Retro Road Test – 1992 Cadillac Sedan de Ville

I’ve always had a thing for the 1989-1993 Cadillac Sedan de Ville and Coupe de Ville. They just seemed to be the right car for Cadillac at the time, and although right-sized compared to the yachts of fifteen years prior, still had plenty of luxury and traditional Cadillac cues.

1985 Continental Givenchy. Similar to my grandmother’s Rose Quartz 1987 Continental.

It probably all started when my Grandma Ruby had a mishap with her 1987 Lincoln Continental. Someone hit her car in a parking lot, and though no one was hurt, she had a partially crunched turn signal, cornering lamp and bumper. Fortunately the other party had good insurance, and a Garnet Red 1990 Sedan de Ville was provided to her in the interim, courtesy of Hertz.

1990 Sedan de Ville

I was already into Cadillacs and Lincolns-the Continentals my grandparents had over the years was certainly a contributing factor-but this Sedan de Ville was a revelation! So shiny and new. I was impressed. Garnet, with silver lower cladding, and a dove gray leather interior. Although I was about ten years old at the time, I was all over this car. I was more impressed riding in it and crawling all over it than if it had been a new Corvette or 911. I was a Brougham aficionado from an early age.

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Lights Out For Gibson Memphis

It seems like yesterday, but it was long ago. Seven and a half years ago, to be precise. The precise who and why of it we can leave to the privacy of the woman involved, but here’s the what and where: I found myself behind the wheel of a nearly-new, livery-spec Lincoln Town Car, pulling up to the arrivals lane at the Memphis airport. I’d driven it down from Columbus for what was supposed to be a week-long trip across the American Southwest. For a variety of reasons, mostly alcohol-related and drama-related, we never left the city. By the time I took my date back to the airport, we were no longer strangers to each other — and that was, perhaps, the problem, because we liked each other best as strangers.

It was the kind of “lost weekend” that every man should experience a few times in his life, because it teaches you the raw mechanics of human desire and disgust in a way that you’ll never learn from frantic collegiate couplings or dissipated domestic boredom. In that short span of days, she and I shimmered and sank through a fast-forward series of scenes alternating between exhilarating and exhausting, the fragile high of each evening collapsing into the vomiter’s cockroach crawl at four in the morning. True to form, I managed to make a few bucks out of the thing, with a review of the car and a fiction-ish story. That modest financial return was far outweighed by long bar tabs and rack-rate extensions on a hotel room that we couldn’t summon the moral strength to leave.

Oh, and somewhere in there I spent $3,400 on a new guitar.

From the Gibson Memphis showroom, immediately following a spur-of-the-moment factory tour. I’d made fast friends with the shop foreman and asked him to find me something that had turned out just a bit better than the rest of the day’s haul. He returned with a cherry-red ES-339 Figured. It was absolutely flawless and rang out strong even before I’d plugged it in. In the years after, I used it twice a week for my sandwich-shop gigs, always enjoying the complex tone and perfect playability of the thing. Which was good, because financially speaking I lost my shirt on it.

Turns out the nice people at Gibson were losing their shirt on it, too.

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Made In The USA: Weiss Standard Issue Field Watch


As many of you may remember, Brother Jack got his own Weiss American Issue Field Watch with the Cal. 1003 movement from Weiss Watch Company a few months back and raved about the quality of the product. Much of his writing that day, however, dealt with the movement contained within the case—the reverse-engineered Caliber 1003, which Cameron Weiss has painstakingly created in his shop in Los Angeles, California. It’s the standard bearer for American watches in modern times.

However, JB also mentioned that Mr. Weiss, who’s a disgustingly young and handsome man, started his business with the Standard Issue Field Watch. He still makes the crystals and cases in SoCal, but rather than using his hand-crafted automatic movement, he uses the Caliber 1001, a hand-wound fully mechanical movement which is imported from Switzerland and finished by hand. The end result is a watch that is no less beautiful that the American Issue, but costs half as much.

As I tend to rotate my watches more often than many men rotate their underwear, I wanted to support Mr. Weiss’ efforts, but I was reluctant to spend the nearly $2000 required for the automatic movement. As such, when it came time for me to buy my own Weiss timepiece, I opted for the Standard Issue, as you can see in the photos above (if you’re not familiar with the ‘gram, you can click on the image to scroll through the four unboxing pics).

It has, thus far, been fantastic.

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In Order For The Democratic Party To Live, Al Franken Has To Die


By the time I’m done writing this, it will likely be official—Al Franken is stepping down from his Senate seat due to several allegations of sexual harassment and/or misconduct. This is after his earlier apology to LeeAnn Tweeden, and after Democrats everywhere suggested that Ms. Tweeden’s accusation was a fantasy, jointly created by Roger Stone and Fox News. They pointed out that Mr. Franken has been a “champion of women’s rights,” an “ally,” and basically everything else that they say when somebody they like is accused of something that they normally accuse Republicans of doing. A couple of weeks went by, and all sorts of news threatened to bury the Franken accusations.

But, you see, there was a problem. Other women came forward. And kept coming forward. And what seemed like a fabrication could no longer be ignored, not even by leaders within his own party, as the total approached double digits. Al had to go.

What you must realize, of course, is that nobody in the Democratic party gives a damn if Al Franken groped a woman or two at a photo op. What they care about is the appearance of caring. Because there’s a sneaky, inconvenient truth that Democrats are coming to grips with, and it’s this:

Donald Trump isn’t nearly as unpopular with the American voter as the media wants you to think he is.

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Housekeeping: It’s Sellout Time

In the summer of 1997, I started the “BMX Basics” website. It started as an Apache subdirectory of a local internet provider (there’s a 1998 snapshot here) and ended up as Once I realized that Internet newbies only understood dot-com I opened At one point I was serving over 560,000 pages a month — even though I only wrote one new piece a week. I closed that site and opened around 2005. Finally, I closed that site and opened this one up a decade ago, eventually moving it to the WordPress site that you all know and tolerate today.

Over the past twenty years, I’ve never had a single banner ad, promotional tie-in, sponsored marketing piece, or any for-profit content whatsoever on any of my sites. The most I’ve ever asked you to do is to use my referral codes for Club Eaglerider (thank you for that, I’m up to 18 free days in the bank!) and Massdrop (28 referrals so far, they sent me some very nice notebooks and pens.) That’s about to change and I’ll explain why in terms that I hope make sense to all of you.

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Guest Post: What A Pound Of Cure Really Costs

(This one’s from TTAC veteran contributor Thomas Kreutzer… welcome back, Tom! — JB )

Last week, Pamela Anderson was accused in the media of “victim blaming” when, in response to a question about sexual predation in Hollywood, she told NBC reporter Megyn Kelly “It was common knowledge that certain producers or certain people in Hollywood are people to avoid, privately. You know what you’re getting into if you’re going into a hotel room alone.” Later, in answer to mounting criticism, she doubled down on her statements saying: “I’m trying to tell women as a survivor of childhood abuse myself – It is important to be proactive as an adult who knows better – in defending themselves. Don’t get in cars with strangers — #rideresponsibly — Don’t go to Hotel rooms alone for an audition.”

Her message, essentially that people should look out for themselves, is similar to advice I used to give to new motorcyclists when I moderated the New Riders’ Forum on some years ago. “When another vehicle wants your place on the road, get out of the way.” That’s what I would write, but then, as now, some people didn’t want to hear it. Their motorcycles, they argued, were licensed vehicles and were entitled to their place on the road. Other drivers who encroached upon their space were violating their rights and, they assured me, they would not yield in the face of such provocation.

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Spotter’s Guide To The Winter 2017 Hagerty Magazine

In this quarter’s issue of Hagerty Magazine, I’m taking you eastbound and down in a restored ’77 Bandit Trans Am. Check out the photography from Dave “Puppyknuckles” Burnett — you might even see the Horween Cordovan strap of my Weiss American Issue Field Watch!

It’s not available online yet, but I’ll put it up when it is. As always, thank you for reading!

1976 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme – Colonnades Of My Past

As a kid growing up in the 1980s, the “Colonnade” 1973-77 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme was a constant factor. In my Midwestern city, they were, even by 1988-89, as common then as beige beigemist Toyota Camry LEs are now. But the one I remember the best was owned by my Aunt Candy.

Uncle Don was a mechanic. A damn good one. Back in the 1970s he worked at Bob Neal Lincoln-Mercury in Rock Island, where my grandparents bought their Lincoln Continentals and Thunderbirds. Whenever they brought a car in for service, they always requested Don, and only Don, to work on their cars. The other guys in the service department groused about this, but as Don was the best mechanic they had, they had little recourse.

In fact, Don was constantly getting job offers from other dealerships in the Quad Cities. My aunt once told me that at a Christmas party in the late ’70s, Erv Peters, a local Ford dealer whom Don was working for at that time, asked Candy how to keep Don on? Simple, she said, just pay him more money! So he did.

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Sunday(ish) Story: Messenger in a Bottle

In case anybody is new around here, we used to do Sunday Stories on TTAC, which were works of fiction loosely based on automotive stuff. This is like that, but without the cars. It’s a fictional story. Please don’t get confused. Gracias—Bark

“I should not be doing this,” Kate thought to herself.

There was not one good reason why Kate was in Chicago on this particular day. Not one. And yet, as she let a second glass of champagne pass through her thin lips, every cell of her slender body was full of the same sort of jittery excitement she felt on her wedding day.

Well, not her first wedding day. Definitely not that day. That day had been a $50,000 mistake that Kate had been ambushed by, a day that had been set into motion by expectations and the need to do what was right and good. And although she felt as beautiful as she had ever felt on the outside, her soul felt like a thorough fraud. Here was a man, as good as anybody had the right to expect to be with, and she knew that she didn’t love him. So, no, she hadn’t felt excitement that day.

Come to think of it, she hadn’t felt it on her second wedding day either. Eager to erase the error of her first catastrophic pairing, Kate had allowed her father to throw an even bigger, more absurdly extravagant fete. It had been featured in the local society magazine, for God’s sake. She had cut a statuesque figure on that day, her athletic frame snugly contained within the lace flowers of her five-figure dress.

It was white, of course, because when everybody knows that your first marriage ended thanks to your infidelity, you buy the whitest goddamned dress you can find, even if every time you look at it, the floral designs seem to rearrange themselves neatly into an “A” in your mind. So while the day had been beautiful, the wedding that little girls don’t dream of, but women approaching thirty sure as hell do, she had felt…fraudulent. Damn. There was that feeling again. Because she didn’t love him. But when you blow up your marriage because you got caught fucking the neighbor, well, you have to marry the neighbor to save any sort of dignity your parents have assigned to you.

So maybe, she thought, this is what a wedding day should feel like. But as Kate sat at a table near the bar at the J. Parker on the roof of the Lincoln Hotel, she poured white sparkling wine down her gullet like it was her bachelorette party, not her wedding day. Because he was coming.

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Weekly Roundup: Upgraded To “Immigrant” Edition

Over the course of fifteen years, the man whom the court called “Garcia Zarate” in what appears to be a tossed-dart pick of his twenty-plus unverifiable aliases — he entered the United States at least five times for the purpose of heroin transport, distribution, and sale. He was caught with the stuff all up and down the West Coast in quantities from minor to outrageous. He was caught and released over and over again like an old trout with an African tribe’s worth of scarring from hooks. They could jail him, but they couldn’t keep him out of the country. Twice he was arrested within sixty days of his last deportation.

A few years ago, “Zarate” was dicking around with a pistol on a crowded pier. He said that he was shooting at the harbor seals until his defense attorney told him it was a bad excuse. So then he changed his story and said that he picked up a brand-new, government-issued Sig-Sauer and it just went off. Only a fool could believe that story — but San Francisco has never had a shortage of fools. Or maybe they played Anubis and weighed the hearts of Zarate and his victim, Kate Steinle, finding the latter wanting.

In the near future, Zarate will be released and deported again. He’ll be back. Count on it.

As you’d expect, the media found the phrase “illegal immigrant” be far more offensive than the random murder of an unimportant young woman from Flyoverland, so Zarate was upgraded to “undocumented immigrant” in headlines from New York to San Diego. It’s worth noting that this is in no way correct. Zarate was convicted of felony immigration violations. Even if you accept the neologism “undocumented immigrant” for someone who enters the United States illegally, Zarate was more than that. He was convicted of illegal immigration. He was an illegal immigrant, plain and simple.

The Los Angeles Times, however, could not even stomach the word “undocumented” when applied to this beautiful soul, this dreamer, this true American. He became simply an “immigrant”. USA Today took it further, being careful both to call Zarate a plain-Jane immigrant and to reassure the readers that his previous felonies were “nonviolent”. Maybe he removed mattress tags? Committed securities fraud? Surely it wasn’t dealing heroin, because anybody with access to a television or a rap album knows that the heroin business is a violent one.

So here’s to you, Garcia Zarate, soon to be free as a bird and back in the United States to prey on a system that explicitly values your God-given right to deal heroin over the lives of innocent American citizens. And here’s to you, San Francisco, and to your self-righteous “sanctuary city” status that directly resulted in the death of Kate Steinle. And here’s to you, USA Today, the paper that never failed to put “Pharma Bro” in front of a Shkreli story but made sure not to hurt the sensibilities of Zarate’s Stateside fans and supporters by referring to him as anything other than an “immigrant”.

The Trump supporters on Reddit like to say “Two scoops! Two genders! And Two Terms!” Regardless of how you feel about Mr. Trump, if you don’t understand that this verdict brought the last item on that list much closer to a certainty then you’re not paying attention. And to that list, I suppose you can add “two Americas”: the people who mourned Kate Steinle’s death, and the people who cheered yet another victory for their vision of an America that looks exactly like San Francisco, right down to the convenient death of all unpersons.

God bless Miss Steinle. May she find peace in heaven.

Alright, here’s this week’s roundup.

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