 15 minutes because the waiter had to go get his manager to phone home office - the volume control wasn't actually on site - but it did get turned down.

Posted by: rvman on February 20, 2009 2:46 PM

Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember your info?