Speak Out/Shut Up

I went to see War at Judge Morley Pavilion with Mrs. E tonight. I want to thank the 7Up bottling company for sponsoring this summer series of concerts. It’s a great place for outdoor concerts. I grew up with War’s music and always liked it. That being said, this evening I thought they were terrible in concert.  I don’t think I’m the only one who felt that way as many around us left even earlier than we did. I don’t expect a band to play their hit songs note for note the way they were recorded. On the other hand, long extended instrumental jams get boring rather quickly. That is probably why I was never a Greatful Dead fan. I also found War’s drug references cheesy and in poor taste with so many children in the audience.  I did get to sit in the shade and the concert was thankfully free so all was not lost.  Maybe, it’s true that you can’t go back.

There is power in speaking out and I want to give you an example. In my last post I mentioned I had e-mailed a complaint to the Ohio Turnpike Commission. I had informed them about the dirty restroom and slow service at the McDonalds’ rest stop before the turnpike’s Mahoning Valley exit. It is the first exit motorist leaving  Pennsylvania encounter upon entering Ohio.

A couple of days after making my complaint, I received a phone call from the Division Manager for Ohio Turnpike Service Parks. He informed me he had received a few other complaints just this week about the same messy rest stop. He also said he has heard about extended waits for service at  McDonalds because customers have said there weren’t enough employees working. He couldn’t have been any more apologetic or polite. He said that stop is contracted out to an owner that owns it and a few other McDonalds along the Ohio Turnpike. It is 55 years old and will soon be torn down and replaced with a rest stop owned by the state. I did agree with him that the Ohio owned rest stops I have patronized along the turnpike have been some of the best in the country.

I also received an e-mail from Andrew Herberger the Director of Service Plaza Operations. Both men expressed that they would be making a visit to personally check out the Mahoning Valley rest stop.

A few days after hearing from both men I knew they’d talked with McDonalds about the problems. That’s because I received a letter  from Kris Stuhidreherthe District Supervisor for McDonalds. She wrote, “I have discussed your concerns with my management team. Corrective action has been taken to ensure a similar incident will never occur.” She added, ” The best way we can improve is if people who aren’t satisfied tell us so… and tell us why. You’ve given me an opportunity to make improvements, and hopefully we’ll exceed your expectations on your next visit.”

The title of my last blog was “We Can Do Better.” The problem is to do better we must make the time and effort to speak out. I will stop at this rest stop the next time I take my daughter back to college in Pittsburgh. I will then contact the Turnpike Commission and McDonalds again. I am hoping it is better and I will be happy to thank both McDonalds and the Ohio Turnpike Commission. It is just as important to thank people for a job well done as it is to complain. I need to remember this more and I hope you will also.

I just talked about speaking out, now I want to speak about times when you need to shut up. Let me start by asking you a few questions. Have you ever gone to one of our many excellent area venues for live plays? If for example you went to see, “Phantom of the Opera” did anyone yell, “I want to see  Grease.” If you went to a movie theater that was showing, “Shrek” did anyone scream, “I want to see Titanic.” Did you go to see the Youngstown  Symphony Orchestra performing, “The Nutcracker” and hear someone  call out “I want to hear Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.” Ever been to an artists opening at a gallery? Did you hear somebody tell the artist that they like Leonardo di Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” better than his art?

Of course you haven’t experienced any of that and neither have I. That is until I attended an outdoor free concert last Sunday at the square in my hometown of Vienna, OH.  Over a 150 people came to hear Rachael Wearsch & The Beatnik Playboys. As you can see at their site they have some great original music. After listening online I was excited to hear their music. Sadly, I didn’t get to hear many of their own tunes. That is because some members of the audience had other plans. They were yelling,  “Play some Patsy Cline, George Jones, Kenny Rogers, Loretta Lynn etc.” Before you think this was done by some rude young kids let me tell you the culprits were all senior citizens.

Rachael and the Beatnik Playboys were musically talented enough to play all  of the requests. At the same time you could tell their hearts were not into the requests but they remained very professional. They even gave in and asked the audience what they wanted to hear next. If I was in the band I would have said, “Will it really make you happy to hear Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler” for the millionth time in your life? How about instead I play one of my original tunes which will make me happy and if you give it a chance just might make you happy.”

I’d be offended if I came to a poetry reading to read my poems and someone handed me Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” and said, “It’s my favorite poem read it.”

I want to thanks Vienna, Ohio’s  local sponsors who put on this free Sunday summer concert series.  I just hope the audience will shut up and let the musicians at the next one be themselves. We all need to help promote the arts not stifle them. This Sunday, July 25th  come hear Cleveland singer/songwriter Jim Gill. Jim has a great voice and some award winning original songs. Join us on the Vienna town square corner of Rt 193 and old 82 at 6:30. Remember to shut up and LISTEN.

Black Water parody about BP

Drill Baby Drill

“An artist never really finishes his work, he merely abandons it.” ~ Paul Valery



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2 responses to “Speak Out/Shut Up

  1. Mike Stout

    Hey Jim: the squeaky wheel will always get the grease (although I still will shit in the woods before I grace the inside of McDonald’s).
    The new CD will be ready in a month, with 12 new songs you’ve never heard. And I didn’t know the Mack was going to college in the Burgh (where?) You BETTER call me the next time you are in town. I’m 10 minutes away from all the universities.
    Brother Mike

  2. elecpencil

    Mike ~ I can’t remember the last time I ate at McDonalds but I do purchase an unsweetened ice tea from time to time. Thanks for the info that I will pass on to Mack. It’s worth noting the state of Ohio does a better job at the state owned rest stops than the private sector (McDonalds in this case) does. So much for the conservative B.S. about how the private sector can do everything better than the public sector.

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