The highly-acclaimed musical “Hamilton” is currently playing at the CIBC Theatre (previously known as the “Bank Of America Theatre” for about five minutes, and then as the “PrivateBank Theatre” as seen above, as recently as earlier this week) downtown in Chicago’s Loop district. I’ve walked past this venue for the past year or so while on my way to work, and also occasionally on weekends. At most any given time, there are at least a few people posed either in front of the entrance doors or under the marquee for a picture as a memento of either having seen the show or just being there.
I have not yet seen “Hamilton”. I have, however, yet to speak with someone who has seen the show and also has one negative thing to say about it, perhaps except for that the almost three-hour running time made for uncomfortable sitting toward the end (which seems minor, relative to all of its accolades). Even my young niece knows the words to many of its songs.
As for me, I tend to like things that aren’t hugely popular with a lot of people. Stated another way, I usually select adversely against things that seem to have saturated the popular consciousness. For another example, let me present the TV sitcom “Seinfeld”. This immensely popular “show about nothing” was one of which I wouldn’t have sat through an entire episode when it was in first-run. However, within maybe five years after the last, new show had aired in 1998, I had ended up watching almost every adventure probably at least three times, having been highly entertained by most of them. People’s love for this show had suddenly made a lot of sense to me, years after the fact.
When I spotted our featured truck in front of this theater in Monday afternoon rush hour traffic, I thought of certain similarities between this SSR and “Hamilton”. Granted, and based on reviews I’ve read and heard, this musical appears to be a show of a magnitude ten times greater than the SSR ever was as a useful truck (though I will concede that utility was probably not one of the SSR’s primary priorities). With that said, I remember reading of some of the positive hype the SSR had generated in the automotive press prior to its going on sale for the 2004 model year. This was during a wave of “retro revival”, with other cars of then-recent memory sporting vintage motifs. The Plymouth Prowler, Chrysler PT Cruiser, and Chevy’s own HHR all come to mind as examples of this trend.
I like vintage and retro-themed things, so any love from me for the SSR should have been obvious and immediate… except it wasn’t. Most readers who are familiar with my writing know my affinity for certain cars is largely unmarried to hardcore performance figures, dynamic brilliance or even conventional beauty. The AMC Pacer, for example, still makes me swoon, and I would absolutely, yes, 100%, love to own one, someday. All of this is to say that I have trouble warming to things that everybody else seems to love. (This may be a byproduct of “Middle Child Syndrome”, but it’s authentically the way I feel about many things.)
It has been over a decade since the last, new SSR rolled off the assembly line in Lansing, Michigan, and man, oh, man, has this vehicle’s long absence from Chevy’s new-car showrooms made this heart grow fonder. The SSR may have been mostly “show” with limited “go” (mid seven-second range to sixty with a four-speed automatic, initially, according to period tests from Motor Trend), and with compromised utility given it’s smallish cargo bed. However, in 2017, I find its styling dynamic, expressive, and just about right, to the same degree it just left me scratching my head back in the early Aughts when I had first seen pictures of it. It’s amazing what can happen when hype dies down. I may or may not end up seeing “Hamilton”, but one thing’s for sure: time will probably be at least as good to that musical in the future as it has been to the SSR. Appreciation comes better late than never.
Downtown, The Loop, Chicago, Illinois.
Monday, August 28, 2017.
- From Gerardo Solis: Future Curbside Classic: Chevrolet SSR – Dodge Did It, We Can Do It Better; and
- From Paul Niedermeyer: CC Outtake: Chevrolet SSR – Did They Really Make These?.