Ray St. Ray, the Singing Cab Driver
March 15, 2010 9:44 PM   Subscribe

A cosmically selective process: you enter a white cab in Chicago. After the usual pleasantries, the driver asks you if you'd like to hear a song...
posted by Iridic (15 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
how about i give you a ride?
posted by the aloha at 9:49 PM on March 15, 2010

Believe me, this guy does not compare to the former Motown and STAX Records back-up singer whose cab I once got into at Midway airport. He spent the whole ride telling me stories about Marvin Gaye and Otis Redding and singing to me. Best cab ride of my life.
posted by sallybrown at 9:54 PM on March 15, 2010

Anything but the Eagles.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 10:06 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

There's something which can occasionally (like, maybe once a year if you're open to it and looking for it) happen to you in New York - the limo driver who picks you up looking for an extra fare for the night, or just to chat and blow off some steam.

I've been given tours of parts of the city I otherwise would never have known about, while hearing about what Guns 'N' Roses were like and the syringes they left behind, working out story ideas for screenplays, all while getting free booze (one driver insisted on stopping and running into a corner store for mixers) and getting a ride back home for free.

I'd absolutely be down for singing cab drivers. The limo drivers I've met have been some of the most fascinating and kind people I've met in my life.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:06 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

This guy gave me a ride 2 or 3 years ago. I was pretty worn-out after a long day at work, and a bit surprised when he gave me a little quiz in order to figure out what song he'd sing me. After some back and forth ("no, no love songs, please!"), I got one about the movie "Zardoz." And there you have it!
posted by higginba at 10:44 PM on March 15, 2010

Passenger: Adams and Lasalle, please.

He's a poet, he's a picker--
He's a prophet, he's a pusher--
He's a pilgrim and a preacher, and a problem when he's stoned--
He's a walkin' contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction,
Takin' ev'ry wrong direction on his lonely way back home.
Passenger: Speaking of which, you just missed my turn.

Driver: Are you talkin' to me?
posted by pracowity at 12:01 AM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

The picture for his band's free mp3 Christmas single Christmas Action Manger deserves wider appreciation.
posted by irisclara at 12:03 AM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Duly appreciated, irisclara. I've always believed that you tell the poseurs by how many Glocks the infant Jesus is carrying in their nativity scene. As shown here, the correct answer is: 2
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 4:15 AM on March 16, 2010

Back in the days before the real full bore onslaught of tourist traffic in Costa Rica I got into what I thought was an ordinary cab. The driver motioned for me to sit in front as soon as he saw me, so I naively did. The driver timidly asked me in a thickly accented, broken Spanglish, "¿ju american?” When I told him yes I wasn’t sure if I was about to be greeted as a hero or berated for the Latin American policies of the Regan administration. It was the former. He nearly peed himself. Here, in his cab, a real American.

I turned away just for a second and looked back and he had donned a pair of gold aviator style sunglasses and it was then that I noticed his hair. It was coiffed into an oil slicked bouffant with long sideburns. In the moment I had looked away he had popped out his collar and unbuttoned his shirt a couple of notches and become Elvis. Again he questioned me, this time with a broad, confident, knowing smile, “¿Elvis Presley?” while waving around a well worn cassette tape.

I was certain at that point that I was in for a cab experience that I would be recounting on a community weblog decades later. In went the tape and out squealed a badly bootlegged Jailhouse Rock. He began to rock back and forth violently, yet slightly rhythmically, strumming his unseen guitar and grunting “mmm, mmm” to the opening riffs of the song. Then began the singing.

It wasn’t so much that he was out of key, no, that was ok, almost charming. It was clear that the limits of his Spanglish extended to asking if pale-skinned tourists were Americans and divining the name of the King. Roughly phonetic equivalents, but certainly not words, began to spew forth with voracity as if they had been practiced ime and again before a mirror and in long, lonely hours waiting for a fare. No, this taxi driver had not become obsessed with Cybil Shepard (coincidentally an ex of the King), he was obsessed with Elvis, and I was for the moment to be his young Jodie Foster. I tried not to laugh or show fear but rather feigned delight at his “performance” as he slammed back and forth in the seat and belted out the “lyrics”. Eventually we reached my stop and he sadly and reluctantly let me out. He wouldn’t take money for the ride and I applauded him and I think he left feeling proud of himself. Either that or he killed the next American that got into his car.

In a side note to this story, just to add to the surreality, as we rode along I occasionally peered out the window to keep from laughing or screaming, we went by an area that was known for its beggars. It was there that I first observed the beggar with no eyes (I would go back to see him again). I don’t mean there were no eyes in his sockets, I mean there were no sockets, nothing, just the bridge of a nose beginning out of a forehead. He had a megaphone and was chanting in a strange language (could have been gibberish or a Native American dialect, but not one I’d heard before). Everyone that passed, EVERYONE, businessmen, old ladies, and beggars alike would give him a coin. They would press the coin hard into his palm. He would then flip it in the air as if weighing it and then place it into a specific pocket in his pants or shirt and return to his chanting.
posted by Pollomacho at 4:47 AM on March 16, 2010 [9 favorites]

"Well, let's just say I almost make up due to generous tips for my singing what I fail to make due to my lack of aggression as a cab driver." My God, the world needs more of this man.

(Pollomacho - as a child I shared a hospital ward with a girl who was born with the same condition as your eyeless beggar. IIRC, she was blind for the first four years of her life, until the doctors found perfectly-functioning eyes behind the bone that covered her sockets.)
posted by Catseye at 5:21 AM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

pollomacho, great story. Little hiccup there while I wondered why you occasionally peed out the window, but that's it. Favorited.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 5:37 AM on March 16, 2010

"This is a Howard train...This is the love train...All aboard the love train"
posted by eriko at 5:47 AM on March 16, 2010

Roughly phonetic equivalents, but certainly not words, began to spew forth with voracity as if they had been practiced ime and again before a mirror

Tu libudibu douchu? (YT)
posted by xedrik at 9:01 AM on March 16, 2010

born without eyelids is called cryptophthalmos and it looks fucking weird.
posted by Hammond Rye at 1:51 PM on March 16, 2010

I've been in Ray St. Ray's cab, after having just hailed a cab on a date. It's pretty surreal to get into the cab and suddenly have some over-eager guy trying to sing to you all the way to your destination. I think I was too shocked at the time to really take it all in.
posted by iknowizbirfmark at 1:55 PM on March 16, 2010

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