When we went to visit Russell on Saturday, we stopped for an afternoon beverage at a nearby Brooklyn establishment called Dram. It was a quiet place, with open windows and dark wood and thin leather cushions on bench-style seats. Excellent music was playing over the sound system, and a fine array of beers were available for the quaffing. How could I resist a beer called “Pork Slap Pale Ale Farmhouse Ale”on a sultry afternoon — a beer that turned out to be quite good, even when served in a can?
I liked the place immediately, and found myself idly wondering why that was so as I savored the taste of the Pork Slap. And then it hit me: this place had no TV sets anywhere! Unlike every other American bar I have been to in recent memory — from bars in campus neighborhoods, to bars in the finest hotels — this quiet neighborhood watering hole had no television broadcasts blaring in the background, butting into conversations, and competing for attention with the music being played. It was incredibly pleasant to be free of that incessant drone!
When we were in Paris and stopped at a bar, there were no TV sets to be seen. In American bars, on the other hand, they are ubiquitous. Are Americans so easily bored that it is crucial to have a TV nearby to attract their attention whenever a lull in the conversation occurs? Is learning the latest sports news so essential to our lives that we can’t bear to be away from the boob tube for even a short while and enjoy the delightful pleasure of a quiet drink with friends?