BMEWS
 
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calendar   Monday - June 01, 2009

Eulogy For A Forgotten Friend

a motorized cup holder




PJ O’Rourke writes on the death of the automobile; it died from a broken heart.

The fate of Detroit isn’t a matter of financial crisis, foreign competition, corporate greed, union intransigence, energy costs or measuring the shoe size of the footprints in the carbon. It’s a tragic romance—unleashed passions, titanic clashes, lost love and wild horses.

A knight in ancient Rome was bluntly called “guy on horseback,” Equesitis. Chevalier means the same, as does Cavalier. Lose the capitalization and the dictionary says, “insouciant and debonair; marked by a lofty disregard of others’ interests, rights, or feelings; high-handed and arrogant and supercilious.” How cool is that?

For the purpose of ennobling us schlubs, the car is better than the horse in every way. Even more advantageous than cost, convenience and not getting kicked and smelly is how much easier it is to drive than to ride.

America’s romantic foolishness with cars is finished, however, or nearly so. In the far boondocks a few good old boys haven’t got the memo and still tear up the back roads. Doubtless the Obama administration’s Department of Transportation is even now calculating a way to tap federal stimulus funds for mandatory OnStar installations to locate and subdue these reprobates.

Among certain youths—often first-generation Americans—there remains a vestigial fondness for Chevelle low-riders or Honda “tuners.” The pointy-headed busybodies have yet to enfold these youngsters in the iron-clad conformity of cultural diversity’s embrace.

Love, lust, passion, and uniqueness all gave way to soulless utilitarian practicality. So the automobile market was taken over by the masters of mass-market boredom. The Toyota Camry. The Chrysler Town & Country. In our choice of several unexciting colors. But you can pick from either of these option group packages! Boring. Now let’s only give you one choice of transmission. Automatic of course. And we’ll develop automatic parking. And automatic braking. And built in TV sets and iPod holders. Anything and everything to remove you from the actual experience of driving, because that would require your involvement and some skill. And be enjoyable. Can’t have that. You are a drone, engaged in a mindless task. No clutch for you. Behave. Get in line. Think the right way. Go green. Don’t question Teh One. Ever.

I’ve always been a car junkie. Over the past decade or two I’ve tried to extend that passion to include SUVs and minivans too. It hasn’t been easy. There is no individuality any more. Every car on the road looks either exactly like a VW Passat, or damn close to it. At least pickup trucks have a little bit of brand shaping, but not a whole lot. You’ve seen the Audi ads on TV lately a)where the woman goes into panic mode in the parking garage because every single vehicle is a champagne colored minivan, and b)where the school kids are all confused because every parent there to pick them up after school is driving the same champagne colored minivan? It’s too true. Well ... kudos to the one actual remaining automotive individualist I saw on the road the other day ... driving a Saab 9-7X Aero. A what??? That’s a $50,000 SUV, made by Saab, that comes with all the goodies, handles like a sports car, and has a 366 cubic inch 400hp/400ft-lb V8 engine under the hood. I didn’t even know the damn thing existed. I didn’t even know Saab made an SUV of any kind. Only one I’ve ever seen. Heck, I don’t even know where a Saab dealer is, and we have car dealerships out the wazoo right here in my corner of NJ. They’re everywhere.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 06/01/2009 at 10:32 AM   
Filed Under: • planes, trains, tanks, ships, machines, automobiles •  
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Not that very many people ever read this far down, but this blog was the creation of Allan Kelly and his friend Vilmar. Vilmar moved on to his own blog some time ago, and Allan ran this place alone until his sudden and unexpected death partway through 2006. We all miss him. A lot. Even though he is gone this site will always still be more than a little bit his. We who are left to carry on the BMEWS tradition owe him a great debt of gratitude, and we hope to be able to pay that back by following his last advice to us all:
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  2. Stay involved with government on every level and don't let those bastards get away with a thing
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It's been a long strange trip without you Skipper, but thanks for pointing us in the right direction and giving us a swift kick in the behind to get us going. Keep lookin' down on us, will ya? Thanks.

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Oh, and here's some kind of visitor flag counter thingy. Hey, all the cool blogs have one, so I should too. The Visitors Online thingy up at the top doesn't count anything, but it looks neat. It had better, since I paid actual money for it.
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