A jukebox is such a helpless thing. It is responsible for its own appearance, of course, but beyond that, it is entirely vulnerable to the whims of its owner with regard to what music it will play, and what its environment will be like. Almost any box you find has some cool songs and some dumb ones. And unless you’re hoping to be noticed leaning on it looking sharp, the amount of enjoyment you get from it is directly related to what you’re doing while listening. That’s why it’s best to stop in at Moondoggies Hot Dogs in Pinole’s Old Town for an “Elvis” Colossal dog, or even a veggie dog or yogurt smoothie. You might not notice the ugly brown Rock-Ola jukebox at first (and you certainly won’t be noticed leaning on it — this isn’t quite Happy Days), but once you settle down with your chow, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to pop in a quarter and educate the under-ten clientele by playing the “I-95 Asshole Song.” When you get tired of that, there’s a fair selection of Elvis and country standards; when you get tired of that, it’s probably time to get to Hilltop anyway.
Readers’ Pick for Best Jukebox: Original Mel’s