What does your Chicago sound like?

Something happened this week which made me realise it's not just certain sights you associate with a particular city - it's sounds as well. So here's my Chicago 'Top 10'.

The pronounciation of 'Devon' and 'Goethe' by Mr CTA on the bus -  now sealed in my auditory memory as 'Ger-te' and 'De-vonne', thanks to voiceover artist Lee Crooks. I'm even forgetting how to say English 'Devon'.

Earlier this month DNA Info bought Mr Crooks a Ventra Card and asked him to ride the 'L' while reading out some Chicago-inspired lines. Nothing from Goethe in there, but how can you pass up on hearing him say 'Wayne's World. Party Time. Excellent'. Excellent indeed.

The quick 'ding, ding, ding' when your Ventracard doesn't work on the bus or the subway - it happens less these days, I know, but don't you just hate that sound?

'On yer left' - that meaning-to-be courteous-but-somehow-always-annoying call-out from the guy (or gal) coming up fast behind you on a bicycle while on a pedestrian footpath. I know they're saying 'on your left' but I'm hearing 'in my way'.

Fireworks in the distance on a summer evening (that is not July 4th) - we didn't have fireworks when I was growing up. Wee Norn Iron was going through a bad time so understandably the powers that be decided allowing small to medium-sized banging things would not be good idea with all the big to mega-sized banging things that were happening on a daily basis.

It's taken me a while not to immediately think the worst every Wednesday and Saturday night during the summer when the Aon fireworks light up Navy Pier. Now I just think Chicago's the best.

The Chelsea Dagger - it had to be there! The riff from the song by Scottish band The Fratellis that is played after every goal scored by the Blackhawks in their home stadium. If you don't know it, it goes like this -

Duh, duh nuh nuh, duh nuh nuh, duh nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh....

You still don't get it? Well you can listen here or even better, I'm sure it may come up when The Fratellis play the Vic Theater on September 24.

The squeal as the 'L' subway turns a curve in the Loop - steel on steel = teeth on edge

Rhapsody in Blue - you're tired, your legs are no longer functioning but somehow you are still moving. You need to get from B to C and suddenly there are these rainbow-coloured neon lights above and around you, and this synthesized music that sounds like United Airlines' holding tune.

That's because it is, and you're in 'The Sky's the Limit' moving walkway between Concourses B and C at O'Hare's Terminal 1, the United terminal.

Gershwin's 'Rhapsody in Blue' has been United's music since 1987 and replaced the original music for the art installation which was written by William Kraft. I'm sure it was marvellous but did it have a 'Duh duh duh duuh, duh duh duh duuuuh, duuuuuh, duuuuuuuuh' moment?

Hissing geese - don't get me wrong, I love wild things that poop a lot - I have kids, for goodness sake. But walking in Lincoln Park, I've not been hissed at so frequently since karaoke bars were popular in the 1990s.  And it's not just me - forget road rage, I've seen goose rage and it's not pretty.

Low-flying jet fighters - in Norn Iron, it was the 'chuck, chuck, chuck, chuck' of military transport helicopters; in London it was the supersonic boom from Concorde as it came into land at nearby Heathrow (that's betraying my age); here, it's the fighter jet. Or at least in the run-up to the Annual Air and Water Show.

And the one that prompted this post. The eerie mermaid-like singing that serenaded me when out in Lincoln Park this week. I stopped under a tree to listen. Perhaps not the smartest thing to do, given the singing was the city's tornado alert -  but I didn't know that then. Given the way most of the people in the video below reacted, I'm not sure they did either.

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  • Mr. CTA does not (I repeat does not) have the correct Chicago pronunciation for Goethe (and also not Clybourn). The correct Chicago pronunciation for Goethe is "goaty." ger-te is the correct German pronunciation.

    The theory was that Mr. CTA uses standard pronunciation. CTA would have had King Richard II Daley do the recordings if it wanted a Chicago pronunciation.

    On the other hand, the emphasis in the word "Devon" is on the last syllaBLE (although my interpretation is more like deVAHN, and I used to live within a block of it). That reminds me that there was some guy from California on the WGN radio morning show who mispronounced all the street names (including Devon) in his first half hour. I figured he would not be long for WGN, and he wasn't.

    And if you think the incessant sound of fireworks is bad here, go to Ohio or Indiana. At least here they are usually in organized displays, not every yahoo in the front of his house.

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