Column: Flying JetBlue with The Blues Brothers

By Susan Parker
Tuesday April 25, 2006

I take JetBlue when I fly back East because it offers multiple, non-stop flights from Oakland to JFK at a price I can almost afford. I like flying from Oakland Airport because I can walk out my front door and get to the departure gate fast and easily by public transportation.  

JetBlue seems to be the airline of choice among my friends and acquaintances. I almost always see someone I know on a flight. Last year I ran into my friend Gloria returning to the Bay Area with her family from a weeklong vacation in Manhattan. I saw my former next-door neighbor Kamika on a Christmastime flight into JFK.  

I chatted with my friend Wendy while suspended above Denver on Flight 91 bound for Oakland. I once stood at a JetBlue gate behind a young man I had worked with in an Emeryville climbing gym. He complained to me that his sex toys had been confiscated while going through security. 

I like JetBlue because they serve very little food, and so I calculate flight time and miles flown as hours spent fasting and calories not consumed. But best of all, I like JetBlue because I get to watch satellite TV for five hours non-stop on Eastbound flights, and six hours non-stop when heading west. 

Instead of viewing one really bad movie, I peruse a multitude of bad and semi-bad shows. I catch up on news and sporting events, Dr. Phil and Oprah. I watch MTV, BET, A&E, and The Comedy Network. I pause on VH1 and sing along silently to old rock videos, or new rock videos featuring oddly decrepit old rock stars.  

On my most recent flight I watched an episode of “All in the Family” and another from “Sanford and Son.” I came across an ancient clip of the Rolling Stones mugging at the camera, dressed in sailor suits and drowning in a sea of gigantic bubbles. I surfed through the channels, checking out “Judge Judy,” “Animal Planet,” “This Old House,” and “Yan Can Cook.” Miraculously I landed on a rerun of the classic 1980 flick, The Blues Brothers. 

Remember that movie? Of course you do. It starred Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi and featured cameo appearances by James Brown, John Candy, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, John Lee Hooker, and Cab Calloway. Twiggy had a small role as did Stephen Speilberg, Steve Lawrence, Henry Gibson, Chaka Khan, Joe Walsh, and Carrie Fisher.  

I can’t recall a cross-country trip that passed by so quickly. “Hold On I’m Coming” echoed through my earphones somewhere over Nebraska. The theme song from Peter Gunn played while flying above Minnesota. “Let the Good Times Roll” rang out as we passed Chicago. John Lee Hooker mumbled “Boom Boom” when the plane began its descent near Pittsburgh. 

Aretha sang to her movie husband “think ‘bout what you’re tryin’ to do to me” as the wheels touched down on the runway. Elwood and Jake crooned a bluesy interpretation of “Stand By Your Man” while we rolled toward the arrival gate. I saw and heard the crack of the whip from Rawhide just as the overhead lights came on, the little TV screen in front of me went blank, and the stewardess welcomed us to John F. Kennedy International Airport.  

The music from The Blues Brothers can make you forget you haven’t eaten in five hours, that your legs are cramped, your butt is sore, and that security took away your sex toys. It can make you wanna sing and dance, and as in the words of Elmore James from one of the earlier scenes, “shake your money maker.” 

That’s the power of good music. That’s the power of the blues.