So I am experimenting with Pandora Radio, because people told me I should, and it’s on my newfangled Droid thingy, so I figured, why not.
It has its good points. For one, I actually listen to music outside of my car now, which before recently was something I almost never did. It was just how I treated music — it was compartmentalized to car rides, and usually longer drives when I couldn’t just listen to NPR the whole way. And since I spent a lot of time in choirs, making music, it just never seemed to be something I lacked or needed to fill space with. (I also spent waaaay too much time filling the space with video games, but that’s another story.)
Despite this pleasant addition of more sound to my daily life, however, I have a severe beef with Pandora Radio. Namely, it doesn’t have a clue who I am. Consider the alternate title of this post “In Defense of the Eclectic.”
Yesterday, I had to drive into downtown Chicago for work. I was helping pack boxes. Thrilling, I know.
But as I drove into the city from Lakeshore Drive and began trying to find the parking garage I had been assigned, I got lost. Several times. There is a maze of tunnels north of Millenium Park, streets underneath streets…it turns into a multi-leveled maze beneath a swarm of hotels and hotspots and skyscrapers, and one minute you’ll be driving above ground and the next you’ll descend into a helter-skelter pattern of concrete-and-steel passages in the city’s underbelly. I was reminded of that show I had a passing fancy for, “Cities of the Underworld,” only that show was about ancient cities lying underneath modern ones; this is a modern city lying underneath a modern city.
I found my spot and did my work, and came back, and left. But as I walked from North Michigan Aveneue back to my parking space in a garage on East Illinois, a thought occurred to me. I could have been born in this city, and spent every hour of my life, from birth to death, simply walking the city. I could have walked underneath the L, ridden its trained, explored the underworks, descended to the sewers, and still have found only a fraction of this city. And it is a certainty that, once I grew old, I would find areas of that city I thought I had explored, and find them under construction, or condemned, or revitalized in ways I could never expect.