Remember the days when restaurants had pianists in tuxedos playing the songs of the ages? I do, and I am a Generation X-er. One of my favorite such places when I was a kid has long since been bulldozed and replaced with a cookie-cutter strip mall.

And now some Nordstrom stores are doing the same. More and more stores are...gasp...replacing their decked out pianists for piped in popular music. What a shame. It reminds me of the days when musicians actually played instruments.

Although it is not a corporate directive, the belief is that many customers think the piano is outdated.

WHAT NONSENSE. Is that why the music of Beethoven has lived on for hundreds of years?

And you know what? I wouldn't cater to any customer that believed that. Maybe store clerks should be rude and obnoxious since many Americans obviously think manners are outdated, too.

American culture has lost its sense of elegance and class. Would your grandfather have been caught DEAD eating at a restaurant with his mouth open, baseball hat on backwards, and his elbows on the table?

I know I sound much older than I am as I lament the demise of pianists at Nordstrom. But something is lost here. And I don't think anything has been gained.

If I wanted to listen to top 40 tunes I would turn on a 10 watt radio station. They are a dime a dozen.

I want to dedicate this blog entry to the memory of Mario Ferrari. He played the piano in classy Sacramento restaurants for several decades. I remember endorsing a restaurant where he used to play, tuxedo and all. He always wanted to please the customers. I fondly recall how he would follow each request with "Oh, yes, that's a nice one!" There was never a tune he didn't know how to play.

Except for maybe something by the Spice Girls or Justin Timberlake.

At least we have the mall stores for that tripe.