Sunday, August 06, 2006

Turnpike sonata.

There's a certain low-level insanity that I experience when I drive long distances by myself. Upon starting out, I usually ride out the local Pittsburgh radio stations. Once I start to receive fuzzy signals on my regular stations, I let the scan function entertain me for awhile. It gives me two-second windows into Middle-American radio. Ya see, my definition of "Middle America" differs markedly from the conventional one. Drive thirty minutes out of any metropolitan area, and you have your pick of conservative talk, holy-rolling sermonizing or country music. That's been reinforced no matter where I have traveled.

This year I bought a cd player. This solution has served me quite well whenever I have a navigator to manage disc changes. Flying solo, I have a bit of difficulty. I either have to be very organized, slightly reckless, or tolerant of the limited radio options. The best solution is to plan my roadside stops accordingly and sort through my collection in the safety of stasis. Of course this requires forethought. It does me no good if the chosen disc is too short or too long. Often I get too frustrated and turn the car stereo off completely. Then I just listen to the wind current as I motor down the interstate. And after awhile it is my racing thoughts that provide the soundtrack. With the addition of my customary four-shot espresso drink, this can get as annoying as the radio scan function. Depending on my mood, my thoughts can mirror the weather conditions, or be affected by the driving of other motorists. Eventually I get to the point where I am less discriminating, and find myself settling for some cheesey soft rock or 70's classics. Today I actually sat through an entire Billy Joel song and listened to the lyrics of Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train". I actually found the latter quite profound. Believe me when I say that when something from Fleetwood Mac comes on (even post-Rumours) I am jubilant.

The 300 mile slog across Pennsylvania can be mind-numbing, especially when taking the turnpike. Today's drive was assisted by David Cross. There's nothing more satisfying than hearing this comic voice his frustrations with modern society. I made a mental note to find out if he has made any cd releases since It's Not Funny. Unfortunately it looks like he hasn't. So I guess I'll be pulling out his double cd , Shut Up You F'ing Baby on the ride back to the 'burgh. That is... if I can't find a Supertramp marathon on the waves. Maybe I should just quit fighting it and buy an Ipod.

By the way: If you are dying for more PA turnpike talk ... you could do a lot worse than this web site.


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