Type Slowly

By Whet Moser

I’m just going to be honest: I haven’t slept because I played sports video games for seven hours last night. I’m in a less pleasant mood than when I dropped 66 points with fake Joey Harrington. Anyway, some choice aesthetics:

1. iPod headphones

Unfortunately, the choice phrase “yuppie jewelry” has already been coined and deployed by the Maroon’s own Karlis Kandero, but it’s worth repeating, as these are quickly becoming a scourge at the U of C (and throughout finer establishments in Chicago). In the six months to one year that it takes for iPods to be surpassed by superior, cheaper products, these will either become gauche or unrecognizable in a sea of porcelain-white imitation buds. For the time being, however, rest assured that the message you intend to deliver is safe: I own an iPod. Love me.

Has anyone seen the iPod ads? The silhouettes with the iPod headphones? This doesn’t take too long to decode: Wearing them is shilling. It’s become a look, and it’s getting really irritating. This is merely the first reason to ditch them. The second: if you’re going to spring $300 to $500 for an MP3 player that can hold an ungodly 10 to 20 days’ worth of music, get decent headphones. Otherwise it suggests either obliviousness or slavish devotion to the new iPod look. Personally, I like my Koss. Amazing sound for $30, and they look like they were designed in an Eastern Bloc country—so everyone assumes I’ve got a Walkman in my pocket and not an item that costs more than a month’s rent. This has clear personal and practical benefits. Alternatively, a decent pair of Senns or Grados (if you want the real hipster shit, try them) will sound better, cost $50 to $150 and not make you one of the iPod People.

2. Burberry

All of it. Especially the damn scarves. Somewhere down the line the College Programming Office must have handed these things out at MSI night or something. Whenever winter rolls around, you can’t throw a rock without hitting someone in a Burberry scarf. It’s starting to get creepy—no less because these scarves are at best undistinguished, and at worst one of the worst color combinations to infest Chicago since they started dyeing the Chicago River green. I realize it has the reputation of being distinguished. So do lots of old, tired, broken things.

3. Red Line Shuttle

Opposition to the Red Line Shuttle, unfortunately, seems to be coalescing around the idea that it will make us look like rich jerks. As Courtney Wassell pointed out in the last issue, we’re already so clearly rich jerks (or at least poor/middle-class jerks who can play the system) that one bus ride either way isn’t going to make a damn bit of difference. They told me when I came here that Valois would help that, too—there’s a sociology book about it and everything—and all I got was overpriced cafeteria food that was no better for being visible.

It makes much more sense to oppose the Shuttle because it’s a dumb way to spend $10,000 (or however much this is going to cost us). I don’t want to subsidize whatever people are doing that causes them to be on the Red Line Shuttle at 2 a.m. I’ve been on the #55 at all hours of the night, coming back from doing all sorts of neat things that I’m glad I did, but not a single one was anything I expected the University to put a dime towards, and I would have looked at it funny had they offered.

Half of being in the city is actually learning how to live in it, and asking the University to spend 10 Gs on you to make Chicago user-friendly may not be bad for the community—but it sure is bad for the soul. It’s also giving into this insidious fear of the city with which U of C students are inculcated from day one. If the Shuttle encourages isolation, it does so not by being a new toy but by promoting a terror of anywhere that’s not campus or the North Side.

So give the $10,000 to FOTA, or Fire Escape, or renovate the dump that Harper Library is becoming, or just open up Doc’s weirder film series for free. I’m all for perks; it’s just unpleasant when they’re such blatant pandering.

P.S. To the writers of the original Red Line Shuttle proposal: It’s “Red Line,” NOT “Redline,” and I’d advise copy editing the version at sg.uchicago.edu while it’s still up. You may be confusing it with “redlining.” It’s not that hard to do.