28
Feb

Radio Free Jaguar

I don't know quite why this struck me as such an odd thing. I should have known.

A while back we found a deal on a 2005 Jaguar x-type with minimal front-end damage. We put a little money in it and took it on the "Get In the JAG Tour" playing music up the coast of California and on up through Oregon and Washington. We had a ball! The trip was a nightmare.

We had so much fun I can't begin to tell you. Too many stories. It was quite susceptible to moisture so we took it to the rainy states. We enjoyed a few extra days of vacation while it was being fixed. We really haven't had much trouble with it since then. Some tires and whatnot, normal stuff for a car that age. So far, no horror story about the price of Jag parts.

Radio Free Jaguar

It isn't the parts you see, it's the labor. You need to go to Jag school to learn how to take them apart.

The only consistent problem it has is that it kills batteries. Well, it doesn't. I do. It discharges them slowly if I don't drive it for a few days. So the next time I want to drive it I hot-charge it, cuss a lot and go. It is the discharging and recharging that kills the batteries.  

My old pickup truck doesn't have this feature but apparently the Jag has a "climate control system" which includes a humidity sensor on the dash. When you turn the car off the humidity sensor senses the humidity and runs a little air to "normalize the cabin's humidity." Which it senses again and again for no apparent reason. I guess you don't want the leather to shrink after all. My pickup truck has bluetooth though, so, you know, it's a wash. I did mention I live 100 yards from the largest natural freshwater lake in Southern California, right? 

So, anyway, I finally manage to kick off enough computer codes to put it into "limp mode." This feature senses sensor failure and drops you into second or third gear, shuts some computer stuff down and limits you to 35-40 MPH. They recommend that you "immediately" drive to the nearest Authorized Jaguar Service Center before you ruin everything and the DOW drops 10 points. Limp Mode, they couldn't come up with a cooler name than that? 

I gave up. I was weakened and limping, I triple-Aid that thing over to the nearest Authorized Jaguar Service Center like a grown-up. This has nothing to do with the story but I guess I should say that they diagnosed my problem and reset the codes. I had to disappoint them when I drove it away for a $buck29 instead of the grand they wanted to change the alternator and the battery so they could retest and chase down the real issue. They actually told me on the phone that it, "wasn't making any noise at all." I told them that they were lying and I tried to wager the lead mechanic $129 that I would hear it when I got there. He didn't take the bet but just kept repeating, "But the computer doesn't show a draw on the battery." I leaned in and put my ear next to it, I had the desk lady put her ear next to it and finally the mechanic assigned to me, we'll call him Rodrigo, put his ear to it. We all heard it, the soft whirring sound of dehumidification. He said, "But the computer says there is no draw on the battery." I paid the $129 and drove away with frustration in my heart and unpure thoughts about humidity, the computer and Rodrigo.

So here is the point of this story. I drove the Jag home. I really like to open the sunroof, put down all the windows and put Good Jazz on the my little bluetooth JBL and crank it up. Hair out, windows down, all-wheel-drive-Jaguar driving on the freeway at 5 over the limit on the 15. I didn't have my JBL with me so I turned on the radio and found the only jazz station in the area for the 15 miles home. It faded into static a few miles down the road and I hit seek until there was a pretty female announcer voice on a clear and loud Adult Contemporary music station. I settled in for a few commercials and then expected Easy Listening for the 20-minute drive. With a little traffic it probably took a half an hour and I'm telling you that one of the most popular stations in the area during a peak drive time did not play one song. Not one! Let me tell you it wasn't an hilarious DJ cracking jokes and yacking about music. It was one commercial after the other with her in between telling you how they play the best music on the air... right after this. A sad state of affairs on SoCal radio, the second largest and one of the richest radio markets in the country: a "Trendsetter Market."

We have hereby declared Radio Free Jaguar and we ain't looking back. It makes me sad. I loved the radio. I'm afraid it's over, my friends. There is a CD stuck in the Jag's player, so I'll get one of those bluetooth dongles you plug into the lighter and use my phone.

My mom's car radio didn't work at all. My first tunes in the car came out of an old plastic AM transistor radio I got at Radio Shack as a kid in NY. I also learned that day that you could test out a 9-volt battery on your tongue. When I got my first stereo with FM and 8-track it was a milestone. Cassettes changed my life, but I still always tuned in to the radio to hear new music and find new bands to devour. I have embraced the tech and I don't miss the frustration of airwaves at critical moments in my car dance. I must admit, I miss the hiss a little and how it skipped going under the overpass. Like the clicks and pops of vinyl, the music of my youth is full of the inadequacies of our technology. Those sounds though, such a part of those memories and a part of that music in my mind. Like an AM radio baseball game playing in shops, apartments and through the windows of big yellow cabs as you walk through the city, those memories follow me and make me smile. That is how the city heard them land on the moon. While at work, sitting in the car, walking down 5th or 42nd Street, barefoot in the park.

Radio, in the city, "Ask not what your country can do for you... " I'd rather remember it that way.

Let's go for a ride in the JAG.



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