The McDonald's That Broadcasts Classical Music

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Apropos of exactly nothing, I came across this bizarre McDonald's on the 16th Street Mall in Denver. Though not apparently open, the fast-food restaurant plays classical music out onto the street from speakers that I could hear but not see. I have never encountered this odd situation, and I can't understand what the motivation might be. Do they think people will be tricked into believing they have stumbled upon an incredibly cheap, high-class restaurant that just happens to serve Big Macs and fries? Everyone knows what McDonald's means as a brand, so it seems pointless to try to tart the place up with fancy music. Sorry, Mickie D's: you are no Nordstrom's!

Anyway, has anyone seen this in another locale? Is there a secret network of schmancy McDonald's that I don't know about?

Update: Michelle Riggen tells me that the music "keep[s] kids from hanging out in front. They do it in Seattle, too. Like seals and heavy metal!" Tim Maly agrees: "They do this in Ottawa. It's to keep punk teens/the homeless away. Like sprinklers pointed at benches. A measure to make the space uncomfortable for undesirables with us in the crossfire."

(Why am I in Denver? How nice of you to ask. I'm delivering a lecture on compressed air at the Museum of Contemporary Art tonight. If you're in town, please come!)

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com, where he also oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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