Setting aside my issues with [James] Taylor, two major problems with listening to airline audio are: l) The roar of the aircraft dirties the sound, and 2) you’re not able to choose freely among the songs. You’re stuck with the entire channel’s program in fixed sequence at the point you come in. This often includes a crass “host” jumping in now and then like an unwelcome pop-up on your computer screen, trying to whip up enthusiasm for whatever’s going at that particular moment: “This hot new group has all the hip and cool cats dancin’ from coast to coast with their unique fusion of swing, surf, rockabilly, and cocktail.” I mean, really
… Companies like DMX and Inflight attempt in earnest to cater to the tastes of their customers, assuming that at least a few tracks among all the jazz, hip-hop, country, nostalgia, and whatnot will keep you amused for a little while between viewing Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over or, if you’re the cerebral type, leafing through the airline magazine, glued to such features as “a journey to the Cayman Islands in search of crystalline waters, sheer cliffs and, oh yes, bats.” Perhaps I’m the only crank onboard, and everyone else is happy as a clam listening to “This Month’s Special Guest” Pink singing “Trouble” or Young Gunz featuring Chingy delivering a remix version of “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop” as they work their way through the burnt lasagna with Styrofoam sauce. But surely, I thought, I am not alone in feeling that airline programming could be a little more imaginative and bold—or at least have the kind of flexibility iPod-savvy travelers now want from their musical surroundings. So I phoned the Los Angeles office of Inflight Productions in search of a rational, articulate spokesperson who might be able to tell me who Chingy was and why he and I were marooned together six miles above the soybean fields, access roads, and Blockbuster video outlets of our great nation.