You’ve heard it here first folks: Tosca‘s jukebox is a sham.

I gathered a group of friends for some drinks in North Beach, which, for some reason in my affected mind, portrays holiday.

We order some drinks and some change for the juke, whip around and choose all the songs but the opera, and go back to our slightly small (but any larger would be too big of a) booth. We are the only people in the place besides one group who we assumed were from Napa and hosting East Coast friends. The type in which all the men look like Ben Kingsley or Robert Culp and all the women are way too old to be dying their landing strips.

Other than these fancy wool coat and scarf-wearing individuals, it was empty and felt like a cafeteria: echos, tinny soft music, and cold.

After ordering another drink, I walk back to the jukebox to choose more songs, and my observant friend notes: “Um, dude – none of these 7 inches are spinning.”

HE WAS RIGHT! The music coming from the jukebox was not from vinyl. Upon further inspection, the records on display were indeed the song title selections but dusty, and the needle used to spin the grooves was out of commission. In fact, there’s even a digital read-out, although there’s the old jukebox typewriter-like buttons in which you have to push really hard to make your selection (always very satisfying). We did hear a whir deep beneath the box, so something was working – but not what was promised beneath the dome.

The lounge-y selections were also not impressive. Yeah, it’s cool to hear some Louis Prima, Dean Martin and Sinatra, but the songs were just ones I could pull out from my Ultra-Lounge collection. Maybe if the music was louder and more robust, the original vinyl was being played, and the place was full of cheer. But really, it was lackluster – like the drinks, the atmosphere, the landing-strip-dyer clientele.

What was even more depressing was that I realized my fun Jukeboxin’ adventures have an underlayer of sadness because nothing is “real” anymore – a chance to hear the great sound of vinyl is non-existent. Nowadays, a CD jukebox has had to become my standard for reviewing since internet jukes are (to the detriment of the discipline[line) becoming the norm. So I guess shouldn’t be so naive and surprised when looks are deceiving.

Where: Tosca (242 Columbus Ave)
Good for: being rich, old, and hosting your rich old friends
Bad for: music
Cost: A quarter a play

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