The Advent of Lousy Music

The Advent of Lousy Music

Stream: The Advent of Lousy Music

Ladies and gentlemen, the story you are about to read could be true. The names and locations have not been changed to protect the innocent.

There are no innocents.

You’re a detective sergeant. You’re assigned to Domestic Division. You get a call of a major disturbance with possible violence at a high rise on the Upper East Side. There’s no telling what you might find when you get there. Your job … maintain order.

It was Wednesday, November 24th, the day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday, they call it. I was working the Night Watch out of Domestic Division. My partner was out sick with turkey poisoning. My name’s Briggs. I’d just come out of the last remaining Te Amo where I had bought a small cigar. It was 7:18 P.M. when I got my first call.

I arrived at 642 East 60th at 8:22 P.M. and was shown to the thirteen floor by a nervous doorman. He didn’t need to tell me which apartment. You could hear the loud banging as soon as the elevator door opened.

The door wasn’t locked. I went in.

“Sir, may I ask what you’re doing with that hammer?”

“Killing this radio. What does it look like?” He demonstrated by hitting the radio again.

“For what reason, sir?”

“Because it was playing Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time! by Paul McCartney.”

We had been warned this might happen. A Departmental criminologist earlier briefed patrols that the composer of this tune belonged to the Bruce Springsteen school of song writing. Pick a lyric, repeat it endlessly ad nauseam over and over and over and over again forever and ever and keep on signing it so that the listener is forced into a violent reaction.

Before I could ask another question, from the remnant of the radio came a squeaky but recognizable Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time! The man clobbered what was left with a chair.

All became silent. The man visibly relaxed.

“I’m going to let you go with a warning, sir. Try not to listen to the radio or television before December 24th. It’s Christmas then, sir. It’s Advent now. Now is a time for sober reflection in anticipation of a tremendous and unique spiritual event. The birth of our Lord. The time for bad music will come, sir.”

I took the elevator down. Before I could exit through the revolving door the second call came in. A possible jumper just four blocks north. It was 8:37 P.M.

I arrived on scene at 9:08 P.M…


Deck them halls and click this link to read the rest.


  1. JohnK

    >”…and keep on signing it”
    Since I don’t understand sign language, that wouldn’t bother me.

    >”People have forgotten Advent, ma’am.”
    No, they haven’t forgotten it. It has gotten loose and mutated. The technical term for it is ‘Protestant Advent’.

  2. JohnK

    Almost forgot. Happy St. Nicholas day.

  3. John B()

    Briggs is surely old enough to know that “There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays” predated “The Carpenters” by decades.

    It’d be one thing to hear “The Carpenters” singing it. But for a rogue band of carolers to evoke the Carpenters’ 1984 version rather than Perry Como’s 1954 version is questionable.

    Are you sure it wasn’t Garth Brooks or Barry Manilow?

  4. Ken

    “Sir, may I ask what you’re doing with that hammer?”
    “Killing this radio. ….
    “For what reason, sir?”
    “Because it was playing Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time! by Paul McCartney.”

    In the “old days” the Greeks would’ve killed the messenger(s), the broadcaster/radio station, Paul McCartney…. So killing a radio shows an evolution of social progress.

    Then this: “People have forgotten Advent, ma’am. And the true meaning of Christmas …”

    We still celebrate the birth of a child as our scapegoat human sacrifice – sacrificed to a God still worshipped, a God who demands (may demand more of?) a human sacrifice(s?).

    Contrast that with a famous bit from that movie gangster:

    – My father made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
    – What was that?
    – [He] held a gun to his head, and my father assured him that either his brains or his signature would be on the contract.

    A God, our “Father,” depicted as professing “love” for His “sheep,” who in the past provoked wholesale genocide to give His chosen the land they wanted (didn’t have those squatters converted, observe, goaded the Jews to kill them off more completely than those cowboys did to the Indians in the old “Wild West” … at least the Indians got to live, if on reservations; the Spanish also had God on their side, adios Aztecs [for gold/wealth], etc…). He applies such morality as determined solely by Him backed up by the threat of everlasting punishment by fire. But that’s not a gun, so the “Godfather” of the Book’s tactics are completely different from the Godfather of the movie: The Godfather of the movie quits after getting what he wants. The Godfather of the Book enforces an eternal grudge.

    Ponder the philosophical question, can anyone truly love out of coercion and fear — ‘love me, or else…’?

    Is that really any different than the somewhat famous Twilight Zone episode (“It’s a Good Life” or the episode’s remake from the Twilight Zone movie) where Anthony has God-like powers and the handful of survivors profess their love [or else]?

    Also, consider a difference: The God-like Anthony figure of sci-fi is visible to the ordinary mortals — and they behave. Unlike modern humans who say one thing on Sundays & holidays, but tend to act quite inconsistently with their professed morality. Why doesn’t God reveal Himself? THAT would undoubtedly change behavior.

    Maybe there’s a clue there — The character with the superpowers often acts selfishly and capriciously…and the humans, now & then, rebel — surprisingly analogous to the Lucifer story, Lucifer rebelled and also lost.

    There is no shortage of examples of the self-proclaimed jealous God acting arbitrarily and capriciously. King David is an adulterer who gets the intervening husband killed & out of the way…and David is “punished” by getting to stay king while his children pay the price (death) (and this is an “astonishing evidence of God’s grace and forgiveness” says ). Moses taps a rock once too many and is condemned to stay outside the “Promised Land” but is allowed to see it — an abridged version of the cruel fate attributed to Tantalus. It would be the very rare executive or elected authority in any organization today that could keep their jobs acting so inconsistently, regardless of party affiliation.

    We say we “love” the deity we also fear (though we usually don’t mention both details in the same thought); is this really possible? Or, maybe the question ought to be, how is this possible for one particular exception? Could that be because the reward seems so generous? (even though that reward could be given regardless, via means that would quickly encourage voluntary obedience…such as by the deity revealing itself?) Why rely on a demand for “belief” based on an absence of evidence, faith, that requires one to dismiss their god-given critical thinking capacity?

  5. Ray

    My sympathy goes out to the jumper. I worked as a technician one summer for a top forty music radio station. They played the top forty over and over and I had to listen to it 8 hours a day. By the end of the day I was ready to jump out the window but we were on the ground floor. I never liked popular music after that.

  6. Plantagenet

    Taking shots at Paul McCartney and The Boss!?! Really I would accuse you of becoming a cranky old fart if it weren’t for the night we all went down to CBGB’s to catch The Ramones in 79, and you ended up on stage with Iggy screaming an old Bowie tune ( Sufragette City I think but I could be wrong it was that sort of night). Classic Briggs. Keep rockin man.

  7. Nate

    Matt, you really go into ‘get off my lawn’ mode when it comes to music. Not that I’m defending the atrocities placed into our ears this time of year.

  8. Briggs


    This was in the summer, right? The event is even more remarkable considering I was only 14 at the time. And it was Bob Seger, not Bowie.

  9. SteveBrooklineMA

    Plantagenet- Is that story true? I have a whole new respect for our host!

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