Stuck Inside The Jeepster Behind The #2 Bus With The Heading To Work Blues Again

February 13, 2013

(reimagined from a post from February, 2011)

I commute.

I do so relunctantly and under silent protest and, on good evenings, I can block out Sting howling the lyrics to Synchronicity II, which plays on a loop in my head during the drive.

Another working day has ended
Only the rush hour hell to face
Packed like lemmings into shiny metal boxes
Contestants in a suicidal race

The morning trek, though, is typically Zen. The only people up when Paloma and I arise are us, the kid that drowsily mans the counter at the convenience store down the block, and a coke-binging, downstairs neighbor who probably never sleeps.

(which is good as she needs to devote plenty of time to searching for her pet ferret which she loses on a weekly basis)

The morning commute involves no travel on the interstate and the bulk of the map – once I get a few miles from home – threads through semi-rural, wooded areas. There are deer, a fox, and an old woman in bright red boots who is always walking her dog in her yard.

At such an hour, there is little traffic.

Usually.

Today, I was mere minutes off schedule, resulting in me inhaling the exhaust of the #2 bus. Not only did this predicament ruin the cigarette I was smoking, it frustrated me to not have open road to cruise as usual, with impunity, as though I was on the autobahn.

A paradoxical thought came to mind…

…I don’t want to go to work, so why am I rushing to get there?

(is that a paradox?)

I set the controls for the heart of the sun (part of the drive, depending on the time of year, is directly into the rising sun on the horizon) and I set to scrolling through the stations on Sirius.

I often opt for a ’70s pop station.

The music is from before I was a teenager, before music was of particular interest to me, but I know most of the songs.

Some of the songs I hazily recall from the time that they were hits and the others are ones I’ve come to know over the intervening years.

There’s something about the mellow vibe of a lot of the pop hits from the ’70s that calms the nerves and allows me to ease into the day.

Here are four songs that I’ve heard on that station on recent mornings…

Walter Egan – Magnet And Steel
from Super Hits Of The 70s: Have A Nice Day Volume 21 (1993)

Out of this foursome, Magnet And Steel is the only song that comes from the time frame during which I was actually listening to music of my own volition – though it was still rare for me to do so – and, thus, I certainly remember hearing it fairly often in 1978 when it reached the Top Ten.

Magnet And Steel, a throwback to ’50s doo-wop, is quite the earworm and it certainly didn’t hurt having Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks crooning away in the background.

Norman Greenbaum – Spirit In The Sky
from Have A Nice Decade: The ’70s Pop Culture Box (1998)

I seem to recall discovering Spirit In The Sky while in college via my buddy Streuss who, as I recall, discovered the song initially through Doctor And The Medics cover of it.

Paloma becomes positively giddy when she hears the fuzz guitar opening. So much so that – on a challenge from her – I almost contacted Greenbaum to invite him to the treehouse for a visit just to see if we would get a response.

Cat Stevens – Wild World
from Have A Nice Decade: The ’70s Pop Culture Box (1998)

All debate regarding what Cat did say, didn’t say, or actually meant to say regarding Salman Rushdie aside, although I was pretty young, I do vividly remember hearing songs like Morning Has Broken and Peace Train on the radio as a tyke.

And, maybe most of all, I remember hearing the lovely Wild World and, though I had no grasp on Cat’s cautionary take on things, I was entraced by the la, la, las.

Lobo – I’d Love You To Want Me
from Super Hits Of The 70s: Have A Nice Day Volume 9 (1990)

As was a toddler in 1971, I remember hearing Lobo’s Me And You And A Dog Named Boo on the radio and adoring it. I imagine the fact that the singer had a dog appealed to me.

(my brother and I had to make do with a hamster and hamsters, if no one has ever told you, don’t fetch).

I also remember hearing I’d Love You To Want Me from a year or so later, though I know that for some time I mistook it for America.

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Last Train Out Of Stubbville*

December 20, 2009

Planes, Trains And Autombiles seems to be one of those films that has become part of the fabric of the holidays. It gets a fare amount of play around Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Coming across it the other night – as well as seeing the Atlantic coast getting two feet of snow – makes me grateful that there will be no travel for Paloma and me this Christmas.

Though the sun of Florida might be pleasant and there could be postcard amount of snow in Indiana, our forecast is for temperatures in the 40s, overcast, maybe rain. But we won’t be having to make like Mad Max on the highway or risk our plane plummeting to the earth in a fiery heap.

I am about as enamored with air travel as Rain Man was. Its extremely dangerous. I don’t have the exact statistics at hand, but I think something like one out of two planes crash.

It’s not the actual concept of aerodynamics that is a concern to me. It’s more a trust thing I have with everyone from the most certainly bored and inattentive people that tighten the bolts on the plane to the most certainly bored and drunken pilots.

Paranoid digressions aside, travel by train is inspired.

(and, unfortunately, not often an option for most of us in the States)

During a brief time living in London, The Tube made me giddy as a schoolgirl and I was always up for a ride on the train. I’d sit or stand contented by the motion and familiar rhythm of stops, watching the antics of the passengers while listening to headphones.

It was like having the greatest ant farm in the world with a soundtrack I loved.

Peak hours could sometimes be less enjoyable, but I do remember certain stretches and routes would have far fewer passengers, especially the line I used most, nicknamed “The Misery Line.”

(I thought it was delightful)

I’ve taken trains through jungles in Malaysia and through farmlands in Ohio and there’s no denying that watching the countryside slowly and serenely roll by outside the window adds romance and intrigue to any landscape.

But, this Christmas, the view from the couch with Paloma and the animals and a few days of downtime appeals to me most.

*In case you’ve forgotten (or never seen Planes, Trains And Automobiles), Stubbville is where Steve Martin and John Candy must depart because “train don’t run out of Wichita… unlessin’ you’re a hog or a cattle.”

Beth Orton – Paris Train
from Daybreaker

I’ve made the trip from London to Paris by train a few times and its a fantastic journey from one major capitol to another in four hours, but it is a bit strange to consider that a portion of the trek is spent under the waters of the channel.

I’ve also spent time riding The Metro, the subway system of Paris, which, compared to The Tube in London isn’t quite as sterile and has a bit more grit and character.

As for Beth Orton’s Paris Train, it’s dreamy and hypnotic and it no more than ends than I’m inclined to hit repeat.

The Clash – Train In Vain (Stand By Me)
from London Calling

I mentioned The Clash’s Train In Vain in a post earlier this year, but I never tire of hearing it.

Cat Stevens – Peace Train
from Teaser And The Firecat

All debate regarding what Cat did say, didn’t say, or actually meant to say regarding Salman Rushdie aside, although I was pretty young, I do vividly remember hearing songs like Morning Has Broken and Wild World on the radio as a tyke.

And, maybe most of all, I remember the ethereal Peace Train.

Megadeth – Train Of Consequences
from Youthanasia

Paloma and I saw Megadeth many years ago. In fact, I believe it was on the tour for Youthanasia. Fortunately, the tickets were comps as the venue was an ancient arena and the sound was dreadful.

However, Train Of Consequences is a monster. It sounds like a train, barrelling down the tracks full throttle with gear-grinding guitar and even a madcap bit of harmonica.