Wanna Make $2 the Hard Way?

The Hard Rock Café is bribing me to tell you about its promotional pricing next Monday.

To make the point that the restaurant at 2211 N. Houston St. is celebrating its chain-wide anniversary by charging circa-1971 prices for select burgers, sandwiches and desserts, a publicity whiz sent me two not-too-crisp dollar bills. Two dollars could buy me and a friend a veggie burger with cheese, a chicken club sandwich and a slice of chocolate cake to split on June 14, from 11 a.m. until midnight. That is, if I was willing to touch the cash.

Perhaps I've watched All the President's Men one too many times, but the thought of accepting any money from a PR-firm makes me squeamish. As a writer, I get freebies in my office mail almost every day: I wish I had a neighbor who'd knock on my door in search of a cup of pomegranate pepper or a hickory grilling plank. My cupboards are jammed with next-big-things that weren't.

Still, products allow writers to at least maintain the charade that we're market-testing -- even when we know our readers probably won't ever try the artisnal corn liquor we're sipping. That argument doesn't quite fly with U.S. currency.

My editor tells me it's too sanctimonious to send the cash back, so I'm looking for your help. How should I spend Hard Rock's money?

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