Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I should have done it on Ivan Kane's lame restaurant

Part 1
Like I just stated, I should have done my ethnography on the bar/restaurant that my friends and I stopped at last night -I was attempting to get a job closer to my apartment, so I wanted to meet the manager informally and chat. I could have watched Dave Nevaro "summon" the hostess (a long-legged model type and probably a good two feet taller than he) and observe the play of gender and the supremity of bachlerhood in all its glory- all day long. He did not move a muscle to grab her attention, I think he gave a look and she went up and introduced herself and sat for awhile. He kept his compsure very staunch, yet almost too casual. It was as if he were on his throne. He passed through the bar area on his way out, she rushed to her purse and said, "Here, I'll give you my card." She also had an air of coolness, but by the traditional role-reversals and all the leg work she did to acquire his attention, I knew she was "working it" so-to-speak. As she went into her purse, Mr Nevaro - who must have been as tall as I and I'm 5'1 1/2" - peeked his head around my tall friend and smiled at me. Now, I'm thinking that he went out of his way to get my attention. This is interesting. I have to suppose that this is due to my nonchalance and being one of three of the younger females in the entire restaurant (it was primarily a "sausage fest"). I smiled back and shuddered, he is a very odd little man. His head is a bit too big for his body and his eyebrows are too thick. At the same token though, I felt a sense of power. It's not everyday that a girl can ignore a celebrity and they make the effort :) But this is not what I did my ethnography on, so here is the 'real' one...

Initially, I walk into the Baja Cantina - "Marina Del Rey's premiere
Mexican restaurant" - I am greeted by the Barbie-esque porcelain statue;
she stand's about five feet tall and wear's a red and white polka-dot
bathing suit with a pink floral lei around her neck. She is also holding
a surf-board that says today's specials - It's BBQ night. I look around
and there are trinkets, posters, TVs, everywhere. It is overwhelming to
say the least, but festive and provides an easy-going atmosphere. I sit
down at the living-room inspired area to the direct let of the entrance
and begin my survey.

There is a server wearing a chicken hat, it is literally a chicken
sitting atop her head, talking to a cocktail server on a Monday night
football jersey. They chat nonchalantly at the host stand. To the right
of me are two girls and a guy talking. One of the ladies is wearing a
professional, white blousy top and her blond hair pulled back into a
pony-tail. The other girl is much more laid back; she has long brown
hair with sunglasses on top. holding it not away from her face, but as a
head band. She wears a nude color tank top, and unlike the professional
one, she is distracted by the little details and people passing by. The
man is apparently interviewing them because he has a Baja Cantina polo
on and is supporting most of the conversation. I think the brunette will
get the job, she seems more unprofessional and laid-back. The
chicken-hat girl behind me at the bar is asked by the female bartender
to do "the cluck." She obediently clucks and the few people sitting at
the bar (including the bartender) laugh. She says "au revoir" all the
while wearing the chicken hat.

Three men walk through the front door; they wear shorts, hats, and
button-down shirts. The man in the red trucker-hat and scruffy facial
hair smiles at me, I quickly look back at this pad. The two girls are
being led around the restaurant by the manager. He states that the men's
room is here, all day long women will go back here and you'll tell them
the ladies room is over there (he points to the opposite side of the
restaurant.) Another one of the 'hat guys' comes back towards the front
door, he helps himself to the server-yourself chips and salsa. He smiles
at me before and after he gets the chips and salsa. Apparently writing
by oneself is not the norm here.

The vastness of ages is interesting; a couple in their sixties walk
through the front door, both in casual-chic beach wear. They smile and
walk up to the hostess. She seats them on the dining side to the right.
They seem to have been here before because the man walks directly to the
mens-room after being shown to his seat. There is also an older (maybe
late fifties) Venice local type with full sleeves. He is saying
"jackass" and I realize he is talking in a mimicky version of my voice.
He is mimicking what I might be writing. He laughs and goes back to his
Budweiser. He asks the bartender, "who's playing tonight?" She doesn't
know and he says. "you're the bartender!" he is obviously a local, they
call him "Sleaze" and he chats with the two managers that stand in the well.

Part 2.1
So what I realize about Baja Cantina and the patrons is based directly
on their physical environment. It's a Monday, they are by the beach with
music playing, everyone seems carefree. The place has been in business
since 1975, so not only do they have regulars who seem confident where
to walk and who to talk to, but they have all ages. If you were not a
regular here, you could definitely feel comfortable with the relaxed
vibe. The one interesting aspect that I noticed was that the managers
were all men, there were three of them. Conversely, the bartender and
servers were women. That seemed to be a hierarchy of genders, but at the
same token, the girl wearing the chicken hat did not seem to be in
gender constraints! Maybe on a weekend it would have been more wild :)

Part 2.2
I was trying to figure out how I was going to relate what I observed to
what we have been discussing and reading despite not actually seeing any
women and men intermixing on a physical or date-like level; I think the
material on "the science of sex" in Barker touches perfectly on what I
observed between the men and the women. Firstly, when Barker talks of
the different areas of the brain I can figure that into why the women
were predominately in the serving end of the restaurant and the men were
in the management position; the women have to talk with the customers
much more extensively than the men, whereas the managers stick to the
pragmatic end. Furthermore, the servers have to keep all of the various
tasks running through their brains organized. Coinciding with the
chapter, "women are more verbal,... and organized than men," (Barker 286)
and to paraphrase, men are more efficient at focusing on specifics and
less in the multitasking arena.

This also plays into the female bartender chatting with the customers
and the two servers (including the chicken-hat girl) talking; they all
exhibited higher verbalization. The manager showing the would be hires
around was doing most of the talking, yet this proves evident in the
reasoning behind "greater spatial, mathematical, and motor skills,"
(Barker 286)all necessary for operating efficiently. Even the gentleman
that was mimicking my voice and was asking about the game had specific
plans to drink at the bar and watch football, all very pragmatic.





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