The entirety of my thoughtful ignorance is recorded here.


Van Halen's particular request to be greeted with bowls of M&M's with the brown ones taken out is notorious as it is peculiar. I say notorious, because for my entire life, it was this exact example that was used by those around me to vilify and ridicule the kinds of gaudy, senseless excess enjoyed by celebrities in our time. No class, no empathy - I was told. Then I randomly stumbled upon the following paragraph today in a profile of Pete Wells, the infamous Times food critic:

His friend Jeff Gordinier—a journalist who, until recently, reported on restaurants for the Times—had spoken with me about Wells’s chances of remaining anonymous by referring to a famous contractual demand made by Van Halen: concert promoters were asked to supply the band with a backstage bowl of M&M’s, with the brown ones removed. David Lee Roth, Van Halen’s lead singer, has said that the request was not whimsical. It helped to show whether a contract had been carefully read and, therefore, whether the band’s complex, and potentially dangerous, technical requirements were likely to have been met. Gordinier said that an ambitious New York restaurant’s ability to spot Pete Wells is a similar indicator of thoroughness: “If they don’t recognize who he is, then they are missing a very important detail, and therefore they may not be paying attention to other important details.
— Ian Parker, New Yorker, September '16

Lesson learned. Context is everything and Van Halen still rules.